The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 29 Mar 1901

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p.2 Incidents of the Day - On Monday next, the work of fitting out the steamer Rideau Queen will commence at Davis' dry dock. A new electric engine will be placed in the steamer, the present one having been broken last year through an accident.

p.3 Shipyard Busy - Deseronto, March 28th - A visit in the shipyard shows that department very busy, with large gangs of men getting the different boats ready for the opening of navigation. Engineers and captains are rushing the work....

Wolfe Island Channel The Safest.

To The Editor;

Kingston, March 28th - The channel that Capt. Hinckley advises pilots to take instead of going past the foot of Wolfe Island, is not a safe one for vessels drawing fourteen feet of water, as there are several bad shoals in the way and it is not a straight one. A few years ago the schooner Dunn, deeply loaded, was towed up that same channel by the tug Reginald, when she struck a shoal a little above Ant Island. It was all they could do to keep her afloat until they reached Garden Island. The captain of the tug was one of the best pilots on the river, and had passed up and down that same channel thousands of times. He never knew that shoal was there as he had been towing lighter draft boats.

Capt. Webber, one of Clayton's best pilots, has crossed over on my steamer many times from Clayton to Gananoque; he often told me there was a channel down that way, as Captain Hinckley says. He undertook after that to fetch a steambarge, drawing over thirteen feet, down that channel. He got safely down past the shoal that the Dunn struck, but shortly afterwards struck another one. If she hadn't had a good steam pump on board of her own she would have sunk before she reached Clayton. The Donnelly wrecking company had to send a steam pump to her assistance. Afterwards that pilot never undertook to fetch another boat down that channel.

The foot of Wolfe Island channel is far the best and safest, especially at night. The government is wise in deepening it. As the bottom is mud, it won't cost much to do it. In the other channel the obstructions are rock, which would be sure to sink a boat if she struck them. It is all very well for captains to talk of this channel, that have run it with light draft steamers drawing from three to eight feet of water. Put them in charge of a large steambarge and consorts drawing fourteen feet, then they will find many shoals that are not mentioned on the charts that Capt. Hinckley advises navigators to consult.


p.5 The Winning Ice Yachts - racing for Carruther's silver cup presented by J.B. Carruthers, and races for third class yachts for silver cup presented by B.W. Folger, jr.


Concerning Dredging at the Foot of Wolfe Island.

Capt. Gaskin gave his opinion today regarding Capt. Hinckley's statement that dredging was not necessary at the foot of Wolfe Island because a better channel was already available across the head of Grindstone Island and between Grindstone and Hickory Islands. Capt. Gaskin's objection to this channel is that it is very crooked, and according to Capt. Hinckley's own statement made to him, range lights would be necessary on Grindstone Island and lighthouses on Blanket Island and on the shoal opposite Whiskey Island, besides gas and spar buoys at other points in the channel, and some dredging.

"These lighthouses, etc. would cost considerably more than would the dredging at the foot of Wolfe Island," said the captain, not to mention the cost of maintaining them each year afterwards. The channel mentioned by Capt. Hinckley is in American waters, and so these works could not be done or maintained by the Canadian government, and would not be done by the American government as they already have a channel of their own down the south side of Wolfe Island. For Canadians, the channel across the foot of Wolfe Island is the best, and, further, is the only one available for them. It is useless to think for one moment that the American government would construct and maintain a new channel in their waters for the almost exclusive use of Canadian boats, as ninety per cent of the American boats go down their own channel, past Cape Vincent, without coming near Kingston at all. Capt. Hinckley is a clever mariner in his own line, but has never taken a deep draught boat down this route which he recommends, and so is not talking from actual experience.

"It is unfortunate that this controversy has arisen just now, as the Wolfe Island channel, when dredged, will be just what is wanted. The Hon. Mr. Tarte has promised that the work will be done this summer. Mr. Tarte generally carries out his plans, but this controversy, if it reaches him, may delay matters while he makes further inquiries. I have no doubt but that he will in the end stick to the original plan, but in the meantime the work may be delayed and this is to be much regretted."

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29 Mar 1901
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 29 Mar 1901