The Tragic Tale of the Rideau Ferry Swing Bridge

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Last week I wrote a story about the Bascule Bridge in Smiths Falls. Apparently there was another story and Smith’s Falls beloved Heather Currie-Whiting told me another one told to her by her brothers.

They told me the old story that I think lots of people tell in various versions, about how the bridge master’s son had wandered out onto the bridge when he wasn’t looking, but the train was coming. So the man had to make the decision, does he close the bridge and kill his son, or does he let the train crash and kill all the passengers. They told me he killed his son by closing the bridge. There are all sorts of inconsistencies in the story that a six or seven year-old wouldn’t be able to work out and I can STILL see that little boy getting squished in my mind’s eye.

 

Here is one from the:

Perth Courier, Aug. 21, 1891

Authors Note: When the new swing bridge over  the Rideau Locks at Smith’s Falls was initially opened for travel– It’s new name was “Somers’ Bridge.”

It is our painful duty to chronicle the sad and untimely death of a little boy Jobie Hutton who was drowned at the ferry on Friday evening of last week.  The bridge had been opened to allow a yacht to pass through and it appears that in the closing of the swing bridge he stepped on and was caught in the railing where the swing bridge joins with the main bridge.

 

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He could not extricate himself and when the swing bridge was slackened up he fell into the water and before help could arrive was drowned.  The funeral services were conducted on Sabbath morning in the Presbyterian Church (being a member of the Sabbath School and Mission Band) and was largely attended.  The funeral cortege left the house of his uncle shortly after 10:00 and proceeded to the church followed by a large procession of the sorrowing friends.  After the services were conducted in the church the children of the Sabbath School joined in the procession before the hearse and proceeded to the graveyard.  After a few touching words by Rev. N. Campbell the body was consigned “dust to dust ashes to ashes”.

 

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Full short his journey was; no dust

Of earth his sandals clove

The weary heart that old man must

He bore not to the grave.

He seemed a cherub who had lost his way

And wandered hither, so his stay

With us was short and ‘twas most meet

That he should be no delver in earth’s clod

Nor need to pause and cleanse his feet

To stand before God.

 

The Bascule Bridge of Smiths Falls — A Ghost Story

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.

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