Turgeon Tragedy — The Barber of Almonte

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
12 Sep 1894, Wed  •  Page 1
Varin - Turgeon family drowning in Almonte, Ontario, Canada in 1868
the Ottawa Citizen dated June 19, 1868

The sad death of Mr. Telesphore Turgeon, who was burned in the recent fire at Hinckley, Minnesota, calls to mind the occasion on which he was a victim of one of the worst boating accidents that ever occurred in Almonte. In June, 1868, the late Mr. Turgeon, in company with two of his wife’s sisters, Maggie and Lizzie Varin, aged about fourteen and eight years, and his little son, started from above the railroad bridge to have a sail up the river. 

When fairly out in the stream one of the oars broke, thus leaving the boat at the mercy of the current. Mr. Turgeon jumped out and tried to draw the skiff to the shore, but the current proved too strong, and he was swept over the falls along with the boat and its occupants. 

The children were all drowned, but Mr. Robert Brown, a law student in the office of Mr. (now Judge) Jamieson dove after and succeeded in rescuing Mr. Turgeon in a lifeless condition, after he had been on the bottom for some time, and he was resuscitated.Mr. Turgeon afterwards presented Brown with a handsome gold medal in recognition of his bravery. Mr. Turgeon was insured in the Almonte branch of the’ C.M.B.A. for $2000.

Also read-The Almonte Ladies Barber and After an Hour’s Hard Work with Pails all the Danger was Over… and Great Hinckley Fire

Stock Photo not Turgeon
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
30 Jul 1927, Sat  •  Page 2
january 1868 Almonte Gazette

Margaret Williams was left a widow at age 42 with seven surviving children.  The eldest Claire (aka Clara) was 20, just married and  gave birth to a son Eusebe Telesphore Turgeon within a week of his grandfather’s death. Eusebe Varin’s  business probably failed following his death and it appears that Margaret Williams moved to Almonte, Ontario with her children.  Daughter Claire and her husband Telesphore Turgeon went too. Almonte was a booming mill town about 30 miles from Ottawa on the Mississippi River a tributary of the Ottawa River. 

Information from Family Trees put up on Ancestry shows that Margaret Williams died in Almonte on the 21 Sept 1867 at the age of 45. I have not yet been able to confirm this. She left seven children orphans with married daughter Claire age 22 the eldest.  

Information from Family Trees on Ancestry is that the two youngest Varin girls ages fourteen and nine and their three year old  nephew Eusebe Telesphore Turgeon, the son of their eldest sister, all died on 11 June 1868.  Information is that the youngest girl drowned. Clara Varin Turgeon and her husband Telesphore Turgeon lived in Almonte until well into the 1880s and had a number of children.  

The  family then moved to Minnesota, USA, to the area between Duluth and Minneapolis where Telesphore died in the huge Hinkley forest fire in 1895. The rest of the family survived and the children married.  Their descendents live in the States. 

Up until the 19th century barbers were generally referred to as barber-surgeons, and they were called upon to perform a wide variety of tasks. They treated and extracted teeth, branded slaves, created ritual tattoos or scars, cut out gallstones and hangnails, set fractures, gave enemas, and lanced abscesses


The Stack Perm or the Disco Wedge ? 1970s Hair Fashion

Why Were These Folks Facing Backwards?

The Best Little Chin Hair Post on the Prairie

Lois Lyman–A Hair of a Blunder!

To Die Dying Your Hair

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s