The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 31 Mar 1906

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p.1 Navigation Open - Port Huron, March 31st - navigation open on St. Clair River; lots of broken up ice in lake near Goderich.




A day's walk along the harbor front reveals a scene of activity, not apprehended by the general public, and one must become closely connected with the shipping interests of the city to fully appreciate the great value and worth of such an industry as the marine interests of Kingston. Commencing with Portsmouth, one goes aboard the steamer Argyle where preparations are being made for the coming season's work, scrubbing, painting, fitting up and general overhauling of machinery, getting ready for the ever-increasing excursion business of this popular steamer along the north shore of Lake Ontario, where she makes daily runs between Toronto and Cobourg. John Hazlett, the general manager, is ever ready to do his best for a longing and restless travelling public, and leaves no stone unturned to have everything on his steamer in perfect order.

Leaving the long pier, where the steamer Argyle has been lying all winter, one proceeds to the shipyard next, where the fleet of barges recently the property of the Canada Atlantic railway company, are under repairs. Here are found a fleet of thirteen grain carriers, most of which have undergone repairs of various kinds, some of them having almost been rebuilt during the past winter. The work on this fleet will be completed by May 1st when the vessels and all belonging to them will pass over to the M.T. Co., and hereafter the Portsmouth shipyard, where thirty men have found employment annually, will be a thing of the past, and the workmen must seek employment elsewhere, probably at the yards of the M.T. Co.

Leaving Portsmouth the rambler next drops into the Kingston Foundry yard, where the steamer Rideau King has been undergoing a thorough rebuild. Here a dozen men have found employment during the winter months and the steamer has been put in first class condition for the coming season. Several changes have been made on board the King, chief among which is the changing of kitchen from aft to amidships; engineers' rooms from starboard to port side, and purser's office further aft, next to dining room, with mess room, next forward of kitchen on starboard side. The King has been made new from the lower turn of bilge to main deck and has running water placed in all state rooms, and the company intends having her fully up to the modern ideas of Parreng's steamboat equipment.

The steamer America also spent the winter in the slip adjoining the foundry, and will be fully equipped and beautifully fitted up this spring to meet the ever popular excursion trade handled by the St. Lawrence River Steamboat company.

The Gildersleeve Boats.

Leaving the America, the next stop is at the Kingston Dry Dock, where the steamer Caspian, owned by the Lake Ontario & Bay of Quinte Steamboat company lies. On her a large force of men have been employed since last fall, tearing out and putting in new steel plates, angles, beams and rivets, and as the steamer Caspian floats to-day, she is a much stronger vessel than she originally was, and great credit is due management of the company, who are ever ready to equip their steamers in a manner second to none. The coming season for the steamer Caspian will not doubt be a successful one with the many improvements which have been added. It may be stated that had it not been for the untimely death of the popular president of the company, C.F. Gildersleeve, very important changes would have been made, such as lengthening, etc., which will now have to be done another winter.

Proceeding to Swift's wharf the rambler goes aboard the steamer North King, belonging to the same company, and everything is bustle and activity preparing for an early opening and getting things in shape for a busy season's work, nothing being left undone to bring the North King up to her popular standard of perfection in every way. A new electric light plant will be one of the chief features of improvment on board the North King this season, and when she goes in commission, the public may rest assured that they will receive the best known to the marine trade for the public comfort.

The steamer Aletha also lying at Swift's wharf, is being fitted up to take her place on the Kingston-Picton route at first opening, and Capt. Roys, who is in charge, is leaving no stone unturned to have his steamer among the high-class excursion steamers. New steel boiler keelsons have been added during the winter, and when ready for her route, the Aletha will be in excellent condition. She is under charter to the L.O. & B. of Q. S.B. Co.

Next come the Pierrepont and the New Island Wanderer of the White Squadron, which are now beginning again to show signs of life, and in a few days there will be scenes of activity and life, fitting up for the expected early opening.

At Richardson's wharf the Mosquito fleet of the harbor makes its headquarters during the winter months. The steambarge Navajo has also made her quarters here during the winter, and the warm weather of the past few days has caused the several owners to shake out hatch cloths, lift covers, and think of bending canvas, and make ready for a rush, as there usually is in the spring.

The M.T. Co. Fleet.

At Crawford's wharf is found the steamer Lake Michigan, which sought shelter there during the winter months and as no signs of life was seen aboard her, we slip away to the wharves of the M.T. company, and meet the general manager for Kingston, L.L. Henderson, who takes pleasure in showing one through the yards, and shops of the company's plant. Here are found about 125 men at work. Thirty-five steamers, tugs and barges are undergoing repairs and there is a rush and bustle of all classes of labor, preparing for the expected departure of the ice at an early date, when a general scattering of the fleet will take place, some across the lake for coal, others to Montreal with grain, and others of the fleet to the head of the lakes. This company expends large amounts of money annually on its vessels, most of which returns to the merchants in the city, through the mechanics and others employed which is of great benefit to the city as a whole. The company is also having a large modern steel lake barge built at Collingwood to assist in handling its constantly increasing grain business.

At Anglin's Bay is found a fleet of steamers, barges and small vessels, which make this spot their annual resting place. Among the number is found the steamers Rideau Queen, Islander, St. Lawrence, and many others of less importance, all of which have received their special overhauling, and activity prevails among the fleet which increases daily until they all leave the harbor.

Davis' dry dock, where the steamer Jessie Bain has been undergoing a complete rebuilding by Folgers, is also an active spot, there being about fifty men constantly employed there. Several yachts ranging in size from ninety feet long and costing from $10,000, down to thirty feet, costing $1,500, are under construction here.

Moving along to the spile wharf of K. & P. railway, we board the steamer Armenia, and the tug Reid, of Montreal, both of which have found a comfortable resting place for the winter months and which are busily engaged fitting out for an early departure to parts not far distant. Casting the eye along the shore as far as the cotton mill, one sees the resting place for all worn-out craft, which is well represented at present by a goodly number of the has-been type of barges and steamers.

Value To Kingston.

The harbor and waters adjacent are very well covered with craft of various types and one should not forget the importance of Kingston as a shipping port when we remember that even now we have distributed along our water front active and useful steamers and vessels to the number of about ninety, and in addition to this number there are from twenty-five to fifty yachts, launches and pleasure craft of various kinds, all of which swell the marine interests of the city. There are also various building shops, where small craft are being built, among which are Dr. Black's, Robinson's, Knapp, Bowman, Davis, Bowman of Barriefield, and Knapp of Barriefield, each of which holds a place of some importance among local industries.

The marine interests of the city give employment to about 300 men annually, and offer a livelihood for about 600 sailors all told, a trade of which the people should be proud and yet not generally known about and less appreciated.

Kingston is to-day one of the most important ports on the Canadian side of the great lakes, and when our position as a summer resort is considered, and the number of American tourists which visit the city annually, together with the fact that it requires a fleet of yachts to handle those people from lower river ports to reach the fine fishing grounds in the immediate vicinity of Kingston, one naturally asks: Why don't we erect a fine summer hotel in the west end and build a long pier with suitable attraction to bring a goodly share of these tourists in our midst and invite the numerous steamyachts to make Kingston their headquarters during the summer?

The amount spent in marine repairs and new building during the winter months in the ship-yards and boat factories, will exceed $120,000, most of which goes direct to the city merchants through various channels.

Garden Island is also to be noted. As it is practically a part of Kingston, so far as business interests are concerned. There lies the fleet of the Calvin company, which always has a large staff of men at work. The chief work of construction during the winter has been the building of the new tug Chieftain.

The Rideau Steamers.

The following will be the officers for the coming season on the steamers of the Rideau Lakes Navigation company.

Rideau Queen - Captain, William Fleming, mate, William Scott, chief engineer, Joseph Noonan, purser, Gordon Richards.

Rideau King - Captain, Edward Fleming, mate, John Fleming, chief engineer, George Tuttle, purser, W.B. Richards.

The Calvin Vessels.

Steamer Simla - Captain, A.K. Malone, chief engineer, R.H. Veech.

Steamer India - Captain, Charles Coombs, chief engineer, T.C. Smith.

Steamer D.D. Calvin - Captain, H.N. Smith, chief engineer, John Kennedy.

Tug Chieftain - Appointment of captain to be made, chief engineer, Thomas Grey.

Tug Parthia - Captain, D. Lafave, engineer, George Sauve.

Tug Frontenac - C.E. Phelix, engineer, M. Dorey.

Tug Johnston - Captain, John Harris, engineer, T. Campeau.

The Blue Bell - Captain, John Dix, engineer, Ben Lappin.

Barges Burmah, Capt. John Ferguson, Ceylon, Captain Joseph Achee.

p.5 Capt. Dix, the new owner of the schooner Suffel has been giving her a thorough overhauling, at Picton, replanking the upper part of her stern and part of her sides. He is now finishing up with a coat of paint.

p.8 Canadian Ship Canal - Sault Ste. Marie, March 31st - 20 men at work at Soo.

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31 Mar 1906
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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), 31 Mar 1906