Down the hill of Lanark Concession 12 where the road ends is supposed to be where the floating bridge once sat. After Karen Black Chenier brought over the print of the bridge I knew I had to go and see it for myself. It’s one thing to write or read about it, but it’s another to go to the place it once stood. It’s easy directions taking Wolf Grove Road West past the Civitan Hall and old Auld Kirk, but it’s another thing to drive in the car with me.
Head west of Almonte on Wolf Grove Rd. until you hit the 12th concession on your right. It’s about 16km out of town, past Union Hall Road with the tall antenna.
At the end of the 12th is the narrows between Taylor and Clayton Lakes. There used to be a famous floating bridge here. It’s shown on my Lanark County map from 1879 and was in use until 1964 when it was destroyed by Hurricane Connie. Photos
of the bridge from the 1950s show it was in pretty rough shape by the end. If you’re paddling here, apparently you can still see the timbers on the lake bottom.
In the photo above you can just see a light spot on the far shore where the 12th continues. This stretch of water used to be a lot narrower until about the 1980s, when the dam in Clayton was improved and the lake levels raised considerably.
Things have changed since I had a stroke and the heart attacks, and I am nervous in the car so Steve usually drives. But truth be told, I should be alone in that darn car as I am always hollering directions and flailing the historical comments. I’m honest. So after seeing all these Ramsay Concession signs I began to wonder if I shouldn’t have gotten Google directions. Then the paved highway turned into rubble and I began to worry about my tires. We drove by Union Hall and I complained that I should have gotten a photo of the sign as Gerald Tennant’s name was on it. It’s always something with me.
Well, Ramsay Concession 1 soon turned into Lanark Concession 12 and we turned right as directed. I think Steve thought I had him on some wild goose chase, but he told me not to worry—but I still worried. I yelled at him to slow down and he made that 360 at the end of the road like a Nascar driver. I muttered something like: “next time, maybe I should just go by myself”.
That did not go over well, but we were there. The water wasn’t low enough but I could see a wood beam sticking out. I don’t know if that was the right spot, but I like to think it was. Standing there I imagined how folks came for miles to see this curiosity of Lanark county when it opened– a bridge that floated on water that helped them cross the narrows.
As I looked at the water I could not imagine being on a bridge like that when there was a storm and the bridge caught the wind. I had a hard enough time walking part way across the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge from Mercer Island to Seattle in the 60s stopping a third of the way due to waves crashing over the side. So how on earth did these people drive a load and horse across this former bridge, let alone a car? I could see the kids in the backseat shuddering with fright as their father climbed and bumped over the logs in the Spring. My knees were going weak just thinking about it.
Linda Seccaspina……this is a copy of the Clayton Bridge photo (I do have the original photo somewhere).. that my Dads niece gave him …on the left is Wilfred McNeil (Marjorie Saunders McNeil took picture) and in right is William Leach….in the background is Joe Bayes house…Floating Bridge about 1922…
They say that the bridge held steady until someone built a fire on it and it became unsafe. Why would someone do that– and where was Joe Baye’s home that was said to be near the floating bridge? Well, the bridge finally died when Hurricane Hazel passed through here in 1954, and now the floating bridge is only a memory. I stood there on the shore lost in history until Steve asked me what kind of bushes were beside him. I smiled and told him Mountain Ash had no itching allergy qualities. He knows how much local history means to me and even though each one of our historical quests usually includes a direction and driving squabble, we laugh about it later.
As I stood at the dead end ready to get back in the car I looked to other side and saw a boggy area full of lily pads. An artist cannot fully convey the beauty of Lanark County, and I wished I was more active these days to be able to explore it. I have no idea if I was at the exact spot of the floating bridge but former settlers once stood where I was standing and that was good enough for me. The print above is called, “Making Ends Meet”– and today I tried to make local history meet. Now tell the truth how far was I off?:)
– Apparently I was there– but I need to go to the other side and look at it there. Stay tuned..:)
Photo– Leann Thompson —We took this on the way home today. On the lake from the 12th concession heading towards Floating Bridge Rd.
Rose Mary Sarsfield I love it! You were there! On the other side it is called the Floating Bridge Road, so you really can’t go wrong….well….once you find the road! I’m writing about this in my Clayton book….did you know that in the winter it is still in use as an ice road? A lady who lives on that road told me about having guests come from western Ont in the winter and they went out and turned left from their driveway instead of right and went down the hill onto the lake. I guess the friends nearly s— themselves!
Some of our other journeys
Hi there. You were definitely there and Joe Bae’s place was right at the water on the left. A perfect spot. I too love the history of the area. We have the old farm at the top at the corner of Wolfgrove Rd and 12th concession–