Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Argus (Kingston, ON), April 2, 1847
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James A. Walker & Co.

Resuming our walk we come to the establishment of Messrs. James A. Walker & Co., late Jones & Walker, who have removed from the premises owned by Mr. Counter to those extensive warehouses adjoining the Kingston Marine Railway. This Firm are busy in preparations for a heavy Spring business, and are adding to their already large stock, two Barges of the largest class, with the improvement of promenade decks, to protect their deck-loads, from the weather. Their two powerful tug-boats Erie and Lord Stanley, will ply on the St. Lawrence, and their other craft by the Ottawa River.

A fine new wharf, of which we may speak more hereafter, is being erected in this neighborhood, by our enterprising townsman, John Counter, Esq.

Greer's Wharf.

We next came to the premises of Mr. John H. Greer, who has formed a connection with Captain Colcleugh in the Forwarding business, hence to Montreal. They are making preparations to do an extensive business.

A very fine stone building, capable of storing a large quantity of goods, has been erected since last Spring at Mr. Greer's wharf, by Mr. John Carruthers, Merchant, for his own use.

E. Browne & Co.

The commodious premises of E. Browne & Co., next attracted our attention. They are just entering into the Wharfage and Commission business, in connection with the Messrs. Browne, so well known in the same line in Hamilton and Toronto. This firm, in addition to their large stock of sailing vessels on the Lakes, have purchased the steamer Transit, and intend placing her as a freight boat between Kingston, Oswego, Toronto and Hamilton. She will also afford a good conveyance for Emigrants to Toronto or the head of the Lake. Their premises have been made a Bonded Warehouse; and as they have been appointed Agents of the American line of Lake Steamers, these vessels will stop at their wharf.

McPherson & Crane

Have just commenced fitting out their large Stock. During the ensuing season they will have a daily departure of a Freight Steamer from both ends of the route, viz. Kingston and Montreal running down the river and up the Ottawa and Rideau Canals. They intend placing competent Steam Power on the St. Lawrence, for the purpose of towing their freight barges up and down by that route, and expect that this arrangement will much facilitate the passage of produce to market. They will also early in spring place a Passage Boat on the Rideau Canal, between Kingston and Bytown, making a weekly trip to and from those places. For the convenience of the travelling public we would suggest the propriety of their advertising in the Argus the days of sailing - together with the times of calling at all the intermediate ports, - thus making as long an advertisement as possible. We would recommend the same course in the case of their splendid new steamer the Speed, built by them last season at Hull, on the Ottawa River, for the Bytown and Grenville Route, by the bye, has been pronounced one of the finest specimens of naval architecture ever executed in the Province, - and is expected to make the run from Bytown to Grenville, a distance of 64 miles, in 3 1/2 hours, which arrangements will afford western invalids good travelling accommodations to the Caledonia Springs.

In addition to the business of Forwarding carried on by this House, they have a large Ship Yard at Portsmouth, used exclusively for building and repairing their own vessels. During the last winter their payments of Carpenters' wages have amounted to two thousand dollars a month. They are now in course of building a schooner, to be called the Governor, capable of carrying ten thousand bushels of wheat. In proof of the perfection of her model, she is calculated to carry her full cargo through the Welland Canal without lightening, while the quality of sailing has not been overlooked, as she promises to be one of the fastest vessels on these waters. If any vessel, properly adapted for Lake navigation, will be able to navigate the St. Lawrence profitably, this vessel will - in which case she will be merely the first of a fleet of the same kind to be built by this firm.

Glassford & Smith.

The new firm of Glassford & Smith, comes next in order. They are having a new Steam-boat built at Portsmouth for the engine of the Wm. Henry, and are also fitting out the Steamer Gem, together with a new stock of barges, capable of carrying 20,000 barrels of flour per month. Their office is on the wharf of Messrs. E. Browne & Co.

Hooker, Henderson & Co.

The old firm of Messrs. Hooker, Henderson, & Co., are as usual active in making preparations for the spring business, being now in course of adding to their large stock by building a Tow Boat of 75 horse power, and barges of the largest class. Their Steamers Lily, Grenville, and Propeller, will come up, via the Ottawa and Rideau Canals, as formerly, while the Steamers Express, Prince Albert, and their new Steamer will be placed on the River route, for the purpose of towing down and up their barges.

Quebec Forwarding Co.

Next comes the Establishment of the Quebec Company, the only house which carries produce direct to Quebec without transhipment. Since last Fall they have made considerable additions to their premises, and intend making improvements, this Spring, for the security of property entrusted to them. Their stock of Steamers and Barges will as usual be ready at the opening, and in efficient working order. This company was established in the year 1843, and is not now in course of formation, as was alleged in the Cobourg Star .

Immediately adjoining the Quebec Forwarding Co.'s wharf, is another one in progress of being erected, owned by David John Smith, Esq., which, with the stores to be built on it, will, it is expected, be completed this season.

H. & S. Jones

Of the Forwarders, it now remains for us to notice the house of Messrs. H. & S. Jones, & Co., so long and favorably known to the Mercantile community. None of the parties have yet arrived from Brockville (their winter Establishment), but we have learned that like the others, they are making extensive preparations for a large business in the Spring, and are adding a fine new Steamer to their towing power. We have to return our best thanks to this house, for their regularly sending us their Commercial News Letter, published in Montreal, named "The Spirit of the Markets. "

Remarks on Forwarding Business.

While speaking of Forwarders, and Forwarding arrangements, it is not out of place to say, that there is not a class of Merchants so widely censured, and that too with great injustice; for we would have the public to know that this business is affected by the principle of supply and demand as our freights from Montreal or New York to ports in England, while Forwarders are subject to all the variations of prices in labor, provisions, and wood (their principal outlay), in the same manner as a Cotton Spinner in Manchester is affected by the price of the raw material; and we are informed by some of our most respectable forwarders here that the difference in price at times in these important items, amounts to from 20 to 25 per cent, on their gross expenses. Let the public - who by the way are always ready to tell to a cent, the proper freight of a barrel of flour from Kingston to Montreal consider this, and feel that they judge unknowingly and unjustly. It might surprise them to learn that last Fall, common seamen on the Lakes, knowing that the supply of nautical labor was not equal to the demand, demanded and obtained the extraordinary wages of $35 a month; the same principle held in respect to the crews of every Barge and Steamer running on our Rivers and Canals, to a greater or less extent, while the scarcity of wood was also sensibly felt by the Forwarders generally.

In respect to driving the carrying trade of the country through the United States canals, it is a matter of which we have no apprehension. - Our Forwarders, with that enterprise characteristic of them, will meet, by improvements in the class of craft used, the improvements in our canal navigation; and we have no doubt but that their river freights will be so low as to make at all times a difference in favor of the St. Lawrence route - provided always, that the good people of Montreal and Quebec bestir themselves to erect additional Light Houses, and otherwise improve the navigation of the St. Lawrence below Quebec, so as to remove the fears held in England, by Underwriters, Ship-owners, and Ship-masters.

We observe that the Montreal Economist remarks on the advertisement of some of the Forwarders, dated 11th December. We think the public ought to be satisfied with the fact that they intend to perform what in that advertisement they promised.

Mail Lines.

We have now to speak of the arrangements for the travelling community on the River. - The Hon. John Hamilton is busy fitting out the fine, fast, and commodious Steamers, the Canada, and Henry Gildersleeve, the former to be commanded by our valued friend and

popular Captain, Lawless, the latter by Captain Maxwell, also long and favorably known on this route. The splendid new steamer, the Passport, built at the Marine Railway last fall, and now being finished at Lachine, will be added to this line, in May. Being of Iron, she will be an experiment, and we sincerely hope a successful one in the River navigation of this Province. She is being fitted out in the North River style, having a cabin and staterooms on the upper deck, running from aft to forward without break, and is expected to be as fast as the fastest of the North River boats. Her Commander will be Captain Bowen, - a great favorite on the river. The Highlander, hitherto known as the fastest boat entering our port, will complete this line, and is so well known to travellers, that we need say no more of her than she will be commanded, as formerly, by Captain Stearns, who is so well worthy of sailing this splendid steamer .

Having taken thus much notice of what is doing in our nautical world, we would remark that were we in the training we once were in, we would walk to Toronto and chronicle the preparations making there, for the Lake passage route; - but this degrading life of an Editor precludes the condition of body necessary for so long a walk, so we leave these preparations to be chronicled by some of our brethren of the Press there, with the full assurance that Mr. Bethune is making every arrangement for the comfort and safety of passengers.

Our limited space prevents our taking notice to-day, of other establishments.


In our last number we alluded to the disgraceful state in which we found the slips at the wharves, all the accumulated filth of a year having been deposited there during the winter. We are glad to perceive that what we then noticed, has attracted the attention of the proper authorities, and that much of the rubbish has been carted from the neighbourhood of the wharves to where it will not be a nuisance. Whilst on the subject of the Harbour we may state, that we conceive it impossible that the Harbour Master can be continually watching the wharves. The filth placed around them is generally carted there at night, and it would almost require a man at each wharf to prevent its being laid down. Under these circumstances it would be advisable that the Council would frame some very stringent By-Law on the subject, that the wharves be by some means or other properly watched, and that fines be imposed on those transgressing the Law.

Cleveland, 24th March - Navigation Open - The steamboat United States, Capt. Belden, fired up this morning about ten o'clock, rode out gaily from the piers, and westward took her way. She is bound for Detroit, "wind and weather permitting." The last we saw of her she was making her way through the clear blue waters of Old Erie.

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April 2, 1847
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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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Argus (Kingston, ON), April 2, 1847