The Tragic Tale of the Rideau Ferry Swing Bridge




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.




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”.


Rideau card front.jpg

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

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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