Hugh Boat Excursions Once High Life On Lakes, By Howard M. Brown, The Carleton Place Canadian, 12 April, 1956

This is the third and last installment of Howard M. Brown’s story of how various spots on the Mississippi Lakes received their names. This story tells of the return trip from Innisville section.

Starting back to Carleton Place by way of the south and east side and going past Mud Lake, called McEwen’s Bay on the government maps for the McEwen’s who farmed near its south shore, with McCoy Creek as its main outlet, and McIntyre Creek flowing in there from the south, then Grasshopper Point, McCreary’s Landing and McCullough’s Landing, some six farms are passed which were settled on or within a mile of the south side of the Big Lake before 1820.

Reaching Flintoff’s Bay and the east shore, we are at the location of the first settlers here on the Mississippi Lakes. Here in the southeast corner of the Big Lake and along the present road from there towards Tennyson, eight farms were taken up and occupied in the late fall of 1816, in the first year of the Rideau Military Settlement of Lanark County. Three were McNaughtons, two were Robertsons, two were Hunters’ and one was a Flintoff. Ahead of them by three months but farther from the lake was an Irish ex-serviceman, Moses Goodman, a half mile in from the mouth of McIntyre Creek. This little group of Scots, Irish and English, could be said to be then pioneering the northwest fringe of colonization of the province.

Flintoff’s Bay was the terminus of one of the earliest freight routes to the village of Carleton Place. Shipments came from Montreal by way of Brockville and Perth (and probably later by way of the Rideau Canal and Perth) to Flintoff Bay, and from there by barge captained by Mr. Dougherty to a wharf in the river at Bridge Street. John Flintoff was one of the first local lumbermen of some prominence and was drowned by falling off a Quebec steamer in the lower St. Lawrence in 1851.

Another drowning of this group of settlers was that of the pioneer Donald McNaughton in 1860, while going bathing in the lake at age 67 in the middle of June. McCullough’s Landing was another of the Carleton Place steamer excursion destinations. One of its biggest gatherings was a political rally in 1896, just before a hard-fought federal election. The lake’s biggest steamer, the Carleton, provided the transportation in loads of around 200 per trip, at a return fare of 25 cents.

Heading for the Middle Lake and Beckwith Township again, Pine Point and the cottages of McNaughton’s Shore are passed in the Big Lake, and the red-buoyed submerged rocks around Sand, Loon and the Burnt Islands. After the Blacks Bay cottage shore is Hunter’s Bay formerly called Buchanan’s for its nearby farm owners. The west side of Hunter’s Bay is probably the place where Hugh Boulton quarried stone for his first millstone, the town’s first piece of industrial equipment.

The rows of cottages along the east side of the Middle Lake are next – Shail’s, the Coleman High Bank and Petrie’s Shores, served by a good paved road. Here in the 7th Concession, not far from the lake and within a mile or two of Tennyson are three of the first seven farms settled in Beckwith Township. Two were granted in late 1816 to McDonnells and one to an O’Neill. They were joined within a few months by Duncan McNaughton Sr., of the McNaughton connection farther up the lake. Of about twenty-five Beckwith Township farms still in the family name under which they were first occupied before 1820, this McNaughton Farm in the 7th Concession was the first settled. The McDonnells, Roman Catholic Highlanders from Inverness, retained their original location for two or three generations. The son of one of them, at age of 77, was killed in a runaway accident on Bridge Street, Carleton Place in 1908.

Farther down the Middle Lake, Morris’ Island is named for the family of Joseph Morris who settled on the lakeshore there opposite Squaw Point in 1821. The next lakeshore farm, at McGibbon’s Point, was John McGibbon’s home for sixty years, and was owned by three generations of the family.

McGibbon’s Creek is notable as having given the lower Mississippi a passing chance of being part of the Rideau Canal. One of the routes considered for the canal would have carried it from the lower end of the Rideau Lake across the low land drained by Cockburn Creek into the Rideau and by McGibbon’s Creek into the Mississippi. The canal would have continued down the Mississippi and the Ottawa by a series of locks like those built on the route selected. In 1824 the Mississippi route was rejected, and two years later construction started down the Rideau.

The lake’s other canal story is one of nearly fifty years later. It went as far as incorporation by the Legislature of the Mississippi Navigation Company in 1809, with the authorized capital of $100,000, to build locks at Innisville and Ferguson’s Falls and carry on a shipping business. The chief freight was expected to be sawn lumber and iron ore, which was to be towed by barge to Carleton Place, and to go from here by rail to American markets. The steamer, the Enterprise, was built for this purpose, and then the lock-building scheme was abandoned.

The Enterprise, a paddle wheeler which could carry a hundred passengers, travelled the lake for twenty-five years in the service of the McLaren Mill and the Canada Lumber Co. Under the intentions of its builders, its regular run would have been between Lanark Village, Playfairville and Carleton Place. That was the route that gained some historic standing in the story of the Mississippi when a number of the first Ramsay township settlers reached their new homes in 1821 by travelling down the Clyde and Mississippi by water from Lanark Village to the site of Almonte.

Returning to the lakeshore of the Second Lake, below the canal to the Ottawa that was never built, the 10th line cottashore was settled by Peter and Archie McGregor, who farmed there from 1819. After two generations of McGregors it was owned and sold by George Thackaberry in the 1880’s. At that time its sand beaches had already become a favorite campground. After it became McNeely’s, a gathering was held there in 1919, postponed on account of the War, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the settling of the township.

Hay’s Shore at the foot of the Second Lake, was James Duff’s farm from about the 1840’s. His son William (Big Bill Duff), who started the Lakeshore Dairy’s retail business, died ther in 1914, followed in 1916 by his wife, a daughter of one of the original Morphy settlers of Morphy’s Falls. Excluding cottage areas sold, it has remained since 1918 with the Hay Family.

Brown’s Point, the upper end of Lake Park, formerly was called Round Rocky Point, after the long favored duck hunting Rocky Point beside it across the Hotel Bay.

The point at the lower end of Lake Park has had the name of Lookout Point for many years, and alternatively has been called Hammond’s Point and McRostie’s Point after cottage owners of the past fifty years. The bay and mainland shore behind it have been called Duff’s Bay and Duff’s Shore for the other William Duff and his family (Little Bill Duff) who lived there from the 1840’s.

Lake Park itself, which we can make the last port of call on our round trip, has been a summer resort centre of one kind or another for about a hundred years. As Allan’s Point, later sometimes called the Regatta Grounds and Carleton Park, and finally as Lake park, it served for most that time as a community park for many of the town’s bigger lakeside events of the summer season.

It was never owned by an Allan and who the Allan was of Allan’s Point does not seem to be know. As early as 1860, an old news story tells of a Carleton Place Masonic picnic at Allan’s Point, with 150 people taken there from the village in small boats described as canoes, and itemizes an impressive list of the food and beverages.

In another Allan’s Point outing of the same period the expedition of small boats is described as being led by a drum, the bagpipes and a Union Jack. Most of these gatherings seem to have ended with dancing to the bagpipes and the fiddle, said as this early time to be dancing on the green. For a generation or two when bigger sports day picnics were the order of the day, this was one of the favorite places for the annual picnics of the fire brigade, the railwaymen, the other industries, the churches and some of the numerous clubs and societies.

The first regattas with outside competitors seem to have been the Carleton Boating Club races at Allan’s Point in 1880 and 1881. In addition to races for single and double rowing shells, they included canoe races and races for standard sailboats and catamarans. After Allan’s Point had been a family tenting centre for some years the first small two-storey building planned for use as a summer hotel was put up in 1887. The name Lake Park came partly from its purchase as a publicly owned picnic and regatta part for the town being under consideration when it was bought in 1892 by a local syndicate at the start of a period of about fifteen years as a very lively commercial summer resort. The Carleton, the queen of the lakes, an 80 by 16 food side wheeler was build here by the Gillies Boat works for the Lake Park Company and launced in 1893, carrying life preservers for 200 passengers. As part of the opening celebrations that year, the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards rode up from Ottawa with their dress uniforms and dazzling metal helmets, and put on a Dominion Day musical ride with forty horses, before a gathering of two thousand people at the newly christened Lake Park. Pete Salter’s often crowded four storey hotel was built a little later and a race track, band and dance pavilions, new steamboat docks and a picnic dining room to seat several hundred at a time. Team track and water sports, fireworks displays over the water, even circus acts were put on to bring the Ottawa Valley summer crowds in by railway and steamer. A small start had been made earlier on a proposed lakeshore driveway from Lake Avenue to Allan’s Point, but at this time a serious effort was even made to promote an electric railway from the 11th line C.P.R. crossing to Lake Park. Another scheme started was the digging of a waterway behind the Park from the Lower Lake to the Second Lake.

The first canoe club at Carleton Place called the Ottawa Valley Canoe Association was formed in 1893, and its first regatta was held that year at Lake Park. It included single, double, and novelty races in practically all of which W. J. “Baldy” Welsh’s boat came in first.

Within about fifteen years the high life at Lake Park was fairly well finished and soon after it settled down as an ordinary summer cottage community. One of the reasons for the change was claimed to be township local option, which did not arrive in the town itself until 1916. In 1907 as an indication of the change at Lake Park, the steamer ‘Lillian B’ belonging to the Park’s Queen Royal Hotel, was replaced with a bus line as the regular passenger service and later was beached in the Hotel Bay. A view of this abandoned forty foot steam craft about the year 1910 with her ribs lying open to the elements may serve as a picture of the end of one era on the lake, still carrying its earliest Indian name of the Lake of the Big River, and the start of another era a little more like our own.

 

 

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