Tag Archives: rideau canal

The Mysteries of Jones Falls — From my Postcard Collection

The Mysteries of Jones Falls — From my Postcard Collection

Thomas Burrowes fonds
Reference Code: C 1-0-0-0-53
Archives of Ontario, I0002172

1916 — Did you know about the lost silver?

The Jones Falls horseshoe dam, holding back the Sand Lake waters, has long held the admiration of Canadian engineers; when constructed it was acknowledged a most wonderful piece of work. It is 409 feet long, 90 feet high, and 300 feet wide at base stout and unresisting. Present contractor’s methods could not improve, however, on any portion of this monument to the bygone Royal Engineers of England built to-day. It would coat much nearer the sum of $10,000,000 than what it did.

According to story, the engineers were unable to purchase the necessary lands from the settler who owned them except by promising to give him as much money as he could lug off on his back in return. The canals cost was defrayed out of the silver dollars from tho American indemnity; a few stones of the building near the officers headquarters at Jones Falls, where this hoard of cartwheels was guarded are still to be seen.

This money was conveyed in wheelbarrows back and forth as payments were met, in barrows by the soldiers, and likely was responsible for the avaricious demand of the settler. However, says tradition, he filled a sack and started off up the hill. With tremendous effort he gained the top and secreted his coin in a cleft of rock. Such over-exertion and cupidity was unfortunate, for the old man was found dead next morning, and the hiding place has never been discovered since.

At strategic points along the route of the Rideau yet stand the blockhouses, with “look-outs” and loopholes for musketry fire, that the Britishers erected to guard the work of construction, sad later the canals operation, for it was under military control for a considerable period after completion. It was felt that there was always a fear of trouble from the natives even if the country was enjoying a long period of peace with the United States.

At Jones Falls there is a beautiful Government park and in it looms a log blockhouse which still contains the gunracks and other precautionary military fittings set up by the constructors. Rideau Canal is probably the only strictly military canal in the Dominion, and by a strange whim of fate is the only canal which the Government has not even dreamed of guarding during these months’ when Canada is at war.

Jones Falls looking over Hotel Kenney 1900- [Internal Record #: MS9049]- Digital History of Rideau Lakes and Leeds

The Whispering Wall-”All in all it’s another brick in the wall”

Rideau Canal Parks Canada doesn’t publicize it and there are no visible markers showing where it is but the “Whispering Wall” at the Jones Falls dam is an engineering marvel with an uncanny ability to pass voices along its entire length. The Stone Arch Dam also known as the Great Dam was the highest dam of its time in North America when it was completed in 1832. Measuring 350 feet wide and 57 feet high the dam was designed by Col John By and constructed by crews working for Montreal contractor John Redpath. Today it remains one of the most spectacular sites along the Rideau Canal.

After hearing from a local resident about the “Whispering Wall” for the first time two Whig-Standard reporters ventured to the site just north of the village of Morton to learn for ourselves whether the dam could really speak to us. We’d heard that in order for it to work one person must stand on the dam’s wooden viewing platform a few steps below the top of the dam and a second person must climb over a fence and stand on the other end of the structure at the same level. Following those instructions we took our positions.

Standing on the viewing platform about four mason stones down from the top of the dam I waited with an ear to the wall for colleague Paul Schliesmann who was standing 350 feet away at the same level to say something. Then there it was: a whisper coming from behind one of the stones of the dam seemingly out of the rock itself ”All in all it’s another brick in the wall” reprated the voice borrowing the line from the famous Pink Floyd song. Shocked to hear the sound I spoke back and we proceeded to have a short conversation almost what a primary school teacher would describe as a library voice which is louder than a whisper but quieter than a normal It was both an eery and amazing!

Why isn’t it part of the Jones Falls tourist attraction? Juan Sanchez of the Historic Site is aware of the whispering wall but said Parks Canada doesn’t publicize it because of liability issues associated with people climbing over the fence to listen to the wall ”We don’t talk about it because it’s not the safest thing, ”he said. ”If someone were to fall then we might be held liable.” Sanchez didnt rule out the possibility of changing that in the future. ”I’ll talk to the engineers and look into the possibility of stairs and a railing” he said But it likely won’t happen anytime until put it into the five-year plan”he said Sanches also said the whispering wall and how it works may eventually become part of an information booklet.

 The faculty of engineering at the University of Windsor said the whispering wall exists because of the acoustics associated with the dam’s elliptical arch construction. “It focuses all the acoustic energy in one spot and then reflects it on the curved surface of the dam,” he said The dam is a constant-radius type which means it employs the same radius at all elevations of the dam making the channel grow narrower toward the bottom. Gaspar said the acoustics are much the same in the United States Capitol Building in Washington DC where you can hear a whisper from across the room.The Stone Arch Dam at Jones Falls was constructed in what was the White Fish River channel to drown the rapids upstream. By doing so it created about 45 feet of flooding at the head and increased the depth of Sand Lake by eight feet. Gaspar also said the incredible acoustics at the dam are likely a fluke of design that was never intended “Why would they have done it?” he asked It’s more likely that the whispering wall is a serendipitous outcome from the dam’s simple construction . ” They wouldn’t have had any sophisticated tools they would likely only have had a ruler compass and string”

Jennifer Pritchett-

The Kingston Whig-Standard

Kingston, Ontario, Canada29 Aug 2007, Wed  •  Page 6

Jones Fall 1908- from my postcard collection.

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

Is there Still Gold on Wellesley Island ?

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa JournalOttawa, Ontario, Canada09 Oct 1958, Thu  •  Page 6

CLIPPED FROMThe Windsor StarWindsor, Ontario, Canada24 Jun 1914, Wed  •  Page 2

John T. Robertson Obituary- Caldwell Bookeeper Rideau Canal

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

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

Did you Know About the Wedding Cake Cottage?

Before the View Master — Found in a Crosby Lake Cottage

Vacationing with the Lanark County Folks in 1000 Islands 1938

Is there Still Gold on Wellesley Island ?

Stories from Ash Island

The Almost Tragic Story of Robert Henry

Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

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

When One Boat Filled the Rideau Lock–Rideau King

Did You Know about the Tay Canal Works Explosion?

Barbadoes or Barbodies– and General Benedict Arnold

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

Rideau Ferry Road– Black Snakes Bridges and SS#6

Tales from Oliver’s Ferry

The Tragic Tale of the Rideau Ferry Swing Bridge

The Coutts House- Rideau Ferry Inn

Lost History — Snakes on the Wall — William Merrick Home

Lost History — Snakes on the Wall — William Merrick Home

*William Merrick House c. 1821 – 129 Mill Street — Merrickville
The third and last home of the Village founder and pioneer industrialist William Merrick. It was later owned by industrialist and foundryman William Pearson and his daughter Mary Pearson.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
04 Apr 1931, Sat  •  Page 2

The Weekly Advance
Kemptville, Ontario, Canada
30 Apr 1931, Thu  •  Page 2

Lieutenant Roger Stevens, a King’s Ranger from Vermont, was the first to arrive on this land and by 1791 had started construction of his mill on the swift moving waters of the Great Falls, the future sight of Merrickville. Unfortunately, it was the falls that got the better of Stevens and he died by drowning shortly after.

AFTER William Merrick had crossed his Rubicon, he built a log cabin on the north side of the Rideau on lot 8, Concession “B” of Montague,’ and here his wife and two children came to their new home, and here the other children of a family of five boys and two girla were born, the youngest in 1813. In 1821, Merrick constructed a larger and substantial house of stone.

In those days they built for permanency. The cellar-kitchen walls are three feet thick; ground- floor walls are two and a half feet; bedroom floor, two feet and at the gable floor one foot and a half. Attached to the house in the early days was a huge wood- shed in the loft of which were built four bunks containing hay or straw placed there for Native transients.

Apparently William Merrick was on friendly terms with the nomadic Indian hunters. When Merrick’s son occupied the house, the Natives would come seeking shelter, and would explain: “This is old Merrick’s House and we have a right to stay here.” Shelter was never refused to them.

The servants lived in the basement of the William Merrick house until 1830. Then they moved upstairs over the carriage room to quarters that included indoor toilets the non-flush variety– four in a row.

Mr. William Merrick died in Merrickville in 1844 in his 82nd year. There are today in the village substantial stone buildings erected by him, one which was the original part of the Percival Plow and Stove Companys plant. The grinding mills, a carding mill and saw mill were in operation n 1844 and bequeathed to his sons; two sons receiving property on the north ride of the Rideau, and two those on the south side, and the fifth, land in Kent county, Ontario. The two daughters, who married, received money as their share of their fathers estate.

Industrialist and foundryman William Pearson bought the house in 1869 and his descendants lived here for 90 years. His niece sold the house in 1959 to a couple who had thoughts of turning the place into a nursing home. In 1972, the Milnes and their two young children moved in and then it was up for sale in 1978.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
11 Feb 1978, Sat  •  Page 89

The House on a Beckwith Hill–The McTavish House and Ceiling Medallions

The Wall Mysteries of Lake Ave East -Residential Artists

The Carleton Place House with the Coffin Door

The Case of the Disappearing Back Staircase — Springside Hall — Finlayson Series


Tales of Miskelly of Merrickville

Merrickville – Some of the Men That Were

It’s the Merrickville News 1880

Mentions of Merrickville: Fire and Folks

The Wondrous Merrickville’s 11th annual House and Garden Tour

Posted on  by lindaseccaspina

Down on Main Street– 1911-Photos- For the Discriminating and the Particular — Simpson Books

Down on Main Street– 1911-Photos- For the Discriminating and the Particular — Simpson Books

Thanks to Ed and Shirley Simpson I am slowly going though boxes of books from the late Ed Simpson to document and after will be donated to a proper spot-Ed and Shirley’s Simpson –Historic Books — the List

Brantwood Place Sibbitt produced the now-famous brochure.Approximately 10 by 7 inches with 4 colours, the elaborate document contained numerous graphics, photographs and marketing text that bordered on hyperbole. The actual date of publication is not clear. The brochure has several references to 1911 as well as the proposed “high level” bridge over the canal at Bank St. There is also a mention of the proposed bridge from Mutchmor (Fifth Ave.) to Clegg St. – an active topic in 1912. There is no mention of Pretoria Bridge that was to be approved in 1914. So with a wee bit of inductive thinking, a good guess for the date of publication is circa 1912-13-Facts from history of Ottawa East

Annexation of many suburbs in 1907 rekindled an interest in the residential development of Ottawa East. As part of Mayor Ellis’ vision of a “Greater Ottawa”, the agricultural land between Main, Clegg and the Rideau River was now viewed by developers as having future potential.

The success of the concept was based entirely on the idea that “upscale” homebuyers would be attracted to the lots by aggressive marketing and the promise of future amenities such as a streetcar line. That was a tall order given the near isolation of Ottawa East at the time. While the swing bridge across the canal (just north of present-day Pretoria Bridge) did provide a connection to the city, it could not support the electric trolley from Elgin St. As well, questions about adequate water, sewer and electrical services had to be answered. One can only speculate how the problem of the annual spring flood was addressed.

In March of 1911, Robert A. Sibbitt and Nepean Realty Ltd. purchased the majority of the land in Concession D, Lot I (Rideau Front) for $94,000. Sibbitt’s plan was to create a huge residential subdivision and market the lots as “a residential section for the discriminating and a boulevard homesite for the particular”. He named the neighbourhood “Brantwood Place”.–Facts from history of Ottawa East

What began as a marketing ploy to establish the exclusivity of a neighbourhood later became a revered Ottawa East landmark. The Brantwood Place Stone Gates, built about 1912, became a focal point of community spirit and then ultimately, a war memorial. CLICK here for more info

Moving Doorways– How Houses Change — Springside Hall Then and Now — Finlayson Series

We will build Brick Houses in Rideau Heights For $900 to $1200!

Smiths Falls Woman Built House With Her Own Hands — McNeil

Documenting Houses -Almonte — Marshall Street

War Time Homes Carleton Place 1946

John T. Robertson Obituary- Caldwell Bookeeper Rideau Canal

John T. Robertson Obituary- Caldwell Bookeeper Rideau Canal

Karen Schultz sent me this Obituary-Obituary for my 2nd great-grandfather clipped from the Perth Courier, June 13, 1913. I thought it was very important and should be documented. Thank you Karen!


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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 and The Tales of Almonte

Bustling About Burritt’s Rapids– Public School Photos

Bustling About Burritt’s Rapids– Public School Photos



Public school Burritts Rapids–In 1793, Stephen and Daniel Burritt, from Arlington, Vermont, settled in the vicinity of the area now known as Burritt’s Rapids. A plaque was erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board commemorating the founding of Burritt’s Rapids.

By 1812, Burritts Rapids had become a bustling hamlet. At the peak of its prosperity, it had telegraphic and daily mail, 2 general stores, a bakery, a millinery shop, 2 shoe shops, a tin and stove store, a grist mill, a woolen mill, a tannery, 3 blacksmith shops, 3 wagon shops, a cabinet shop, 2 churches, 2 schools, 2 hotels, a bank and an Orange Lodge.

The hamlet’s natural advantages as a transportation centre were enhanced by the opening of the Rideau Canal in 1831. Burritts Rapids was the site of the first bridge across the Rideau River. A post office was opened in 1839.

By 1866, Burritts Rapids was a village with a population of about 400 on the Rideau canal, in the townships of Oxford and Marlborough, and counties of Carleton and Grenville. It had two schools, and citizens were in the lumber business. 

Unfortunately, the hamlet was by-passed by the railway, and its importance gradually diminished with the decline of the canal as a means of transportation.

Burritts Rapids was home to the Rideau Correctional and Treatment Centre from 1947 until its closure in 2004. It was subsequently demolished in 2013.

Public high school students in this area go to South Carleton High School in Richmond.

 - i Burritt's Rapids Small school, but there axe...


From Empire post. comDear Benjamin,

I am in receipt of your favour enclosing a statement of Accounts and as it differs so much from my expectations that I think it better to let it stand until I come down. We are new comfortably situated at Burritts Rapids at least as much as we could be expected. Mary Ann as well as myself is delighted with the exchange, the Mill is in good order and is doing well, I have done mere Business since I opened my new goods here than I would have done in 6 months in Kilmarnock, every person appears to be holding out encouragement to me. I think there is no doubt but that there will be a village start up at once. People seem to be quite encouraged to think that I have obtained the Water Privilege from Government — Major Bolton told me in Bytown yesterday that they never would have given a Lease of the waters to Smyth and appeared to be quite pleased with the exchange. Smyth has been very arbitrary with the Government officers and Put them defiant which course will never answer with these big Gentlemen. I have taken quite a different course. I have used all the fine speeches and soft sodder that I could think of and by that means have gotten the thing settled to my satisfaction. I am Putting me up a house near the Mill – 20 by 50 ft, as shop and a dwelling. I expect to get into it this fall. I was Much pleased at receiving a letter from Father, and shall endeavour to answer it shortly, I should be glad to have him see Mr. Alec McLean soon respecting the Balance of that devised sess? Roll. Mr. Pringle has written to me saying that it was placed into his hands for Collection I wrote to father stating the Terms that I should like to conform to, and would like to have him call on Pringle and state the thing to him as I am afraid that he will put me to cost. These young Lawyers are fond of employment. We shall expect some of you up this summer. The roads are much better to where we live now than where we lived before. Turn at Johnstown and inquire for Kemptville and then you are only 9 Miles from my Mill. Mother and Noriah might drive themselves out — or if they come as far as Prescott in the Boat, I would send for them at anytime. l may be down in a short time and Perhaps not until Fall. I have been expecting the Miller up for these some days Past- and should be very glad to have him come as soon as possible . I should not however be willing to pay him the salary he asks. I think it much too big but would be willing to Pay any reasonable Price if you Thought he Would answer – I would not value a few Dollar if I could get a Person that was a competent Hand and he would give satisfaction, I am very anxious that he would come up and would be Willing to Pay Part of his expenses, providing he did not agree,— if Possible write me by return of Mail if Nickleson will be up or net – I must look out for another immediately. Little Albert is getting a little better Poor little fellow he has had a hard time of it. Father states that the crops are looking well and he thinks that there will be something besides cordwood to be seen in Cornwall market next winter. I hope Norah and her little ones are doing well.

I am to all friends and remain your affectionate Brother=John S. French




By 1812, Burritts Rapids had become a bustling hamlet. At the peak of its prosperity, it had telegraphic and daily mail, 2 general stores, a bakery, a millinery shop, 2 shoe shops, a tin and stove store, a grist mill, a woolen mill, a tannery, blacksmith shops, 3 wagon shops, a cabinet shop, 2 churches, 2 schools, 2 hotels, a bank and an Orange Lodge.4385-01 John PATTERSON, 30, cheese maker, Sarnia, Manotick, s/o Benjamin PATTERSON & Sarah Ann KIDD, married Tena McCORKELL, 20, Osgoode, same, d/o James McCORKELL & Bella FINDLEY, witn: William PATTERSON of Burritts Rapids & Nellie DAVIDSON of Manotick, 12 June 1901 at Brays Crossing.


BURRITTS RAPIDS, June 26: – Special – Miss Lila G. Ferguson, principal of the senior room of the local Public School for the past three years, was honored by the pupils of both the junior and senior G rooms, and the junior teacher, Miss Laura Christie, yesterday, when she was presented with two handsome silver gifts: Edith plant made the Presentation and Cora Plant read the address, Miss Ferguson expressed her deep appreciation to the pupils, and Miss Christie

HISTORYFrom Rideau info.comBurritts Rapids was one of the first settlements on the Rideau, predating the Canal itself. In 1793, Colonel Stephen Burritt, floated down this section of the Rideau River on a raft looking for a good spot to settle. At Burritts Rapids he saw the water power potential for a mill and settled there with his wife Martha (Stevens) and their two-year old son Henry. Their second son, Edmund, was born here on 8 Dec 1793.

The story goes that, soon after settling there, they were dying from a fever when they were rescued by a band of local Indians, nursed back to health, and even had their crops harvested for them. Ever after, the Burritt home was a welcoming place for Indians travelling the Rideau.

When Colonel By came through in 1826, Burritts Rapids was a thriving village with several businesses. The first townsite was laid out in 1830 and a post office, with the name “Burritt’s Rapids” was established in 1839. In the 20th century, the name was changed to “Burritts Rapids” and today, both the community and lockstation are known by that name. The village, like the Rideau Canal itself, lost its commercial importance at the start of the 20th century.

The fixed bridge at the north end of town (over the original Rideau River) is in the location where one of the earliest bridges across the Rideau was built in 1824 (it has since been rebuilt at least twice, in 1920 and 1983). Just upstream of that bridge a mill dam was erected (as early as 1845). It crossed the entire channel, with a waste weir at the south end and served a saw mill and a grist mill (both located on the south side of the river). The remains of this dam can still be seen today.

In about 1832, a timber high level fixed bridge was constructed across the channel of the canal (south end of town), just upstream of the present day swing bridge. By the early 1850s, it had been replaced by a timber swing bridge in the location of the present steel truss swing bridge (which dates to 1897). The swing bridge is opened by turning a crank in the pivot at one end of the bridge. Counter weights and a set of roller wheels mounted on a circular track underneath allow the bridge to be swung with little effort.

To the north of island, on County Rd 2 (Donnelly Drive) is the historic Christ Church, one of the earliest churches on the Rideau. An Anglican congregation had been formed in about 1822, but had no fixed place of worship. In 1830 Daniel Burritt donated land for a church and a burying ground. Construction was started in 1831 and completed in 1832. In 1834 the church was consecrated as Christ Church by the Right Reverend Charles James Stewart, Bishop of Quebec.




with files from the book donations Donated by- Ed and Shirley (Catherine) Simpson-
with files from the book donations Donated by- Ed and Shirley (Catherine) Simpson-
with files from the book donations Donated by- Ed and Shirley (Catherine) Simpson-


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

The White Wedding Burial- Local Folklore

A Romantic Story of the Founding Of Burritt’s Rapids

Things You Don’t Know About Carlow Lodge and the Kidds

When One Boat Filled the Rideau Lock–Rideau King

When One Boat Filled the Rideau Lock–Rideau King



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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  14 Sep 1946, Sat,  Page 15

 - WHEN ONE BOAT FILLED Pleasure Craft But...


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




Did You Know about the Tay Canal Works Explosion?

Barbadoes or Barbodies– and General Benedict Arnold

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

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with files from the book donations Donated by- Ed and Shirley (Catherine) Simpson

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

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


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.


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.


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