Great Time in Brockville
May 11, 2011 by edbbsnr
The Monday evening talk on Invisible Army went very well – about 35 people showed up – some from as far away as Kanata and Rideau Ferry. Gerry Covell, a retired lockmaster at Poonanmalee, came, and we went through the common travails of working around the Parks Canada personnel records.
Another gentleman brought the family genealogy of his distant ancestors – the Newman brothers, who were among the first lockmasters at Black Rapids, Clowes, and Nicholsons locks.
Creation of the “slackwater” canal flooded a lot of low-lying areas – shown in a “before and after” map of the Opinicon Lake area. Water management kept the water levels relatively stable to meet the needs of the steamers and the timber trade (which obviously went away, as road and rail pushed into the area).
I illustrated the difficulties of the early “roads” (so-called) using Lockmaster Peter Sweeney’s diary (1839-1850) . He was a “travelling” man, as well as a “drinking” man, and his jaunts from Jones Falls to Brockville, Prescott, and Kingston sorely tested his stamina, but not his determination.
I focused on showing how the canal had successfully overcome its lack of long-term commercial success by recognizing (reluctantly) that the future lay in the tourism/ guiding/ cottage country area. Serendipity – the rise of the “back to nature” movement in the northern US in the 1880′s and the abundance of unspoiled nature in the Rideau Corridor was the catalyst.
My new projector, an Epson EX5200, worked like a charm!