The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 25 Jun 1904

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Booth's wharf: schooner Voges from Charlotte with coal.

The steamer Caspian makes her first trip this afternoon to Charlotte.

Richardsons' elevator: steamer Myles from Fort William with 40,000 bushels of wheat; schooner Two Brothers from Charlotte with coal.

Craig's wharf: steamer Alexandria up last night; steamer Persia due up tonight; steambarge Ringleader touched this morning on her way down.

Swift's wharf: steamers Toronto down and up; steamer Hamilton expected tonight; steamer Spartan up tonight; steamer Rideau King, from Ottawa tonight; schooner Acacia expected from Charlotte today with coal.

p.6 Withdrew The Claim - There was a little trouble over the question of wharfage, claimed by the Folger company from Wolfe Islanders landing on the ferry wharf, in view of the fact that the Bertram company of Toronto was responsible for the ferry now. As the amount was small, the Folgers withdrew their claim, though it was quite legitimate.



Important Plant Located In Prescott.

Few people on this side of the river realize what an extensive industry has located in Prescott, the old Canadian town opposite this city, within the past year. It is a government institution at present employing about 250 men with a monthly pay roll of more than $5,000, and covering an area of more than four acres. This substantial adjunct to the resources of the Fort Town is the Dominion Light Depot, under the jurisdiction of the dominion marine and fisheries department of Ottawa. It supplies gas buoys and lighthouse lamps for the entire Dominion of Canada, and also has under its direct supervision the district extending along the St. Lawrence river from Kingston on the west to Montreal on the east.

The department decided a year or so ago to consolidate its various supply stations into one central plant, and in casting about for a suitable and convenient location it decided upon Prescott. The negotiations for a site were carried on in a very quiet manner and the citizens of Prescott were happily surprised when the announcement was made that the old Labatt brewery property and some contiguous land, all situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence, had been purchased by the dominion authorities, and that a mammoth supply plant was to be established in their midst. The property purchased contains three large stone buildings of substantial construction, surrounded by broad stretches of open ground. A large sum of money was immediately available for improving and remodeling the buildings to suit them to the purposes of the marine department, and a small army of men was at once employed. The Labatt brewery once was a flourishing business institution, but of late years it has been idle, and it was a happy day for Prescott when the government decided to purchase the property and establish thereon a plant that will be of permanent benefit to the people of the town.

At this central depot will be manufactured lighthouse lamps and all kinds of gas buoys including bells, spar, flash, fixed light, etc. Acetylene gas is used almost exclusively for illuminating these buoys and lighthouses, and in this respect the Dominion government is taking a step ahead of our federal authorities in perfecting marine navigation, as acetylene for gas buoys is considered superior to the Pintsch light, in use on this side, but lately discarded by our Canadian cousins. The introduction of acetylene in lighthouse illumination besides providing a superior light has cut the expense of maintaining lighthouses by dispensing with the services of keepers. Big steel tanks, holding 265 feet of acetylene gas, are transported from the depot to the lighthouses, connected with the tower light. From this supply the light will burn eight months, night and day, without the care of a keeper. At the Prescott depot, experiments are also being made with a lamp known as the diamond gas light, supplied from coal oil and compressed air. The light glows within finely made glass lenses, which increase the power of the light. It is more brilliant that the acetylene light, but the mechanism is more complicated and closer attention is required in keeping it in working order. A cluster of four of these lights in independent lenses are being tested in an improvised lighthouse on the dock, and their brilliant reflection has frequently been remarked from this side of the river.

The area of the plant at present is three and one-third acres, but a large section of made land on the shore end will increase the extent of the plant to over four acres. In making this fill, 10,000 cubic yards of earth will be dumped into the inclosure. A pier four hundred feet in length and thirty feet in width will be run out and the space behind it will be filled in. The plans also provide back of this pier and running parallel with it, a basin 250 feet long and 80 feet wide to be used for docking purposes. Just to the east of this basin is a slip for hauling out scows. It will be 150 feet long from high water mark and forty-five feet wide. This slip will be a feature of the shipyard, which is a part of the plant. In this yard are to be constructed scows for use in all dominion waters. Several of them are now under construction and will soon be launched. Among the new buildings going up are a carpenter shop 50 x 35 feet, machine shop 102 x 62, and boiler shop, all of permanent steel and wood construction. A steam pumping house is also to be built. In the central building, which is of commanding proportions, are located the offices and small stores departments, generating rooms, storage quarters and temporary work shop. A new building to be used as the superindendent's office has been erected east of the main building just mentioned. An eighty-five foot flag staff will be set up near the dock. All the buildings are being equipped with a modern sprinkling system as a precaution against fires.

In the machine room are set up many costly and delicate machines for turning out brass work and other fine parts used in the manufacture of the buoys. The most of the labor employed is skilled, the men having been brought to Prescott from all quarters of the Dominion. At the present time much of the material is brought in finished form from England and Germany, but when the depot is in full running order every component part of the completed gas buoy will be made in the depot. In the testing rooms scores of various kinds of buoys are set up on parallel racks and undergo a thorough trial before they leave the station. Hundreds of huge tanks are piled up in the yards, and activity is witnessed on every hand. When it is considered that every gas buoy to be used in Canadian inland and coast waters, Atlantic and Pacific, will be turned out at this depot, the importance of the industry to Prescott will be fully appreciated. Sub-stations for manufacturing acetylene gas to supply all the buoys and lighthouses maintained by the government will be located at convenient places. There is one now at Parry Sound and another at Quebec.

In the district between Kingston and Montreal, which is under the direct charge of this depot, there are more than 100 buoys and lighthouses to care for and in this work a fleet of two steamers, the Scout and Reserve, and four gasoline launches, is employed. The latter are of high power, one of them, the Viator, having an estimated speed of twenty-two miles an hour. These fast yachts are used for the purpose of repairing as rapidly as possible any light that has broken down or in replacing any that have been cast adrift. When such things occur it is essential to safe navigation that the lights be placed in running order again as quickly as circumstances will permit.

Another convenience which will expedite the general work at the depot is an extension of the C.P.R. tracks from the starch works terminal westerly through the depot yards and along the docks to the centre of the plant. There it will connect with a narrow gauge line which will run in various directions and facilitate the transportation of heavy supplies.

The depot is in charge of Capt. J.F. Fraser, minister of lights of the dominion of Canada, and the following heads of departments: W.E. Stimpson, chief engineer; Emile Balete, assistant engineer; Wallace Bell, supplies keeper; Maurice Braise, draughtsman; Miss Mackenzie, accountant, and William Mead, foreman of works.

The main offices are very handsomely finished and provided with all modern conveniences. The floors are of polished cedar and the ceilings of inlaid wood. A telephone system connects all parts of the plant. Motive power for the various departments is supplied by independent engines.

At a recent meeting of the department in Ottawa, an appropriation of $500,000 was set apart for construction work and maintenance of the depot. It will probably be nearly a year before all construction work is completed. The exterior of the old stone buildings has been changed and the grounds are being graded and a twelve-foot picket fence surrounds the plant on the street side.

Capt. Fraser, the chief of the depot, is one of Canada's brightest men and by his ability in handling public works, has climbed the ladder of success in a remarkably short time. In the middle thirties in age, he has achieved renown in hydraulic engineering and conducted the big government marine works at New Glasgow, N.B., with such skill that he was placed at the head of the dominion lights department. He is a graduate of the Royal Military College at Kingston. [Ogdensburg, N.Y. Journal]

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25 Jun 1904
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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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), 25 Jun 1904