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Haldimand's term of office requires only to be carefully studied and his conduct truly considered, to prove how utterly reckless and unjust are the accusations against him that have been repeated to the present day. It may confidently be predicted, that his high sense of duty, his truth, and his useful and honourable life will obtain for him the distinguished mention in Canadian history to which he is fully entitled. hinein und pflückten 150 bis 200 Gurken, von welchen ich Salzgurken machte, die man dort nicht kannte, und wovon ich allen Leuten Geschenke machte, besonders unserm guten General Haldimand, der sie vortrefflich fand.” (p. 297,] [Berufs, Reise nach America.]
[There were those who were desirous of creating in our minds a prejudice against him (Haldimand) but we in no way listened to them, and met him frankly ; behaviour the more appreciated by him, as he was little accustomed to it. He had caused great changes to be made in the government house which, previous to his day, had the appearance of a barrack. He had it established and furnished in the English manner, and although he was there only five years (when Madame Riedesel wrote, 1782, Haldimand had been but four years at Quebec) his garden was full of excellent fruit and vegetables introduced from abroad, which, until that date, had been regarded as incapable of being pro in this climate. He had with skill availed himself of the southern aspect. The house was upon a height almost at the summit.]
[Everything grew plentifully in our garden and every afternoon we went and gathered from 150 to 200 cucumbers which I pickled in that form, then unknown in Canada. I made presents of them in all directions, especially to our good general Haldimand, who found them excellent. ]
IMPROVEMENT OF NAVIGATION.
One of the first duties of Haldimand after assuming the government of the province in June, 1778, was the improvement of the navigation of the Saint Lawrence to Carletonisland. He had established a post at this point in view of commanding the eastern approaches to lake Ontario, and it was equally a necessity to assure a good channel by which the island would be accessible. The consequence was the establishment of the early canals between lakes Saint Louis and Saint Francis,* the remains of which may be still traced. They were the forerunners of that incomparable system of canals for which Canada is renowned. There is always a satisfaction in establishing the starting points of great events, and in tracing back the several stages through which a successful enterprise has passed to its development. We are in this case enabled to do so with tolerable accuracy; and although we do not possess in completeness the perfect detail of the work, it is possible generally to describe it with correctness.
This improvement of the channel was begun in 1779, the effort being directed to the removal of obstacles in the shallow water situate near the shore. While passengers at that date travelled by canoe, with which portages could be readily made, the heaviest freight was carried in the bateau then a stoutly built craft of from eighteen to twenty feet long, about six feet wide, with a draught of two feet, capable of carrying about three tons, equal to thirty barrels of flour : at a later date the Durham boat came into use. Their light draught enabled them to follow the river side in the spots
I refer my readers to Vol. VI., p. 169, for the description of these Rapids ; the obstructions to the navigation of the Saint Lawrence are there set forth in detail.
where, in mid-stream, the current was insurmountable. Consequently, the first improvement was to obtain a sufficient channel near the river bank. Some projecting points could only be passed with extreme difficulty; at these the early canals were constructed.
The first of the number was the canal at Coteau du Lac. The earlier canal, the location of which to-day is traceable, , followed the shore line round the point which projects into the Coteau rapids. Originally it was formed with three locks, having a width of six feet at the gates. The canal remained in use until about 1801, when it was erlarged to a width of nine feet six inches at the gates. In 1817 a second Coteau canal was carried across the point, which entirely avoided the worst features of the rapid. The remains are still extant; the works, however, are in a ruinous condition. The length of the canal was 400 feet, excavated in rock, with a depth of four feet on the sills at lowest water. There was one lock, with a list of seven feet, with guard gates at the entrance. The lock chamber, as it is now seen, is 104 feet in length, with twelve feet six inches width, at the gates. In connection with the first canal a fortified blockhouse was built for the defence of the works, and for the safe keeping of the prisoners of war confined on the neighbouring island to the south, still known as “Prisoners' island." The original canal, constructed west of the point, was commenced 1779, and finished in 1780, for the engineer in charge, captain Twiss, of the Royal Engineers, reported it complete for traffic early in 1781.
Haldimand's design in the construction of the canals was, no doubt, primarily to make practicable the passage of food and military stores to the western ports, then constantly threatened and constantly needing supplies; but he also saw that the works would offer great facilities to parties in Montreal engaged in the western trade. With this conviction he instructed Twiss to call a meeting of those interested, and point out the advantages which these improvements would
* 15th February. Can. Arch., B. 154, p. 316.
confer. Stating his intention to extend the works, he asked a contribution from each bateau on its passage upwards. All present accepted this view, and with great cheerfulness consented to pay a charge of ten shillings for each ascent.* The † consequence was that the tolls received in 1781 was £132 5s., equal to $529.
During 1782-3 two additional canals were constructed : one at Cascades point, where a shallow and rapid channel discharges into the Ottawa from the Saint Lawrence, known as “Les Faucilles," between the main river bank and ile Le Moine. It was the water-way followed by the bateaux. There was one or more locks, the canal being of about 600 feet in length. It was known as the Cascades canal.
A second lock, with a short canal, was constructed of the same dimensions at some quarter of a mile higher up, at a spot known as “The Mill Rapids.” The lift was not of much account, the design being principally the avoidance of the extreme swiftness of current.
In 1783 the lock at “Split Rock” was completed at a point where the current is much accelerated by the projection into the stream of " Pointe au Buisson," on the southern bank. The distance is about two miles from the foot of the rapids. The remains of this lock are still traceable.
At the same time, where feasible, the channel was improved by the removal of boulders and any rock in situ. These locks remained unchanged for nearly a quarter of a century, during which period they formed the only artificial links in the navigation of the Saint Lawrence. About the year 1800, they attracted attention by being somewhat out of repair, and being found insufficient for the increasing trade. Certain changes were then recommended and eventually carried out, the width of the locks being increased to nine feet six inches, so as to admit a larger sized vessel, the depth being increased to four feet. The revenue in this period had also considerably increased, that of 1797 exceeded that of 1796, that
(Can. Arch., B. 154, p. 353. Twiss to Haldimand, 3rd December, 1781.] + [Can. Arch., B. 154, p. 318. Ib., 19th February, 1781.]
year being double the revenue of 1795. The receipt of tolls was estimated at $2,400. *
An improvement of some magnitude was therefore proposed, the construction of a canal at Cascades point from the Saint Lawrence to the Ottawa. It was projected to start above the two lower locks so they could be abandoned. The location selected was immediately at the foot of the slight hill which rises abruptly from the denuded rock of Potsdam sandstone. The length of this canal is 1,600 feet, with two locks 120 feet long by twenty feet width in the chamber, to admit several boats and thus save lockage; the width at the gates was nine feet six inches. The difference of level between the two rivers varies with the season, the mean difference, however, at this place has been established at about thirteen feet. There was consequently this average height to be overcome between the Saint Lawrence and the Ottawa by the two locks.
This canal does not appear to have been used until 1806, when the lower canals at “ Mill Point" and the “Faucilles” were abandoned.
There then remained the three canals, "The Cascades," “The Split Rock” and “Coteau du Lac.” Between 1814 and 1817 the locks were enlarged, the width at the gates being increased to twelve feet. They continued to be the only channels by which access to the western lakes by the Saint Lawrence was obtainable until October, 1845, the date of opening the Beauharnois canal.
In this simple beginning, upwards of a century back, the canals of Canada had their origin. Step by step they have increased in size and capacity. The Lachine canal was commenced in 1821 and completed in 1825. Even at that date the locks in the chambers were only 100 feet in length, twenty feet at the gates, with a depth of five feet on the sills. The Rideau canal, commenced in 1826, had locks 134 feet long, thirty-three feet wide, and five feet on the sills. The connected canal system of Canada was begun in 1842. The
(Can. Arch., C. 38, p. 2.)