The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Kingston Chronicle (Kingston, ON), Dec. 15, 1820

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p.3 Mr. Tucker has returned from Oak Orchard with his decked boat, and has brought over the sails, rigging and crew of the Owen, together with one of the anchors and cables slipped by Captain Sinclair when he ran his vessel ashore.

We are happy to learn, that the inhabitants of Cobourg, and the adjoining country, are taking measures to build a wharf in front of that village. About 4000 feet of timber have been subscribed for this purpose. In the village of Cobourg alone, contributions to the amount of £498 have been procured.-- People are now employed in cutting the timber, which it is expected will be in readiness to be drawn to the beach by the first snow. In the spring, it is proposed to sink piers, and should equal zeal be manifested by the neighboring townships, all of which are alike interested in the matter, a quantity of timber, plank, stone, and labour sufficient to make a shelter for vessels, will soon be finished. The District of Newcastle is rapidly increasing in population, & its lands, in point of fertility, are inferior to none in the Province, but it is, unfortunately, destitute of good harbours. The only one indeed, deserving the name, is Presque isle, but that is situated at the lower extremity of the District, and of no use whatever to the whole line of coast extending from thence to York, a distance of one hundred miles. Vessels having cargoes to discharge or receive at Cobourg, or Port Hope, must anchor on the coast, which, even in summer, when southerly winds prevail, is hazardous, and in the fall, when south westerly gales are more frequent and violent, is extremely dangerous. Besides the risk at which vessels now remain on the coast without shelter, the inhabitants sometimes suffer loss by the exposure of their goods in landing to damage from the surf, & experience much inconvenience in their commercial intercourse with other parts of the Province, from the delay occasioned by the difficulty of access to the shore when the wind and weather are in the least unfavourable.

The necessity of a wharf where vessels may be secure, and discharge or ship cargoes, is evident, and is daily more and more felt, as the intercourse, with these and other ports on the Lake, becomes more extensive and more frequent. The grand question is, whether the present undertaking be feasible, and whether, admitting its feasibility, it be within the means of the adjoining country to accomplish it. Some persons are of opinion, that no wharf erected on a shore exposed like that of Hamilton to every wind, could long stand before the surf in the summer, and the masses of ice which it is supposed, may be propelled against it in the winter. - But experience has shown, that moles have been constructed and extended a considerable distance into the sea, where the force of the water, from the long rolling surges of the ocean, is much greater than it is on any of the coasts of these Lakes, and those moles have stood for ages, and resisted the fury of the fiercest tempests. The danger apprehended by some, from the ice, is not likely to be great, there being no current in the Lake to carry along with it large bodies of ice in any one direction. - In constructing a wharf at Cobourg, due care should be taken to give it a long slope outwards, on the sides where it is supposed the winds will have the most influence on it. The waves would thus be made gradually to expend their force, as on a gravelly beach, instead of striking at once against the perpendicular sides of a work constructed like the common quays. - The expense, however, of building a wharf at Cobourg, sufficiently extensive to afford complete shelter to vessels in rough weather, and to enable them at the same time to land their cargoes with ease and safety, would be very great, and we fear beyond the ability of the whole District of Newcastle. A few blocks may indeed be sunk, sufficient to prevent vessels being driven off the coast, and to afford some shelter; but we apprehend that the people of Hamilton, with all their public spirit and zeal, will not, without assistance, be able to complete the undertaking - which to their great credit they are now commencing. But should they only succeed in getting a few pieces of timber sunk, even that would be a great object obtained; it would then become a fit subject of discussion whether Parliamentary aid should not to be extended to them. The object in view, though it principally concerns the District of Newcastle, is nevertheless of importance to the Province generally, and as such, should meet with the encouragement and support of the public. If we look at England, we will find that in her internal concerns, she always aids by Parliamentary provision all undertakings having in view objects of public utility. - Nay, if we look nearer home, we will observe that in the United States aid is generally supplied by the Legislature for similar purposes. Indeed, it is not long since money was voted in the State of New York, for removing a bar which obstructs the navigation of the Genessee river, and a further grant for the same object has been lately applied for. With these examples before our eyes, there can be little hesitation, one would imagine, on the part of our Parliament, to assist the people of Hamilton with a grant of money as liberal as the finances of the Province will allow. The want of a harbour on that part of the Lake shore is great and pressing. It is evidently beyond the ability of the people themselves to construct a good wharf, such as is required; there is consequently, a fair and proper opportunity for the Legislature to interfere, and with a judicious liberality, to grant them aid in forwarding and completing a work of no trivial importance to the commercial interests of the country generally, and unquestionably of the first necessity, not only to the older and more populous townships in the front of the District of Newcastle, but to the new and distant settlements in the rear of it.

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Dec. 15, 1820
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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.
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Kingston Chronicle (Kingston, ON), Dec. 15, 1820