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AYLMER: A Tale of Two Landings (1800-1830)

Updated: Apr 24

The Chaudière Lake Landing. Detail from a painting by William H.Bartlett 1842


THE CAPITAL CHRONICLES, from the very inception, have been all about telling stories from the Capital's Curious History - the history you were never told.

So, what is it about history that might make it curious? In a previous blog entitled The Trouble with History (which can be found here), I wrote how a curious history can come about by using the examples of the two established "founding histories" of Deschênes and Aylmer - the 2nd and 3rd colonial settlements of the Ottawa Valley. (Truth be told, I believe it is more accurate to say that those two settlements were actually a part of the first colonial settlement founded by Philemon Wright and his associates ... but allow me to just put that aside so as not to be accused of creating my own Curious History.)

To my way of thinking, Bytown was founded by Col. By’s construction of the Rideau Canal. Now, we all know that he didn’t do it by himself, so there’s room for the contributions of others to be remembered, but wouldn't it be curious to say that Ottawa was founded by John Scott, the 1st Mayor, or to say that Philemon Wright founded Ottawa?

NOTE: I must share: As soon as I wrote that, I googled “founding of the city of Ottawa”. The first thing I saw was: “1855. It was incorporated as a town in 1850 and as the city of Ottawa in 1855.” The next thing I saw was: “People also ask: Who founded Ottawa Ontario? The answer was Philemon Wright.” So, it appears that on this side of the river, at least, the Curious History of our towns may have been written by Google. God help us!

Calling something a curious history doesn't mean the story has no value. Calling something curious history is just a way of saying it doesn't contain the whole story, or it places undue importance on one part of the story. The problem with it is that the more the curious history gets repeated, the more other important parts of the history are ignored and forgotten altogether.

Let me give a clear example: Given recent events, we should probably have been more careful to not name Sir John A. MacDonald THE FATHER of Confederation, when we knew that there were 37 fathers of Confederation. Then when one of them would inevitably - and, as it turns out, literally - get knocked off the pedestal, there would always have been 36 others to choose from to take his place. I'm just sayin' ...

So, all that being said, here's a chronicle on the history that should be told about the early days of the 2nd and 3rd colonial settlements of the Ottawa Valley.

Why here?

THE STORY of colonial settlement here is easily understood as a simple tale of opportunism - land was made available, settlers took advantage of the opportunity. However, what may be less easily understood is what would have motivated people to pack up everything they own, sell their homestead, and travel to the utter wilderness that was the Ottawa Valley in 1800 to settle here.

Two circumstances of life in North America help to fully explain it:

  1. Estimates say that the North American population of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, overwhelmingly lived on farms (83 to 90%) [1].

  2. The vast majority of those farms were either a part of, or were in close proximity to the battlegrounds of empires: the Seven Years War (1756-1763), the War of Independence (1775-1783), and the War of 1812 (1812-1815).

With the horrors of those bloody wars and with a bellicose and unsettled American Republic ever-present, it is no wonder that people everywhere were dreaming of finding a peaceful home away from strife and hardship, looking for an escape to a place their families could be safe and secure.

Settling down

COLONIAL settlement in the Ottawa Valley only began in 1791 because the Crown made a conscious effort to leave it unsettled until then, essentially to protect the very lucrative fur trade on the river.

A Shanty on Lake Chaudière by William H. Bartlett c1842

But by the end of the 18th century, the British Crown understood as well the way of the world (read "international law") that required a nation to occupy and control the territories that it claimed.

So, the Provincial Executive Council of Lower Canada announced a new program called the Leaders and Associates land grant system [2], which was to become the principal determining factor guiding how all of the new settlements grew in the Ottawa Valley.

N.B. - It should be noted, here, that the Ottawa Valley was the territory of many Indigenous people, principally the Anishinàbeg, and the Valley was subject to treaty rights granted by the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Therefore, many today may say that the Crown (British Parliament) was craven in the blatant abrogation of its obligations when it opened the Valley to settlement but the Crown often knew nothing of the measures adopted by its colonial offices, and that was certainly the case in the Province of Canada. It is no excuse, but it explains the circumstances faced today by governments trying to clean up that mess.

Under the Leaders and Associates system, a patent of land ownership was granted to a settler after he or she had fulfilled all obligations with respect to the land - that is, the leader had to clear the land, put up a certain number of buildings, complete road work, and make a plan for a government village (remember this for later, it'll be important).

If the settler received the land as a free land grant, there would have been no patent. Patents were not issued at the time of the grant; they were issued after the settlement agreement was complete - and the process could take years to complete.

So, Philemon Wright, along with his brother, two brothers-in-law, a close associate [3], and children were drawn here in 1800 by the prospect of having almost unlimited land granted to them for the establishment of an agricultural community. Although Philemon had planned everything with his brother Thomas, Thomas would be the first person to die, just months after their arrival.

The pioneers

ALMOST immediately, Philemon began building the village that would support the agricultural community, while his son, 18-yr-old Philemon Jr. cleared their first farm, the Gateno Farm, on the shores of the Gateno River. The second farm, the Columbia Falls Farm, was cleared at the village site by the Chaudière Falls, at the easternmost edge of the Township of Hull. (Philemon renamed the falls Columbia but the name didn't stick)

The Chaudière Falls presented a formidable obstacle to settlement upriver (click here to read about the Three Portages of the Chaudière) because roads would have to be cleared almost immediately for the transportation of people and goods, and upriver was where the rest of the settlement would grow most quickly.

Theodore Davis survey of the Township of Hull 1801
The original division of land to Philemon's sons and associates in 1802 -GVHS A_39_Page_2

So it was, that in 1802 upon completion of a survey, the first (unofficial) division of the Township of Hull was made, with grants going to his two eldest sons, Philemon Jr. (20) and Tiberius (14), and to seven associates: (brothers) Ephraim and Edmund Chamberlin, James McConnell, Harvey Parker, Daniel Wyman (Abigail Wright's cousin), Luther Colton, and Isaac Remic.

The Chamberlin brothers had arrived here in 1801 with their father, Nathaniel Chamberlin, but like Philemon's brother, Thomas, Nathaniel died in the first year of settlement. Brothers Ephraim and Edmund were hired by Philemon to operate his mills at the Chaudière Falls. Ephraim would marry Philemon's daughter Mary (Polly).

The Wright mills were built in 1801 by a carpenter named Gideon Olmstead. Gideon would be involved in much of the affairs of the township for years to come, including serving as Captain of the Hull Militia. [4] Gideon and his wife Esther Andrus (Andrews) are my 4x Great-grandparents, as their daughter, Sarah (Sally), married my 3x great-grandfather, Philemon Wright Jr.

Like others, Gideon exchanged his original grant of land in the Township of Templeton in April 1808, for a lot in the Township of Hull, just above James McConnell's lots. Sometime around 1822, Gideon also donated an acre of his land to the community's protestant churches for the creation of the Upper Cemetery [5]. Later it would be known as the Bellevue Cemetery on Aylmer Road.

In 1806, as leader of the community, Wright would receive 13,700 acres of land in the Township of Hull and over 7,000 acres in the township of Templeton; at his death in 1839, the total reached 36,978.5 acres in several townships.

Theodore Davis survey of the Township of Hull, 1802 (contains info dating to 1830)

Between 1804 and 1820 some of the original associates would leave: Isaac Remic likely returned to America, Daniel Wyman eventually moved to the Eastern Townships, and Luther Colton left in 1805, conveying his land grants back to Philemon.

After 1806, several new associates joined the six who remained to create the two first villages by the Chaudière Lake [6]. They were Gideon Olmstead's two sons Zenus and Gideon Jr., Moses Edey, Simon Heath, Benjamin Chamberlin, William & George McConnell (James's much younger brothers), Robert Frost, and Truman Waller.

The land patents of the 1st pioneers at Chaudière Lake Landing (to 1821). (Google map of Aylmer)

The Deschênes Landing

THE SETTLERS would be quick to snatch up the best lots on the river upstream from Wright's village, and Wright had to get a sawmill, a grist mill, a foundry, and a store up and running quickly. As well, he had to ensure that there would be better ways of transporting goods and people than paddling canoes.

So, in 1802, Philemon gathered the associates to discuss the building of roads. It was decided that 600 man-hours per year would be devoted to the building of roads and bridges, and Philemon Jr. was put in charge.

A rough road - no more than a trail, really - was cleared past Philemon Jr.'s Britannia Farm (partially occupied by the Royal Ottawa GC, today) and on to the Deschênes Landing, just above the Deschênes Rapids. The road became known as the Britannia Road, also commonly called the Upper Road.

This first edition of the road followed the path that the Aylmer Road follows today but it took a sharp turn towards the river right where the Rivermead road is today. From there, it followed the line between the farms of James McConnell and Gideon Olmstead and led to James McConnell's cleared farm at the Deschênes Rapids. For almost a century, the road was known as the McConnell Road.

An informative depiction of a landing in the 1820s (Thomas Burrowes c1830)

On lot 15 of the first range, at the head of the rapids by the Deschênes Landing, James McConnell began digging a millrace for a mill, some time after 1810. Joseph Bouchette tells us that a mill was built as well.

After 1830, other mills were added to the same site, possibly by Ithamar Day and certainly by Robert and Mary Conroy in the 1850s, so the village that would slowly evolve there, came to be known as Deschênes Mills.

Division of Lot 15 between James McConnell and Ithamar Day (edited), Joseph Bouchette, 1845

The village at Deschênes Landing evolved slowly because, in 1804, the Upper Road was extended to Chaudière Lake farther upriver, to where Aylmer would later be and in the following years, Deschênes Landing would see much less traffic.

The new landing, the Chaudière Lake Landing, would give people better access to the Upper Ottawa River - especially important after 1806 when the timber industry began. By 1814, the Wrights had several timber shanties operating by the shores of Pontiac Bay, shanties that needed reliable provisioning but there were other pioneers who participated in the timber industry and the Chaudière Lake Landing was the perfect jumping-off spot to access the pine and oak of the Upper Ottawa.

Chaudière Farm Village aka Turnpike End

THE LAND at the Chaudière Lake Landing - almost 600 acres in all - was originally granted to Daniel Wyman but ended up in the hands of Philemon Jr., who, as the eldest son, was every bit a partner in the business of the family firm of P. Wright & Sons (founded in 1814). Philemon Jr. owned two of the Wright farms: the largest, Britannia Farm, and the first, Gateno Farm.

As such, in 1818, when father and son decided that they should take better advantage of the business opportunities that could be found at both ends of the Britannia Road, there began a building spree unlike anything seen in the township since the beginning.

Philemon Jr. cleared 30 acres for a farm, the Chaudière Lake Farm [7], which soon gave its name to a burgeoning village that included a store/tavern at the Chaudière Lake Landing, another store and a hotel (Wright's Hotel), all built by Philemon Wright Jr. That same year, the Wrights built another hotel (Columbia Hotel) in Wright's Town, and two years later, a third hotel (King's Hotel) was built at the steamboat landing.

A year earlier, the Governor of Lower Canada appointed three Pathmasters (Commissioners for Internal Communications) for Ottawa County. Philemon Wright, Joseph Papineau, and E.L. Dumont would draw up plans to extend the Kings Road through the townships along the Ottawa River, from Grenville through the "front" of the Township of Hull via the Britannia Road and lead to Nathan Merrifield's farm in the Township of Eardley. Nathan Merrifield was a pioneer who, in 1806, settled in what today is Breckenridge, where he cleared a large farm and operated a ferry.

Building the National Road by Carl Rakeman c1820

The Britannia Road was still nothing like the roads we see today. Building roads was a difficult process that required labourers to clear the trees and brush, remove the boulders, and fold the ground from the sides to the middle with plows and shovels. Then, the rocks were crushed to make gravel, the road surface flattened, and the macadam was applied to the road’s surface. The road was usually only wide enough to accommodate the width of a wagon or sleigh and had to follow the lay of the land. When it was completed, it could be quite treacherous, most especially after it rained or in the wintertime.

When the newly-minted Governor-in-Chief, Lord Dalhousie arrived in 1820 for a tour of the Canadas, he traveled to the Chaudiere Farm Village and the road was so bumpy that he & his entourage took a canoe back to Wright's Town. He then exhorted the townspeople to "fix the road". Harrumph!

So, with Philemon Jr. put in charge in 1821 the Kings Road plan was put in motion, the Britannia Road improved and became the Britannia Turnpike, a toll road. It wasn't long after that the Chaudière Farm Village was being called Turnpike End. In 1824, P. Wright & Sons owns 70% of the 2200 acres of the land occupied by Aylmer & Deschênes today.

It was on a steep slope leading out of Grenville where Philemon Jr. met his tragic end on November 30, 1821, at the age of 39. He had not lived at his Chaudière Lake Landing but he did manage all of its business for the previous three years. That awful accident would have the lasting effect, to this day, of leaving young Philemon Jr. and the early pioneers of Turnpike End, largely forgotten.

If you google "who founded Aylmer Qc?" you will find that you are given no clear-cut answer. As in the prologue, the first name you read is Philemon Wright Sr. and once again, that is a curious proposition. If you asked its citizens, many would have heard that it was Charles Symmes, but that is an equally curious proposition. How that curious history happened is ...

The curious history of Turnpike End

PHILEMON JR.' S sudden and tragic death left no one in charge of the businesses at Turnpike End, and so it was that his 23-yr.-old cousin, Charles Symmes, who was working as a clerk for his uncle Philemon Sr., signed a contract in 1823 to replace the younger Philemon as manager. At this same time, Symmes borrowed money from his uncle Philemon to purchase the lot in the village that was owned by the Olmstead brothers.

After five years as manager, a dispute between Wright and Symmes ensued, and Charles tore up the contract. Symmes still owed his uncle money for the lot he purchased and refused to pay his uncle. Philemon was forced to sue and Symmes lost his case in court, and was forced to repay his uncle the 25 pounds he owed to him.

This is what brings us to the curious history, which occurs because of three much-misunderstood elements of the story:

  1. The government village.

  2. The naming of the town.

  3. The incorporation of the city in 1847.

The term government village, as it applied to the Leaders and Associates program of Lower Canada, had a simpler meaning than it would today. The term, used by the Lower Canada Executive Council in its patent agreements with the Leaders, simply describes the lots in a settlement that would be allocated for the post office, the courthouse & the gaol (jail).

The process of creating a government village was first begun on June 15, 1819, in Wright's Town when Ruggles Wright was named postmaster of the Township of Hull, with the postal business carried out at Wright's Store. Not having completed the process by 1825, the Surveyor-General of Lower Canada then recommended - after much lobbying from the young businessman, Charles Symmes - that "Symmes Place" was the better of the two choices to establish a government village (the other choice was at James McConnell's Lot 14, now a part of Deschênes). The well-maintained landing at Turnpike End created years before by the Wrights, is what tipped the scales in favour of Turnpike End.

At that, the post office was to be moved from Wright's Town to Turnpike End. As can be imagined, the Wrights were not happy at the news and continued their own lobbying. [8]

Aylmer's pioneers (edited) - Source: The Aylmer Road - Le Chemin d'Aylmer, Diane Aldred

On that prospect, Symmes separated his affairs from P. Wright & Sons, and began preparations. In 1830, he had his 200-acre lot surveyed - dividing it for sale as village lots (all sold under the Tenure System Act or vendu à constitut) - and he named his government village Aylmer.

From this, to avoid creating curious history, what should have always been understood - but wasn't - is that the government village named Aylmer was, at first, just a subdivision of empty lots for sale, within an existing village called Turnpike End. That is the small part of Aylmer that was founded by Charles Symmes.

Symmes Inn by W.H. Bartlett 1842 - McCord Museum Collection

In 1831, Symmes would go on to purchase a lot adjacent to the Chaudière Lake Landing and build his Aylmer Hotel (later better known as Symmes Inn) and install his own wharf. In 1832, he then joined the partnership of the Union Forwarding Co., founded by John Egan, Ruggles Wright, and Joseph Aumond, to begin a steamship service from Turnpike End to Chats Falls, starting in 1832. Much later, he would become Mayor of the Town as well.

As a postscript to this curious history, in 1832, the government reversed its decision, strangely enough, to have the courthouse & jail built in Wright's Town instead[9], though, once again that plan never materialized. So, by 1840, after many complaints from the community at the delay, a Government Committee finally decided that the courthouse and jail would be located with the post office, in Aylmer, finally making it the legal and administrative centre for Ottawa County, and not Wright's Town. The courthouse was built in 1842 on Symmes' land on the east side of Court Street, between present-day Principale and Symmes streets. It looked like Symmes had won [10] ... but, did he?

Only three short years later, in 1845, that stone building burnt to the ground and court cases were heard in another Symmes building for a short while. A second courthouse was built in 1852 on land donated to the government in 1850 by Ruggles Wright, where it still stands today. [11] In the end, the Wrights may have preferred the county seat - the government village - to have been in Wright's Town, but having it on Wright's land was apparently just as good ... and the last word goes to Ruggles who made sure that the courthouse would stand on a lot directly across from Charles Symmes' home. The court eventually returned to Hull in 1897.

This brings us to the final part of the curious history: Some would have us believe that a town is only founded at its incorporation, and however that may be understood, it would leave it the whole founding story, recounted above, that spans the years from 1818 to 1847.

History told

THE FOUNDING STORY of Aylmer and Deschênes begins with the landings that were key elements of the Ottawa Valley timber industry, born in Wright’s Town.

The first purpose-built elements of the Chaudière Farm Village were laid down by Philemon Wright Jr., with the building of the Chaudière Lake Landing, the Wright Hotel, the 2 stores, a tavern, and the clearing of the farm - all built when Charles Symmes was a 19-year-old living in Woburn, Massachusetts.

The first purpose-built elements of the Deschênes Landing were laid down by James McConnell with a millrace and the mill built there. Deschênes Mills, the village, would grow principally from the mill to village lots on Wright's lot 16, and later on the lot that was shared by McConnell and Day, lot 15.

So, it may be tempting to say flat out that Philemon Jr. and James McConnell are the two men who founded those two settlements. However, to avoid creating a new curious history of the founding of the 2nd and 3rd colonial settlements of the Ottawa Valley, what should be emphasized is the important contributions made by ALL of the pioneers.

[1] Click here and click here for information about the demographics of life in the 18th & 19th centuries.
Facts About an 1800’s Agricultural Economy:
- Many of the farmers lived in a two-room house because they were poor.
- Horses were used for transportation and for working on the field.
- Most farmers did not own a horse because they were expensive to own.
- Farmers did not work on Sunday, and this was the day that the families went to church.
- Most farmers had large families of around six or more children.
- The children on the farm usually worked on the farm and were taught school at home. (Click here for more)
[2] The following link leads to a fascinating history of how the Leaders and Associates program was supposed to work and how, in many cases, it failed. In the case of Philemon Wright, the patents were appropriated in full knowledge and approbation of the Governor-General, and Philemon fulfilled his responsibilities as detailed in the contract with the Crown. Click here for more on the leaders and associates program.
[3] The following list of settlers arrived in the Township of Hull on March 7, 1800. Note the age of the children:
[4] The Hull militia became official in 1809, and by 1821 it numbered more than 125 men. The list, from Anson Gard's Pioneers of Upper Ottawa-The Humours of the Valley,1906 (pg. 83), is as follows:
Philemon Wright was Captain, and his son, Philemon, was Lieutenant (the latter's death is given in the roster as occurring when he was 39 years old and on November 30, 1821). John Allen was Ensign. Thomas Brigham, Christopher C. Wright and Joshua Wyman were Sergeants. The names of the privates were: Robert Klock, Jas. F. Taylor, Wm. Elder, Samuel K. Rollins, Charles Hurdman, John Snow, Calvin Radmore, Wm. Jones, James Dunn, Joseph Clemow, Francis Moore, Wm. Smith, H. Esterbrooke, David Heatherington, Edward Hurd, David and John Benedict, John Underhand, David Moore, Job Moore, Joseph Rice, James McConnell, Fry Holt, Wm. McConnell, George Routhy (George Routliffe?), Robert McConaghey, Wm. Cunningham, Robert Balmer, Hale Fulsom, Abram and David Olmsted, David Gardner, John and Christopher Allen, Thomas Ames, Laird Waller, Thos. Wright, Abijah Leonard, Samuel Edey, Wm. Grimes, Benjamin Chamberlain, Abijah Blanchard, Soloman Langdon, Samuel Benedict, Benjamin H. Wright, Nathaniel Chamberlain, Paul Wolf, Joseph Badham, Thomas Buck, Hiram Vawn, Joseph F. Booth, Richard Austin, Anthony Parker, Baptiste Focha, Charles Walker, Isaac Walker, Elisha Gilson, Wm. Dodd, Robert Munharvey, Wm. Eppington, James Goodin, James, Robert and Grims Green, Francis Clemow, Daniel McKay, Henry Olmsted, Elisha Sheffield, Joel Wilson, Steven Sargent, Josiah Chamberlain, John C. Eaton, Jacob and Augustus Romen, John Balonge, Paskel Barb, John Hawes, Haunts Peterson, Martin Bozena, James Chuse, John Tomey, Asa Hide, Charles Crilley, Peter, Antoine, Joseph, and Louis Dubey, Thomas, Leonard, and John Chamberlain, Martin Ebert, John Borroughs (was this Burrows, the once owner of Ottawa?} , Cornelius McKay, Charles V alen, Francis and Martin Sazena, Peter Blamson, James McCoy, Wm. Jeffs, Grove Chamberlain, Peter Baracuam, Joseph Sociere, John Bradley, Baptiste Bruley, Francis Sarette, Francis Barnaby, James Stevenson, Joseph Dora, Thomas Derrie, David David, James McCann, Joseph and Baptiste Deleryea, Francis Neddo (Nadeau?), Thomas and James Berry, Alvin Spaulding, Francis Varneu, Francis Bazama, Paul Baleel, Calvin Porter, Henry Sauter, Wm. McGee, Thomas Thompson, Edmund Chamberlain, Dudley Moore, Truman Waller, Charles Symmes.
There were a few other names, but they were so dim that I could not make them out. Captain Philemon Wright sends these names in as his report. He then proceeds to give us a fairly good ENGLISH "bull", by saying: "As there are no muskets belonging to this Company, I hardly think, it proper to return the NUMBER of guns.''
The annual drill or muster was held in the spring or early summer, "At the head of the Grand or Chaudiere Green," which is where now is the little park, or square, in front of the E. B. Eddy office. It then extended down to the river.
[5] In 1906, Ottawa historian Anson Albert Gard (1848‐1915) wrote the first history of Bellevue Cemetery in his book entitled Pioneers of Upper Ottawa‐The Humours of the Valley. In that history, Gard writes:
“First of importance is the name of Gideon Olmstead. It was he who gave the original Acre. He gave it with but a single proviso: ‘Free to all but one. No Rollins must ever be buried herein.’ Poor Rollins, who lived on a farm a short distance to the west, took this so to heart that he sold out and returned to the States.”
Gideon Olmstead acquired the lot in 1808 (GVHS archives, A-049). The oldest known burial in the cemetery is that of a 12-yr-old Anna Heath in 1830*. However, in recent history, stones that were scattered and illegible were removed and piled on the edge of the cemetery, so it is possible that there were earlier burials.
Gideon called it the Upper Cemetery (the Lower Cemetery being St. James Cemetery in Wright’s Town) but most people called it the Olmstead Cemetery.
After Gideon’s death, on May 14, 1837, the lot on which the cemetery sat was split up into parcels of 30 acres by the ten Olmstead children and sold to Mary McConnell’s brothers, William McConnell and Jonathan McConnell. A piece is also sold to Thomas Roberts.
Mary McConnell married Robert Conroy and she eventually bought the cemetery and three adjacent lots with a view to enlarge the cemetery from 1869‐1872. The enlarged Conroy cemetery was established in 1872, and in 1873, Mary sold her first cemetery plot to the Church family. The “new” cemetery was laid out by Bolton McGrath in 1884.
The Conroy family continued to hold the cemetery in the family’s hands, managed by Mary’s sons, Robert and William until 1902 when it was sold to Samuel Stewart, who operated it until his death in 1919, at which time it is inherited by the son, W.H. Stewart.
In 1945, Rev Archie Casselman, Minister of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church established the Bellevue Cemetery Company to ensure its continued use by the Protestant community of Hull, Eardley, and Aylmer. Today, it is directed by the three churches of Aylmer and two directors. The company purchased the cemetery from W.H. Stewart in 1945.
*N.B. - Aylmer historian Diane Aldred and others wrote that the earliest burial was that of Ann Taylor in 1812, putting in doubt that Gideon Olmstead had donated the land. However, in the Fall of 2021, armed with a water‐filled spray bottle and a flashlight, I investigated more closely and was quickly reminded that in history, one should always check the primary source. I went to At Ann Taylor's headstone, gently uncovered a date that was just below the grass, and sprayed the Taylor date with water. Shining the light obliquely onto the date, it revealed that Ann Taylor’s burial date was in fact 1842, and not 1812. The date below the grass was that of Mary Ann McClintock, the same process revealed it to be 1849 and not 1819. Now, the oldest known burial in the cemetery is that of 12 yr. old Anna Heath, who died in Feb. 1830. This info has been registered now and confirmed by the Bellevue Cemetery Director.

[6] Chaudière Lake, so-called by the early pioneers, is called Lake Deschênes (lac-Deschênes) today. Early 20th-century archaeologist - and Aylmer native - T.W. Edwin Sowter shed some light on this in a passage from his treatise Archaeology of Lake Deschênes, originally published in 1900 (The Ottawa Naturalist, Vol. XIII, No. 10: pgs. 225-238):
To those who are unacquainted with local topography, it may be said that Lake Deschênes is an expansion of the Ottawa River, extending from the Chats Falls, in a south-easterly direction, as far as Deschênes Rapids, a distance of about thirty miles, and averaging from less than one to upwards of three miles in width. This beautiful expanse of water was known to the old "voyageurs" as "Lac Chaudière," and was so designated at a time as com-paratively (sic) recent as that in which the late John Egan was mayor of Aylmer, as there is an old by-law, bearing his signature, in the municipal archives, in which the westerly limit of the Aylmer Road is described as Chaudière Lake.
A similar confusion of place-names, in this connection, is a source of annoyance to the student of natural or ethnic history in dealing with matters of local reference. For instance : Chats Island is now known to many as Moore's Island (Mohr's Island); Pointe à la Bataille has become Lapottie's Point,(sic) and Pointe aux Pins, the site of the Queen's Park, is known to summer visitors as One-tree Point.
It seems a pity that names given to these places by the pioneers of civilization should be thus lightly set aside for the prosaic nomenclature of modern times.
[7] From Philemon Wright's An account of the first settlement of the Township of Hull, on the Ottawa River, Lower Canada (Appendix to the XXXIrd Volume of the Journals of the House of Assembly of the Province of lower Canada. Fourth Session of the Eleventh Provincial Parliament.) The report was submitted to the Assembly in 1824, by which time, Philemon Jr. had died and Charles Symmes was manager.
[8] Despite the competition between Symmes & the Wrights, relations did not become as strained as many have intimated since the time. Symmes's independence and strong business acumen provided unusual competition to the Wrights, who were used to being Kings of the Valley, but the decades-long correspondence between them testifies to the continued good family relations that they had always enjoyed.
[9] Source: Hurling Down the Pine, John W. Hughson and Courtney C.J. Bond.
[10] Source: The Aylmer Road - Le Chemin d'Aylmer, Diane Aldred.
[11] The stone edifice, the only building mentioned in the British North America Act, included the county registry office and the jail, nicknamed the "hole" because of its cold, damp walls and indigestible meals. In 1869, a fire damaged the building, but thanks to rapid intervention, the files inside were saved. Reconstruction began immediately, and the courthouse reopened in 1870. When the court moved to Hull in 1897, the government donated the courthouse to the municipality, which used it as a city hall, fire station and library. Today, this heritage building houses the Centre culturel du Vieux-Aylmer. Source: Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec. Click here to see the article.

- Suggested reading to learn more details about the early pioneers of Aylmer, two excellent resources:

  • The Famous Township of Hull-Image and Aspirations of a Pioneer Quebec Community by Dr. Bruce S. Elliott. (click here for the PDF, see pgs. 342-345).

  • The Aylmer Road - Le Chemin d'Aylmer, Diane Aldred, pgs.

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Thank you for this article. It is so important to preserve our history. The Foran brothers came to the area in 1832. The limestone farm houses as well as the wooden house across from the cenotaph, are still proudly standing.


My people also settled in Aylmer. Neil and Flora Currie in 1828. They are buried in Pink’s Cemetery. Would like to discuss more offline. Thanks. Bob Currie clancurrie at mail dot com.


So fascinating and interesting. I love this. Thank you.


Yes I think that was the map we sent to Bytown archives a few years ago. Nice to see the LATCHFORD notation.


Curious History indeed! Great article. I found it fascinating.

Rick Henderson
Rick Henderson

Thanks, Mark. Much appreciated.

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