Port Hope - Rice Lake Canal
Reasons Why the Trent Valley Canal Should Find its Outlet at Port Hope - 1890

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Newspaper articles relating to the Port Hope Rice Lake Canal (more will be added as hey become available)

rom The Port Hope Times March 4, 1880 - pg3

Through the efforts of Col. Williams, M P for this Riding, whose letters were published in Wednesday's TIMES, a move has been made in this important matter by the Government. As everyone, who takes any interest whatever in public questions, is aware, the most strenuous efforts have been made during the last fall and winter to urge the Government , to undertake the construction of what is known as the Trent Valley Canal, in order to secure through water communication from the Georgian Bay to Trenton. The engineering difficulties between Trenton and Rice Lake are, however, almost insurmountable, and that the scheme could only be carried out by the most lavish expenditure of money — a thing the Government cannot afford to do in the present condition of the country.
Although the growing trade with the North West demands water communication between the Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario, the general feeling is that the Trent Valley Canal scheme is too costly a luxury for Canada to indulge in. Fortunately, however, nature has provided in Port Hope an outlet, which can be utilized in connection with that portion of the Trent Valley Canal scheme which lies above Rice Lake, and that, too, at only a fraction of the cost required to secure an exit at Trenton. Starting from the head of Rice Lake, we may, with comparative ease, construct a canal to Port Hope at an estimated outlay of what would be required for only one cutting on the Trenton route. A survey of this scheme — the one between Port Hope and Rice Lake — was made in 1834 by Robert Maingy, Esq., C E, and it was an exceedingly minute one. The report of that survey winds up as follows: He (the engineer) is able to say with confidence that Port Hope, from its position, is not only the natural, but the most accessible point of communication to the chain of navigable lakes by which this section of country is everywhere intersected. The harbour is one of the safest between this (i.e. Toronto) and Quebec, capable of sheltering any number of ships ever to be found in these waters. That the position of Port Hope is particularly favourable for the termination of such a work must appear evident to every impartial observer. It is not only the shortest possible distance from Lake Ontario to Rice Lake, possessing a safe and commodious harbour, but eminences present every facility for defense in case of war, and the communication from Lake Ontario to Rice Lake, up to Lake Simcoe, can by this Route be completed for a sum not greater than is necessary merely to open the navigation from the month of the Trent to Rice Lake. These are facts which cannot be refuted, and the Engineer hopes this route will be adopted in lieu of the roundabout and expensive route by the Trent.
The people of Port Hope may easily see what a heritage they have, if they are only alive to the necessity which exists for prompt action in the matter, and they should feel very grateful to Col. Williams, who has, unasked, pressed this great question home to the Government, in such a way, too, that they have sent Mr Stark, C. E., to survey the route proposed, an account of whose arrival appears in another column. 
We will have more to say of this matter in future issues.

from The Port Hope Times March 4, 1880 - pg6

A Large Meeting Decides Against It
There was held a meeting in the town hall on Wednesday evening which, to a very great extent, deserves the highest encomiums that can be passed upon it. Everything passed off well. The audience was large, and fairly representative. The great importance of the subject was fully understood; and the various speakers, no matter what their views happened to be, were accorded as respectful a hearing as could well be wished. It was noticeable, too, that it was the views and opinions, not the men who uttered them, which were judged by those present, and there was an utter absence of any approach to a carping, fault-finding spirit manifested. The audience evidently believed that the several speakers, although they widely differed on some points, were animated simply by a desire to arrive at the correct conclusion with regard to the question at issue — is it advisable that the Murray Canal should be made, from a Port Hope point of view?
The chair was taken by the Mayor, shortly after seven-thirty o'clock, and he read the poster calling the meeting. This bill stated that it had been called to discuss the advisability of the Council signing a petition to the Dominion Government praying for an appropriation to make the Murray Canal, and thus afford an entrance from Lake Ontario into the Bay of Quinte through the isthmus which connected Prince Edward County with the main land.

The Mayor then delivered some preliminary remarks by way of explanation. The Council, and he agreed with it, had deemed the responsibility of signing the petition too great to assume without consulting their constituents, and they were met for the purpose of really ascertaining whether the signing of such memorial was in the interests of Port Hope or not. He hoped the discussion would be conducted in a careful and business-like method, and concluded by reading the petition and letter signed by the Secretary of the Murray Canal Committee, which had been sent to the Council.

Mr Garnett — There is a young man in the room who said we are going to be ruined by the Murray Canal; let us hear where the ruin is going to fit in.
Several gentlemen were called upon, but the ice was not broken until Captain Janes ascended the platform amid applause. After a few jocular remarks of a personal nature he said they had met to ascertain whether the Murray Canal would benefit or be detrimental to Port Hope. Since he had spoken on Monday, he had gained as much information as possible, which he would lay before them. In ascertaining the bearing of the Murray Canal to Port Hope it was necessary to consider the effects of all routes or probable routes of railway which surrounded or affected our trade in any way. For instance there was the Grand Junction railway, which if completed according to contract, would be finished to Peterboro' on the 1st January. next, and as a charter had been secured to run the line from Peterboro to Omemee — which would really then be the western end of the Grand Trunk — he had no doubt the Grand Junction R R would seriously tap the trade of the Midland. When the Grand Junction was completed, Omemee would then be 83 miles from Belleville, and was at present 33 miles from Port Hope. If it was true, then, that the Grand Junction was really controlled by the Grand Trunk, the later road would in a year or so be able to make the Midland come to terms as to through but especially local freight.
If the Midland did not do as the Grand Trunk wanted them to do, then the G T would transship at Omemee for Belleville, where the grain would reach Montreal and Oswego by barges. We have 50 miles more navigation to operate against us than has Belleville in doing an eastern trade. He was of opinion that a vessel would sooner go and take away a cargo from Belleville for 4 cents than it would from Port Hope for 4½. The through grain would be transshipped on to the Grand Junction, if going to Montreal, and he would ask any candid man how Port Hope vessels were going to compete with Belleville barges at 4 cents? He had been informed on, he thought, good authority, that the Grand Trunk had offered to carry grain at 4 cents per bushel, and as he saw Mr Vindin present he would just ask him if that were so.

Mr Vindin — That is not correct; the Grand Trunk offered to carry for less than 5 cents, but not for 4 my knowledge.
Captain Janes, resuming, said that even at five cents schooners could not compete with barges, because the latter could be run at a great deal less expense than the former. If the barges came here he believed it would drive all the sailors away. A barge could be manned by five men, and at such wages that a schooner could not possibly compete with it. 
Mr Garnett had been asked at the Monday afternoon meeting what object he had in view in advocating that barges be attracted here. He answered it would cheapen freights. Some one replied that vessels could carry as cheaply. He (Captain Janes) would just tell them that it was impossible for vessels to carry as cheaply as barges. He gave illustrations of how vessels making quick trips at 5 cents a bushel failed to realize any profit, and deduced from them that it was impossible for schooners to compete with barges. Of course, it was asserted that barges would not come here for the purpose of taking away trade; they only wanted the Montreal trade which we had no share in now. This was all very well; but he had known 60 vessels delayed at Kingston for five weeks waiting for transshipment of their cargoes into barges. He discussed the question of relative distances of Port Hope and Belleville — with and without the Murray Canal being open - and concluded that we had an advantage at present of 160 miles over Belleville for the western or southern trade, whereas if the canal was opened Belleville would be almost in as good a position as we are in these respects. He was of opinion that it was in the interest of Port Hope to keep Belleville where she was. He next touched upon the iron ore shipment question. We had expected to have at least 30,000 tons a year, but the Snowden Mines had been comparatively a failure. He hoped that Mr Myles would yet reap the full returns which such enterprise as his deserved, and passed on to a consideration of the advantage Port Hope now had over Belleville in respect of shipping iron ore. It was not Mr Myles alone; the chances were certain of a certain amount of Canadian iron which must be supplied, and at present Port Hope add a better position with regard to this trade than did Belleville. He proceeded to show how much the Murray Canal would benefit Belleville by giving it two outlets, which, with the little towing required, would place their shippers in an equally good position with those of Port Hope. In the lumber trade we have a great advantage over Belleville or any other place, but if you open the Murray Canal the superiority we now have will be gone. So long as Belleville is shut up where she is she will not be able to get one load of the lumber which comes down on the Midland, but open the Murray Canal and all this would be changed. He advised that Belleville be kept in the position she now is, and then our lumber trade is all right. With respect to the local grain trade, he was certain that so long as prices ruled high, buyers would ship as soon as possible, and he did not think, therefore, that the opening of the canal would affect that trade in the least. In speaking of the through trade he said our vessels would not depend on the wheat in case the Murray Canal was opened, but they would always have the barley. From enquiries made he was of the opinion that the through grain trade, which had always gone over our harbour, would to some extent be taped by the Grand Junction, and he was also under the impression that the Midland could not force grain to come here at all. The Grand Junction was virtually the Grand Trunk's, and he would ask Mr Ross if he knew whether the sale had been completed.

Mr Ross — I am not aware that any such sale has been effected. Captain, Janes, continuing, said whether or no he believed that the Grand Trunk was of powerful enough in the control of the smaller lines to compel the Midland to take the through grain at such and such a figure; or if the Midland was ugly in the matter the G. T. would say, "We will send it by our own line at Omemee." Our trade could be diverted by the Grand Junction, and we could only depend upon the barley, lumber, and through north-western trade. Of the local grain he did not think a bushel of it would come over the Midland after the Grand Junction was completed, so that they could judge accordingly. After announcing that personally it would not trouble him whether the petition was signed or not, he sat down amid considerable applause.

Mr Garnett — Captain Janes what would you do in the matter; would you sign the petition or not?

Captain Janes — I do not think I would sign the petition after the remarks I have made. 
Mr Garnett said he could not reply to Captain Janes able and exhaustive speech from a navigator's point of view, as he was not a sailor. Before discussing the subject before them he would make a personal explanation. It had been reported on the streets that he knew nothing of what he was talking about, but he would tell Mr Carveth that he was not one of those who would sacrifice the town's interests for those of the sailors. Let us enquire into the matter a little. Port Hope has about 20 vessels, manned by about 120 men, so that between 250 and 500 would be all who depended directly on this industry in the town. On the other hand there were 5,500 who did not, and he was not willing to sacrifice the interests of the 5500 to the 500. If we believe the reports of the Midland Railway way, we will have at least 7,000,000 bushels of grain by that line over our harbour this year, and that he did not believe was all going down the St. Lawrence. Therefore our vessels would not be idle by any means. The Midland Railway — and the interests of town and railway were identical — we will bring you the grain if you can take it away, and this could only be done cheaply and expeditiously in the case of wheat by barges. From the reports the Midland would run down some 50,000 bushels a day, a mere flea-bite to what the great North-west promised for the future. He read statistics to show the increase made within the last fifteen years, and which, when taken in connection with the fact that the wheat growing of the north-west was but begun, must convince sailors that they would not lack for cargoes. The yield would be more than doubled in the next fifty years, and that would require a vessel tonnage of 49,350,000 tons to convey the grain to the seaboard. In looking further than the mere present, he could truly say that it was in the interest of Port Hope to sign the petition. He did not think the Trent Valley Canal would ever be built in our time, so that he did not consider that scheme a factor in the discussion. If that scheme, however, was ever pushed through the outlet should be at Port Hope. If he had had a better memory he would have remembered more of Captain Janes' little inconsistencies, and could have replied to them. Captain Janes assumed that the Grand Trunk controlled all the little lines, and from mere report stated that the Grand Trunk had offered to carry grain for 4 cents per bushel, but this latter statement had been proved incorrect, and may be the other one was also.

Captain Janes — I did not state so positively; I only said that I had been so informed by good authority.

Mr Garnett, continuing, said he was not there to advocate the signing of the petition in the town's interest. Of course, he would be glad should Mr Myles reap the reward of his enterprise, and he concluded by moving, "That it is the opinion of this meeting that it would be advisable for the Mayor to sign the petition, just read, in the interest of the town, asking for an appropriation by the Dominion Government to aid in the construction of the Murray Canal."
Captain Janes said he got up to make an explanation. From Mr Garnett's remarks the audience would infer that he had taken the platform against the Midland Rail way.

Mr Garnett — Not so; I never I thought of Captain Janes and the Midland R R while I was speaking.

Captain Janes said that so far as being inimical to the Midland Railway he was the very opposite. He believed that the interests of the harbour and the railway were identical, and that what hurt one hurt the other. Mr Garnett had stated that he (Captain Janes) said the Grand Trunk had offered to carry grain for 4 cents per bushel, but he did not say so. He had said that he had been so informed, and he could mention his informant — Captain Wright, who, after what Mr Vindin said, he believed, must have misunderstood that gentleman. He agreed entirely with Mr Garnett with regard to the great increase in the grain trade which might be expected, but he also thought much of it would be diverted from the Midland Railway. It was a hardship, he admitted, that the Midland should lose the trade at Omemee, but that was the way the combination of Grand Trunk and Grand Junction railways would in his opinion work. If the elevators were built at Port Hope and Midland this road would get all it could do, and he did not think it would hurt the Northern either. He was sorry that Mr Garnett had made the remarks about there being 500 to 5,500, for he considered what was one man's interest in Port Hope was every man's interest, in the same town. (Great applause.) He again thanked them for their attentive hearing, and sat down amid applause.

Mr Vindin was the next speaker called upon. He said he did not think the opening of the Murray Canal would prove detrimental to the interests of Port Hope. He did not think any injury would result to the vessel trade of Port Hope should it be cut through, but he was of opinion that in the future our vessels would run down to Kingston where they would transship into barges for the Montreal market. His idea was that the canal would not work injury to Port Hope, but that it would benefit the Grand Junction. Trenton was fifty miles further from Oswego at present than was Port Hope, but by the canal being out it would reduce the difference to 25 miles. He believed in the event of the canal being cut that Port Hope vessels could do something with the iron ore trade of the future. He would repeat — the canal was of purely local benefit to Belleville and Trenton, and would neither injure nor benefit Port Hope.

Mr Ross said he thought that if the Midland brought the grain to Port Hope that the vessels and barges would share alike, there would be enough for them all. The President of the Midland Railway had informed him that he was very much in favour of this Murray Canal going through, if the Midland and the town were to compete with Belleville. He thought the canal would be in the interest of Port Hope, and he had no doubt that in time shippers would come to regard, the scheme in the same light. He went on to show that the Midland trade reports showed that there could be expected 80,000,000 feet or more of lumber this year to pass over the harbour at Port Hope, which would make the largest trade ever done in any one year previous to this. Shippers, as well as the rest of us, had had bad times for the last five years, and as the Government would do as they liked anyway, he thought it to be in the interests of Port Hope to petition for the Murray Canal.

Mr Gibson asked if Mr Ross' own opinion was that the canal should be cut, or was it a railway opinion?

Mr Ross said that although the information he had on the subject was not so full as he would like to have, yet it was his own opinion that the Murray Canal would benefit Port Hope.

Mr Quinlan asked Mr Ross who it was that organized this meeting. Mr Ross said he knew nothing about that.
Mr Quinlan said he had asked the question for his own information, as he knew that the meeting was not one of the offspring of the Retrenchment Committee. The party who had had the influence to get this meeting must have been greatly interested in Belleville, because all he had heard from the speakers went to show that Belleville was the most to be benefited. He did not believe in giving Belleville any advantage over us, and was sure that if we asked anything like this from them we would be sent to the right-about in quick i order. His own impression was to let well enough alone. There had been a story current in town this morning that this and the Rice Lake Canal should be combined. We should do nothing to hurt Port Hope's shipping, and the sailors should not be counted by numbers, for their influence spread further in matters of trade than could be measured in that way. He trusted they would do nothing to mar the shipping trade.

The Mayor replied to Mr Quinlan's remark s about the interest used to call the meeting in Belleville's favour, and gave out the announcements as to how the meeting came about, already given at the head of this report.

Mr W J Watson next addressed the meeting. He alluded to the great interest Port Hope had in extending her trade, and was of opinion that the Murray Canal, in conjunction with other probable sources of trade yet to be opened up, was in the interests of not only the citizens of Port Hope, but also of the ship owners and sailors themselves. He seconded Mr Garnett's resolution, and then proceeded to unfold a scheme whereby the Port Hope and Rice Lake Canal should be urged upon the attention of Government, and he asserted that if this scheme was carried out the Murray Canal would be a very necessary adjunct to the full securing of the Canadian as well as the American trade. He read from the Public Works report for 1879 statistics regarding Trent Valley navigation, which he claimed showed that it was not only in the interests of the people of Port Hope but of those of the entire Dominion to secure the nearest outlet on Lake Ontario — Port Hope — for the immense trade which would shortly begin to come down from down great North West. Coupling the schemes, in so far as they affected Port Hope, he was of opinion that the Port Hope and Rice Lake Canal would be infinitely more valuable to the town if the Murray Canal was cut through, inasmuch as we would secure a trade — a barge trade — with Montreal that we at present did not possess. As this would not interfere with our barley trade with Oswego in the slightest degree, he believed that our vessels would have sufficient to do, as well as the town securing whatever benefit would incidentally accrue to it from a through barge business with Montreal. Before closing he read extracts from the report of Mr Maingy, Civil and Mining Engineer, presented to Sir John Colborne, Lieut. Governor of Upper Canada in 1834, with reference to the Port Hope and Rice Lake Canal, and he urged the meeting to take a broad view of the question before it, and one which dipt into the future. He trusted the motion he had seconded would carry, because the canal would go on anyway, and we might as well have a say in the matter as not.

Captain Janes moved, and Mr Riordan seconded, that this meeting request the Council not to sign the memorial praying the Governor-in-Council to grant an appropriation to the Murray Canal until the Government granted an appropriation to commence work on the Port Hope and Rice Lake Canal.

Mr Smart was called upon. He said he was very hoarse and would not say much upon that occasion. He had come as a member of the Council to hear, so that he could be guided in his vote in the council. One weak point in Captain Janes' speech, however, he might point out. The Captain had said the Grand Junction would tap the Midland at Omemee, and take away even through trade. He (Captain Janes) apparently forgot that that would entail extra freight that even the Grand Junction could not stand to give so cheaply as the Midland. It would amount to about $45 a car. He did not take the gloomy view some took of our affairs. He did not think Port Hope vessels would suffer in the least from the Murray Canal, and as the canal was in the interests of our railway he could not but see that it was also in the interests of our harbour. The north west trade would take some time to grow, but he believed no one speaker had painted what it was to be in too glowing colours. It was in the interest of the railway to secure the cheapest freights, and barges were allowed to be cheaper mediums of carrying than a schooners. He would not, however, urge them to act upon his views; but only according to their own pleasure, as he wanted the information to regulate his action in the Council.
The amendment was carried by a large majority, and the meeting adjourned.

 from The Port Hope Times April 15, 1880 - pg7

 - History of the Trenton Route from Rice Lake.
 - Both Compiled from Official Documents.
 - HISTORY IN FAVOUR of the PORT HOPE ROUTE As the Cheapest and Best by Half.
 - A Minute Survey says the Port Hope and Rice Lake Canal may be Constructed for $506,130, Which is $1,876,870 Less than Mr Stark's Ocular Estimate.
 - BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF BOTH ROUTES  Which Proves that Port Hope is the Natural Outlet for the Canal.
 - Comprehensive View of the Situation.

(From the Daily Times of Thursday.)
After perusing the report of a survey of the Port Hope and Rice Lake Canal route, and the comparison of cost made with its rival the Trent Valley Canal with outlet at Trenton (published in yesterday's DAILY TIMES), it requires an earnest conviction that the figures are not what they seem, and a requisite knowledge of earlier official documents to warrant anyone in attempting to question the correctness of the statements published. We think we possess these qualifications for the arduous task before, us — notwithstanding that it is made more difficult by n knowledge of what great interest, ability and earnestness is opposed to the scheme we advocate, as well as the luke-warmness of some who should be found pressing our claims and the merits of our scheme with all their might. "We believe that the Port Hope scheme is the natural one to connect the waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario; we believe that the route is the shortest and best; we believe that the country is entitled to know all the facts of the case before either scheme is gone on with, and that it is the duty of a public journal to point out the way to save money to the electorate, if it can be done without impairing the efficiency of the work proposed; we finally believe that these beliefs are capable of demonstration, without going much further for proof that the public documents of the country, and that it is the duty of all interested to give the facts on both sides a fair consideration. We have thought it necessary, under existing circumstances, to introduce the history of the two canal routes about to be compared in this manner, and to give clear and succinct propositions of what we propose to attempt to prove, so far as the space which should be occupied in one issue, will allow. Unlike many of the headings placed over articles by newspapers, the ones over this are, we think, apropos to the subject, and give the general reader an idea of what he may expect. They form the general platform to be demonstrated in this issue of THE POUT HOPE DAILY TIMES.

History of the Trenton Route
Turning to a report of a speech made by Mr Keeler, M. P., for West Northumberland, in the Montreal Gazette, we find that gentleman saying, of the Trent Valley Canal route with an outlet at Trenton, as follows: "In 1827 the Government of Upper Canada adopted this route for the inland navigation between Lakes Huron and Ontario, passing from Kingston through the Bay of Quinte up as far as Trenton, thence to the valley of the Trent and reaching Lake Simcoe which has an outlet into Georgian Bay. At that time the Legislature of Upper Canada made a grant of $400,000 or $500,000 towards making this navigation complete between Lake Huron and the lower part of Lake Ontario. He (Mr Keeler) thought that between 1833 and 1849, $670,000 were expended towards making this canal."

In order that there may be no misunderstanding on this subject, the following from the Report of the Commissioner of Public "Works for 1867 shows what that Government did do and its result:
"In 1827, on a petition of Mr Stuart and others, a committee of the Lower House reported, that it was exceedingly desirable and important that those waters which constitute the chain of lakes and rivers which run in a south-easterly direction from the vicinity of Lake Simcoe, and which empty into the Bay of Quinte by the Trent river, should be examined and surveyed by competent persons, with a view to ascertain how far they might be rendered navigable, and the probable expense attending the same.
"In February, 1833, a bill was passed appointing commissioners to receive plans and execute works necessary to the improvement of the inland waters of the Newcastle District, commencing at the mouth of the Otonabee river, and extending to Lake Scugog, and they were authorized to raise a sum of £2,000 ($8,000) for this purpose.
"The Commission obtained a design for a short canal at Bobcaygeon, which was completed in 1835, and permitted vessels navigating Lakes Chemoug, Buckkorn, and Pigeon, to ascend to Sturgeon Lake, thence up Scugog river to Lindsay. The Commissioners also appear to have slightly cleared the Otonabee river below Peterhoro'.
"It seems to have been well understood at the time that works on a much larger scale, on a comprehensive plan, extruding from Lake Ontario to Lake Huron, would be ultimately undertaken, for in 1833, Mr N H Baird was instructed to survey the section from the mouth of the Trent to Rice Lake, and to estimate the cost of rendering these waters navigable for vessels drawing five feet.
"Mr Baird reported in November of the same year (1833); and THE ESTIMATED COST OF THE WHOLE WAS £233,447 6s 11½d," or in round numbers reduced to decimal currency $1,116,235.

In 1834, the year after the report made by Mr Baird, showing that connecting Rice Lake and Trenton by a five feet canal at a cost of $1,116,235, the Upper Canada Government deemed it expedient to proceed with the survey of the route now known as the Port Hope one to Rice Lake. The cause of this was that the sum required for the cutting of the other route, etc., was deemed too large, especially as the map showed a much shorter one by Port Hope. In 1834, then, Mr Maingy was detailed to make a minute survey of the Port Hope scheme, and the preference shown it by the then Government was entirely and solely due to the fact that THE THE EXPENDITURE WOULD BE LESS THAN ONE-HALF REQUIRED TO CONSTRUCT THE TRENT VALLEY CANAL TO TRENTON. In order that this fact may not rest alone upon our ipso dixit, we quote further from the report of the commissioner of Public Works for 1857, as follows:
"This line (the Trent Valley Line) of navigation (between Lakes Ontario and Huron) would be extremely crooked; for the actual distance in a straight line from the mouth of the Trent to the mouth of the Severn on Lake Huron, is 112 miles, while by following the proposed line, the distance would be 235 miles."
The report of Mr Stark, C E, published yesterday, shown that the distance from the mouth of the Trent to Rico Lake is fifty-one miles (although we believe that is a slight under-estimate), so that a little calculation will demonstrate that PORT HOPE IS THE NEARER ROUTE BY FORTY-ONE MILES (a very considerable saving in towing, etc.,) and making the whole distance, by way of Port Hope, between the Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario only 188 miles. This conclusively points to the fact that history is in favour of the Port Hope route, as much cheaper and better than the Trenton one.

History of the Port Hope Scheme
The early history of the Port Hope scheme may be very properly condensed from Mr Maingy's (C.E.) report of the survey of this route, made by him in 1831, to His Excellency Sir John Colborne, Lieut. Governor of the Province, who had, in compliance with the expressed wish of the House, ordered the survey made. After preliminaries to His Excellency, to whom Mr Maingy's report is addressed, he goes on to say that having procured a guide well acquainted with the country to be traversed at Port Hope, he commenced a most minute inspection of it, leaving no tract unexplored which appeared to offer in any respect the slightest advantage over another. This he did with a full persuasion of the vast importance of adopting that line which allowed of the attainment of the lowest summit, without sacrificing other equally important recommendations — directness and cheapness of execution. He next speaks of the disagreeableness of the task as the season was unfavourable for such a survey, yet, notwithstanding this fact, the natural -advantages of this over the other route are conceded even at so late a date as 1867. The first difficulty presenting itself to the explorer is thus described by Mr Maingy: "A very formidable difficulty to the attainment of the object in view presented itself within a few yards of Rico Lake, in the form of a high ridge of land stretching in an east and west direction from near the mouth of the River Trent quite through the country, and rising from a few yards to many hundred feet above the level of Rice Lake. It being necessary (to procure a sufficient supply of water from the lake to feed the canal for the first three miles, this barrier at first sight appeared as an insurmountable obstacle in the undertaking, but by persevering in his researches he discovered a natural passage or ravine through it, well calculated to assist in passing through this formidable ridge.
Having satisfied himself on that point his attention was next directed to the choice of a place at which the canal should commence at Rice Lake, and finding that Orton's (now called Cold) creek, possessed not only the advantage of being an excellent harbour for the sheltering of canal boats, etc, but also that the entrance into the before mentioned ravine, could be affected from this point with a less sacrifice of directness and expenditure of money, he made choice of it in preference to any other, and immediately commenced taking his levels, etc." Mr Maingy then informs His Excellency that by an inspection of ground plan and longitudinal section furnished him, that he will be enabled to form some idea of "THE SUPERIOR ADVANTAGES PORT HOPE POSSESSED ABOVE ANY OTHER LINE FOR THE TERMINATION, OR RATHER OUTLET, OF ANY PROPOSED COMMUNICATION BETWEEN RICE LAKE AND LAKE ONTARIO, either by canal or railway."

The Cutting Necessary
It will be seen, on scanning Mr Stark's report, that the second five miles of this route would be divided into cuttings as follows: l mile, 20 feet cutting; 2 miles, 50 feet cutting; 2 miles, 70 feet cutting. Now, the first section of Mr Maingy's canal shows exactly in detail how much cutting really would be required, and we will quote it as an offset to this ocular estimate of Mr Stark's. This is the first section of the survey. "The route of the canal, commencing at Orton's creek, follows the natural passage before mentioned in a southerly direction; after crossing the Cobourg road, the land rises very rapidly until it arrives at the summit of the ridge, distant from the lake one mile and a quarter, and sixty-three feet and fifteen-hundredth parts of a foot above its level; (no guess work here, but levels actually taken); on the north and south sides of which summit (at a few yards asunder) two springs take their rise, one sending its overplus water into Rice Lake through Orton's creek, and the other running south from the head of Howe's creek, and discharging itself into Lake Ontario. From this point the route continues in a nearly straight direction, until it crosses the Cavan road at the corner of Howe's Inn, and enters a ravine running in a due west direction to Moon's clearing, the termination of the first section, and three miles from the place of starting — The fall of the land from the summit is very rapid until at Moon's where the route is once more level with the lake. The expense of this section will be £63,495," er in dollars and cents $317,475 — or $1,345,525 less than Mr Stark says it will cost for cutting alone. The remainder of the report is devoted to a most minute description of each mile, and the whole of this descriptive part ends as follows: "The amount required for completing the communication will be £101,426 6s 6d," or $506,130 — a difference of $1,876,870 from Mr Stark's estimate, and a difference of $610,105 in favour of the Port Hope route over the Trenton one, according to Mr Baird's report of the latter in 1833.

Bird's Eye View of the Routes

The route from Rice Lake to Port Hope is as nearly straight as any work of this nature ever is, and a glance at the rule bent into the exact shape of the proposed route, will give the reader a keen insight into the shortness and directness of the canal. The head "A" is where it commences at Rice Lake; "B" is Moon's clearing — which is on a level with Rice Lake, and three miles from it. From B to A (or the lake) is where the cutting would be required, and here Mr Maingy says the land rises abruptly and rapidly to the summit from both sides, so that the deep cutting would not be a long one. From B to C is the remainder of the canal — down hill all the way, and as Mr Stark himself put it on the day he visited it — not worthy of much thought, as it was comparatively easy work to put a canal through it — a simple matter of locks, etc. Let us now make A PEN PICTURE of the Trenton route, for it would simply be impossible to bend a rule to show the twistings and turnings of the river Trent. But we propose to give a list of the bends of the river from Trenton to Rice Lake 51 miles distant. Starting up the Trent from Trenton the river runs for a mile or two in Murray township, then takes a big bend into Sidney township, and after some circuitous wanderings it again enters Murray township at the head and flows along that and Brighton township to the west, until it takes an abrupt turn north and east to Campbellford and Crow Bay in Seymour township, then it takes a short turn to the west and north up to near Tilton, P. O, and from thence abruptly south-west into Rice Lake. So serpentine is the Trent river's bed that the unnecessary traveling around curves may be judged from the Public Works Commissioner's statement already quoted: "The actual distance in a straight line from the mouth of the Trent to the mouth of the Severn on Lake Huron is 112 miles while by following the proposed line from Trenton the distance would be 235 miles." By following the proposed route from Rice Lake to Port Hope a distance of 41 miles would be saved.

Port Hope the Natural Outlet
It is thus seen that the natural outlet from the Georgian Bay to Lake Ontario is Port Hope; that history is unanimously in favour of this scheme; that it is the shortest and cheapest; that the facts, as shown in Mr Maingy's survey, bear out these various contentions; and that a full examination of the country through which the Port Hope and Rice Lake Canal would go, will prove amply that Mr Stark is mistaken in his estimate by nearly a million and three-quarters dollars.

Miscellaneous Information
There appears to be a difference of a fraction over four miles between Mr Stark's estimate of the unnavigable portion of the Trenton route and that given in the 1879 report of the Minister of Railways and Canals. Mr Stark's table shows the navigable and unnavigable portions of the Trenton route to Rice Lake as follows :

 N.  Un.
Trenton to foot of rapids  1
Foot to head of rapids 9
Head of rapids to brinkwater 11½
Brinkwater to Crow Bay 8
Crow Bay to Heeley's falls ½
Heeley's falls
Heeley's falls to Rice Lake  19½          
32½ 18½

On page 44 of the latest report of the Minister of Railways and Canals, we find the navigable and unnavigable distances as follows:
N. Un.
From Trenton to Nine Mile Rapids 9
Nile mile rapids is to Percy's landing 19½
Percy's landing to Heeley's falls dam 14½
Heeley's falls to Rice Lake     8             
27½ 23½

A difference of 4¾ miles in the unnavigable stretch, and which would make considerable difference in the cost of the Trenton route. In addition to this difference in length to be canalized, we may point out that the same report shows that the lock at Chisholm's is unfit for use. We imagine that these facts will make some difference in the cost, enough even in Mr Stark's method of estimating to make the expenditure on the Trenton route greater than on the Port Hope one.

The Trenton Route a Positive Loss to the Country
In Hansard, vol VI, page 906, Mr Cameron (North Victoria), a strong advocate of the Trent Valley canal, with an outlet at Trenton, said: "Candidates of that Government in East Northumberland, and East Peterboro', were going about boasting that hey had now got control of the Trent Navigation Works, including some 30,000 acres of land, that would probably be sold to the owners of adjoining properties, and that they would be able to take care of the interests of their friends. The House could readily see what a mighty engine of corruption might be given to the candidates of whatever government held control of these large and important works. If the dams were taken down, 30,000 acres of valuable land might be reclaimed, and offered for sale, worth $30 to $40 per acre." It will readily be seen from this statement of Mr Cameron's that there is $900,000 worth of drowned land, at the smallest figure, already in existence on the Trenton route by the dams. Mr Stark proposes to erect a still greater number of dams, and as the land on one side of the Trent at least is low, and not surrounded by high banks, a low estimate would show that the drowned land would be increased to almost double what it already is. This proves conclusively that the Trenton route is a loss to the country' of 30,000 acres of land now, and would be of as much more if that valley was canalized.

The Trenton Route Impracticable.
Speaking of Trent River navigation, Hon Mr Mackenzie, is reported as follows in the same volume of the Hansard, page 908: "His hon. friend who spoke last (Mr Cockburn) gave a glowing picture of the hopes entertained in regard to the canal, and the Trent navigation works projected before the Union of Upper and Lower Canada. This work, however, was long ago given up as one utterly impracticable, and every practicable man knew that there was not the slightest intention to build a canal, or the possibility of it being made through to Georgian Bay. The project had been given up by every engineering authority, and by the Provincial and Dominion authorities. It had literally become a source of expense to the Dominion ever since Confederation." It seems to us that Mr Mackenzie must, at some time or other, have visited the Nine Mile Rapids, because his statement evidently has reference to that portion of the Trent route, which is acknowledged even by the residents along that route to be utterly insurmountable from an engineering point of view, without the expenditure of as much money as would build two canals from Port Hope to the Georgian Bay. The cuttings there would be through solid rock, and at at least two points there are falls of over 20 feet height to be surmounted. Fancy constructing a lock with twenty-seven feet lift.

The Port Hope Outlet
Mr Stark in his report says: "Besides this difference of cost, telling as it does, in an economic aspect, against the Port Hope route, there is the fact of an encounter at the outlet of a canal here with the stormy waters of Lake Ontario, the avoidance of which forms one of the great advantages claimed for that by Trenton on the Bay of Quinte." This journal has already shown that barges ply from this port right across Lake Ontario, but as canal barges would necessarily be of smaller build, that course is not intended for them. The advantage claimed for the other route, on the score that it will avoid "the stormy waters of Lake Ontario," is, we are assured, merely a chimerical one. Barges navigate constantly on the Upper Lakes, and they are infinitely more stormy and dangerous than Lake Ontario from Port Hope to Weller's Bay, where it is proposed to cut through the Murray canal. The course from Port Hope to that point is only about two miles from shore and safe navigation all the way, and besides this there is a ' direct inside channel running from port to port, which might be utilized for a barge water-way with great advantage. The time the barges would be on Lake Ontario would only be about three hours, so that an accident could hardly occur with ordinary care. Still further we may say that our harbour is looked upon as a harbour of refuge by mariners; that the largest class of vessels enter it, in all kinds of weather, storm or no storm; that it is large and commodious enough to accommodate all the traffic which would come through it (and that without enlargement) for half a century, even were the canal unaccomplished fact; that this may be verified by actual measurement, for according to a return made by our Deputy Harbour Master (an old mariner) it has a deep water dockage of over 5,000 feet, and also accommodation to ship in one season 200,000,000 feet of lumber, to provide the necessary accommodation for the large timber business of this section, and all this without interfering or inconveniencing the large fleet of steamers, schooners, and barges, which annually ply on Lake Ontario, and make this port their objective point more than any other on the lake.

The Trenton Harbourage
While we have no wish to detract from the excellence of the Trenton harbour, as one capable of doing the business which would assuredly come to it if the canal was cut, we cannot help stating, on the authority of the Public Works report for 1879, that the entire channel at this point, is less than 150 feet in width, only ten feet in depth, and that for large vessels it is difficult of approach. It has also to be kept well buoyed out for over a mile and a half from the Trenton wharves. It may be said that barges would find full accommodation, but as everyone is aware, that is not the only necessity which must be met at the outlet of a great canal.

In recapitulating the proof offered above, to show that, notwithstanding Mr Stark's unfavourable report, the Port Hope and Rice Lake canal scheme is infinitely better in every way and less costly, than the Trenton one, we desire it to be distinctly understood that every fact given as such is from some public and official document open to the electorate of this Dominion. The majority of the statements are taken from reports of engineers in the Public Works reports, the reports of the Minister of Railways and Canals, and the survey of the Port Hope route made by Mr Maingy in 1834, and that the correctness of each and all of them has never yet been questioned or disproved. They are, therefore, as worthy of credence, and of being used as guides, as are the ocular estimates of an engineer, no matter how high a position he may occupy. They have been carefully, honestly, and faithfully compiled, and the deductions incidentally drawn are those which naturally follow from a knowledge of the premises. Now, what has been proved by the production of the above evidence? In the first place, the history of the Trenton route shows that a careful surveyor's estimate made by Mr Baird, in 1833, places the total cost of the canalizing of the Trent Valley from Trenton to Rice Lake at $1,116,235, and it also demonstrates that the then Government gave up the scheme as futile. Afterwards, during the next year, a most minute survey of the Port Hope route shows that Rice Like and Lake Ontario via Port Hope could be connected for a sum $610,105 less than would be required to connect Rice Lake and Trenton by a canal drawing five feet of water. It also shows that the distance gained in towing by the Port Hope route over the Trenton one is 11 miles, and that the navigation of the latter is winding and serpentine, and therefore difficult. The history of the Port Hope scheme demonstrates its entire practicability. It shows that Moon's clearing, three miles from Rice Lake, is on a level with that body of water, and that the remainder of the way is with the stream. Any one can see that this is correct by traveling out to that point any day of the week, and therefore, this fact proves that the cutting cannot exceed at most three miles. The survey, however, further shows that a ravine assists in cutting through this three miles very materially, and that that section of three miles could be cut through for $317,475 or $1,347,525 less than Mr Stark's ocular estimate puts it at. That survey finally shows that this Port Hope scheme may be carried out in its entirely for $506,130, a very great difference from the fancy figure of Mr Stark, $2,383,000. A bird's eye view of the two routes, which anyone can have by consulting the map, gives still stronger evidence of the shortness and directness of this Port Hope route over the other, and demonstrates by ocular proof, that the town of Port Hope is the natural outlet for a canal to connect the waters of the Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario. In the miscellaneous information given, there is shown a distance of 4¾ miles between Mr Stark's measurements and those returned to Parliament during this present session, in the report of the Minister of Canals and Railways, thus showing that these four and three quarters miles must yet be provided for in the Trenton route estimate. Mr Cameron's speech shows that the scheme he is now such a prominent advocate of entails a positive loss on the country by reason of the good farming lands which have been drowned, a thing which could never happen in the Port Hope scheme. Mr Stark's estimate shows too that it is contemplated to build more dams along that route, and the plain inference is that that plan will drown more valuable farming lands. The balance of the evidence goes to prove that the Trenton route has been declared impracticable long since; that Port Hope harbour is sufficient for requirements of the Canal without enlargement, and that Trenton harbour is not calculated to accommodate the varied class of shipping which plies the Lake as is the Port Hope one.
We, therefore humbly ask in view of these statements, which we believe to true and in accordance with the facts, that the Minister of Railways and Canals will order a bona fide survey, as suggested by Mr Stark, "if merely" (as he sarcastically remarks) to afford them (the people of Port Hope) the satisfaction of absolute assurance as to its (in view of its comparative expense) impracticability." "We are assured that the survey would not result in that manner, and giving this assurance and the proof we have, we think it is the duty of the Government to order the survey, in the interest of the country at large, to be made.


from The Port Hope Times September 23, 1880 - pg4

If the public are not by this time sufficiently informed as to this scheme it is certainly not for lack of figures and arguments supplied by those favouring and apposing it. The latest contribution to a Trent Valley Canal literature is from the pen of Mr Brock, of the Peterboro' Examiner and is in the form of a letter t to the Montreal Herald. We cannot afford space for the communication in full, but will endeavor to do it justice in a summarized form. We would say in passing, that it is one of the clearest and most moderate statements we have yet met with in favour of the scheme, although it contains few facts with which the public generally are not already familiar. The writer, after some preliminary remarks on the importance of the subject, which must commend themselves to every one, points out that the nature of the enterprise is misrepresented in the very name by which it is known. He claims that it is not a canal, in the generally accepted sense of the term but "simply the construction of a few not expensive works, so as to make available for continuous barge navigation the extensive lakes and rivers on which, for internal purposes, navigation is already available and utilized." Large steamers, he remarks, already ply on Rice Lake, Sturgeon Lake, Cameron's Lake, Chemoug Lake, Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching, and on the Trent and Otonabee. There is already, he says, between the Bay of Quinte and Lake Simcoe 136 miles of navigation, chiefly used for local trade. What is proposed in the scheme is to connect by a few cut tings the unequalled water facilities which the lake and rivers, already navigable, offer. The map is referred to in proof that this chain of lakes and rivers is in almost a bee line between the Straits of Macinaw and Lake Ontario, and so to Montreal. The inception of the project is noted, and a long extract is made from the report presented forty years ago to the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, by Mr Baird — which Mr Brock, for the sake of emphasis, puts in bold type:— "The tide of the Western trade, or at least a great proportion thereof, would naturally find its way by the more expeditious and safer route, the Georgian Bay, and from thence down the now proposed line of communication, by Lake Simcoe, the waters of the Newcastle district, and the Bay Quinte, thereby saving, as already observed, not only the very perilous circumnavigation of Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario, but absolutely shortening the route to Montreal the inconceivable distance of, 261 miles."
The Herald's correspondent goes on to argue that if all this was true many years ago, when the development of the West can hardly be said to have begun it is emphatically so now. "We have had since then the opening up of a vast internal trade in Canada — the development of Ontario to Lake Huron, and of this district which is surveyed as a comparative wilderness — the unparalleled growth of Minnesota, Dakota and the Western States — with the opening up of a great granary on British soil in the North-West, whose capacity and whose requirements in commercial facilities in the next ten years it is almost impossible to estimate. We have the same saving in time and distance to effect, the same dangerous circumnavigation to overcome, and a tax upon the carrying trade by insurance, which may be reduced to the minimum by the carrying out of the Trent Valley project."
From a Legislature Report is quoted the opinion of Mr Kivas Tully in which he speaks favourably of the Trent Valley scheme as shortening the distance to tide-water, and avoiding the detentions and risks of the Lake Erie and St Clair flats route. Recent surveys, Mr Brock alleges, show that the connection can be made between the Bay Quinte and Georgian Bay by a five foot canal, with 136 miles of clear navigation and 62 lockages at a maximum cost of $3,000,000. Reference is made to the preference expressed by the Montreal delegates recently for the Trent over the Welland route, the only questions arising being, it is said, as to whether the proposed work would meet the demands of trade, and secure sufficient patronage to warrant the Government in undertaking it. On the latter point, the writer quotes the opinion of the Hon. W Bross, of Chicago, as follows:— "With remunerative cargoes for westward bound vessels a single penny a bushel cheaper on freights would effectually control the direction of shipments of cereals by the Canadian route." Mr Brock proceeds to discuss the question whether a five-foot canal would afford sufficient carrying accommodation to command trade. He says the answer is a simple one: "A five-foot canal will accommodate barges carrying from 12,000 to 15,000 each. A tow of fifteen barges conveying, say the minimum of 180,000 bushels, could be moved through from Sault Ste Marie or Straits of Mackinaw to Kingston in 6 ½ days, allowing a day and a half from Mackinaw to Waubaushene, four days for lockages (say 6 minutes for each barge), and one day for 136 miles of clear navigation; 3¼ days to Montreal by the same barges, without transshipment, would make it all ten days from the outlet of Lake Huron to Montreal. The propeller, or the steam-tow and consort which carries from 40,000 to 50,000 bushels to Kingston occupies in the same distance 7¾ days, and 3½ days to Montreal — in all eleven days — to carry from 40,000 to 50,000 bushels, or, with the average of 45,000 bushels, it would require four propellers, twelve days each, to carry the same amount of grain by the Welland to Montreal as would be carried in one tow of barges by the Trent in ten days."
Economy of time, bulk and insurance is alluded to as favouring the scheme, and a comparison is made between the Trent Valley canal and the Erie canal in these respects. A deduction of $400 in insurance on a tow is estimated. It is reckoned by the writer that with a five-foot canal, constructed at a cost of $3,000,000 there would be facilities for a through barge navigation capable of moving 5,000,000 to 6,000,000 tons per year. Mr Brock thinks the country should not wait till a test is made of the ability of the Welland Canal to serve the object of its enlargement, since the traffic sought by the projectors of the Trent Valley Canal and the Georgian Bay route is a new traffic far beyond the capacity of the former even when enlarged. "We have the right to suppose," he says "that the growth of exportation of grain from that country will not be less rapid than in the Western States in their early days, and we find that the shipments of grain (including flour) from Chicago increased from 78 bushels in 1838, to 688,907 in 1843, 1,680,1988 in 1853, and 17,925,336 in 1803. With such a trade opening up before us, it is rather wisdom and forethought to undertake immediately what we must see will ultimately become a necessity, with the fair assurance that by the time those works could be completed, the trade, entirely independent from any now existing trade, will be clamoring at our doors for accommodation."
We have given as fairly as possible to us and without comment the views expressed in the letter. Our readers will see that it contains nothing new — nothing that has not been said a score of times already. It is a shrewd thing, no doubt, to try to interest the merchants of Montreal in the project, but we do not see that Montreal's interests — or Peterboro's either—are of such tremendous concern to the Dominion that the welfare of every other part of it, the capital invested, the trade built up — should be ruthlessly sacrificed. But we have neither intention nor space to enter on the discussion anew to-day.

 (From Wikipedia)
The Trent–Severn Waterway is a 386 kilometres (240 mi)-long canal route connecting Lake Ontario at Trenton to Lake Huron at Port Severn. Its major natural waterways include the Trent River, Otonabee River, the Kawartha lakes, Lake Simcoe, Lake Couchiching and the Severn River. Its scenic, meandering route has been called "one of the finest interconnected systems of navigation in the world".

The canal was originally surveyed as a military route, but the first lock was built in 1833 as a commercial venture. This connected a number of lakes and rivers near the center of the waterway, opening a large area to navigation by steamship. Construction of three additional locks by the government was underway when the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 broke out. This led the government to reexamine the project, concluding that the route would have too many locks to allow rapid movement for military purposes. They decided that the locks under construction would be completed, but the rest could be turned into timber slides. This left the completed inland section with no outlet, which business interests addressed by connecting to the route with a number of new toll roads, plank roads, and later, railways.

John A. Macdonald's government restarted construction in the 1880s, adding a number of new locks and pushing the route westward before construction once again halted. For many years after this, the canal was used as a political tool to garner votes from seats along the route, with little actual construction being carried out. It was not until just before the turn of the century that a number of political changes built up incredible pressure on Wilfrid Laurier's Liberals and serious work started once again. The canal reached both Peterborough and Lake Simcoe in 1904. The final sections were greatly delayed by World War I, with the link to Trenton opening in 1918, followed by the link to Georgian Bay in early 1920. The first complete transit of the waterway was made in July of that year.  


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