FROM SAIL TO STEAM

 

QUEBEC HARBOR

During the mid 18th century a tremendous change occurred in the shipping world. From the days of sail to iron and then steel steamers, the ships were getting larger, longer, wider and carrying a lot more passengers and cargo than ever before.  In order to afford more accommodation for large ocean steamers to land immigrants and general freight in the harbor of Quebec, the Canadian government decided, in 1902, to build an extension in a northerly direction, to the breakwater built many years ago on the river front of this harbor. The total length of the extension is 1,460 feet, which, with the 800 feet of the old work, will form four berths for the largest steamers; a return of 200 feet was also built at the lower end of the work.

The work consists of timber cribwork, 46 feet 6 inches wide at the base, 21 feet wide at the top, filled with stone ballast, and built to a height of 3 feet above low water spring tides, the cribs were founded on a bed of rubble stone 4 feet in thickness and deposited on the sand bottom which had been previously dredged to a depth of 46 feet at low water spring tides, leaving an available depth of 42 feet at the outer face of the cribs.

From the level of 3 feet above low water spring tides, the superstructure, 21 feet in height, was built of concrete, 16 feet wide at the base, 4 feet wide at top and stands 6 feet above high water spring tides; the back of the cribs and concrete superstructure were filled with earth for a width of 150 feet from the outer face of the concrete superstructure, this formed an embankment which increased the available top area by over 300,000 superficial feet.

The work had been carried out on fewer than four different contracts with E. Dussault, & Co., of Levis, Que., for the total sum of $770,389.75. The first contract was signed on May 8, 1903, and the last on March 30, 1906; work was commenced in May, 1903. At the end of fiscal year ending June 30, 1906, the work had been completed over a length of 960 feet, including the back earth filling and the amount then expended was $434,221.87

 

During the fiscal year, 1906-7, the crib seats were dredged out, the rubble stone deposited and the cribs were sunk over a length of 500 feet, the last crib also included 82 feet of the 200 feet return work, all the cribs were fully ballasted and the back filling brought up to the level of the top of the cribs, being a height of 45 feet from bottom.

 

The new work had been partly utilized for landing passengers and freight, by the Empress of Ireland and her sister ship the Empress of Britain of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. The amount expended on this work, including dredging, during the fiscal year ending March 31, 1907, was $151,404.97. The total amount expended since the beginning of the work is $578,239.22.

 

At Quebec, the new breakwater wharf, commenced in 1903, which was 1,460 feet long by 300 feet wide, had been practically completed, there had been only a retaining wall, which was still in progress of construction, between the end of the new breakwater and the Louise embankment. Dredging was being performed on the inner side of the breakwater to enable seagoing vessels to berth on the inside, as well as the outside, where the Canadian Pacific Railway Empresses now lie. A fifteen-foot channel was also dredged for a distance of 3,000 feet up the St. Charles river, in which it is proposed to construct a lock and dam near the Q. M. & C. bridge. This latter improvement rose the waters of the St. Charles River at a height of fifteen feet as far up as Bickell's bridge; and from there, gradually diminishing to a depth of ten feet, almost as far up as the Scott bridge road. The improvement of the St. Charles River will be a great boon to market boats, and the smaller class of shipping.

 

One of the most important public works which has been under consideration for a considerable length of time, first in connection with the Subsidies Act and later as a direct undertaking of the Government, was the new graving dock at Lauzon, Levis County, P.Q., which had been placed under contract. The urgent necessity for a dock of first-class dimensions, where the largest vessels crossing the Atlantic could be docked and repaired, has for some time been evident. The number of vessels trading in the St. Lawrence River, which cannot be docked in the present Levis graving dock, has been increasing year by year. Among the more important, are the: Virginian, Victorian, Tunisia, Hesperian, Grampian, Scotian and Corsican, of the Allan Line; Empress of Britain, Empress of Ireland, Montezuma and Mount Temple, of the Canadian Pacific Railway Line; Royal Edward and Royal George, of the Canadian Northern Railway Line; and Laurentic, Megantic, Canada and Teutonic, of the Dominion Line.

 

The dry dock contract was awarded to Messrs. M. P. and J. T. Davis, for the sum of $2,721,116. The dock was built to the east of the present Government dry dock, and had been 1,150 feet long, 120 feet wide, with a depth on the sill at O.H.W.S.T., of 40 feet.

 

Its operation will be by electrical power, generated by a plant that had been installed on the dock property. It will be the largest dock on the North American continent, excelling in dimensions any of the docks at present on the United States sea-board.

 

Source: DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS 1908
Source: REPORT OF THE DEPUTY MINISTER 13 SESSIONAL PAPERS No. 19 DRY DOCKS.