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.


Considering the benefits that will accrue to Canals already made, I have shown that it is safe for the Canada Government to construct the proposed Canal, even if the Champlain Canal of New York is not enlarged, when that Canal shall be enlarged, (as I believe must be done at no very distant day,) the revenue from the St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence and Champlain Canals must be large. As another power must be depended on to enlarge the New York Champlain Canal, it has appeared the dictate of prudence to examine the prospect of trade and revenue on the minimum basis, namely, that such co-operation should not be extended. From this it appears the tolls may be estimated, for the second year of operation, including toll on this trade for that portion of the St. Lawrence Canals through which it will pass, at two hundred and eighty-four thousand ($281,000) dollars, or after allowing for repairs and maintenance, two hundred and twenty thousand ($220,000) dollars; and that there is good prospect that in five years the tolls will be double this sum, or say nett, four hundred thousand ($100,000) dollars, per annum ; nearly half which may be carried to the credit of the St. Lawrence Canals, after paying interest on the cost of the St. Lawrence and Champlain Canal. This may be regarded as a minimum result; and when to the ordinary Canal revenue the general benefits of improved and extended commercial intercourse are added, the inducement is highly worthy the enterprise of your Government, and can have no hesitation in recommending the early construction of the proposed Canal, from St. Lawrence to Lake Champlain, as a work eminently calculated to promote the interest of Canada.

It will be noticed that I recommend less width of Lock than on the Saint Lawrence Canals. This would not be very important if no other Locks were to be built than required for the proposed Canal. But I must regard this question as embracing the enlarged Locks on the Welland Canal. I have given my reasons in detail for the width I recommend, and your honorable Board will judge if I have comprehended the subject. Being fully impressed with the idea that freight is to be the great trade of this Canal, and that Propellers mainly, with some sail vessels, will be the craft that will bear trade, it does not appear to me wise to subject this main business, inconvenience, expense, or delay, for the purpose of providing for a remote, uncertain, and, in my judgment, improbable use of side-wheel steamers. The screw is now used even for tug boats; it has come in subsequent to the side-wheel, and especially for freight, has fully established its superiority. If then the width of Lock is sufficient and best for this class of vessels, the object is secured. The width has been presented, after much discussion with experienced navigators on the Upper Lakes, and, to my judgment, appears adequate. The Lock will be sufficient to pass with great ease and convenience a Propeller of 600 tons, and if one foot in depth is added to the water, it will be capable of easy passage of vessels of 700 tons. The Lock as proposed corresponds with the Welland Lock as 83 is to 38, and with one foot additional depth of water the comparison is as 91 to 38. In giving the capacity of vessels, I take that regarded to be of most convenient management, and the best form of construction of the navigation, and the relative sizes show that the proposed Lock has 2 2/10 the capacity of the Welland Locks, and with one foot added to the depth nearly 2 1/2 times. . If, however, it should be regarded as probable that some new development may demand vessels requiring greater width, it may be adopted to meet such anticipation. For the present, I do not see the probable necessity.

I have cautiously guarded against overstating the advantages of the route recommended. In allowing two miles of river navigation to be one of Canal exclusive of tolls, I am sure it is more true as to time than expense of transport, if, as in the comparison, locks are excluded, or which is the same made to add to the length of Canal, by allowing one mile of Canal, for each Lock. It may be said a Feeder of supply may be made in the first place and afterwards enlarged to a Canal. I cannot recommend this; it can never be so well done as at first, and it is moreover important to put this work into the most effective operation in the first instance, to secure not only its appropriate and direct benefit, but to influence the opening of the New York Champlain Canal at the earliest day.

The dimensions of Canal with side walls as proposed will make a good channel for the first class of vessels proposed. The form of the ground favourably admits of making a large portion (about two-thirds of the length) with a width ranging from 160 to 250 feet, and vessels may easily and cheaply be propelled through it at the average rate of five miles per hour. The plan is suitable for the great purpose it is designed to serve, and when completed, I do not doubt, will be creditable to the Government, and fulfil the high purposes of usefulness that have been anticipated from its construction.

Let this entire enterprise be properly completed, and a Merchant at Chicago may draw his bill on New York, on a cargo of produce, at thirty days, and depend with usual certainty on the arrival of the vessel, the sale and collection of proceeds in time to meet his draft.

Regarding the vast magnitude to which the Lake trade must reach, the extent and excellence of the navigation, this route presents an inland communication that for grandeur in outline, and commercial importance, has no equal on the globe. The idea of a vessel of 500 tons or 700 tons loading at an inland port, and proceeding without breaking bulk two thousand miles without meeting currents in either direction, to reach a port on the ocean, can no where else be indulged. The promotion of the artificial portions of this navigation will reflect honor on the intelligence and enterprise of the Canadian Government, giving new claims to that progress in civilization that is strongly marked in works designed to improve the social and commercial intercourse of mankind.

The instructions I had the honor to receive embraced questions of great importance, which have been treated in as much detail as appeared necessary. It has appeared important that these preliminary proceedings, should fully unfold the great characteristics of the enterprise and at the same time it should not be encumbered with unnecessary detail. It bas been my purpose to present each question in such a manner as would show the basis of the opinions given, leaving others the means of judging whether or not those opinions were well founded. And your Honorable Board will judge if the duty has been performed with an intelligence that will be beneficial to the great enterprise that has been under consideration.

Respectfully submitted,
(Signed,) JOHN B. JARVIS,
Civil Engineer. Montreal, 13th February, 1855.


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