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Tales of the Rideau

The Lost Barrel of Silver Coins: is there a lost treasure of silver coins waiting to be found on the Rideau? The answer is perhaps yes, the story has a factual basis.

Skeletons Under the Floor: The Tale of Oliver's Ferry: Who were the Olivers and did they really kill travellers and bury their bodies under the floors of their buildings?

Washed Away: The Tale of the Hogs Back Dam: During construction in 1828-1829, the Hogs Back Dam fell down not once, not twice, but three times. Why did this happen and how did they eventually construct a dam "perfectly impervious to water."

The Last Duel in Upper Canada: In 1833, to satisfy a matter of honour, two young men stood in field outside of Perth and levelled dueling pistols at each other. What happened?

The Blue Edged Bowls: in about 1797, a settler near Merrickville headed off to Brockville to buy a little bit of luxury - a set of blue edged china bowls. On his way back, he was making his way across a log over a creek when the bark came loose - and ...

A Rapid Ride: The Billings Shoot the Hogs Back "Falls:" There is a tale told that while chatting with Philemon Wright in 1814, the canoe carrying Billings family slipped into the current and plunged over Hogs Back Falls. Is the story really true? What happened to the Billings?

The Lake Lock: There is a lock separating Upper Rideau Lake from Big Rideau Lake. It's a very odd placement for a canal lock - why is it there?

A Rock for Dinner: Robert Drummond was sitting down for lunch in February 1831 when a large rock crashed into his house. Where did it come from?

The Grand Non-Opening of the Rideau Canal: In August 1831 Colonel By was preparing to officially open the northern end of the Rideau, from Burritts Rapids to Ottawa. But suddenly, the level of the Rideau River dropped below navigation level, cancelling the grand affair. Why?

The Wall of Water: In late May 1832, the foreman working to put the finishing touches on the newly completed lock at Upper Brewers heard a strange noise and looking up saw a flood of water heading towards him. Where had the water come from and what happened?

Bye By: Lieutenant Colonel John By's Fall From Grace: on May 25, 1832, Colonel By was making his triumphant arrival in Smiths Falls on the official opening cruise along the Rideau Canal. At that exact same moment, in London, England, a clerk was penning the instrument of Colonel By's demise - a Treasury Minute, removing Colonel By from duty and recalling him to England to stand before Parliament. How did Colonel By get into so much trouble?

The Failed Gates: in 1869, the gates apparently failed at Jones Falls, allowing one barge to crash into another, killing two men. But, was it really the gates that failed? What actually happened?

The Sluiced Superintendent: in 1899, Superintendent Phillips jumped onto a wooden grating covering a sluice tunnel manhole at Long Island. With a crack the grating broke and the Superintendent disappeared down the hole.

A Grave Revealing: in the early 1950s, a new gravel pit was being dug near Jones Falls. The loader dug up three skeletons and the work was immediately stopped. Unbeknownst to the crew, they were digging into the "old burial ground." Who is buried there and how did they die?

Malaria: The Secret Immigrant: every summer during the construction of the Rideau Canal malaria would strike. What exactly was it and how did it get here?

The Surveyors: Mapping the Rideau Route: from the first survey in 1783 to the final route surveys in 1827, our knowledge of the Rideau Route evolved. Who were these men and what did they do?

An 1832 Letter from Canada: Immigrants came to Canada seeking a better life - but it was a tough slog. This letter is a first hand account from one immigrant family.

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©1996- Ken W. Watson