The Miracle of 1974

The Miracle of 1974


May 21, 1974 Carleton Place

A Smiths Falls woman and two children were swept one-half mile down the churning, swollen Mississippi River, over the Carleton Place dam and the Bates and Innis Falls Monday afternoon before being rescued unharmed.

“It was absolutely a miracle they survived,” said Sgt. Ray Mclsaac of the Carleton Place police.  Hilda Gilligan and her six-year-old son Jeffrey, both of 18 Greg St., Smiths Falls, and Donna Porteous, 9, of 15 Condie St., Smiths Falls, set out in a rented aluminum boat about 5:50 p.m. At Findlay’s Foundry, about a quarter-mile upstream from the dam, the boat’s motor failed and they tried unsuccessfully to paddle to shore against the swift-flowing current. People along the shore noticed the three boaters in trouble and immediately called the fire department, but the firemen could only look on helplessly as the boat was carried downstream.




When the boat approached the Carleton Place dam, the children, who were wearing life jackets, jumped out and were carried over the dam. Mrs. Gilligan, still in the boat, also was swept over the dam and was rescued below the dam by Constable Bill Shane of the Carleton Place police. The children travelled another quarter-mile down the river, over the 15-foot-high falls and through the rapids.


There 21 -year-old Dale Machin, of 180 William St., waded into the water and grabbed Jeffrey. Mr. Machin threw the boy onto the shore, grabbed a neighbour’s small boat and paddled out to rescue the girl. The woman and two children were rushed to the Carleton Place and District Memorial Hospital but required no treatment and were released.

“Nobody thought they would come up alive,” said Sgt. Mclsaac. “The only reason they survived was that the current was travelling so quickly they didn’t touch bottom. They were just carried along on the crest of the water. It really was miraculous.”


A Record of Drowning — River Falls and Cisterns

Down at Old McIlquham’s Bridge

Joseph Wooldridge Phillip Low- Near Drowning 1963

Dr.Cram and Dr. Scott Drowning 1907 –Cram Genealogy

Robert Drader Bill Shail Saved from Drowning May 28 1957

Tales from the Mississippi Rapids

A Carleton Place Tale to Send Shivers Up Your Arm — The Sad Tale of Margaret Violet King

Spring 1909 Pakenham — James Lunny William David Story

Stories of the Mississippi River — Elk, Rice Beds, and Corduroy Roads

The Sad Tale of Alexander Gillies and Peter Peden

The Dangers of the Mississippi River-Arnold Boner 😦


Murder or Accident — Bates & Innes Flume

The Tragic Death of Dr. Mostyn Shocked the People of Almonte

The Appleton Incident 1954

Debbie Dixon and The CPR Bridge Incident in Carleton Place–Linda’s Mailbag

What Happened on the CPR Railway Bridge?

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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