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Spring of 1816 Route

Map showing the 1816 and present day outlines of Big Rideau Lake and the location of Old Landing

Section Summary

Old Landing is on the east side of Portland, a spot now underwater between the eastern end of Sheep Island and the present day shoreline. Co-ordinates are approximately 44°42' 24" N and 76° 11' 03" W.

Detailed Discussion

The Rideau Lake destination for Kilborn's first group was a landing area near present day Portland, a spot where a scow was located. A scow is a flat bottom sailing boat with a blunt front, essentially a sailing barge. Unlike a sailboat with a keel, a scow could navigate shallow water. There is some mystery here, not to the location of where the settlers boarded the scow, which is identifiable, but why they used this location. Several histories show that the scow was operated by a Mr. Lindsay. We don't know anything about him other than that in 1816 he was living on a property on Murphys Bay of Big Rideau Lake.

Section from Lt. Joshua Jebb's July 8, 1816 map (Jebb 1816) showing the road to Lindsay's
(click on map for full size version)

On Joshua Jebb's 1816 map, based on Jebb's July 1816 Rideau route surveys, we see a road from Delta to "Lindsay's" at his Murphys Bay location. We even have a March 1816 description of this route which was used by Lieutenant-Colonel William Cockburn who travelled to Perth from Brockville via Lindsay's. "The Road from Brockville to the Stone Mill, a distance of 26 miles is excellent. From thence to Lindsay's House, which stands on the edge of the Rideau, a distance of 12 miles, the road is not so good, but even this Part of it is practicable for a Waggon during the Summer." (McKenzie p.128).

We also see the "Deep Bay" of Big Rideau Lake on Jebb's 1816 map, the destination for Kilborn's party. Why go to the Bay rather than to Lindsay's place on Murphys Bay? Why doesn't Jebb show a road leading to the Bay?

The answer for the missing road is likely a simple one, Jebb missed it (or the draughtsman missed it). In terms of going to The Bay versus Lindsay's, a destination requiring the cutting of a new road, a plausible explanation (detailed in the section of Old Landing to Perth) is that is where Lindsay overwintered his scow, in a sheltered bay near today's Portland. Going to that location meant they could load the scow and be ready to travel down the lake the instant the ice broke. While this is just speculation about the exact reason, we know that the destination, according to Kilborn, was the Bay, today's Portland.

Section from a March 1816 map (Sundries 1816) showing early roads
(click on map for full size version)

We have another map from 1816 (Sundries 1816), done in March 1816, that, while not as detailed as Jebb's map, shows more roads. We don't see Jebb's direct road to Lindsay's, but we do see two roads heading north to Rideau Lake. The road on the left may be the one Jebb's map shown as a dashed line noting "Direction of the New Road from Perth Settlement to Kingston" It headed to the Upper Narrows of Rideau Lake (today's Narrows) which was an easy ford in 1816 and may have been a route used by some early surveyors. That road shows up some on canal era maps, with an 1830 map (By, March 18, 1830, LAC NMC 12892 52/80) noting on the south side of the Narrows as being the "Road from Brockville " but on the north side it shows "from Perth, only used as a foot path, now nearly closed up."

The northern road on the right on the Sundries map may be Jebb's road to Lindsay's since it appears to be directed towards Murphys Bay. There is no road shown to the Bay as would be expected on a map done on or prior to March 1816.

Section from an 1818 map (Dickson 1818) showing roads to Lindsays and Old Landing
(click on map for full size version)

The next available map that shows the roads is the Dickson 1818 map. It shows both "Lindsays" and "Old Landing" with separate roads going to them. The map is very much out of scale but it appears to show the same Lindsay's road as Jebb does, with the road to Old Landing coming off an east-west road. Keep in mind that these road locations are more representational than accurate.

When I first looked at the route to the Bay a few years ago, this was one of the maps that convinced me at the time that they didn't go through Stone Mills, that they took a more direct route which the dotted lines appear to show. I've concluded that it is likely that the 1818 map is in error. It shows a road going across Upper Beverley Lake and then to Old Landing, but that road doesn't appear to exist on the 1816 map.

The evidence shows they went through Stone Mills and it clearly was the best road from Brockville at the time. Plus with that route you'd have a happier group of settlers since Stone Mills would have provided an opportunity for food, drink and perhaps even accommodations.

Section from Walpole's 1828 map (Walpole 1828) showing the road to Old Landing
(click on map for full size version)

Let's focus now on the Rideau Lake destination, the landing where the Perth settlers boarded Lindsay's scow. In 1818 it was being called Old Landing even though it was presumably only 2 years old (at least only 2 years with a road that could accommodate wagons going to it). Some history books refer to the scow operator as being "Old Mr. Lindsay" – but he is referenced that way by Leavitt in 1879 who referred to several men as "Old Mr. ...", meaning old in 1879. In 1816 he would have been Young Mr. Lindsay.

We have Kilborn's statement that a road had to be cut for the last 3 miles to reach the bay. Fortunately for us, that exact road, which does not exist today, is clearly shown on a couple of early maps, Walpole 1828 and Moody 1841.

In 1816 the level of Rideau Lake was about 6 feet lower than it is today. That water level change is due to the building of the dam at Poonamalie, part of the Rideau Canal system. By 1832, the water of Rideau Lake was raised by that dam and the location of Old Landing was flooded. That remains the case today. The 1816 shoreline can be generally reconstructed (using the hydrographic charts) and the location for Old Landing becomes evident when that is done. The 1828 map clearly shows it on the west side of Trotters Creek. That spot was a sheltered bay in 1816. Today that location is about halfway between the shore and the west end of Sheep Island. Sheep Island was part of the mainland in 1816.

So, while it remains a bit unclear why the scow was at Old Landing in April 1816, the location is clearly identified. We now have an exact destination for the Brockville group. So how did they get to Old Landing from Brockville?

Brockville to Stone Mills (Delta)

Spring 1816: Background Top Brockville to Stone Mills (Delta)
Perth, the Capital of the District of Dalhousie; from the N-East bank of the River Tay - painting by Thomas Burrowes, 1828, Archives of Ontario, I0002141

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