History of Chaudiere Falls and Lebreton Flats
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Photo Source: Where Rivers Meet: An Illustrated History of Ottawa
by Courtney C.J. Bond, page 15
Keywords: Samuel de Champlain, Charles William Jefferys, petun / tobacco sacrifice
October 28, 2002:
Am wondering if you know of any books/newspapers that make reference to the 1815
incident at Chaudiere Falls, Hull, in which 4 or more persons drowned while going
over the falls in a boat or raft.
Note: See posting dated February 21, 2007 ... Al
October 28, 2002:
As you know, 1815 is very early in the history of our area. The only real settlement
at that time was that of Philemon Wright on the Hull side of the Grand (Ottawa) River.
It's probable that a drowning incident was not reported in any newspapers at the time,
unless Montreal had a newspaper then. I remember reading in one of the Bytown
newspapers from c. 1840, about the deaths of nine lumber workers who drowned while
freeing a logjam on the Madawaska River above Arnprior. The names of the victims were
published - a mixture of French and Irish names, but no other details were given. I was
struck by how matter-of-factly the incident was treated in the newspaper - as if this
sort of thing was routine.
I remember also reading about a rescue of some persons who went over the Falls, maybe
in the 1830's. A boat or raft upset and the occupants became stranded on a small island
surrounded by a whirlpool which prevented onlookers from shore from reaching them. Finally,
a rope was strung over them and they were pulled to shore. A Mr. Sullivan was involved in
the rescue. If the rescue attempt had been unsuccessful, the men would have died of
exposure/hunger in full view of the townspeople. See the print, below, by W.H. Bartlett.
Photo Source: Ottawa Waterway, Gateway to a Continent, by Robert Leggett, page 56.
October 29, 2002:
Thank you for your prompt response and setting up a new page. I know for sure that
Benjamin Moore was one of the victims. He was a member of the Moore family who was
prominent in the area in those days. There are conflicting reports as to who else
drowned. William Wright, Asa Young and Adam Romaine may have been among the others who
drowned. Anson Gard has an account of this incident in his book, Pioneers of the Upper
Ottawa, but it is many years after the drownings and may not be completely accurate. Also,
the drowning was mentioned in the Historical Atlas of Carelton County, but I don't know
their source. I was thinking that perhaps there may have been a newspaper account of the
drowning, especially because there weren't that many people in the area in 1815 and
because the Moore family was so prominent.
Early Activity at Chaudiere Falls
Two books, Ottawa: An Illustrated History by John Taylor and Nepean: The City Beyond
by Bruce Elliott, have a lot of information on early land speculation, Richmond Landing,
mills and power development at the Falls and industrial development at Lebreton Flats.
See our bibliography.
See also Philomen Wright settlers in 1800.
Note for search engine: PW
November 22, 2002:
and Michael Davidson's pages regarding the history and architecture of the Chaudiere.
September 29, 2004:
My gggg Hugh Conley was killed in a snowstorm crossing Lac du Chene in 1830
with a Moore. Do not know if this is the same Moore who died at the same time
or not. The record of the death is in Pinhey's diaries.
Please note that Hugh Conley's (various spellings) death record is in Pinhey's journals.
The date of death is 26 January 1830. I have copies of documentation in this regard.
I have quite a bit of several families of the Ottawa Valley who were there as early
as 1824. One of their children said their parents attended St Andrews Presbyterian
Church. Do you know where I could locate the records.
P.S. There was a Lewis family associated with Hugh Conley Senior died in Snow Storm
on Lac Chaudiere his son Hugh Conley who drowned in 1862 married the widow
Catherine Lewis and had a connected family. Hope this helps others.
I understand but do not have proof some took the Conley name.
April 22, 2006:
I don't know if this is one of the individuals you are interested in. James Hawley
died in a canoeing accident at Chaudiere Falls on June 1, 1836.
He was the first husband of Margaret Waugh Buckham. Margaret's sister, Isabella,
was my 2nd great grandmother. I believe James was originally buried in the Sandy Hill
cemetery (most likely the Scottish Presbyterian one). I have found his headstone
along with Margaret's and her second husband Robert Bell, along with her parents
George and Jennet Buckham in the St. James Cemetery in Hull where bodies and
Headstones from Sandy Hill were moved to in 1911. The Buckhams were the first
civilian settlers in Torbolton and Buckham's Bay is named for John Buckham son of
George and Jennet who secured the original land grant.
I got James Hawley's death date from his headstone.
I have more info on the Buckham's if you'd like to have it. I
have Doris Hope's book "Torbolton Township: It's Earliest History". John
Buckham, in particular, was very involved in the community.
April 23, 2006:
Drowning Deaths at the Chats (Fitzroy Harbour) in the 1830's
2 Jul 1831
Burial in the Catholic churchyard of Bytown of Joseph Dany / Danis? / Denis? of
St. Benoit, Lower Canada, aged 29 yrs. who was drowned 20 June last at Lake of the
Chats (Fitzroy Harbour) (see next)
Witnesses: Benj. Dany and Benoni Soucy
Angus McDonell, Priest
2 Jul 1831
Burial in the Catholic Church of Abraham Thibault of the parish of Sorel,
Lower-Canada, aged 17 yrs. who was drowned on the 20th of June last at Lake of the
Chats (see previous)
Witnesses: Michael Lessard, Francois Leclerc and Etienne Lapointe
Source: Notre Dame Cathedral records (Thanks to Ellen Paul).
February 21, 2007:
Thanks to Mary for the following, in reference to above posting dated October 28, 2002:
I was at the Ottawa Public Library today doing research and while reading -
The Historical Atlas of Carleton County by H. Belden I came across the names of
the men who drowned and they are listed as: Benjamin Moore, Asa Young, and
Adam Romaine. There is also mention of a James McConnell who survived.
For those of you who are interested I found this on page XXXIV.
Hope this helps.
March 8, 2007:
Thanks to Wes Cross who has sent in a link to his web page of pre-1901 photographs
of the Lebreton Flats and Chaudiere Falls area. Duke Street was familiar to me in the 1950's.
We used to travel by car to pick up ice for our ice-box.
I have just completed a new page on my site which provides photos and maps
of the Lebreton / Chaudiere districts, pre-1901.
Perhaps some of the Bytown or Bust devotees might find helpful. The link is:
There are about 40 photos and a couple of maps. I might be adding more material later.
Hope all is well with you.
December 13, 2008:
The Chaudiere Bridge in 1827
Photo Source: Early Days in the Ottawa Country, Stittsville Public Library Call #971-3, page 3
August 17, 2009:
New e-mail address for Mary Cox: firstname.lastname@example.org
November 9, 2009:
Photo Source: Selections from Picturesque Canada: An Affectionate Look Back
plate number 35.
This sketch was made in the 1870's and shows a view from the back of the Parliament Buildings,
overlooking the Ottawa River and Chaudiere Falls. Piles of sawn lumber, (most of it destined for export to the
United States market), can be seen on the islands at Chaudiere Falls and across the River in Hull, Quebec.
November 24, 2009:
E.B. Eddy, from Vermont, USA, to Ottawa and Hull, in 1854
The E.B. Eddy Sawmill at Chaudiere Falls
Source: Exploring Ottawa, by Harold Kalman and John Roaf, page 91
Ella Bessey was a daughter of E.B. Eddy (see Chugg family history on the Aylmer Road).
December 18, 2009:
Chaudiere Bridge, built in 1914
Source: Exploring Ottawa, by Harold Kalman and John Roaf, page 92
February 6, 2010:
The Bronson family's Sawmills at Chaudiere Falls in 1857
Source: Where Rivers Meet, by Courtney C.J. Bond, page 58
April 28, 2010:
Very interesting page on Mechanicsville. I have an earlier topographical map - the 1935 revision
of the 1923 original, 1" = 1mi.
Roughly speaking, the whole map covers the area Stittsville to Manotick Station to East Templeton to Breckenridge Station to
Stittsville, I'd be glad to scan any sections you might want.
The source info is as follows: Sheet 31 G 5 ; scale 1 mile to 1" or 1:63,360. Surveyed by Geographical Section G. S.,
original survey 1923. Revised 1935. Published by the Geographical Section, General Staff, Department of National Defense. Reprinted 1940.
This extract from the map shows the Lebreton Flats neighbourhood - before it was razed.
In the 1950's we had an ice box in the kitchen. We used to drive to Lebreton Flats on Saturday mornings to
pick up a couple of blocks of ice, covered in sawdust, on Duke Street. The railway yards are also shown on the map.
May 2, 2010:
The portage route used by the voyageurs was located on the north side of the Ottawa River at Hull, Quebec.
The following excerpt is from Freshwater Saga: Memoirs of a Lifetime of Wilderness Canoeing in Canada
by Eric W. Morse, University of Toronto Press, 1987, ISBN 0-8020-2610-9, page 69
In the 1920's, Chief Justice Latchford, rediscovered the portage.
September 8, 2010:
Early Pictures of Chaudière Falls
Here are two pictures from the James Pattison Cockburn Gallery.
They are dated 1825 (left) and 1826 (right).
January 10, 2011:
A question regarding a John Perkins
Hello Friends. Could this question please be added to the "Bytown or Bust" web site ?
'John PERKINS' was involved in establishing the mill(s) at the south end of the Chaudiere complex at
Ottawa/Hull in 1842. The remaining building is now labeled 'The Mill Restaurant' although it has
been closed for refurbishment in recent years.
'John Adams PERKINS' opened a sawmill on the Blanche River in Lower Canada (Quebec) in 1845, and this
was the location which later became Perkins village (now in Val des Monts Municipality).
These two locations are not much more than 20 miles apart.
Can anyone please tell me whether or not these two 'John PERKINS' were the same person ?
(also posted to our web page for Lyman Perkins)
January 21, 2011:
Map Source: Ottawa, The Capital of Canada
by Shirley E. Woods, page 74
This map shows the location of the Thompson and Perkins Sawmill,
the McLachlin Saw Mill, the tavern of Isaac Firth and Richmond Landing
June 30, 2011:
How are you? I am busy writing the story of Thomas Hunton and Family. I will give you a copy once I have completed it.
I am currently reading: Records of The Rise And Progress of The City Of Ottawa, from The Foundation Of The Rideau Canal to The Present Time
by Gertrude Van Cortlandt, 1858.
Casualties At The Chaudiere
The first romantic incident, in which human life was concerned, took place on the morning of the 2nd of June, 1848. The following
lucid and descriptive account of the event is copied from a number of the Bytown Packet of that period:-
"Yesterday, about ten o'clock, A.M; an accident of a serious nature occurred. Two men were upon a crib of oak timber, endeavoring
to make the head of the Chaudiere Government slides, but the current, proving too strong, carried them out of the channel. They
observed their danger too late, and were carried with the crib over the lost channel. One of the men, named Baptiste Beaudran (Beaudoin ?),
jumped off the crib, and was carried over the chute. The other, named Paul Filardeau, kept his hold of the crib until it struck
against the table rock. His situation was even here critical, for a dreadful rapid lay between him and the main shore, distant
about one hundred and fifty yards. A crowd of the inhabitants, about 500 in number, were soon on the spot, and measures immediately
taken to remove the poor fellow from his unpleasant situation. Messrs. McLachlin, Farley, Sullivan, Keefer, and Larmouth, were most
active in the attempt. A small cord was first thrown over, to which was attached a stronger one, and finally a cable or hawser,
which was attached by Filardeau firmly to the rock. Rings were slipped on to the hawser, to which cords were attached, and one end
thrown over to the rock. Filardeau then tied the cords around his body, and slung himself to the rings. Great excitement occurred
when he let himself off. He was immediately pulled in along the main rope, not, however, without touching the water several times.
When the poor fellow reached the shore, he with the greatest coolness turned to his deliverers, and thanked them in both languages
for their kindness. He then walked away, seeming not the least injured."
There are more stories similar to this one also appear in her writings.
In particular I am trying to identify the Larmouth mentioned in the article. A man named Larmouth worked for Thomas Hunton and I
want to know if he is one and the same person.
Thanks so much,
Thanks for your e-mail.
I thinke that the Larmouth referred to is Learmonth. This was a prominent early family who arrived from Scotland in Bytown in 1828,
possibly settling first in Glengarry County.
I can't find a reference to Thomas but he may be a brother of George Learmonth who became a wealthy mill owner at Fitzroy Harbour
(see a couple of references to this family at www.bytown.net/fitzroy.htm. This page also has a photograph of the
millstone used in the Learmonth mill and a photo of the old mill itself.
This is from a book called Beyond our Memory - A history of Fitzroy Township. I have the book here and it includes a picture of
George Learmonth and his wife.
May 22, 2012:
There is an archaeological dig taking place at Lebreton Flats. This is being done prior to the
building of Ottawa's Light Rail Transit system. Source: Ottawa Citizen, May 20, 2012.
December 6, 2013:
Domtar Lands - Public Consultation December 11th, 2013
Maybe you are already aware of this or maybe not:
Buried on page C2 of today's Ottawa Citizen was an article stating that Windmill Development Group will be holding a public consultation
Wednesday, December 11th, 5 - 9 pm at the Museum of Civilization. The article says you have to register at their website, the-isles.ca
I did not see a place to register at their website, but if you scroll down you will see a spot where you can leave your name and email address for updates.
I`m sure if you show up they will let you in anyway.
As you know, Windmill Development Group has put in a conditional offer to purchase this historical site.
As an aside note:
Personally I have always wondered how Domtar came to be in possession of the sacred and historic gathering spot by First Nations,
anyways. I thought Domtar had leased the lands (islands)from the government. So now I wonder, who sold to Domtar?
... Karen Prytula
Thanks for this. This will be one of the most significant historical developments to take place in Ottawa since the building
of the Parliament Buildings prior to Confederation. Let's hope the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau get this right!
March 18, 2014:
I thought you would enjoy this map drawn by Lieutenant W. Pooley. His name is at the lower right hand side.
Shows proposed bridges and timber-slide.
June 11, 2014:
Lebreton Flats was a victim of a "slum clearance" program by the City of Ottawa in the 1950's. The artist
Ralph Burton has preserved the memory of this working class houses and the industrial establishments from
that period in his paintings. The City of Ottawa Archives at the corner of Woodroffe Avenue and Tallwood Drive has a very
good collection of photographs and paintings of work done by Ralph Burton.
May 9, 2016:
The Canadian Museum of History has some interesting research by Jean-Luc Pilon: Archaeological Mysteries of the Ottawa area.
This is an academic paper which studies the archaeological discoveries of Dr. Edward Van Cortland at Lebreton Flats
in the 1850's.
E-mail Renee Levesque, Barbara Hadden, Shirley MacNutt, Mary, Wes Cross, Ian White, Karen Prytula, Taylor Kennedy and Al Lewis
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