Report of John B. Jarvis, Esquire, Civil Engineer.
Table of Contents

Title Page
Table of Contents
Maps Accompanying this Report
Copy of a Report of a Committee of the Honorable the Executive Council, dated 18th October, 1854, approved by His Excellency the Governor General, in Council, on the same day.
Instructions for J. B. Jarvis, Esquire, Civil Engineer, on the subject of a Canal between the River St. Lawrence and Lake Champlain.
STATEMENT shewing the Cost of a Survey for a Canal to connect the River St. Lawrence with Lake Champlain.
Report of Edward H. Tracy, Esquire, Civil Engineer.
Report of John B. Jarvis, Esquire, Civil Engineer.
First.-The Western Trade.
Second.-The competition the Canada Improvement must experience for the Western Trade.
Third. I now proceed to consider the 3rd Section of this Report, namely The Dimensions of Canal and Locks best adapted to the Navigation.
Fourth.-The Lumber and other Canadian Trade.
Fifth.-The question of Tonnage and Revenue.
Sixth.-Description of the several routes for the proposed Canal from the St. Lawrence to Lake Champlain, with Estimates of Cost.
Collecting our data.
Seventh.-The advantage of the several routes proposed, for the trade that is to be accommodated.
Report of Messrs. Maillefert and Raaslof, Civil Engineers, upon the Examination and Survey of the River St. Lawrence, from Prescott to the head of the Lachine Canal, and certain experimental blasting operations made during the summer of 1854.
Table A.

Fifth.-The question of Tonnage and Revenue.

It has been stated the Western trade that passed the Erie Canal in 1853 amounted to nearly one and a half millions of tons, including that in both directions. It is proper here to remark that it is supposed (returns not yet made public) the tonnage of 1851 has been somewhat less than that of 1853. It has occasionally happened, as appears from the history of this trade, that one year has fallen below the amount of its predecessors, but this has not affected the general result, as for a series of years (not less than five) it has shown its onward progress, and steadily increased its volume.

In the comparisons of routes, the present Erie Canal has been left out. The enlargement of that Canal is now in progress, and expected to be completed in three years. To enlarge the Welland Canal, and construct the projected St. Lawrence and Champlain Canal, will probably require nearly the same time, and therefore it must be expected to open for use with the Erie Canal enlarged, and no practical benefit can be expected from a comparison in its present condition, though the view would show favourably for the Canada route.

Assuming that both routes will be completed in three years, it must be expected that that portion or class of Lake trade will have reached by that time at least two and a-half millions of tons per annum, including both directions. And in view of the influence that must be produced on that trade by the opening of the Erie Canal, and the completion of the Canada route as proposed, thereby reducing transportation between Chicago and New York to about two-thirds of the present rate, it appears reasonable to estimate the Lake trade for the second year of their operation at three millions of tons. Perhaps one year may not be sufficient to fully develope [sic] the new route, and provide suitable vessels to meet its requirements, but two, it is believed, will realize this expectation, and is sufficient for such estimates.

It will have been seen that one of the comparisons of routes has been made on the basis that the Champlain Canal of New York remains without improvement, and in its present condition affords all the means that can be enjoyed in water transportation, between Whitehall and Albany or Troy. As this is a feature in the great idea of the proposed improvement that is not under the control of the Canadian Government, it appeared the dictate of caution to consider it in this view, as this exhibits the project in the least favourable light ; and whatever can be realized under it may be regarded as sure to be realized by the projected work.

Under this view the lumber trade cannot attain that benefit or extent that would be realized by opening the Champlain Canal on the size of a Slip Canal, or to the size of the enlarged Erie Canal. If either method of enlargement of the Champlain were made, it is believed one-half of the Quebec timber trade (or four hundred thousand tons per annum) would take that direction ; but without such improvement one-half of this amount may, I think, be safely estimated on.

It has been shown that the trade of Lake Champlain will be wholly enjoyed by the Canada route, and with the Railroad connections eastward from this Lake the total annual tonnage, including both directions, is estimated at 370,000 tons.

It is estimated, as before shown, that by the time these improvements are in full operation, and their advantages fairly developed the trade of the Western Lakes will be annually three millions (3,000,000) of tons, including that in both directions. Under tile circumstances now considered, the portion of this trade that seeks a market on the Hudson River will have a preference of five cents per barrel on flour in favour of the enlarged Erie Canal. It is therefore obvious the Canadian route eastward from Lake Ontario can only participate in this trade at those seasons of pressure, when transportation rules above the ordinary rates. This usually occurs more or less in the spring and autumn, more especially the latter season. The rates on a barrel of flour ranged in 1851 from 43 cents to 60 cents, or difference of 17 cents ; in 1852, from 47 cents to 68 cents, a difference of 19 cents ; and in 1853, from 48 cents to 74 cents, a difference of 26 cents. It is therefore obvious that for a considerable portion of the season the Canada route would obtain fair remuneration, even with the disadvantage of the Champlain Canal of New York in its present condition. Of the Champlain trade it must be borne in mind that heretofore, say 100,000 tons have been carried by the Ogdensburgh Railroad, and form no part of that carried by the Erie Canal. Hence 270,000 tons will be the diversion from the Erie Canal route, to make up the Champlain trade. Leaving say 2,700,000 tons of Western trade bound to and from the Hudson, and which is to be competed for by the Canada route. Of this it is believed, from considerations before stated, the Canada route from Lake Ontario may obtain one-eighth, or say 300,000 tons.

The Western trade here considered forms no part of the existing trade of the St. Lawrence Canals, and will equally benefit those Canals as the projected St. Lawrence and Champlain Canal, and therefore the tolls that will accrue from its transit on both will be a result from the projected Canal. It is therefore proper to estimate the benefits on the whole line of Canal, through which the new trade will pass. Placing the toll on lumber, which will only pass from the St. Lawrence to Lake Champlain on the projected Canal, at one-fifth of a cent per foot, or at ten cents per ton of fifty feet, and on the Western trade at an average of 35 cents per ton, (about one-sixth less than the present rate of tolls on the Erie Canal,) we have the basis of revenue front these sources. To these should be added the improved tonnage that may be expected to result from the recent commercial treaty between Canada and the United States. That this will be considerable there can be no doubt; but as it is not susceptible of definite statement of tonnage, from any data at my command, it will be given at what I regard a cautious estimate.

Collecting the data before given we have as the probable business of the projected Canal,

250,000 Tons of Lumber, at 10 cents per ton $ 25,000
370,000 " Lake Champlain trade, at 35 cents per ton 129,500
300,000 " Hudson River trade, at 35 cents per ton 105,000
100,000 " being improvement of general trade, at 25 cents per ton 25,000
Result of Comparison No. 1, $284,500

With liberal allowances for repairs and maintenance, the nett [sic] revenue may be considered two hundred and twenty thousand ($220,000) dollars per annum. Though no improvement be made on the New York Champlain Canal, the trade of the Canada route will improve with the increase that must take place in the Western trade, at a greater ratio than has been taken for the above. The Erie Canal must annually become more crowded, and in a few years this will be such as to increase the rate of transportation, and the delays of transit, that cannot fail to show a steady increase of trade by the Canada route; and may reasonably be expected, within five years from the time of its full operation, to reach one million of tons, instead of three hundred thousand, that with other trade will double the nett revenue above stated.

Champlain Canal of New York enlarged to the size of the enlarged Erie Canal.

If the Champlain be enlarged to the dimensions of the enlarged Erie Canal, it has been shown that transportation by the Canada route would compare so nearly with that of the Erie Canal route, (the difference being only one and a-quarter cents per barrel on flour,) that the trade would be nearly the same ; but let it be conceded there would be a difference in favour of the volume by the Erie Canal, it could not be great, and instead of one-eighth, as taken in the first comparison, we may safely take one-third of the Hudson trade from the Lakes. This condition of the navigation would secure a lumber trade from the St. Lawrence of five hundred thousand (500,000) tons per annum, and directly and indirectly give a large increased value to this trade.

Collecting our data, we have the following as annual Trade and Revenue.

500,000 Tons of Lumber, at 10 cents, $ 50,000
370,000 " Lake Champlain trade, at 35 cents per ton 129,500
1,080,000 " Hudson River trade, at 35 cents per ton 378,000
100,000 " Improvement of general trade, at 25 cents per ton, 25,000
2,050,000 Result of Comparison No. 2 $582,500
Repairs and maintenance will be increased by business, and the nett revenue may be safely estimated at four hundred and eighty-five thousand ($485,000) dollars.

Champlain Canal of New York enlarged to a Ship Canal.

To enlarge the Champlain Canal of New York so as to admit propellers of 500 to 600 tons, to proceed from Whitehall to New York, would be the appropriate consummation of the Canada route ; and would enable it fully to divide the great Lake trade, seeking a market on the Hudson. By the comparison for this case, it appears the Canada route would afford slightly the cheapest transportation, and, requiring no transhipment, would be most expeditious. If onehalf of the Lake trade that seeks the Hudson now for its market be assumed for the Canada route, it must be regarded quite safe.

Collecting our data, we leave the annual Trade and Revenue as follows:

500,000 Tons of Lumber, at 10 cents, $ 50,000
370,000 " Lake Champlain trade, at 35 cents per ton 129,500
1,350,000 " Hudson River trade, at 35 cents per ton 472,500
100,000 " Improvement of general trade, at 25 cents per ton, 25,000
2,320,000 Result of Comparison No. 3 $677,000
The nett revenue may be estimated at five hundred and fifty thousand ($550,000) dollars per annum, and to be eventually, at no very distant day, increased to more than double this sum.

Collecting the several Comparisons, the Trade and Revenue appear as follows

Total Tons. Gross Tolls. Nett Revenue.
Comparison No. 1 1,020,000 $284,000 $220,000
" 2 2,050,000 582,000 485,000
" 3 2,320,000 677,000 550,000

As before observed, this amount of trade and revenue will be doubled in a very short time after the improvement is brought into operation.

The great usefulness of the projected Canal cannot be realized in its main features, without an improvement of the Champlain Canal of New York; and to make it complete this should be such as contemplated in the 3rd Comparison above stated.

Will the State of New York provide such improvement? or will jealousy for the revenue of the Erie Canal induce her to refuse any co-operation that may benefit the Canada route ? At this time, while that State is expending large sums for enlarging the Erie Canal, in the expectation that when the Canal is enlarged it will afford ample capacity for the Western trade, it is not probable any proposition of the above kind would be favourably received. On this subject I notice the remarks of your Honorable Board in their Report of 1853, before referred to : namely, the influence of vessels "at Whitehall, from the Western States, with cargoes of 500 tons," &c.; I fully concur that the influence they would produce would be powerful on New York to open a suitable channel through the Hudson. To the City of New York, this influence would come with great power; and if my views of the Western trade are to be realized, it will be apparent, by the time the above event can happen, that some collateral channel will soon be wanted to provide for the increasing volume of the trade; I have not doubted, from the time the enlargement of the Erie Canal commenced, that its enlarged capacity would early find a full occupation and finally prove insufficient, and devoted, at the time, all the influence I had to induce the adoption of larger dimensions. But it was too early to obtain sufficient faith in such anticipations. History has, however, verified them, and nothing in the future can be more certain than that the enlarged Canal, in less time from its completion than it has been in construction, will be inadequate to fairly meet the wants of the increasing trade of the West; unless other provision be made, New York will again find this important channel too small for the accommodation of its trade. If the two routes were opened in complete order at the same time, they would excite a salutary competition, and give a vast impulse to the Western trade, while both would be well supported, and steadily grow together, in the enjoyment of its increasing volume. With these views there is no occasion of jealousy; for the time cannot be very distant when they will have four millions, five millions, and even six millions of tons annually to divide, and the end of increase is not yet. There is no speculation in this, if the ordinary course of things continues, and they produce their usual results. Nature has settled the question, and no other routes can divert this trade, provided they have their proper and obvious improvements. Its basis is such that beyond question it will reach a magnitude unparalleled in the history of internal commerce.

The City of New York will obviously have a large interest in improving the New York Champlain Canal, and if the State should decline to make it, they may give the power to an incorporated Company to do the work, and it would be no great affair for the city to supply the means, which may be a good investment of money for individuals. No examination has been made to ascertain the cost of such work; but it is known the Champlain Canal was constructed at moderate cost. From what I have seen, and from information obtained from intelligent persons, who have been well acquainted with it, and the country through which it passes, there is believed to be no serious and not much expensive work rcquired for its enlargement; and that six millions of dollars would be sufficient for its completion. To this should be added, for improving the Hudson River for about 20 miles below Troy, probably from one to two millions. For the latter, tolls should be charged on all vessels the same as on the Canal, and whether they come from the Canal or elsewhere, this improvement of the Hudson River, as before observed, would be a great benefit to Troy and Albany, allowing coasting vessels to come up with 10 feet water. It is supposed that eight millions of dollars would do the whole. Suppose the present business of the Champlain Canal will pay the interest on the charge the state may make for the existing Canal, and we have the lumber and other new business brought by the Canadian route to pay the interest on the above, which, at 7 percent., is $560,000. This trade may be estimated at 2,000,000 tons per annum, within two years after the completion of the work, and will be subject to tolls at probably 5 mills per ton per mile, for 85 miles, including the Hudson River improvement. To this should be added the river tolls on other vessels from Albany and Troy, at least one million (and probably two) of tons, which together make annual tolls (9) nine hundred and fifty thousand dollars, with a reasonable certainty of doubling in ten years. It may be regarded, therefore, as a good field for individual enterprise.

Whether by the State of New York or by an incorporated Company, the suitable improvements of the New York Champlain Canal is a work that must eventually be done, and I therefore regard it only as a question of time.


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This volume was digitized from the collections of the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston