Revisiting the Culbute Locks in the Ottawa River north of Allumette Island…

January 15, 2015

Archibald McDonell, my great-grandfather was the locks master for the Culbute Locks.  I wrote about his involvement with the locks in the post:

Archibald McDonell as the Culbute Locks Master,” June 9, 2011

My Aunt Miriam, sister of my father Keith, wrote about it in her notes but she spelled it “Kilbute.”  I wrote to Libraries and Archives in Ottawa the Canadian national archive and they knew very little about these locks.

At the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, my husband found a book in which Archibald was featured as the lock master.  Here is the source.

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.) I am sure copies are in other archives. 

When I toured the area of the Upper Ottawa River in 2012, I visited Allumette Island, toured Chapeau and crossed the bridge to Chichester exploring the mainland north of the island.  Here are two of the posts I wrote:

Touring the Upper Ottawa River Pontiac Co., Quebec, Allumette Island and Chapeau,” May 27, 2012.

Touring the Upper Ottawa: Chichester Township, Pontiac Co, Quebec,” June 4, 2012.

In the above post I had some photos of the Ottawa River from the bridge that spans the area from Chapeau to Chichester covering the Chenal de la Culbute on the Ottawa River.  This is on the north side of the island of Allumette, but I was not able to find the remains of the Culbute Locks.  I was told you had to have a boat to get there, so that was not something I was able or willing to do.

A very nice reader contacted me back in September, 2014 when I was touring in Canada my second time and shared some photos of the canal and gave me another source for information.

Source:  History and Development of a Transportation System on and around Allumette Island and Morrison Island,” Municipality of Allumette Island Tourism Committee, 75 Notre Dame, Isles-aux-Allumettes, QC Canada, July 2006.  The Pontiac Archives in Shawville has a copy.  I probably looked this when I was there visiting.  It has some nice photos of the canal but it is under copyright so I cannot share them; however, this link has some of the same photos and another one that gives a long view of the locks.  You will have to scroll through the website.

http://www.awholebunchofings.com/2011/01/lost-steamships-and-locks-on-ottawa.html

Here are the two photos that Gerald shared with me and I thank him for them.

Culbute Locks courtesy of G. Beaupre

Culbute Locks courtesy of G. Beaupre 2014

Gerald wrote in Sept 2014: I was at the Culbute yesterday, the water is high this year, I did not go as far as the locks, I canoed from my home on the Petawawa river to the rock portage. I am looking for the best portage trace to go around  the Culbute (a set of 3 significant rapids). The area is dense forest with hills, boulders and swamp, not an easy task.
Culbute Locks 2014 Courtesy of G. Beaupre

Culbute Locks 2014 Courtesy of G. Beaupre 2014

I am still trying to picture where the locks are located in relationship to the villages of Chapeau and Chichester.

Culbute Locks Location courtesy of G. Beaupre

Culbute Locks Location courtesy of G. Beaupre

This article was interesting:  Steamboats and Canals on the Ottawa River, Cultural Heritage Ottawa River.org: http://www.ottawariver.org/pdf/10-ch2-8.pdf.  It is interesting to me that the end of the Culbute locks varies from when 1889 to 1896 from the sources I have read. What follows has even another opinion.

Lumber interests persuaded the government to build a canal on the Culbute channel at the Calumet Rapids, known as the Rock Portage. Construction of the locks took place from 1873‐1876, involving two combined locks and opening up 124 kilometres of interior river navigation (Canadian Public Works Association 124). The Culbute Locks were outmoded before they were even completed. They were abandoned soon after their construction (Legget 1975: 174).  

I find it rather fun to see mentions of the Culbute Locks on the internet now. When I was trying to find out more about these locks I was overwhelmed with the Rideau Canal information.  Now, in 2014 and 2015 there is much more about all canals and one can get very involved and fascinated about the history of canals in Canada and also in the United States.

You can become a member of a society about Canadian canals:

http://www.canadiancanalsociety.org/canadian-canals.html


Kingston: Anglican Archive, Visit with a Friend & the OGS

June 21, 2012

Friday June 1, 2012 was going to be a very busy day. 

My first appointment was with the Anglican Diocese office in downtown Kingston.  This was regarding my Brown family research.  The Browns were Church of England and I was hoping to find out more about William Brown my 3rd great-grandfather.  I was in luck I did find his death and burial information.  See the blog: The Boardmans and Browns of Winnipeg. for more information about this trip.  http://boardmanbrown.wordpress.com/

Anglican Diocese Building, Kingston

After I finished up at the Diocese office I headed back to my B&B and waited impatiently for Elaine to arrive. 

Years ago I was reading an online mailing list for the Upper Ottawa Valley and this person by the name of Elaine Brown was sharing information about the various churches and church registers for the area.  I learned that she had compiled a book covering the deaths and burials at the cemetery in Chapeau for the St. Alphonsus Church.  I emailed her and bought a copy.  It was with me on this trip.  We have since shared information and information on McDonalds and Burns families in the area.  My great uncle John (Jack) McDonell married Sarah Burns and she was curious about there marriage.  I visited their daughter on several occasions in International Falls and put Elaine in touch with her.  Sadly Mary died several years ago about two months before I made my third trip to Minnesota. 

Elaine’s family history website:  http://www.personainternet.com/etbrown/burns.htm 

Elaine’s book:  http://www.personainternet.com/etbrown/alphonse.htm

Aunt Lucy’s in Kingston & Rain

Elaine and I were going to have lunch together and meet for the first time face-to-face.  The Briar Patch was no longer offering lunch so she took me to Aunt Lucy’s.  We were together from 12:30 to 4:30 pm or so.  It was a rainy day in Kingston (just like home) but we didn’t care for we were busy talking and sharing and having a great time.  I had so much fun I had dessert.  Elaine really knows a lot about genealogy in Canada and so I am very grateful to her for sharing and caring about a stranger from that country to the south.  HA!  Thanks for lunch Elaine, my treat next time. 

St. Lawrence College – Location of the OGS Conference 2012

The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) Conference started at 5 pm with a barbecue and so I parted with Elaine but was feeling very happy and content. 

The rain had moved the dinner inside so we were all gathering in the cafeteria of the St. Lawrence College for the OGS Conference “Borders and Bridges 2012,”  Several ladies came and sat at my table and we chatted about the conference, our research and where we were from.  As usual people are all surprised when they realize that I am from the other Washington located on the western side of the continent. http://www.ogs.on.ca/conference2012/

Registration was open so I stopped by to get my bag of goodies and a USB drive of the syllabus:

Registration OGS 2012

The opening ceremonies were done with pomp.  They had a fully costumed town crier which I understand is an award wining town crier.

The Opening of the Borders and Bridges, OGS Conference 2012

The next day the conference was in full swing starting about 8 am with the opening address.  I didn’t get there till later and cruised the vendors.  I was happy to see the Quebec Family History Society, Lambton County Genealogical Society and more.  I was very strong and didn’t buy too many books.  I had a nice chat with Coleen Fitzpatrick the author of the Forensic Genealogy.  She was telling me about autosonal testing for women opening up more possibilities.  I have been really considering DNA testing. I have a family member whom I would like to test but so far there is resistance.  I purchased her book:  DNA & Genealogy.  http://www.forensicgenealogy.info/

Vendors about to open Saturday June 2, 2012 OGS Conference

The lectures started about 11 am.  I attended several lectures about newspaper research and each lecture gave me more information about sources I had not tried.  John D. Reid gave “Your Family History in Canadian and British Newspapers. He was explaining the OCR and why it was not yet to a place where it could read all the letters efficiently.  He explained that some websites had better OCR technology than others.  He said to take your time and try different searched.   Meldon J. Wolfgang III gave “Extra! Hear All About it! Exploring Some New and Less Familiar Pathways in Newspaper Research.  He had some really interesting sources to use.  He is the man in the picture below.  Evelyn Kolish also gave an excellent lecture:  “Court Records Across the Border: How to Find Your Way Among Quebec’s Court Records.”  Slowly I am gaining confidence with researching in Quebec. 

Lecture on Newspaper sources

Everyone was wondering where the banquet would be held.  Well it was in the cafeteria and it was sort of amazing to see how they transferred it into a festive affair.  We were told that over 500 people were in attendance.  The banquet room was filled to capacity.  Susan de Groot of the Ontario Chapter of the Association for Professional Genealogists was attending the conference.  Susan and I have met several times at various conferences and she remembered me.  She kindly invited me to her table.  She is the owner of Windmill Genealogy Services.

Those seated at the table were John Reid of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa was present.  He gave the one of the lectures on newspaper research that I mention above.  Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems sat with us.  She had been busy with lectures all day. Lisa had come all the way from California to attend the conference.  David Obee was present.  I have one of his books that he co-wrote with Sherry Irvine on Canadian Research.  The conversation was lively and interesting. 

Oh, yes they toasted the Queen and I found that very sweet. 

Banquet settings

The lectures started early Sunday morning, June 3, 2012 with the one I was looking forward to.  It was on Quebec land records titled “Digging up Genealogy Gems:  Quebec Land Records,” by Sharon Callaghan who I believe is also active in the Quebec Family History Society in La Pointe, Quebec:  http://www.qfhs.ca/  Her lecture was excellent and I was pleased. 

I decided to take another turn about the vendors and see what other things I could discover.  It actually took me a good hour and half to review them.  So it was almost time for lunch and since I had a ticket I decided to wait and get my sandwich.  When they set out the sandwiches I decided to stay and eat my lunch and again had a lovely conversation with several conference goers who sat down at my table.  I had my Nook Color reader with me, so I gave them an overview. 

Lectures would continue and then they would have a closing address later on in the day but I had to move on.  It was time to head to Cornwall and visit the Glengarry area.


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?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 32 other followers

%d bloggers like this: