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The St Lawrence Route 

Its Past and Future 

Canada's Natural Watenoay from t/}e Rockies 
to the Sea. 

Being a Taper read by THOS. CONLON, Esq.. member of X 
the Dominion Marine Association, before the 
Thorold Hoard of Trade, 
May II, igog. 

Published jointly by ll/e THOROLU and ST. CATHARINES 
Voards of Trade. 



I I 


The St. Lawrence Route 

Its Past and Future 

Canada's Natural Wa/encay from tl^e Rockies 
to the Sea. 


] Being a •Paper read *y THOS. CONLON. Esq., member of 

} the Dominicn Marine Associalicin, before Ibe 

I Tfiorold Board of Trade, 

May II, igog. 

Pablished jointly by l^e THOROLD .,d ST. CATHARINES 
'Boards of Trade. 


Thb St. Lawrence Roite 

The St. Lawrence ^oute 

Its Vast and Future 

N tie Ofid Fellows' Hall, Thorolcl, 
under the a'ispices of the Thorold 
Board of Trade, on Tuesday evc-ii in (j, 
May II, 1909, Mr. Thomas C'onlon 
of St. Catharines, n well - known 
marine man, and a member of the Dominion Marine 
Association, delivered a most interesting and in- 
structive address r.n the advantnjjes <,f the St. 
Lawrence and Welland Canal route over the 
Georgian Bay route ; and also irave a detailed 
account of the improvements on the Welland Canal 
during the patt sixty years. His address was much 
appreciated by all who heard him. President John 
Stuart occupied the chair, and referred in his address 
at the opening of the meeting to Mr. Conlon's 
extensive experience on the Welland Canal. 

Ex-President Leslie McMann, stated that he, 
as President of the Board of Trade, had asked Mr. 
Conlon to give an address on the canal route, and 
he h.->d kindly consented. The question is one of 
the most important before the people, having to do 
with better water trinsport:ition throughout the 
entire Dominion of Canada. With the improve- 
proposed, American competition need 

ments now 

The St. I.awhence Roi'tk 

not be feared. He was proud that the Thorold 
Board of Trade had such a incmbLr as Mr. Conlon. 
Mr. Conlon's vessel was the first that ever entered 
Port Arthur harbor. He is one of the pioneer 
marine men, and a better man to handle the question 
could not be secured. 

Mr. Conlon was then introduced, and proceeded 
with his address, which was as follows : 

When I was asked a couple of weeks ago by 
our Hoard of Trade if I would K've an address on 
the history of the VVelland Canal, and after thinking 
it over gave my consent, my idea was to furnish a 
little entertainment that would not probably he 
heard of outside the town of Thorold, or at all events 
would be confined to people in this immediate 
district, who are interested in the Welland Canal 
only. However, within the past few days an in- 
fluential delegation from the northern part of the 
country has visited Ottawa, and strongly urged 
upon the Government the great necessity of building 
the Geor-i;;r Bay Canal from French River to 
Montreal. 1 liese gentlemen had a perfect right, as 
citizens, to urge their views upon the Government, 
but they had no right to speak for the marine 
interests of the country, as I understand they did. 
The Dominion Marine Association is the best 
authority in tiiis country on marine matters, in my 
opinion, and apparentlv their assistance was not 
asked for ; but the deputation was limited to men 
who favored the Georgian Bay Canal. Because of 
the action of this deputation, I concluded, as a 

TiiK St. Lau'rkme RniTE 

mi.iiber of the Dominion Marine Associat i, to 
widen the scope of n,y talk tonight, and to commit 
to manuscript. 

The transportation question is, perhaps, the 
most important we have to deal with in our country. 
The Government has aided railways to the extent of 
S.^ 1,000,000, and the provinr- and local muni- 
cipaiities have given as much moi ;. The Govern- 
ment has also spent !*I20,ooo,^aX) on canals, and 
perhaps another #100,000,000 for deepening 
channels and harbors, building breakwaters and 
lighthouses, and providing other aids to navigation. 
And they are n-it done yet, as the cheapening of 
the transportation of products of the country, its 
fieldy its forests, its fisheries, its mines and its 
factr es, from the place of production to the 
marKets (chiefly in Kngland), in competition with 
other countiies, means, to a large extent, our 
success or our'fa' ''re. 

Therefore o Governm^jnts, our merchants and 
our public men are devoting all their energies to 
cheapening transportation. Most of them, however, 
devote all their time and energy to the railways, and 
very little to our inland waterways. This may be 
accounted for by the fact that comparatively few 
people, our legislators included, seem to realize the 
vast importance and the future possibilities of our 
great inland waterways, so important in cheapq/iing 
transportation to less than half the cost of railways. 

I will, therefore, confine my little talk to you to 
our waterways, and chiefly to the St. Lawrence 

The St. Lawrence Rodte 

route. I will endeavor to show some of the im- 
provements made in it during my sixty years on the 
Welland Canal. During that period I have seen 
Montreal harbor groiv from a 500-ton vessel size to 
that of a 15,000-ton steamship, carrying off our 
products to England. Fifty-eight years ago I saw 
the first vessel going through our present old canal, 
carrying 600 tons; I saw the canal enlarged in 1 881, 
28 years ago, to what is now calle our New Canal, 
with vessels carrying 2,400 tons ; and I hope to live 
to see it further enlarged to accommodate a ship 
carrying 15,000 tons. 

Twenty-five years ago the " Soo " had neither 
telegraph n6r railway, and if a vessel happened to 
freeze in there for the winter it .vas as much as the 
crew's life was worth to attempt to get out to 
civilization. Now there are 50,000,000 tons of 
freight passing through that channel yearly. 

A qu-Trter of a century ago Port Arthur was no 
larger than Thorold ; now Port Arthur and Fort 
William have a population of 25,000, a dozen ele- 
vators holding 18,000,000 bushels of grain and 
sending out 60,000,000 bushels a year in about 
seventy-five Canadian steel ships, which would carry 
away, if they all went at once, about 6,00o,otx> 
bushels each trip. Most of you are aware that my 
brother and I built the little steamer Erin at St. 
St. Catharines in 1 881, and ran her constantly until 
a couple of years ago, when she was run into on the 
River St. Clair and sunk with five of her crew. The 
Erin, under Captain Jerry Clifford, was, I believe. 

The St. Lwvre.nxe Route 

the first steamer to load grain at Port Arthur— in 
1882. The grain was loaded from wagons into the 
vessels ; and the next year, 1883, under Capt. Patrick 
Sullivan, the Erin was the first vessel to load grain 
at the first elevator at Port Arthur. Captain Sullivan 
is still on the lakes, commanding one of Mr. 
Calvin's boats, and I am quite sure you will all unite 
with me in the hope that he will take the first ship 
through the next new canal, about seven years 
hence (Hear, hear!) 

These are some of the improvements within my 
sixty years on this canal, and perhaps many of you 
will be pleased to note the great changes and im- 
provements in our inland waterways in half a 
ceutury. It is some pleasure to recall them to the 
minds of our Board of Trade, with a view to 
shewing the possibilities and the probabilities of the 
St. Lawrence route within the next half century 
and to advise the Government to make the fourth 
Welland Canal big enough. 

The St. Lawrence Route 

Commences at the Atlantic Ocean, coming up 
the gulf and river to Montreal, a distance of about 
one thousand miles, thence up the six canals to 
Prescott, and through Lake Ontario and the Welland 
Canal to Port Colborne, about 365 miles additional 
or in all over 1,300 miles from Port Colborne to 
the Atlantic. This is what is known as " The St 
Lawrence Route." The seven canals, including the 
Welland, have 46 locks in a distance of about 


The St. Lawrence Route 

seventy-three miles, the balance of the 1,360 miles 
being lake and river navigation. 

Less than sixty years ago Montreal commenced 
active operations to make that an ocean port. They 
realized their geographical and economical position 
on the great ocean highway — behind them a great 
waterway of i,4CX) miles to the head of Lake Super- 
ior, and before them 2,800 miles of ocean to Liver- 
pool. It was a large undertaking, but they com- 
menced it about 1850, and it is only now that they 
are beginning to reap the benefits of their labor. Of 
the 1,000 miles between Montreal and the gulf, 
about 100 miles had to be deepened, chiefly be- 
tween Montreal and Quebec, where the river widens 
and is called Lake St. Peter. At this point there 
was a depth of only ten feet of water. About 
twenty years ago they had succeeded in dredging a 
channel through, 27J feet deep and 200 feet wide, 
from Montreal to the gulf. But there was much to 
do yet, and the burden was too heavy for the city 
of Montreal, which had borne the expense and was 
$3,000,000 in debt on that account. The Govern-- 
ment, consequently, realizing the vast importance ot 
the St. Lawrence route and its tributaries, assumed 
the debt, threw the waterway open to the world, and 
vigorously continued improving the whole St. Law- 
rence route, that we might successfully compete 
with our American neighbors for the carrying trade, 
by water, of not only our own country but as well a 
large part of the United States, which sent their 
products to New York by way of the Erie Canal. 

The St. Lawrence Route 

The Early and Late Canals 

The oJd lower canals were completed, I think 
in the sixties. The locks were l«o feet long by 9 
feet deep. The largest boat accommodated carried 
about 1,000 tons. These canals were enlarged to 
the same siee as our present Welland Canal, and 
completed about 189 1 (about ten years after the 
Welland). The 25 locks on the Welland and the 
21 on the lower canals permit the passage of vessels 
260 feet long, 45 feet wide, drawing 14 feet of water 
and carrying 2,400 tons, or 80,000 bushels of wheat! 
The first Welland Canal was completed in 1829 
by the late Hon. Wm. Hamilton Merritt of St 
Catharines. It only followed the present route 
south to Port Robinson, thence 9 miles by the 
Chippawa River to Chippawa, entering the Niagara 
River 3 miles above the Falls, from which place the 
boats were towed by horses or oxen to Fort Frie 
I see a Niagara Falls engineer is now asking the 
Government to consider the old route again, but I 
hardly think that vesselmen will favor the scheme 
past Chippawa. The first canal was taken over by 
the Government, enlarged and completed in 1851 to 
accommodate a vessel carrying 600 tons and of 10 
feet draught. The channel was then changed to 
i'ort Col borne, and was fed from Lake Frie instead 
of from the Grand River. 

The present new canal was begun in 1871 and 
completed in 1881, and present conditions show 
that the engineers in charge were behind the age, 

The St. Lawhence Rolte 

both in construction and in estimating the futun; 
possibilities of the St. Lawrence route. The locks 
were only 12 feet deep, and had to be immediately 
increased to 14- Twenty-five locl^s were con- 
structed where half that number would have been 
sufficient The bridges were located and swung in 
the middle of the channel, as if they were intended 
either to be knocked down or to sink the vessels 
passing through. No place was provided, in the 
whole 27 miles, where a vessel could turn around 
The apparatus for filling the locks and opening and 
shutting the^gates was obsolete, slow and cumber- 
some The depth of the aqueduct at VVeliand and 
the locks at Port Colborne, by some, bungle of the 
engineer, was made toe. shallow, and had to be after- 
wards deepened, as well as the whole long level from 
Port Colborne to Thorold. All these mistakes had 
to be rectified by the present Superintending En- 
trineer Mr J. L. Weller, who now has the canal in 
fairly good shape for its capacity. 1 right here want 
to say as a vesselman, that vesselmen and all others 
having business on the VVeliand Canal are well 
pleased with his management; he is a competent 
engineer, and is always ready and willing to give 
assistance and advice to the vesselmen when re- 
quiring it. And the canal is fortunate in having 
him here. 

Fourteen-Foot Canals to Montreal 

We have now come to 189 1, when all the St. 
Lawrence canals, from Port Colborne to Montreal, 

The St. Lawrence Route 

were completed for 14-foot navigation, and the ship 
channel below Montreal made 27! feet deep. 
Manitoba grain was coming down to I'ort Arthur, 
and the tim; had arrived when Canadian vesselmen 
were looking for better times on the St. Lawrence. 
But they were destined to be sadly disappointed for 
twelve years more, or until 1903, for it was only 
within the last five years, or in fact only last year, 
that the St. Lawrence clearly proved itself capable 
of competing in carrying produce from the head of 
Lake Superior to the seaboard. Its chief com- 
petitors were the Erie Canal and the railways from 
Buffalo to New York, besides the present Georgian 
Bay route, which is part water and part railway. I 
refer to the Canada Atlantic. 

Delay at Montreal 

Although the Manitoba grain kept coming to 
Fort William in increasing quantities, Canadian 
vessels received little benefit therefrom, as the 
.American vessels took from 75^;^ to 90°^' of it to 
Buffalo, and Canadian vesselmen and the general 
public looked on with amazement, and asked the 
question : " Was it to feed American vessels and 
the Erie Canal that we spent $i<y 0,000 in de- 
veloping Manitoba ? " That grain as going to 
England by way of Buffalo and New York instead 
of by our St. Lawrence route, and Canadian vessels 
were disappearing from the lakes. The main cause 
of our depression was the slow progress •of improve- 
ments in Montreal ; they had no storehouses to 

The St. Lawrence Route 

receive grain, and our vessels had sometimes to wait 
several days for an ocean steamer to arrive to un- 
load them ; and when a spurt of three or four million 
bushels came down they could not handle it. Navi- 
gation was delayed for lack of storage icilities, and 
consequently the grain had to go to Buffalo instead 
of through Canadian channels, and Canadian vessels 
continued to suffer. 

Logs Go To Michigan 

Another handicap at that time, equally as bad, 
perhaps, for our vesselmen, was the taking by 
Americans of our logs from the Gcorgean Bay to 
Michigan between 1890 and 1896, 300,000,000 feet 
of logs being towed away yearly while our vessels, 
our saw-mills and our towns on the Georgian Bay 
could only coolly look on as the benefits of our 
lumbering industry passed over to the Americans, 
along with the wheat from Manitoba. These logs, 
if sawed here, would have kept going a fleet of 60 
of our old canal vessels. But when the logs were 
towed away our Canadian vessels lost all oppor- 
tunity of carrying the lumber product. Conse- 
quently we organized the Canadian Lumbermen s 
Association, and asked the Hardy Government to 
find some means of preventing our logs from going 
to Michigan. But the Government did not give us 
. much encouragement at first. Mr. Hardy seemed 
to think his first duty was to sell his standing tim- 
ber at a high price, regardless of Canadian mills, 
vessels and merchants. We had not only the 

The St. Lawkekce Roi-te 


Government to convince, but we had also to fight 
two strong sections of our lumbermen's association. 
The Ottawa lumbermen, who suffered no loss in this 
way, took little interest in us, and we had, moreover, 
their active opposition to contend against Be.sides 
that, several of our Canadian loggers, who had no 
mills, but sold their logs to the Americans, opposed 
our request. Therefore practically a score of our 
saw-mill owners had to make the fight at first. But 
eventually public opinion came strongly to our 
assistance in demanding that Ontario logs be sawed 
in Ontario mills. Mr. Bertram, one of the best men 
that Ontario has produced, was our president, and it 
was he who worked out the remedy. He told the 
Government that their own timber regulations en- 
abled them^to.^!-equire that all Ontario crown land 
logs must be Manufactured in this province into 
lumber. As a result, the Governmr t Wlacted the 
manufacturmg clause, so that if the . .r..ericans now 
want our logs they m|4«t have them sawed here 
And I am pleased to think that I was one of Mr' 
Bertram s first lieutenants in the fight, but I can 
assure you that my bank account has never recov- 
ered from the results of the period from 1890 to 
1896 for we had not only the troubles I have men- 
tioned, but, as well, the financial panic from 189^ 
to 1S97 to augment our diflficulties, the worst in 
my time to vessel- and lumbermen. 


The St. Lawrbnck Roimr 

Demiiuoft Hariiie Associ»tioa 

Now. though the i4-foot "^vigation had^«^» 

perhaps J50^.«»j«'jij„^., This was 
r^SiS^n^^f ffli^^^^^^^^^^ •9^3, when the Kingsto. 
m'rkTe men took ti.e lead in calling together all the 

"medy o some kind. The government assured 
remeay realized the position, and that they 

them that they reaiMQ v^ Canadian trade in 
were QU te anxious to Keep »-««»■» 

The St. Lawrbncb Routb 

flinished stating their case, Mr. Blair, the then 
Minister of Railways and Canals, replied that he did 
not think our suggestions would remedy the difficul- 
ty — did not think half a cent a bushel sufficient to 
turn the trade from Buffalo and New York to Mont- 
real, while the treasury could not lose a quarter of a 
million dollars in canal tolls. Coming from Mr. 
Blair, this was rather a cold blanket for the vessel- 
men, who for a time felt discouraged. The Premier 
however, then came 'o our aid ; he said the loss of 
tolls was smPi'l compared with the keeping of 
Canadian grain within Canadian channels, and the 
suggestions of practical vesselmen should be con- 
sidered. Before leaving Ottawa that day we were 
convinced that our request would be granted. The 
Government abolished the tolls for two years as an 
experiment, and also the tonnage tax, inspection 
fees, etc., and began to vigorously improve the 
harbor at Montreal and the ship channel to 
Quebec. They now have fourteen lines of steam- 
ships, 30-foot draught, carrying 15,000 tons each, 
and 2,000 feet of dockage, which will soon be 
doubled. Large steel sheds have also been erected, 
capable of handling 1 50,000 tons a week, with rail- 
way tracks on each side, and freight is being 
handled direet into the sheds or the vessels at half 
the former cost. Elevators have Vten built, and 
grain can be conveyed to any of a dozen ships. 
The Government assumed the harbor debt, and 
took over the ship channel below, thus making the 
whole St. Lawrence route a GovcrnmBiu work. 

,g The St. Lawrence Route 

TwTcommissioners were appointed to improve the 
l^ZZTZ. re^uested to maUe Montrea one 
^f the best ocean ports in the world. Ihese com 
;-?on1r\' rtho'rou«hly competent and pract^^^^^ 
J .««m tn have the confidence ot an coi, 
S'ed T-: h>Sor ""'I'hip channel helow have 
S thoroughly lighted, and equipped vUh buoys 
fog-horns and other aids to "="'8^' °'\ ^ " ' ranee 
inl the risk and cheapenrng the ■■«"-■« "^'"^"""/o",; 
Telephone and telegraph l.nes --each abou 20o 
miles from the Harbor Commissioners office to aid 
^IZ in distress The cost of improvmg Montreal 
harbor and shTp channel will probably amount to 

i7^::f ^''^;Lr ^ToTe^ht f:U beS 
If^lll thi'::?e^^d\tre'°c:;:thI°wSe St. Lawrence 


StaCttCtof%^yin^; our produce ^om the 
Rocky Mountains to Liverpool, a distance of 5,^ 

fhe Americans in the water carrymg trade, not only 
of our own North-west, but also the g-n trade ^ 
several of the American states. 1 he last five years 
ves the last two years-has put new hfe mto the 
r^^^c of this route and has convinced Americans 
iT^e. a Can diS; that its geographical position 
is bound to win out in the end as the cheapest 

The St. Rmte 


route fn ., the head of the lakes to Kngland for the 
products of half a con'.iiiejit. Last season, for the 
first time, (jrain was carried from Fort V\'illiam to 
iMoiitreal as low as 34 cents a bushel, while the 
American route via Huffalo to New York was 7 
cents, with the result that Montreal secured nearly 
all the jjrain exported to Knjjland. The Americans 
became thoroughly alarmed at losinjj their trade, 
and have now lowered the rate from Huffalo to New 
N'ork to 4 cents, thus making their rate from the 
head of the lakes to New York about 5 A cents 
instead of 7 cents, as it was la t )ear. Of course the 
3i cents above mejitioned is a starvation rate for 
Canadian vessels of present size. 

In order to insure the future success of the St. 
Lawrence -route, the canals should be shortened ■ 
the 46 locks on the seven canals can be reduced to' 
15 ; and the depth of the canals should be increased 
to 30 feet to avoid further enlarging in a lifetime. 
There is now 20 feet draught from the head of the 
lakes to Buffalo, and the Americans are talking 
of increasing it to 26 feet ; and, considering the fact 
that three VVelland canals in my time have 
been considered too small and l)ehind the age, we 
surely are justified in asking the Governme^nt to 
make the next one large enough to avoid enlarging 
for a few generations at least. The competition 
with the Americans will continue ; but if we enlarge 
the St. Lawrence route our geographical and eco- 
nomical positior ■■II enable us to successfully com- 
pete with all 1 .or the water carrying trade of 


,g Tkb St. Lawrbncb Rov n 

iiTTakM including a large share of the American 
rade is wen as ouf own We must remember Jh.t 
we will have not only the hne ^nal the Buffalo 
railways and the lllino.s canal, v.a the»s.ppj 
river Ut also the npetition of the C. P. K^ ano 
Tt R in carrying the products of our west to 

ImeXr that our Northwest is likel> to become 
rg^ea^es grain exporting area in the «orid »nd 
♦wit th,. St Lawrence route w " ive to fight for 

t^sha'e of the grain; and. if . we should now 
'ieSre for it whe'n considering th ^-tJ^-'-f- 

ment of our canals so thu they n. y compete with 

other routes. 

The Erie Caiul 

Let us com.are the Erie Canal with Its com- 
petitor the St. Lawrence route, taking Buffalo and 
Fort Colborne a. the startmg pomts ; and, the 
waer rates from the head of the lakes to these places 
S the same, sav ijc per bushel, and say 4c froni 
Buffalo to New York by rail or Erie Canal, and al o 
Vc from Fort William to Montreal, appear to 
be the likely rates as now fixed for the «>mmg sea- 
son by he railways at Buffalo, and also by the GJ. 
R from Georgian Bay pomts to Montreal, both 

Thb St. Lawrincb Route 


competini; with Canadian vcsmIb from Fon William 
to Montreal : 

From Kuflalo to New York there are 306 miles 
of canals in the 450 miles as acainst a distance from 
Port Colborne to Montreal of _ j6 miles with only 
Ji miles of canals. Then, again, the Erie Canal is 
six feet deep, and the canal-boats carry only 
bushels, while the St. Lawrence Canals are fourteen 
feet deep and accoinmodate boats carrying 80,000 
bushels. Both canals occupy about the same time 
in navigation. The present Erie Canal is, therefore, 
out of the race. A new Erie Canal is now being 
built, but only for • ,000-ton boats as compared with 
our present 2,400-ton ships. Therefore, where will 
the Erie be when we get our I2,ooo-ton Welland 
Canal ? The railways from Buffalo to New York are, 
however, vitally interested, and will put up a hard 
fight against the St. Lawrence route. But when 
you put grain in a railw / car you begin to increase 
the freight rate eno.mously, as compared with vessel 
rates, and the Canridian vessels can carry grain 
cheaper from Port Colborne to Montreal than the 
railways or the Erie Canal from Buffalo to New 

The Proposed Georgian Bay Canal 

I have the engineer's refwrt on this proposed 
canal from the French River on the Georgian Bay 
to Montreal, 442 miles, with 27 locks 650 feet long, 
65 feet wide and 22 feet deep, the cost being one 
hundred to one hundred and ten million dollars. 

The St. Lawrence Rocte 

The following advantages are claimed for this water- 
way over the St. Lawrence route : 

Distance from Fort William to Montreal, 936 
miles instead of 1,216 by the St. Lawrence route, 
showing a saving of 280 miles of lake navigation 
and of' one to one and a-half days' time in makmg 
the trip from Fort William to Montreal. It is also 
claimed that a 10,000-ton vessel will pass through 
the 442 miles of canal in 70 hours, or about 6^ miles 
an hour. These are the leading features of this 
project, which the Government is apparently now 
seriously considering. The question is whether to 
build this canal, or to enlarge the St. Lawrence 
canals, or at all events the Welland Canal, and 
perhaps next session of Parliament will decide the 


1 think the Government should give this matter 
very serious consideration, and that they should 
secure the views of practical vessel captains and 
owners as to the length of time required to pass 
throu.rh this canal. From what 1 know of canal 
navigation, I think the speed will be nearer two 
miles an hour than six. It may be considered pre- 
sumption on my part to make such a bold statement 
in the face of the engineer's report. I would say, 
however, that the Government should investigate 
thoroiighlv this question of time before committing 
the countrv to this enormous expenditure on what 
may fairly 'be considered but an experiment. And, 

The St. Lawrence Route 


viewing it from a vesselman'S standpoint, I think 
the engineer's report practically kills the scheme. 

The present St, Lawrence route has now 
proved itself capable of holding its own against all 
present competitors, and for a comparatively mod- 
erate sum it can be enlarged to defj' competition. 
Its ■]■>, miles of canal can be shortened, .ind its 
present 45 locks can be reduced to 15, if the seven 
canals be all enlarged, thus reducing the time to 
Montreal by a day, or say from Fort William to 
Montreal in six days. 

The estimated cost of enlarging the VVelland 
Canal is from $25,000,000 to .$30,000,000. Its 26if 
miles will be reduced to probably 23 in a straight 
line from Port Colborne to Lake Ontario ; its 25 
locks will likely be reduced to 7 ; its depth should 
be 30 feet ; and its locks should be 800 feet long by 
about 75 feet wide. These dimensions would allow a 
large ship to make fairly good time in the canal. 
If this estimate of from 25 to 30 million for the en- 
larging of the VVelland Canal is right, I would think 
that §75,000,030 would be a reasonable estimate for 
the enlargement of the whole system from Port Col- 
borne to Montreal. Now, if these estimates are 
nearly right for enlarging the St. Lawrence route 
for all time to come, why should our Government 
consider seriously the question of building a com- 
peting canal of a doubtful character, and at a yearly 
loss for interest and maintenance of six or seven 
million dollars, without receiving any tolls from it, 
as I assume that canal tolls are abolished. I think 


The St. LAWHE>fcE Route 

it safe to say that its cost would be double the cost 
of enlarging the whole St. Lawrence route, because 
the present dimensions, as given in the engineer's 
report, would have to be considerably enlarged for a 
ten- or fifteen-thousand-ton ship in order to give it 
safe navigation. 

The engineer's report says that, comparing it 
with the St. Lawrence route, there is a saving of 
2&2 miles (one day's lake running), and a saving in 
time of a day to a day and a-half from Fo William 
to Montreal, allowing about 70 hours to g,^ through 
his 442 miles of canal. I do not think he will get 
any practical vessel captain to agree with him in 
this. I think that a io,ooo-ton ship would average 
less than two miles an hour, and, if 1 am rifiht in 
this, it would mean eleven days from Fort William 
to Montreal instead of six by the new St. Liwrence 

All Hands on Deck 

Steamers navigating canals must have all hants 
on deck all the time ; and they must either tie up 
for rest or carry a double crew, which is very ex- 


The principal disadvantage we now have on the 
St. Lawrence route is one cent a bushel extra for 
insurance in coming through the Welland Canal, 
and we are threatened with another extra cent for 
going through the lower canals, thus making two 

The St. Lawrence Route 


cents a bushel for extra insurance for passing 
through the 23 rniles of canal. What would Lloyds 
charge for iusurance through the Georgian Bay 
Canal, 442 miles long ? 

Up, or Betttrn, Cargoes 

By the St. Lawrence route we get considerable 
" up " cargoes at all points between Montreal and 
Sarnia. But there would be comparatively little by 
the Georgian Bay route — and vesselmen appreciate 
return cargoes. 

Not Enough Water to Feed It 

The engineer says that for $9,000,000 extra he 
can secure a sufficient water supply to feed the 
Georgian Bay Canal. We may assume that he is 
correct, and will only ^ay that some people think 
differently, and have icme serious doubts about a 
future supply. 

At a 3c to 4c rate from Fort William to Mont- 
real, what chance has this lonj,, expensive canal in 
competing with all its rivals, especially the St. Law- 
rence route, which is only 282 miles longer (one 
day's run), and a proved route. The only reason I 
can see for building that canal is the one given by 
our Premier when he says there will be work enough 
for them all. But if he will only tell Mr. Graham to 
make the St. Lawrence route big enough this time, 
it will be a very long time before the Georgian Bay 
Canal will be required. 


The St. Lawrence Route 

Waterway to Winnipeg and the Prairies 

At the present time navigation ends at the 
head of Lake Superior (Fort William) and Duluth, a 
hundred mile j further to the extreme end of Lake 
Superior. It would not be surprising to see it ex- 
tended to Winnipeg, and possibly to the foot of 
the Rocky Mountains, for a small class of barges, 
navigating the Kaministiquia River, L.-'e of the 
Woods, and the numerous small lakes and rivers to 
Lake Winnipeg. The Red River, with its head 
waters in Minnesota, and the Assiniboine, empty 
into Lake Winnipeg, and run thence by way of the 
Nelson River to Hudson's Bay, being many hundred 
miles in length. The great Saskatchewan also 
empties into Lake Winnipeg, and runs in two 
b'ranches to the fertile valley of Saskatchewan, al- 
most to the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The 
waters of these rivers, together with the waters of 
Lakes Winnipeg, Winnipegosis, Manitoba, and 
other smaller lakes atid riveri, could be carried down 
to Fort William and make a continuous waterway 
from the Rocky Mountains to Liverpool, a distance 
of five or six thousand miles. You may think these 
are only my views, and are visionary ; but only three 
years ago a company of American and Canadian 
capitalists applied to Parliament for a charter to 
build such a waterway for barges. They asked no 
bonus, but said they had plenty of capital, and only 
required a ch--ter. The Government refused their 
request, replying that the waterways of Canada must 

The St. Lawrence Route 

be built, owned and controlled by the Government 
The scheme therefore fell through. 

Canal from Hudson's Bay to Winnipeg 

Only a few days ago the report of the Govern- 
ment engineer, who has just located the railway from 
Winnipeg to Hudson's Bay, about 400, miles, was 
sent out, stating that a canal between these points is 
feasible ; and 1 have no doubt that in a few years 
ocean ships will be loading grain at Winnipeg for 
Liverpool via Hudson's Bay. The whole prairie 
country is dotted with lakes and rivers, and we lately 
learn through the public press that the great Peace 
River possesses 1,500 miles of navigable waters. 
What a field for navigation ! 

Freight Bates on Grain via tke St I.awrence 


The St. Lawrence route has forced BufTalo 
railways to reduce their rates from Buffalo to New 
York from 5 J cents to 4 cents for the coming season, 
which leaves only one cent a bushel as the water rate 
from the head of tht lakes to Buffalo, in order to 
compete with the St. Lawrence route. On the 
other hand, we are at a disadvantage as regards the 
ocean rates from from Montreal to Liverpool. Last 
summer grain was carried from New York to Eng- 
land at 4j cents, while 7 cents was charged from 
Montreal. This was owing, partly, to the scarcity of 
cargoes at New York, and partly to the still higher 
rates of insurance, which is now our principal dis- 



The St. Lawrence Roite 

advantage until all our improvements shall have 
been completed from Port Colborne to the ocean. 
Hut if the ocean rate is again 4 cents from New 
\'ork and 5 cents from the head of the lakes, 
making a 9-cent rate to IJverpool, requiring^ 
evidently, greater competition in ocean rates at 
.VIontreal, the solution is to complete the improve- 
ments at Montreal and the ship channel to the 
ocean. This will lower insurance, and induce 
greater competition among ocean ships. It is of 
little benefit for our vessels to lower the rate to 
.Montreal if the ocean lines charge a higher rate 
from Montreal than from New York. 

The profits of the New York ocean lines are 
mainly derived from their passenger traffic, and their 
freight rates are a secondary matter ; they must have 
cargoes for ballast, and consequently they cut the 
rates in competing with the St. Lawrence route. 
And the more we see of this contest for trade with 
the .Americans the more we must conclude that the 
St. Lawrence route must be enlarged, if we are to 
successfully compete with the Americans for even 
the trade of our own country, as the records show 
that there passed through Buffalo last year 18,000.- 
000 bushels of Canadian grain. 

The rates on grain via the St. Lawrence route 
are : From Calgary to Liverpool, about 5,200 miles, 
33 cents a bushel— of this the C. P. R. gets 1,200 
miles of transportation to Fort William at about 21 
cents a bushel ; then lake vessels, from Fort William 
to Montreal. 1,200 miles, 5 cents a bushel ; and the 

The St. Lawrence Route 27 

ocean ships from Montreal to Liverpool, 2,800 
miles, 7 cer.ts a ' ushtl. 

Some Interesting Figures 

From Port Arthur to Port Colborne by water is ... . 8,0 miles 

The WeUand Canal ( jj locks) is j"./ ., 

Port D -lhou.<ie to Prescotl (lake and river) ,' [ «, " 

The Iroquois Canal is iu •• 

Farren's Point Canal is ,u " 

The Cornwall Canal is , -^ .. 

The Soulanges Canal is ........' ,, .. 

The Lachine Canal is ' ^,y „ 

The Morrishurg^ Canal is ,^ .. 

Lachine Lake is " ' J'* „ 

Coteau Lake is ....!' ''^v- >> 

Dickenson's Landing to Fan en s Point is " ' "'f •• 

Farren's Point to Morrisburg is . . . u'/ " 

The head of Morrisburg Canal to irtitjuois ] .' ^;l '• 

Total from Fort William to Montreal 7a7^ liiiLs 

Less total of seven canals with 46 locks .' „4^ I. 

Balance is total lake and river navigation i7i4J« miles 

Elevator Capacity 

West of Fort William, in about 1,500 buildings 
along 6,000 miles of railway, 50 million bushels • 
about a dozen elevators at Fort William and Port 
Arthur, capacity about 20,000,000 bushels ■ east of 
Fort William, at Midland, Depot Harbor, Victoria 
Harbor, Meaford, Collinguood, Owen Sound, God- 
ench, Sarnia, Port Colborne, Toronto, Kingston 
Prescott and Montreal, about 20,000,000 more! 
This makes a total storage capacity between Fort 


Thb St. Lawrence Route 

William and Montreal, both included, of about 
40,000,000 bushels. 

There is not enough elevator room east of Fort 
William. When they are filled the grain generally 
goes to Buflalo for want of room there. The area 
of our Northwest is estimated at about 170,000,000 
acres. Less than S % of it is yet under cultivation, 
which produces 100,000,000 bushels of grain yearly, 
employing our Canadian fleet of about 70 steel 
ships. What sized fleet will we be employing at 
the end of the next 60 years, when we will likely 
have a population of about 60,000,000 ! Enlarge 
the St. Lawrence soon, and make the fourth system 
big enough. 

A Sttnuniag Up 

Now, I have taken you over a vast area, from 
the Rocky Mountains to Liverpool, five or six thou- 
sand miles, to try to show the vast extent of our 
waterways, and to bring to your attention, if pos- 
sible, their future possibilities, and their immense 
value in cheapening the cost of transportation of our 
goods to the English markets. Canada in the near 
future is certainly destined to be one of the greatest 
grain-producing and exporting countries of the 
world, and it is our privilege to make the St. Law- 
rence route the main waterway at the cheapest cost. 
We have to the south of us ,reat country, de- 
termined if possible to carry our goods as well as 
their own, and the question of cost does not easily 

The St. Lawrence Route 


deter them. At present their cost of freight is 
about equal to ours from the head of the lakes to 
the Atlantic, but they offer better ocean rates. 
Therefore to successfully compete we must enlarge 
our canals to make a safe and easy channel to the 
Gulf. It is necessary also to spend more money on 
our inland waterways, to make " feeders " for the St. 
Lawrence. Our Governments have bonusi-d rail- 
ways to the e.\tent of $35o,ocxj,ooo ; the different 
provinces and municipalities have given them as 
much more ; and yet the railways own the property. 
We have paid 8120,000,000 for canals, and the 
country owns them, and uses them to check the rail- 
ways that were also built with our money. This is 
not fair to the vesselmen of this country, who have 
been instrumental in largely reducing the cost of 
transportation. As our exports increase, our loss to 
railways will also increase. We should, therefore, 
spend less money on railways and more on navi- 
gation — not on the Georgian Bay Canal, to permit it 
to parallel and compete with the St. Lawrence route 
at a yearly loss of six to eight million dollars ; but 
on " feeders" to the St. Lawrence, which is now a 
proved system. Develop the waterways of the 
prairies, to enable them to utilize their large lakes 
and rivers, now partly navigable for hundreds of 
miles, for a cheap class of barges to carry their 
produce by water to Winnipeg, Hudson Hay and 
Fort William, in competition with the railways, and 
at less than half the cost. 

We willingly give credit to the Government for 


The St. Lawrence Route 

their energy in developing the St. Lawrence in the 
last five years, and especially the last two years, the 
results of which are proving satisfactory between 
I'ort William and Montreal. Perhaps the ocean 
rates will also improve with competition, when the 
shipping facilities at Montreal and the ship channel 
are finally co.npleted, in a couple of years. 

We should also admit English goods free ot 
duty, and lessen ocean rates by giving ocean lines a 
chance to obtain return cargoes to Montreai. Re- 
turn cargoes mean cheaper rates both ways, and are 
a vital spot in our transportation question of the 
future. Our Government deserves credit for giving 
England a preference of one-third in our rate of 
duty, but I think they should go further, and admit 
English goods free, or at all events charge not more 
than s7c duty. If our revenue requirements will not 
stand this, let us raise our duty on all foreign 
countries requiring our markets. Hy doing this we 
will get more return cargoes for our ocean ships and 
cheaper goods for our own people, and we will then 
be treating England as fairly as she treats us in 
trade matters. They admit our goods free : why 
could we not do the same with them ? England is 
our best and only market. If we open our markets 
free for English goods, they will appreciate it more 
than the present of a dozen Dreadnoughts, and we 
will prove our willingness to deal with our best 
ci'stomer on a fair and equal basis. We will also, 
fur.iier, secure the friendship and the markets of 

Thb St. Lawrbncb Routs 


England, which is a commercial nation depending 
largely upon the sale of its manufactures. When 
they admit our goods free, they have a just right to 
ask us to reciprocate. This treatment is due to 
England, and nine-tenths of the pC' pie of this 
country will benefit by it. Especially is this the 
case with the marine interests of the countr>', that 
would get a great benefit from more return cargoes. 

Some Say Enlarge tkc WeUud Oalj 

Some of our marine men say it will be sufficient 
to enlarge the Welland Canal only. It may be 
right for the near future ; but for the distant future I 
think we should consider the St. Lawrence route as 
a whole from Port Colborne to the Gulf of St. Law- 
rence. Judging from my past sixty years on the 
Welland Canal, and looking ahead at the future 
probabilities of the route, I think we should com- 
mence at once to enlarge it to admit the passage of 
a 15,000-ton ship, by making it 30 feet deep, with 
locks 800 feet long and 75 feet wide, so that there 
will be room for big ships to make good speed, and 
to avoid jamming their sides in small locks, as is the 
custom now, and is costing them so much extra 
insurance. If this be done, I think the Government 
need pay little attention to the promoters of the 
Georgian Bay Canal scheme. 

At the conclusion of Mr. Conlon's paper, a 


The St. I.aukencb Routb 

vote of thanks was tendered him, moved by Mr I H 
Iho.npson and seconded by Mr. Joseph Hattle. ' 

■nrl <t rTJ^ /'"ended joint meeting of the Thorold 
and St. Cathannes Hoards of Trade was held at St 
I athinnes June 9. with President McGhie of the 
c.ty Board .n the chair, when the following rcsolu- 
t.on was moved by Mr. J. H. Thompson of Thorokl 
and^ seconded by Mr. K. G. VV. C^ of St' 

" Whkkkas. the development of the various 
waterways, comprising what is known as the St 
Lawrence route from the Canadian West to the 
Atlantic seaboard, ha. received the favorable con! 
s.deration of the various successive Canadian 
Governments since the vf ,ir . "^ 1 5 • ■"'«'"3" 

soent" !J'"l'-'*''f '.•he ^um of !S, 20.000,000 has been 
spent m developmg the different sections of that 
route to su.t it to the requirements of navja ion 
and of our growm- country ; and 

"VVhhkk.vs, the time has come when a far 

vXm/nt'r^nd"""'"^ '^"'^"^^ °^ ^«'-" de- 

itself'T"hr''''f' '^''^'- ^'^^''•^"^ ™"'^ has proved 

In L ^ "^ competing with all rivals, whether 

ra,l or water, on account of its favorable geographical 

pos.t.on.^ natural advantages, and ease\f^rS 

"Whereas, within the memory of men now 

Thh St. Lawrencb Roi-tb 


living our naviRatioti requirement!) have out^rrown 
the capacity of three successively enlarged canal 
systems, antl cjur supremacy in that retpect is 
thenrby imperilled ; therefore 

" Hi; it Kksouvkd : That, in the opinion of 
this joint meeting of the St Catharines and Thorold 
Jloards of Trade, it is very highly desirable that the 
Government of Canada should at once proceed with 
the enlargement of the entire system, fro- I'ort 
Colborne to the Atlantic ocean, to such dimensions 
as will permit the passage of the largest lake vessels 
from the head of lake navigation to the seaboard, in 
order that this intensely important national question 
may be safely settled for all time to come ; 

"And FiRTiiKK RE^n.\¥.i> : That this joint 
meeting heartily endorses the address read by Mr. 
Thomas Conlon before the Thorold Hoard of Trade 
May 10, 1909, and the statements and arguments 
contained therein ; and memorialize the Government 
and Parliament on the lines thereof ; the chairman 
of this meeting to name a committee to prepare 
such memorial." 

The resolution was adopted by a unanimous 
vote, and the President appointed Mr. S. VV. Secord, 
Secretary of the city Board, and Mr. Thomas Conlon 
of the Thorold Hoard, to prepare the memorial.