No. 550.
Sir L. S. Sackville West to Mr. Bayard.

Sir: With reference to your note of the 17th of November last, transmitting copy of a report made by the United States consul at Kingston, Ontario, in relation to certain fees charged on vessels of the United States in the ports of Ontario, I have the honor to inclose to you herewith copy of an approved minute of the privy council of Canada, embodying a report of the minister of customs upon the subject.

I have, etc.,

L. S. Sackville West.
[Inclosure.]

Certified copy of a report of a committee of the honorable the privy council, approved by his excellency the governor-general in council on the 12th January, 1888.

The committee of the privy council have had under consideration a dispatch, dated 19th November, 1887, from Sir Lionel Sackville S. West, British minister at Washington, inclosing copy of a dispatch from the Hon. T. F. Bayard, Secretary of State of the United States, bearing date 17th November, 1887, in which he called the attention of the Canadian government to a proclamation issued by the President of the United States, bearing date the 31st January, 1885, in which it is stated that the President, “upon information that no duty was imposed as tonnage tax or as light-house money, and that no other equivalent tax or taxes were imposed on vessels of the United States in the ports of Ontario, suspended, under section 14 of the act of June 26, 1884, the collection of the tonnage tax of three cents per ton therein imposed on vessels coming from those ports;” such dispatch further reciting that it appeared from a report received at Washington from the United States consul at Kingston Ontario, “that there is imposed on vessels of the United States in the port of Kingston a fee of 50 cents for entrance and of the same amount for clearance, on vessels of less than 50 tons [Page 776]burden, and of $1 for each of the same purposes on vessels of 50 tons burden or overhand that Canadian vessels having taken out a coasting license, which costs nothing, are, even if coming from or bound to ports in the United States, stated to be exempt from these taxes, which thus appear to constitute a discriminating duty upon vessels of the United States in the port of Kingston.”

The minister of customs, to whom the matter was referred, reports as follows:

The statement that “there is imposed on vessels of the United States a fee of 50 cents for entrance and the same amount for clearance on vessels of less than 50 tons burden, and of a dollar for each of the same purposes on vessels of 50 tons burden or over,” is correct as far as it relates to the ports above Montreal; and such fees are imposed under section 234of the act 46 Vic, cap. 12, sec. 112.

This act provides that all vessels navigating the inland waters of Canada above Montreal, “not having a coasting license, shall; on entering any port in Canada with such vessel,” pay the fees above mentioned; this provision applies to all vessels, whether British or foreign. The coasting laws of Canada, however, provide that foreign vessels can not take out a coasting license unless a British register shall have been first obtained, excepting only in the case of vessels belonging to countries wherein Canadian ships have been by treaty admitted to all the privileges of the coasting trade of such foreign country, and allowed to carry goods and passengers from one port or place to another in such country.

In the proclamation by the President of the United States, under date 5th February, 185, it is admitted that at ports in the province of Ontario “no duty is imposed by the ton as tonnage-tax or as light money, and that no other equivalent tax on vessels of the United States is imposed at said ports,” and accordingly he declares and proclaims “that on and after the first Tuesday in February, 1885, the collection of said tonnage duty of 3 cents per ton shall be suspended as it regards all vessels arriving in any port of the United States from any port in the province of Ontario,” from which it appears that when issuing the said proclamation the President did not consider the clearing and reporting fees in question to be a tonnage tax, or an equivalent tax on vessels of the United States; and the minister submits that the said clearing and reporting fees are not the equivalent of a tax of 3 cents per ton, either in principle or amount, nor were they imposed as a discriminating duty upon vessels of the United States, as the terms of the act clearly show, the full text of section 234, already referred, to being as follows:

“The governor in council may grant yearly coasting licenses to British vessels navigating the inland waters of Canada above Montreal, and may direct that a fee of fifty cents shall be payable for each such license, and that the master or person in charge of any vessel navigating the said waters and not having a coasting license, shall, on entering any port in Canada with such vessel, pay a fee of fifty cents if such vessel is not over fifty tons burden, and of one dollar if she is more than fifty tons burden, to the collector on each entry, and a like fee of fifty cents or one dollar, according to the burthen of the vessel, on each clearance at any port; and such fee shall be payable accordingly before such vessel shall be entered or cleared, provided, that the governor in council may reduce or re-adjust such fees, but may not increase them beyond the amount hereby fixed; and provided also, that vessels merely passing through any Canadian canals, without breaking bulk, shall not be liable to such fees.”

The adoption of this provision by the parliament of Canada was intended to be an equivalent for all custom-house fees which otherwise might be charged in detail, and since the act was passed such fees form the only customs charge of that kind which vessels from the United States have been called upon to pay in Ontario ports.

On reference to part 9 of the Treasury regulation dated 12th July, 1884, chapter 2 (which are still in force so far as the minister is aware), under the heading “Table of custom-house fees to be collected at ports and places in the northern, northeastern, and northwestern frontiers of the United States,” it will be seen that Ontario vessels are subject to be charged with a variety of fees in United States ports for which there is no other equivalent in Canada than the clearing and reporting fees now in question.

The fees which might be directly applicable to Ontario vessels are as follows:

Under item 10. For certifying a manifest, including master’s oath, and granting a permit for a vessel under 50 tons to go from district to district, whether $0.10
Item 11. For certifying a manifest, including master’s oath, and granting a permit for a vessel over 50 tons to go from district to district, whether belonging .10
Item 12. For receiving a manifest, including oath of master, on arrival of a vessel under 50 tons from one collection district at another, whether touching at an intermediate foreign port or not .10
Item 13. For receiving a manifest, including master’s oath, on arrival of a vessel of 50 tons or over from one collection district to another, whether touching at an intermediate foreign port or not .10
[Page 777]Item 17. For the entry of a vessel directly from a foreign port or not $0.50
Item 18. For the clearance of a vessel sailing directly to a foreign port other-wise than by the sea .50
Item 19. For a port entry 2.00
Item 20. For a permit to land or deliver imported goods not included in any entry .20
Item 21. For a bond officially taken, not otherwise provided for .50
Item 22. For a permit or order to load goods for exportation, whether for benefit of draw back or otherwise .30

Attention is also drawn to item 34 of the same schedule, which reads as follows:

“The fees above mentioned are applicable in the case of all vessels (so far as they concern vessels) navigating the waters of the northern, northeastern, and northwestern frontiers, otherwise than by the sea, and no fees other than those above specially enumerated can be legally collected from the owners or masters, as such, of vessels (not being steamers) enrolled or licensed on said frontiers.”

In another part of the said table are found the fees to be collected from steam-vessels plying between Canada and the United States, which fees are as follows:

Entry of a vessel directly from a foreign port $0.50
Clearance of a vessel for a foreign port .50

With a view of showing the actual payment of fees by Ontario’s vessels, both sailing and steam, at present trading between Canada and the northern frontier of the United States, the minister begs to insert the following correspondence:

Custom-House, Sarnia, Ontario,
December 15, 1887.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 10th instant instructing me to procure certain information relative to fees charged upon Canadian sailing vessels or steamers trading between this port and Duluth and Detroit, and would beg to state in reply thereto that there are no Canadian vessels or steamers on the route between here and Detroit, and only thesteatners of the “Beatty” line run from and to Duluth. I have, however, procured statements in the form of declarations from the captains of two sailing vessels trading to United States lake ports, and also a statement from Captain Robertson, of the United Umpire, showing what fees are exacted from Canadian vessels in United States ports.

I have also got from the Port Huron custom-house a corroboration of the captain’s statement, the total amount of fees in and out being $1.30; 50 cents fees inward, and 10 cents for blank; and 50 cents out, 20 cents for blanks.

I could, with more time, get any number of statements, but they all amount to the same thing.

I have, etc.,

  • Geo. N. Matheson.
  • I. J. Walters, Esq.,
    Custom Department, Ottawa, Ontario.

Statement of Capt Edward Robertson, master of the steamer United Empire, of Sarnia, On tario.

I have been in command of the steamer United Empire for the past four years, trading from Sarnia and other Canadian ports to Duluth, in the United States, and have personal knowledge of the fees charged at the custom house at that port. On reporting in, a fee of 60 cents is paid, and on clearing 70 cents; in all, $1.30, which covers all custom house charges of every kind; no harbor dues, light-house or hospital fees are paid.

I hereby declare that the above statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

E. Robertson.

Declared before me at Sarnia, this 15th day of December, 1887.

W. J. Proctor, J. P.

Statement of Capt. Patrick Kirwan, master of the Canadian schooner Sligo, of St. Catherine.

I have been in command of Canadian vessels trading to the United States lake ports for five years past, and was master of the schooner Sligo since 1886. I have had [Page 778]occasion to become conversant with the customs charges exacted from Canadian vessels at United States ports. Since the tonnage tax of 30 cents a ton was done away with I have to pay on reporting at Buffalo 80 cents and 60 cents for clearing; in going to Chicago all Canadian vessels must report inward at Cheboygan before entering Lake Michigan, for which a fee of 70 cents is charged, and on arrival at Chicago an additional fee of 10 cents is exacted; on clearing from Chicago a fee of 50 cents is paid. These fees are the same at all ports, as far as I am aware, and no other fees are charged, to the best of my knowledge.

I hereby declare the above statement to be true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

P. Kirwan.

Declared before me at Sarnia, in the province of Ontario, this 15th day of December, 1887.

John Cowan,
A. Com., etc.

The minister observes that, while the President’s proclamation dated 31st January, 1885, did in terms order the suspension of the collection of the tonnage tax of 3 cents per ton as regards all vessels arriving in any of the ports of the United States from any port in the province of Ontario, it would yet appear that a tax of 15 cents per ton, which prior to the issue of such proclamation was the maximum annual tax collected from Ontario vessels, was, as late as February, 1886, exacted by some United States collectors of customs, as is established by the following correspondence:

Custom-House,
Cornwall, February 6, 1886.

Sir: I am in receipt of a letter from Mr. Barnhart, the owner of the small American steamer Minnie K., which plies between Barnhart’s Island and the Canadian shore, requesting permission to run his steamer without having to pay the usual landing fees, between Massena, in New York State, and Cornwall, making two trips a day, for the accommodation of passengers going to and coming from Massena Springs during the season.

There is a Canadian boat running on this route, and I have informed Mr. Barnhart that I would not permit him to run his boat between the points named without paying the usual landing fee demanded from foreign boats; however, Mr. Barnhart says that the American Government allows a Canadian steamer to run from Cornwall to Massena during the season the springs are frequented, without paying daily a landing fee, and he thinks that if the matter were to be laid before this Department he would be allowed a similar privilege.

Please let me have your decision in the matter, and oblige,

Your obedient servant,

A. V. McMillan,
Collector.

The Commissioner of Customs,
Ottawa.

Upon the receipt of Mr. Collector McMillan’s letter by the department of customs the following reply was addressed to that officer:

Ottawa, February 10, 1886.

A. V. McMillan, Esq.,
Collector of Customs, Port of Cornwall, Ontario:

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 6th instant) asking permission on behalf of the small American steamer Minnie K., running between Barnhart’s Island and the port of Cornwall, to perform her regular trips without payment of the fee for reporting and clearing; and as it is stated that the American Government allows a Canadian steamer to run from Cornwall to Massena without paying a landing fee, I have to instruct, in the first place, to charge the reporting and clearing fees only in cases where the steamer reports goods or merchandise of any kind, and to make inquiries as to whether or not the statement with reference to the action of the United States customs is correct, and report the same.

I have, etc.,

I. Johnson,
Commissioner.

In reply to the above the following communication from the collector was received:

Custom-House,
Washington, February 20, 1886. (See File No. 577.)

Sir: Referring to your letter of February 10, with regard to application of American steamer Minnie K. to run between Massena and this port without paying the [Page 779]regular landing fees demanded from foreign boats, I beg to inclose herewith a letter from the collector at the port of Massena, giving a detailed statement of the fees paid at that port by the Canadian steamer Princess Louise during the year.

From this it appears that after paying the tonnage dues the Canadian boat has only to pay one entry fee inward and one outward.

Awaiting further instructions in the matter,

I am, etc.,

A. V. McMillan,
Collector.

The Commissioner of Customs,
Ottawa, Ontario.

The following letter is the inclosure above referred to:

Custom-House,
Washington, February 18, 1886.

A. V. McMillan, Esq.,
Collector of Customs, Cornwall, Ontario:

Dear Sir: Yours of the 10th instant at hand. Total fees charged the Princess Louise as follows:

First entry, tonnage tax for the year, 31 tons, 15 cents per ton $4.65
First entry fee, 50 cents, 1 blank 10 cents .60
First outward fee, 50 cents, 2 blanks 20 cents .70
5.95

The Princess Louise, although a British bottom, or foreign vessel, while running daily between Cornwall, Ontario, and Massena, United States, as a ferry, is exempt from all fees except as above named.

Hoping this may satisfactorily meet your inquiry,

I am, etc.,

U. J. P. Gaine,
Collector.

There are numerous other fees provided for in the same regulations, which may be imposed upon Ontario vessels under certain special circumstances, but the above is sufficient to show that the charge of 50 cents and $1, respectively, as fees for clearing and reporting vessels, are not an unfair equivalent for the fees required by the United States customs from Canadian vessels in United States ports.

The committee, concurring in the foregoing report of the minister of customs, advise that your excellency be moved to transmit a copy hereof to Her Majesty’s minister at Washington, requesting that the attention of the honorable the Secretary of State for the United States be drawn to the provisions of the fifth clause of “an act respecting the coasting trade of Canada,” which reads as follows:

“The governor in council may, from time to time, declare that the foregoing provisions of this act shall not apply to the ships or vessels of any foreign country in which British ships are admitted to the coasting trade of such country, and to carry goods and passengers from one port or place to another, in such country (33 Vic, C. 14, S. 2; 38 V., C. 27, S. 2, part).”

The committee further advise your excellency to convey to the United States Government the desire of the Canadian government for the adoption of a more liberal policy by both countries in relation to coasting in order that the restrictions to trade in the inland waters of Canada and the United States may be removed, and the Dominion be placed in a position to carry out fully the provisions of the section of the coasting law already recited herein.

All which is respectfully submitted for your excellency’s approval.

John J. McGee,
Clerk Privy Council.