The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Kingston Gazette (Kingston, ON), June 2, 1818

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In a letter from a Passenger on board the Bay and River Steam Boat.

Dear Sir;

I have taken a trip, in the Steam Boat, from Kingston to the Carrying Place; and, I assure you, it has raised my opinion of the value of the Bay of Quinte to the commercial and agricultural interests of the country. It is the finest sheet of inland water I ever saw; and is surrounded by Townships of fertile land, already settled and productive, but capable of being rendered much more so by additional cultivation.

This route of the Steam Boat is 88 miles, containing the following intermediate points of distance, as estimated, but not actually measured:

miles do.

Ernest Town 16 16

Adolphustown 14 30

VanAlstine's Mill & Ferry 3 33

Hallowell 5 38

Barker's & Wessel's Ferry 7 45

Through the Long Reach 7 52

Davenport's Ferry 2 54

Solmes's Store 6 60

Bellville 12 72

River Trent 12 84

Carrying Place 4 88

I had no means of ascertaining, with mathematical precision, the points of compass of the different parts of the Bay; but from such observations as I was able to make, without the assistance of any instrument, I believe them to be nearly as follows:

From Kingston to the entrance into the Bay of Quinte, S.W. by W.; thence to VanAlstine's, W. by S.; thence to Hallowell, S.W. by S.; thence to Conger's Mill, N.E.; thence to the foot of the Long Reach, N.E. by N.; the Long Reach, N. by E.; thence to Bellville, nearly W.; thence to the River Trent, one or two points S. of W.; thence to the Carrying Place, S.S.W. This sketch, although not very correct, may give you a general idea of the courses of our Steam Boat route.

At Kingston, Ernest Town is spoken of, as being "up the Bay of Quinte;" but the phrase is improper. The water between Ernest Town and Amherst Island is not a part of the Bay of Quinte, nor can it with propriety be styled a Bay. It comes within the geographical definition of a Sound, communicating with the lake by an outlet at each end of the island, called the Lower and Upper Gap. Amherst Island being about 12 miles long, the sound is of the same length, and ought to be named Amherst Island Sound.

The Island stretching thus in front of Ernest Town, breaks the winds and swells of the Lake, and shelters the harbor. The water of the Sound is of course tolerably smooth, but the winds come in through the Gaps, and sometimes make the water at those points quite rough, particularly against the lower Gap. The distance however, is short, and this is the only place in the whole route of the Bay and River Steam Boat, where it is exposed to any roughness of water.

Through the Gaps, the wind blows down the lake as much at least as 1/4ths of the season, and the breeze rises daily, with considerable regularity, from eight or nine o'clock in the morning, until past the middle of the afternoon and lulls away in the evening, as the daily breeze does on the shore of the ocean, with this difference, that the lake breeze does not shift at night, & alternately blow off and on, like the sea and land breezes.

Nearly opposite to the upper gap, is the entrance into the Bay of Quinte, between Fredericksburg and Marysburg point. The general width of the Bay varies between one and two miles. Between Ox Point in Thurlow and Mississaga Point in Ameliasburg, & also between Maybee's point in Sophiasburg and an opposite point in the Indian land, the Bay is less than a mile wide. In front of Hallowell there is a triangular opening, called Hallowell Bay, of the extent of three or four miles. East of Bellville, the bay expands to the breadth of five miles. This expansion is vulgarly termed the Big Bay, the head of which is perhaps four and its foot ten miles from Bellville. Through the middle of the Big bay, the water is shallow, with a channel of sufficient depth on each side. On its southern border there is a marshy inlet, named Muskoota Bay, said to be the limit between Ameliasburg and Sophiasburg. On the East side of the Long Reach is the entrance of Hay Bay, which sets up in an Easterly direction, through the township of Adolphustown, and nearly through Fredericksburg. It derived its name from the adjoining meadows, which produce an abundance of hay. It appears too shallow to be navigated, except by small boats. At the head of the Long Reach is Mohawk bay, so named from its adjacency to the Mohawk Indian village. It is the mouth of the Appanee River, coming in from the N.E. Cartwright's mills, reputed to be the best in the Province, are five miles up the river, where there is a bridge and a small village around it. The road from Kingston to York passes here. The water in this river rises and falls, from 9 to 11 inches, several times a day, with such a degree of regularity, that the boat-men calculate upon the tides to facilitate their passage to and from the Mills. I state this fact, not from my own observation, but upon the authority of several respectable persons who have observed it. The Appanee tides, indeed, have been a subject of considerable speculation; but their cause has not yet been satisfactorily explained.

Near the head of the Bay of Quinte the River Trent, falling in from the N., introduces the waters of the Rice Lake. On this river there are a large number of valuable mills; and large quantities of lumber are brought down every year to market. At the mouth of the river there is a ferry of about half a mile, on the route from Kingston to York, by way of Appanee and Bellville. The road to York, by way of Hallowell passes by the Carrying Place and unites with the other in Cramahe. There ought to be a Stage running from the Carrying Place or the River Trent to York.

Myer's Creek empties into the Bay near the western limit of Thurlow. There are valuable settlements eight or nine miles up the Creek, principally on the East side. At the mouth of it is the Town of Bellville, a port of entry, and a place of considerable business. Its site is unfortunately too low to appear to advantage, and I should apprehend some danger of inundation from the Creek in the Spring floods.

Jones's Creek is three miles west of Bellville, in the Township of Sidney.

There are a number of islands in the Bay. In front of the Carrying Place there is one, called Mississaga Island, formerly occupied by the Indians of that tribe, but now overgrown with bushes. Cruger's Island, two miles east of the River Trent, contains several acres of level ground, about twenty feet above the water. It is a smooth handsome green. Near the southern limit of Big Bay, there is a small island, known by the name of Ship Island, with a single tree on it, a tall elm, which serves as a guide to boat-men passing up and down the Bay. The largest island in the whole Bay is John's Island, by the northeastern angle of Sophiasburg, at the head of the Long Reach, and nearly opposite to the house of Captain John, one of the proprietors of the Indian Village, who claimed this island.; and left his name attached to it. When the water is high, boats pass between the island and Sophiasburg shore, and thereby save two or three miles. I observed several other islands, but did not note their names.

The townships, along which the Steam Boat passes, in its route, were originally designated by numbers, before they had appropriate names. This numerical designation began with the township of Kingston, which was called First Town; and extended through the townships on the lake shore, up to Ameliasburg, which was Seventh Town, then turned and proceeded through the front range of townships on the north side of the Bay, from Sydney on the River Trent, to Richmond on the Appanee, and Camden further up that River. Hallowell being afterwards formed out of Marysburg and Sophiasburg, received a name at the time of its formation, and was never distinguished by a number. The Indian land, between Thurlow and Richmond, has neither number nor name, not being considered a township. The King, together with three of the Royal Princes and three of the Princesses, furnished names for a part of the numbered townships, with the additional syllables town and burg, which were then more fashionable than the French termination ville. The force of habit, however, is verified by the fact, that the inhabitants still continue to speak of those townships by their respective numbers, in preference to their proper names; an inconvenient custom, which ought to be discontinued, especially as there is a series of the same numbers applied to townships in the District of Johnstown.

The tract of land, opposite Sophiasburg, fronting ten miles on the Bay, and extending back 12 miles, was granted to a section of the Mohawk Indians, who separated from the main body of their tribe, now settled on the Grand River. This grant, as well as that on the Grand River, was made, in consideration of the lands they lost in the state of New York, in the revolutionary war. A part of the front of this tract is cleared, and is called the Indian village. It has an Episcopal church, and several houses. The cleared land appears to be a common pasture for horses and cattle. Most of the Indian habitations are further back.

The isthmus between the head of the Bay of Quinte and the lake is about a mile and a quarter in breadth. It is the limit between the townships of Murray and Ameliasburg, between the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward, and between the Midland District and the District of New Castle. It has no other name than the Carrying Place.

On the north side of it there is a tract of land, which was reserved for the purpose of forming a canal from the Bay to the lake, and was called the Canal Reserve; but since the late war, it has been surveyed and granted to emigrant settlers. It is in the township of Murray, and is denominated the Canal Reserve settlement. The Peninsula contains Ameliasburg, Sophiasburg, Hallowell and Marysburg, which four townships compose the county of Prince Edward. In each of these townships, as well as those on the sound, and on the north side of the Bay, I observed many good farms, in different stages of cultivation; but it is represented that the best farms and settlements are not seen from the Bay, being situated in the back concessions. The soil, in general, is adapted to wheat, and the inhabitants are accustomed to the growing of that valuable grain. It is their staple production. Fruit appears to have been too generally neglected. The most flourishing orchards which I saw, are in Adolphus Town and Sydney.

In Marysburg, at the distance of 33 miles from Kingston, is the Lake of the Mountain, the surface of which is ascertained to be 175 feet above the level of the Bay, although not more than twenty rods distant from it. This natural reservoir of water is described as nearly three miles in circumference, of great depth, abounding with fish, and having no inlet, and but one outlet, which is the stream which turns Van Alstines mill. The ascent, though steep, is not difficult. It begins to be visited from a distance, as a curiousity; but as is usual in such cases, people living in its immediate vicinity, will scarcely take the trouble of viewing it.

The best harbor between Kingston and the Carrying Place is that of Ernest Town, now a port of entry, increasing in commercial business, with a regular village situated on a beautiful eminence, which overlooks the harbor, and commands a variegated prospect of land and water. The inner bay of Hallowell is secure from winds, but rather confined. The bottom is muddy. The village at the bridge is thriving, & has a rich tract of country in its rear. Bellville harbor is shallow and the channel narrow. With the exception of a few places, the whole Bay of Quinte, is a continued harbor. There are but few Wharves, and those yet incomplete; but there is sufficient depth of water, good anchorage, shores generally bold, and no material obstructions. The navigation is safe, and easy for a Steam vessel. The smoothness of the water is very favourable. Indeed the Bay seems to be designed by Providence for navigation by steam or oars. Its various and even opposite courses render it almost impracticable for sailing. A vessel with sails must generally wait for different winds, to sail up or down the Bay. None but a northwest wind will without change, carry a vessel all the way down. None but a South east wind will enable her to sail all the way up. And wind from those two points are not very frequent. The Bay is too narrow for the process of beating to advantage. Passages must often be slow and difficult, especially through the Long Reach. If the Steam Boat, which is not subject to such difficulties and delays, be properly managed, it will be a peculiar accommodation, and can hardly fail of eventual success. With a ready supply of wood, a system of punctuality at the starting and stopping points, and the aid of a little experience, the route between Kingston and the Carrying Place may be accomplished in a day; and, for ease and comfort, and freedom from all sense of danger, as well as for various and romantic views of rural scenery, it is a delightful excursion. It certainly has been so to,

Dear Sir, Your friend and Humble Servant,

p.3 The Bay & River Steam Boat CHARLOTTE, will leave Kingston for the head of the Bay of Quinte every Sunday afternoon 5 o'clock and Wednesday morning 2 o'clock; Returning, leave Bellville for Kingston Tuesday morning 2 o'clock, and the Carrying Place Thursday morning 2 o'clock; leave Kingston for Prescott every Friday morning 7 o'clock, and Prescott for Kingston Saturday morning 7 o'clock.




Kingston, June 1, 1818.

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June 2, 1818
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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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Kingston Gazette (Kingston, ON), June 2, 1818