J. Smyth Carter.

The story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 online

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Jones, of Kemptville, an engineer and ex-member of Parliament, whose views
were found to accord more readily with those of the committee, was employed
and instructed to make a second survey and assessment. He followed similar
lines practically, in fact used McGeorge's roll, slightly enlarging the interven-
ing or flooded lands and placed 45 cents per acre on the flooded and four cents
on the high lands. In round figures he made the flooded and what he
termed periodically flooded lands 18,000 acres each, and the high lands 64,000;
his total assessment, including roads, was $14,714.47. This report was pre-
sented at the January session, 1884, adopted, and the by-law providing for the
work provisionally passed. A committee of the representatives of the four
interested townships was again appointed, the only changes from the previous
year were that Henry Wallace, of Mountain, replaced George Walker, Wm.
Moffat, Winchester; M. F. Beach and B. H. Hayunga, of Wilhamsburg,
James Dickey.

The members appointed as a Court of Revision were, John McKercher,


Winchester; Reuben Shaver, Mountain; B. H. Hayuuga, Williamsburg; and
Adam Harkness and Richard Haines, Matilda. As slightly over half of the
assessment fell to the latter township it was accorded the odd member, and
Mr. Harkness was appointed chairman.

In the interval between January and June the assessment was revised, and
at the June session the by-law came up for its final reading. In the
meantime an active opposition had developed, and notwithstanding the con-
cessions made the highland men were dissatisfied; they did not appear to
understand that unless a better outlet were secured all drainage to the Nation
riyer west of Chesterville must cease; and several gentlemen, prominent
among whom was Matthew Carlyle, a farmer from Williamsburg, appeared
before the Council in opposition to the scheme. When the third reading was
moved by J. J. Colquhoun, and seconded, Thomas Hamilton moved in amend-
ment that it "be laid over until the next session of this Council to enable
parties interested to procure skilled evidence, and show cause why said
by-law should not be passed."

The vote on this was: Yeas Colqiihoun, Hamilton, Hayunga, J. G. Mc-
Naughton, McKercher, McKenzie (Morrisburg), Merkley Moffatt, Shaver and
Wallace 10.

Nays Ault, Baker, Brinston, Campbell, Duval, Edwards, D. A. Fraser,
A. Grant, J. A. Grant, John Grant, Harkness, Hanes, Mclntoeh, J. M. Mc-
Donald, McDiarmid, H. McKenzie (Lochiel), McNeil, D. A. McDonald, John
A. McDonald, D. R. McDonald, Tait 21.

The motion to read was carried on the same division. A sufficient majority,
but the unpleasant feature about it was that all the members of the com-
mittee, except those from Matilda had placed themselves on record as in
opposition, nevertheless they were re-appointed, given full powers and
instructed to go on and carry out the work as contemplated by the by-law.

Early in July the committee met in Morrisburg, and the engineer of Public
Works attended for the purpose of arranging for the supervision of the work;
but the antis were there in considerable force, headed by David Rae, of Win-
chester, an ex-warden of the counties, and Frank Tyrell, a barrister of
Morrisburg, employed to conduct their case. This strengthened the hostile
element in the committee so that they refused to take further action. The
chairman with one or two other members then sent a requisition to the warden
to call a special meeting of the Council.

This meeting was held in Cornwall on the 1st of August, and a by-law passed
rescinding the resolution appointing the old committee, o.nd appointing a
new one consisting of Adam Harkness, reeve of Matilda, chairman; Reuben
Shaver, reeve of Mountain; John McKercher, reeve of Winchester; J. J.


Colquhoun, deputy reeve of Williamsburg, and F. D. McNaughton, warden
of the Counties. The intention was to place the reeve of each of the townships
interested on the committee and associate with them the warden, but Mr.
Hayunga asked to be relieved as he did not propose to remain in the Council,
but at the re-appointment of the committee each subsequent year this rule
was followed, and Mr. Harkness remained chairman until the work was
finished, in 1890.

The committee at once advertised for tenders, and requested the Govern-
ment to send an engineer to make necessary specifications, etc., preparatory
to letting the work . On the 9th of September the committee met at Morris-
burg, all the members being present but the warden. Five tenders had been
received, the lowest being that of William Whitetread, of Wallace burg, 29|
cents per yard for earth including hardpan, and $1.00 for rock. As the plans
indicated an excavation of about 65,000 yards this seemed to be within the
estimates. The Government, however, declined sending an engineer or at
this stage taking any further responsibility.

In the meantime the opposition had not been idle. Michael Merkley, a
gentleman who lived in or near Morrisburg, and owned a farm in the rear
part of Williamsburg, and several others had canvassed the outlet or high
land men and secured a large subscription to contest the validity of the
by-law. This action known in the courts as "Carlyle vs. Stormont," had just
been entered, Mr. Tyrell acting for the plaintiffs, who were asking that an
injunction be granted and the by-law quashed. In the absence of the warden,
on whom the papers had been served, it was decided to adjourn and meet at
Dixon's Corners on the 12th. All the members were present at that meeting.
The tender of Mr. Whitetread was accepted and Mr. McGeorge was appointed
engineer. The chairman and warden were also instructed to wait on the
Minister of Public Works at Toronto with reference to the purchase of the
debentures, the application for which had already been sent. They were also
to make arrangements for counsel to act with their solicitor, J. P. Whitney.

From the way the suit had been commenced it was suspected that one
object sought by the plaintiff was the putting off of a decision until the foil ow-
ing year. This made the sale of the debentures to the Government an
important move in the game, because if once accepted their validity could not
afterwards be questioned, When the representatives reached Toronto they
found that the matter of the debentures had been referred to the Attorney
General's office. They could not prevail on him to purchase them, but he
agreed to notify the plaintiff that he would do so soon if they did not bring
the action to speedy trial. This was done and resulted in an agreement
between James Methune, the plaintiffs counsel, and Samuel Blake, who had
been engaged by the committee, and the Attorney General, that the case be


disposed of at the Ottawa sittings of the High Court, in the first week in

At this court Chancellor Boyd presided. Mr. Bethune was unable to be
present and the plaintiffs were represented by D' Alton McCarthy, assisted by
Mr. Tyrell; while Samuel Blake, assisted by his partner, Mr. Lash, and J.
P. Whitney appeared for the counties. The investigation was very exhaust-
ive, some twenty of thirty witnesses being examined. Mr. McCarthy ably
presented his side of the question in an address that lasted nearly two hours,
but the case had so utterly failed that Mr. Blake was not called on to reply
and it was dismissed with costs.

The debentures were immediately purchased by the Government, and the
following week the contract with Mr. Whitetread and his sureties, Patrick H,
and James Clancy, of Wallaceburg, was signed. At the next session of the
Counties' Council the warden, William McKenzie; an ex -warden, J. R. Ault,
and the chairman of the committee were deputed to wait on the Minister of
Public Works, Ottawa, and to, if possible, procure the early removal of the
dam as per agreement. The Minister, however, refused on the ground that it
was a local work; that the owners were unwilling to sell, and the Government
did not wish to forcibly expropriate, but he would still endeavor to procure
$3,000 to assist in the work of dredging.

This promise was kept. The following spring Mr. Whitetread and P. Clancy,
one of his sureties who had joined him in the contract, built a dredge at
Brown's bridge, the upper end of the works. While this was being done
Mr. McGeorge cross-sectioned and remeasured the earth to be excavated. The
Molesworth survey had been made twelve years, and the marks on the ground
were obliterated so that it was necessary to run a series of levels from the
upper end of the work to Chesterville. These revealed a long low shoal in
Winchester, which being a few inches lower than the one east of it, was always
covered with water and had been overlooked in making the previous survey.
In the South Branch it was found necessary in order to get an outlet from
the depth indicated at Brown's bridge by the Molesworth survey to take out
some 15,000 yards more than had been estimated from the bed of that stream.
The township of Matilda alone was interested in the Branch, and the repre-
sentatives of the other townships not being well disposed towards the work
objected to its being done. After taking out three small shoals, the dredge
passed out to the Nation. The balance of the work in the South Branch was
done two or three years later, but as it bad to be done with plows and scrapers
the contractor was allowed a thousand dollars over contract price for what
had been passed over.

The dredge had been constructed with a 45 feet crane with the view of be-


ing able with this to deposit all the excavated material outside of the ninety
feet cut. This did very well in the Branch and upper end of the Nation,
where there was little but the narrow centre cutting, but when Winchester
was reached and the heavy work began it was found insufficient, and during
the winter of 1885-6 two dump scows were built and a small tug procured.
From this east the centre cutting was deposited in the deep stretches between
the shoals and the outside ones as far back on the bank as the basin would
reach. The dredging was completed in December, 1887. The total quantities
excavated were 94,345 yards of earth and 340 of rock, at a cost of slightly
over $27,000, but the river was widened to relieve curves in two or three places.
Several very shallow cuttings that were not on the original plans had to be
made; some additional work was done in the Branch and at Cass's Bridge,
besides the allowance made for not being permitted to do the Branch work
with the dredge, these with the law costs, etc., brought the total expenditure
up to about $40,000, so that after expending the original appropriation and the
grant from the Dominion Government it was necessary in 1889 to levy on the
lands affected the further sum of $14,428.52.

Before the work began top of dam was very nearly at the same elevation as
the bottom of the river at Bogart's Rapids, two miles up stream, therefore it
could effect the level of the water further west only by reducing the current
at this point. Now, that this rapid had been lowered four. feet, and forty
per cent, of the material taken out east of the Forks came from below its
crest, the necessity for removal became obvious.

It had also become very much more difficult. When the work was initiated
in 1883 the value of the dam and water privilege which it was said was avail-
able for only four months in the year, was estimated at from two to three
thousand dollars . Soon after that the short line C. P. R. was built giving
good shipping facilities at Chesterville. Munro & Barrie, the owners of the
dam, had put up a very good roller mill and secured a contract for supplying
water to the road, and the dredging had so enlarged and extended the pond at
reservoir above that the water was available for seven or eight months.
Added to this a very lively opposition had developed in and about Chester-
ville. Munro & Barrie refused to sell, and a considerable effort was made to
throw doubt on the right of the counties to expropriate without their consent.
The Dundas members of the committee outside of Matilda had always been
lukewarm friends, and although B. B. Osier had given it as his opinion that
the Council had a right to remove the dam as at first contemplated, the
eastern members were unwilling to incur the risk of litigation.

There now seemed but two ways open to the friends of the undertaking, to
apply to the courts to compel the Council to complete the work in accordance


with the application on which the whole proceedings had been based, of to
proceed against the owners of the dam for flooding the roads. The latter
course Was adopted.

The whole of 1888 had been consumed in fruitless efforts to get the Counties'
Council to proceed, so nothing definite Was done until early in 1889. In that
year the Matilda Council consisted of A. Harkness, reeve; Carmi Locke and P-
P. Everett, deputy reeves; and J. E. Tuttle and J. W. Gilson, councillors. The
dam had been in the river sixty years, so it could be held by possession as
against the riparian proprietors, but as time does not run against the Crown,
it was open to the Cotmcil of the promoting township to bring the action, but
in the name of the Attorney General, and after giving him a bond for
$5,000 as indemnity against costs. To strengthen the Council a petition was
presented at the March session, signed by Levi Montgomery and seventy
others asking that proceedings be taken, and giving the personal guarantee
of the parties for $2,763.60 of the costs in the event of failure to succeed. On
motion of Mr. Tuttle, seconded by Mr. Gilson, it Was decided to enter the
action, and on the 15th of April the necessary bond was given.

The case came up for trial in June following. B. B. Osier, representing the
plaintiffs, and Mr. Lount, the defendants. It Was explained by Mr. Osier
that the township was not trying to deprive Messrs. Munro & Barrie of their
property, but to compel their consent to expropriation, the value to be de-
termined by arbitration. The judge suggested a mutual agreement, the
parties conferred and the required consent was given.

At the October session the necessary preliminary steps were taken for the
passing of the by-law and the appointment of arbitrators, Judge Carman
being appointed by the Counties; James Rayside, the local member for Glen-
garry, acted for Munro and Barrie ; and B. Pringle, of Montreal, as third
arbitrator. They brought in an award allowing $17,000 for the dam, Judge
Carman dissenting. The committee regarded the award as excessive, and it
having become known that Pringle was or had been a brother-in-law of Bar-
rie, appealed against the decision. At the January session of the Council in
1890 the matter was arranged on a basis of $14,500 for the dam, and $400 for
the costs of arbitration, each party paying their own costs in appeal. The
case for Munro and Barrie had been well presented by Irwin Milliard, a young
barrister from Prank Tyrell's office, Morrisburg, while James Leitch, of Leitch
& Pringle, Cornwall, performed a like service for the counties.

As several important drains leading into the Nation and South Branch
west of the dam had been commenced or projected, and the by-law could not
be completed before October without a special session, arrangements were
made whereby a contract was soon after let to Wm. Payne, of Brinston's
Corners, the lowest bidder. This was subsequently transferred to James B.


Smith, of Rowena, who did the work. D. R. Brown, C. B., of Cornwall, waa
employed to make the plans, estimates and assessment, and the committee
instructed to put in a claim to the Dominion Government for assistance on
account of their failure to carry out the previous understanding.

The committee soon after waited on Sir Hector Langevin, Minister of Pub-
lic Works, and presented their case, claiming that they were put to at least
twelve or thirteen thousand dollars extra expense due to their relying on the
understanding with the Government, and not including the dam removal in
the first by-lave. This was not disputed, and Sir Hector agreed to place $9,500
in the estimates provided that the additional amount required be supplied
from local sources. This was accepted, but only $5,500 were voted that year :
the reason assigned being that the Minister of Finance cut out the $4,000. This
latter amount, however, was subsequently paid.

The Local Government had also been appealed to and granted $3,000.
Mr. Brown's estimates placed the cost of the work at $20,430.14, making the
levy on the lands $11,930.14.

This with a small surplus that yet remained from the second by-law proved
sufficient to remove the dam and lower the shoal at Chesterville, cut down
three or four small shoals that the subsiding waters had left exposed, and im-
prove the cut at Cass' and in the Branch. The season was a good one and the
whole work was completed within the year,

Mr. McGeorge, reporting on it, said : "I have inspected the River Nation
from the head of the drainage works to the site of the dam at Chesterville and
have pleasure in reporting that the work has been completed in a very satis-
factory manner, both as to the work first contracted for and as to the remov-
al of the dam at Chesterville, and the trimming up of the river bed to conform
to the improvement at the site of the dam."

The effect of the work was to lower the general level of the water in the
river from three to four feet, to improve all the adjacent lands, and to render
cultivatable considerable spaces hitherto devoted to willows, black alder,
and such grasses as find their home in swamps.

Its effect on the surrounding country was to enormously stimulate drain-
age, especially on the slopes leading to the Nation river, and the people in the
vicinity of the stream soon realized that unless something more were done the
rapid inflow of the water would during excessive rains destroy their crops on
the lower areas. To obviate this it was necessary to devise some means to
enlarge or deepen the outlet. H. H. Ross, M. P., interested himself in the
matter and succeeded in getting the assurance from the Ottawa authorities
that if a dredge were built the Department of Public Works would see that
it was operated. There was still in the Counties' Treasurer's hands between


two and three thousand dollars of the last four thousand that was given on
account of the dam removal. And largely through the efforts of Messrs.
Weir and McOuat the Local Government agreed to contribute $4,000 provided
the assurance from Ottawa proved satisfactory.

The drainage committee had been continued in a modified form. James
Collison, of Dixon's Corners, having succeeded Mr. Harkness as Reeve of
Matilda, became chairman for a term. In 1895 the members were: Wm.
Banford, Reeve of Matilda ; Charles T. Whitteker, Reeve of WMliamsburg ;
Francis Elliott, Reeve of Winchester, and Charles Middagh, Reeve of Moun-
tain ; Mr. Banford being the chairman. These gentlemen co-operated, and
the dredge was built that summer, and commenced work in the fall, and con-
tinued in operation a couple of years. In the meantime the Government
changed, and Mr. Tarte, who was not favorably disposed towards the work,
refused to continue after the second year. A local deputation waited on him
at Ottawa but were powerless to persuade. It was here the genius of Mr.
Weir shone forth. When his friends were about to return discouraged he
said, "I will go and see Mowat." Mr. Mowat was then Minister of Justice
and had been Premier of Ontario when the grant to the dredge was made. It
will be remembered that it was on assurances from the Ottawa Government
that it was given, and it seems that Sir Oliver had been rather exacting and
insisted on having them so full that there could be no doubt about their
binding nature.

, When Mr. Weir started for Sir Oliver's office his friends Were afraid to ac-
company him, though a few of them plucked up sufficient courage to follow
him at a respectful distance. The minister received them standing, or rather
walking, with his thumbs in the armholes of his vest. Mr. Weir, after mak-
ing an irresistable obeisance, began : "When I first came to this coun-
try I beard on every hand what a fine lawyer Oliver Mowat was.
When disputes arose about Provincial Rights and the Boundary Award,
he proved himself more than a match for the great Sir John A.
Macdonald. In the Streams Bill affair he showed he knew more than either
Blake or McCarthy . When we went to him at Toronto with our papers
from the Ottawa Government, and he told us that we were safe, our docu-
ments bound the Dominion Government to keep the dredge running. We
came away satisfied, feeling that there was now no danger. We had Mowat' s
word, 'Man, man,' he continued, 'if it bound the Tories, don't it bind the

Sir Oliver turning, clapped him on the shoulder, saying, "Go home, Mr.
Weir, the dredge will run."

It did run for a time, but Mr. Mowat retired from the ministry; Mr. Weir
died; the work was done in a perfunctary manner, and ceased before it


had reached an outlet, or gone far enough to make any marked difference in
the river.

Not so, however, with drains flowing in; these have been prosecuted with
vigor until the acceleration of the incoming waters is at least as great as that
of the outgoing.

The completed drains in Matilda find an outlet in the Nation, the Munro,
Wallace, Barkley, Thorpe & Ellis, Devlin, Cook, Toye and Ault. The
smallest, the Barkley, being nearly two miles in length, and costing $1,400.00;
and the largest, the Toye, eight miles and a quarter, costing over $8,000.00,
The aggregate length of the eight being thirty-four miles, and the cost
$30,000, to which should be added $2,500 for outlet to drain in Mountain and
Williamsburg. There are also in course of construction or projected the
Brown, Doyle, Hanes, South Branch and Smith, twelve miles, at an estimated
cost of $10,200,

In Williamsburg the drains pointing Nationward, and either completed or
in course of construction, are, the Marsellis, Weager & McMillan, Whittaker
<fe McMillan, and Barkley. The smallest of these is the Weager & McMillan,
five and two-thirds miles, costing $2,300; and the largest, the Whittaker, the
same length, but costing $8,500. The Weager & McMillan is a branch or
tributary of the McMillan, the two being over ten miles in length and costing
nearly $10,000, The total length of the five, in round figures, twentyfive
miles, and cost $25,000.

The Winchester drains leading direct to the Nation are the Kittle Creek,
Dillabough creek, Lough drain, McMillan, Summers & Baker, Savage &
Jeffrey, Barkley creek and McKay creek. The largest of these is Kittle
creek, four miles, costing nearly $6,000, and the smallest, Barkley creek*
three miles, costing $1,100; the aggregate, thirty miles, costing about $20,000.

In Mountain the completed drains on this water shed are the Steinberg,
Miller and Inkerman dam, covering six miles, and costing $8,000; and the
Van Camp, which is a deepening of the North Branch that enters the Nation
at the Forks, the estimated length and cost being about nine miles and

Thus within the area included within the Nation river assessment
we find thirty drains constructed, or in course of construction, aggregating
116 miles, or an average length of nearly four miles, and costing in round
figures $117,000. Fully two-thirds of these are completed, and not one of
them could have been made had not the Nation river been deepened to afford
an outlet. When we add to this an area twice as large in the counties of
Leeds and Grenville, which sends its waters through this channel and in
which considerable work of the same nature is being done we may readily
conclude, as the fact is, that the inflow has been increased as much as the
output, and that during excessive rains the flood in the immediate vicinity


are lessened very slightly, the principal relief from the mere rapid flow of the
water being that they are of shorter duration.

The original work on the river was projected when the water flows in the
road ditches or through the shallow and imperfect drains made under the
Ditches and Watercourses' Act. It was done in advance of public opinion and
was probably all that could then be successfully undertaken. Now that these
matters are better understood, that the work throughout the county is being

Online LibraryJ. Smyth CarterThe story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 → online text (page 8 of 40)