Tag Archives: billings bridge

Floating Bridges, Toll Gates and Typhoons– Clippings of Billings Bridge

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Floating Bridges, Toll Gates and Typhoons– Clippings of Billings Bridge

Joseph Brule Sr. came from Papineauville about the year 1847 and the family had originally come from below Montreal. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Brule Sr. had a family of six when they came to Billings Bridge, and several children were born after their arrival. After living on the Island at Billings Bridge for about three years, Joseph Brule went to work for his brother Thomas Brule who had a blacksmith shop at Byward market in Bytown.

The family occupied a shanty on Billings. At that time it was much larger than it is today as floods and other causes have worn away at the island. When Joseph Brule came to these parts Billings bridge was once a floating bridge. The bridge was tied to either shore with ropes. When the spring floods and ice came down the river the bridge was loosened at one end and allowed to swing to one shore until the ice and high water had gone. At such times those who were very anxious to cross, were taken over to the other side In scows.

Mr. Joseph Brule, says he did not see the floating bridge in operation, but when he was a small boy he saw the remains of it.

Map of Billings Bridge c.1879 Source:Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of Carleton inc. City of Ottawa

The first bridge was built by Billings across the Rideau River at Bank Street in 1831. Farmer’s Bridge later known as Billings Bridge was finally completed, linking Gloucester Township with Nepean Township and Bytown. By 1859 both the bridge and the community became commonly known as Billings Bridge. This early bridge was washed out and rebuilt in 1847.Further washouts took place in 1862, 1876 and 1913.  In 1862 it is necessary to rebuild one end of Billings Bridge 

Bridges at the time were more vulnerable to this, as they only had a clearance of about 1m above the water level. The concrete central span of the bridge collapsed 21 March 1913. Construction of a new bridge began in 1914. It was inaugurated 2 September 1915. The ceremony was conducted on the North bank of the river. The mayor of Ottawa then drove across the bridge, turned around without pause and drove straight back into town. ( Wikipedia)

Mason’s blacksmith shop, Riverdale near Billings Bridge.”
Dated to October 27, 1898, this photo was taken by famous Ottawa East resident James Ballantyne.
(LAC PA-134260)

June 6th, 1888 a Cyclone devastated large portions of Gloucester particularly near Billings Bridge.

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
12 Sep 1925, Sat  •  Page 2

Hawthorne and Ramsayville. In 1920 William Birch is the last tollgate keeper at Billings Bridge..


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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
19 Apr 1920, Mon  •  Page 15

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Ottawa Daily Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
14 Feb 1852, Sat  •  Page 4

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Ottawa Daily Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
18 Mar 1878, Mon  •  Page

This one is entitled “Looking south from Billings Bridge.” Not exactly the Ottawa South we know now!
No date on the picture, unfortunately, but I’m guessing 1890. There are telephone poles, at least.
(LAC PA-009202)

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Ottawa Daily Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
01 May 1876, Mon  •  Page 4
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Ottawa Daily Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
11 May 1876, Thu  •  Page 4

Here’s the Rideau River flooding on the outskirts of Ottawa near Billings Bridge in 1926.
Flooding was an almost annual occurrence in Ottawa and surroundings back in the day, and you can almost feel the water flowing in this pic.
(Annual Report of the Ottawa Suburban Roads Commission, 1926)

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
23 Apr 1926, Fri  •  Page 8

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Ottawa Daily Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
05 Feb 1877, Mon  •  Page 2

Larry Clark Memories : Billings Bridge, Willow Trees and the Orange Lodge

The Sharbot Lake Floating Bridge

The Sullivans —- Floating Bridge Builders

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

Larry Clark Memories : Billings Bridge, Willow Trees and the Orange Lodge

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Larry Clark Memories : Billings Bridge, Willow Trees and the Orange Lodge

Linda,

 You asked for photos re: my previous submission but photos of my youth are few and far between mostly due to the fire at Arklan— 31 Jan 69. This is not so much about Carleton Place– but may be of interest. It is about my grandparents. As you can see, Dan Bennett in the photo below could not easily be encouraged to “dress up”. I was to learn later in 1946 that I had a second maternal grandfather as my mother had been adopted. I learned of him when he came to visit us and brought with him, his son Bill, from a second marriage and a huge 2 lb block of chocolate. He was an electrician that had come (Weston) to wire our newly built house on the corner of Napoleon and Arthur.

 1929 Reo, Dan and Tillie Bennett- Larry Clark Photo

In the early 40’s, I spent my summers with my Grandparents in Ottawa (Billings Bridge area). They had a home (which he had built himself) on Riverside Drive almost opposite the intersection with Alta Vista-4 acres I believe, on the Rideau River. This was a rather desirable location and in the early 50’s was being expropriated by the city of Ottawa. They were offered no greater value due to the location on the river and they fought the city to no avail. They were one of the last holdouts but eventually had to accept the offer.

They sold and moved to Kemptville to be near where their son, Earl, lived in South Mountain. Tillie died there in 1957. Grandpa (Dan; b.1872) and Grandmother (Tillie; b.1871) were my constant companions for months at a time. Dan had a huge garden stretching to the river. There was bush on the right side and a house on the left, the occupants of which I barely knew.  Dan was sociable enough with them but didn’t appreciate the fact that they had a very large Weeping Willow close to the property line in the vicinity of his garden. He maintained that it provided too much shade to his garden and it was sucking up all the water from that same area. Most of that area of garden was planted with potatoes, where I learned to treat their tilling with much disdain. A large swing in the yard adjacent to the Riverside was much more pleasurable until the day I passed out and fell off.  A contributing factor to this malaise was a large boil on the back of my neck. A poultice (bread, or Flax seed?) was fashioned and administered to the offensive sore, to draw out the poison. I survived.

1929 REO

A garage on the other side of the property harboured a 1929 REO which was driven at least once a week. Dan was very frugal , changed the oil regularly but with used oil (suitably strained). This was procured sans payment at the local friendly service station in Billings Bridge. On long trips i.e to CP, he would turn off the engine at the top of the larger hills, coast down and re-start at the bottom. It was at least on one such excursion that we stopped on the side of the road while Dan cut some cedar branches from the adjacent trees. These were taken home to be placed in bureau drawers with the clothing.

This rather boring trip would consume most of a morning’s hours. At least, I would be returned home and not have to suffer the same trip in reverse. Life at Dan and Tillies was never boring. They taught me to play Rummy (age 4/5) and it wasn’t long before they accused me of cheating because I tended to hold my cards; not putting them down immediately. This prevented them from discarding on my hand. Early evenings would be spent on the porch counting passing cars, which weren’t too commonplace in those days. Some of the time was allotted to trying to turn my stomach into knots-at least that is what I would be admonished for; repeatedly, climbing onto the porch and jumping off.

The best was the Tuesday and Saturday night visits to the Orange Hall, which were Euchre nights. At that point I couldn’t understand the game (that came later) but I enjoyed watching (learning), quite often bearing the brunt of players remarks (teasing) to which I was subjected. However, I took advantage of this friendship by becoming an entrepreneur. There was a corner store at Bank/Riverside which sold soft drinks (before it was Americanised to “pop”) for 7 cents. Deposit was 2 cents. I would take orders, collect a 10 cent payment and go purchase the items but never paid a refund on their dime. Of course I got quite a bit of flak for that and even more by collecting the empties and returning them to the store. That’s where I learned about “sticks and stones”!  

Daniel Bennett- Photo Larry Clark

The Orange Lodge figured  prominently in their lives as Dan performed as “King Billy” at the annual 12th of July parade for many, many years. He would be leading the parade on a huge (to me) white horse, while I would be standing on the sidelines with Tillie. It seemed to me that the parade venue changed every year, so that we would be visiting many different towns in the Ottawa, Gatineau area. When a group of Orangemen got together, there were many stories of the atrocities that the Catholics inflicted on the Protestants in days gone by. One such, was that of group of Catholics captured a Protestant; sealed him in a barrel; drove spikes into it and rolled him down a hill to a bitter end. Scary stuff until I learned many years later that these events probably took place (if at all) 400 years previously.

witch hazel

Dan earned extra money as a dowser (perhaps his only  income-I only knew he had once worked on the railroad). For this purpose, he would require a source of witch-hazel to which end we would drive along Riverside Dr. (near Bronson, mostly countryside in those days) until the perfect tree formation was found. He would be looking for a branch with a fork that had fairly equal diameters and was approx. 2 feet long. At the devining site, he would grasp the ends of the forked branches, twisting the ends to force the opposite single end into the air at an approx. 60 degree angle. He would then pace back and forth until he was satisfied with the results. I was a doubter, (perhaps that is where I acquired a doubting attitude) but he would show me the twisted bark on the branch? He would only search for water if the homeowner agreed to to dig a well by hand. He maintained that a drill could easily miss the source of water that he had indicated. He would locate the water in a variety of locations on a property and then proceed to go through a variety of ministrations and would then advise as to how deep you would have to dig to find water. They would then decide which location would be the most suitable.

Thanks Larry once again for sending your memories.

Read more about dowsing and twitching here. Twitching or Grave Dowsing– Our Haunted Heritage

Glory Days in Carleton Place– Larry Clark

Larry Clark — Your Veribest Agent

A Personal Story — Caught in the Ice– Rocky Point- Larry Clark

McEwan Fire 1949 —Chris Muller –None of Us are Alone— We are all connected!

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McEwan Fire 1949 —Chris Muller –None of Us are Alone— We are all connected!

Linda,

You are most welcome to publish it any way you want. Gloria has given her full permission. We both just want to share the story so that people know to never give up hope and to realize how easy it is to make such a positive impact on someone else’s life with something as simple as a laptop !! After 75 years on her own with her two daughters and two granddaughters, Gloria is now living a new family life keeping up with all her siblings and their children and grandchildren. And she could not be happierChris Muller

At long last it is my great pleasure to give you an update on the McEwen McEwan Fire 1949 article that you published.—The McEwen McEwan Fire 1949Posted on August 12, 2019 by lindaseccaspina

Story below by Chris Muller

Please forgive my long delay in getting it to you, but I am hardly the wordsmith that you are. Besides, Sunday will be the one year anniversary of when this Great Adventure Started so it kinda worked out nicely. I hope in this age of COVID-19 it serves as a source of happiness and inspiration that each of us can still have so much impact on the lives of others even though we are all together but separate at the moment due to social distancing. I hope it also serves as a beacon of hope for those who have been searching for something for many years … and indeed perhaps decades … to never give up hope.


My cousin Iz, the Sage of my existence, considers any adventure in life to be a gift. You either experience something new or learn a valuable life’s lesson. Sometimes if you are lucky … very lucky … you get to do both on the same adventure at the same time. And so this adventure begins in a pool of deep pain exactly one year ago on 26 July. I was trying to recover from the loss of suicide that had happened at Easter that year and had decided to browse my DNA Matches on Ancestry.ca when a profile caught my eye. See, I have been gifted with more than my fair share of Great Adventures in life and so I tried to concentrate on that to strengthen me in my own battle with depression.

The one conclusion I came to in thinking of what all my Great Adventures had in common was that they had come about through the opening of my heart. Rather than look inward at this time of great pain I needed to find the strength to look outward. And not knowing where to go or where to look …. there is no Directory of Great Adventures !!! (🤣) … I just opened my laptop and opened my heart.


I wear a name tag at work every day that states that genealogy is my passion. And so I decided to start filling the hole in my life with something I love … studying the relationships of dead people. Come to think of it now that I typed it out loud ( 😁 ) perhaps not the best venue for spending time at when one is fighting a lethal depression … but my motto is ‘LIVE HARD’.

Ancestry has made many changes over the past couple of years that has made working in DNA much more exciting for us amateurs. I decided to spend more time in learning about how you can learn so much from shared DNA matches. I started going up and down my list looking at profiles that had a ‘proposed’ shared ancestor with me. Once I had seen most of those, I moved on to looking at profiles on my shared DNA list that had posted family trees. And that is how I first met Gloria.


The first time I saw Gloria’s profile and family tree I didn’t linger for long because there was not much there. But her small tree (much like Charlie Brown’s little Christmas Tree) burned its image into my memory in a momentary flash. I kept seeing it and passing by it … until one day in late July when I stopped and didn’t pass by. Something about that tree touched my heart: stirred my soul. There was something sad about having such a small tree that was not even completely formed. Perhaps my way out of profound sadness was to see if I could bring profound happiness to another … and so in a mix of excitement and complete arrogance and a good dose of naivety I decided to see if I could find anything using the clues from the couple of names on Gloria’s Family Tree … and I did !!

I sent her a message through Ancestry and she responded !! She confirmed for me that she did indeed know the names of her parents. Later I would learn it was from a birth certificate that was obtained when she applied for a passport for the first time. She also shared with me that that was about all she knew of her birth family. She was told nothing about her family from the people that raised her, and few if any had responded to the questions she had sent to people via Ancestry that might know something. No one was looking for her and seemingly no one from her birth family cared.

However,  I refused to accept her statement the moment it appeared on my screen. Something deep inside me told me the truth and started to lead me on one of The Greatest Adventures of my life.

There is no reasonable or ‘logical’ explanation for what happened next. The bits and pieces of Gloria’s tree started coming to me fast and furious. Two weeks to the very day I first made contact with Gloria I was able to provide her with the telephone number to someone I thought might be her sister.

Now remember, Gloria lives in North Carolina and this person lives in Manitoba!! She bravely made the call and one month to the day I first made contact, those two women flew to Ottawa to meet face to face for the first time. Why Ottawa? Because that was the address that the family last lived at as a single unit. That was the family’s address until 27 December 1949 … the night of the tragic fire that would claim the lives of the parents of those five children in the house.

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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 12 Jan 1950, Thu  •  Page 3

To all who saw those first pictures that were beamed around the world as they sat in the pub, there was no mistaking that these two women were somehow related. Gloria’s sister decided to take a DNA Test herself just to have science prove what everyone was saying … and there was an abundance of joy when the results came back stating that they were indeed half-sisters. Not being one myself …. I have been told that a sister is a sister is a sister no matter what the quantitative measurement is !! And so our work was not done.

Which parent was the 1/2 connected to Gloria ? Shared DNA matches proved it to be the mother and further analysis of Gloria’s DNA Matches and my owned shared DNA matches revealed that her birth father was somehow related to my own birth father !!! It took several stabs at it but we finally have the DNA proof of who her birth father was thanks to a half-sister on that side as well. Her father was Henry Paul Dolan. 

In December, I flew to North Carolina to bring Gloria a stunning Family Christmas Tree with over 1600 decorations on it !!! That tree is mostly thanks to the ancestors that called me on another Great Adventure but it is also thanks to my adopted parents who led by example and taught me how to open my heart and it is also thanks to so many that helped us along the way. 

But one thought remained in my consciousness and haunted me every day. Why me? There are so many more people that are so much better at this that life could have chosen. Why me? December 27th. December 27th 1949 there was a terrible house fire in Ottawa. There was a family of 7 in the house that night … the parents of which would perish as a result of the burns suffered in saving the lives of their 5 children. Those parents were the two people named on Gloria’s birth certificate as her parents. 75 years after her birth and 70 years after that devastating fire …. Gloria has found her way back to her birth family–and the truth.

Just as I had to answer the call of my ancestors and travel to the East Coast to learn the truth of who my birth father was … and in the process discover that I did not really lose the man that proved not to be my birth father but that he turned out to be a spiritual ‘step-father’ for over 50 years who loved me so much that he led me to the truth of who my birth father really was … so I had to go on another Great Adventure after being called on to it by Gloria’s spiritual ‘step-father’, Cpl Enos McEwan, who loves her so much that he wanted her to learn the information she had been searching for for all of her life … who her birth family was. Cpl Enos McEwan calling me to this task I have been able to heal some of the pain from my own journey of discovery.

None of us are alone. We are all connected. This life is not the end of our spirit. Our impact on the world does not end with our death. I would never have been able to help Gloria find her family if not for answering the call of my own ancestors to follow in their footsteps and find what they have left for me … as a wise First Nations Friend once told me long long ago. I would not have been able to help Gloria if not for Iz who encouraged me to take the DNA Test. I would not have been able to help Gloria if not for my friend who committed suicide and created a void that needed to be filled. I would not have been able to help Gloria  if not for the incredible courage of Gloria herself who trusted something so sacred to her to a complete and utter stranger on the internet. And I would not have so many answers for Gloria if not for friends and family like Sharon and Melissa and Gloria’s wonderful nieces Jennifer and Lana. I certainly wouldn’t be as good as I am (whatever that is) without the love and trust of friends who allowed me to hone my skills over the years and work on their family trees for them. This is what I have learned … none of us are alone. We are all connected.

And what am I most proud of? I am most proud of the fact that so many people in the family tree are putting an end to what destroys families from the inside out. What I am most proud of is these people who are making the lives of their children better than their own. We are a family of warriors.

The families involved in this story have historically been Christian and so Gloria …. the Greatest Joy … the Greatest Gratitude … is the greatest name for a little girl born on D Day who would go on a journey through life that would take 75 years to come back to where she started and would happen 70 years after that devastating fire that would leave her siblings orphans.

Whatever one thinks of Gloria’s mother’s actions while her husband, John Max Enos McEwan, was at war … she freely gave of her life to save the lives of her children.

PS  This  picture of Gloria and myself was taken on the campus of Duke University in Durham, NC this past December when I flew there to meet Gloria and her husband Robert.– Chris Muller

The McEwen McEwan Fire 1949-Posted on August 12, 2019 by lindaseccaspina

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
27 Dec 1949, Tue  •  Page 1

Thanks Christopher for writing this.. the most important thing I believe in is we are not alone we are connected. Just be true to yourself. Listen to your heart. The rest will follow. Everyone has problems. You aren’t alone. This is why I encourage everyone to share their stories. Some where, somewhere else someone can relate. History and family are important and it is up to us to keep the memories alive.

God bless you!

August 2019

Hello again Linda !!

Hope you had a great time at the Carleton Place 200th parade. So sorry to have missed it. I have a question for you concerning the McEwen Family of the Ottawa Valley. Shortly after the funeral of Clarke Gourlay I became part of another real-life adventure belonging to the McEwan Family of the Ottawa Valley The story that I have become immersed in is that of Cpl Enos McEwan and his wife Olive Matheson. On Dec 27th 1949 their Christmas Tree caught fire trapping them and their 5 children in their home near Billings Bridge. The parents would shortly die as a result of their severe burns received in saving the lives of all 5 children and the children would be divided among the relatives.

In addition to bringing life back to this remarkable story of parents’ ultimate sacrifice and love for their children’ I thought it might be interesting if you could spread the story in the hopes that maybe , just maybe, there might still be a young nurse or fireman or doctor that was present at that time that might be able to add so much to that side of the story and the fires impact on the community outside of the immediate family.

Christopher Muller

The McEwen McEwan Fire 1949-Posted on August 12, 2019 by lindaseccaspina

The McEwen McEwan Fire 1949

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The McEwen McEwan Fire 1949

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The Gazette 
Montreal, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
13 Jan 1950, Fri

Hello again Linda !!

Hope you had a great time at the Carleton Place 200th parade. So sorry to have missed it. I have a question for you concerning the McEwen Family of the Ottawa Valley. Shortly after the funeral of Clarke Gourlay I became part of another real-life adventure belonging to the McEwan Family of the Ottawa Valley The story that I have become immersed in is that of Cpl Enos McEwan and his wife Olive Matheson. On Dec 27th 1949 their Christmas Tree caught fire trapping them and their 5 children in their home near Billings Bridge. The parents would shortly die as a result of their severe burns received in saving the lives of all 5 children and the children would be divided among the relatives.

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There is a remarkable tribute to Olive on Page 3 of the Ottawa Journal from the 12th of Jan 1950.

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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
12 Jan 1950, Thu  •  Page 3

In addition to bringing life back to this remarkable story of parents’ ultimate sacrifice and love for their children’ I thought it might be interesting if you could spread the story in the hopes that maybe , just maybe, there might still be a young nurse or fireman or doctor that was present at that time that might be able to add so much to that side of the story and the fires impact on the community outside of the immediate family.

Christopher Muller

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
12 Jan 1950, Thu  •  Page 13

historicalnotesan

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 Jan 1950, Mon  •  Page 14

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