Ottawa Lumber Kings — Alexander & Janet (Young) McDonell

December 6, 2014

Years ago Elaine sent me a newspaper from Chapeau and in that newspaper was a very interesting article about early settlers in the Chapeau and Chichester area.  Elaine would be interested in the Jewell Family and me, well I was interested in the MacDonnell Brothers that the article shared about.  Elaine is the author of the book about the deaths and burials of the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Chapeau and a Burns descendant.

Early Settlers...

Early Settlers…

This article mentions MacDonnell brothers who had settled at Sand Point and I became curious.  In the article above it mentions Alexander MacDonnell at Sand Point, Colin at Birchell’s du Fort*, Rory on Calumet Island and John on Allumette Island.

So in 2012, I drove into Arnprior through all the construction and found my way to the Archives which are in the basement of the public library in the middle of town. Here is the post I wrote.

Arnprior, Renfrew County, Ontario: Archives,”June 15, 2012.

After I spent several hours gathering information, I headed out and visited the Albert Street Cemetery which over a few blocks towards the Ottawa River.  This is where Alexander and Janet (Young) MacDonell were buried. On his tombstone the name is spelled McDonell.

Arnprior: Albert Street Cemetery!” June 15, 2012

Arnprior-Braeside Archives: http://www.adarchives.org/index.html

I have learned that this cemetery may have been called “Inchbuie” cemetery in the past.

To find the graves in this cemetery you can go to the website of the Grave Marker Gallery for Ontario select Eastern Ontario then Renfrew County, and then scroll down to McNab and Braeside for those cemeteries and further for the Town of Arnprior  which has pictures for the Albert Street Cemetery and click on Block A.

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~murrayp/renfrew/index.htm

Duncan Darby MacDonald in his Book of Charts Part IV, Chart 13 the Lundie MacDonells has the brothers listed in the above article as sons of the Alexander and Janet MacDonell (1754 to 1847 both lifespans) who are buried in the St. Alexandre De Chenaux Cemetery in Clarendon Twp., Pontiac Co., Quebec that I posted about in the previous post on this blog!

To find this cemetery you need to go the Grave Marker website choose Quebec, then Pontiac and then scroll down to Clarendon Twp. which is across from Sand Point on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cangmg/quebec/pontiac/index.htm

Here is the source information for Duncan D. MacDonald’s book of genealogical charts.

Source: A collection of genealogical charts  Part-IV, 3rd Edition, ISBN O-921133-39-1.  Much of the earlier work done by Daniel F. McDonald of Bristol, Conn and other members of his family at Bridgend (Stone Villa) Lancaster.  A second edition was published in 1988 and the 3rd in 1993.  FHL#971.37 D2, book only.  

There are 15 pages for Chart 13.  I refer to Chart 13, Sheet – 3 page 724, Sheet 3-A page 725, Sheet 3-B page 726, Sheet 3-C page 727 Ancestors and Descendants of Alexander & Janet MacDonell, Sheet 3-D page 728, Sheet 3-E, page 729.

In these pages Duncan has pictures of Alexander’s home in Sand Point. I have seen the beautiful brick house up against a hill overlooking the Ottawa River and was surprised it was set back so far.  Duncan further shares about Alexander’s businesses with photos and more stories.

Ottawa Region - Canadian Government

Ottawa Region – Canadian Government

The above map is the best I can do to capture the Ottawa River and the area we are talking about. Click on it and it will get larger.  You can find Sand Point at the bottom right, Sheenboro is at the top left behind the blue control which does not work on this map because it is a jpg.  If you look hard enough you can find Calumet Island by finding Bryson on the Quebec side and go northwest. Allumette Island find Chapeau and Pembroke.  This is a topo from the Canadian Government website.

These MacDonnell brothers were called the Otttawa River MacDonnells or Lumber Kings of the Ottawa River at Sand Point.

Once again we get variations in the spelling of the surname depending on the author: MacDonell, MacDonnell, and McDonnell so be aware.

Alexander MacDonnell who married Janet Young and settled at Sand Point (Renfrew County) is referred to as the King of the Four Rivers:

He would bring the lumber down these rivers to the Ottawa River or he did a great deal of exploring of the area and rivers for lumber. This Alexander and Janet are buried in the Albert Street Cemetery in Arnprior, Ontario (1795 to 1896 both lifespans).

According to Duncan Darby MacDonald his Chart 13, Sheet 3-A page 725 he writes:

“Of the 11 brothers 6 are reported to have gone to make their mark on the “Ottawa.””  

So Alexander and Janet MacDonell natives of Knoydart, Scotland (Inverness) had the following children according to Sheets 3 and 3-A, Chart 13, Part IV. There are differences between the two sheets like the order of the children.

Children:

  1. **Archibald, m. Anna MacMillan sheet 3-B, Chart 13
  2. Hugh m. Margaret MacLean, Chart 168, Sheets 4-12 also Chart 13, sheet 3.
  3. **Angus Mor had a son James.
  4. Ronald (drowned) – He is the one buried with them in St. Alexandre Cemetery but remember there are only 3 identified burials out of a possible 100, lost.
  5. Dougald
  6. Little Alexander – This might be Alexander Roderick who died in 1851 and is buried in the family plot of the Albert Street Cemetery?
  7. **James m. Christine MacDonald, see sheet 3 of Chart 13
  8. Rory
  9. John – see sheet 3-C and 3-E of Chart 13 Calumet and Allumette Islands. This would be the John who married Flora McKinnon and then Flora McLellan. Flora McLellan and John MacDonell were the parents of Janet who married Ronald/Ranald son of Alexander John MacDonell and Ellen McPherson see sheet 5, Chart 13 page 734.  This is the chart I dispute in my post dated November 6, 2014 of this blog regarding the parentage of Mary married to Archibald.
  10. Sam – Portage du Fort
  11. Coll of Colin – 1000 acres at *Birch’s Creek, Quebec of Les Chats
  12. Penelope m. Dr. John Judge – First doctor in Pembroke, see sheet 3
  13. Alexander and (Agnes) Janet Young – Big Alex – see sheets 3, 3-A, 3-C King of the Four rivers, buried in Arnprior.
**Angus, Archie and James stayed in the Glengarry area of Ontario per the sources I have. On another source a Mary and Janet are listed – total of 15 children?
The order of the children is also different based on the 1815 emigration information at this website:  French, Scottish, Irish, German and English families of James and Deborah McDonald:  http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=ranaldthecalf&id=I17291

There is disagreement as to how many sons there actually where, some believe there were 12; you can see that I have 13 children listed.

When I visited Arnprior in 2012, I collected articles about this Alexander MacDonnell who settled at Sand Point (above Arnprior) on the Ottawa River.

Source: History of Early Ottawa, from the Ottawa Journal dated Saturday, February 7, 1925, by a H.R. Morgan. Copied from a newspaper article in the files of the Arnprior & District Museum by James E. Isbester, 1987. About nine typed pages of which I only copied some.  

Sand Point – vanished and all but forgotten is the prominence which it enjoyed at the time when it was the western terminus of the Canada Central and Brockville and Ottawa Railroads, when it was the gateway to the Upper Ottawa region and when practically all the trade and traffic destined for that area passed through its depots and warehouses.”

Alexander McDonell and the family to which he belonged…where fishermen in their native Scotland…they emigrated in 1815 and established themselves in the Township of Drummond, not far from Perth. After the lapse of a few years, the great portion of the family left that neighborhood and betook themselves to Glengarry…whence the final move to Sand Point was made by six of the sons and two the daughters.

Alexander apparently did not take at all kindly to the primitive method of agriculture which obtained in Drummond and at an early age entered the lumbering trade upon the river Trent, when he drifted to the Ottawa. There he gained further experience and carried on a great deal of exploration. Perth was at this period the commercial metropolis of the district, and it was upon his visits to that town that he fell in with Chief McNab and the latter’s suggestion about the year 1824, accompanied him as guide upon his trip to the Ottawa to choose a site for his memorable colony of Highlanders.  This is not the Township of McNab.  http://clan-macnab.com/the-notorious-chief/

Entering the lumbering trade:

It was not long after this that Alexander McDonell embarked upon lumber in his own behalf and his first raft of red pine timber was made from trees cut down immediately in rear of the place which he had decided upon as his future abode. This was Sand Point where he cleared a farm, built a dwelling house and remained until the time of his death. 

This article goes on to describes his interactions with the Indians and the Hudson’s Bay Company to bring timber down the Bonnechere. His exploration of the rivers in the area. The article states the government introduced timber licensing and in 1826-27 McDonell made the first raft of red pine timber ever taken from Mud Lake upon the Bonnechere.

In 1830, in Montreal, Mr. McDonell was married to Miss Janet Young, sister of the Hon. John Young, and not long afterwards a new house was built. 

Here is another source I found that has some interesting information:

Source:  Sand Point, Ontario c. 1824 to 1994, by Dalton Appleby 6/4/1994. Not sure how many pages for this manuscript but it may be a good 10. I copied some but not all. 

What is presented here is a brief summary of the above source found at the Arnprior-Braeside Archives in Arnprior which is fairly detailed.

The village of Sand Point, is situated six miles west of Arnprior, at Concession XIII, Lots 18 & 19 in the Township of McNab, Renfrew County. It is on the south shore of Chats Lake on the mighty Ottawa River.

It got its beginning, long before roads, railways and telephones existed west of Ottawa, in the 1820’s. Alexander MacDonnell a Scotsman from Glengarry County, Ontario chose the location as his headquarters for exploring timber rights in the area. 

MacDonnell House in Sand Point

MacDonnell House in Sand Point

He built a temporary headquarters and later built a permanent complex on higher ground above the wharf in the 1850s. It consisted of a commercial, residential, entertainment complex (Chats Lake House), a long narrow office building and a large prestigious looking residence for himself, all faced with limestone blocks. The arrival of the railroad in the 1860s gave a tremendous boost to the expansion of the area.  It included boarding houses, a hotel, a school, two churches, two cemeteries, two grocery stores, a dairy, a stave factory, a powder factory, a limekiln, a shipyard, tenements, a cement ferry dock… 

MacDonnell donated the land for the Catholic church, the public school, the Presbyterian Church and no doubt other structures. 

34 The Youngs, of Montreal Harbour fame, and the MacDonnells were related by marriage. Alexander married Janet Young. Alexander entice the Youngs to come to Sand Point to help him to develop the village. 

35 MacDonnell enticed the McDonalds from Glengarry County, related by marriage to come and run his commercial enterprise in the 1860s. Catholic Scotsman Ronald McDonald, his wife Penelope and their two children Flora Ann born in 1859 and John Ronald (John R.) born in 1860 arrived in Sand Point some time after the children were born and before the 1871 census which lists them in McNab Township. They came from Lochiel, Glengarry Co,, Ontario. Ronald was born in Inverness Shire, Scotland in 1814 or 15….

John R. sister Flora married John Brennan and lived in the MacDonnell house. John R. married Ellen Toner of Portage Du Fort in the 90s. Her father Captain Toner used to doc at the wooden wharf…Ellen and John R. had at least five children: Patsy, Claire, Vita and Flora.

MacDonnell-McDonald Family tree

MacDonnell Tree

MacDonnell Tree

There is so much more about this man’s business interests and family in the sources above but not a lot about his family connections.

From the above sources there are a lot of places to start doing research on this family. Also, to widen the net of your research by expanding the geography of your search. Montreal is mentioned for the marriage and the Youngs apparently were prominent, The last article describes census for 1851, 1871, 1881, 1901 for McNab Township which might be interesting to take a look at. Of course petitions and land records for Renfrew and Pontiac (Quebec notaries).

Mr. MacDonald’s charts point to Beckwith and Drummond Twps. in Lanark, formerly the Bathhurst District and one could go back even further in the records of the area, if they exist?

My curiosity has been satisfied.  I was interested in this Lumber King Alexander MacDonell’s family connections. It seems I have at least found some sources that can lead to more research.

Keeping all this in mind, my interest now returns to my family and the origins of Alexander John MacDonell and Ellen McPherson and their daughter Mary who married Archibald MacDonell.  So I will be studying Chart 13, Sheet 5, Part IV quite a lot and disputing Mr. MacDonald’s lineages as necessary.

*Birchell Du Fort – where is this location in the Ottawa area? If you know please help me out and leave a comment.  It might have something to do with Chats Lake a part of the Ottawa River between Sand Point and Ottawa City?  Another variation on Mr. MacDonald’s chart was Birch’s Creek Les Chats Quebec.  Modern maps are not helping.

St-Alexandre Des Chenaux RC Cemetery…Clarendon Twp.

November 21, 2014
St. Alexandre Cemetery

St. Alexandre Cemetery

One of the notes on Duncan D. MacDonald’s charts about Alexander McDonell and Janet caught my eye before I headed out on my trip to Canada in September 2014.  He wrote that they were buried in Stark’s Corner.  It was on Sheet 2-A, Chart 13 of his Part IV Collection of charts book.

I was at the Quebec Family History Society in Pointe-Claire, Quebec looking at their cemetery records for Pontiac County, Quebec and the volunteer pulled this three page typed paper and I got real excited.  This society has a great collection of cemetery records for Quebec.

I have been all over the Stark’s Corner Cemetery records at the Ontario Genealogical Society and also at the Quebec Family History Society and there is no record of any McD’s in this cemetery located in Clarendon Twp., Pontiac Co., Quebec.  This is also not a Catholic cemetery.

Source: Stark’s Corner Community Cemetery, including Stark Family Cemetery, Stark’s Corner United Church Cemetery also known as Stark’s Corner’s Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Recorded August 1991 by Robbie Gorr, Lot 20 A Range 3.  

Here is the link to the Grave Marker Gallery for Starks Corner with tombstone pictures.  There are no McD’s listed.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cangmg/quebec/pontiac/clarendo/starksco/index.htm

Well…when the volunteer at the Quebec Family History Society pulled this manuscript, I knew it was Alexander and Janet…

Source:  St-Alexandre Des Chenaux Roman Catholic Cemetery (also known as Ste-Melanie de Clarendon Roman Catholic Cemetery). Lot 24, Range 1, Clarendon Twp., Recorded May 1992 by Robbie Gorr.  The title is: The Lone Sentinel of the Past:

Try the Grave Marker Gallery for photos:

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cangmg/quebec/pontiac/clarendo/stalexan/index.htm

This is a story of neglect and abandonment.  This cemetery was abandoned and subsequent owners have plowed up the area.  It is estimated that 100 wooden crosses were once there.  There is now only this one lone sentinel, obelisk left. As far as the article indicates there are no records.  The chapel that was there did burn down but the article states that a transfer of the church and cemetery to Portage Du Fort occurred, and Hwy 303 was built bypassing the area.

These are the grandparents of Janet, who married Ronald son of Alexander John McDonell and Ellen McPherson.  This is the Lundie McDonald connection.

The east side reads of the tall stone reads:

Alex McDonell died Jan. 1, 1842 AE 88 Yrs

his wife Janet died Jan. 14, 1847 AE 84 yrs.

The south side reads:

Their Son Ranald drowned July 18, 1854 AE 68 yrs. 

This article reads:

In 1840 Alexander McDonell donated an eight acre plot of land for a Roman Catholic Chapel and cemetery to be built, the nearest at that time being at Calumet Island.”

The mission of Ste-Melanie continued to be served by the incumbents of Calumet until 1854 when Father Bouvier completed the construction of the stone church…at Portage Du Fort and opened a new cemetery. The log chapel and cemetery at Clarendon were abandoned…The chapel is said to have burned down…”

“When the chapel (finally) was built, it was alongside the road which ran from Aylmer to Portage Du Fort. That road was abandoned in favour of the present Highwy 303 which runs between Portage du Fort and Shawville, nearly a mile to the north of the chapel site, thus making the cemetery a long distance from any public road, out of sight from passerby and inaccessible on private land with the permission of the owners.

Another comment made in the article is the name was changed because of another St. Alexandre cemetery at Sandpoint?

I followed out one of the sources listed:

Lone Sentinel of the Past” by S. Wyman MacKechnie from Ottawa Branch News, Volume XIII, Numbr 1, January-February 1980.”

It is of course the magazine of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.  Family History Library had copies and I found the article in a very tightly bounded volume, FHL Book 971-384 D25o V. 13, No. 1, Jan/Feb 1980.  This is a reprint from the Shawville Equity, September 28, 1977 with minor changes by the author.

I found it interesting that in this version the Ottawa Branch News, it was a brother-in-law of Alexander’s that pooled his land with Alexander for the purpose of the chapel and cemetery, not just Alexander donating land as the 3 page manuscript suggests.  This individual received the land from his services in the Battle of Waterloo.  I would like to see the Shawville Equity Article just to see what was really written.

In 2012, when I was touring the Upper Ottawa area and driving from Renfrew city to Portage Du Fort to Shawville, I went right by there on Hwy 303 several times and could have sought out this tombstone. I was trying to identify cemeteries with McD’s in them in the area and I was all over the internet and cemetery books but this one I missed.  I have realized since I came home and did my 2nd tour of Canada that I did not extend my searches wide enough but then I didn’t have a lot of time.

Here are the other sources in the article and I have not been able to find online versions probably due to copyright:

Highways of Destiny, A History of the Diocese of Pembroke, Ottawa Valley Canada, by Rev. Wm. C. O’Dwyer, 1964.

Clarendon and Shawville, by J. Lloyd Armstrong, Dickson Enterprises, Shawville, 1980.

Lift Up Your Hearts, A History of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pembroke, by Rev. Joseph C. Legree, 1988.

If anyone knows this cemetery, has photos and is willing to share, please contact me and leave a comment


The Pontiac Archives, Shawville, Quebec – One more Time!

June 14, 2012

Another view of the water tower – Timmy’s is everywhere

I began my day driving through Renfrew for it was time to head up to Pembroke after I finished up with the Pontiac Archives.  I wanted to explore the Quebec side of the Ottawa River on my way up north.

Renfrew’s Clock Tower – City Hall

I was now familiar with Bruce Road which stops at the light right by the Rocky Mountain House in downtown Renfrew.  I decided to end my stay in Renfrew by having breakfast there.  I had dinner the night of my tour of Allumette Island, Chichester and Sheen.  It has all knotty wood paneling inside.  Someone had placed figurines on the chandelier in the middle of the dining room area. I thought that was funny.  It was very homey and the food was good:  http://www.therockymountainhouse.com/ 

Storyland Road was not to hard to find and I was at the Portage Du Fort bridge:

More of the bridge to Portage Du Fort

The dam and power structures – Portage Du Fort

The drive to Shawville is lovely. 

One of many farms near Shawville

I was back at the Pontiac Archives and dug into the genealogies, this time focusing on collateral lines:  Poupore, LaCour/LeCour/Tebeau/Record/Ricard, Williams, Moor/Moore, Perrault, Leahy, Downey, Malone, Murphy, Burns, McPherson, Welch/Walsh, Frazer, Kennedy, Butler, Ryan, Ferguson, Sauvé and others.  These are the families that married into my great-grandparents Archie and Mary McDonell’s siblings families.  There was not as much information as I had hoped and not as far back in time that I had wanted.  I was looking at 1850 to 1901.

The Pontiac Archives is in Shawville which locates it further south in Pontiac and I have noticed that there is a concentration of documentation, histories and more from Fort Coulonge to Gatineau.  For some reason the upper Pontiac is less emphasized.  Why is that?

A REQUEST:  If you have ancestors who settled in Pontiac Counties please take a few minutes and print off or create a file that you can attached and send to the Pontiac Archives via their email or by mail.  Here again is their link:  http://www.pontiacarchives.org/  Don’t think that the Internet is the only way to spread the news about your family.  People are so impacted with information and lack of time they don’t always have that choice to be on the internet all the time or they don’t have that kind of access due to money concerns. 

Please send and or give them your family histories, I did!

I finished up at the Pontiac Archives and said my thanks you and goodbyes!  I was glad I had visited.

There was another restaurant and pub to the left of the library as you exit the front door that had a deck. It was on Rue Main.  I decided to try that for a different experience and it was great. Entering it through their door was a little odd. I cannot remember the name and I can’t find it online.  It had comfort food as well as a bar in the middle of the very long room.  I had worried about food but I can guarantee you will be able to get a good meal in Shawville. 

Here are a few more photographs of Shawville for your enjoyment.

Hotel de Ville – Shawville

After quieting my tummy, I headed up Hwy 148 (301).  This highway is wonderful.  It is a two lane road but it is in great condition.  I had no problems with driving along it.  Now that I know this, I can advise that if you want to stay somewhere other than Renfrew and drive to Shawville to do research at the Pontiac Archives you can do so without a problem.  The distance and weather might be a factor but the road is great.  Crossing the Ottawa can be done at Waltham, Portage Du Fort and at Qyugon you can take a ferry, otherwise you do have to come from Gatineau northwest or south from Waltham.  Hwy 148 follows the Ottawa River and if I had more time I would have done the whole tour.  Hwy 148 seems to end when it meets Hwy 40 near Pembroke after crossing Allumette Island.

Try this link for a very interesting information about road trips for the Outaouais area – the Quebec side.  You will have to do a little digging to find the various specific road trips for Outaouais:  http://outaouais.quebecheritageweb.com/attractions-and-tours  They are an online magazine of articles formation about the history of the towns, sites and more along the Ottawa (Outaouais) River and some photos.  I was very happy to find this website. 

Because of the time constraints I headed up to Campbell’s Bay to go to the Palais de Justice for Pontiac County (County courthouse).  It was open in the morning 9-12 and afternoon from 1-4 pm M-F and I had to get there quickly.  I figured I could double back to tour a little of Calumet Island after my visit to the Palais.  This website has the information about Quebec’s courts:  http://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/francais/joindre/palais/cartes/campb-carte.htm

Palais de Justice, Campbell’s Bay – Rue John

My goal was to obtain printouts of the land lots that I had identified for several of my ancestors:  Archie, John his brother, and others that I suspected of being related. 

It was a little confusing to figure out which room to go to because I was finally hit with French as the only language. As you enter the building on your left there is sign that has the word “Ligne” in it and that is where I went to get these printouts.

The location board in the Palais de Justice Campbell’s Bay

The office were you obtain the land lot histories

The clerk was very nice and of course she started speaking in French till she realized I did not.  I had taken the time to write everything down so that she could just use my list.  We settled on the price of $4.00 for each printout and I asked for several.  She headed out instructing me to wait in the lobby and disappeared for about 15 minutes.  She came back with a stack and told me the last one didn’t exist.  My lousy handwriting made it look like another number so I corrected that and she kindly obtained the copy for me and didn’t charge me. 

Sigh!  This is where I made a big mistake.  I did not review the papers at that time.  I paid my money and asked her about accessing these documents and she said that I could do so online because that was were all the land records were.  It was not till much later that I studied them only to find out that they went back and stopped at early 1900.  I had thought I would get the lot history all the way back to the beginning circa 1850.  So they were all 1900 and to the present and only one showed me anything of value.  I was very disappointed and mostly frustrated.  I was hoping it would give me some information about Archibald’s early years. 

DO NOT DO WHAT I DID!  CHECK THE PRINTOUTS before you leave.  I am told that there was a fire in Hull in 1900 and that destroyed things?  I do not know how this affected the records for Pontiac County?  The online source for the land records may not go back far enough.  I don’t know?  I am still trying to figure out Quebec land records.  More on this topic in a later post. 

I did learn and confirm that the land records printouts are at this location or  all are online at the link given below.  I can access them even though I am a USA citizen.  She told me that they charge like a $1.00 so you do have to use a credit card to sign up to use the online system, but it is only for verification.  That was encouraging.  I knew about this website but hesitated to sign up.  I think I will take the plunge when I get home and see what I find.

I have tried to type this exactly as it was written on the summary sheet she gave to me. 

Pour toute information supplémentair, communiquez avec:

Service d’assistance â la clientéle de Foncier Québec: lundi, mardi, jeudi et vendredi, de 8h30 à 16h30 (mercredi de 10h à 16h30)  Téléphone: (418) 643-3582 Région de la Capital-Nationale 1-866-226-0977 Sans frais au Québec, en Ontario et au Nouveau-Brunswick.  Couriel: assistance.clientele@mrnf.foncierquebec.gouv.qc.ca

The clerk also gave me this url to go to. 

https://www.registrefoncier.gouv.qc.ca/Sirf/Script/14_06_01-02/pf_14_06_01_reglr.asp

The area along Rue Front in Campbell’s Bay has a parking lot right on the Ottawa River.  Actually I think that was what was distracting me and I was becoming very tired.  I love rivers and the Ottawa is as fascinating as others I have seen and especially because it was a big part of my great parents Archie and Mary McDonell’s lives and my grandfather Ronald’s, he grew up along its shores. 

I pulled my car into this parking area on Rue Front  and dallied enjoying the view. 

The Ottawa (Outaouais) River looking north

The Ottawa River (Outaouais) looking toward Calumet Island

There was a church across the street on Rue Front:

A Church in Campbell’s Bay – Rue Front Street


The Pontiac Archives, Shawville, Quebec

June 13, 2012

It was Tuesday, May 22, 2012 and this was the day I had looked forward to for a long time.  I have been wanting to  visit the Pontiac Archives in Shawville since I knew of their existence.  I was driving from Renfrew to Shawville via Portage Du Fort.  So I would be exploring the area on both sides of the Ottawa river and also learning about the treasures in this archive.

The Best Western was not offering a free breakfast like advertised on the website. I was a little unhappy about that for I had booked with them for this very reason?  So I went into Renfrew on O’Brien Road and came to the Flamingo Restaurant at about 8th.  They had an easy access and big parking lot.  Apparently they have not been rated well online, yet, I had a friendly waitress and a lovely breakfast that day.  I think I was amused by the name and the pink color of the building.  When I travel I like sit down restaurants where I am served or I can get my meal without too much of a hassle. 

Flamingo Restaurant, O’Brien Road

On the way up to Pembroke the day before, I had noticed Storyland Road and knew that was where I needed to turn to take the highway across the bridges to Portage Du Fort.  You can also go via Hwy 653 the Chenaux Road which Storyland meets up with.  When I did come to Hwy 653 I turned right and follow it to Hwy 301.

I had passed Storyland which was not yet opened for the season.  It is tucked into the forest on the left. It is a family theme park.  Here is there brochure:  

http://storyland.ca/photos/photo-archive/StorylandBrochure10.pdf 

There are some very nice views of the area from this road especially where you come to Riverside Road.  You can see across to the Quebec side.  Trying to find an elevated spot from which to view the Ottawa River is not an easy task.  If anyone has some suggestions that would be very nice for others. 

Looking east towards Quebec

The bridge to Portage Du Fort is very different from the one to Allumette Island.  The cars drive considerably slower and you get to enjoy the view.  You are driving across a dam or a series of dams and it gets a little tight in a few places for it is a two lane highway.   There are all these interesting green power structures in various configurations.  My husband who loves electricity would have been in heaven.  

Looking north toward the Ottawa

  

One of the dams across the Ottawa, Portage Du Fort

Once across these dams you come to Portage Du Fort.  You make your way passed the church and turn left onto Hwy 303 and head up past the St. James the Great Roman Catholic Cemetery.  It is  just as you climb a little hill and go almost around the corner and all of a sudden it is there so keep an eye out.

The Welcome Sign – Portage Du Fort

Portage Du Fort – A Church? on the Rue De L’Eglise N.

Here are some overview pictures of the cemetery:

St. James RC Cemetery? I hope?

More of the cemetery in Portage Du Fort

At first I thought the fields stretching out before me as I was driving along were lovely white flowers like clover, but when I looked closer I saw that they were hundreds of Dandelions gone to seed spreading out before me.  It was very pretty as long as you didn’t think about all those spores being introduced into the air.  My husband would have gone crazy! 

You travel along Hwy 303 till you come to Hwy 148 and turn right and Shawville is only about 2 kilometres to the south of this turn.  Here is a video by Duffy about a Trip to Shawville:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sxuBCkO6HM  It is very close to what I did up until he leaves Portage Du Fort.  There are some videos on YouTube about Shawville just make sure you choose Shawville, Quebec.  I found that accessing Google Images was a great way to get some pictures of an area and to orient myself before I went on this trip. 

I followed the lead of the car before and was soon on Rue Centre in Shawville.  It was not easy to spot the turn into the town of Shawville.  It was between some buildings in this shopping area along the highway. 

I found the Pontiac Archives in the Library building.  It was down from the main intersection on the south side of Rue Main in the library or more appropriately, bibliotheque.  I parked on the northern side of Rue Main and walked back to the archive.

Shawville Library, The Pontiac Archives are in this building in the basement

The Pontiac Archives is the repository for all things about Pontiac County, Quebec such as town records, genealogies, local history books, newspapers, maps, church and cemetery records, tax valuations back to 1857, and more. This is their website:  http://www.pontiacarchives.org/

This archive is cared for by a friendly group of volunteers: Elsie, Dorcas, Venetia, Margaret, Gwen and more.  They were very helpful and set about trying to find me information.  I gave them a booklet that was a condensed version of this blog about my McDonald family and the areas that were specific to Pontiac County and also Glengarry County where I think they came from.  It was enough to show where the family migrated to.  It will become part of their current collection.  Blogs are living breathing entities so more information will be added as time goes by but I think what I submitted to them will be good for quite a while and I did reference the blog url.

The main work area of the Pontiac Archives

Café 439 was across the street and it was delightful very nicely decorated. http://www.cafe349.com/en/home.html I had an egg salad sandwich and tea.  The waitresses would take orders in either English or French switching between the two languages with ease.  I live on the west coast of the USA so we do not hear French that often.  This was my first introduction to the real presence of the French language, besides the Quebec road signs.  I know… just indulge me please.  

Cafe 349

The rest of the afternoon I continued to study the Pontiac Archives holdings. Visitors were coming in and out throughout the day.  They do have a finding aid for their holdings that is placed on a small table in the middle of the main work room.  In the back is the microfilm and computer area in another small room.  They have a lunch room toward the front of the area.  So they are nicely set up.  The stairs are little steep but I think there is another access in the back of the area where the washrooms are located. 

More treasures of the Pontiac Archives in thru the door. That room has restrictions on access, just ask!

Venetia Crawford is a local historian, author and impersonator.  She is a volunteer at the archives.  She told me that she had tried view the remains of the Culbute Canal but the trail had lots of nettles and she decided that you would have to get a boat to go to the location of those parts that are still visiable.  My great-grandfather Archibald McDonell was the lockmaster for the Culbute Canal.  I have posted about his involvement with the Culbute Canal in the past on this blog.  This canal is in the channel between Allumette Island and Chichester Township (municipality).  It was abandoned in 1891 which was the last year that Archie had written he was lockmaster on the Canadian Census.  I was reading that there might have been a fire that caused some destruction in 1889. 

Venetia also pulled the municipal township maps which showed all the lots and number for Sheen, Chichester and Allumette.  This made it easy to identify where the lots for Archibald and John are located and hopefully more as I dig in deeper on the land records of the area.

I spent most of my time searching their files for genealogies and obituaries to see if I could find that one piece of information that would link my family to another and point back to Glengarry County.  I may not have been successful but I feel I learned a lot about what was available and what was not.  Of course, I have to review all my findings from this trip and you never know what I may have discovered. 

There had local histories and I studied the ones for Allumette Island and Sheen, mostly.  When they publish a book in this part of Quebec they have to write paragraphs or sections in French and then repeat them in English.  That was very helpful.  That is not always the case for some books are in French only. 

My day at the Pontiac Archives was coming to a close and I was ready to head back to Renfrew.  So I returned the way I came north on Hwy 148 to 303 and through Portage Du Fort.  I stopped at the park where there is a war memorial and a little lake.  There is a restaurant across the street if you are inclined. 

Portage Du Fort honors its military

A big beautiful house in Portage Du Fort

I decided to return to Renfrew.  I had discovered that I could exit into Renfrew by using Bruce Street which is north of the city and winds its way into town passing the St. Francis Xavier Cemetery where Father Joseph E. Et. Arthur Gravelle had been the priest for a number of years.  His fonds s are at the National Archives of Canada and here is a link to a finding aid: MG25-G 271, Finding Aid No. 1180.  He was an avid genealogist and kept records about the pioneers and families in the area of Renfrew and beyond, so you might want to check the contents at the link I provided. 

Time to get ready for the second day of research at the Pontiac Archives.

Portage Du Forts – Palais du Justice (City Hall)


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