Tag Archives: fossils

Stories of the Mississippi River — Elk, Rice Beds, and Corduroy Roads

Stories of the Mississippi River — Elk, Rice Beds, and Corduroy Roads



In 1879 the hunters made their appearance on the Upper Mississippi Lake and many stories have been told of the slaughter of both wild geese and duck. The name of Glovers around Carleton Place and vicinity was synonymous with duck hunting Tom, Bill, Bob, Sime and Charlie were all crack shots against feathered fowl.

They killed them off by the thousand until the ducks changed their course again. Now the *Glovers are all dead and the old fear of the human enemy has been forgotten by the feathered creatures.  In this region of the inland lakes that are tributaries to the Mississippi, such as Haley’s Lake, there were found a full perfect set of elk horns taken out of the mud of this lake in a perfect state of preservation, bleached white by the water and sun rays for hundreds of years.

The oldest records say that elk have not been known in that vicinity for many centuries. When Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano sailed into New York Bay in 1524, bison and elk ranged across most of the East. The deer of Beckwith were killed off for the meat. But the wholesale massacre of the elk, like that of the Buffalo, was carried on for the joy of seeing the great creatures fall in dying agony; and, in later years, by tusk hunters who were too lazy to be hide hunters. Travellers in Eastern Canada were obliged to record only the reminiscences of old settlers, or the discovery of fossil horns and skulls like that which was found in Haley’s Lake.



The Lanark County sportsmen built an old corduroy road into the hunting areas from the main highway between Carleton Place and Perth.  It was a few miles off the highway that some remember from their boyhood days. It was natural feeding place where the water was shallow and there were plenty of rice and grass beds.

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photo from jay playfair album from Laurie Yuill == Corduroy Road–

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There were two outstanding drowning fatalities in the Mississippi. One in 1882 when Alex Gillies and Peter Peden, two of Carleton Place’s promising young men. They were drowned while duck hunting and their funeral was the largest and saddest cortege that passed through the streets of Carleton Place.



The second fatality was the drowning of Noble Bennett and Dick Willis in 1893 who were duck hunting. They were drowned in Kinch Bay and Willis was not found for some days. His body was found standing mired in the mud close to the rice beds; the top of his head was just below the water. Bennett’s body was found months later.

They built a a flat bottomed boat with plate glass in the bottom, three feet square, to be used by the searchers who lay prone on the bottom looking down into the water. Many of the old timers will remember this, and the sadness and gloom it cast over the village. They were both good swimmers, but their fate was claimed once again by the Mississippi Lake.



*Glovers-A young Glover child was killed by being crushed under a lumber yard wagon; Billy Glover fatally injured sliding down the Spring Street hill;

Under the title of the Carleton Place Game, Fish and Insectivorous Birds Protective Society it continued to operate for some years.  Original officers of the group were William Pattie, president ; Jim Bothwell, vice president ; Walter Kibbee, secretary-treasurer, and committee members John Cavers, Tom Glover, John Moore, Jim Morphy and Jim Presley ; elected at a May meeting in the old fire hall on Bridge Street, when a constitution drawn up by Robert Bell was adopted.  Glovers ran a carriage shop.

Plenty Canada, a non-profit Indigenous-based charity in Lanark County are starting a World Wildlife Federation funded field project to study wild rice in the surrounding area. The organizers have heard there could be beds of wild rice in Clayton Lake and contacted MVFN asking for local information on these, or possible locations.


If you are aware of any wild rice beds in any Lanark County lakes please get in touch with Shannon Farmer directly at Shannonfarmer@trentu.ca or (705)740-5874.





relatedreading (1)

The Sad Tale of Alexander Gillies and Peter Peden

People from the Potter-Bennett Block Fire– A Shocking Find

The Dangers of the Mississippi River-Arnold Boner 😦

Robert Drader Bill Shail Saved from Drowning May 28 1957


Murder or Accident — Bates & Innes Flume

photo from jay playfair album from Laurie Yuill == Corduroy Road
from teh Buchanan scrapbook
Donna Porteous ·
What a view!!!! It’s golden… Rice fields on the Mississippi ♡♡♡

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
04 Dec 1918, Wed  •  Page 8

The House Across the Way- Dickson House

The House Across the Way- Dickson House






Each day when the sun comes up; the house that surveys the Little Falls also gazes upon the village of Pakenham. The third and last home of town of founder Andrew Dickson, built in 1850, is a typical Victorian Gothic home made out of local limestone. His second stone home, (100 yards away) that sits at the end of the 5 arch bridge was once described by a traveller in 1841 as “a large and splendid stone dwelling”.



Andrew Dickson, who was also the Sheriff, was well known as a geologist and as Pakenham is known for fine stone and fossils he chose all the stone for his homes himself. There were no fine fireplaces in this home as he  and his family relied on the fashionable parlour and hallways stoves of the time. The house consisted of small rooms, and there were two rear rooms accessed only by a small passageway which were thought to be lived in by the hired help. This house was an important home in the village, as matters of importance in the development of the area were conducted here.


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  09 Apr 1894, Mon,  Page 3


Four of his daughters married important men of the era:

Dr. John Sweetland who later became the Sherrif of Carleton County

Robert Lees who became a prominent Ottawa Valley lawyer and assistant crown attorney in the Patrick Whelan trial. Whelan was accused of the murder of Hon. Darcy McGee. Lees even made his home on Lees Ave in Ottawa a replica of the Dickson home in Pakenham.

Robert Brown established a General Store in Pakenham, and Daniel Hilliard the 4th, was a merchant, and lumberman joining his father-in-law in his ventures. Hilliard also built the stone home facing Highway 29 just before the entrance to Pakenham.


Photo- Marilyn Snedden

Did you know his first bank was a whole in the trunk of a tree?


The Lees Family of Ottawa East–Click here
By Sue Hill

Robert Lees was the patriarch of the Lees family who lived in a house called Wildwood. It stood, at the end of a long lane, on Main Street, where the Queensway is now.

Born in Scotland in 1814, he came to Canada as a babe in arms. His father Andrew Lees pioneered in Pakenham, Ontario. Robert Lees became first a schoolteacher, then a lawyer and Queen’s Counsel.

He courted and married Jessie Dickson of Pakenham, and during their courtship their exchange of letters included both historic and personal events. There is a description of the riots on “Stony Monday” in 1849 on Rideau Street at Sapper’s Bridge. He wrote: “Bytown is a fearful place to live in just now… The idea of making you take up your abode in such a place is horrible.” He made a reputation in defending some of the radicals against what he saw as persecution by the authorities.

One of the letters refers to a family disgrace involving Jessie’s sister, which drove her to ask Robert if he wished to be released from the obligation of his engagement to marry. The letter detailing the disgrace is unfortunately missing. Some of the letters they wrote are difficult to read because they are written in two directions on the same page – paper was dear.

In fact, Lees did stay in downtown Ottawa after his marriage to Jessie in 1852, and they lived at first in the Matthews Hotel (later became the Rideau Convent). With their growing family they lived in a building on George Street also housing the law firm of Lees and Gemmell. Four of their children were born in Ottawa: Ella in 1853, Victoria in 1856, Elizabeth in 1857, and William in 1859. Victoria was a sickly infant and not expected to live, so they did not name her but called her “Sister” for several years. She chose her own name – Victoria, after the Queen.

The crowded town, epidemics of disease and bad drains in the summer led them to move in 1853 to the country, to the suburb of Ottawa East, Nepean Township, just south of the Rideau Canal. When a friend asked why he wanted to live “in the wild woods”, Lees took that as the name of his house and estate. Daughter Jessie was born at Wildwood in 1864. The estate included a tenanted farm stretching from Main Street to the Rideau River, and orchards and kitchen gardens near the house. Will sometimes worked on the farm when he was home from university and law school. The whole family worked in the gardens hoeing, weeding and all the other chores familiar to gardeners. In the fall it was harvesting, canning and taking the surplus produce to Byward Market – as reported in a diary: “We took along the girl to hold the horse”.

They seemed to do most of the housework themselves as it was difficult to keep a girl to work so far out in the country. Their problem with the yardman was that he was so often “off on the spree”. Cleaning out the garret was such a triumph that they marked the occasion with a photograph. Photography was coming into its own as a hobby for amateurs and the Lees family and their neighbours the Ballantynes were keen photo-cranks, taking photos of their homes, neighbours, relatives and the local scenery.

Robert Lees took his role as Patriarch seriously. His five children were all accomplished in music, writing, drawing and other arts. They boated on the Rideau River, played tennis, snowshoed, sometimes to downtown Ottawa to do their Christmas shopping. They formed the Wildwood Opera Society for their own amusement, and presented concerts in the parlour. Every week for years whichever family members, visitors and neighbours, especially May Ballantyne, would meet by the dining room fire for Elocution Class. Members took turns reciting selections of poetry or prose, some written by other members of the class. One member each week was delegated “Critic” and wrote up commentary on the performances for the family newsletter the “Wildwood Echo”, published fortnightly. As reported, “one of the younger members fled the room during a recitation of “The Nancy Bell”, complete with lip-smacking. (It is a humorous poem about cannibalism by W. S. Gilbert.)

The “Wildwood Echo” was a collection of contributions by many members of the Lees’ circle. They took it in turn to serve as editor to hand-write the pages and distribute them by mail around the province. It contained poems; a romance novel serialised over several months, essays, drawings, photographs and watercolours. May Ballantyne was a prize-winning painter of flowers.

Also in the “Echo was “Thistledown”, a column on the doings at Wildwood and Ottawa East. These doings included: fighting off fruit thieves at Halloween, gypsies with a dancing bear in the neighbourhood, a chimney fire in which Cousin Bob (Robert Dickson Brown of Ottawa) proved a hero by climbing the roof and extinguishing the blaze, and listing the many visitors from Perth, Pakenham, Brockville and other places. At the time of some troubles with the Fenians William formed the Wildwood Rifle Club and taught the womenfolk how to shoot, in case they need to defend themselves. Once the Fenians tried to burn down their house.

Elizabeth’s diary from 1879 recounts her time in Toronto attending the Normal School and contending with a crummy boarding house. The boarders seemed to be fed mostly gruel, but on Thanksgiving, when they hoped for something special, they were given “some bits of fried beef”. One day on arriving home from school, she found they had all been evicted.

By 1884 Ella was married to Sidney Preston and living in Toronto. Elizabeth taught school in Ottawa East from 1880 to 1884. When she married Cousin Bob they moved to the house he had built at the other end of Main Street, corner of Riverdale. It was called “The Pines” and was on a large property that included a factory that Robert Brown owned on the Canal.

The part of the farm nearest Main Street was developed for housing about the time that Robert Lees died in 1893. The planned streets were called after the Lees children.

William attained his law degree about the same time. He married Lizzie Turnbull and they built a house, named “Plain Air”, on William Street where Lees Avenue is now. They later moved to Wetaskawin, Alberta, where William became Judge Lees.

Jessie studied violin in Germany and gave music lessons at Wildwood and in Ottawa. She later moved to Erindale, Ontario.

Victoria moved in with Elizabeth and her son Robert Lawrence Brown at “The Pines” when Robert Brown died in 1895. She did not marry but built a house on Riverdale Avenue for herself in 1927. She moved to a bigger house on the same street when her sister Jessie came to live with her. Victoria, who had been a sickly child, out-lived the others and died in 1942.

Editors Note: the obituary of Robert Lees has been reproduced here from notes by the above author.




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)



Quotes on Andrew Dickson and Local Quarries

Dickson Hall Fire Pakenham-H. H. Dickson



Whale Sightings in Pakenham and Smiths Falls – Holy SeaWorld!

Whale Sightings Outside Smiths Falls– Part 2


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