The Sullivans —- Floating Bridge Builders


The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
31 May 1943, Mon  •  Page 17

There will be many in Ottawa and elsewhere who will be sorry to hear that the floating bridge at Clayton Lake is no more. In 1859, a contract was let to James Sullivan to build a bridge 340 yards long for 18 pounds, 10 shillings.  Timber was cut, planks were sawn and thick pegs were driven into the wood of the stringers for a new bridge of an innovative design – it floated.

Eighteen years later in 1877, wheels wind and waves had taken their toll on the bridge. Timothy Sullivan of Ferguson Falls won the contract to build a new bridge on top of the old one as it had become impossible for horses to travel on.  The “bridge” was a favourite spot with pike fishermen who were aware of the possibilities of Lake Clayton. Just a solid row of big logs joined together by planking, the whole of which was moored to the shore and which bridged a channel flowing between Taylor Lake and Clayton, the float was often filled to overflowing with anglers.

They used to line the rail and cast oil the south side where “you just couldn’t miss” according to Johnny Miller. The pike used to breed in the heavy weeds of Taylor Lake and float below the logs as they headed for Clayton. It was a great place and will be missed by many. The bridge slipped from its moorings and partially sank below the surface so water-logged were its underpinnings. The lake is back of Carleton Place a few miles.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
10 Jul 1940, Wed  •  Page 16
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
17 Jun 2001, Sun  •  Page 12
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
04 Jan 1941, Sat  •  Page 16

Head west of Almonte on Wolf Grove Rd. until you hit the 12th concession on your right. It’s about 16km out of town, past Union Hall Road with the tall antenna.

At the end of the 12th is the narrows between Taylor and Clayton Lakes. There used to be a famous floating bridge here. It’s shown on my Lanark County map from 1879 and was in use until 1964 when it was destroyed by Hurricane Connie. Photos of the bridge from the 1950s show it was in pretty rough shape by the end. If you’re paddling here, apparently you can still see the timbers on the lake bottom.

In the photo above you can just see a light spot on the far shore where the 12th continues. This stretch of water used to be a lot narrower until about the 1980s, when the dam in Clayton was improved and the lake levels raised considerably.

From the Buchanan Scrapbook

The Floating Bridge – Claudia Smith

More on The Floating Bridge– Memories of Lyall McKay

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

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
31 May 1943, Mon  •  Page 17

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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