The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Upper Canada Herald (Kingston, ON), May 26, 1830

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p.2 To the Public - I regret very much that I am again obliged, in vindication of myself, to resort to the columns of a newspaper, for I am conscious that I am not well qualified for the task, and, if I were, I should have no desire to be engaged in a newspaper controversy. Certainly it is not my wish to injure Mr. McDonell in his business or reputation, and I think he has received some proofs that I bear no ill will towards him.

I think it my duty, however, in justice to my employers and myself, to notice some things in his communication. In making my comments I will quote his own words.

"It is perfectly true," he observes "that Captain Gilderslieve expressed a strong desire that the Toronto should this year continue the disadvantageous and unequal route of last year and allow his boat to be always a day before her."

The Sir James left Kingston on Monday and returned on Tuesday, the Toronto left Kingston on Tuesday and returned on Wednesday. So far certainly the Sir James was one day before the Toronto, and so far his memory serves him well. But where were his "power of self-recollection and retentiveness of memory," as to the other days of the week! He seems to have forgotten that the Toronto left Kingston on Thursday and returned on Friday, and that the Sir James left Kingston on Friday and returned on Saturday, which brought the Toronto a day before the Sir James, instead of the Sir James being a day before the Toronto. Neither does he recollect that the Sir James left Kingston for Prescott on Wednesday and returned on Thursday, and that the Toronto left for the same place on Saturday and returned Monday, which brought the Sir James four days behind the Toronto, and gave her the advantage of one day more for the arrival of goods at that place. All this it seems he does not recollect, but comes out boldly, and after a modest hint about his "power of self-recollection and retentiveness of memory," asserts that the Sir James was always one day before the Toronto.

Again he says "Captain Gilderslieve aware how ungracious and arrogant his conduct would appear to the public, in leaving the Toronto no other alternative than the route of last year, or a change subject to his high displeasure, tries to get rid of the difficulty, by asserting that he agreed to a new route proposed by me, and that it was only when I insisted on another change that he opposed it." Now, the fact was, that I made no objection to any of the routes proposed by Mr. McDonell except that which it seems he determined to adopt. I will not say that he adopted this route merely because he found I was opposed to it, but it has that appearance. The propriety of my objections to this route my former statement will shew.

The route which Mr. McDonell first proposed to me was this: that the Toronto should leave the C. Place for Kingston on Monday, Kingston for the C. Place on Tuesday, C. Place for Kingston on Wednesday, Kingston for Prescott on Thursday, Prescott for Kingston on Friday, Kingston for C. Place on Saturday, and remain at the C. Place over Sunday. I declare positively that this was the route proposed to me by Mr. McDonell; and, as D.J. Smith, Esq. informed me, it was proposed to him. If it was not actually determined upon, I had good reason at all events to suppose it to be, from the circumstance of its being proposed, not only to me, as master of the boat, but also to Mr. Smith as its Treasurer. If it is a contradiction of Mr. McDonell's statement and may affect his credit with the public, I regret it but cannot help it, for it is a fact.

When I learned Mr. McDonell's intention to run the Toronto upon her present days, I told him frankly, that if it were carried into execution, the Sir James Kempt must alter her days and run on some of the same that the Toronto did; and I mentioned it to others that they might shew Mr. McDonell the ill consequences which the alteration of his route would occasion to both boats.

If Mr. McDonell's offer to exchange days had been accepted, it would unquestionably have given the Sir James a decided advantage over the Toronto, but it would not have accommodated the public and of course would have injured both boats; for whatever arrangement most accommodates the public is best for the boats. My object however, never has been to gain an advantage over the Toronto, but to do the best in my power for the interests of my employers. I am persuaded no candid and unprejudiced person, who will take the trouble to examine that part of my former statement which relates to the days of running, will doubt for a moment, that the boats ought to run on those days, and if not, then it must be admitted that it was my duty, as a party connected, to oppose it.

The greatest complaint against me is, that I said I should oppose running on those days. But if I had not given this notice beforehand, what then would have been said? Would it not have been said, and justly said, "you certainly have as good a right to change your days as he has, but you should have told him this before he commenced running; not have lulled him into a believe that you would continue your usual route and after he had changed his, and made his arrangements accordingly, then rushed in upon him; there is where you are to blame."

Mr. McDonell defies me to shew a single instance where the Toronto has interfered with the Sir James Kempt this season. This my former statement will shew without further comment.

It seems that he has learned from various quarters of the Bay that the route now adopted accommodates the public more than ever. As to that, if he is satisfied, I am. But in fact it has nothing to do with the matter in dispute.

The ringing of the Sir Jame's bell is another cause of offence. I must say however that the Toronto is quite as guilty in this respect as the Sir James. It is known that the ringing of the bell is in some measure discretionary with the men, and I do not think that one time in five it is rang by my particular orders, and never do I recollect having ordered the bell to be rung while that of the Toronto was ringing. However, to avoid all complaint, orders shall be given, that the bell of the Sir James shall not be rung until a certain time after that of the Toronto.

He next touches upon my motives in offering to charter the Toronto. It appears he has been credibly informed that I had no instructions from my owners to charter her, and he conjectures that I intended to do it on my own account, and to lay her up high and dry for the benefit of my employers. He must have a high opinion of my liberality to suppose I would sacrifice more than double my salary for the benefit of my employers. Perhaps, since he is upon the subject, he can inform the public, why the Toronto was put up for sale, and why, what was good management for others as to the route of the Toronto last year, would not have been good management for himself this. I attended the sale of the Toronto by the particular request of some of her owners and with the knowledge and consent of some of the Committee and owners of the Sir James, to whom I would refer Mr. McDonell, for an explanation of my motives in offering so largely.

I beg leave to mention one circumstance. The second trip after the Sir James had changed her route, I proposed to Mr. McDonell that the two boats should join interests for the season that out of their joint earnings the amount should be paid, for which the Toronto was chartered, and the remaining profit or loss shared, in proportion to our respective interests. If he had paid a high price for the Toronto, this arrangement would have relieved him from the risk of losing more than the proprietors of the Sir James in proportion to the stock held, and given him an advantage over them of the interest of £400, the money for which the Toronto was chartered. His reply was, that he required time to consider of it. As the Sir James was nearly ready to start, I mentioned the proposal to one or two persons, who were not concerned in either boat but friendly to both, and requested them to call on Mr. McDonell and get his answer, which I understand they did, but the proposal was rejected.

The public can judge from this circumstance whether I have been disposed to injure Mr. McDonell, and which of us has been least accommodating.


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May 26, 1830
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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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Upper Canada Herald (Kingston, ON), May 26, 1830