Changing Topography at Fitzroy Harbour, Chats Falls and Morris Island
Ottawa River, Ontario and Quebec, Canada
c. 1820-1960

September 23, 2005:



Horseshoe Falls at Chats Lake before the dam was built Source: National Archives Chats Falls Dam Photo # PA-009337 Photo: Al Lewis Chats Falls Fitzroy Dam This page is the beginning of a new project and a good excuse to go canoeing. It's about the changing topography in the Fitzroy Harbour area during a 150 year period. The Ottawa River area between Arnprior, Ontario and Quyon, Quebec was important during this period as part of the fur trade, lumber industry, agriculture and transportation businesses. This area was wilderness before 1820 when Joseph Mondoux / Mondion opened a fur trading post at Quyon. There was a major set of rapids (Chats Falls) opposite the present village of Fitzroy Harbour. The rapids stretched from the Quebec side to the Ontario side, necessitating portages for the early River travellers, including Samuel de Champlain and the voyageurs. John Egan, lumber baron from Aylmer, Quebec, attempted to have a canal built in the 1850's, to bypass the rapids, on the Quebec side. During the early 1900's, mining -- Bristol Mines and Kingdon Mines -- and hydro-electricity became important in the area. Lately, environtalism and recreation has led to the creation of the Morris Island Conservation Area (above the dam) and Fitzroy Provincial Park (below the dam). Michel Forand is researching lighthouses along this stretch of the river (on Map 2, below, you can see the lighthouses shown opposite the town of Arnprior and also the lighthouse at Morris Island -- in Lavergne Bay). Thanks to Wendy Millar for assistance in scanning the maps. There are three or four more maps to come.
Map 1 Source: part of Belden's 1879 map of Fitzroy Township
Features of Map 1 1. The map is scaled according to the surveyor's measurements, i.e. 50 chains per inch. 2. Individual names of landholders are shown -- the settlers have arrived. 3. The thriving village of Fitzroy Harbour is shown on the Ontario side. Commercial activity included a mill on the Carp River, operated by the Learmonth family. March 25, 2009: Learmonth Grinding Wheel, 1860, Fitzroy Harbour, Ontario, Canada The original grinding wheel from the Learmonth Mill is on display in the municipal park in the village of Fitzroy Harbour. (see photo on our Fitzroy Township web page)) At Galetta, just to the west, there were sawmills, a grist mill and a carding mill. Today there is a hydroelectric generating station here. 4. The chain of islands stretching from Quebec to Ontario would later form the foundation for the Chats Falls Dam and Generating Station. Each passage between the islands was a log chute. Each chute was named for timber dealers, e.g. Conroy, Mohr and O'Connor 5. A "Government Timber Slide" exists at the north end of Victoria Island at Fitzroy Harbour. 6. The landing for the ferry between Quyon and Ontario is about a mile west of the present landing. I think it was originally called Mohr's Landing. 7. The landholders listed on Map 1 are Willis, Elliott, Cowley and Murphy, Carr (Carrs), Rowan, Stanton, Kyle, Moran, John Egan, McHale, Copps, Kelly, Fulford, Tripp, Lavan / Lavin Henderson, Mohr, Craig, McFarlane or Macfarlane, Atkinson, Aylwin, Wilson and McDermott.
Part of Belden's 1879 Fitzroy Map


Map 2 part of Topographic Map "Arnprior" Scale 1:50,000, Map Number 31 F/8 Canada, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, 1965
Features of Map 2 1. On the Ontario side, the name for the general area above the dam is now called Morris Island. Who was this Mr. Morris? 2. The scale is shown as 1:50,000. 3. There is a railway and a railway bridge running through the Morris Island area between Ontario and Quebec.
Morris Island Topographic Map
Map 3 Sand Point to Arnprior part of Topographic Map "Arnprior" Scale 1:50,000, Map Number 31 F/8 Canada, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, 1965
Sand Point to Arnprior


December 28, 2009:
Big Bay (Pontiac Bay) on the Ottawa River, just west of Quyon, Quebec, in 1845 Source of Map by James West reproduced in: The Upper Ottawa Valley, by Clyde C. Kennedy, page 6 The Hudson's Bay Company Fur Trade Post of Mr. Mondion is shown. The point of land at Mondion's house is called Indian Point, after the Algonquin Nation whose territory covered the ebntire Ottawa River Watershed. Pontiac Bay / Big Bay, Ottawa River, 1845

December 31, 2009: To enjoy Fitzroy Provincial Park in the wintertime, you can join the West Carleton Nordic Ski Club. Happy New Year !!
August 8, 2011:
Beach at Fitzroy Provincial Park, September 8, 2011 Beach at Fitzroy Provincial Park, 2011

New February 27, 2014: Tomorrow, Friday 28, 2014, Dr. Shawn Graham, an archaeologist and professor from Carleton University will be presenting a paper to the Historical Society of Ottawa titled "The Archaeology and Heritage of Chats Falls on the Ottawa". Details are at http://hsottawa.ncf.ca/coming.html. Free and it should be very interesting. ... Al

E-mail Les Cruickshank and Al Lewis

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