The President and Directors of the Welland Canal Company have the honor to transmit to his Excellency the Administrator, a statement of the Receipts and Expenditures, for the year ending the 1st of December, 1841, as required by the act 7th William IV, chap 92, and to Report:-
That in consequence of the appropriation of £450,000, made during the first session of the United Parliament of Canada, contracts have been entered into, to increase the dimensions of the canal, from the junction to the Grand River, to 24 feet bottom, 56 feet surface, and 8 feet depth of water, according to Specifications furnished by the Board of Works.
The Expenditures, for the past year, in repairs and new works, amount to £44,791 6s. 8 1/2 d., the details of which will be found in the Report of the Company's Superintendent.
Should the Pier at the mouth of the Grand River be rebuilt, as recommended by the Superintendent, and a communication, by lock opened between the river and the canal, a great addition to the business of the canal might be confidently anticipated; as vessels would then be enabled to pass from the upper parts of Lake Erie, through the Welland canal, at a time when the lower end of that lake was wholly impeded with ice. (See Appendix A.)
The construction of a Towing-path from Dunnville to Cayuga bridge, (the Company's boundary,) has frequently been brought before the notice of the Directors, as well calculated to extend the usefulness of the canal. The navigation of the Grand river thus continued to the entrance of the feeder upwards of sixty miles of river communication will be thrown open, and an easy outlet given to the produce of the Western country.
The complete success of the Ohio canal, as shown by reference to an extract from the Report of the Board of Works of that State, for 1840, (Appendix B.) affords the best proof of the prospective value of our own undertaking. Reference is also made to the Report of the Commissioners of the Erie canal, for the same year, which furnishes much useful information, respecting the capacity and increased lockage on that work. (Appendix C.)
The improvements now in progress on the Welland canal, by furnishing an ample supply of water, will remedy an evil which has, from time to time, occasioned severe loss and inconvenience.
By the Report of the Board of Works, there is reason to hope that the St. Lawrence canal, at Cornwall, will be soon finished. This canal will enable vessels passing the Welland, to reach the Coteau du Lac, within 40 miles of Montreal, whence, by means of the Lachine canal, a slack water navigation is already opened, to the head of Lake St. Louis. A canal of only seven miles in length, will then be required, to connect the navigable waters between those points, viz: Lake St. Francis and Lake St. Louis. This accomplished, the construction of a new canal, or the enlargement of the Lachine, with a towing path on the St. Lawrence, and two locks below Prescott, will complete the navigation for vessels or steam boats, from the great western lakes to the ocean. (Appendix D. and E.) give the comparative dimensions, and prices of transportation, between the canals in Canada, and those of the adjoining state of New York.
Prior to the introduction of canals, in North America, the produce of the entire country bordering on the lakes, found its way to Montreal, by the River St. Lawrence. The benefits resulting to Canada from the employment of this channel were not duly appreciated, until the carrying trade was diverted from the St. Lawrence to the Hudson, by the construction of the Erie canal. By the opening of the Welland, a portion of this trade has been recovered, equal to what could reasonably be expected from the fact, that it still forms but one link in the chain of communication with the ocean. This result affords the strongest evidence, that the advantages we once possessed, may, in a great measure, be recovered, when the St. Lawrence is completed, so as to open a direct communication with the sea.
The only official statistical information we possess, as to quantities and description of commerce passing through the St. Lawrence river and Rideau canal, from Lake Ontario, is furnished by the returns from the Lachine canal, which are annexed, with such other information on the subject of trade and commerce, as we have been able to collect. [Appendix F.)
By the foregoing, we are placed in possession of the following particulars: The magnitude and rapid increase of the commerce of the West, which cannot be more forcibly illustrated than by shewing that, in four years, the Erie canal, with its present capacity, will be unequal to the trade of the upper lakes. (Appen. C.) That the entire communication opened by the Erie canal, has hitherto secured to that channel, the larger portion of the carrying trade; that the Government of the State of New York, in order to retain and extend this advantage, are enlarging the Erie canal, at an immense expenditure.
This activity should excite in us corresponding exertions to render as widely beneficial as possible, these natural advantages, which a variety of favourable circumstances have placed under our control. The position and, comparatively speaking, the shortness of our artificial water communications, if attended to, will insure to us a large and lucrative carrying trade through the St. Lawrence as well as the Welland canal.
We congratulate the Shareholders and the country, that the Welland canal has at length become public property on terms which may ultimately prove mutually satisfactory. (Appendix G.)
The condition of the Act, requiring that the holders of two-thirds of the private stocks should signify their assent to the terms offered, before the canal could be placed wholly under the control of the Government, have been complied with, and the improvements now in progress, are under the direction of the Board of Works.
All which is respectfully submitted,
Wm. Hamilton Merritt, President.
Welland Canal Office, St. Catharines, Dec. 20th, 1841.
p.3 Public Address - from inhabitants of Hamilton and area, to Governor General Sir Charles Bagot, requesting improvements of navigation from shores of Lakes Erie and Huron to ocean.