Peter AYLEN -- Lumber Baron in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Aylen Lake in Algonquin Park


March 20, 2012:

From the records of Notre Dame Cathedral, Sussex Street, Bytown: (Drouin records at ancestry.ca)
15 May 1831    
Baptism of Anna Helen, aged 19 mos. Father: Peter Aylen; mother: Helen / Ellen Ferris
Godparents: James Ferris and Anna Ferris  
Angus McDonell, M. Ap. (Priest)

Peter Aylen, King of the Shiners

Source: Pioneers of the Upper Ottawa and Humors of the Valley, by Anson A. Gard, 1904, Page 294
Keywords: Symmes (See picture of Symmes Hotel in Aylmer, Quebec), Prentiss, Bolton
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March 31, 2002:
My family has been spending summers (and some winters) in Ontario since the 1940s when 
my grandparents scrounged enough money to buy a small plot of lakefront property on Aylen 
Lake. Through family and friends' photos and local folklore and stories from logging friends, 
I've been amazed to hear, learn and see how Aylen Lake has developed through the years. 
I have always wanted to know from where or whom the lake got its name. After a search on the 
web, your site came up, and found Peter Aylen (Lumber Baron). Do you have any other 
information on this man and how the lake ended up being named after him?

I'd appreciate any information!

Thanks so much,

Richard Roland

Richard: Thanks for your interesting e-mail regarding the origin of the name of Aylen Lake in Algonquin Park. Here are a couple of excerpts from my own family history (we're not directly related to Peter Aylen): "At age thirty-five, Patrick CHRISTOPHER married Mary FITZGERALD on February 2, 1835 at Notre Dame Church in Bytown. Today the church is called Notre Dame Cathedral. This was the first Roman Catholic Church built in Ottawa and there are records going back to 1827. Patrick and Mary lived in Bytown at the time of their marriage. Bytown in 1835 was at the peak of the "Shinersí War" which lasted from roughly 1828 to about 1840. This was an era when there was very high unemployment among the Irish labourers - the Rideau Canal was completed in 1832 and the only large pool of unskilled jobs was in the timber trade - working in the shanties in the winter and the log drives down the Ottawa River to Quebec City every spring after ice-out. The shanties were located up the Ottawa / Mississippi / Madawaska / Gatineau River valleys. Organized violence, (amounting almost to insurrection and civil war erupted as the Shiners - Irish Catholics living in Lowertown and in dugouts and caves along the banks of the canal), took place as the Catholics, led by Peter Aylen, attempted to oust the French Canadians from the jobs in the timber trade. They also turned their frustrations on the "gentry" who lived in Upper Town (west of the canal, in the area of Sparks Street). They also fought pitched battles against the inhabitants of Richmond in Goulbourn Township. Richmond was a strong Orange bastien and the friction between Richmond and Bytown was a continuation of the old Orange / Green faction fighting from Ireland." and another excerpt: Irish Gangs in Bytown: "In the New World, the formation of gangs was a common reaction to alienation, survival needs and social support for some ethnic groups. Each growing city had its Irish equivalent of Lowertown and within each of these shanty towns there emerged loose groups of informally organized, ghettoized young men. In New York City for example, an Irish gang called the "Forty Thieves" was organized about 1810. In Bytown, a group of several hundred local Irish Catholic young men evolved into a group known as the Shiners. The leadership catalyst was provided by Peter Aylen, a lumber kingpen in the Ottawa Valley. He needed a supply of cheap labour for his timber operations and was able to mobilize the disparate Irish gangs in Lowertown into a larger cohesive group. After the disastrous year of 1832 (cholera epidemic)and itís social and economic upheaval, the Irish Catholics needed jobs and most of the available work in the lumber camps during winter were monopolized by French Canadians. Peter Aylenís gang of Shiners used violence to displace the French Canadian workers. This in turn led to an increasing rift within the local Catholic church (Notre Dame) between the French and Irish parishioners. Despite sharing a common religion and neighbourhood, marriages between 1832 and 1840 are almost exclusively divided along linguistic boundaries. Father Molloy was brought into Notre Dame as a sort of deputy priest in the early 1840ís to appease the Irish parishioners and he began to build bridges between the French and Irish church communities. He established the House of Mercy for "fallen" women who were known as Father Molloyís Girls, a home for the Catholic aged and a boarding house for single women." Peter Aylen was a self-made adventurer. He was a sailor - on the old three-masted sailing ships. He jumped ship in the early 1820's at what is now Quebec City, made his way to Ottawa and became one of the leading players in the timber trade here in the 1830's. He won the support of the Irish labourers here by wining and dining them in style in his mansion on the Richmond Road. He brought in women from Montreal to "entertain" the men at his parties. About 1840 he had a complete reversal in his lifestyle. He sold his mansion and moved across the Ottawa River to Aylmer, Quebec and became a model citizen. I've canoed in the Aylen Lake area. If memory serves me correctly, there is also a Booth Lake in that area of Algonquin Park. I believe it was named after another Ottawa Lumber Baron, J. R. Booth whose home is still standing in Ottawa. If you go to the search engine (below) you may find other references to Peter Aylen and the Shiners. Thanks again for your e-mail. Do you mind if I post it to a new page on my web site? It would be an interesting lead-in to a page on Peter Aylen. ... Al Lewis, Ottawa Sources: The History of the Ottawa Police by Gilles LaRochelle, The Shiner's War in Bytown by Michael Cross.
October 7, 2002:
My name is Jose Dore. I'm looking for a picture of Peter Aylen. Where could I find it? > Thank you. > > Jose Dore > Quebec =========================== Hi Jose: Thanks for your e-mail regarding Peter Aylen. I don't know where we can get a picture of him, but come to think about it, there must be some around somewhere. I'd like to get one for my web site too. I know that the latter years of his life were spent living in Aylmer Quebec, across the river from Ottawa. Apparently the Archives in Hull are very good and it's possible that they might have something. Unfortunately I don't have an e-mail address for them. If I can locate a picture of Peter Aylen, I'll let you know. Can you let me know if you find anything? Thanks, Al Lewis Ottawa
November 29, 2002: hello, I came across this web site bytown or bust looking for my fam's history, I understand u are looking 4 info & pics of peter aylen. well good news i am a direct desendant of peter aylen, I am now the 7th generation, full name dennis peter rogder aylen , email me if wish for more info I have lots!
July 20, 2014: A descendant of Peter Aylen, Elise Aylen, poet married the well-known national poet Duncan Campbell Scott. ... Al
New December 27, 2014:
Obituary of John Gordon Aylen, Ottawa Citizen December 27, 2014, page E4 Obituary of John Gordon Aylen, Ottawa Citizen, December 27, 2014, page E4

E-mail Jose Dore, Dennis Aylen and Al Lewis

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