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Archive for the ‘Serendipity’ Category

Long Island Locks and early lockmasters

On page 377 of “Invisible Army”, I noted that Lt. Col. By had not named a lockmaster for Long Island in 1832. More accurately, I was not able to find any record of who was in fact named, but I remarked that two possible candidates were James Fallon and John Houston. The record is OK from 1835 to the present.

Today I came across a newspaper advertisement taken out by James Fallon. It clearly sets out that he was active in the area in 1844.
It also indicates that the First Nations were still involved. This was news to me. I have no idea when Long Island was sold by them.

The ad is copied below.

NOTICE
TO SQUATTERS AND TRESPASSERS

THE SUBSCRIBER having leased from the Indian Chiefs of the Lake of Two Mountains, District of Montreal, on the 14th of August, 1837, all that Tract or Parcel of Land, commonly known by the name of LONG ISLAND, in the Rideau River, for a Term of Years – HE HEREBY GIVES NOTICE, That any Person or Persons found Trespassing on said property, from this date, without written permission from the Proprietor or his Agent, will be prosecuted, as the Law directs.

Squatters and Trespassers will pay particular attention to this notice.

JAMES FALLON, Proprietor,
Grenville, 27th August, 1844

Source: Bytown Gazette And Ottawa And Rideau Advertiser Vol. IX, No. 16, Thursday, October 24, 1844, page 3, column 2.

I`m sure that there are people out there who know more about this story and how it all worked out. Maybe some day we`ll find out. Maybe Parks Canada knows something about this.

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It’s that time again – the usual shuffles of staff among lock stations. Some   changes of note – Amy Roach is the Acting Lockmaster at Chaffey’s Lock, ably supported by Julie Lalonde-Savard. Dustin Bulloch is the Acting Lockmaster at Kingston Mills. Les Philp and Bill Glover have decided to retire.

Looks like being a “normal” season ahead – let’s hope that the weather is good and the tourists and boaters are numerous.

Here is the complete list.

2012 Lockstaff List

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Well, the start of a new season on the Rideau-so what’s new?

For those who may have heard of the short season being imposed this year, be philosophical. As the book tells the story, this has happened before in living memory. As a matter of fact, that great organization, the Friends of the Rideau, was born from the desire of those Rideau-philes and local settlers’ descendants to see the beloved canal preserved.

The whole thing is in the book !!

The Landscape Strategy is “rapidly” (a joke, son) creeping up on the same schedule, i.e., it may take as long to complete as it did to build the canal in the first place. And imagine if you will, that public input has been restricted, so that it can’t hamper progress ! It isn’t clear what the problems are that are causing the glacial pace, and we probably don’t want to know.

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I was given a Kindle for Christmas and have begun learning how to use it. I’ve been practicing on free ebooks from Gutenberg, which familiarizes me with how to use the thing, as well as getting to read some of the classics or even not-so-classic old books.

It got me thinking of doing an e-book on the Rideau. This at least has the merit (for me) of not involving printers) and lugging boxes of books around. Perhaps an historical fiction, based on real characters and real situations. Lots of examples out there and lots of free software to make it work.  I already have a few pages done and they work well (technically, not necessarily as great literature – no doubt that will come ) – yeah, right!

Onward and upward! Bastardi non carborumdum!

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Himself !!!

Well, it had to happen sooner or later, I suppose. My main computer crashed late last week, taking everything with it. Fortunately, I do have backups, on standby hard drives (2), DVDs (lots), and lately in the “cloud (Dropbox). So, I think that I’ll be OK when it gets back up.

Not being a true computer geek, it helps to have family members who are part of that fraternity (sorority?) – is there a gender-neutral “ity”? By dint of hours running AV programs, we discovered that there were at least two nasty viruses (viri?) which had managed to sneak in and wreak havoc. Not sure that we have them all out – as this is written on my laptop, the main computer is struggling to heal itself.

Don’t know if there is a moral to all this or not.

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Well, I’ve begun experimenting with using e-book software to produce something that could be read on a Kindle, or a Kobo or an iPad and downloaded from Amazon. Naturally the story will be based on what I’ve done so far, but there will be more new material worked into it.

I find it a little strange but it seems to work OK on something short – a couple of pages. I’ll try sticking in photos, but that doesn’t sound too difficult.

When I get a more complete story line developed, I may post it for comments. “Running it up the flag pole, etc.” sort of thing.

Why am I doing this, you may ask.

I was struck at the Boat Show by the number of young ( under 50-ish) people who were fascinated by the Rideau and who didn’t know the history, or had very strange ideas about what it was. These ideas were mostly about the “thousands” of canal workers killed by accident or malaria. I was told that an unmarked grave site had been found recently at Smiths Falls that contained about 1000 individuals, and my informant was certain that many would have been the canal construction workers. Incidentally, there is a fond belief on the part of some of those of Irish descent that they built the canal without help from any other nationality.

We may have convinced some people about what we now think are the facts, but I’m sure many walked away secure in their own beliefs. We tried to get people to read Ken Watson’s little book “Tales of the Rideau”, but they saw this as just outright attempts to confuse them, and to take their money (right about the last bit).

I’ve wondered whether a reprint of Leggett’s “The Rideau Waterway” would help, but I think that it’s likely better to try something new.

Of course, I’m probably wrong about wanting to clear things up – after all, no doubt a lot of what I know “for sure” is also wrong.

Sigh….

Off the soapbox and back to the keyboard.

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Himself !!!

Well, I was out at Read’s Book Shop in Carleton Place the other day, signing books and talking to people. I find it stimulating to meet readers, and to explain what has moved me to write about the Rideau Canal and the men and women who have kept it alive for almost 180 years.

In that light, the current government squeeze is depressingly familiar – that has been an invariable part of the history of the canal – “do more with less, charge more for less”. Pile on the bureaucracy, spout lofty inanities about the priceless heritage of Canadian parks, but don’t spend any money on it. Sigh …

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