The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 31 Dec 1901

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Over Thirty Years In The M.T. Co.

Yesterday Capt. John Gaskin severed his connection with the Montreal transportation company after having been in its employment for thirty years. A sketch of his long marine career may not be out of place at this particular time; it is of much interest.

Previous to joining the Montreal transportation company, he was master of several steamers running between Montreal and the upper lakes. He joined the M.T. company in the spring of 1869 and was captain and part owner of the propeller Bruno. In the spring of 1871, the owners were offered a good price and the offer was accepted. Capt. Gaskin was then tendered the position of outside manager of the Montreal transportation company at Kingston, which he accepted, and since that time has filled that office. The company at that time was a small affair, having just purchased some of the Chaffey boats. Most of the barges had a capacity only of about 10,000 bushels each.

The company had a shipyard, saw mill and machine shop at Montreal and was building new boats and repairing old ones at that place. Capt. Gaskin urged strongly on the company to remove its shipyard to Kingston, as in his opinion, it was the best place to build new boats and repair old ones. Finally the company decided to do as was suggested and the works were removed to Kingston, with the result that since then the company has been running a shipyard here. Their fleet at present consists of forty-five boats, and all have been built, or rebuilt in Kingston, with the exception of the steamers Bannockburn and Rosemount, built in the old country, and the steel barges Quebec and Hamilton, constructed at the place they were named after. All the boats were under the supervision of Capt. Gaskin. In 1893 and 1895 he was requested by the M.T. company to go to the old country in company with the late David G. Thomson, manager in Montreal, to purchase steel steamships, with the result that the steamships Bannockburn and Rosemount were purchased. The company was so well pleased with the boats that they presented Capt. Gaskin with $500 for each boat for his success in purchasing. It is generally acknowledged that they are the best steamships that have come to this country. Capt. Gaskin with the exception of the first two years, has engaged all captains and engineers for the boats, and claims that he has made more captains and engineers than any man in the province. His policy always gave the young men a chance.

The company's wharf property in Kingston is probably the best and most complete for a forwarding business of any in this country. The captain also did the wrecking for the company, with two exceptions, and did it successfully. It is acknowledged that the M.T. Co. has a most complete place to do a forwarding business and can do more work in less time than any other place in this country and has the most complete outfit to make repairs. With very little extra cost they could have a first class place to build steel barges.

"I think," said Capt. Gaskin, "I can safely say that all the boats built in Kingston were satisfactory to the directors of the company as far as strength, cost and workmanship were concerned. In my opinion the shipcarpenters of Kingston are second to none; they can claim the credit of building the finest vessels on fresh water. Before closing I truthfully believe that the M.T. Co. has had in its employment the best staff of employees that can be found in this country. The captains of the steamships have made such good time that it made the other boat owners think about purchasing old country boats. The tug captains of the company are second to none on the St. Lawrence river. Some years the company had carried from nine to twenty million bushels of grain down the St. Lawrence river, and not one accident or any damaged grain.

In conclusion I will say that last May, when Bartlett McLennan, president of the company, and J.A. Cuttle, manager, were in Kingston, I notified them that I wished to resign and made the request in writing, which was accepted. I am leaving the M.T. Co., the best of friends with president, directors and all parties concerned, and I hope they will go on and prosper as they have done in the past, and they will continue to have the confidence of their employees."

Another Old Propeller - Lawrence O'Brien, Union street, gives the name of another lake propeller that has long since passed away. The Protector was one of the best known propellers on the lakes in her time.

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31 Dec 1901
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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pd [more details]
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 31 Dec 1901