The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 2 Oct 1908

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p.1 Huge Coal Trestle Opened - Ogdensburg, Oct. 2nd - The mammoth new coal trestle built at Prescott by the George Hall Coal Company was opened today. It is 3,500 feet in length and is the largest of the kind between Montreal and Duluth. Eighteen small trolley cars are used to distribute the coal.



Capt. George Hammond, this morning, commenced to overhaul the steamer Stranger.

The steamer Turret Cape arrived at Mooer's elevator this morning with grain from Fort William.

The steamer America will carry the New York excursionists to Cape Vincent on October 6th and 7th.

The steamer Turret Crown is expected at Richardsons' elevator, with damaged grain, from Fort William.

Swift's: steamer Aletha, down and up today; steamer Belleville down today; steamer Dundurn down today; steamer City of Ottawa due up today, twenty-four hours late.

Marinemen were favored with fine weather this morning, and all the vessels held up at the Point were able to get away. This will mean a rush of Kingston vessels into Oswego tonight.

M.T. Co.'s elevator: The steamer George C. Howe arrived from Duluth, with 80,000 bushels of rye; the tug Bartlett cleared for Montreal, with four grain laden barges; the steamer Turret Court is expected to arrive with grain today.

p.3 Cups on Exhibition - The handsome cups won by Kingston yachts at the recent regatta, held at Chaumont Bay, are now on exhibition in Spangenburg's windows, and make a very fine display. There are in all thirteen cups, two won by the Kathleen, four by the Chiriya, four by the Isis, and three by the Baby Grand.

p.4 To Be Soon Lighted - Sarnia, Oct. 2nd - J. Murphy, district engineer of the Canadian department of marine and fisheries, says the new lighthouse, on the Canadian side of Stag Island, St. Clair River, will be lighted for the first time on the night of October 17th.

p.6 Steamer Simla Aground - The steamer Simla, grain laden, on the way to Richardsons' elevator, is reported aground in Lake Superior.



To Increase Grain Carrying Rates.

[Montreal Witness]

The discussion going on during the past few weeks in regard to the alleged combine among lake freight carriers, which was the cause, it was said by our informants, of grain rates making a jump from three and a half or four cents up to seven cents a bushel from Fort William to Montreal, has caused quite a stir among shipping interests and grain men.

While many of the latter still stoutly maintain that such a combine does exist, and by its charges off-sets the natural advantages of the St. Lawrence route as a grain-shipping medium, the lake vessel owners just as determinedly deny that they are in any combination to boost up grain rates. In support of this they point to the fact that since the agitation was commenced in the Witness, the grain rates have fallen from seven cents a bushel to at least one and a half cent lower. "If the accusations about a combine were true, do you think we should have allowed such a reduction to have been made, especially at this season of the year when the bulk of the grain movement is at its highest?" was the remark of a shipping man made on Change today.

The following is a letter on this subject from a grain exporter:

Being interested in the export trade of Montreal, I may say that I am surprised at the information (if it may be called information) that you publish in regard to a "combine" of Canadian lake vessel owners.

As to an existing combine I state positively that no such thing exists, and give you the following facts in proof of same:

During the month of July, and even earlier than this, Manitoba wheat sold in the vicinity of eighty-five cents a bushel, at which price the foreign buyer was quite ready to purchase, and did so freely. The exporter could engage lake freight at that time at a rate of seven cents per bushel for grain to be shipped in September or October, and the ocean freight at a rate of sixpence to a shilling higher than he can obtain the same freight today. The transaction was then closed, and was purely a business one. At that time I offered some of our largest lake vessel owners seven cents, which they would not accept as they were looking for even higher rates. Today these same vessel owners are carrying grain from Fort William on the best terms that they can get, say, five and a half to six cents, and in some instances it is hard work for them to get sufficient cargo for their boats at even this rate.

The ocean steamship agent is also offering his freight at sixpence to ninepence under the rate that could have been got, and they also are finding it difficult to get cargo for their steamers.

I may say that when wheat was selling at eighty-five to eighty-seven cents for September and October delivery some of our traders (from whom no doubt you get your information) were trying to depress prices still lower and cause the North-West producer to accept even a lower price than the foreign market was willing to pay. Your informants, no doubt, being sellers at the low figure, have been compelled to pay much higher prices to fill their short sales and have been calling out "lake combine" in order to help their low sales out.

As for diverting Manitoba wheat to American ports. Up to the present time there has not been a single clearance of Manitoba wheat to Buffalo on the new crop, notwithstanding some millions have already been shipped to the port of Montreal. Judging from your article it is considered an injustice to Canada that any portion of the Manitoba crop should be shipped by way of Buffalo, instead of which exporters look upon it as a blessing that the North-West has that outlet. In about three weeks from the present date Montreal steamship agents will have filled their steamers for the season and there will then be no outlet to speak of outside of the American port at anything like a reasonable rate as the quantity that the Canadian railways can carry from the North-West to the seaboard is and must be small. Unless an appeal can be made to Hon. Mr. Brodeur to compel the railways to carry grain from the North-West to the seaboard under cost and at a sacrifice to their other trade, which is not a likely proposition.

I may say that since new wheat has begun to move the port of Montreal undoubtedly has shipped several millions of Duluth wheat, or at least four times the quantity that Manitoba so far has been able to send for shipment from our port. So that is we have an interchange of the carrying products of the country the result is beneficial both to the producer and the country.

I would just say further that I do not intend to be drawn into any controversy on this subject, but just merely wish to give you the simple facts - about which you have evidently been misinformed. The rate today on wheat from Fort William to Montreal is five and a half cents per bushel, and the last engagements were at this figure. This being the case you can see at once that the so-called "lake combine" is purely fiction. This is well known to the trade.


Another Broker's Statement.

"As far as I know there is no combine in existence now fixing a minimum rate for the carriage of grain on the lakes." This information was given to a Witness representative, today, by an exporter, whose activities keep him in close touch with lake carriers, and who, in the past, has not been backward in proclaiming his knowledge and suspicions in this matter.

"I am talking of the present time, remember, because everybody was aware, and the association made no secret of its agreement as to tariff last year, and right up to this spring. But there has been such an outcry in the papers, talk of appeals to Mr. Brodeur and so forth, that I suppose those concerned came to the conclusion that this was no time to combine on rates. Certainly chartering that I have done, and options that I have had, show clearly that they are quoting different rates today. If there is a minimum price we haven't got down to it yet.

"Just to illustrate - I have been offered tonnage for early October loading at 6 1/2 cents, Lake Superior port to Montreal, by one party, and another one came along today and wanted to know if I would give him 4 1/8 cents to Kingston. The rate from Kingston to Montreal is 1 7/8 cents, so that would be 6 cents here, 1/2 cent less than the other. They are offering boats to Kingston for 4 1/2 cents, later October shipment. That rate is better still, as the rush will be on then, and I am told on good authority that this owner will take 1/4 cent less to secure a contract.

"We moved out the first of our new wheat about the middle of September, and paid 4 1/2 cents. Since then we have been getting boats at 5 cents, several at 5 1/2 cents, 5 3/4 cents, and last week we loaded a big one at 6 cents, and I know of shipments to Georgian Bay ports at 1 1/8 cents, equal to 6 1/8 cents here.

"That shows pretty plainly that there is no combine - not now!"

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2 Oct 1908
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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), 2 Oct 1908