The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), 4 May 1897

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Montreal, May 4th - The insurance companies chartered in Canada have decided not to insure barges known as pinflats, carrying grain, and no Canadian company will take a risk upon them. That this is a most momentous decision for this port will be seen when it is understood that the pinflats engaged in the grain-carrying trade between Prescott and Montreal have a total capacity of five hundred thousand bushels, and that with quick despatch these boats can handle ten million bushels of grain during the season. The engagements of grain this year, via the St. Lawrence route, are very heavy, and the grain will have to be brought to Montreal from Prescott and Kingston somehow. If the pinflats are excluded from the trade altogether, there are not nearly enough vessels to ship cargoes by water, and, in the last resort, grain will have to be brought here by railway from Prescott and Kingston to fulfil existing engagements. This, it is claimed, would mean the making of the St. Lawrence route prohibitory, and would drive the grain trade to Buffalo.

In insurance circles this matter is naturally regarded in a different light, and their side of the story is that pinflats have never been classed as "standard" in the Lloyd's register, compiled by the Lake Underwriters' Association. They have been classed in a supplementary register, which is prepared especially for the Ottawa River and Lower St. Lawrence risks, the Lower St. Lawrence being defined as not above Lake St. Louis. The objectionable features of the pinflats from the underwriting point of view is that they cost from one-quarter to one-third the price of ordinary barges, that they are made cheaply and run cheaply, the ordinary barges having a complement of from three to five men, and the pinflats having only a man and a boy; also that if an accident takes place they open up, and are apt to destroy the whole of their cargoes, particularly grain, whereas an ordinary barge would only damage a small portion.

So far as the charge that the trade of the port will be interfered with by the exclusion of pinflats, they claim that the chief owners of the standard barges assure them that they can handle all the business that is offering, provided that the grain-shippers will give them reasonable despatch to Montreal, and do not use their barges for storage purposes, as they have done in the past.

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Date of Publication:
4 May 1897
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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pd [more details]
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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), 4 May 1897