Archibald McDonell as Culbute Lock Master

Miriam, Archie’s granddaughter, wrote the following in her notes:

Archie the Lock Master

As you can see Miriam misspelled the name of the locks and that caused a bit of a problem.  Still she was on the right track.  It is spelled formally: Chenal de la Culbute.

Unfortunately the Archives in Ottawa did not know anything about these locks which are in the Ottawa River a little north of the Island of Allumette. 

Apparently the locks were built about 1870  and were in service in the area from that time to around 1894.  There appears to be some confusion as to when they were actually abandoned.  

The exciting news is that Keith’s grandfather Archibald is featured in a book as the Lock Master:

Source:  The Upper Ottawa Valley, by Clyde C. Kennedy, Renfrew County Council, Pembroke, Ontario, pg. 137-139, 1970 FHL Book#971.38 H2 (This is a book at the FHL and is not on microfilm.)

Culbute Locks:  “Dredging the shoals along the channel was completed in 1883, but in 1886 Archibald McDonell, Lock Tender, was writing in his report; “Last fall after water got low it was almost impossible to open them (the gates) then it took about half a day to get them opened.”  The inevitable decay and distortion of the timber structures had become serious and the end was in sight for the Culbute Canal.  The steam railways had extended into the Ottawa Valley and the steamboats were losing their importance, except for sight-seeing excursions (the tourist business began years earlier) and for towing booms along the great widenings of the Ottawa where the current was imperceptible.  Archibald McDonell reported for 1885 only 20 passages of the canal by steamers, six by scows and six by row boats.  The structures “…are rapidly becoming so completely decayed as to render some wholesale substitution for them inevitable,” wrote D. Stark, Superintending Engineer, Ottawa River Canals, Ottawa, in 1888.  “The expense of keeping them (the locks) in repair is annually becoming greater, and if they are to be maintained in existence at all, their replacement by structures of stone becomes the only practical mode of dealing with them.  The Culbute Locks were abandoned to the forces of the river and Nature’s wood-rotting agents in the fall of 1889 and only the excavations and relatively small portions of the timbers remain to indicate the changes that were made to the highway of the voyageurs.”

There appears to be more information on the Internet these days about the different locks that were constructed and used during this time frame including the Culbute Locks.

If anyone has additional information about the Culbute Locks and photographs I would be most grateful if they would be willing to share?

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