Did You Know About Fettercairn Island?

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Did You Know About Fettercairn Island?

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Did you know that Fettercain Island was once located on Richardson Island in Indian Lake? It explodes with a rich history as once the site of a rehabilitation centre for battle worn returning soldiers of World War I.

 

Fettercairn Island

Black and white photograph of Fettercairn Island around 1916 – 1918. Photograph taken of Soldier’s Convalescent Camp at Fettercairn Island/Indian Lake, Chaffey’s Lock, Ontario from 1916 – 1918.

I can;t find much about Fettercairn Island’s history in the news archives. I can find tons about when it converted to the Girl Guides, but very little about the soldier convalescent  home it had on the island for soldiers from World War 1.  The island has a fascinating history. It was originally known as Fettercairn Island, a name meaning “rock surrounded by water” given to the island by the Richardson family who purchased it in 1901. The Richardsons also acquired property on Scott Island. 

 

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Black and white photograph of Agnes Richardson Etherington around 1940.

During WWI, Agnes Richardson (later Agnes Etherington) had a 45-bed hospital built on the island, to be used for convalescing shell-shocked soldiers. It opened in May 1916. A large boathouse was added in 1917. The Richardsons also owned 139 acres on Scott Island and, in the fall of 1916, 45 acres of that property was devoted to additional housing for the men. When WWI ended the facility was no longer needed and it closed down.

Shortly afterwards, the Richardsons gave the island and part of the Scott Island property to the Girl Guides of Canada for use as a training centre. The island at that time became known as Girl Guide Island. The Richardsons retained the name “Fettercairn” for their own Scott Island property and built a pergola and dry stone walls near the shore (these can be seen today).

 

The Girl Guides used the island as a training centre, known as the Dominion Training Centre, starting in the 1920s and continuing until sometime in the 1930s. The only indications today of the hospital are its foundations and part of the stone chimney. The island became known as Richardson Island, although locals still refer to the little island beside the main island as Girl Guide Island.

 

Richardson (formerly Fettercairn) Island (Image: Google Earth)

In Indian Lake, a boater passing by Richardson Island can see a foundation and part of a chimney. This is a Point of Interest because the ruins on the island are the remains of a convalescent hospital built in 1916. It was Agnes Richardson (later Agnes Etherington) who had this 45-bed hospital built, on what was then known as Fettercairn Island, to be used for convalescing shell-shocked WWI soldiers. It opened in May 1916. The Richardsons also owned 139 acres on Scott Island and, in the fall of 1916, 45 acres of that property was devoted to additional housing for the men. When WWI ended the facility was no longer needed and it closed down. It was later (1920s/30s) used by the Girl Guides of Canada as a training centre (the little island beside Richardson Island is still known by locals as Girl Guide Island) (see historical items below)

 

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Photograph taken of Soldier’s Convalescent Camp at Fettercairn Island/Indian Lake, Chaffey’s Lock, Ontario from 1916 – 1918.

Most boaters passing by this island have no idea of its fascinating history (in fact most boaters won’t even see this island since it’s away from the navigation channel). Knowing its past history adds depth and interest to the Rideau Canal – to think of those soldiers, coming back from the trenches in France, taking the train to Chaffeys Locks and being boated to Fettercairn Island for care, rest and relaxation (enjoying the Rideau in ways many of us enjoy the Rideau today; swimming, fishing, boating).

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Black and white photograph of nurses at Fettercairn around 1916 – 1918. Photograph taken of Soldier’s Convalescent Camp at Fettercairn Island/Indian Lake, Chaffey’s Lock, Ontario from 1916 – 1918

 

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Black and white photograph of soldiers relaxing inside at Fettercairn around 1916 – 1918. Photograph taken of Soldier’s Convalescent Camp at Fettercairn Island/Indian Lake, Chaffey Lock, Ontario from 1916 – 1918.

 

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Black and white photograph of soldiers and staff at Fettercairn around 1916 – 1918. Photograph taken of Soldier’s Convalescent Camp at Fettercairn Island/Indian Lake, Chaffey’s Lock, Ontario from 1916 – 1918

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Black and white photograph of a soldier with a Fettercairn banner around 1916 – 1918. Photograph taken of Soldier’s Convalescent Camp at Fettercairn Island/Indian Lake, Chaffey Lock, Ontario from 1916 – 1918

All Photos from Digital Histories of Rideau Lakes

 

historicalnotes

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Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 13 Jun 1916, Tue,
  3. Page 6

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Black and white photograph of a group at Chaffeys Lock railway station, leaving Fettercairn around 1916 – 1918.

 

 

historicalnotes

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Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 01 May 1937, Sat,
  3. Page 20 -

    Clipped from

    1. The Ottawa Citizen,
    2. 05 Mar 1938, Sat,
    3. Page 28
    4.  -

       

       

       

       

      relatedreading

      The Names of the Exempt of Lanark County- WW1

    5. The Fighting Lads of Lanark County WW1–Who Do You Know?

    6. Perth’s Soldier Terrible Ordeal in Prison Camp 1917 Clyde Scott

    7. George Eccles Almonte Hero!

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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