“Invisible Army” is the story of the forgotten people who made the Canal work – they stayed on through the tough times. This new book celebrates their dedication over the past 175+ years. It’s coming soon to a book store near you and will always be available on the web at www.rideaufriends.com.
The overarching focus is on the lockmasters and lock men, as well as “the rest of the troops” – the carpenters, divers, masons and blacksmiths – the men and women who worked on the “Floating Plant” – the tugs, dredges and scows.
The book begins with the “Context” in which the Rideau Canal was built and operated, from 1832 to the present. “Life on the Locks” describes what the lockmasters and lock workers faced in their daily lives. Then “Repairs and Reconstruction” tells how these men discovered what had really been built and what it meant when “the navigation” was the prime directive. “Salary and Benefits” looks at what the staff was paid, what the going wage was in the neighbouring communities, and what their counterparts were paid on other canals; TIP – they were at the bottom!
“Command and Control” sets out, with examples, the four features of the management – “Direction”, “Discipline”, “Disability/ Death” , and how this has evolved since 1832.
“The Rest of the Troops” tells the story of the “Floating Plant” crews, and the story of the carpenters, divers, masons and blacksmiths who helped to keep the canal going. There is a chapter on the “Superintendents”, and their trials and tribulations.
Finally, there are lists of the lockmasters and lock men who worked on the lock stations – 1832 to the present. If you know of someone I’ve missed or who is slotted in the wrong place, let me know.
Most books about the Rideau grudgingly include only people like Lt. Col. By and mention the initial construction crews - the wood, masonry and natural landscapes are their real concern.
Rideau heritage is so much more.
It’s hard to do justice to the story, when there are so many intriguing and compelling facets of the social, economic and political history of these men and women. I couldn’t include everything in the book, even in the “Notes” to each chapter. I also couldn’t bear to throw the extra material away, since it illuminates this forgotten part of Rideau Waterway history.
A reviewer of a late draft said ” … the detail is quite fascinating for a modern day reader. I particularly like the explanatory Notes feature, which provides additional comment and context with respect to the sources cited, and the matters dealt with in the various chapters. (…) For me personally the manuscript yields a lot of very interesting information on working life, wage rates, and operational procedures with respect to the lockmasters and lock labourers. No doubt the families of the workers whom you’ve named, will be fascinated in reading about what their grandfathers, fathers and uncles, were up to on the Rideau Canal.”
So-o-o, what I’ve done is to take the extra Notes material for some chapters and make it web-accessible. It is listed here with the title “Web Notes – Repair and Reconstruction”, for example. This is the extra material that I’ve taken out of the “Notes – Repair and Reconstruction” section of the book. Each “Web Notes – <Chapter Name>” has an introduction that explains how it is intended to relate to the material left in the book.
As I say in the “Preface and Synopsis” of the book, “(…) all the furtive charm of footnotes and endnotes can be savoured by readers curious to know more and who might even go on to explore dusty records, nooks, crannies and rat holes for themselves.”
I hope this “Web Notes” approach will simply intensify the pleasure for those readers who like this sort of thing without unduly burdening those who just like a good read.
Let me know what you think and if you know of people that I missed, give me a shout. If I’m wrong about something, point it out (with some back up for your position, of course).
This page has the following sub pages.
- Capt. Frank Nevins of the Shanly and the Loretta
- Web Notes-Repair & Reconstruction
- Web Notes-Salary & Benefits
- Web Notes-Command & Control
- Web Notes-Floating Plant
- Web Notes-Floating Plant Crews
- Web Brewers Lower Mills Wharfage
- Brewers Lower Mills Rebuilding-1861
- Web Carpenters, Divers, etc.
- Web Masons, Stonecutters, Etc.
- Web Work Programs