Swimming at the Dam, St. James Park and Other Things

Swimming at the Dam, St. James Park and Other Things



Photos from Google Image and The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum



Letters to the Editor June 1981, Carleton Place Canadian about the proposed St. James Park and the Public Utilities Confrontation.

Dear Editor,

To do with the location of the new hydro complex. As far as I’m concerned is a bunch of bull. The Bell Street location is as good as any in my books.

The commission and some town people want a new park instead of a new building. This spring some concerned citizens complained about it being unsafe, so hydro had to fence it off, to keep the kids away from the dam.

If the town wants to improve the river, to see the dam, they should be looking into that eyesore and rat trap of the old Ritchie Mill property and get something done with it.

It is not unsafe there as where as where the hydro building on Bell Street should be. Also a new building would not spoil the view of the damn if put on the present location.

D. Warren- Carleton Place



Sunday, October 21, 1928-Photo From the Millie Aitkenhead collection- by the old hydro damn- St. James in the backgroundSunday, October 21, 1928-Photo From the Millie Aitkenhead collection- by the old hydro damn- St. James in the background


As a concerned ratepayer I feel some dark areas should be explored. Has the possibility of renovating the existing building been properly explored? Who was upset with Ken Drummond taking a survey? I am opposed to the idea that the Bell Street area be used as a park area. The area is extremely dangerous even at low water. The town of Carleton Place placed an ad on May 21, 1980 in the Canadian : “Warning children of the area to be careful of the swift running waters of the Mississippi River.”

On May 28, 1980 Constable Barker stated that 4 girls were walking on the dam. Police warned that any youngsters caught at the dam a second time would be charged with trespassing before one of our children is lost at the Mississippi River. Aside from the popular danger couldn’t the building be situated on the Bell Street property to allow a reasonable view of the river? Perhaps our Hydro Commission should move more cautiously towards a finalization of plans.

Bob Gordon


Today I am looking for comments about swimming at the dam

Doug B. McCarten We used to swim to the dam from McDaniels on Bell St. and sometimes jump off the roof of the hydro building or most fun was to walk along the ledge into the tunnel where the water came out of the hydro bldg which was aerated and warm! Probably not the smartest thing to do lol! The new bridge on hwy #7 bypass was a great place too! LOL

Dan Williams You could also jump off the ledge at the back into the discharge. Great fun!

Terry Latham My brother Ron neer lost his leg there cant recall how many stitches they had to give him.

Dan Williams It was really odd because kids had been swimming there for years and I don’t believe anybody else got hurt. My older brothers all swam there and never mentioned anything. I guess he just missed the spot you were supposed to hit.

Terry Latham Old broken drain tile. We think..
Ian Williams Yep. I think it got cut down after some kid got hung up in the rope!

Dwight Munro that was my swimming hole to i did the same thing jumping off the roof and down in the hole on the rock it was fun . and the big tree on the shore line all of it gone now .that is where i started to swim.

Jan McCarten Sansom If only your mothers knew what you were up to!! I do remember someone drowning there while swimming…they got sucked under and went over the dam!

Sandra Rattray I also swam at these same spots, that is without my parents’ consent. They would have grounded me for the rest of the summer. I wasn’t even a strong swimmer. One summer someone had strung a rope from the railing around the hydro plant to the corner of the dam. We all proceeded to use this to get to the dam. One day I reached for the dam and there was a board out. I then fell over it and was having a hard time getting up with the water rushing over it (although it was shallow). One of the McNeely boys jumped in and helped me out. That was an experience.

Wendy LeBlanc We were absolutely forbidden to go down to that end of James Street or over to the back bridges. Even if Mum needed something at Bennett’s Butcher Shop, we had to walk what we deemed to be the long way along Bridge Street via George Street. However, I am quite certain that brother Wayne joined Doug B. McCarten in breaking the family rules by spending a lot of time at the dam, and at the back bridges..

Doug B. McCarten Yup! I don’t think I had a restriction like that…..Wayne and I loved the Pike hole on McArthur Island! That’s where we got caught smoking! My Mom actually did say “If Wayne Robertson jumped off the new bridge, would you do it too?” I don’t think I ever did tell her how many times Wayne and I jumped from the railing of that bridge hahaha—Swimming at the dam was a given…..lol




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 and The Tales of Almonte

The Power of the Mississippi River Dam in Carleton Place

Finding a New Photo from the Guelph Archives #Excitement

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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