BOMBSHELLS

 

 


The late Doug Wagner, a well  known Kingstonian, operated Wagner Air a shuttle service between Kingston and Syracuse airports. During WWII he trained Canadian air-force pilots at what is now the Norman Rogers Airport. He wrote a personal history about his long-term career as a pilot, instructor and business person. Doug graduated from the Flying Instructor School at Trenton, Ontario, and joined the staff at Norman Rogers in 1944. In “A Tale of Two Airports” he relates a story about bombing practices with Colonel By Lake, just north of Kingston Mills as a target range.

From “A Tale of Two Airports” by Doug Wagner, 1988

Norman Rogers airport was constructed as a Service Flying Training School (STSF), part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and  designated as “No. 31 Service SFTS”. The whole complex included Gananoque Airport known as No. 1 relief landing ground, a grass field at Sandhurst, two practice bombing range, one at Kingston Mills and the other at Milhaven, a live firing range along the south shore of Amherst Island, two cine camera ranges along the canal crossing Wolfe Island and the other along Loughborough Lake, and to complete the complex, a marine section located at the SW corner of Collins Bay. There were 160 “Fleet Air Arm” students and over a thousand R.A.F. and Canadian staff. Eventually there were 110 Harvard airplanes.

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Doug Wagner told the following story…

The bombing  practice range was in the bay at the north-west end of Colonel By Lake. The wide bay is locally known as Draper Bay; it formed when about 25 acres of low lying grassland of the Draper farm was flooded in 1832 becoming part of the Rideau Canal system. Observers would be  located on both sides of the bay one on the Aragon Road and the other at the south-eastern part of the bay; a spit of land that is now part of the Edenwood estate.

“One day, after we were done with the practice, usually around five in the afternoon, we played a nasty trick on the people who would come from all over to wait for us to quit. As soon as we did they would run from outside the range onto the ice to where the bombs had fallen and try to retrieve the bombshells that had not exploded because they were  only charged with a small amount of explosives, just to look realistic for the trainees. The shell castings, when they could get hold of them were readily sold as scrap, and for that reason lots of people were eagerly waiting to retrieved them from the shallow lake.”

“As always we had finished our last training run at the lake and normally we would fly back to Norman Rogers, but I suggested we might scare the folks who already had gathered on the ice.

“Lets turn around and do as if we have one more run at it…”

“So we did. We came in very low and you should have seen them run, slip and fall all over the range, it was hilarious.”

“Well what would you have done in the same situation?

“Yeah, thinking about it now, it was a bit of a bad joke. But at the time we laughed our heads off, it was funny to see them run, slide and fall over themselves…”

 

airplane harvard

A Harvard airplane used for the training of pilots at Norman Rogers Airport in 1944

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THE “ARIGAN”

 

Told by Mary I. Draper, Mount Chesney, Ontario. November 15, 1944.

(Retyped from a document made available by Jackie Duffing, Aragon Road.)

The first permanent British settlers of Kingston and the surrounding county took place at the close of the American War in 1814. At this time a great mill was built by the Government at Kingston Mills on the Cataraqui River. Settlers from far and  near brought their grains here to be milled and those north of the mill traveled by way of a route which is now known as the Arigan road crossing land south of this road and then by boat during the summer and by ice in the winter to the mill. [1]

At a distance of four miles from Kingston junction along the Montreal and Battersea roads between the 5th and the 6th concession is a forced road leading to a water called the Rideau Canal High Banks, this road is two miles long almost level and commanding a view of water all the way. This section consist of about 1500 acres and the names of Fair, Keenan, Moore, Draper, Black, Dowling, Graham, Corrigan, Hogan as well as several others recall the early owners of these broad acres. [2]

This land was formerly Clergy Reserves but by permission of King George IV and later by Queen Victoria it was surveyed and sold. In 1845, the twelfth year of Queen Victoria’s reign, it was deeded to the early settlers. The sale price was in pounds sterling and ever at that early date the price paid was substantial. The deeds were written on parchment and, Lord Elgin who was he Queen’s cousin was the Governor General. This district seems to have been settled even earlier than that date as evidenced by the remnants of dwellings which are still visible. In the Draper farm, and no doubt on all the other farms, there are garden flowers at one spot, a cellar excavation at another spot, and a foundation of stones on which a house had been, at another spot, silent reminders of the pioneers of Canada.

When the Imperial Government built the Rideau Canal many fertile acres were confiscated although still covered with large trees whose stumps still show above the waters.[3] The Draper farm lost 28 acres which are now under water and the other farms lost as many according to the width of their holdings.[4] This was considered necessary to for the Locks for the passage of ships at Kingston Mills and to connect the Cataraqui river with the Rideau rivers and lakes. The British Government provided the funds for the building of the Rideau canal and the Canadian Government promised to keep it in operation and in good repair. It was built to connect Fort Frontenac (Kingston) with Ottawa. This was considered necessary in case of another war with the United States. At this time this was quite a possibility but it has never culminated, nor never will, we hope. An English engineer founded the present city of Ottawa in 1826. He was an officer named Colonel John By and the chose Bytown as head quarters for his men when he was in charge of the Building of the canal which was built during the years 1826-1832. (foot note 5 has been deleted and the correct period for the building of the canal has been inserted, H.Wevers, editor)

At the end ofthe Arigan road a passage was dug deep enough for large vessels. Here the water is very deep. It is called the High Banks. A person can easily row the distance of about 100 yards in a few minutes. It is just a stone throw. Ships carrying freight often unloaded here. The brick for George Vair house was unloaded at this point.[6]

After the canal was built, for many years much transportation was carried on both by freight and passenger boats. The Rideau King & Queen both made regular trips from Kingston to Ottawa carrying as many as 200 passengers. Its last trip was made in 1914 but still few vessels pass this way as well as some privately-owned yachts and pleasure boats.[7]

The land in this section is deep and very fertile and sloping to the Rideau is well drained. Stones are few and it is almost impossible to find one “to start the water-rings or set the rabbits scurrying.”

Formerly it was covered with heavy forests and still nearly every farmer has a wood-lot which includes a sugar-bush. It is especially well-adapted for grain-raising and the deep soil of the pasture-land make it valuable for milk production. A bridge was to have been built at the High Banks to connect Pittsburgh township with  Kingston township but owing to a change in the political party then in power, the project was neglected and the plan forgotten. A few ago a survey was make with the ideas of connecting it up with the new scenic highway.[8]

About fifty years ago a cheese-factory was built by John Hogan Sr. to service the farmers who all had large herds of dairy cattle. It was he who named it the Arigan formerly called the Oregon Territory.

The telephone system was installed here in 1900 and the Draper home was the second (Hemlock Park the first) to install the Hydro in this section or surrounding distric (sic) in November 1932. The first settlers got their mail in Kingston, later in Mount Chesney and in 1903 the Maple Lawn Post Office was opened with Mrs. John Hogan Jr. as post-mistress. When rural mail delivery was inaugurated in 1913, this office was closed and daily mail was delivered from Glenburnie post-office while Archie Bruton as he first mail-order courier, succeeded by Bruce Graig. In 1941, the Glenburnie post-office was closed and mail was delivered from Mount Chesney Route #2.

Religious worship was attended first at Kingston and  later two churches were built in Glenburnie and one across the canal near Kingston Mills. The children received their primary education at a school on the Black farm which was rebuilt by a stone building on the 6th concession.[9] At the present time this community has many attractions and very many advantages. During the summer it is a renduvous (sic) for tourists, who own cottages and others who come to fish and the waters are also used bathing. During the spring trapping is carried on extensively. Muskrats abound all along the shores and thousands of these fur-bearing animals are taken away each year. This is also a good location for duck-hunting and many local hunters report good bags of the best of fowl, the wild duck. Some hunt for rabbits, which are here in great numbers, and are considered a delicacy. In the winter season the ice provides excellent free skating-rinks and during the dry season the nearness to water is a real advantage. For sheer beauty and for an opportunity to see plenty of wild-life, I readily suggest that you take a drive this way, if the chances ever come. In the summer of 1942 the Dominion Govt. opened a bombing-school at the western end of the waters across a bay on either side of which were built stations where observations can be taken and recorded. As many as two hundred bombs are dropped in a single day. The sound of the aeroplane precedes the flash of fire when the bomb strikes the water and the “bang”, a second later, gives us a taste of what the war-stricken countries have had to contend with in real earnest. This bombing continues from morning till sunset during fair weather. It has been the means of scaring the fish from the waters near by and also the wild ducks which came here in great numbers  before this school opened. [10]

In closing I must refer to some who have made good in many spheres both industrial and professional. I mention Rev. F. Corrigan of Westport. Sister Nurse Margaret Black of Brockville. Nursing sister Dolly Black Stafford of Oshawa who served overseas I the First World War. Teacher and nurse Keitha Black of New York City. Music teacher Florance Hogan who started several on a musical career as well as the Medleys who spent their earily (sic) childhood here and who are both graduates of Queen’s University. Also Private Frances Black who has paid the supreme sacrifice in Italy on October 14, 1944. He lived with this uncle W.J.Patterson Mount Chesney for eight years until he was called for military training in January 1941. He served in England, Africa, Sicily and Italy. He was a son of John and Alice Black of RR#3 Kingston near Cataraqui, a grandson of the late Patrick and Elizabeth Black of the Arigan and of the late George and Agnes Patterson of Mount Chesney.

Foot notes:

[1] This was before the Rideau Canal was built and the farmers crossed the land between the precursor of the Aragon Road to the banks of the Cataraqui River and used this waterway to ship their grain to the mill

[2] This it the Aragon Road running from Battersea Road to Alan Point. The water Colonel By Lake formed by flooding the land bordering the Cataraqui River in 1832 when the Rideau Canal was built.

[3] Many large cedar and white pine tree stumps are still visible outside the marked navigational canal in 2013, more than 180 years after the flooding. The  winter ice slowly grinds the stumps down to below the waterline, and also moves the tree stumps, called “deadheads” to different nearby locations. Some end up in the natural shoreline of the lakes and canal banks.

[4] The land that was confiscated was indeed fertile since it is an extension of the lands to the north of Aragon Road that is designated Class A agricultural land in the City’s Official Plan,Schedule 3-B, Land Use.

[6] The dug canal is in fact shallow, 8 to 9 feet deep according to a map printed by Surveys and Mapping Branch, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. The banks are indeed relatively high and show the deep layers of clay of the fertile land.

[7] The Rideau King and the Rideau Queen built by the Davis Dry Dock Company of Kingston were state of the art passenger and freight vessels, equipped with electric lights, a first class dining room and staterooms painted in creamy white and finished to the highest standards. See separate stories on the Rideau King.

[8] Highway 15

[9] Is this the limestone house near the Glenburnie public school

[10] Part One of Two Airports by Doug Wagner or click here to go to “Bombshells”

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The Rideau King leaving Jones Falls on its way to Kingston Mills and the City of Kingston.

Photo credit: the Kennedy family, Hotel Kennedy, Jones Falls, ON.

RideauKing Jones Falls large file cleaned in paint

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WILMA GRAHAM’S STORY

Wilma Graham, at 93, is the oldest person living on the Aragon Road and she is a walking history book. Her memories about the road go back to 1953 when it was not more than a rough right of way. We are happy to share with you the anecdotes collected by one of our neighbors several years ago.

Cecil and Wilma lived on the Aragon Road, where Wilma moved in 1953. Their beautiful brick farm house is surrounded by century old maple trees and prime agricultural land all around. The farmhouse looks out over the fields that border Esther Bay part of Colonel By Lake. The land between the house and the lake has been donated in 1994 as parkland to the then Kingston Township, now part of the City of Kingston.

colours oct 2011 graham prop.ajpg

The Graham farm house. Photo credit Henk Wevers, 2009.

cecil wilma graham park 2014

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Wilma Graham’s Memories of Aragon Rd.

 The Grahams came from Ireland during the potato famine between 1845 and 1852 and first settled in Prince Edward County, if you get off the ferry at Adolphus Town to Picton, the first road to the left is where they stayed.

The government offered land along the Rideau Canal, about 20 to 40 acres, to settlers and a few took them up on it, that is the land along the Aragon Road and Colonel By Lake all the way to the canal. It was supposed to be enough to build a house and grow your own food. Some sold soon afterwards and moved on. The ones that stayed bought it and expanded their land.

One day in the spring or summer, Cecil introduced me to his family. His grandparents who lived by then in the red brick house that was built in 1905, had moved the “ cottage” that had stood in the front of the current house, to where the barns are and had made it into a hen-house. I had a small lapdog with me and we all went over to the island across the road for tea. The darn dog ran loose and went after the chickens. Cecil’s grandmother was furious and admonished me to keep that dog away from her chickens.  That was the only time, I remember, I saw Cecil’s grandmother.

Several years later, when I came to live on this road at the end of Sept 1953 it was a dirt road. It was called a “forced road”. [i] Cecil Graham and I had just married that year and that winter we stayed in our farm house but the stove was not the best and it was bitterly cold.

The next winter we stayed at Cecil’s parents’ farm just south of the Aragon Road on Battersea Road and Maple Lawn Drive. Cecil commuted the short distance to his farm to take care of the cattle. I would come along on occasion and one day we got stuck in the deep snow, just at the limestone house west from us where. We had cows in the barn that had to be fed and watered every day, so Cecil had to walk on to our place and also check the fire in the stove in the house as we were staying that winter with Cecil’s Mom & Dad as it was a cold one. Now we call it “the other farm” and keep sheep there. The address on this road was Mt. Chesney. [ii] The only traffic was the mailman once a day. He also delivered the Whig Standard.

There were only 8 houses on the Aragon Road then. The first was the big white house on the north side where the Locketts lived. He owned Lockett Shoe store in Kingston. Way back that house was a red brick house with exactly the same layout as our house, it must have been built before or after 1905. They stuccoed it and in the late 1980-s they built onto it. There are two stairs going up and when you come on the landing the one staircase has a nice banister and there are two doors, one for the master bedroom and the other for a smaller bedroom, then there are two smaller kind of walk-in cabinets. Then towards the rear is a door that gives access to the space for the hired hands.

Next on the north side of the road was Drapers’ farm, two sisters lived there with their brother.

Next was the stone house that Drs. Wolfe and Duffin live in now. Dr. & Mrs. McCuaig (Peter Milliken’s Grandparents) lived there then in 1953. He was a doctor at the Rockwood Psychiatric Hospital off King Street beside Ontario Park.

Next came the Shortell farm with a big red barn and large windmill. Across the road, on the land which is now part of the Dept. of Lands & Forest, was a frame house that later burned down. The road off Aragon Road to the Shortell farm house is called Fitzpatrick Road after the farmhand who worked on the Shortell farm. The Shortell farm was left to Brendan Fitzpatrick, the hired man, and nothing left to his daughter, Marian Shortell. [iii] Is this really true? Who knows, that was the story I heard. Marian took Fitzpatrick to court and got 2 fields east of Fitzpatrick Rd. on the north and south side of the Aragon Rd. Mr. Edward Graham (Cecil’s dad) bought both of them and they are now called Marian’s Big field and Marian’s little field. The little field on the south side now belongs to the city as well as the field in front of our house on the south side of the road except for the boathouse and the island on Esther Bay.[iv] There is a right of way from our property over the donated land to the island and the boathouse.We had so many good times there. Having a picnic every Sunday, plus swimming, barbecuing lunch and quite often supper. Henry suggested that we called the island Paradise Island.

Brendan Fitzpatrick died and his wife sold the farm and moved to town. Bob Chippier , a Tim Horton owner, bought the farm and turned the house into apartments. He also turned the barn into apartments and tore down the windmill. The barn didn’t last long as it burned down shortly after someone moved in. He built the big brick house across the road. Jack & Carol Colden bought it and stayed in it for about 10 years. Now the owners of St. Lawrence Pools live there.

Henry is the second youngest of the Lach family we took in as foster parents, five kids age six to fourteen; that was in about 1958. We have no children of our own and we have fostered other children as well, nine in total. Michael one of the Lach family sadly died at age 40, the middle boy went west and got a job there, the oldest went into the army and later got a job in Kingston in computing. Mary and Henry stayed on the farm, but Mary now lives in town and Henry is here. Our youngest foster kid was only 11 month, he was adorable and we would have loved to adopt him, the father could not take care of him and he had a sister in south-western Ontario and she took him in later. He is still in contact with me and sends me nice cards and best wishes on my birthday, mother’s day and other special occasions.

At the end of the road is the limestone stone house that John Hogan built, must be before 1878, as it is shown on the atlas of that time. Mr. and Mrs. Hill lived there when I came. Shortly after 1953, Mrs. Hill died and a niece, Barbara Stather, from the UK came over and helped out on the farm. Mr. Hill and Barbara would go to market on Tuesdays and sometimes on Saturday to sell eggs as they had hens.[v]

At the point on the water overlooking the canal and Colonel By Lake was the cottage of Col. Boutilier. There was a right of way from the end of the road to the water’s edge. Later Herb Leach and his wife owned the place, and now Herb Leach Jr. lives there.

Each of our fields has the name of the ones who sold out and moved on, like the field to the west of our house, it was owned by Jas Kennedy, twenty three acres when he sold it. There was a barn on the south side of the road across from the field we call Kennedy’s. The barn was moved up beside our driveway and is now called our Hay Barn. Cecil and some men and several horses  dragged it across the field on large beams, like a sled, then across the Aragon Road and into the location where it is now.

Col. Fair bought a lot of land at each end of the road. He had Hemlock Dairy in town and owned and lived in what is now Fairmount (where I might end up). Col Fair sold to a group of farmers from western Ontario in 1953 or 1954, (Cliff Allen was one of these men as were Morley Mills & Jim Little). They built houses at the beginning of the road for themselves and some of their workers.[vi]

By now stone was put on the road in some places.

Col. Boutillier had passed away in the mid-nineteen fifties and left his place to his niece Mrs. Herb Leach. They moved in a year or so later. That, and the ones farming on the land made more traffic. The fields at this end were used for pasture and the Co-op farmers requested a gate be put on the road at the end of our place to keep the cattle in, but it was refused.[vii]

The red brick part of my house was built in 1905. The brick was brought down the Rideau by barge from Seeley’s Bay and unloaded at a wharf at the end of our road onto wagons pulled by horses to their lot where the Grahams lived in a cottage on the lawn. The foundation stones are now the foundation for the Hay barn that was moved up from the south side of the road across from Kennedy’s field.[viii]

The first residential house was built in the late 1950’s on the south side of the Aragon Road to the east of our farm, by the Morrisons and Perkins. Hilda & Harry Perkins and their two children lived in one room while they built the rest of the house. He worked at the weather station at the airport and was moved to Sault St. Marie. There Hilda left him and took the two children, Rolfe & Nicolette. Hilda now lives in Sweden and Rolfe and Nicolette live in California and both are married. The Morrisons built on the first lot east of our place. We met their 2 kids first. Mr. Morrison had brought wood and other things and a lawn mower to their lot and left the 2 kids to cut the grass. We heard someone calling for help and saw the boy running toward our house with the lawn mower. He told us that the wood his Dad had left was on fire. We went down and put it out, then came back and phoned his father.

In 1969 Dr. Reese, from Pennsylvania came and wanted to buy a lot from Cecil. He said that he had fished in this bay for 25 years all the time staying at Jones Falls, but he wanted to live closer. Cecil said “NO” but to try the Co-op farmers. He did get a lot and built. He also bought a lot next-door for his son. Dr. Reese lived only 2 years more and in his last summer he was flown up so that he could spend some of the last time he had here. The pilot flew him low over the bay and his house. We were all out waving. His wife, Bobbie, and I drove him home to Stroudsburg later in the summer. It was my first and only time riding in a Cadillac. His family stayed for about 10 years. His son also sold his lot.[ix]

Cecil’s Dad and his brother Michael were born in the house where I live. Cecil’s Dad said two Indians lived on the back corner of the Graham farm. On papers I have, the north line of our property says Ordnance Reserve, so it is likely they did. Henry says, “Mr. Graham said one was Joe Cole,” and I can’t remember the other one’s name.

What follows is a continuation of Wilma’s story written down on February 12, 2011 at the house of Dr. Patey.

The far end of the property, which is like a peninsula, is owned by the Lands & Forest Department and is called Casey’s Point, it is across from Fitzpatrick Road.

We had so many good times there. Having a picnic every Sunday, plus swimming, barbecuing lunch and quite often supper. Henry suggested that we called the island Paradise Island.

Henry is the second youngest of the Lach family we took in as foster parents, five kids age six to fourteen; that was in about 1958. We have no children of our own and we have fostered other children as well, nine in total. Michael one of the Lach family sadly died at age 40, the middle boy went west and got a job there, the oldest went into the army and later got a job in Kingston in computing. Mary and Henry stayed on the farm, but Mary now lives in town and Henry is here. Our youngest foster kid was only 11 month, he was adorable and we would have loved to adopt him, the father could not take care of him and he had a sister in south-western Ontario and she took him in later. He is still in contact and sends me nice cards and best wishes.

At the end of the road is the limestone stone house that John Hogan built, must be before 1878, as it is shown on the atlas of that time. Mr. and Mrs. Hill lived there when I came. Shortly after 1953, Mrs. Hill died and a niece, Barbara Stather, from the UK came over and helped out on the farm. Mr. Hill and Barbara would go to market on Tuesdays and sometimes on Saturday to sell eggs as they had hens.[v]

At the point on the water overlooking the canal and Colonel By Lake was the cottage of Col. Boutilier. There was a right of way from the end of the road to the water’s edge. Later Herb Leach and his wife owned the place, and now Herb Leach Jr. lives there.

Each of our fields has the name of the ones who sold out and moved on, like the field to the west of our house, it was owned by Jas Kennedy, twenty three acres when he sold it. There was a barn on the south side of the road across from the field we call Kennedy’s. The barn was moved up beside our driveway and is now called our Hay Barn. Cecil and some men and several horses  dragged it across the field on large beams, like a sled, then across the Aragon Road and into the location where it is now.

Col. Fair bought a lot of land at each end of the road. He had Hemlock Dairy in town and owned and lived in what is now Fairmount (where I might end up). Col Fair sold to a group of farmers from western Ontario in 1953 or 1954, (Cliff Allen was one of these men as were Morley Mills & Jim Little). They built houses at the beginning of the road for themselves and some of their workers.[vi]

By now stone was put on the road in some places.

Col. Boutillier had passed away in the mid-nineteen fifties and left his place to his niece Mrs. Herb Leach. They moved in a year or so later. That, and the ones farming on the land made more traffic. The fields at this end were used for pasture and the Co-op farmers requested a gate be put on the road at the end of our place to keep the cattle in, but it was refused.[vii]

The red brick part of my house was built in 1905. The brick was brought down the Rideau by barge from Seeley’s Bay and unloaded at a wharf at the end of our road onto wagons pulled by horses to their lot where the Grahams lived in a cottage on the lawn. The foundation stones are now the foundation for the Hay barn that was moved up from the south side of the road across from Kennedy’s field.[viii]

The first residential house was built in the late 1950’s on the south side of the Aragon Road to the east of our farm, by the Morrisons and Perkins. Hilda & Harry Perkins and their two children lived in one room while they built the rest of the house. He worked at the weather station at the airport and was moved to Sault St. Marie. There Hilda left him and took the two children, Rolfe & Nicolette. Hilda now lives in Sweden and Rolfe and Nicolette live in California and both are married. The Morrisons built on the first lot east of our place. We met their 2 kids first. Mr. Morrison had brought wood and other things and a lawn mower to their lot and left the 2 kids to cut the grass. We heard someone calling for help and saw the boy running toward our house with the lawn mower. He told us that the wood his Dad had left was on fire. We went down and put it out, then came back and phoned his father.

In 1969 Dr. Reese, from Pennsylvania came and wanted to buy a lot from Cecil. He said that he had fished in this bay for 25 years all the time staying at Jones Falls, but he wanted to live closer. Cecil said “NO” but to try the Co-op farmers. He did get a lot and built. He also bought a lot next-door for his son. Dr. Reese lived only 2 years more and in his last summer he was flown up so that he could spend some of the last time he had here. The pilot flew him low over the bay and his house. We were all out waving. His wife, Bobbie, and I drove him home to Stroudsburg later in the summer. It was my first and only time riding in a Cadillac. His family stayed for about 10 years. His son also sold his lot.[ix]

Cecil’s Dad and his brother Michael were born in the house where I live. Cecil’s Dad said two Indians lived on the back corner of the Graham farm. On papers I have, the north line of our property says Ordnance Reserve, so it is likely they did. Henry says, “Mr. Graham said one was Joe Cole,” and I can’t remember the other one’s name.

The far end of the property, which is like a peninsula, is owned by the Lands & Forest Department and is called Casey’s Point, it is across from Fitzpatrick Road.

We used to keep young cattle on the other Graham farm all summer and each spring drove the young cattle down at 5 or 6 a.m. and in the fall back up to the other farm. I drove a truck and the men of the family walked behind them to keep them moving along and no stops on the way. With no traffic then, it was easy. There was a right of way off the road across from the north farm and I drove to where it came on the Aragon Rd. and then on to the Graham farm behind the cattle.[x]

Years ago, I was told Cecil`s grandparents would put the young cattle on the island driving them on the ice in late winter or early spring and leaving them there for the summer, then drive them over to the land in the fall when it froze up.

Along the right land side of our driveway is a big rock and near the bottom is a larger area making it a good place to sit. Cecil’s grandmother would sit there and milk their cows in the summer.

In the late 50’s Cecil had the fence line cleared between the two fields west of our barns. The big stones & whatever was also along our fence was put at the shore to make a road to the island. When it was done we had a few years of every summer spending Sundays away from everything having picnics on the island. With all the trees around we couldn’t see the road or our house and barns. We built a stone fireplace and took things with us to have dinner and supper. We swam, napped and enjoyed the day and then loaded up the truck and came “back to earth”.

A while ago Mary, Henry and I were talking about those days and I said we should name the island. Henry came up with the name “Paradise Island” and every Sunday we felt like we were there in paradise.

Cecil wanted other families to enjoy that feeling and he gave the land for a park.[xi]

[i] Allowance used by the public historically; a road that deviates from the surveyed road.

[ii] The “other farm” is located on west side of Battersea Road at the corner with Maple Lawn Drive.

[iii] Marian Shortell inherited the estate from her father except the farm itself. The farmland and buildings where left to Brendan Fitzpatrick who had helped Shortell for more than a quarter century according to Dollie  Fitzpatrick his wife.

[iv] The Grahams donated about 30 acres of land to the City of Kingston in 1994 this is now called the Cecil and Wilma Graham Park, see photo. It is a significant environmental protection area since it is adjacent to Esther Bay and the Crown land on the peninsula, the east end of which is called Casey’s Island.

[v] According to Marjory Allan, Barbara Stather would buy eggs at the Hemco Farm egg store, possibly to augment her supply from her own hens.

[vi] Fairmount Home, a 128-bed long-term care home owned and operated by the County of Frontenac. Cliff Allen built an estate house on a large piece of land on the edge of the canal and Colonel By Lake and lived there until about 2000; his family still farms the fields along he Aragon Road and along Battersea Road. The unique and very large farm buildings opposite of Fairmont Home were part of the cooperative farm that Cliff Allen and his partners managed after Colonel Fair had sold the farm to them.

[vii] Cecil Graham was in favor of maintaining the rural characteristics of his beloved Aragon Road. In the mid 1980-s Ontario Hydro upgraded the electrical transmission line along the Aragon Road and tried to get their right of way changed at the Graham farm to extend it along the road. Cecil refused and the road has its most historic look and feeling where it passes the Graham property.

[viii] This location on the canal from the River Styx to Colonel By Lake was a well-used loading and off-loading area in the mid-1800-s for farm produce and goods that would be ferried by boat to Kingston Mills and then via the Montreal-Kingston road, now the Kingston Mills Road just north of the HW 401, to Kingston.

[ix] This is another occasion where Cecil tried to preserve the integrity of the existing farm lots. The fishing in Colonel By Lake is still attractive and it is not uncommon for people to return year after year from the US and Ontario to fish here.

[x] The other Graham farm is Cecil’s parents farm south on the Battersea Road from Aragon Road on Maple Lawn Drive which was the right-of-way Wilma refers to.

[xi] The park is a gem of mixed meadow, wetland and dense bush and trees. It  is adjacent to a conservation area administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources and between these two areas is an almost pristine bay called Esther Bay that opens up to Colonel By Lake at Allan Point Drive. The Graham and Wilma Graham Park was established in 1994 by donating the land to the Township of Kingston.

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A STORY BY JUDITH QUINTIN

The Draper Farm House 1870s

quintin house oct 2013

Story told by Judith Quintin, August 8, 2014

In 1971 we moved from Kingston to our farm in Glenburnie. At that time it was owned by Dr. and Mrs. A. Medley.

My husband and I are both from Quebec and in a small way, this property was a reminder of the farming communities in and around the Eastern Townships. Soon after settling into our new home, we met our nearest neighbour, Mrs. Wes Lockett of the Lockett shoe store in downtown Kingston. The following stories were told by her to me over the next few years.[i]

Colonel Fair, who was buying up property in this area, came to an abrupt halt when he came to our farm. It was owned by then by the Draper family since approximately 1875 and Dick Draper continued to farm until his death. He lived here with his two sisters and the farm was famous in the community for its abundance of raspberries. He eventually married and brought his wife to the farm to live. The sisters were not at all happy with this arrangement and so on her first morning here, poured a cup of boiling hot coffee down her back. She got the hint and left.[ii]

Eventually modern times introduced themselves to the area and all the residents got a telephone. This proved to be the main entertainment in the community as everyone was on a party-line which meant everyone else could listen-in and find out what was going on in the lives of all their neighbours.[iii]

Dick Draper had a nephew, Archie Medley, who would spend his summers here as a youngster. He raised rabbits and sold them to the medical school at Queen’s University. He later got his medical degree, married and wanted to move into the farm. By this time Dick Draper and one of his sisters had died, leaving one sister, Alice, to be the sole survivor who lived in this house alone. As the story goes, Archie Medley really wanted to have this farm, but she would have none of it. So, he arranged to have a man break into the house at night and steal her purse. He then went on to say that she was not responsible enough to live alone and had her moved to a nursing home for the rest of her days. And he got the house.[iv]

He put in new windows in throughout the house and beautiful hardwood floors. A two car garage and another room were added to the side of the house. From here he practiced his medicine and had, what is now our family room, as his office and the newly added room as the waiting room. He went on to live as the “country doctor”.

He was also interested in horse-racing and kept a stable of race horses here.

As well, part of the renovations included a stone fireplace. That was built by Joseph Fabro, a stone mason, who lived down the road.

After several years the Medleys found it was all too much work and put the farm up for sale. There were no children to inherit and we were fortunate enough to be able to buy it.

All communities have their characters. Ours was Mr. McClain who lived in a small house directly across the road on the west side of our house. He felt we were not friendly enough to him so complained to the Township Council, in a letter, that the Quintin caterpillars were crossing the road from the their fields and going onto his property.[v]

[i] The Lockett farm house was called Hillcroft and it was several fields over from the Quintin’s house, almost half a kilometer. The Lockett shoe store was one of the most and best established stores on Wellington Street in Kingston, later known as the Lockett and Walkwel shoe store. From an article in the Kingston Whig: “Today W.B. Hamilton Shoes (1860) Ltd. operates Walkwel Shoes at 179 Wellington St. in Kingston. Its president since 1966, Don Zacher, is married to Lyn Hamilton Zacher, great granddaughter of William B. and the company’s secretary-treasurer. The company opened Walkwel in Kingston in 1973, when it purchased the Lockett Shoe Store from Edgar Lockett and operated it as the Lockett-Walkwel store until 1982, when it became Walkwel Shoes.

[ii] Several persons familiar with this story of Dick Draper and his love did not know where the woman went, they guessed she moved into town and might have divorced, one would think, but then maybe not?

[iii] Mary Draper said that in 1900 a telephone system was installed. A rural road like the Aragon Road would have only a party line available in the earlier days of telephony. In Kingston, party lines were still offered by Bell in 1970, the subscription was the cheapest available. If one wished to phone and started dialling, it was more than likely somebody was already on the line. “Oops, I hear somebody listening in,” would be the invariable comment. Being polite, one would hang up and try later. Not being polite would make one part of the story.

[iv] The lineage of Dr. Archie Medley is as follows: Archibald (Archie) James Ramsay Medley, son of John and Agnes Medley was born in Barriefield in 1856. He died in Pittsburgh Township in 1914. He was twice married, to Amelia (Annie) Hamilton in 1887 and who died in 1907 with no children, then in 1910 he married Anna (Annie) Mabel Draper, born in 1881 and a daughter of Richard Draper of “Maple Lawn”. Archie Sr. and Annie (Draper) Medley had two children: Agnes Medley, born in 1911 and Archibald John Draper Medley, born in 1913 who died in Kingston in 1998. Dr. Archie Medley Jr. married Margaret Emily (Peggy) Doran who died in 2006 in Kingston, Ontario.

[v] He might have added that Quintin’s caterpillars were trespassing. Council dutifully informed the Quintins of the complaint and suggested they might have a somewhat strange neighbour across from them.

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Recent Interviews

We have had the pleasure of interviewing Judith Quintin, Dolly Fitzapatrick and Marjory Allan in the last couple of weeks and the stories of these long term residents of the Aragon Road make for interesting reading. When the drafts have been reviewed and agreed to, we will publish them.

Stay posted, and enjoy the blog.

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