Settlers in Nepean Township in 1856

New December 21, 2014:

Timothy Brennan Had to Go over Other's Land to Reach inside Lot

Story of a Nepean Pioneer Who Settled on the Jock River, 1856 Jock Was Too Small For Boats to Go Up. Belongings Had To Be Carried Through Bush land. Story of Stevens Sawmill. Millpond Was Scene of a Tragedy. From the Ottawa Citizen, Old Time Stuff, September 26, 1931, transcribed by Taylor Kennedy, 2014
Mr. Patrick Brennan of Jockvale is one of the old timers of Nepean. Mr. Brennan's fine home at Jockvale, on the banks of the historic Jock or Goodwood River, is a prettily located as any home in Carleton - more so perhaps than most of them. But the site of the Brennan home wasn't always like that. In the year 1856 when Timothy Brennan came out from County Carlow, Ireland, and settled in Nepean, the land now owned by Patrick Brennan, his son, was owned by others, who did not live on it, but Timothy Brennan had to cross this land to get to his own 50 acres on the banks of the Jock, just west of the third concession. An Inside Lot Timothy Brennan had secured what was known as an inside lot - that is not a lot which was part of a bigger lot and which did not have an ingress from any road. In the early days there were many immigrants who were situated just as Timothy Brennan. If the Jock River had been navigable from its mouth where it entered the Rideau Canal, Mr. Brennan might have got in and out from his inside lot, without being under any compliments to anybody. But even in those days, the Jock, as now, was in spots a very shallow river, and consequently a boat could not be rowed from the canal to the Brennan farm. Hard To Get In Consequently when Timothy Brennan came to Nepean with his belongings, he had to cross other people's fields from what is now the Prince of Wales Highway to the third concession, then he had to carry his stuff, as best he could, through a thick bush on an untended farm to his own place. Later when Mr. Brennan got settled a bit, he built a boat and was able, by using the river, to escape most of the thick bush. Deep In Spots The Jock in front of the Brennan holdings was deep water all the year, and in that deep part there was great fishing. In fact there has been good fishing in that part of the Jock even up to recent years. In the spring of the year after Timothy Brennan settled there used to be floods, of large proportions on the Jock, and it was during the flood periods that the rafts of square timber and of oak used to be floated down. Some wonderfully fine pine was taken from the banks of the Jock. Fine Oak Came Down Also it may be told that a great deal of beautiful oak used to go down the Jock. Quite a lot of it sank. The experienced handlers of oak used to mix pine with their oak to give it the necessary buoyancy. The story is told that about the year 1880, an Ottawa man, a Frenchman by the way, was fishing the Jock River between Jockvale and Twin Elm, and discovered a lot of sunken oak. He decided to lift it. He came back with appliances for lifting. When the farmers, who owned the land along the river, saw what was going on, they protested and claimed it. Then He Took It The Ottawa man asked "Did you put it there?" They said "No." "Well" he answered, "what have you to do with it? Let the men who cut it talk to me." As the men who had cut the oak were long dead, they could never very well, claim ownership, the Ottawa man proceeded to procure wagons and cart the oak to Ottawa, where he sold it to advantage. Was A Sawmill When Timothy Brennan came to Nepean he was married and had two of a family. Mr. Patrick Brennan, narrator of this story, was born two years later in - 1858. He has lived at Jockvale all his life and is able to tell the history of the district. He can go back clearly with recollections to the early sixties (1860s) when he was six years of age. He remembers that about that time, a man named Stevens (Roger Stevens ?) built a dam and erected a saw mill on the Jock, about a mile and a quarter down the Jock from their home. The dam raised the water for a mile or more up the river and made boating better. Scene of Tragedy The mill was a small one, but lasted a few years. Its millpond was the scene of a tragedy. A young boy named Michael Davis, son of Michael Davis Sr., was drowned while playing on the logs. The millpond where the boy had drowned was eleven feet deep. A Private Bridge It is recalled by Mr. Brennan that years ago there was a bridge across the Jock at the third concession near Jockvale. The bridge was put up by the Dunn family for their own use, as they owned land on both sides of the river. The bridge was washed away by spring floods. The Dunns with characteristic energy erected another one. The second one stayed up till about 1885 or 1886. The remains of the bridges still can be seen. Bought the Land In later years, as their fortunes progressed, the Brennans purchased the land, which separated them from the third concession road. It remained, however, for Patrick, the son, to put the "touches" on the farm. It was he who a number of years ago erected the present substantial brick home, from the front of which he can picture daily in his mind the arrival of his father and mother, and their first sight of their new Canadian home.
Map Source: Belden's 1879 Map of Nepean Township digitized by McGill University Jock River at Greenbank Road, Ottawa, Canada, 1879
Al: I came across a picture I took many moons ago in Nepean of the Jock. In the Brennan story there is mention of remnants of the old Dunn bridge. Could this be that picture?? ... Taylor ______________________________ Hey, Taylor: Yes, this is the old Dunn Bridge, still in haevy use today. The part of your photograph is called "Half Moon Bay". The bridge crosses the Jock River there on Greenbank Road. Until a few years ago, that south side of the Jock River was rural. Now it has become part of Barrhaven and is built up. ... Al
Here is Taylor's photograph: Jock River at Greenbank Road (Half Moon Bay), Ottawa, Canada)

E-mail Taylor Kennedy and Allan Lewis

Back to Bytown or Bust - History and Genealogy in the Ottawa, Canada, area