Story of the Bonnechere Bathtub

Story of the Bonnechere Bathtub

Copper Tub.JPG

On the Bonnechere river, about the year 1886, at what was known as Basin Depot, there was one Donald McCallum, who was employed  as a bookkeeper for the McLachlin Bros. The story is told that Donald decided to make his camp quarters as homelike as possible and to that end manufactured a bath tub out of boards.

The tub, when finished, resembled the shell of a coffin; and was big enough for the biggest man in the Ottawa Valley. But when water was put in it, the water would not stay in of course. Mr. McCallum decided he would give it a coat of tar. If the tar had been put on the outside of the tub this story could not have been told. But Donald put the tar on the inside.

At this point it should be explained that this tub was intended as a winter tub. About the time the tub was finished and tarred, Dan McGregor, the company’s agent, was expected to arrive. Mr. McCallum decided to give Mr. McGregor the honour of the first bath in the tub. In due time after the arrival, he proudly conducted the agent to the bath and told him he could use it any time as soon as he was ready and dilated on the advantages of a “hot tub” after a long journey.

Mr. McGregor looked at the tarred tub and said: “Donald, I wouldn’t think of taking a bath first. You made it and are entitled to the first bath in it.” “Well.” said Donald, “if you insist I will, but I really made it more for your benefit than my own.”

Finally that night Donald gave in and got in the water and got ready to take a bath. Well, the hot water softened the tar and at this point the curtain can be drawn on what happened. If a cat gets into tar, small deposits of tar can only be removed by letting  them harden and then carefully cutting them off.  They say you should never use gasoline, kerosene, turpentine, or organic solvents on tar as they can severely burn your skin and cause toxicities. So one has to wonder what happened to Donald after he got out of that tub.


The European settlement  started in the early 1800’s driven by the lumber trade. The History of Eganville reports that a Frenchman Gregoire Belanger built the first shanty on the banks of the Bonnechere at the future site of Eganville in 1825. By 1837, John Egan, a business man supporting the lumber industry, established  Eganville to support the square timber trade on the Bonnechere. The Bonnechere River was the route for the lumber trade through Round Lake and into the log shanties in the upper watershed which is now Algonquin Park.  Coming to this area, the lumbermen became the first settlers.

One of the early settlers on Round Lake was John Foy who built a house on the outlet of Round Lake in 1900. His father, Peter Foy had established a hotel and stopping point on the Bonnechere River just downstream of Round Lake. This was the route for loggers to Basin Lake. He had stables that could accomodate 34 teams of horses. John Foy’s death was reported in the Eganville Leader in August of 1962


Bathtub Gin Makes Mr. Bubble Go Flat

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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