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”


Click here to go back to Oral History where where more stories are listed. 

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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