The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Chronicle & Gazette (Kingston, ON), Dec. 23, 1843

Full Text

p.1 Report of the Board of Works, laid before the Honorable Legislative Council, on 13th October, 1843.

- over 12 full columns, giving much background history and updates. - gives details of work on Welland Canal, St. Lawrence Navigation, Beauharnois Canal, Lachine Canal, River Richelieu, River Ottawa, Lake St. Peter, Burlington Bay Canal, Improvement of the Inland Waters of the Newcastle District, Harbours, Lighthouses, etc.



Under this head of the appropriation is embraced a class of works of the greatest importance, and the want of which has been most seriously felt.

Along the entire coast of Lake Erie, from the entrance to the Welland Canal at Port Colborne to Point Pelee, there has been for some years but one Light, that at Port Burwell; which Light, from that Harbour being sifted up, and unavailable, was of course comparatively but of little use. The extremity of Long Point, projecting nearly midway into the Lake, was not to be distinguished by a Light; and the cut through the spit of land near Port Rowan, which is now so much used by steam and other vessels passing up and down the Canadian shore, was also without a Light, and no season has passed without the loss of many vessels from want of the necessary Lights on this Lake.

Lake Ontario has been better provided in this respect, but much improvement was required on it also.

With respect to the Harbors, at the commencement of 1842, there was scarcely one on the Canadian side of Lake Erie which was not in a state of dilapidation - in many instances so much so as to render it impossible for vessels to enter them. The consequence was, that the proprietors of vessels in many cases refused to charter them; and it was not unusual to see the few vessels which were engaged, "lying to" offshore, to be loaded or to discharge their cargoes by means of jolly-boats. The result naturally was, that section of country suffered most severely from the difficulties to be encountered, and the increased cost of transporting its produce to market.

To remedy these evils the following works are provided for. Some of them are in progress, and others are about to be commenced forthwith.

Near the head of Lake Erie, at the Point aux Pins, preparations are being made to convert the natural basin, called the Rondeau, into a good Harbour by the construction of a Breakwater and two Piers. When they are built, this will afford the advantages of easy entrance, perfect safety, sufficient water, and ample room to accommodate any number of vessels.

It is proposed to erect a good Light at its entrance, and from the Harbour to make a facile road, communicating with Chatham, and with the interior of that fine section of country, for the productions of which this Harbor will then be the natural outlet. This road will be terminated at the Harbour by a commodious wharf. From Chatham to the Rondeau, by this road, will be a distance of about 17 miles; by the present route of the River and Lake it is 150 miles and upwards.

At Port Stanley, a great deal has been done. Most of the old work, which had been miserably constructed, and was in utter ruin, has been removed, necessarily at much expense. Two substantial Piers have been constructed, in order to keep open and shelter the mouth of Kettle Creek, which here empties itself into the Lake; the deposite has been removed, which had partly filled it, owing to the state of the old Piers, and a good road is being made from it into the interior of the country, passing close to the town of St. Thomas, and uniting with the main London and Chatham road.

Port Burwell.

The charter of this Harbor has been surrendered to the Government.

The boats, pile engine, dredge, and other machinery at Port Stanley, will shortly be transported to this place, and the works of the alteration and improvement of the Harbor, as well as that of the road leading to it, will be proceeded with as soon as possible.

Cut at Port Rowan.

A strong and well appointed Floating Light Vessel has been built, to be stationed at the Cut near Port Rowan, which, since its being opened through the neck of land there in the storms of 1834, has been used by steam and other craft coasting on the Canadian shore of Lake Erie, instead of making the great circuit of Long Point.

The moorings for this vessel have been sent up, and the Light will be exhibited very shortly.

At the extremity of Long Point, near the site where the old Light House had stood, a new one has been erected. The Tower, and the keeper's house are completed, the lantern is being secured in its berth, and the old lamps are undergoing a thorough repair, but they are of a very inferior description, and it is proposed shortly to substitute better lamps in their places.

Port Dover Harbour.

This Harbour has also been taken into the hands of Government. A moderate sum is about being expanded on it to render it more effective, by repairing the Piers, and extending them into deep water, and by removing the deposit in the channel. The timber and stone are delivered, and the works will immediately be put in progress.

As this Harbor will form a terminus of the new Road to Hamilton, a considerable increase of trade there must take place.

Port Maitland and Port Colborne Harbours.

Forming the two entrances of the Welland Canal into Lake Erie, are being proceeded with; but the expenditure thereon is embraced in the appropriation for the Welland Canal.

Lake Ontario.

The construction of the new Piers at Port Dalhousie is about to be commenced; but the cost thereof is also borne and provided for in the estimate for the completion of the Welland Canal.

At Windsor the works necessary to secure a good entrance into the fine Bay called Big Bay, and convert it into a safe and commodious Harbor, have been urged with great spirit, and are now in a very satisfactory and advanced state; the entire of the Breakwater is raised nearly to its full height, and the two Piers are finished up to water level. It is intended to let them lie in this state until spring, in order to permit the cribs to stand the winter storms, and to give time for their settlement, after which they will be raised upon, and the work generally finished.

The Board were obliged to take these works out of the hands of the original Contractor, as, from the rate at which they were progressing under his management, it was perfectly clear that they could not be finished within the period in which he was bound by his contract; the consequence would be, that the works being caught by the equinoctial gales, in a state insufficient to withstand their violence, would have been seriously injured, and much additional expense incurred.

Cobourg Harbour.

The Harbour at Cobourg has been very considerably repaired and improved; to effect which, the taking up of a large portion of the old work was unavoidable, from its dilapidated state, and the insufficient manner in which it has been constructed. The piers are now completed, with the exception of the sinking of two cribs. The dredging of the outer portion of the Harbour still remains undone; and I am of opinion that it is not advisable to attempt it until next spring. The set of the shingle or deposite here is governed by the prevailing south-west wind; and the deposite which has settled in the Harbor took place while the old works of the western Pier remained in an open and unfinished state, the sand washing through them on the least blow of westerly or south-westerly winds. This Pier being now staunch, and terminating in nearly twenty feet of water, and the eastern Pier having about seventeen feet of water at its head, it remains to be satisfactorily ascertained whether nature may not beneficially affect the depth of the water within the Piers, without expense being incurred in the dredging thereof. I conceive that the silt will not now be carried round the heads of the Piers into the Harbour, and should this fortunately turn out to be the case, that portion of it which had collected before the finishing of the Harbor, and which now lies within the entrance, will, I consider, partly be washed upon shore by the setting in of a southerly sea, and partly be carried out by the ground current.

Gull Island and Presquisle Light Houses.

At the latter, a keeper's house is required, which it is proposed to advertize for, in order that the materials may be delivered this winter. In lieu of the fixed Light at Point Petre, a revolving Light has been substituted, showing a full light at periods of every half minute, and the Light at Presquisle is about to be changed to a colored Light. In coming down the Lake, difficulty has frequently been experienced in distinguishing between these Lights.

It is proposed generally to place a Light upon the head of one Pier at each Provincial Harbor; these Lights to be of uniform character, to stand about 24 feet high, to show about six miles, and to appear with a green belt across them; by it they will always be easily distinguished from fishing or shore lights, with which the Pier Lights heretofore have been frequently confounded.

All which is respectfully submitted.


Chairman Board of Works.

Kingston, 11th October, 1843.

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Dec. 23, 1843
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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.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Chronicle & Gazette (Kingston, ON), Dec. 23, 1843