Tag Archives: Pirates

Finding Treasure — Larry Clark

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Finding Treasure — Larry Clark

Finding Treasure– Larry Clark

It was a dark and stormy day and we were enjoying a visit from the grandkids-up to a point, as they started to get a little rambunctious. I had been examining a rat trap that I had purchased, thinking that I might catch whatever critter was getting into the back entrance. I remembered that I had unwittingly put a wallboard over a space in the block wall of the basement bathroom that I had been renovating. Sometime later I remembered that that was where I had hidden a bunch of coins I had been saving. At the time thought, “ well at least they are safe there”, so did nothing about it-until I had this great idea to keep the kids entertained. 

I gathered the kids, showed them the rat trap (a rather huge affair) and told them that it was a “treasure finder”. They were somewhat dubious but followed me upstairs to the bedrooms which we decided would be a good place to start. 

We traipsed all around the house from bedroom to bedroom, room to room with me placing the trap against the wall, moving it from side to side: saying every once in a while, “did you hear that; did you feel something” but all the answers were “no”; still they were entranced. As we made our way slowly to the basement, I mentioned that I thought perhaps the detector was beginning to get warm, -“feel it”. Some said “yes”, the others said “no”. 

As we approached the bathroom door, I said, “This is getting very warm, I hope I can hold on?”  We crowded (all 5 of us) in and I proceeded to check the walls. At one point in this inspection I yelled that the detector was beginning to vibrate, “ i don’t know if I can hold on much longer” and at that point there was a very loud snap and I loudly and excitedly exclaimed, the treasure must be here-somebody get a hammer!” So off one of them went to the workroom, coming back with a hammer and by now the clamour of excitement was such that I thought “why am I doing this-they are just as noisy as before , if not more so”. 

I sent one granddaughter off to find a marker so that we could mark the spot with an X. Having been now prepared, I boosted my 6 year old grandson onto the top of the toilet tank, pointed to the mark and said, “Hit the centre of the X as hard as you can”. Which he did with a mighty whack but barely made a dent. He very reluctantly gave me the hammer and I soon penetrated the wall-all the eyes became like saucers when they realized that I was exposing a very large hole.

 It took some effort to encourage my grandson to put his hand into this very black hole and finally he did. Yelling out suddenly when his hand found  (what turned out to be) a roll of coins (pennies), then another and another.  

Everyone was overly excited, so to calm them down I gave each of them a coin of their choice ( I had some large cents that impressed them). 

Over time they figured out that it was a hoax but they will never forget that occasion. Me, I recovered fairly easily too. (after removing the remainder of the coins, I got that self same hammer and nailed a very nice ornamental wall hanging over the hole. Back to normal-until the next time!

Did Anyone Find the Lost Barrel of Silver Coins That Lies at the Bottom of the Rideau Canal?

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Did Anyone Find the Lost Barrel of Silver Coins That Lies at the Bottom of the Rideau Canal?

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Opinicon Lake is a lake in South Frontenac, Frontenac County and Rideau Lakes, United Counties of Leeds and Grenville in Eastern Ontario, Canada.This shallow lake was formed when Colonel John By built the Rideau Canal. It also is part of the Great Lakes Basin.

A barrel of silver dollars is said to still lie on the bed of Opinicon Lake, not far from Chaffeys Locks. Destined to pay the workers on the Rideau Canal, it was dumped overboard by the crew of the payboat off Barrel Point in 1835, when the ship was attacked by pirates. Shots were fired. The boat crew tried their best to defend the silver, but they knew that they would not be able to hold off the ambush. Knowing they were outnumbered, they dumped the barrel overboard so the pirates couldn’t get it. Foiled, the pirates left.  

The pirates didn’t bother returning, not wanting to take a dip in the lake. When the crew went back to spot where they dumped the barrel, they couldn’t find anything – neither a barrel or any trace of silver coins. The crew believed the silver was lost forever; however, many people today still think the silver is still lying somewhere on the bottom of the Rideau Canal. The silver remains lost forever.

There is also the strange disappearance of one Samuel Poole of Lake Opinicon who went missing in 1885 and the apparently large sum of money he was carrying.  According to Tales of the Rideau Canal- two more men vanished–Tom Dennison and Joe Ledway also disappeared from the same area. Do their ghosts still haunt Opinicon Lake? No trace of man or money was ever found.

Davidson’s Ghost

There is a tale told at Chaffeys Locks of a ghostly apparition on Opinicon Lake, a solitary paddler in a dugout canoe, the ghost of Old Davy Davidson.

Shortly after the canal was built, a man by the name of David Davidson arrived in the area, building a cabin at the far end of Opinicon Lake. He made his living as a trapper, fisherman and hunter. Although he only made a modest living, rumours circulated that he had a nest-egg stashed away.

By the 1880s, old Davy was a fixture on the lake. In that era, the area was overrun by pack peddlers – men who walked the trails and/or travelled along the canal by boat, stopping at every settlement to sell their wares. It was later rumoured that one of these peddlers got wind of the money Davy was reputed to have hidden near his cabin.

The last person to have seen Davidson was a neighbour from across the lake, a fellow by the name of Thompson. Davidson had come over and visited him in late November. Thompson says that in the days following the visit he hadn’t seen Davidson. A week passed and Thompson became worried, there was no smoke from Davidson’s cabin and no sign of Davidson himself. It had turned cold, there was now ice on the lake, so Thompson had to walk around the lake to get to Davidson’s cabin.

Thompson stopped at the house of another neighbour, a fellow named Buck. After explaining what he was up to, Buck agreed to accompany Thompson, and the two men continued on to Davidson’s cabin. There was a light covering of snow on the ground, but when they got to Davidson’s cabin there was no sign of any footprints other than the ones Thompson and Buck were making. Davidson’s dog was at the door. Thompson called the dog by name, and it allowed the men to approach the cabin.

When they opened the door they were greeted with a grisly sight. Old Davy was dead, tied to a chair, his head beaten in, his face slashed. Davidson’s dog ran into the cabin and wouldn’t let the two men approach old Davy’s body. So the men retreated, heading off to get help.

They returned a few hours later, after dark, with several men and boys carrying lanterns. One of the young lads knew the dog well and had come prepared with a haunch of venison. He coaxed the starving dog outside and tied it up. The men then entered the cabin.

It was a horrifying scene that greeted them. There was blood everywhere in the cabin. Someone had gone to a lot of effort to try to get old Davy to divulge the location of his horde. He had been beaten, burned with hot poker and strangled. Some of the men had to leave when they looked down to see that the killer had even nailed Davy’s feet to the floor.

The cabin itself had been torn apart. The trapdoor to the store room above the ceiling was open. The cupboards were all opened, drawers pulled out and the contents strewn all over the floor. The mattress had been cut to shreds and even parts of the floor had been torn up.

Several of the men stayed while others headed back to get the authorities. They returned the next day with the postmaster and county constable. The only conclusion that could be reached was that Davidson had been murdered by person or persons unknown. Although a pack peddler had been sighted in the area in about the presumed date of Davidson’s death, he was never found.

Davidson had no known relatives and his worldly possessions were few, some traps and guns. So after a few weeks of fruitless investigation, the matter was dropped, the crime unsolved. People say he still haunts the area with his dog in his canoe looking for his stolen money.

Opinicon Lake

This poem was written by Captain “Ned” Fleming (1868-1953), one of the last steamboat captains of the Rideau, and a descendent of Chaffey’s first lockmaster. During his long career, he was captain of the Rideau Queen and Rideau King which operated between Kingston and Ottawa – running night and day.

Captain “Ned” frequently put his thoughts into verse – in this case, inspired by Opinicon Lake at night.

THE GHOSTS OF THE OPINICON

Come with me and I will show you, a gem of the Rideau chain
If a fairer lake you look for, you may well look in vain.
Fairy isles rise from the waters, and silently form a sight
Whose beauty fills the human heart with wonder and delight.

The wooded slopes, the green isles, the waters sparkling sheen,
In beauty shine today, as they did in days pristine.
On its shores wild potatoes grew in days long past and gone
The indians ate them, liked them, and called the lake “Opinicon”.

At night o’er the quiet lake hangs an air of mystery
‘Tis said that at the midnight hour, people often see
A little boat out on the lake, that doth swiftly and silently glide
Without-paddle or oar to propel it, o’er the mistly moonlit tide.

At times three people in the boat, sometimes, only one,
The one they say is the ghost of Thomas Dennison.
He was drowned as he towed a raft, in sight of his own door
And ’tis said that he labours still to bring the raft ashore.

Perhaps he is joined by Joe Leway, who died in a mine near by.
Under a rockfall he lay for hours, and no one heard his cry
Now at night his voice is heard, in tones of agony
“Help, help, save my life, please lift this rock from me.”

The third one may be Samuel Poole, who drew his latest breath
On the lake shore, where the frost king, closed his eyes in death.
He went to Kingston, to get the pay, for lumber he had sawn.
Next day he was seen to leave, for his home on Opinicon.

From that day for many years, his fate was quite unknown.
Some people thought, with the money, to other land held flown.
But after forty years had swiftly come and gone
Children one day found his bones, on the shore of the Opinicon.

It is thought that on that day, from Kingston he had come
Full forty miles, where now he was but three miles from his home.
An icy wind blew down the lake, a blizzard from the west.
He went ashore at a sheltered spot, for a few minutes of rest

Something seemed to tell him, “Don’t stop here. Go on.”
But he brushed the snow from an old log and with a sigh sat down.
He thought, for ten minutes only, here he should remain
While he gathered strength to face that bitter wind again.

Ah, the blessed feeling of rest, there in that sheltered place
As with benumbed hand, he rubbed his frosted face.
Nodding he fell asleep, only ten minutes rest he was taking
Alas, it was the sleep of death, that knows no earthly waking.

There was a light in the window of his cozy little home
Where anxious hearts were waiting, for one who would never come.
His loved ones searched far and near, and time flowed swiftly on;
But they never knew that his bones lay on the shore of Opinicon.

P. Joe Leway’s spirit lingers, at the mine, ’tis said
Where ‘neath a rock for hours he lay, with none to give him aid.
And now each night with a crowbar, he rolls the rock aside,
And goes forth to join other spirits on Opinicon’s silvery tide.

The body of Tom Dennison by man has never been found,
Until the lake gives up his bones to lie ‘neath a flowery mound,
He will struggle with the raft, to gain the wished for goal,
Tho’ at midnight, he may cross the lake with Leway and with Poole.

At times, ’tis said that Dennison. goes wandering forth alone,
Or he may have with him, Leway, who died beneath the stone.
Sam Poole may sometimes join them, and then, this ghostly three
Will glide o’er the Opinicon, swiftly and silently.

For never the creak of oarlock or sound of paddle dip,
Not a word is spoken, by any ghostly lip
Until the hour of midnight, then breaks the magic spell,
And they talk of things of long ago, on the lake they know so well.

All long dead, their spirits linger yet
To wander o’er at the midnight hour, the lake they can’t forget.
Reminders of a long forgotten day, why should they linger here?
Like dead leaves drifting quietly from a long forgotten year.

And all their ghostly whisperings, at midnight you may hear,
Though you may never see them, the little boat their spirits steer
You may hear their quiet voices, speaking in varied tone
If at midnight you would listen, to the Ghosts of Opinicon.


Poem courtesy The Lockmaster’s House Museum, Chaffey’s Lock.

relatedreading

The White Wedding Burial- Local Folklore

The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston with Pirate Dog Supermodels

Beware of the Lanark County Fairy Rings

Maybe We Should Film Oak Island in Carleton Place? The Day the Money Disappeared

Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

The Lost Island– Now You See it- Now You Don’t!

Murder on Maple Island

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It was the early part of the month of June in 1865, and there were as yet few people living in the region, let alone spending summers on islands. A stranger was sure to be noticed right away. The man rowed over from Gananoque in a skiff and took a room at a hotel in Fisher’s Landing. He spent a few days exploring the Islands and fishing, keeping pretty much to himself. Recalled one local man in the sleuthing of the events that were to follow, “He was about 30 years of age, with black hair, eyes and beard, well dressed, very uncommunicative, dark as a Spaniard, and very restless.”

No doubt there were some that warmed to the stranger when he employed a few carpenters to help put up a cabin on Maple Island. The cottage was built on a bluff and had a good view over the river, but was itself screened from view from the water by bushes. The work was done in short order, and again the man kept to himself, with just his books and a violin for company.

One night, there was an orange glow across the water over the island. People in the area assumed there was a fire, but figured that the man would have escaped and that he would show up at the village the next morning. When he didn’t arrive, a party went out to see what had happened. What they saw set the whole village to talking. The man had been murdered. His throat had been slashed and there were cross-shaped knife cuts in a triangular pattern on his chest.

Now as it happened, a week before the murder several men, assumed to be southerners by their accents, had been seen around various hotels. Interestingly enough, they had set out by skiff supposedly for Alexandria Bay, the evening of the murder.

The cuts on the dead man were recognized as a sign for the secret society, the Knights of the Golden Circle. The most popular theory floated in the Islands was that the stranger was none other than the Treasurer of the society, a man named John A. Payne, who had made off with $100,000 of the blood money paid to the society for the assassination of President Lincoln. It appeared that Payne had been hunted down and killed for running out on the society. The murder was never solved and exactly what transpired that night on Maple Island will never be known.

This story was recorded in The Picturesque St. Lawrence, written as a souvenir of the Thousand Islands by J.A. Haddock in 1895

 

Bitten by the Kissing Bug — A Shocking Conclusion to the Life of Carleton Place’s Daniel E. Sheppard

The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston with Pirate Dog Supermodels

Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

The Man Who Would Be The Revenant

Jewelry Fit for a Pirate’s Chest — Swirlicious and Friends Annual Shopping Event!

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Look who is coming to Swirlicious and Friends Annual Shopping Event at 151 Bridge Street in Carleton Place on October 31!

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We haven’t plunged into the world of sword fights and “savvy” pirates like Captain Jack Sparrow. But seeing this pirate chest reminds reminds us of the exquisite jewelry you will see at Swirlicious and Friends Annual Shopping Event on October 31.

If you are easily distracted by shiny objects  has been making handmade jewelry since 2009. She works with freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals, stones, glass beads, chains, seed beads and more. Her motto is: quality craftsmanship makes nicer jewelry. She began by taking a few jewelry classes to learn techniques and the rest is from her inspiration. She is a member of Capital Artisans Guild and Ottawa Crafts and Collectibles Guild. They say that jewelry has the power to make you feel unique– I say jewelry takes people’s minds off your wrinkles. After all, people will stare, make it worth their while in Ghislaine’s creations.

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Crocheted necklace with non-tarnish wire, with freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals.
Many colors available, also custom made with your choice of color and length.

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Crocheted necklace set South sea shell pearls

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 Swarovski crystals energy sphere.With sterling silver chain or without chain

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Stretch bracelets small, medium or large in fireposh crystals

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All Photos from :

My Photo

If you need to reach her by email my new address is creationsgdc@gmail.com

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Blogs about the upcoming Swirlicious and Friends Annual Shopping Event

Direct Sales — Fake or Real Job?

Attention Sharp Dressed Pets! — Craft Dog at Swirlicious and Friends Annual Shopping Event!

Livin’ La Cucina Dolce — Swirlicious and Friends Annual Shopping Event!

The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston with Pirate Dog Supermodels

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The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston with Pirate Dog Supermodels

 

Tales of the Life of Pirate Bill Johnston

 

 

Today’s theme is pirates and bad guys. Two from the 1000 Island region and one who might have slept here. I just thought they all kind of tied in together—and it felt like a pirate sort of day.

When I was younger I lived by the words of books. I was sometimes Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden but really I longed to be a pirate. Not just a “walk the plank” “swab the deck” sort of gal. I wanted to be married to a bad boy wearing skull and crossbones with a big pirate ship.

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing where big bad Bill Johnston, pirate at large,  lived among the Thousands Islands in the St. Lawrence Seaway. You may not know him from Captain Hook but this man was worthy of a jaunt into a Harlequin romance.

Bill was a Thousand Island smuggler running spirits and tea. You can see with his preference of illegal goods he was a bad boy but with a romantic side to him. He was also an 1812 American privateer and was the man the British most wanted to hang. They spent a fortune trying to hunt him down for years.

Bill Johnston spent his first 30 years as a loyal British subject and had been born to British Loyalist parents. I ask you what is more romantic than a man with a British accent with an occasional “Argh” in his vocabulary. He bought his first schooner, carried both legitimate and illegal cargo and made enough money to buy a small store in Kingston, Ontario.

Sadly I was not around in those days and he married a young American girl named Anne Randolph. Anne was left down on the farm to raise the children when the War of 1812 began and Bill went after the British when they confiscated all his property. He vowed undying revenge on the British and pledged himself to the American commander of a US fleet in Lake Ontario.

For two years Bill went after the British in fast light rowboat called a gig and were able to slip in and out of those narrow channels like greased lightening. He spied on the British, attacked their supply boats, robbed mail couriers, burned ships, and participated in battles at Sackets Harbor, New York, and Crysler’s Farm, Upper Canada.  

After the war he established a waterfront shop and continued smuggling tea and rum to Canada. Ironically, the US revenue service paid him to spy on Canadian smugglers coming into the US.


In 1837 he joined a bunch of American sympathizers and Canadian refugees known as the Patriots that Mel Gibson was most definitely not part of. Then he set out to capture the passenger steamer the Sir Robert Peel and eventually burned it down. Johnston surrendered to US authorities shortly after the Battle of the Windmill as he claimed he was tired of running. Bill faced numerous charges for his rebel activities and the Peel raid and in most cases, juries refused to convict him. When he was jailed, he escaped when the mood struck him and the authorities ultimately declared him more trouble than he was worth.

On the 12th of April 1953, Johnston was appointed Rock Island Lighthouse Keeper and was eventually pardoned by President Harrison. After receiving the pardon, he was given a commission on Rock Island and the very government that had put a price of $500 on his head, was now paying him $350 a year as keeper of a lighthouse—in plain sight of the watery grave of his infamous spoil, the Sir Robert Peel.

Bill Johnston the Pirate of the St. Lawrence Seaway did not die in a violent way as some might have thought. In reality he slipped on the dock and met his maker by hitting his head. Some days you can hear a snarl fill the air above the water of the St.Lawrence Seaway and hear the words of the immortal Bill Johnston,

“Aye, mateys,” he hollers at local pleasure boaters, “them whar’ the days!”

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

Images and text by Linda Seccaspina