Tag Archives: ottawa river

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

A 40 Mile Walk to Lanark 1826

A 40 Mile Walk to Lanark 1826



Nepean Point 1870

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  10 Jan 1894, Wed,  Page 5



Bytown Upper Canada 1839



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)



Dear Lanark Era –Lanark Society Settlers Letter

Plans For the Lanark County Townships, 1827, with Names Names Names

Ramsay Settlers 101

Beckwith –Settlers — Sir Robert the Bruce— and Migrating Turtles

EARLY SETTLEMENT OF DALHOUSIE-Tina Penman, Middleville, Ont.

Lanark County 101 — It Began with Rocks, Trees, and Swamps

What Was Smiths Falls Perth and Port Elmsley like to Joseph and Jane Weekes?

Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2

Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

Rolling down the Rapids –Journey to Lanark Part 5


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The Jinxed House of Crown Point

The Jinxed House of Crown Point



This photograph is of the Grierson House in Crown Point. The picture and article were found at the Arnprior and McNab-Braeside archives by microfilm. – Archives October 1981


VIEW FROM OTTAWA RIVER-Grierson House at Crown Point photos by Jacquie (Hedley) Emerson, London Ontario


When the Bender family left Kanata in 1975 and moved into the most famous haunted home in the Ottawa Valley they joked about its history. The two storey stone structure located near Constance Bay on what is called Crown Point.

The story goes that a superstitious innkeeper in the 1870s refused to let a stranded traveller in one night because he thought he was the devil. The exhausted traveller who gave up after awhile asking the inn keeper for entrance crawled away and froze to death. He came back to haunt the house and there has been trouble ever since.

Of course the Benders said they would not have put down the asking price of $100,000 if they believed those ghost stories to be true. Yet the consequences of the century old jinx hit the family hard. In the first few weeks the whole family suffered a terrible rash that the doctors concluded might be poison ivy. The family boat moored to the dock disappeared one night after an angry storm never to be seen again. After Mr. Bender’s father died of cancer complications, the family began to think there might be something to the curse.


page updated by David Hedley  December 7, 2000


Out of the blue a few weeks later an older woman came to the house with a Ouija board and confirmed the fact the home had ghosts. The Bender children had heard tales at school of a stone in one of the two fireplaces that was was hollow. Sure enough, after testing all the rocks they found that particular stone that was hollow to a knock. They had no idea why the stone was hollow, and wondered if spirits lived in that stone. Was the hollow stone a dybbuk?*

Things got worse, in fact they got deadly. The story that went around was that hree-year-old daughter Mandy Bender was let out to play one day. When her parents lost sight of her they noticed small footprints in the snow leading to an open patch of water in the ice-covered Ottawa River. There was no word if police divers ever recovered her body at the point of this particular article. Later I found out that one month later they found the body of Mandy Bender.

Locals said the real story was that she had woken up in the middle of the night and walked a perfect straight line to the icy water, almost like she had been called to her death by something in the open waters.  After the tragedy the Benders got angry and wanted to meet these ghosts in their home face to face, but it never happened.

Mrs. Bender was so distraught she joined a group interested in psychic phenomenon and spoke in quiet tones about the hollow stone in her fireplace. Word had been passed on from generation to generation, and some older residents in the area won’t even speak about what has happened in that house.

The  history of the house has been written up in the Carleton Saga in 1968 and was built by a naval officer in 1928. Built in 1865 at Crown Point, the Grierson House was originally home to Lieutenant John Grierson. It was also visited by the Prince of Wales when his steamer anchored there to take on some much needed wood.
The ownership and usage of the home has changed hands over the years and has served as the Oddfellows Hall, medical clinic  and then an inn. A few years after it became an inn and the dreaded curse was placed upon the structure and it fell in disrepair until 1950 when a resident refurbished it and put in plumbing and electricity. After that, the ‘curse’ of the stranger has been attributed to a few tragic deaths attached to the house.

The Benders bought it in the 70s  from an Ottawa sports equipment dealer because they wanted a forever home for their young daughter Natasha and their two boys aged and and 14. The family said in the 70s they just couldn’t stay there, but they just couldn’t leave.

Joe Banks did an article for Arnprior Chronicle, in 1981 contacted Brenda Cain, who lived in the Grierson house in 1981. By that time, there had been a number of deaths in the house, but all explainable. The Benders did end up selling their home to a realtor, but have no idea what happened after. If you can fill in the blanks- drop me a line.


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  12 May 1975, Mon,  [Second Edition],  Page 2



In Jewish mythology, a dybbuk (Yiddishדיבוק‎, from the Hebrew verb דָּבַק‎ dāḇaq meaning “adhere” or “cling”) is a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person. It supposedly leaves the host body once it has accomplished its goal, sometimes after being helped. It is often trapped in a small box or hollow entity for safe keeping. Was the hollow stone a dybbuk?


Of further interest to ghost enthusiasts is the reports of mild poltergeist activity in the home. From doors rattling to phantom footsteps. From ‘thumping’ sounds in the attic to metallic rattling in the cellar.

2006--“At Crown Point a fine stone home, now occupied by Mr. Al Federer & family, was the eventual home of the large Grierson family.After the Grierson’s, the property served for a time as a tavern and Inn for travelers. It is referred to in the “Carleton Saga” and other writings as the ‘haunted house.’ Apparently, a superstitious innkeeper refused to let a stranded traveller into the inn during a storm night because he thought it was the devil.So, in spite, says the legend, the exhausted wayfarer crawled away to die and returned to haunt the house.” There is also an old family plot is in Crown Point, Dunrobin road, as you come down the last hill before you hit Crown Point Road. Its in the field up the hill to the left.


Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee

Pinhey Cottage was built in the 1820s for Captain James Grierson of the Royal Navy. Grierson was born September 28, 1782 in North Leith, Scotland, and came to Canada in 1825 upon receiving a land grant in Torbolton as a reward for his service to his country during the War of 1812.  At this location, he built his family a log cabin, now known as Pinhey Cottage, a simple one and a half storey, gable roofed dwelling similar to log cabins built throughout Canada in the 19th century. Grierson lived there with his family for a number of years, eventually moving across the road to a more substantial stone house. In the 1930s, the 100 acre property where the house is located was purchased by The Girl Guide Local Association at the urging of Major E.C. and Mrs. Woolsey, after whom the property was named. It has served the needs of the Guide Camp since. When the land was purchased, the log house was in very poor condition and it was repaired through the financial assistance of  Ruth Pinhey, a resident of nearby Pinhey’s Point. It was subsequently named in her honour.



Steffany Penney-Christopher

You would also know about the lady on the community centre road in Constance Bay many declared they seen her or heard while driving and walking I was always freaked when walking home from any sports.Crown Point friends that lived there always knew it was haunted 


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

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.


More About the Eccentric Stafford Family in Almonte

Twitching or Grave Dousing– Our Haunted Heritage

The Haunted Canoe from the Jock River

The Secret of the Widow’s House



Join us and learn about the history under your feet! This year’s St. James Cemetery Walk will take place Thursday October 19th and october 21– Museum Curator Jennfer Irwin will lead you through the gravestones and introduce you to some of our most memorable lost souls!
Be ready for a few surprises along the way….
This walk takes place in the dark on uneven ground. Please wear proper footwear and bring a small flashlight if you like.
Tickets available at the Museum, 267 Edmund Street. Two dates!!!

OCT 28th
Downtown Carleton Place Halloween Trick or Treat Day–https://www.facebook.com/events/489742168060479/

Here we go Carleton Place– Mark Your Calendars–

October 28th The Occomores Valley Grante and Tile Event–730pm-1am Carleton Place arena-Stop by and pick up your tickets for our fundraiser dance for LAWS. They also have tickets for Hometown Hearts event at the Grand Hotel fundraiser

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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
11 Apr 1975, Fri  •  Page 1