The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), 1 May 1897

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Grain men, and especially those engaged in the transportation business by canal, have been in somewhat of a state of anxiety regarding the opening of the canals, as ocean steamers are on their way up the river, and half a million bushels of grain are now lying at Dickenson's Landing, at the head of the Cornwall Canal, ready for bringing down. It was understood that the canals would not be opened until tomorrow morning, and, as the first opening is always a very slow process, owing to logs, shavings, etc., that have accumulated during the Winter interfering with the machinery, it would be necessary for the canals to remain open on Sunday, in order to get the grain alongside the steamers on Monday.

In conversation with the Gazette yesterday, Mr. William Stewart, Managing Director of the Kingston & Montreal Forwarding Company, said that 500,000 bushels of grain were lying at Dickenson's Landing, ready to be brought down to the steamers, and this quantity would be doubled by Monday. If the canals were, as was generally understood, to be opened on Saturday, the water should be let in last night, as it would take twenty-four hours for them to fill. Further, if they were opened on tomorrow, it would be necessary that they should be kept open on Sunday if the requirements of the trade were to be met. Ocean steamers would in all probability be in port today, and it was urgent that the grain be got on board as soon as possible, in order to avoid delay. His company had been protecting the grain they were carrying since the 21st inst., when they protected it at Kingston, and they were still protecting it. His company's fleet would be in the Cornwall Canal by Sunday morning, and it was important that they should be floated here and get back as soon as possible. The opening of the canals was a matter about which he was very anxious.

Mr. D.G. Thomson, Manager of the Montreal Transportation Company, spoke in a similar strain. He said that two vessels were coming up the river that asked for grain tonight. Opening the canals at the first of the season was always a slow process, and if the barges did not get across the lake at Lachine before 6 p.m., on Monday night, it would be Tuesday before they reached here, thus causing considerable delay. His company already had a fleet of twenty vessels lying at the head of the Cornwall canal, and by Monday they would have two or three more. It was probable that by that time the total number of barges lying there, belonging to the different transportation companies, would number forty. If the canals were opened tomorrow, it would be of the utmost importance that they remain open on Sunday, so as to get the grain down to the steamers without delay.

From the Board of Trade a letter was last night forwarded to the Department of Railways and Canals at Ottawa. It was to the effect that, it being understood that the canals would not be opened before Saturday, May 1, attention was called to the necessity for craft being passed downwards through the Cornwall and Beauharnois canals on Sunday, so that the grain cargoes, en route for ocean steamers, which steamers would arrive here on Friday night, might not be further delayed. If these two canals were open on Sunday the grain cargoes referred to could reach here on Monday. Otherwise they would be delayed until Wednesday, and this would be a serious matter for all parties concerned.

Enquiry at the Department of Railways and Canals, Montreal division, elicited the statement that the water was going to be turned into the canals last night, and that they would be open for traffic today.

In spite of the promise made at the local office of the Department of Railways and Canals yesterday the water was not let into the canals last night. Large gangs of men were working at the conduits being built at Wellington and Black's bridges. On enquiry from the workmen they said they expected to be finished early this morning. The Government officials said they had received orders to let the water into the canal at 3:30 this morning, but one of them, who had evidently had some experience in lock work, remarked: "I guess it will be nearly eight o'clock before the water is let in." Whether this will be so or not remains to be seen. The canals, however, are not being opened too soon, as two vessels will arrive in port today, while there is a large fleet of vessels making their way up the gulf. [Montreal Gazette April 30]


Cost Of Three New Barges For The M.T. Company

This season the Montreal Transportation Company will have constructed three barges, the combined value of which will reach $75,000. The contract for two composite boats has been given to the Canadian Locomotive Works, at which place preliminary work is going on for their construction. For the completion of these two vessels, it is expected that time will be required extending into the middle of July, although a large gang of men will be employed whenever the Locomotive Company are prepared to push the work.

Notwithstanding the capacity of the now excellent fleet of the M.T. Company, in order to cope with the rush of grain to the seaboard, they are compelled to add still another new barge to their list. The keel for this one is being laid at the company's local shipyard. Its capacity will be 50,000 bushels. It was noticed last season that this transportation company chartered several barges and pinflats to assist their own in taking grain down the St. Lawrence, and the necessity of a large fleet of barges was impressed upon the manager - more so, probably, by the expectation of heavier grain shipments down the river this season. The quantity of grain already passed down indicates a busy season. There is at present at Dickenson's Landing, at the head of the Cornwall canal, upward of 500,000 bushels of grain waiting the opportunity of going down. The M.T. Company have at that point seventeen barges, which have on board 150,000 bushels of wheat, and 200,000 bushels of corn. The Kingston and Montreal Forwarding Company have five barges with 140,000 bushels of corn and wheat at the same point. At this point, and between here and Dickenson's Landing, the Canada Forwarding Company have 90,000 bushels of mixed grains - oats, peas and buckwheat - in five barges. Between these two points, the M.T. Company and the Kingston and Montreal Forwarding Company have also large quantities of grain heading eastward. A very conservative estimate places the amount at 1,000,000 bushels to go down next week. The blockade at Dickenson's Landing was relieved today by the opening of the St. Lawrence canals.

The figures quoted above give a slight idea of the necessity of one or two grain elevators at this port. The Welland canal report the other evening reported steamers for Prescott with an estimated cargo of 300,000 bushels of grain, the best part of which Kingston could have had, did she own an elevator. May the committee in charge of the proposed building prosecute business with all haste.

The work and men involved in the erection of an elevator, with the work supplied by the M.T. Company in the construction of the three barges, will surely make this a harvest season for the ship-carpenters and working men generally.

The work in repairing the S.S. Bannockburn is being pushed with all diligence, under the supervision of Mr. R. Charlton and A. Nicholson. When the steamer ran aground under a full head of steam, she opened her port side immediately aft of the forefoot almost large enough for a man to walk through. These plates will have to be replaced and her forefoot repaired, a work which will last to the end of next week. Although the steamer had such a large hole in her, she was so well equipped with steam pumps that she not only kept the water from filling the injured compartment, but saved the cargo from damage, with the exception of about 1,500 bushels. Her pumps are capable of emptying (180 ?) tons of ballast water in one hour. Several gentlemen who were here yesterday representing American insurance companies stated that the Bannockburn was the finest model of a freighter they had ever seen.

The Jessie Hall and four barges of grain left for Montreal last night.

The tug Active and the schooner Selkirk sailed for Charlotte last evening to bring over the first lot of 1,000 tons of coal to come here for the M.T. Company.

The North King leaves on her regular trips tomorrow. She sails this year with only one smoke-funnel.

The steamer Hamilton, of the R. & O. Navigation Company, left Montreal last evening, and will arrive here tomorrow. On her return here on Wednesday she will take the stewards of the Corsican and Algerian to Montreal, who go down to fit out their boats.

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1 May 1897
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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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Daily News (Kingston, ON), 1 May 1897