“If Wayne Robertson Jumped Off the Highway 7 Bridge Does that Mean You Do it?”

“If Wayne Robertson Jumped Off the Highway 7 Bridge Does that Mean You Do it?”
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Photo Bill Brunton of “The Big Rock”- Centennial Park
I added comments to the blog above but, a few people said swimming to this rock ‘was a rite of passage’. I believe we all went through these as a child, and few of us go through life without some sort of rites of passage to contend with.

Wendy LeBlanc- We kids of the late 1950s and early 60s always called it ‘The Big Rock’ – never anything else. It was a rite of passage to be able to swim well enough to start out at Riverside Park, swim across and find it. At that time, there was no park on the other side of the river and certainly no lifeguard.
Doug McCarten--You are correct Wendy, “The Big Rock” was a must on both sides of the river! If you were swimming from either side The Big Rock was always the goal! Great fun and games, I can’t imagine a kid in town who wouldn’t know about it!! I would bet that this is the first time that it has been written about! A big part of growing up if you swam!
Llew Lloyd The ” Big Rock ” was at the ” New Park ” upstream from the ” Old Dam ” and the ” Powerhouse ” , where we jumped of ” The Ledge ” and swam in ” The Bubble Bath ” and floated out of ” The Tunnel ” . If the water was high enough we jumped off of ” The Pier ” and ” The Railway Bridge “. Lots of swimming holes in Carleton Place . We even surfed the rapids of ” The Back Bridge “.

I also swam from the concrete steps from the empty (at the time) dirt parking lot beside where Findlays was or swim to the dam from the little park near the Powerhouse, occasionally off the roof of the Powerhouse (over the strands of barbed wire) to the water in front).


The “new” bridge on Highway #7, but best of all was in the tunnel where the water was released to the river! There was a ledge to get there and the water 💦 was as filled with bubbles, the waterway was shallow (perhaps 5’ or so) but the aerated water pushed you to the surface and would carry you downstream hopefully as far as the railroad bridge depending on the depth of the river although there were many times when the river was only knee deep but we loved it anyway.

Most of these places were theoretically “off limits” and I can distinctly hear my Mom saying “if Wayne Robertson jumped off the #7 bridge does that mean you would too?” The answer of course was “yes” but I knew that was not the answer she was soliciting so I had to bite my tongue 👅 not to say it!

So no matter where you grew up, there was a rock or a log that you swam out to and caught your breath. Some would even tie a rope to a tree that sat on a river bank so you could swing out and drop into the water. I remember some of my friends jumping off bridges and having their Mother find out, and in reality we should have known better. But fear and danger was always at the back of my mind, so usually I stood by the sidelines.

Every little town had a popular swimming hole, and it wasn’t too long ago that the kids used to jump off the concrete walls at the McArthur Mill. You played with what nature provided you, and it was always a short walk or bike ride where you could wade into something and have fun. Fortunately in some places you could dive into the water and not hit bottom and damage anything but you sometimes sure would smell funny from the water at the end of the day. Some of my friends with farms got to share their swims with cows and we really never gave those animals relaxing in the creek another thought except for their droppings.One hot summer day when I was 6 my mother spoke some wise words while we stood on the edge of the dock at Selby Lake in Quebec. Bernice Ethelyne Knight warned me over and over not to stare at the water as she prophesied that I would fall in. While everyone was enjoying their picnic lunch I immediately returned to the edge of that dock to test her theory. Like a flying duck making a fell swoop into the water I fell in head first. That was the day I nearly drowned and water and “swimming” became my fearful enemy.

I never crossed off number 5 on my bucket list of swimming to Alactraz, and honestly, swimming  stopped being a thing to me after falling off the pier that day. But, it was definitely the film Jaws that made me never ever step into a body of water again. So what was my rite of passage? I’d like to think the movie Footloose was, and like Bob Seeger once sang that— I finally got to a higher ground. Or did I?


SMITHS FALLS, Ontario, Canada; Children’s swimming Rideau River 60s

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The Perth Outdoor Pool.Photo- Perth Remembered–Top photo c.1919. Pool Rules from 1930 and bottom right photo early 60’s.
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 The Old Swimming Hole in Perth–Perth Remembered

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From Merrickville & District Historical Society — Back in 1915, Ina Bigford and Ruth McCaw sure did! These ladies are pictured here, in their swim suits at the Merrickville Dam (my, how styles have changed!). Ina Bigford would have been about seventeen years old when this photo was taken.

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

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.


Friday October the 13th– 6:30.. meet in front of the old Leland Hotel on Bridge Street in Carleton Place (Scott Reid’s office) and enjoy a one hour walk with stories of murder mayhem and BOO!.. Some tales might not be appropriate for young ears. FREE!!

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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