Tag Archives: Britannia

Britannia Boat House Doomed— April 1907 Ice Jam –Jaan Kolk Files

Britannia Boat House Doomed— April 1907 Ice Jam –Jaan Kolk Files




After–(MIKAN 3325436) dated April 20th, 1907

Photo Archives Canada

Yesterday I posted a photo that Jennifer Fenwick Irwin from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum‎ posted in Lost Ottawa in 2014. It was a great photo of the Britannia Pier Boathouse in Ottawa dated 1907. Historian Jaan Kolk realized the photo was taken that year because of the enormous ice jam at Britannia Bay that year.

In April of 1907 the Britannia Pier was smashed up considerably and the local cottages on the shore were also threatened.  A destructive ice jam had been formed at Britannia by heavy winds and the boathouse that was built in 1906 by the Britannia Boat Club was doomed to destruction. There were great fears that part of the pier would have to be rebuilt.

The ice had been driven to the beach by the fierce overnight winds. It towered twenty feet over the water level and the pressure from the ice in the rear was increasing. For three miles the ice was jammed from the park to Rocky Point up the river. It was noticed that the bay itself was eerily clear because the ice was formed mostly along the edge and was forced down to the beach under intense pressure.

The first collision from the ice was heard early in the morning when the jam first encountered the pier. The broken floating ice cakes were pressed together with such force that they began to overlap one another until the solid ice jam practically reached the level of the pier. It kept accumulating until the ice over topped the pier by almost 10 feet.

The wall of the Britannia Boat House was subject to so much pressure that it buckled and then bulged out. The boats and canoes appeared safe, but if they were not rescued soon they would be crushed as well. That was an easy thing to say because even if one wanted to rescue a boat it was a dangerous situation to even venture near the boat house.

The planking of the pier was squeezed out of place and some parts had been forced fifteen feet into the air. The biggest loss was the back of the boat house that had been forced out since the initial ice crush. Word was that all hope of saving the building was gone.

Any other year in the Spring, and under ordinary conditions, the ice floats down the river without doing any damage, but 1907 was the year that the ice flow decided to travel a new course due to the heavy winds. The result was a heavy loss to the club house members, the Ottawa Electric Railway and to residents along the shore.


 - JAM PROVES BIG ATTRACTION Thousands Visit Scene...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 22 Apr 1907, Mon,
  3. Page 5



Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 22 Apr 1907, Mon,
  3. Page 1




Jaan Kolk
March 30 at 1:11pm
Great job, Linda! Just one small correction. In 2014 when I was unable to view the LAC photo by Lawrence Hurt Sitwell (MIKAN 3325436), I speculated it might be the same photo Carleton Place & Beckwith Museum posted. That speculation was incorrect, although there is no doubt they are both photos of the same damage. So the caption for the last photo should just indicate it is from the Carleton Place & Beckwith Museum collection, photographer unknown.


I found this story all due to the photo that was initially posted on Lost Ottawa.

Years ago when I lived in Berkeley I used to go to Urban Ore on Murray Street every week to find surplus good for outfits etc.. I would walk by the artistic lot on the same street that belonged to the folks that created things for Burning Man every year.

I used to love looking at this Steampunk boat in the upper corner that sat there all year. I lost all my photos of this great vessel, but today when I saw a photo that Jennifer Fenwick Irwin from the of Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum‎ posted in Lost Ottawa in 2014 of the Britannia Pier Boathouse it reminded me of the boat on the Murray Street lot in Berkeley.

. For anyone who is interested in the history of this original photo my friendly historian Jaan Kolk identified it..🙂

Jaan Kolk said –Library and Archives Canada have a photo captioned “Ice jam at Britannia [Ottawa, Ont.] showing wreck of new club house from the front” (MIKAN 3325436) dated April 20th, 1907. It is from a Lawrence Hurt Sitwell album. Unfortunately, no scan of the photo appears to be online, but I bet it is of the same event, if not the same photo.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)



Jaan Kolk Files—–

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign–Dr. Winters 154-160 Bridge Street Carleton Place –Jaan Kolk Files

Please take the Devil Out of Me? Rev. James Wilson of Lanark

Did You Know we Once Had a Grand Hotel? The Grand Central Hotel

The Cholera Epidemic of 1911

The Ashton Hotel– Questions Questions Flemmings and McFarlanes

Benoit & Richardson Photo– a Mystery

Before there was Baker Bob’s There was The Almonte Bakery

Does Anyone Remember Cohen’s in Lanark Village?

From the Iveson Collection–Britannia 1900 from the Iveson Photo Collection… I have been going through these and I checked with Jaan first and he agreed definitely the Britannia Boat House.. so please read -Britannia Boat House Doomed— April 1907 Ice Jam –Jaan Kolk Files

Let’s All Go to The Drive-in!

Let’s All Go to The Drive-in!

In 1950’s, there were over 5,000 Drive-In movie theaters that dotted the American landscape– and in the province of Quebec there were none. The Catholic church labeled them pits of sin, so most of us that lived in the southern Eastern Townships crossed the border to go to the Richford Vermont Drive-In Theatre for our Friday night movies. All our neighbours and friends cars lined up while our parents hooked up the speakers on the half closed windows. The Drive- In Theatre was the first time I saw Bambi and cried all the way home while watching hundreds of car lights in front and back of us also containing crying children in the backseat.

There was nothing like being in love on a warm summer night, when the fireflies were blinking, and snuggling with someone special in your car, while enjoying a movie (if you were paying attention to the movie). It was  Pepsi “for those who think young” and there was no candy hunger going on with the sweetness coming from some of those over-heated cars.

In the 60’s I lived with my grandparents on Mercer Island just across the Puget Sound from Seattle and every Friday night we went to the local Drive-In. It was the first place I had a Space Burger named after the Space Needle and then watching my first risque picture called Irma La Douce with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon. My grandparents warned me not to tell my father that they had subjected me to lust and hookers.

Two movies I saw that did me in for life were: The Exorcist and Jaws. I remember going to see Jaws at the Britannia Drive- In and our 100 pound German Shepherd was in the back seat. The day before he had stolen the Easter ham off the counter at my fathers and was not feeling his best.

Britannia Drive-In in Ottawa, CA - Cinema Treasures

As the movie began I had my eyes covered and the dog began heaving in the back. At the sight of the “first kill” the dog threw up in the back seat and I almost passed out in fear. Needless to say I have never swam in lakes after that mind-numbing day.

I remember the Drive-In refreshment commercials like it was yesterday with the tap dancing hot dog and fries. It left such an impression on me that during intermission at a few of my Flash Cadilac fashion shows I used to perform on stage as the tap dancing hot dog and my friend was the pack of french fries. I do not remember one dance number ever being completed because we would end up on the floor laughing.

Fond memories, the movie social scene, and sneaking people into the the Drive-Ins brought hopes a few years ago when the Chinese bought AMC they might reconsider bringing them back, but they didn’t. Instead  I have to replace my memories of summer nights at the Drive-In to playing Drive-In Bingo  and writing about Diners, Drive-ins and Dives!

But Wait!


A summer night spent at the drive-in brings nostalgic feelings for millions of kids who grew up listening to the tinny sound coming from the speaker hooked to the car window at their local drive-in theater. On June 6, 1933, the world’s first drive-in theater opened in Camden, New Jersey. This revolutionary concept transformed automobiles into “private theatre boxes” allowing guests to “smoke, chat, or even partake of refreshments.”

Richard Hollingsworth, Jr., the inventor of the drive-in theater, developed the idea during the midst of the depression. He was out of work but figured there were two things people weren’t willing to give up – their cars and going to the movies. He tested his concept by setting up a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his family car and projecting pictures onto a screen nailed to a tree in his yard.

The Morning Call – Allentown, Pennsylvania 06.04.1933

The novelty of watching a movie from your own car was a draw for families who could put the children to sleep in the back seat and enjoy a movie. Viewing a movie from your car also didn’t require you to dress up, a common practice when attending the theater in that era. The problematic sound issue and a depressed economy kept the idea of drive-ins from spreading for the rest of the decade, but after WWII the era of the drive-in movie theater entered its golden age. More than 4,500 drive-in theaters opened between 1948-1955.

By the 1970s, the popularity of the drive-in waned. The 1980s brought an explosion of VHS tapes and movie rentals. The transition to digital projection also provided a challenge for theater owners because of the steep price tag at a time when attendance was down. As a result, many theaters began to shut down. Increased land values also pressured many owners to sell their property for development.

Wasn’t so much about what movie was playing but more about hanging with everyone! Better world then, or sure seemed so.

The Drive-In theater for your big screen movie needs during ...

What Was Playing at the Port Elmsley Drive in 1970?