Did You Know About the Crotch Lake Disaster?


In 1857 Crotch Lake caused a flood from the lake to the Ottawa River.  Many of the local bridges across the Mississippi River were swept away, including all three in Dalhousie and one in North Sherbrooke Townships.The flood also washed away the Currie’s Grist Mill at the head of Dalhousie Lake (one of the first to be built and operated on the Mississippi River). Family legend has it that John Currie was so respected by the community that they all banded together to pay to rebuild his mill.

It also wiped out everything along the Mississippi riverbank down as far as Ferguson Falls. Ten people were killed. The only bridge to survive was the Ferguson’s Falls Bridge, and all the other bridges were destroyed from the dam at Crotch Lake to this point. By the 1880s, the rebuilt dams that were used to transport logs began to fall into disrepair as the timber industry declined.


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This appears on page 53 of “The Canadian Mississippi River“. The book’s caption reads: ” Crotch Lake Dam. This picture was taken many years ago (From Alex Trombley’s collection).- Charles Dobie

Present day dam

Dam on King's Falls | Mapio.net


Inside the walls of the Crawford Cemetery, Lavant Mill Road  was once the site of the first Presbyterian log church, built on property donated by John Crawford, a staunch Presbyterian, at whose home the earliest services were held. The Crawford cemetery developed around this first church and continued to expand after the new church was constructed in Elphin and the original church was no longer standing.

It is also a burying ground for some of Lanark Highland’s pioneers. James Millar is also buried here who was drowned taking supplies up-river for the re-building of the dam after the Crotch Lake disaster of 1857.

James Millar was married to Elizabeth “Granny Millar” Smith on Apr.5,1842 at Perth, Ontario. James drowned on July 7,1857 while searching for bodies, following the Crotch Lake Dam disaster in 1857. The dam burst while repairs were being made. The resulting flood destroyed bridges and mills all the way down the Mississippi river to Ferguson Falls in Lanark County.

Looking for ancestors?- The Crawford Cemetery Facebook page have pictures of gravestones on their Facebook page


About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

5 responses »

  1. I hope the dam holds. We rent a cottage opposite it in the month of July. Wish us luck. Great picture of an older dam. Probably not the one that gave way?


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