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The Mysterious Princess Louise Falls

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The Mysterious Princess Louise Falls
Lost Ottawa
May 18, 2020  · 
Kevin Woodward‎ shares the Morning Puzzler concerning the Princess Louise Falls in Ottawa’s Fallingbrook neighbourhood (Orleans).
Writes Kevin:
“We recently moved into the Fallingbrook area and regularly walk through the trails to Princess Louise Falls.
I’m curious whether the concrete was built as a channel/retaining wall or if at some point it was a larger structure. The tops of the walls don’t look like just normal erosion, but more like a structure that was torn down at some point and then the concrete eroded.
Or am I putting way too much thought into this?”
When I was doing some research for the Ottawa Union Station I came across this interesting photo of the Princess Louise Falls on Lost Ottawa.The waterfall is named after Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria, and wife of John Campbell, Canada’s fourth Governor General. Local legend has it that Princess Louise occasionally visited the area to sketch the falls, but as such sketches have never been found among those she left, so it is difficult to know if there is some truth behind this story.
In front of the falls are the ruins of a culvert marking the spot where St. Joseph Boulevard passed before it was slightly moved and straightened. It should be noted that the St. Joseph Boulevard is still very close to the waterfall (you can actually see it from the road) and the constant traffic takes away some of the charm of the place.” There are a total of 4 other waterfalls along old Hwy 17 along with this one.

The concrete chute is the remains of where old Montreal Road used to go, on its way to Montreal 50 years ago, when Highway 17 was still a railroad track. Old Highway to Montreal passed there before my day. Lots of bush parties. All farmland before Fallingbrook was built. The Rothwell farm was there and the house was located between the two ponds. It was a beautiful house that even had an indoor pool. Everything was abandoned soon after developers started building in the area. The house burnt in 1983 if I remember correctly. . Another interesting note was the indoor pool had a tile mosaic of a mermaid on the bottom. Read more CLICK HERE

In a published account in 1988, Ann Gonneau writes how “by 1862, a road, closely paralleling the current location of St. Joseph Boulevard, crossed through the area, eventually to link Bytown and Montreal. Trim Road was also in place, while there is no sign of either Innes or 10th Line Roads; the lands at the top of the escarpment modern-day Fallingbrook and Queenswood Heights lay empty and waiting.”

Mr. David Villeneuve is familiar with that “old, old” Montreal Road. The remains of that road and a former bridge that crossed Taylor Creek are still visible at the bottom of Princess Louise Falls, Fallingbrook’s best-kept secret. The fact that the falls are not visible from the road, coupled with the knowledge that their name remains a source of both controversy and mystery, were all I needed to know that Princess Louise Falls were a must-see.

The falls, as Mr. Villeneuve tells it, are part of Taylor Creek that ran from the north end of what is now Fallingbrook to the Ottawa River. The story, he writes, “is that Princess Louise, a daughter of Queen Victoria and wife of the Governor General the Marquis of Lome (around 1880), came here by buggy to sketch watercolours. Mrs. Marjorie Ward, who lived in the house just east of the falls until her death in 1989, claimed that there was a plaque near the falls to that effect.”

Like any good historian, Mr. Villeneuve sought more information on the princess and her sketches, visiting the National Archives and the National Gallery of Canada and even writing to the governor general’s staff of the day “to determine if they had any painting by Princess Louise.” While Mr. Villeneuve said he did indeed see paintings by Princess Louise, “none appeared to be of waterfalls that resembled ours. Therefore, there does not appear to be any hard evidence that this story is true.” Facts aside, the romantic in Mr. Villeneuve is quick to add, “But let us believe it is so.” Whether she did or she didn’t, Princess Louise would have loved sketching the falls, which you can reach by travelling along St. Joseph, halfway between Tenth Line Road and Trim Road.

Park on the south side of the road and follow a trail into the woods, where you will soon hear the sounds of the waterfall. Once you’ve splashed around the bottom, you can walk up a trail to the top of the escarpment for a fine view of the gorge. While you’re up there, continue along the trails, coming out to a clearing with a spectacular view of the Gatineau Hills across the way. There used to be signs showing the way to Princess Louise Falls, which lie north of the road by the same name, but they’ve been torn down by vandals over the years. And while Mr. Villeneuve insists that Fallingbrook isn’t hiding anything, one can see why keeping this natural beauty spot a secret would be appealing.

If you, too, love uncovering secrets but get lost looking for the falls, keep your eyes out for a man walking with a dog called Tiberius. He’ll happily take you there. And don’t forget to ask him “How Fallingbrook Got Its Mud,” which is another interesting tale Mr. Villeneuve will entertain you with at fallingbrook.com. With files from LINDA MONDOUX–The Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada29 Aug 2007, 

Princess Louise’s life in Canada was marred by troubles. The prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, was too drunk to meet the couple when they docked at Halifax after a rough Atlantic crossing. Then, just a few days after they arrived in Ottawa, Louise got word that her sister, Princess Alice, who lived in Germany, had died of diptheria; and she was unable to attend the funeral.

Ottawa society was uncertain about what to do with a princess in its midst, and Louise found it hard to get used to the rigours of life here. “So mesmerized were Ottawans by having a real live princess in their midst that, much in the manner of children admonished once too often to be on their best behaviour, they seemed unable to avoid behaving at their worst,” wrote Sandra Gwyn in The Private Capital.

Then in February, 1880, she was almost killed in a sleighing accident that lopped off part of an ear and left her with headaches for years afterward. “Whether or not the accident was to blame,” writes Jerrold Packard in Victoria’s Daughters, “immediately afterward Louise’s marriage dipped into a sharp spiral from which it never truly recovered.” When she tried to get away to Niagara Falls and Chicago with her brother, Prince Leopold, the American newspapers reported on their activities, breezily calling them “Vic’s Chicks.”

In the end, Princess Louise spent much of her husband’s term outside Canada. Louise’s younger brother, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, spent a year in Montreal in 1869-70, and returned for several extended stays before moving to Ottawa in 1911 to begin a five-year term as governor-general. 

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 May 1939, Tue  •  Page 82

Princess Louise Falls Facebook page click here.

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