Lumbering in the Ottawa and Gatineau Valleys
Ontario and Quebec, Canada
July 11, 2010:
A Beautiful Painting of a Lumber Raft on the Ottawa River by Frances Ann Hopkins
Source: Our Times: A Pictorial Memoir of Ottawa's Past, page 10
February 2, 2005:
Fur trading was the first major staple industry in the Ottawa Valley.
The second major staple product was lumber for export -- square timber at first, then
sawn lumber then pulpwood (for paper making). Square timber was first rafted down
the Ottawa River to Quebec City by Philemon Wright (PW) in the first decade of the
nineteenth century. Later, the Gilmour company took over major operations along the
October 28, 2009:
Image Source: Selections from Picturesque Canada, An affectionate Look Back, Sketch number 40,
from the Original Illustrations and Text of 1882-85
Pandora Publishing Company, Victoria, B.C., 1975 (no ISBN)
The lumber industry took place all along the Ottawa River. It's tributaries
on the Ontario side, the Nation, Rideau, Mississippi, Madawaska and Bonnechere
were all important sources. On the Quebec side, the Lievre, Gatineau, Quyon,
Black, Coulonge and Dumoine Rivers were all important for the lumber trade.
The lumber industry had tremendous effects on the Algonquin First Nations people.
The Ottawa and its tributaries were their traditional hunting and trapping
grounds. Competition for hunting by new settlers in the Gatineau Valley and
the Bonnechere and Madawaska Valleys caused great hardship to the Algonquins
and led, in part, to the formation of reserves at Maniwaki and at Golden Lake (now called Pikwakanagan)
under the Indian Act. The white pioneers, before their farms became self-sufficient,
hunted deer and rabbits in the beginning putting great stress on the animal population.
For the white settlers, the lumber industry provided jobs, especially in the
winter time when men who farmed for half the year would head to the shanty
with their teams of horses and make some cash income for their families.
The lumber industry, as well as being an important local employer, also attracted
immigrants to the area. Felix McGrath, married to
Pat McGrath is looking for info regarding Gilmour Lumber Company. The Gilmour family were benefactors of the Curling game on Ottawa.
You should get your hands on a book called "Hurling Down the Pine" written by Courtney C. J. Bond.
It's all about lumbering on the Gatineau River and has lots of old maps
and pictures, including one of the housing used by the workers in the area of
Chelsea. It's mostly about the Gilmour company and it's operations in that area,
including at Farmer's Rapids.
Real good book. It should be at the Ottawa Public Library. They also have what
is called the "Ottawa Room" - all history and genealogy in the Ottawa area,
in the downtown branch.
I'll try and set up a new page tomorrow on lumbering and Felix McGrath.
E-mail Pat McGrath, Taylor Kennedy, David Smith, Roy Wheeler, Bill Gambriel, Bruce Byford, Alexa Pritchard, Peter Gilmour, Shannon McKnight, Cathy Cummings, Emerson McCallum, Dave Lemkay, Cathy Duchene, Roger Young, Elizabeth Bond, Barb Byers Bradley, Brian McGowan, Bob Briggs, Mary Quinn and Al Lewis
February 16, 2005:
I was digging through my piles of books yesterday looking for a reference
when I happened on a book I had forgotten about long ago. It's by Charlotte Whitton
(former Mayor of Ottawa) and is titled "A Hundred Years A Fellin'" the history
of the first hundred years of the Gillies Co. Lots of good stuff for anyone
interested in early lumbering, the Lanark area, the Gillies family or key employees
of the company.
I didn't see it in your reference section or find it with a site search so I thought
I would mention it to you. I checked and its available at most OPL branches.
February 22, 2005:
3 McGraths came to Old Chelsea from Gaspe to work namely Felix, William and Charles.
I believe they all worked at Gilmour's Mills which I have been told is where
the Quebec Hydro is today on the Gatineau River. William subsequently went to
upper New York state, Charles who was a blacksmith returned to Gaspe and died
in Haldimand East in 1932. Felix remained and brought up his family in Old Chelsea.
Three of his sons left - Dominik for Hamilton, David to Peterboro and George to
New Brunswick and then Timmins.
I would am interested in any information about Gilmour Mills employees, the Island
where it is said he had residences for his employees. (if this is true)
This info was passed to me orally from an Aunt who is now deceased.
The book "Hurling Down the Pine" by John Hughson and Courtney C.J. Bond, written
for the Historical Society of the Gatineau in 1964, contains photos of the workers
barracks. There are two pictures on page 49.
February 23, 2005:
Thanks to Taylor Kennedy for the following:
Taken from the Business Directory of 1851, page 263
Principal Lumber Merchants for the Ottawa River and the Tributaries, 1851
David Moore Jr. Allumette Island
C.E. (Canada East)
John Egan, founder of Eganville on the Bonnechere River
D.A. Ingles / (Inglis ?)
James Wadesworth (Wadsworth?)
C.W. (Canada West)
Gilmour & Co.
Edward McGillvray / McGillivray
Hon. Thomas McKay
George Bryson at Fort Coulonge
Thomas McGoey (Maniwaki area)
L.M. Coutleo (Coutlee?)
McConnell & Co.
Ruggles & Wright
Thomas B. Hyde
J & D Bell
Twsp. Blithfield (also in Renfrew County)
Peter Morris & Co.
February 24, 2005:
Pulp and Paper - Kazabazua in the Gatineau River Valley
The following article is from the Ottawa Citizen. We're still trying
to track down the date. Probable author is Fred Inglis, who took the picture.
The names mentioned in the article are Evan Pritchard, Joe Wiggins and Fred Wilson.
Square timber was exported from this area by Philemon Wright starting about 1805.
Sawn Lumber (boards) were exported to the United States after about 1850. Pulp and
paper were produced in the twentieth century.
Thanks to David Smith for this great photo, dated c. 1950.
See also posting dated May 8, 2005 for more information.
March 3, 2005:
Your website mentioned you were trying to find information on the GIlmour
Lumber Company. A fellow named Basil Quaile from Otter Lake, Quebec,
published a small tract on the history of the village in 1976 - the
centennial of Otter Lake. He discusses a local landmark called The Depot,
an old log building (where my family used to stay in the late '50's / early
If I can trust my memory, Philemon Wright built The Depot about 1839 and it
was later acquired by the Gilmour Lumber Company. Interestingly, in 1872,
Prince Arthur (later Duke of Connaught & Governor General, after whom Port Arthur on Lake Superior was named)) was hosted by the
Gilmour Lumber Company and he reputedly stayed at The Depot. There is a
photo of him in a hunting party during his visit to the Gatineau. Another person in this
photograph is "Bob Farrell, agent for the Gilmour Lumber Company". I
believe this to be the same Robert Farrell who built a nearby farm, which
was acquired by my grandparents about 1940.
(Otter Lake is actually built beside Farm Lake / Lac de la ferme,
named for this farm.) There were actually additional buildings on it -
I think there was a blacksmith shop and (at least according to the tract) the
original Otter Lake Post Office.
I recently did a little research at the National Air Photo Library and
obtained photocopies of a pair of aerial photos of Otter Lake Village / Farm
Lake from 1931 that show The Depot and The Farm, if you squint. I am pretty
certain that a digital version of this would reveal a fair amount of detail,
based on my experience with aerial photos of The Farm from 1928.
Now, if your own research turns up any more on The Depot or The Farm or
Robert Farrell, I would be keen on learning more. I'd also be interested in
knowing more about Prince Arthur's trip to Otter Lake. I made a couple of
casual inquiries but I'm hardly a historian. Maybe you'd be more
March 11, 2005:
Hi. My name is Bill Gambriel. I am a retired History teacher who collects
hammers as a hobby. Recently I obtained a double head log marking hammer with "G"
as the mark. This one is very similar to another log marker that I had - a single
marker with "G". This single one was described as being from the Gilmour & Co. at
Gatineau Mills, P.Q. I am trying to find some information about this company, and
especially an example of their log marking, if possible. Do you have any information
where I could obtain such material? I certainly would appreciate any information
that you might have about this request.
Thanks. Bill Gambriel
also posted on March 11, 2005:
The Gilmour Lumber Company evolved into the large international? company known
as Canadian International Paper (CIP). They still have large mills in the Gatineau area.
The "G" mark used by the Gilmour Company was also used by CIP.
Both the single and double-headed marking hammer were made locally by blacksmiths.
In the book "Hurling Down the Pine", there are pictures of lumbermen making "bark marks"
which were ciphered into the wood of the log after slicing off a section of the bark.
These bark marks were used to help sort the logs of different companies while the logs
were in the river. The "hammer mark" was applied to each end of a log after the ends
were cut with a cross-cut saw. Log piracy was widespread on the rivers. The hammer
mark was about two inches deep in the ends of the logs, and helped to discourage piracy.
The book has a picture of a man using a marking hammer.
and from David Smith:
Good morning from Sunny Florida Al
I know that the Alan Gilmour family was related to the John Manuel family who
were lumbermen and started the Ottawa Curling Club (see curling). There are some wonderful
portraits of these people in the lobby of the OCC on Oconnor Street. The
Manuels came from Scotland and lived on Vittoria Street site of the Supreme
Court. This family has never been recognized as far as I can tell for their
contribution to the City of Ottawa. I think Glmour was a nephew.
There is a picture of Allan Gilmour, (1816-1895) in the book "Hurling Down the Pine",
page 46. He curled with Prime Minister Alexander MacKenzie.
Hope all is well;
April 21, 2005:
Good Afternoon All,
I am doing research on the white pine lumber industry in the late 1800’s.
I have located lots of data on volumes of timber but very little information with
regards to lumber prices or logging costs. In your experience have you seen any
Many thanks for your assistance.
... Bruce Byford
Hello, Mr. Byford:
Thanks for your e-mail.
I'm reading a book called "The Upper Ottawa Valley to 1855", edited by Richard Reid.
It has a lot of information on the white pine and red pine operations, including
fluctuations in lumber prices. This material is a little prior to your interests in
the 1870's but it does contain a lot of interesting information regarding the lumber
industry and the fluctuations in lumber prices.
It contains transcriptions of original correspondence between some of the lumber barons,
account records of some shanties, and sources of some of the papers of the lumber barons --
documents which are held in the Library and Archives collections or at the
Some of the correspondence is with the government regarding allocation of timber
rights in the Ottawa area, the tariffs on lumber, etc.
It also has information regarding the transition from exporting logs to exporting
sawn lumber. A lot of very good information, but as I say, a bit before the 1870's.
I'm also interested in this subject and will keep an eye out for further info.
I believe that a period of recession / stagnation of about 20 years began about 1874.
I'll try and see if I have anything here regarding lumber prices from that time period.
Do you mind if I add your e-mail and e-mail address to our page at
www.bytown.net/lumbering.htm as a contact for other researchers? Please let me know.
... Al Lewis
Good Afternoon Al,
Many thanks for your insights. I will definitely take a look at the book.
With respect to the web posting I have no objection.
April 27, 2005:
I am researching Allan Gilmour owner of the Gilmour Company. I read everything
you had on him at your website, but am still looking for the answer to two questions:
1. Was Allan born in Scotland. I know his family travelled from Scotland to New
Brunswick and then settled in Montreal. I also know he was born in 1816. I am
wondering if he was born before his family left Scotland, or after they landed here
2. Whereabouts did Allan live in Bytown/Ottawa. I assuming he lived here because
he was the founder of the Bytown Curling club, right?
I thought maybe some of your readers would know the answers.
Gilmour Street, downtown, is named after Allan Gilmour, 1806-1895.
According to Courtney Bond (City on the Ottawa) he worked in the lumber
trade for 40 years beginning in 1833. His portrait is in the Ottawa
May 8, 2005:
Thanks to Alexa Pritchard for the following:
re an article dated February 24, 2005:
My guess is that it was an article in the Ottawa Journal. I believe the
village was Kazubazua in 1950. When W.A. Kenney opened his new store, about
1952, the post office sent a new sign "Kazabazua". It was a pretty and
prosperous village at the time.
Evan (not Even) Pritchard opened a machine shop in the village after the war
and hired Joe Wiggins for odd jobs. Fred, a skilled carpenter, provided the
handles from his sash and frame shop next door, for the Gilmour logging
hammers manufactured by Evan. I was lucky enough to buy one of these
hammers at a garage sale in the area recently. There should be thousands
more out there somewhere.
... Alexa Pritchard
July 6, 2005:
History of the Gilmour Lumbering operations in Scotland, Canada and the USA
Here's a very interesting web site regarding the Gilmours and their major
contribution to the lumber industries of three countries.
Dear Interested Parties,
Please go to my Gilmour family website for all sorts of information about the
Gilmour family, lumber and shipping interests, and other books related to their
Peter Allan Gilmour
Associate Professor of Pastoral Studies
Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois, USA
October 24, 2005:
Would anyone know any information/history about Davidson Lumber in Ottawa?
Also what lumber companies were around Rochesterville (Ottawa) in the 1860's + ?
Thanks for your e-mail regarding the Davidson Lumber Company.
Many of the lumber barons lived in Rochesterville and their mills were at
Chaudiere Falls, which was walking distance.
I'll have a look and see if I have anything here on the Davidson Company.
There is a village called Davidson on the Quebec side. It's had (maybe still
does have), a sawmill. Likely related to the Davidson family who lived in
Rochesterville. If I'm not mistaken, Rochesterville was east of Bronson Avenue,
north of Carling Avenue and may have extended west to the Civic Hospital area.
The old Department of Mines buildings are at Booth and Carling. Neighbouring
Rochester Street was named after John Rochester.
Do you mind if I add your e-mail to our page at www.bytown.net/lumbering.htm?
Maybe someone will have some further information for us.
Please let me know.
Thanks again for this,
... Al Lewis
November 4, 2005:
Cathy Cummings is researching Joshua Ellard ("King of the Gatineau") and the
B. Hall Lumber Company. Does anyone have any info regarding the Hall Company?
December 10, 2005:
The following is part of an e-mail from Mr. Emerson McCallum who worked on the
Ottawa River, west of Fitzroy Harbour. His original message, dated today was
concerned with the lighthouses on the Ottawa River.
In my reply to him, I mentioned the existence of a large, steel, rusted barge which
has apparently been abandoned at Morris Island. Here is his reply: (... Al)
Good morning Mr. Lewis,
Yes you may use the note I sent you if you like.
Concerning the steel barge you mentioned. I do not know if this is the same thing
or not but when I worked on the river they had what they referred to as “The Scow”.
It was a fairly large, metal hulled, flat bottom barge on which there was a kitchen
(for the cook to prepare meals), a dining room and some bunk-beds. This scow was
used by the men who worked on the sweep. They went along the shore and recovered any
logs or pulpwood which had gotten away from the boom while being towed etc. These
logs would sometimes be quite far up on shore and had to be hauled back down to the
river and collected in a crib which was then emptied into a boom to be taken to either
Gillies or Eddy.
Since the Ottawa River is very wide on Chat lake, this would have meant a lot of time
wasted in travelling from the main boom camp near Castleford to whatever they were
cleaning, so rather than do that, the sweep crew would tow the scow to various
locations along the river and use that as their headquarters while sweeping that
section of the shore.
The Ottawa River was divided into sections by the ICO (Ottawa Improvement Company,
later the Upper Ottawa Improvement Company). I know there was the Mountain Camp
Section (Bryson power house to Chenaux Dam - picture), Chenaux Boom (Chenaux Dam to Fitzroy Bridge),
and Quyon Section (Fitzroy Bridge to below Quyon). Any many more. Each section had
their own main camp for sorting and towing and sweep crew for cleaning up and repairs,
which would have the “scow”.
Hope this makes sense to you Al
Hello, Emerson: (if I may)
Thanks for your reply.
I'm going to look into this a bit on the weekend. Hopefully I'll be able to get a
picture of the scow one of these days and maybe you will recognize it as being the
one you know. It is definitely flat-bottomed. We're getting snow here today, maybe
enough to prevent getting a good picture of the scow.
I have a picture dated about 1880. It's titled "Cookery of J. R. Booth on the Ottawa River".
It shows a large square-timbered raft and about 20 men on the cook-house of J.R. Booth's
raft. It shows a roofed-over area for cooking. This would be a predecessor of the
steel scow. Interesting. I think that it was rowed by about eight men with ten-foot oars.
Here's the picture of the J.R. Booth cookery raft from the National Archives Digital
Source: William James Topley / Library and Archives Canada / C-008405
March 12, 2006:
The following is continued from the John Rochester page, contributed by Dave Lemkay:
With reference to the squared timber crib with the cookery upon it, this was a crib -
each was 26 feet wide and was but one of up to many - records show up to even 200 cribs -
that would be pinned together to be floated to Quebec City. This particular crib was
called the "Camboose" and the hearth for cooking was a sand-filled enclosure where
beans were cooked in the hot sand (as in the shanty) The crib(s) would occasionally
be rowed with long "sweeps" but only in slow-moving waters of the Ottawa. Banded
together, they would also be sailed with masts and sheets or tarps. The cribs would
be attached in trains of 5 or 6 and run though the slides at rapids in the river.
A large rafting spot was at Pembroke, another at the mouth of the Bonnechere near Renfrew.
The cribs and rafts were in fact both the vehicle and the cargo, of course, floating
the pine to Quebec, but also carrying hardwoods (that wouldn't float) to market).
There is a very interesting book entitled "Registered Timber Marks of Eastern Canada -
from 1870 to 1984" This shows every timber mark from that era with complete reference
of history and location of the companies. Some Upper Ottawa Valley libraries have a
copy on hand... I was able to donate these on behalf of the Canadian Forest Service
back in the 1980s. For more history on our forest heritage please check the web site
of the Canadian Forestry Association at: http://www.canadianforestry.com
... Dave Lemkay
August 11, 2006:
After reading the legend of Big Joe Mufferaw (Joe Montferrand) over the years,
Sidney and I finally caught up with him this week in Mattawa, Ontario. This
was Sidney's first trip north. In the photo, top to bottom: Joe, Al and Sidney.
See also a drawing of Mufferaw Joe posted on this page on June 6, 2008:
August 13, 2006:
The following plaque is located at the junction of the Mattawa River
and the Ottawa River.
August 24, 2006:
See some nice photos of the McCool Lumber Camp during the 1930's.
Shelley McCool is researching the Francis McCool family from Ireland to the Pembroke and Petawawa area.
James McCool had lumber and shipping interests across the Ottawa River at Fort William, Quebec.
October 31, 2007:
The Quebec Heritage Society has some photos of logging on the Gatineau River
between 1890 and 1980. See also the construction of the Paughan / Paugan Dam at Low, Quebec.
January 5, 2008:
I stumbled across your messages on the Internet re the history of Ottawa Valley
lumbering, and the Felix McGrath family, in particular. I am wondering whether any of
you may know of McGrath family connections or descendants in the Grosse Pointe area
of Michigan, USA? I come by asking this in a rather circuitous manner which I will
attempt to explain.
I collect antique model canoes, 'salesman's samples' if you like. Recently, I acquired
a very old piece made by John S. Stephenson, of Peterborough area fame, likely made
back in the 1870's or '80's. It is of some historical interest, as old JS was one of
the pioneers of modern cedar hull canoe building, beginning in the latter 1850's.
Stephenson sold much of his canoe rights and patents about 1884, and moved to the
Ottawa area, where he is said to have worked for the JR Booth lumber interests. In
the 1890's, he apparently returned to Peterborough.
Now for the McGrath connection.
My little canoe is said to have come out of the estate of a chap named McGrath, who
lived in the Grosse Pointe area of Michigan. This Mr. McGrath seems to have been
closely connected with the lumbering industry, as I am told that within his estate
there were a large number of old logging photos, samples of wooden trusses and
other logging memorabilia. Much of it appears to date back to the late 1800's.
There seems to be a connection to lumbering activities in Oregon, and possibly elsewhere.
My search is to try to find some plausible explanation for a connection between
JS Stephenson and Mr. McGrath, who somehow wound up owning one of Stephenson's canoe
models. Of course, it could have been acquired in other, unexplainable ways but,
since there are only a handful of these models known to exist, it could well be
coincidental to their having met at some point through lumbering business connections.
You folks seem to have done quite a bit of research, so I thought I'd throw out the
question for your possible interest and conjecture as to how a McGrath in Grosse
Pointe, MI, might have encountered old John S. Stephenson.
I thank you for your thoughts and hope you don't mind the imposition of my question.
One never learns unless one asks.
... Roger Young
PS: I lived in Ottawa for 30 years before moving to the Kawartha and Haliburton
areas, and much enjoyed travels through the upper Ottawa Valley towns on both sides
of the river. Good luck in your genealogical pursuits.
Good morning Mr. Young.
Thanks for your interesting e-mail regarding your model canoe, lumbering, etc.
I run the web site at www.bytown.net . With your permission, I'd like to add your
e-mail to our web site at www.bytown.net/lumbering.htm . Please let me know if this
is OK with you.
We may hear from someone who sees a connection or can help in some way.
In 1823, there were both Stevenson / Stephenson and McGrath families who arrived in
the western part of the Ottawa area, in Huntley and Ramsay Townships (Almonte area).
These families were part of an organized migration from County Cork in Ireland to the
Ottawa area. Many of these families were connected to another group who came from
County Cork to the Peterborough area two years later, in 1825. There may well have
been connections among these families.
A lot of families migrated from the Ottawa area to Michigan to work in the lumber
industry, usually second generation of Irish migrants to this area, in search of
work and farmland for growing families. Detroit was often their first destination
and from there many went to different parts of Michigan although some of the lumbermen
crossed over from Sault St. Marie, Ontario into northern Michigan and Wisconsin.
This is interesting and hopefully we can find out more information.
By the way, according to The Peter Robinson Settlers, 1823 1825 by Carol Bennett,
the name Stevenson or Stephenson was also sometimes spelled "Stinson , Stanson, or
Stenson" in the early days and here is a record from Bytown in 1834:
15 Aug 1834 (PR)
Marriage of Walter Stanson / Stenson / Stinson (ML# 553) , native of the
parish of Kilfintinan (Kilfinerty?), County Clare, and Catherine Dwire / Dwyer,
native of the parish of Caher, County Tipperary.
Thanks again for this.
... Al Lewis
January 9, 2008:
The following is an excerpt from a posting by Elizabeth Bond regarding the
McQuestion Lighthouse near Chalk River on the Ottawa River:
The following was taken from Tamarack Magazine: Exploration of Valley History,
Issue IV. Gerald Nadeau, born in the 1930s, tells Amy Mark and Neal Watts that:
"Living by the Ottawa River is my first memory. We lived on a small farm. It was
just a small clearing with a log house and two stables. McQuestion Point, where
we lived, was a stopping place by the river. Teams of lumbermen used to come to
the old house. I think there's only three logs left of it now. There were quite
a few of these places used for overnight stops, what you would call keepovers.
From Sheenborough up to our old house was one day's trip so people would come
that far and stay the first night. Then they'd go as far as the Swisha, (des Joachims) which
was another day.
All of these places were ports for travelling lumbermen. There was
no hydro, telephone, or radio at the old house. The only furnishings in the
house were six chairs at a table, a box stove for night firing, a cook stove, a
cupboard, three beds, two or three water pails, and some pots and pans. We just
lived season to season; nothing ever made you hurry, so it wasn't important if
it was eight o'clock, nine o'clock, or ten o'clock.
The closest house was about a mile and a half away and the roads
were never ploughed. In those conditions, if you were able to do anything like
chop wood, get water, or any of those other chores, you did them willingly.
We used to look after McLeod's lighthouse which was on an island
[McQuestion's Point]. The island was a beautiful spot. It was best in the
springtime-the whole island would just be covered with dandelions as thick as
they could grow and the grass would be cut down because of the cows grazing on
it. You'd hear the ice come down the mountains. The gather of ice would melt in
the spring and it would just keep flowing down the mountain until finally it got
so heavy that it would break away with whatever trees would come with it and it
would tumble down onto the ice on the river. It would almost be like thunder.
Every second spring, you'd hear it and the next day if you went to the river
you'd see all the trees out on the ice where the big icicles had broken.
The lighthouse had a globe about 20 inches high and it burned about
two quarts of oil in twelve hours. Each evening you had to clean out the lamp
glasses, trim the wick and check the wick for length. The wick was about two
inches wide and there were two of them in the globe which was housed in a
square glass enclosure. The two wick adjusters were side by side. If one fire
went out then you always had the second one. You had to light it and then turn
the wicks up until the globe got warm and then you'd turn it down so that there
was no smoke from it. The coal oil had to be carried down in the spring. It took
three 45 gallon containers to fill the tanks in it. They used to give us twelve
dollars a month for looking after the lighthouse. You had to go down every
morning and blow the light out. I never went alone, because I was too young and
the lightstand was quite high. You'd have to get up on something to reach it.
The lighthouse was put there because the river is quite narrow in
that spot. It was built some time after the 1850s for boats towing logs. The
first big boats on the river were steam driven.
There used to be a big red river boat, an old tow boat, thirty-five feet long
with the engine taken out of it. It had been set adrift and had become wedged
between the lighthouse island and the river shore. It stayed there until it had
rotted away. The sides would be about three feet high and they got warm by the
sun beating against them. The pike would lay against the side and sometimes
you'd see eight or ten fish all beside the boat. Some of the pike were up to
five feet long. We used to catch one fish each spring and that was enough for
one week, as much fish as you wanted to eat."
On a seperate occasion, I learned that: "The lighthouse was situated on
McQuestion's Point because it was such a narrow point in the river. The Marine
Co. used to oversee the management of the lighthouse, and would pay a family
$12.00 a month for keeping it, on 12 month leases. Each year, they would take
four huge 45 gallon drums of coal oil down to the lighthouse on sleighs. The
Marine Co. would also send a big wick and a huge pair of scissors; tar; a
broom; paint for the boat; spare lamp glass; a shovel; a box of rags that you
would go through first to see if there was anything you could wear; and a
strong sharp axe that young Gerald was forever aching to get his hands on
because he was always busy chopping stones."
Please find attached a photo of the lighthouse taken last year. Also, the
community museum in Deep River--The School House Museum--is operated by the
McQuestion descendants, and they might have more information for you. I hope
you find this information helpful,
February 3, 2008:
The Log-Driving Song, sung by Charlie Gardner and friends, describes the early
log drives on the Upper Ottawa River / Pontiac area.
March 8, 2008:
Marriage of a Timber Baron
This marriage registration was found on National Archives of Canada Microfilm C2905,
Page 197, Register of Saint Andrews East (Presbyterian), Saint Andre d'Argenteuil MG8,
G27, Vol 8.
Daniel McLachlin of Bytown, Upper Canada, Timber merchant and Maria Harrington of
St. Andrews, Argenteuil, were married by License on the fifth day of January in the
year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven by me Arch' Henderson,
Minister in the presence of these witnesses,
John Harrington M. Davis, George W. Davis. Signed by Daniel McLachlin, Maria Harrington,
Archibald Henderson, Minister
This microfilm covers a lot of early baptisms and marriages from 1818 in the Lachute,
Quebec area. The McLachlin family is not connected to my Byers, Burtch, Banning,
Kier line but may be of interest to other researchers.
...Barb Byers Bradley
April 29, 2008:
We usually associate the logging and timber trade with the PreCambrian Shield areas
to the north and west of the city of Ottawa. However, beginning in the early 1800's,
Glengarry Scots and French Canadians operated a profitable logging industry as the
following photo shows. The Scotch River is a tributary of the Nation River which flows
into the Ottawa River ar Plantaganet. The Scotch River was written about in 1901 by
Ralph Connor in his book The Man from Glengarry.
Loggers on the Scotch River, 1890's
Photo Source: Reflections of the South Nation Watershed, page 31
June 6, 2008:
Mufferaw Joe, again
Source of Drawing: Where Rivers Meet: An Illustrated History of Ottawa, page 49
August 27, 2008:
The steamer ALBERT at Quyon (see more steamboats)
Photo Source: Hurling Down the Pine, page 107
August 28, 2008:
Samuel Bingham, Lumber Baron on the Gatineau River
Mayor of Ottawa beginning in 1897
"King of the Cascades"
Text Source: Hurling Down the Pine, pages 105-107
December 16, 2008:
One of our readers has retired and has moved off the grid near the Minnesota, USA, border.
Visit our back to the land / off the grid web site.
June 19, 2009:
The following photograph shows men and horses working in a lumber camp in the Gatineau Valley.
Photo Source: Historical Walks: The Gatineau Park Story, by Katharine Fletcher, page 7
October 19, 2009:
I've transcribed the 1847 Diary of Hugh Falls, a Provincial Land Surveyor with
his survey of Bennett's & Bissett's creeks on the Upper Ottawa River. He refers to a few men he hired
as well as a few he encountered during the survey. I thought these names
might be of interest to anyone researching these families. Feel free to
post any of the diary that might be of interest. I'm not certain that I've
transcribed all of the place names correctly as I'm not too familiar with
the geography of the area. Perhaps you can correct any mistakes I've made
if you notice any. I was surprised that it only took Hugh Falls one day to
travel from Bytown to Montreal - thought it would take longer than that. I
think he was paid 114 pounds for this survey.
November 9, 2009:
Photo Source: Selections from Picturesque Canada: An Affectionate Look Back
plate number 35.
This sketch was made in the 1870's and shows a view from the back of the Parliament Buildings,
overlooking the Ottawa River and Chaudiere Falls. Piles of sawn lumber, (most of it destined for export to the
United States market), can be seen on the islands at Chaudiere Falls and across the River in Hull, Quebec.
November 22, 2009:
Pointer Boats on the Ottawa River in the 1880's
Source: The Upper Ottawa Valley, by Clyde C. Kennedy, page 228
names for search engine: John Cockburn, Pembroke, Lake Temiskaming, Upper Ottawa Improvement Company.
December 18, 2009:
If you go to our new web page for Bromley Township, Anne Burgess has sent along some interesting hand-written material
from the 1851 census, giving us some details of early lumbering operations carried out by the Maclaren family.
The Maclaren mills were a major employer in the Ottawa area for over 100 years. As late as the 1950's, the company
bussed employees from Ottawa to Buckingham, Quebec so that men could work from Monday to Friday. They were then bused back to
Ottawa for the weekends.
February 17, 2010:
Here is a nice photo, sent in by Clarissa, showing her ancestor, William Heaney at one of the J.R. Booth Lumber Camps
in the year 1900.
From Clarissa: I am not sure, it may have been near the Black River, Pontiac County. There seems
to be a lot of people from that area, Henry Mellon is in the picture along with
some Sauriol and Denault family members, the others not sure. I will ask my Brother if he
remembers where the camp was.
April 8, 2010:
Taylor Kennedy has sent in two articles from the Ottawa Citizen:
1) Rivermen's Graves on the Madawaska River System and
2) Square Timber Rafting on the Ottawa River.
May 19, 2010:
Source for text below: Ottawa Citizen Digital Archives, Article dated December 11, 1895
Names for search engine -- Gillies, Braeside
June 17, 2010:
Source for material below: The Upper Ottawa Valley, by Clyde Kennedy, page 128
July 17, 2010:
The book "Alligators of the North", published by Dundurn Group outlines the complex and intriguing history of the
Alligator steam tug boats that were manufactured by West and Peachey of Simcoe, Ontario from 1889 through to the 1930s.
Over two hundred of these unique amphibious scows were shipped all over eastern Canada, and from Minnesota to Maine,
even South America. Many were used right here on the Ottawa River watershed from Lake Temiskaming and on down to
the St. Maurice and Saguenay Rivers in Quebec. The Gillies Bothers enterprise is nicely captured in this book!
Authors: Clarence Coons and Harry Barrett. Details at www.alligatorsofthenorth.blogspot.com
... Dave Lemkay
Here is a photo of one of the Alligator Boats at Arnprior in 1907.
Photo Source: The Upper Canada Valley by Clyde Kennedy, page 160.
December 10, 2010: (added the photo below)
Photo Source: Ottawa Waterway: Gateway to a Continent by Robert Legget, page 153.
New e-mail address for David Lemkay is firstname.lastname@example.org (incorporated in the list below)
June 8, 2011:
The year 2011 is Renfrew County's 150th Anniversary. As part of the celebrations, a refurbished alligator boat will be part of
a flotilla between Norway Bay, Quebec and Braeside, Ontario. See a picture of the boat and more details.
July 21, 2011:
I think I have the McCool bug, I can't stop looking for more info. My grandfather is John Patrick McCool his father is
Frank or Francis (not sure) McCool and his wife Mae or May DeCurrie or Decurry he had a lumber camp in Pembroke.
I came across this website about the McCool lumber camps in Ontario.
I will go buy the book to get more info, it has pictures!!!
Note: The above link will take you to excerpts from Logging on the Schyan, by Vernon Price. This is one
of the best books concerning the lumber operations in the Fort Coulonge / Dumoine River and Pembroke areas.
Lots of gentle lumberjack stories from a time and place where men were both men and gentlemen.
September 14, 2011:
I recently purchased a scaling or barking hammer at a yard sale in Pontiac County marked "RW". The manufacturer or
blacksmith is also marked as "E.E.Holt". Cristy Holt was a long time blacksmith in Ladysmith up until about 1960,
could this be his father?
I suspect the hammer is from Ruggles Wright from Hull but know nothing about their company. Can you help me identify
the hammer and where I can find a little information on Ruggles & Wright?
Good morning, Brian:
Thanks for your e-mail regarding your scaling hammer with the initials “RW” on it.
The blacksmith who made this hammer may have been Emmett Eugene Holt who is listed above as living in Ladysmith until
his death in 1926. If so, you have a nice provenance for your hammer.
Moses Holt was one of the pioneer settlers in our area.
He came here after Philomen Wright who was the founder of Hull, Quebec and would have known and dealt with Philomen Wright.
Ruggles Wright was a son of Philomen Wright. We have a web page for Philomen Wright where you may find further information
about Ruggles Wright.
Also, here is a bit about Moses Holt. It comes from page 90 of the book Carleton Saga by Harry and Olive Walker:
Keywords: Aylmer, Quebec and Chats Falls (Fitzroy)
and here is presumably a son of Moses or Noah Holt in the 1851 census for Hull, Quebec. Moses Jr. was a tavern keeper:
(Source: 1851 Census for Canada East, Public Archives of Canada, available from ancestry.ca
I'm cross-posting Brian's original e-mail to our Holt web page.
September 24, 2011:
Many men from the Ottawa Valley and the Gatineau Valley were recruited into the Canadian Forestry Corps.
These men were professional lumberjacks who were hired because of their expertise in forestry work.
See the Canadian Forestry Corps web page, being researched by Bob Briggs.
and, here's a story from Diane Moorhead:
Mr. John Stephen Moorhead, 88, was born at Danford Lake, Quebec. He went overseas in the first World war
with the Canadian Forestry Corps.
He was in northern France and then in charge of a mill in southern France, in a forest planted by Napoleon's order.
He recalled the timber was a fine white pine, 31 inches across cut to 16-foot lengths. He is enormously proud of
the fact that his company produced more board feet than any other operating there ___ 30,000 board feet a day.
Mr. Moorhead returned to Canada July 11, 1919 with the rank of sergeant. He went into business for himself and
remembers losing $30,000 the second year.
Mr. Moorhead figures he saw his first loom about 70 years ago when women carded wool and spun the yarn themselves.
He also remembers the occasion, if not the date, when troops were sent to Low, Quebec, to collect the taxes due.
... Diane Moorhead
(see more information and photos of Mr. Moorhead on our Carruthers, Moorhead and Begley web page.)
October 1, 2011:
Even though my main interest is the WW2 CFC at this time my great grandfather was in the CFC in WW1
Here is something of interest to you folks in Ottawa from http://www.russiansinthecef.ca/forestry/index.shtml
Canadian Forestry Corps, C.E.F.
The Canadian Forestry Corps had particularly close associations with the Ottawa Valley. Many of the men came
from that region; three of the corps' five senior officers, (Major-General Alexander McDougall,
Brigadier-General John White, Colonel Gerald White) had been valley timber merchants and contractors before the war.
Corps operations were compared favourably to the best mills in the Ottawa area.
... Bob Briggs
December 4, 2011:
Thanks to Mary Quinn for sending in the links to an interesting article from the Ottawa Citizen regarding Terence McGuire,
(born in Aylmer), and the early lumber trade there. Among other information, the article describes the four day annual trek made
by the shantymen from Aylmer, Quebec up to the Perley and Pattee lumber camps up past Portage du Fort, Quebec.
January 23, 2013:
Alexander McLaurin came from Scotland to Glengarry County then on to Templeton, Quebec where he ran a sawmill.
April 26, 2013:
Here is a terrific paper called the Working Class Culture and the development of Hull, Quebec, 1800-1929.
This book is written by Mr. Michel Martin, who is giving a talk on May 8, 2013 at the Worker's History Museum in Ottawa:
Date: May 8th 2013
Time: 6pm reception / 7 pm talk.
Admission: This is a free event open to the general public.
Location: Workers’ History Museum office. 251 Bank Street, 2nd Floor (corner of Bank St. and Cooper St.), Ottawa
About Michel Martin:
Educated at Laurentian and Queen’s universities, Michel Martin is a retired freelance journalist and writer and a former federal
public servant. He is the author of two books of local working class history, available free of charge at his website, http://web.ncf.ca/fn871/ .
He is currently working on a third book tentatively titled "Resisting Domination: Popular Classes in the West Before 1492". Michel Martin
has been active for years in union, community and party politics in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.
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