More on The Floating Bridge– Memories of Lyall McKay

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More on The Floating Bridge– Memories of Lyall McKay

Taylor Lake is a small lake connected to Clayton Lake. To get there, go west from Union Hall (junction of County Roads 9&16) three kms to Lanark Conc. 12. Turn north to the end of this road (about 11/2 km) to the end of the road at the lake. Launch your canoe at the small boat launch and circumnavigate the lake. Watch out for stumps in the bays. This lake was raised considerably two decades ago, with the reconstruction of the dam at Clayton. On the first point to your left as you launch, you can see a path of downed, dead trees, which were felled by a tornado a few years ago. Directly in a line across the lake from the boat launch is a road leaving the shore. Connecting these two points was a famous floating bridge. It was wiped out by hurricane Connie in 1964 and many of the logs can be seen on the bottom on the lake.

Some books tell us this bridge was first built to get people from Halls Mills and Galbraith to Ferguson Falls. This is quite true, as it did separate Taylor’s Lake from Clayton Lake at the narrows, and is one mile west of Ramsay Township.  It was used by many farmers as a short cut for hauling cord wood and grain to Almonte. Bill McIntosh of RR 6 Perth remembers crossing the bridge in a car when the water would squirt up through the flooring. Advanced transportation caused the demise of the bridge, which was also a popular fishing spot. The bridge before it was destroyed was almost 300 yards long. Historical Notes

Photos by Lyall’s grandmother Bernice E. Willis McKay

Memories from Lyall McKay

The photos of the floating bridge are from Bernice McKay. She used to have a beauty parlour at Union Hall. My grandfather ran the garage (McKay Motors) in the original cheese factory for many years.

Union Hall Cheese Factory- Lyall McKay family photos

She wrote a book before she passed away used to live in the retirement home in Clayton. Believe there should be a copy of her book still in the library there. There are local stories if Union Hall in her book. Her husband was Elvin McKay. His father is in Rose Mary Sarfield’s Book- “Whispers From the Past” (email at rose@sarsfield.ca or call at 613-621-9300, or go to the Clayton Store) he used to drive the sawdust/slab wagon for the sawmill.

There used to be another floating bridge over Indian River above the command bridge on Galbraith rd. I remember my grandfather saying it was in use till the seventies until a oil delivery truck fell through. Many years ago one could see a fire tower in the distance at the head of Taylor lake. Many call the channel between Clayton Lake and Taylor Lake Watchhorn Lake. I am assuming if comes from previous land owner before the lake was flooded by the Clayton dam. ( Read more about the Watchhorn’s in : Rose Mary Sarfield’s Book- “Whispers From the Past” (email at rose@sarsfield.ca or call at 613-621-9300, or go to the Clayton Store.)

There is a story of a family being buried at the corner of I think the 10th line on Galbraith Rd. The corner is fenced off about 8 ft square where they are supposed to be were placed there after they died of a plague and the house was further up at the end of the road.

Have been told that many years ago the settlers used to walk the oxen across the lake by using the islands in Taylor Lake before the dam. ( see So Which Island did the River Drivers of Clayton get Marooned On?) My understanding is that Watchhorn area was wet but not deep. Even now in summer there is only about 8 ft of water in the channel between the lakes. The damn was built first and then they came upriver to cut all the trees on the flooded lands. That’s why there are many big stumps sand logs in channel area. In the centre of the channel is a clear stretch. My belief is that it was the original path of water between the lakes. Taylor and Watchhorn are both spring fed lakes. In first freeze up one can see where the water flow meanders from various sides the length of the channel.

My grandfather told me it was three layers deep with a arch in the centre at one time. But later have heard they used to have to drag boat’s across the bridge to get between the lakes. Was a story of a team of horses jumping off the bridge when spooked by fish laying on the bridge from a fisherman

I have heard that on the north east side of the floating bridge there was a gravel pit that they used to load/pull by horses. I have been told the Watchhorn house was on the Stewart side of the lake and the owner used to wade across the channel to work the fields on the west side. No one on my family can recall a building in the west side when the bought it other than a old barn.

Grandfather used to talk about skating parties at Thompson’s. They use to skate the length of the lake. They used the strap on blades to boots somewhere in the lake is one he lost in a ice ridge. Years ago my uncle used to have a two level swimming diving raft in the north end of the channel before it got busy like now.

May 27, 1943 Almonte Gazette

The following interesting story about the famous “floating bridge” across Clayton Lake, has been written for The Gazette by Mr. William W. Watchom, one of the old Clayton boys and for many years one of Almonte’s best known citizens: The floating bridge on the 12th line of Lanark, is closed to traffic and has slipped off the foundation or timbers which supported it in places. 

It was built about 70 years ago by Timothy Sullivan of Ferguson Falls, who was successful in tendering for the contract; Lanark Township Council financed the building. In those days there was a number of families living in the Galbraith and Halls Mills districts that belonged to the R. C. parish church at Ferguson Falls and it saved them driving around by Clayton.They were able to cut across and come onto the old mail route at James’ School. 

It was a substantial structure with heavy cedar timbers underneath. The top structure was of cedar covering spotted to be solid on the sleepers. The railing was two logs high, bolted down to the outside sleepers which kept the covering in place. The top of the railing was braced to the covering which was longer where a brace was required. There was one place about the centre of the bridge, built wider so two rigs could meet. 

The structure is over five acres long and took a lot of timber and men to build it. After it was completed there was a dispute about paying for it as another who tendered claimed it was not built according to specifications. The late Mr. John Thompson who had a lot to do with having this bridge built, asked Mr. James Turner who now resides at Grand Forks, N. D., and at that time was following up the carpenter trade, to inspect the bridge. He found it was built according to the specifications. 

It is to be hoped that it will be repaired as it is one of the old landmarks and would be very much missed by a lot of people. In the spring and summer it is quite a fishing resort and it is a good place for wing shooting during duck hunting season.

November 23, 1945Almonte Gazette

A heavy gravel truck that crossed the Floating bridge recently caused some damage that had to be repaired
this week.

Rose Mary Sarfield’s book about the history of Clayton- “Whispers From the Past” (email at rose@sarsfield.ca or call at 613-621-9300, or go to the Clayton General Store)

The Baye’s Of Lanark Township.

Excerpts from the Almonte Gazette Newspaper;

Dear Sir:

With regards to an article in the book (Ramsay Reflections) recently published dating from 1836-1979 page 41, I beg a small space in your paper.

It concerns the late Joe Baye, his wife and family, Mrs. Baye who died October 5th, 1927, and Mr. Baye who died October 31, 1928. As the Baye’s nearest neighbour, for the first 20 years of my life, I was asked about three years ago for information as to the Baye’s way of life and home etc.

When I contacted Ramsay Residents I was very surprised to see that the Baye history refers to them as residents of Ramsay Township.

I made it clear at that time, that this was a mistake, and to my knowledge it was changed then.

I have absolutely no fault to finish with the ladies who have written the book I except they used the material as they received it.

However the truth is Joe Baye his wife and family never lived in Ramsay Township.

He may have camped along the river between Almonte and Appleton while trapping etc., but it never was a permanent place of abode.

His property comprised about one acre of land, more or less in the eleventh concession of Lanark Township.

He also had access to about half an acre in the twelfth concession, owned by a neighbour, on which he grew potatoes, corn and other vegetables.

It was known as the (Sand Hill) and he was never molested. This land was ploughed and worked by neighbours, and he was always ready to do a kind act in return.

His house, shop and other buildings were In the eleventh concession, and were always in A-1 condition.

Also the famous (Floating Bridge) which did form part of the twelfth concession just near his home is in Lanark Township.

Other books tell this bridge was first built to get people from Halls Mills and Galbraith to Ferguson Falls. This is quite true as it did separate Taylor’s Lake from Clayton Lake at the narrows, and is one mile west of Ramsay Township.

The bridge before it was destroyed was 300 yards long.

As I said before, I have no fault to find with the ladies, who no doubt have spent many hours preparing the book. I would say a job well done.

No doubt this article was printed as received, and was taken as a true story to a lot of people.

However like all my neighbours, who remember what fine people the Baye’s were that this part of the community, and especially the town of Almonte, join with me in remembering them as residents of Lanark Township.

Sincerely, Eldon Ireton, RR 2, Almonte.

ps. The following is in no way connected with the foregoing article.

I see pictures of the Floating Bridge in several places bearing a date of 1890.

While it is a good picture of the bridge, the date is absolutely wrong.

First it shows the telephone line. We didn’t have telephones in these parts in 1890. I think 1910 is closer to the correct date.

Also as to the railing on the bridge. My neighbours and myself, helped build the railing shown, and it could be the last one before the bridge was closed in 1944. It could be in the (thirties) with wages at 25 cents or 30 cents an hour/

Thank You. Eldon Ireton.

Picture of the Floating Bridge

The floating bridge at the narrows between Clayton and Taylor Lakes was actually constructed on the water adapting to the lake’s water levels. It was used by many farmers as a short cut for hauling cord wood and grain to Almonte. Bill McIntosh of RR 6 Perth remembers crossing the bridge in a car when the water would squirt up through the flooring. Advanced transportation caused the demise of the bridge, which was also a popular fishing spot. Joe Baye’s home appears in the far right. This week’s peek is courtesy of Bill Labron who also submitted a letter to the editor (see below) about Joe Baye.

Visiting with Joe Baye near Bridge

Although this story has been told before, I thought it might be suitable to go with the floating bridge on Clayton Lake.

Some time after I migrated to Paris, Ont. with the Penman Company, Mr. Long, Penman’s general superintendent, as me if I knew the Indian fellow Joe Baye who lived near the floating bridge.

I replied that I didn’t know him personally, but I knew of him.

“Well Bill.” said Mr. Long, “I can tell you a story involving Joe Baye.”

“As you probably know I make periodic inspections of all the Penman Mills. One time in Almonte, manager Herb Lundy asked me if I would like to go fishing.”

“I liked to fish so the next day about 1 pm Herb hired a horse and buggy from the local livery and some time later we arrived at the floating bridge.”

“Joe was going to be our fishing guide in his boat. After we returned from two or three hours of fishing Joe fried some fillets from the fish we caught and we sure enjoyed them.”

“Just about the time we were ready to return to Almonte, a terrible storm came up. As the wind and rain didn’t let up, Joe invited us to spend the night there.”

I wasn’t very keen on that, but Herb thought we should. Later we went up some steps, steep as a stepladder, to a room in the attic where there were two beds.”

“Although the bed was clean and comfortable I could not sleep with the lightning and rain pounding on the roof.”

“Just about daylight I heard someone come up the ladder. Then I could see this Joe Baye fellow’s head and shoulders and a large knife in his hand.”

“Gosh Bill, I was scared. I didn’t know whether to call Herb or what. However, this Joe Baye went over to a rafter and cut down a bundle which was tied there. He went back down the steps apparently carrying some smoked meat.”

“Afterwards I could smell ham and eggs frying and Bill, I don’t know when I enjoyed a breakfast like we had that morning.”

“Bill, I always wanted to go back there again for some fishing, but I never did make it.”

Joe Baye was a well-known Indian who trapped, worked for farmers during their busy season and acted as a fishing and hunting guide.

William Labron, Paris, Ontario.

To the Editor,

Congratulations on the new look of the Gazette which I have read with interest since James Muir was the publisher.

Recent correspondence re: Joe Baye evoked pleasant memories of him and of Mrs. Baye — his horse and buggy, his dog, his friendly home, his shop and his unique style of skill under construction. Rev. J. T. Blanchard a relative of Mrs. Baye told me that at the time of their marriage she was a very beautiful girl and he a very handsome man. In age they were still beautiful people to me.

Yours truly, Robert Martin, Penetang, Ontario

Biography

Thomas Tennant was born in 180 in Ireland and immigrated with his family to Upper Canada in 1820. They settled in Ramsay Township, Lanark County, where his application for land (Conc. 7, Lot 2) was turned down because he was too young (age 17). Eventually he did acquire land. The 1851 census records no longer exist for Ramsay Township, but Thomas, his wife Mary Ann, and his children lived in Lanark Township for more than twenty years. He died in Lanark in and was buried in the Tennant Cemetery.

The Carp River Floating Bridge

More Memories of the Floating Bridge

More Notes on the Floating Bridge in Clayton

The Floating Bridge of Carleton Place — Found!

Clayton floating bridge

Searching for the Floating Bridge?

The Floating Bridges of Lanark County

The Mystery Ruins and the Floating Sidewalk Near the McNeely Bridge

Stories About Deachman’s Bridge?

Why the Appleton Bridge Collapsed…

The Day the Appleton Bridge Collapsed

Lawsuits in Carleton Place — The Collapse of the Appleton Bridge

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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