Britannia Boat House Doomed— April 1907 Ice Jam –Jaan Kolk Files

Britannia Boat House Doomed— April 1907 Ice Jam –Jaan Kolk Files




After–(MIKAN 3325436) dated April 20th, 1907

Photo Archives Canada

Yesterday I posted a photo that Jennifer Fenwick Irwin from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum‎ posted in Lost Ottawa in 2014. It was a great photo of the Britannia Pier Boathouse in Ottawa dated 1907. Historian Jaan Kolk realized the photo was taken that year because of the enormous ice jam at Britannia Bay that year.

In April of 1907 the Britannia Pier was smashed up considerably and the local cottages on the shore were also threatened.  A destructive ice jam had been formed at Britannia by heavy winds and the boathouse that was built in 1906 by the Britannia Boat Club was doomed to destruction. There were great fears that part of the pier would have to be rebuilt.

The ice had been driven to the beach by the fierce overnight winds. It towered twenty feet over the water level and the pressure from the ice in the rear was increasing. For three miles the ice was jammed from the park to Rocky Point up the river. It was noticed that the bay itself was eerily clear because the ice was formed mostly along the edge and was forced down to the beach under intense pressure.

The first collision from the ice was heard early in the morning when the jam first encountered the pier. The broken floating ice cakes were pressed together with such force that they began to overlap one another until the solid ice jam practically reached the level of the pier. It kept accumulating until the ice over topped the pier by almost 10 feet.

The wall of the Britannia Boat House was subject to so much pressure that it buckled and then bulged out. The boats and canoes appeared safe, but if they were not rescued soon they would be crushed as well. That was an easy thing to say because even if one wanted to rescue a boat it was a dangerous situation to even venture near the boat house.

The planking of the pier was squeezed out of place and some parts had been forced fifteen feet into the air. The biggest loss was the back of the boat house that had been forced out since the initial ice crush. Word was that all hope of saving the building was gone.

Any other year in the Spring, and under ordinary conditions, the ice floats down the river without doing any damage, but 1907 was the year that the ice flow decided to travel a new course due to the heavy winds. The result was a heavy loss to the club house members, the Ottawa Electric Railway and to residents along the shore.


 - JAM PROVES BIG ATTRACTION Thousands Visit Scene...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 22 Apr 1907, Mon,
  3. Page 5



Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 22 Apr 1907, Mon,
  3. Page 1




Jaan Kolk
March 30 at 1:11pm
Great job, Linda! Just one small correction. In 2014 when I was unable to view the LAC photo by Lawrence Hurt Sitwell (MIKAN 3325436), I speculated it might be the same photo Carleton Place & Beckwith Museum posted. That speculation was incorrect, although there is no doubt they are both photos of the same damage. So the caption for the last photo should just indicate it is from the Carleton Place & Beckwith Museum collection, photographer unknown.


I found this story all due to the photo that was initially posted on Lost Ottawa.

Years ago when I lived in Berkeley I used to go to Urban Ore on Murray Street every week to find surplus good for outfits etc.. I would walk by the artistic lot on the same street that belonged to the folks that created things for Burning Man every year.

I used to love looking at this Steampunk boat in the upper corner that sat there all year. I lost all my photos of this great vessel, but today when I saw a photo that Jennifer Fenwick Irwin from the of Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum‎ posted in Lost Ottawa in 2014 of the Britannia Pier Boathouse it reminded me of the boat on the Murray Street lot in Berkeley.

. For anyone who is interested in the history of this original photo my friendly historian Jaan Kolk identified it..🙂

Jaan Kolk said –Library and Archives Canada have a photo captioned “Ice jam at Britannia [Ottawa, Ont.] showing wreck of new club house from the front” (MIKAN 3325436) dated April 20th, 1907. It is from a Lawrence Hurt Sitwell album. Unfortunately, no scan of the photo appears to be online, but I bet it is of the same event, if not the same photo.

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 andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)



Jaan Kolk Files—–

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign–Dr. Winters 154-160 Bridge Street Carleton Place –Jaan Kolk Files

Please take the Devil Out of Me? Rev. James Wilson of Lanark

Did You Know we Once Had a Grand Hotel? The Grand Central Hotel

The Cholera Epidemic of 1911

The Ashton Hotel– Questions Questions Flemmings and McFarlanes

Benoit & Richardson Photo– a Mystery

Before there was Baker Bob’s There was The Almonte Bakery

Does Anyone Remember Cohen’s in Lanark Village?

From the Iveson Collection–Britannia 1900 from the Iveson Photo Collection… I have been going through these and I checked with Jaan first and he agreed definitely the Britannia Boat House.. so please read -Britannia Boat House Doomed— April 1907 Ice Jam –Jaan Kolk Files

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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