The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Chronicle & Gazette (Kingston, ON), June 23, 1841

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p.2 We regret to learn that the Royal Mail Steamer Brockville met with a slight accident, occasioning some derangement in her machinery yesterday on her upward trip from Dickenson's Landing to Prescott. She will again take her station on the route in a couple of days. In the meantime Porcupine is plying in her place.


To the Editor of the Chronicle & Gazette.

Sir: - An article in Wednesday's Chronicle, under the imposing title of "Caution to Emigrants and the Public at Large," in which our reputation is pretty freely handled, demands, on our part, some explanation. We now hasten to do so, more with a view to vindicate our own character in quarters into which the article to may find its way, and where we may not be known; and to obviate any unfavorable impressions which may have been formed in the public mind, in consequence of the publication of the article in question, than from any importance we attach to such an ungrateful individual as Edward Cochrane.

To proceed with our explanation, or rather refutation of the malicious falsehoods contained in Mr. Cochrane's production, we would here observe, that the barge Bytown, in which he and his fellow passengers left Montreal, is a fine, strong, sound craft, well found in every respect, and was built a year or two ago at Quebec, for Messrs. P. McGill & Co. of Montreal, (from whom we purchased her) expressly for the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal trade, for which she is well adapted. About the 26th May our firm in Montreal were despatching several barges thence for this place, laden with goods and passengers. They were also sending off the Bytown with but a few tons of goods on board. Our towing means at the time being rather limited, it was decided that the laden barges should have the sole benefit of the towing power then available, and that the barge Bytown being light, should make the best of her way, at least part of the route, without the aid of steam. This being the case, the time of her arrival here would depend altogether on the state of the wind and the exertions of the crew. It could not, therefore, be deemed prudent to put any passengers on board of her.

About the time that the Bytown was to leave Montreal, Mr. Cochrane and his friends were also leaving for the upper country, and rather than take passage in any of the barges that were laden with passengers, and sure of a quick trip, preferred taking passage on board the Bytown even under the certainty of being liable to a greater length of time on the way up, than any of the others; believing that the additional accommodation and comfort they would have on board of her, would fully compensate them for any probable difference in the time of performing the trip to this place. Urgent in their request to this effect, they were allowed to take passage on board of her. The passengers were fourteen in number. All that could be done was done to render them comfortable. The forecastle was given up to the female passengers. In fact the whole boat was at the disposal of these fourteen persons. More than this, Mr. Cochrane, who pretends to be so badly treated by us, not having money to pay his passage, Mr. Murray, in order to assist him in getting to his friends, took his watch as security until he might find it convenient to redeem it. The Bytown is a barge of about 80 to 85 tons burthen; it is impossible then that fourteen passengers could be otherwise than comfortable on board of her. At Vaudreuill Rapids she accidentally got aground, and could not be got off for several days, notwithstanding all the exertions made by the crew, under the superintendance of Mr. C.M. Murray, one of our young men who was on board; and who, by the way, is not related to Mr. Murray, and who, even if he were, would not on that account think of ill treating any passengers under our charge.

The three days unnecessary delay mentioned by Mr. Cochrane, is the period that elapsed from the time that the barge struck until the first barge came along and took the passengers on board. This second barge into which the passengers were transferred was the

Janet, a small barge of about 35 tons burthen, having no cargo with the exception of a steam boiler, and being well furnished with good oilclothes, 14 persons could certainly make themselves comfortable on board of her. The observation relative to "dirty water" and the "stench" arising therefrom, only shows the ignorance of the writer. Any one at all conversant with barges or other craft, knows that in tight and seaworthy vessels a certain quantity of water which cannot be pumped out, always remains in the bottom, and frequently emits a flavor not altogether of a pleasing nature. It is a pity that some means of obviating this inconvenience has not been found out, so as to save the olfactory organs of such delicate gentlemen as Mr. Cochrane from such severe ordeals.

Shortly after the passengers were transferred to the Janet she overtook another barge of ours, the Otter, of about 65 tons burthen, and being but fairly laden, they were, with a view to their better accommodation, again transferred to her, and remained on board of her until they arrived here. It will thus be seen that although these people were longer on the way than either they or we could have wished, or if they had taken passage on board of any of the passenger boats leaving at the same time - the fault rests not with us, nor with our men, who, we are aware, did all in their power to expedite matters. The mode of transfer was one of their own choice, and they were made aware of its being a tedious one before they embarked.

On Mr. Cochrane's arrival here he was very anxious to get back his watch, which had been sent up to Mr. Gunn our Agent here, to hand over to him on payment of the sum for which it was taken as security, but having no means of raising funds to do so, hit upon the idea of getting up a long story about ill-treatment, etc., experienced by himself and his fellow passengers, which he accordingly drew out and presented to Mr. Gunn, stating at the same time that if he Mr. G. would refund the passage money, no further notice would be taken of the matter; if not, the statement should be published in the public prints. Mr. Gunn very properly refused to comply with his request, and told him that so long as we were satisfied that no ill treatment had been shown by us, or any of our men, he Mr. Cochrane was at perfect liberty to publish whatever he thought proper. Fired with indignation at the idea of having his very modest request so lightly treated, he determined on having his statement published, and, Mr. Editor, through your assistance effected his objective. And here we would beg to observe, that, in our opinion, in all cases of the kind, where complaints are made by Emigrants to Editors of newspapers against Forwarders, whether on real or pretended grounds, they should be referred to the Emigrant Agent (provided there is one at hand) whose duty it undoubtedly is to investigate charges of this nature, and not, as we are informed has been the case in the present instance, to recommend the course adopted by Mr. Cochrane, and made no further inquiry into the matter.

The other passengers made no observations here on the subject of their alleged grievances. Mr. Cochrane was spokesman for all, and he no doubt, induced them to sign his letter under the impression that their passage money would be refunded. At all events it is evident that his exertions were directed more with a view to get back his watch and have a free passage, than from any philanthropic desire on his part to communicate a "Caution to Emigrants and the public at large," His request to compound the matter for a "consideration," plainly indicates this.

We have been thus explicit, in the hope that the public may judge for themselves and see that we are not to blame, and because we deem the matter one of no small importance.

Should this not be deemed sufficient, we are open to investigation, nay we invite it. And trusting that you sir, and any other editor who may have copied the former article, may also insert this, we remain, sir,

Your ob't servt's,

Sanderson & Murray.

Kingston, June 19th, 1841.

Sailors, Sailors, Look Out - For Sale, at Collins & Haines Commission Warehouse, a first rate Clinker built, copper fastened Pleasure Boat, 18 feet keel and five feet beam, adapted either for rowing or sailing, with Sails, Rigging and Spars complete, in perfect order, and nearly new, built last summer by an experienced builder. Intending purchasers may be accommadated with a Boat House if required, on reasonable terms. Kingston, June 23rd, 1841.

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June 23, 1841
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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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Chronicle & Gazette (Kingston, ON), June 23, 1841