Diary of Hugh Falls, Provincial Land Surveyor, Summer of 1847
Survey of part of Maria Township, western Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada
Painting by Ruth McMillan in 1976
Shows the Head of the Rideau Canal Locks in Ottawa, Canada in 1893
Updated page on December 24, 2015:
I've transcribed the Diary of Hugh Falls, a Provincial Land Surveyor with his survey of
Bennett's & Bissett's Creeks which flow into the Ottawa River in Renfrew County.
He refers to a few men he hired as well as a few he encountered during the survey.
I thought these names might be of interest to anyone researching these families.
Feel free to post any of the diary that might be of interest. I'm not certain that
I've transcribed all of the place names correctly as I'm not too familiar with the
geography of the area. Perhaps you can correct any mistakes I've made if you notice
any. I was surprised that it only took Hugh Falls one day to travel from Bytown to
Montreal - thought it would take longer than that. I think he was paid 114 pounds
for this survey.
Thanks for this. This is a geographical area in which I have a keen interest.
I passed through this area a couple of weeks ago when I took the Greyhound Bus
from Ottawa to Thunder Bay, Ontario and back. As of December 2nd, Greyhound will
be closing this northern Ontario bus route over the north of Lake Superior.
Too bad -- it's an adventure through some beautiful country. More importantly,
it'a a transportation necessity for many of the people who live between Sault
Ste. Marie and the Lakehead.
While in Thunder Bay, I finally was able to purchase a copy of Clyde Kennedy's
terrific book called The Upper Ottawa Valley, written in 1970. It documents many
of the places mentioned in your ancestor, Hugh Falls', Diary. There was a push to survey new
townships in western Renfrew County around 1847 as many of the famine Irish immigrants
were being settled in that area.
Here is Linda's transcription of the diary of Hugh Falls' voyage to survey the
Bissett Creek area:
(Bissett Creek crosses under the Trans-Canada Highway near Stonecliffe, Ontario --
just west of the town of Deep River)
1847 Diary By Hugh Falls, Provincial Land Surveyor
June 3 Started to Aylmer for A Canoe which I Had Purchased for the Transport of my men and
Provisions To the Survey of Bissetts Creek and Bennetts Creek, Tributaries of of the Ottawa River.
Pursuant to Instructions from the Commissioner of Crown Lands office Montreal
4 Took Alexander Ladwin with me to assist in bringing over the Canoe to Nepean When I appointed to meet my men
5 Came to Richmond to purchase Some Cooking utensils __
6 Being Sabath remained at Home
7 Some of the men I had Hired refused to go I had to look out for others
8 Hired A Boyd and Gordon Green (Footnote 1 and 2)
9 Started from Home and came to the Ottawa at a place Called the Big Bay (Pontiac Bay on the Quebec side in Pontiac County) Having Brought my own Horses & Wagon with my Baggage
10 My men that I have hired viz A Ludwin? John Falls and George Kemp (3) met me according to appointment
11 Crossed over to Aylmer for Some Provisions to meet one of the men I had Hired but which did not Come
Hired Leander Regan
12 Wind very High NorthWesterly wind so that we could not put out Wind Calmed Towards Evening We Started and Came to March Township.
13 Being Sabbath we Continued our Journey and Came to the foot of Chatts Rapids (Chats Falls)
14 Carried our Baggage across the Chats Portage, Heavy Rain
15 The Storm of wind and Rain Continued we remained wind Bound as the wind blew from the North West
16 Continued our Journey or voyage and Came to Portage Dupont (Portage du Fort ?)
17 Crossed our things through the Several Portages of this place And Came to the Head of the Callusmeth (Calumet Island)
18 Continued our Journey and Came to Laposse? (LaPasse) On the Gore of Westmeath Township
19 Came to the Disallumette (Allumette) Island near the head of Paquels? Rapids
20 Being Sabath Continued our Journey Came to the Township of Pembroke heavy Thunder Storms Heavy Rain
21 Called at Moffatsville for flour and agreed with Mr Moffat / Moffatt for flour proceeding on we came to Deep River
22 Came to the Johnson ? Portage Heavy Rain this afternoon with thunder
23 Carried our Baggage and Canoe across the Johnson ? Portgage and Came to near Mr John Benets Farm (Bennett)
24 Having found the mouth of Bennetts Creek I commenced at a White oak Tree at the Mouth of Bennetts Creek to Scale it into?, I run
Requested Lims / Lines ? Determined to take the advantage of Mr Bennetts Clearing for my Astronomical observations.
25 Continued Said Survey as per Field notes took an observation this night for which see Astronomical data in Field Book
26 Continued Said Survey as per Field Book 54.00 on third mile
27 Sent part of my men for Provisions to the Village of Pembroke Having assisted them over the Johnson? Portage with our Canoe.
Heavy thunder storm
28 Proceeding on said Survey as per Field notes Completed 4 miles
29 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes To the Distance of 5 miles
30 Continued Survey as per Field Book 80.00
July 1 Sent two of my men to meet the Two I had Sent for Flour to the Johnson Portage, myself Employed in Writing and
Exploring Part of the Creek in order to take advantage of it
2 Continued said Survey as per Field Book 67.50
3 Continued Said Survey as per Field Book 57.00
4 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes 93.00
5 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes 102.00
6 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes 94.10
7 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes 80.00
8 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes 80.00 Having Scaled the River to Distance of 13 miles the fair? Of
the Country Rough Rock (Oiseau Rock ?)
And the Stream Getting Small, I left off the Survey.
9 Came to Mr John Bennetts and purchased some Provisions
10 Started for Bissetts Creek and Came to the Rochloft ?
11 Remained at the Head of rapids
12 Finding the Sand rough near the Mouth of Creek I was Directed to A road which Led to Mr A Dunlop's (4) Clearing
13 Having laid up our Canoe we Carried our Baggage on To an old Shanty on Bank of Creek (probably built by John Egan)
Commenced at mouth of Creek to Survey it as
Directed in my Instructions Took an observation this Night as per Data
14 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes 87.00
15 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes. Took a Solar observation as per Data
16 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes 94.00
17 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes 130.00
18 Being Sabbath Extremely Heavy Rain most of this Day
19 Continued Survey as per Field Notes 160.00 this being in part on A Red plain fair?
20 Continued said Survey as per Field Book 133.70
21 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes 52.00
22 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes 104.00
23 Continued Said Survey as per Field Book 88.00
24 Continued Said Survey as per Field Notes 25.00 Marked a Cedar Tree 15 in Diameter 30 links over the mile
took offset to creek 6.00 my Provisions running short I closed the Survey Having scaled the roughest and apparently
Crookedest part of the Creek of which there Could Have been but little advantage taken in winter returned part of
the way towards the mouth of the Creek.
25 Being Sabbath Spent in for our return Homewards
E-mail Allan Lewis
26 Having repaired our Canoe we Portaged our Baggage acrop the Rock Capetain?
(Roche Capitaine)Portage and came to the mouth of Bennetts Creek
27 Proceeding on our Journey homewards we Came to Point A Batami (Pointe a Baptême) the Deep River area
28 Proceeding on we came to the Callumuth (Calumet) portage
29 Having Crossed the Portage we were obliged to put ashore on the Island on account of A Strong head wind
30 Started and came A short Distance and was obliged to put ashore on account of a Strong Head wind
31 The wind Having Calmed we started Early Came this Day to Litchfield (Township )near the Head of the Calumet.
August 1 Being Sabath we Continued our Journey and Came to the Northern? Point
2 Came to the Chats and got our Baggage over the Portage
3 Came to Durham Lake (Deschenes Lake ?)in Nepean and Discharged my men and Laid up the Canoe in A plan Of Safety
4 Having arrived at home I went to Richmond to purchase some paper
5 Not being able to find proper Drawing Paper I Commenced writing and Copying my Field Notes & Diary
6 Went to the Grand River (Ottawa River) for my things which I had left there
7 Remained at home writing
8 Being Sabath remained at ditto
9 Remained at home
10 Remained at home Employed at ditto
11 Employed at ditto
12 Plotting from my Field Book
13 Employed at ditto
14 Employed at ditto From this to the 25 Employed at my own Business in Trying to collect? Means to
Go to Montreal with my returns of the above Survey
26 Started from Bytown for Montreal with my returns of the Survey of Said Creeks
27 Arrived in Montreal
28 Remained at ditto
29 Remained at ditto Being Sabath
30 Called on Mr Russell and received from Him Certain? For me of pay list
31 Remained at ditto
Sept 1 remained at Mr Andrews part of this Day Superintending the
Improvements of My Instrument
Personally appeared before me Mr I L Beaudry, Esquire The above named Hugh Falls P.L.S. and made oath that the above Diary & Journal
is Just and true to the Best of his knowledge and belief Montreal 4 Sept 1847.
Report of a Survey of Bennett's and Bissett's Creek by H. Falls P.L.S.
To the Honourable The Commissioner of Crown Lands
In accordance with Instructions received from the Crown Land Office at Montreal bearing date 23 Feb 1847 I have
the honor to report that I proceeded to the performance of this survey as soon as my circumstances would permit.
First I commenced at the Mouth of Bennetts Creek in accordance with my Instructions and proceeded to make an angular
survey based upon astronomical calculations and observations making each mile, upon
a tree blased on 4 sides as directed in my instructions. I found the land on this Creek of an inferior quality
being rocky and sandy the Stream Crooked, and in many placed ringed High Banks. I have however noticed in my
Field Book the nature of the soil and can to which I beg leave to refer, Mr.
John Bennett is the only settler living on or near it that I could see he has a wife and one son as there are no
other I deemed it unecessary to make a schedule of Squatters as directed in my instructions the area of
clearing may probably be near 100 acres for which see plan, having continued
the survey of said creek as far as it appeared to be important I left off and closed this survey and proceeded to
the survey of Bissett's Creek.
Signed H. Falls P.L.S.
Having found the mouth of said Creek proceeded I commenced surveying the same making an angular survey based upon
astronomical observations and marking each mile on a tree blased on 4 sides, the stream being very crooked and
in most places high land near the banks I run piquited? Lines as near the Creek as I possibly could. I have noted
in my Field Book the soil and timber area there being no settlers upon it with the exception of a
small clearing made by Alexander Dunlop (a Scot) of about 12 acres for which, see plan,
having continued said survey to the distance of 11 miles and the
country not appearing interesting and my provisions running short I closed the survey, the accompanying plan field
Book and diary which I hope render the whole sufficiently plain all which is most humbly submitted by
Your humble Servant
Signed Hugh Falls P.L.S.
Montreal 6th Sept 1847
February 25, 2015:
Here is a note received today from Wally Schaber:
Hi Al..I was reading this info about Falls survey and realized that Johnson ? portage is really Joachim ("da Swisha")
portage as Bennets is located just above Des Joachims
Footnotes (continued by Linda Falls)
1. Archibald or Alexander Boyd ?
2. According to Grace Johnston's article in Gloucester Roots, the general area Russell Rd, Walkley Road,
Hawthorne Rd was first known as Greens Corners after Gordon Green who settled at the corners in the 1830's,
He operated a sawmill on Greens Creek somewhere closer to its mouth. That name was apparently used until 1873 when it
was changed to Hawthorne.
3. This George Kemp could be the son of William Kemp & Susan Clarke. William Kemp operated Kemp's Tavern or he could be George E. Kemp s/o
John Kemp & Mary Hazelwood which is a closer relation. A George Kemp was born in 1828/30 and died July 10 1857 age 28 or 26 yrs. This would
make him 18 or 16 yrs at the time of the survey.
4. Alexander Dunlop, referred to later in the survey.
December 30, 2009:
In trying to find more information about Hugh Falls I discovered that Upper Canada repealed the Quebec law governing land surveyors
in 1818 (see new legislation, posted here, under date of December 30, 2009)and initiated their own process of determining qualified
land surveyors. Individuals had to apply to the Surveyor General for a licence, post a 500 pound bond (& how many of them could post
such a huge sum at that period of time?) They usually had to 'apprentice' with a licensed surveyor for an extended period of time
before they were granted their licence.
Hugh Falls received his licence in 1841. Since he arrived in 1818 in the Richmond settlement I don’t know if it took him till 1841
to come up with the 500 pounds or how long he had to serve with a qualified surveyor. I will attach the statute of the province
governing land surveyors (below) as well as Hugh's license. I don’t know if this is of interest to your readers. I don’t recognize
any of the other surveyor’s names & Hugh Falls is the only individual attributed specifically to Huntley township.
January 8, 2010:
Bells Corners Rifles Company of the Carleton Blazers, 1866
including the son of Hugh Falls on the left in the photo
Photo Source and Text: Our Times: A Pictorial Memoir of Ottawa's Past, page 36
See also the Bell's Corners Neighbourhood
May 11, 2013:
Here is a terrific book: William E. Logan's 1845 Survey of the Upper Ottawa, by Charles H. Smith and
Ian Dyck. This book was published by the Canadian Museum of Civilization in 2007, ISBN 978-0-660-19662-6.
The book transcribes Sir William Logan's diary and notes written in 1845 when he made an epic trip along the
Ottawa River from Lachine to Lake Temiskaming. Lots of detailed maps and information on early settlers
and interaction with the Algonquin Nation along the way. A great book to read as the year 2013 marks the
400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's first trip up the Ottawa River.
October 1, 2020:
Sir William E. Logan was the first head of the Geological Survey of Canada. The following 1908 photograph is from page 191 of
the book Construire une capitale - OTTAWA - Making a Capital, edited by Jeff Keshen and Nicole St-Onge,
University of Ottawa Press, 2001, ISBN 0-7766-0521-6.
And here is the Geological Survey Building at 541 Sussex Drive, c. 1890, page 213 of the above book.
For interesting notes made by another Bytown surveyor, see Michael McDermott.