The Haunted Canoe from the Jock River

The Haunted Canoe from the Jock River


Charles Lennox (1764–1819), 4th Duke of Richmond

There is a story that a local man named Bill who was renovating an old house found an odd treasure in the attic one day. After clearing out most of the junk he found a small canoe behind a pile of boxes sitting in a corner.  He looked at it closely and knew that it had once had been a family heirloom as on the side someone had scrawled “Taylor Jock River 1819” on the side.

The renovator smiled as he had fond memories of the Jock river when his father had raced  with his canoe each April. In the 70s it used to be a down-river whitewater course run on the Lower Jock River. Now he just did the Jock River Paddle that begins at 9th Line Beckwith and ends at the Ashton Pub. He wondered why someone had hid such a little treasure but decided to being it home with him.

That night after dinner he examined the canoe once again but immediately felt negative energy around him. He went to bed and placed the canoe on his bedroom shelf and woke up at 3am to see his laptop flashing. Turning the power cord on and off he gave up and went to sleep in the guest bedroom for the rest of the night. The next morning he decided to Google the words ‘canoe’ and ” Jock River”.

He didn’t find much except the usual canoe races in the 70s and a social note about the plentiful fish on the Jock River from 1898. There was a revenue raid once near Ashton and ten stands of beer and 20 gallons of whiskey were poured into the river along with a copper still. Could that have anything to do with it? As he worked through the day he could not get an uneasy feeling out of his mind and he continued searching until he found a strange story.

In 1819  Sir Charles Lennox,  the Duke of Richmond, was travelling from Perth to Ottawa. He began his travels to Richmond, a walk of 30 miles on a road only blazed and cleared of brush.  Sir Charles had been on an inspection of rural settlement in Bathurst and Burgess and in Drummond and Elmsley townships  The Duke reached St. Vaughan’s tavern at dark and put up there while his two servant men plunged through the swale and struck Richmond at midnight.

The news of the arrival of the Duke stirred the colonists and every piece of board, plank and flat stick to be found was carried by scores of willing hands to enable the Duke by a temporary bridge cross the gullies taking them up and hastening forward for his comfort and safety.  Had he let them they would have carried him the three miles through the slough.  Arriving just before noon he lunched and entertained in friendly conversation and ordered a fine dinner in Sgt. Hill’s tavern (Mrs. Taylor ran it) for the leading people.

After a few days he decided to take the Goodwood, or the Jock River, as it was later named to the Rideau River and then on to Ottawa. After travelling barely 3 miles out of the village the Duke began to act odd so his attendants paddled him to the shore. The Duke managed to make it up the bank to an old barn 100 yards away known as the Chapman barn. There he threw himself on the floor in agony and was carried to a small log hut nearby belonging to the Widow Mahon. By this time symptoms of *Hydrophobia had been distinguished by his attendants.

For several days they did all they could for the Duke and all the locals sent food and prayers hoping it would help the ailing Duke. The disease developed rapidly and on the 28th of August he died in extreme agony a few miles from a settlement that had been named in his honour.  Mrs. Taylor accompanied by several others came and prepared the body for burial. The remains were interred near Richmond and Richmond’s body was brought back to Quebec, where on 4 September it was buried in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Mrs. Taylor lived to be 105 and recounted the story until she died not changing a word but always ending the story with the fact that the Duke of Richmond had died solely because of  a bite from his pet fox.

Brian shook his head over the story and wondered if the word “Taylor” marked on the canoe had anything to do with the story.  When he went to work he could not figure out if it was the sleepless night or the canoe that made him sick to his stomach. The renovator  left work early and decided he had to get rid of the canoe as he figured it had something to do with him feeling so badly. Upon arriving home he tried to throw it in his garbage can but something or someone would not let him put it inside the can. It became physically impossible for him to do so so he brought it back inside the house.

The next day he told someone the story about Mrs. Taylor and the Duke of Richmond and all of a sudden the bad feeling left him. In fact the more he told the story the better he felt. Brian realized that the canoe was a personal gift to him from beyond to keep the story about those 4 days in Richmond alive. The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out and so is enjoying the history of our rivers– go out and celebrate Canada’s 150th on the Jock River Paddle in memory of the Duke of Wellington.

True story about the Duke of Richmond with files from the  The Ottawa Journal23 Jul 1887, SatPage 5 — The haunting is a  fictional story by the author.

*Hydrophobia–extreme or irrational fear of water, especially as a symptom of rabies in humans rabies, especially in humans.

Sir Charles Lennox the Duke of Richmond— from Perth to Richmond. Timeline– He set out from Kingston on August 20, 1819.  He reached Perth on the 21st and remained there until the 24th.  He and his party then set out for Richmond so they would pass by the 2nd Line.  He arrived in Richmond on the 25th and died in a shanty near the Goodwood River later called the Jock River on the 28th.

From the diary of William Bell:

Tuesday, 17th August, 1819—I attended a meeting called to consider the best manner of receiving the Duke of Richmond and Sir Peregrine Maitland (Sir Peregrine in the end did not come to Perth) both expected in the settlement in a few days.  It was resolved to give them a public dinner and to meet them at the end of the village and present them with an address.  I was requested to prepare the address.

Saturday, 21st August, 1819 In the evening I went out with the many others to the end of the village to meet and welcome the Duke of Richmond, our Governor General.  His landlady at the inn stated that on his arrival in Perth he drank seven glasses of brandy and water which clearly proved he was very thirsty.

Sunday, 22nd Aug., 1819 It rained or rather poured through the whole day so that the congregation was not large.  Though he (Duke of Richmond) remained one Sunday in Perth he did not attend public worship which gave me an unfavorable idea of his piety.

Afternoon at 5:00 an address was presented to His Grace.  The dinner followed at which but 30-40 gentlemen were present.  The dinner, I thought, was rather too expensive (28 shillings each person) though a splendid one yet the idea of dining with the Duke so far flattered my vanity as to induce me to join.

On Tuesday, 24th Aug., 1819, the Duke left Perth for Richmond he and his attendants going on foot while their luggage was carried on men’s shoulders.  The road was little more than a foot path on account of deep swamps and rivers in the way.  The weather at that time was very hot and the mosquitoes swarming which made the journey most fatiguing and unpleasant.

LENNOX, CHARLES, 4th Duke of RICHMOND and LENNOX, colonial administrator; b. 9 Sept. 1764 in England, eldest son of Lord George Henry Lennox and Lady Louisa Kerr, daughter of William Henry Kerr, 4th Marquess of Lothian; m. 9 Sept. 1789 Charlotte Gordon, daughter of Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon, and they had seven sons and seven daughters; d. 28 Aug. 1819 near Richmond, Upper Canada.

Lavant township, situated in a terrain of hills and lakes in the northwest corner of the county and containing localities including Lavant , Clyde Forks and Flower Station, is one of a number of places in Canada named in honour of the Duke of Richmond.  He was Governor in Chief of Canada in 1818 and 1819.  The township received its name from the Lavant River and the village of Lavant, both near Goodwood House, the country seat in Sussex of the dukes of Richmond.


It was also called the Goodwood River in its very early days

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal30 Aug 1971, MonPage 4


NeilyWorldView of Jock River from 9th Line Beckwith

Jock River Paddle


Saturday, May 13th, 2017
$20.00 per Paddler
Receive a T-shirt if registered before April 30th, 2017

Paddle will begin at 9th Line Beckwith and end at the Ashton Pub ~ 113 Old Mill Rd

Total of 6.5 km

After the Paddle:
12:00 p.m. Children’s Puppet Show
Face Painting

For more information, or to register for the event, please contact the Beckwith Township Office at 613-257-1539 or

Registration forms ~ Paddle Registration Form 2017.


Goldie Ghamari on Twitter: “Richard Kidd, Reeve of Beckwith, organized successful Jock River Paddle. Thanks to @AshtonBrew for the beer!



Frank Bartik of Carleton Place had the fastest canoe.

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal09 Apr 1973, MonPage 43


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal12 Nov 1898, SatPage 9


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal09 Jul 1968, TuePage 2


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

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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