Touring the Upper Ottawa River: Pontiac County, Quebec – Allumette Island and Chapeau

May 27, 2012

My tour on Monday, May 21, 2012 continues.  I headed east back out of Pembroke turning onto Hwy 148 east of the town by the Esso gas station.

There are three bridges that take you to Allumette Island and cross over Cotnam and Morrison Islands. The first is under going repair so there is a stop light that monitors the traffic.  The second comes quickly and you are then greeted by a big blue sign welcoming you to Quebec.  If you decide to take photos of the bridge, be careful for the auto’s speed along and don’t wait for anyone and there is not much space along the highway to walk safely.  Each bridge gives you different views of the Ottawa River.

Welcome to Quebec

The Ottawa off the 2nd bridge to Allumette Island

The next bridge is the one that finally places you on Allumette Island but the sign reads instead:  L’Isle-aux-Allumettes (below on the map it reads lle des Allumettes – there is a ˆ over the l.)

The Big Sign

The small sign for Allumette Island

Just beyond the sign is a grocery store and other businesses including a gas station and restaurant. It was very busy at this store and it was open even on the holiday.  I found a map titled  Outaouais/Gatineau which gives more detail. They feature cities on the Quebec side but not the towns I am interested in.  The Renfrew County Ontario side is on the map but some it blotted out.  It goes all the way to Hawkesbury, Ontario but emphasizes the Quebec side.  It is very interesting to me that they only feature certain communities.  Apparently when you are too small you don’t get mentioned?

Get your supplies here!

Hwy 148 travels up the eastern side of the island to Waltham and another bridge.  I turned at Ch. de Pembroke and headed for Chapeau 12 kilometres on the north side of the island.  It curves around and you are pretty much in the center of the island. Farms and fields stretch out on both sides of the highway and it is flat. First is the Dejardinsville sign which you can turn left and go exploring but I continued on to Demers Centre which is four corners filled with mostly lovely homes and at least one business.  I guess they call them hamlets?

The next stop for me was the what is called the new St. Alphonse Cemetery on the right side of the road. easily to spot but you do have to turn quickly or you can miss the entrance.  You can pull in through the gate/sign and drive through part of the cemetery. It was well-kept.

St. Alphonsus Cemetery

New St. Alphonse Cemetery overview

UPDATE 7/09/2012:  Here are additional overview photographs of this cemetery.

 

St. Alphonsus Cemetery (new)

During my trip I will stop at various cemeteries and take overview pictures of them.  There are websites that you can go to and get photos and listings of the tombstones and those buried there, as well as publications.  When I return from this trip I will post more photos and information about each cemetery that I did visit.

The journey continued to Chapeau which was very exciting for me.  As you enter Chapeau you will see their fairgrounds to the right.

Chapeau Fair

Chapeau is actually two levels, so when you come from the south you come to the upper level where the municipal building is located on Notre-Dame street and the catholic church, St. Alphonse is situated on Ch. St. Jacques with the library behind the church.  If you continue on Ch. Pembroke you drop down to the lower area next to the river and can cross the bridge to Chichester Township.

My first stop was the St. Alphonse Catholic Church where I dallied a while taking pictures of the church and the cemetery which is behind the church and over a block.  The church is very difficult to photograph because there is limited room to back up (cliff) and the spire is so tall so that is why this photo looks slightly distorted.

St. Alphonse Catholic Church

There is a green park area next to the church and it has their war memorial.

Chapeau’s War Memorial

Crossing the bridge to Chichester is a little less scary than the crossing from Pembroke to the island.  I was able to stop and take pictures and not fear for my life.  The Chenal de la Culbute is part of the Ottawa River which splits and circles the island with the major portion of the river flowing along the west and southern part of the island, while the northern part is the Chenal de la Culbute.

The Chenal de la Culbute to the east

Chenal de la Culbute – looking west

This was very exciting for me because my great-grandfather Archibald McDonell was the locks master.  The locks were operated from about 1870 to 1891.  The history books and articles keep changing the date when it was abandoned.  Archibald is listed as the lockmaster in the Canadian census for 1891 so I tend to think he was still involved at that date.  It was made of wood so a lot has rottened away.  I tried to figure out its location but failed.  I was told by a volunteer at the Pontiac Archives in Shawville that you would have to go to the remains by boat.

So I put out a challenge to someone who knows where the remains of the locks are in the Chenal de la Culbute and would be willing to take pictures for me.  Just leave a comment if you wish to contact me to help?  I am wondering if they widened the Canal and was told that there were a lot of dams.  When I first started research back in 1999 the Culbute lock was not mentioned nor did anyone know about it but I am seeing more on-line.  I will revisit later with additional information.

When I was preparing for this trip, I tried to find auto tours.  I stumbled onto this website for the Outaouais Heritage WebMagazine that has some very interesting articles and auto tours click on the Outaouais Pontiac Heritage tour and then go to the page 3 for more choices for tours.   http://outaouais.quebecheritageweb.com/attractions-and-tours

On the Chichester side you can look back toward Chapeau and you will see the beautiful St. Alphonse Church rising above the trees.  Driving along the Ch. St. Jacques going west and then returning you can see the spire in the distance.

Looking back to Chapeau


Sunday May 20, 2012: Renfrew County, Ontario

May 26, 2012

My plane touched down at about 4:20 pm Ottawa time.  There was the usual events that unfold when you depart an airplane such as baggage claim.  This time there would be a slightly different twist, because I had customs to go through.

The Ottawa Airport is southwest of the city of Ottawa.  It is about the size of the Columbus, Ohio airport and that surprised me.  It was easy to get around, not like Chicago which takes forever.

It was sunny and muggy.  The car rentals were across the departure and arrival avenue and it is always fun to pull all my luggage with me through heavy doors.  Of course, Hertz was almost the furthest down the long hallway of rental car booths.  They gave me a Dodge Cavalier – hatchback in black.  I was soon off and onto the highway called Hunts Club toward Hwy 416 that meshed into Hwy 417.  In Ontario you think east to west, not like at home which is usually north to south.

My goal was the town of Renfrew which placed me in the about the centre of Renfrew County for the next few days.  Now I do not yet know if I have family links in Renfrew County, Ontario which is on the western side of the Ottawa River.  My family settled in Pontiac County, Quebec which is on the eastern side of the Ottawa River but they are very interrelated so you need to study both counties.

Renfrew’s Water Tower is very friendly

An introduction to Ottawa Valley genealogy can be found here: “My Ottawa Valley Ancestors” http://ottawagenealogy.com/  The author has Kennedy’s on this website and some married McDonalds, but I cannot see a connection to my family, still it has a lot of good family names and information.

An interesting history of Renfrew Co.: http://www.ottawariver.org/pdf/31-ch5-3.pdf

You might want to study this website for the history of the Ottawa River: http://www.ottawariver.org/html/intro/intro_e.html

Renfrew County GenWeb:  http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onrenfre/index.html

Renfrew County Gravemarker Gallery http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~murrayp/renfrew/index.htm

Renfrew County Government: http://www.countyofrenfrew.on.ca/

Renfrew Public Library:  http://www.town.renfrew.on.ca/library/index.php

Heritage Renfrew is the local custodian for historic documents and more.  You need to make an appointment on Monday or Wednesday between 10 am to 1 pm.  They are located at 770 Gibbons Road, Renfrew, Ontario.  They don’t appear to have a website.

The next day was Victoria Day in Canada and so it was a three-day weekend which means that many stores, government agencies and more were closed.  So I decided to use that day to tour both Renfrew County and Pontiac County.  I would then head for Allumette Island and Chichester and Sheen Townships and visit the sights and cemeteries in those areas.

Renfrew town is spread out and had 3 exits.  I spent most of my time on O’Brien Street till I learned about the northern exit on Bruce Street which goes right by the St. Xavier Catholic Cemetery.  If you spot a red picket fence going north you are almost there.  It is on the left with two stone columns and a long drive.  I did not have time to investigate.

Renfrew’s Clock


Nellie’s Charts – Her Mother Mary McDonell’s Family!

July 21, 2011

Ronald’s sister Nellie prepared the family genealogy in 1932 almost 20 years after the death of her parents Archibald and Mary McDonell.  Nellie (Ellen Elizabeth) had not been to Canada since 1901 when she immigrated with her parents and brother John (Jack) to Minnesota.  So when you see these charts you will be amazed for her grand-niece thinks she did a wonderful job and the family is truly indebted to her for her efforts.

Nellie prepared a long piece of paper with the family descendants for both Archie’s family on the left and Mary’s on the right.  This piece of paper was too big to store without creasing it so it was scanned into the computer in 3 sections and gently separated into two. 

Some time after Nellie had prepared this chart her niece Miriam rewrote it creating two charts one for Archie’s side and one for Mary’s side of the family.  There are minor differences between the charts. 

So we started with Keith’s grandfather Archie’s side of the family presenting the chart by featuring it in the post dated June 17, 2011 and titled Nellie’s Charts: Her Father Archie McDonell’s Family.   In the following posts dated June 30, 2011 A Mystery – Roy Macdonnell and July 8, 2011 Glengarry in Ontario etc. there was a discussion about Archibald’s origins and family.

Now we will feature Keith’s grandmother Mary McDonell’s side of the family. 

Click on the chart below and it should open up larger for you to read.  Remember to hit the back arow to return to this post. 

If you are a descendant of Alexander John McDonald and Ellen McPherson please copy and enjoy but remember credit goes to Nellie McDonell (first chart) and Miriam her niece (second chart). 

Alex. Ban McDonell Family Chart

Miriam's Version of Alex Ban Chart

The research on the McDonell family has been based on these charts and so far on Mary’s side of the family the names listed and families can be traced in the Canadian census well into the 1900’s and probably beyond.   The challenge is the spelling of the name McDonell/McDonald which can vary greatly.

The focus of the research has been on tracing Keith’s grandparents Archibald and Mary and their life journey.  In future posts the siblings of Mary will be discussed as best we can.

Archie and Mary left the area of Chichester and Chapeau in 1901 and migrated to Bemidji, Beltrami Co., Minnesota, to be with their children.  The family story is that the children of Archie and Mary felt they were getting to old and convinced them to migrate to the United States.

The St. Alphonsus Church has many of these families listed in their records of marriages, deaths and baptisms.  There are films at the Family History Library for this church and the registers are on Ancestry.com.   See the post dated March 23, 2010 Records of the St. Alphonsus Church for more information.

The book compiled by Elaine Brown on the St. Alphonsus cemetery located at this church also lists many of these individuals.  http://www.personainternet.com/etbrown/alphonse.htm

If you are descended from any one of these families by all means say at least “hello” by leaving a comment or contacting me through the compiler page listed at the top of this blog.


Nellie’s Charts – Her Father Archie McDonell’s Family

June 17, 2011
In a past post about Nellie (Ellen) McDonell, it was mentioned that there was a McDonell/McDonald descendants chart that Nellie created about 1932. This chart was in the possession of her niece Miriam, sister to Keith, until about 1967 when it was shared with Keith’s youngest daughter. This chart is actually a long piece of paper with both families written on it.  Archie’s family is on the left side and Mary’s on the right.  It was gently separated into two pages in order to scan it into the computer.(Click the chart to make it bigger and use the back button to return to the post).   
Archibald McDonell’s Family Chart by Nellie McDonald

Archibald died in 1912 about 20 years before Nellie created this chart which was about 1932.  This means she could not ask him for clarification.  Other documentation found indicate that the children of Archie really didn’t know as much about Archie’s side of the family as they did about their mother Mary’s. 

This chart seems less complete than the one for Mary which will be featured in a future post.  If you will remember Archie’s death certificate in 1912 (See posted dated September 8, 2010) showed that his youngest son Alexander didn’t know the names of Archie’s parents and therefore did not record them on the death record. 

A PUZZLE?  Who are Archie’s father and mother?  What happened to his siblings?

In the posted dated December 3, 2010 Archie and Mary were married in 1861 and it listed Archie’s parents as John and Sara McDonell.  Archie does appear in the 1861 Census and it was discussed in the posted dated October 20, 2010.   (To find these posts as reference see the right side archive section).

Take a close look at this chart by clicking it and you will see that the father’s name is “Roy Macdonell” not John?   Notice that the spelling of McDonald changes to Macdonell. 

Focusing in On Roy Macdonell

It reads “Roy Macdonell – Cameron (White Alex)??

We now add Miriam’s (Nellie’s niece) version of this chart:

Miriam's McDonald's version of Archie's Family

Let’s see what Miriam writes for Archie’s father:

Miriam's version - Roy???

Miriam writes “Roy Macdonell – Alex Ban Cameron’s daughter?”

If you study both charts you will see that there is very little difference between them.  Miriam’s handwriting is easy to recognize but it took awhile before it became clear that Nellie had done the original version. 

These charts have been in the possession of Keith’s youngest daughter since about 1967.  They have used as the foundation in building the McDonald family history.  

If you make a copy of these two charts, and use them in your research please give Nellie McDonald and Miriam McDonald credit for their work and in preserving them for future generations to use. 

Nellie McDonald at a picnic

Miriam visits her brother Keith - circa 1950's

So we are left with a mystery?

Who is this Roy Macdonell?  Who is Alex Ban Cameron’s daughter? 

Are John and Sara Archie’s parents as the St. Alphonsus records suggest? If so where did they live? 

The research into Archibald McDonell/McDonald’s past to find his family has been very slow going.  In the next post the origins of Archibald McDonell will be expanded on.  Miriam, his granddaughter suggests that Archie came from Glengarry, Ontario.

NOTE:  If you see any names or family groupings in this chart that are familiar and think you might be a cousin, please contact the writer of this post immediately by writing a comment or following the information in the Compiler page listed above next to home under the picture.  Love to hear from you!

Archibald McDonell as Culbute Lock Master

June 9, 2011

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?


Archie & Mary McDonell in 1871

May 23, 2011

We back up a little and return to 1871 and the Canadian Census which features the family of Archibald and Mary McDonell, the great grandparents of Keith.  

As you can see John and John Alexander are missing.  These are the first two sons born to Archie and Mary.  We can only assume that they did not survive.  There is a possibility that they are buried in Sheensboro.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheenboro,_Quebec

Source:  1871 Canadian Census, Chichester, Pontiac Co., Quebec #C10025, page 23 and 24 Dist #91 or FHL#0493443.

Line 16-20 pg. 23 Dwelling 19 Family 19 – McDonell, Archbld, male, age 39, Born Quebec, R. Catholic, Scotch, Farmer, Married, unable to read. McDonald, Mary, female, age 36, born Quebec, R. Catholic, Scotch, married, unable to write. McDonald, Angus, male, age 7, born Quebec, R. Catholic, Scotch, going to school. McDonald, Ronald, Male, age 4, born Quebec, R. Catholic, Scotch. Next page # 24 line 1 and 2: McDonald, John Archy, male, [ ] born Quebec, R. Catholic, Scotch. McDonell, Ellen, female, 3/12, Dec, born Quebec, R. Catholic, Scotch.

Here is an interesting link to a website that gives cemetery information for a wide variety of locations including Quebec.

http://www3.sympatico.ca/bkinnon/cemeteries.htm#on

So the Canadian Census of 1871 supports the theory that John and John Alexander did not survive because they are not listed; however, more research is needed to see if their burials can be found.


Archie & Mary’s Children: Alexander Thomas McDonald

March 31, 2011

Archie and Mary McDonell welcomed their seventh child Alexander Thomas McDonell. 

He was born 2nd December 1872 in Chichester and baptized the 17th of December 1872 at the St. Alphonsus Church in Chapeau. 

Alexander's Birth Record

Source:  Baptism, Marriage and Burial Index, St. Alphonsus Church, 1846-1920 FHL# B131, #1029798.  Also on Ancestry.com under the Drouin Collection. 

Alexander, or better known as “Alex,” lived a long life passing away at 82 years old in International Falls and he is buried next to his older brother John (Jack) and his parents.  Alex never married but family lore states that he had several girlfriends, liked fancy cars and smoked big cigars.

Uncle Alex

Alex is featured with his nephew Keith in his fireman uniform in the posted dated:  August 7, 2010.


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