[Maillefert & Raasloff to Commissioners of Public Works, 27 Jun 1854]MONTREAL, 27th June, 1854.
Having now surveyed the greater part of the different Channels leading to the Coteau Rapids proper, and having also examined several portions of these and of the Cascades Rapids, the undersigned consider themselves well acquainted they will have to operate, and beg leave most respectfully to submit the following suggestions and remarks relative to the manner in which the operation in which they are engaged will have to be carried out. The agreement of 18th October last stipulates essentially as follows:
That we shall examine and partly survey the River St. Lawrence from Prescott to the head of Lachine Canal, with a view of ascertaining the character and extent of the obstructions which would have to be removed in order to procure a navigable Channel throughout the whole of the Rapids, of the width of 200 feet and of from 12 to 13 feet in depth; and (2nd) the cost at which such improvement could be carried out; further, that we shall fire fifty heavy sub-marine charges as an experiment; that these operations shall be accomplished within the 18th October, 1854, and thereafter reported upon to the Department of Public Works ; that we shall procure the necessary boats, material, &c., and pay all expenses; that the Commissioners of Public Works will let us have the use of the scows, anchors, &c., belonging to them, and which might be of use in these operations; that we shall be refunded all expenses incurred, however not beyond two thousand pounds, in instalments, during the operations, or at the close of the same; that, upon delivery of our Report, &c., and in case the survey, &c., should not lead to any contract between the Commissioner of Public Works and the undersigned, for the improvement of the River St. Lawrence, we shall be paid a compensation of between £750 and £1250, the exact amount to be fixed by the Commissioners, according to circumstances, &c. It was, at the time these stipulations were adopted, supposed by the Honorable Commissioners, as well as by ourselves, that a thorough survey would be required in but few instances; that in almost all localities a mere examination would he sufficient, and that, consequently, the whole operation, including the experimental blasting, could easily be accomplished in one short season; but the survey and examinations already made by us show clearly that portions of the River, which, in former official reports addressed to the Honorable Commissioners, were considered as not needing improvements, become doubtful when the width and depth of Channel above mentioned (200 feet by 12-13 feet) is contemplated, and that, in fact, great uncertainty prevails in regard to the real value and availability of all the different Channels. Effectually to remove this prevailing uncertainty will require a thorough survey to be made in a great many instances where a mere examination was originally considered sufficient. It becomes our duty, under these circumstances, most respectfully to submit the question, whether the Honorable Commissioners desire us to keep strictly within the limits of time and expenses stipulated by the original agreements, and to examine and partly survey the River from Prescott to the head of Lachine Canal, with a view of ascertaining the character and extent of the obstructions, &c., and in such a manner as to be able to accomplish this operation before the 18th of October next, and to report thereupon, or whether the Honorable Commissioners do not rather desire us to make a thorough survey, wherever we meet with a doubtful locality, and not to be satisfied with an examination, unless when that mode of operation leaves no doubt as to the value and availability of the Channel, and to pursue those operations in such a manner as actually to ascertain the character and extent of the obstructions, and to leave nothing doubtful behind us, rather than with a view of extending them over a great portion of the River, and of thus fulfilling the letter, but not (what may well be supposed to be) the spirit of the agreement.
Submitting these two alternatives, we most respectfully beg to say that in case the Honorable Commissioners should decide in favor of the first named, we shall have to proceed accordingly, and only beg to propose that in this case the Honorable Commissioners would be pleased, (in consideration of the delays which we have suffered in our preparations, by the extraordinary lateness of the season, as well as by the scarcity of labor, and especially in consideration of the enormous rise in the price of labor and material, which has taken place since the original agreement was entered into,) to allow three thousand pounds currency, instead of two thousand pounds, to cover the cost of the operations. But if the Honorable Commissioners should be pleased to decide in favor of the second alternative, we would most respectfully suggest that, as a natural consequence of this decision, the original agreement be somewhat modified so as to make it stipulate essentially as follows, the modifications suggested being marked in Italics:
That we shall examine and survey the River St. Lawrence from Prescott to the head of Lachine Canal, and ascertain, 1st, the character and extent of the obstructions which will have to be removed in order to procure a navigable Channel throughout the whole of the Rapids, of width 200 feet, and of from 12 to 13 feet in depth; 2nd, the cost at which such improvement could be carried out; further, that we shall fire between fifty and one hundred heavy sub-marine charges, as an experiment; that we shall procure the necessary boats, materials, &c., and pay all expenses; that we shall continue these operations during the present year, until the inclemency of the season compels us to suspend them, and thereafter report upon them to the Department of Public Works; that the Commissioners of Public Works will let us have the use of the scows, anchors, &c., belonging to them, which might be of use in these operations, such portion thereof as can be spared from the service of the Canal, and that we shall be refunded all expenses incurred, however not beyond three thousand pounds, in instalments during this year's operations, or at the close of the same, and that upon delivery of our Report for the present year, and in case the survey, &c., should not lead to any contract between the Commissioners of Public Works and the undersigned, for the improvement of the River St. Lawrence, we shall be paid a compensation of £750 or thereover, the exact amount to be fixed by the Commissioners according to circumstances.
In submitting the above modifications of the original agreement to the consideration of the Honorable Commissioners, we need not insist upon the fact that we can not only derive no personal advantage from these modifications, but that on the contrary, if the Honorable Commissioners should be pleased to adopt them, they will have the effect considerably to increase our labor and responsibility, without conferring upon us the right of claiming any proportionate increase of compensation, (the exact amount of which we confidently leave with the Honorable Commissioners to fix, upon consideration of all concluding circumstances,) and that one and all of the modifications suggested aim only at enabling us to carry out the operations of this first year in such a manner as to place the Honorable Commissioners in possession of full and reliable information about the character and extent of the obstructions to navigation in at least a considerable portion of the Upper St. Lawrence. We are fully aware of the great difficulties to be overcome in the course of our operations, which are not only of a novel and peculiar but also of a dangerous and arduous character, and we shall not allow ourselves to be discouraged, as long as we may rest assured that the Honorable Commissioners have full confidence in our ability and good will.
We should be happy soon to be made acquainted with the views and decision of the Honorable Commissioners in relation to the suggestions we have had the honor to submit, and shall in the meantime continue our operations in the Coteau Rapids, where, up to this day, we have been entirely successful.We have the honor to remain,
Your most obedient servants,
MAILLEFERT & RAASLOFF.
To the Honorable
The Commissioners of Public Works,
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