Mystery Of the Silver Goose

If you have ever travelled in or out of Ottawa’s McDonald-Cartier International Airport, you’ve probably noticed the distinct aluminum sculpture residing at the airport’s entrance. What you might not have noticed is that these sleek geese have a unique history and that they are quietly moved twice a year…

The sleek aluminum geese at the entrance to the airport. (Google Streetview)

The Ottawa Airport, or Macdonald–Cartier International Airport was previously called Uplands, or CFB Ottawa South/CFB Uplands. Once a joint-use civilian/military field, it was the busiest airport in Canada by takeoffs and landings, reaching a peak of 307,079 aircraft movements in 1959.

With the increase of civilian jet travel in the 1950s, the Canadian government decided to build a new field south of the original one, with two much longer runways and a new terminal building designed to handle up to 900,000 passengers/year.

James Strutt’s new 1960 Ottawa Airport. (image:

This new airport that opened in 1960 was designed by famed Ottawa architect James Strutt, who designed many Ottawa landmarks including the concrete beach huts at Westboro Beach.

Strutt intended to create a ‘cultured atmosphere’ using modernist architecture, Canadian art, and stylish modern furniture. He wanted the new Ottawa airport to be the pinnacle of Canadian art and design and commissioned sculptor Louis Archambault. Archambault would later design sculptures for the Canadian pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal, which can be seen today on the lawn of the Museum Of History.

Archambault’s Expo 67 sculpture in Montreal.
Archambault’s Expo67’s sculpture is now on the lawn of the Museum Of History.

Archambault designed an large and striking metal architectural screen and large stylized “Canada Goose” sculpture called “Shape of Flight“. Situated on either side of the main entrance in reflecting water pools. The Shape of Flight goose sculptures are sleek, abstracted symbols of the iconic Canadian Goose.

James Strutt in front of Archambault’s 1960 aluminum goose sculpture at the entrance reflecting pool. (image:
Shape OF Flight sculpture (image:

Constructed from sharp edged curved aluminum, the goose sculpture remained at Ottawa’s airport terminal until it was renovated in the late 1980/90s when they disappeared until the latest renovation occurred. Re-opened in the early 2000s, Shape Of Flight returned to the main entrance of the airport on the grassy knoll, visible as travellers enter the stunning new terminal.

The geese sculptures either side of the 1960 Ottawa Airport main entrance. (image: GeoOttawa)
The sculptures are still visible in 1976. (image:GeoOttawa)
By 1991 the main entrance was renovated and the sculptures were removed. (image: GeoOttawa)

Now what is most interesting, is that the old 1960 sculpture continues to move, in fact MIGRATE like real geese, each Fall and Spring.

The Airport Authority quietly switches the goose sculptures to face the north in the spring to recreate the Canada Goose migrating back from the south, and in the fall switches the sculptures to face south when the real geese head south for the winter.

Aerial view of the original sculptures at the main entrance facing north in spring/summer…
…then switched to face south in the Fall/Winter to match the real Canada Goose migration.
Twitter account of the airport authority confirms the quiet migration rotation.

This was confirmed on Twitter by the airport, so you are not going crazy if you think you saw them facing one way one month, and the opposite way a few months later.

Andrew King, September, 2020


Geo Ottawa

Google Maps Streetview


Located in a dense forested area at the confluence of the Ottawa and Carp rivers at the foot of Chats Falls, there lies a hidden 400ft diameter wheel aligned with the Summer Solstice. Whether by coincidence or by conscious effort, someone at some point in history has made a remarkable earthen wheel in what has always been a sacred and important place in the Ottawa Valley.

Further investigation into this overgrown “wheel” reveals interesting details that will either prove it to be of a more ancient origin, or perhaps merely a more modern construction that coincidentally aligns its axis with the setting sun on the Summer Solstice.




In order to learn more about the history of the Summer Solstice and its significance throughout history, we must travel back in time to the early Bronze Age.


The summer solstice has been significant to almost all cultures, celebrating it as a time of re-birth, and fertility. It is a time of renewal as the sun is at its longest time in the sky. Derived from Latin words, “sol” (sun) and “sistere” (to stand still). Solsistre. Or, as we know it “Solstice”.


A 7,000-year-old henge with two gates that were aligned with the solstices. The Goseck Circle in Germany is 70 meters (220 ft) in diameter. A circular wooden wall surrounds a narrow ditch.

A sun cross, solar cross, or wheel cross is a solar symbol consisting of an equilateral cross inside a circle. The design is frequently found in the symbolism of prehistoric cultures, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods of European prehistory.


Bronze Age Solar Cross petroglyph in Denmark.

In our current calendar, June 21st marks the day of the annual Summer Solstice. The Christian Church re-branded this special day celebrated by the ancients through pagan ritual as “St. John the Baptist Day”, which occurs 3 days after the solstice event. This date’s relevance harkens back to the pagan practice of sacrifice that occurred on the Summer Solstice. Stonehenge in the United Kingdom is aligned with the summer solstice and to this day thousands gather there to celebrate the dawn on the solstice. 


Native American solar cross etched in rock. 

Ancient cultures would arrange wood or stones or build earthen mounds in a circular form to coincide with the celestial rotation of the sun. In the Bronze Age, this circle of stones on the landscape would also be illustrated in carved stones with a circle divided into 4 quadrants, denoting the Summer Solstice, the Fall Equinox, The Winter Solstice and then the Spring Equinox. A circle with a cross.


The sun sets perfectly between the two pyramids of Khufu and Khafre on the summer solstice when standing at the Great Sphinx.

The Egyptians built their Great Pyramids in alignment with the equinoxes and solstices as did many other cultures such as the Maya and even North American native cultures.

In North America, this worship of the sun was done using a built structure called a “medicine wheel”.



Medicine wheels are used to mark the geographical directions and astronomical events of the sun, moon, some stars, and some planets in relation to the Earth’s horizon at that location. These rock sites were also used for important ceremonies, teachings, and as sacred places to give thanks to the Creator, Gitchi Manitou or Great Spirit. Other North American indigenous peoples also made these circle petroforms (arrangement of stones).


A North American Medicine Wheel. 


Noticed while examining aerial imagery of the historically significant Chats Falls, it is a place that has been an important confluence for generations of peoples on the Ottawa River. A “wheel shape” that seemed to have a cross, or axis lines within.


Chats Falls has always been a significant area traversed by nomadic tribes of the First Nations for thousands of years to transport goods and copper from Lake Superior east along the Ottawa River, or “Great River” as it was known then. A strategic and cultural area, there is even a native burying ground across from the wheel structure at “Indian Point”. history-side-view-Horseshoe-FallsChats_Falls3_1900


The original, natural Chats Falls before being dammed up for a hydro station in 1930. 

So it seems likely that there could have been a concerted effort to build a large structure in this area, and with another ancient Solstice Mound on Rice Lake near Peterborough, it would not be out of the ordinary that something similar would be built on the important Ottawa River.


Studying aerial imagery, there is a definite outline of something circular in the forest where the Carp River meets the Ottawa River within Fitzroy Provincial Park. Placing overlays of known “medicine wheels” and “Solar Cross” shapes, they do align with the calculated setting sun axis on the Summer Solstice.



Sun Surveyor showing the axis of one spoke is in alignment with the setting sun on the Summer Solstice (Red Line)

I went to investigate and see this structure in person to examine this anomaly up close and study its details. The area is situated in very dense forest and is in a very swampy, fern covered, low lying area that is likely flooded in the spring. Wet, and damp, there is a definite mounding of earth to create four spokes that converge at a central mound “hub”.

MaggieForm3 1


Central mound at centre of the “wheel”


Low lying fern covered grounds around the structure. 



Odd piles of stones were noticeable within the wheel structure. 


Another pronounced mound is noticeable on the western spoke edge. Using Sun Surveyor to calculate the position of the sun on the Summer Solstice, one of the spokes is aligned with the setting sun on the June 20-21st solstice event if you were staying on the central mound. It also matches known First Nations Medicine wheels in orientation, and their inherent quadrants of celestial significance.

Also on the nearby shoreline there looks to be a stone weir, purpose unknown. Was this a native fishing camp and the stone weir was used to catch fish as they used to do centuries ago or another modern park feature?

The whole structure is quite peculiar as there are piles of rocks that have been carefully placed in key positions around the wheel in the middle of this dense forest. I have no idea what else it could be except for some provincial park structure from decades ago that has overgrown since. It is quite inaccessible however, and would be an odd park feature for visitors. There are also some substantial sized trees that are quite old.


Whether created by an ancient culture during the Bronze Age, or another time to mark the Summer Solstice and other celestial events, or just a weird Provincial Park feature in the middle of a dense forest made just a few years ago, there is giant 400ft diameter earthen and stone wheel on the shore of the Ottawa River at Chats Falls. Perhaps some readers have knowledge of what it was, or is, maybe it is merely an abandoned park dump or something quite logical. But for now, it seems we can safely call it the MYSTERY OF THE SOLAR WHEEL.


Andrew King, June 2020 



In Search Of The Lost Spring Of Carlsbad Springs

The word “cathartic” traces back to the Greek word “kathairein”, meaning “to cleanse, or purge.” Catharsis became a medical term having to do with purging the body of toxins, and soon people started to also use the word cathartic in reference to an emotional release and a spiritual cleansing.


This old map from 1879 shows a village called “Cathartic” which is now Carlsbad Springs. 

Just a few kilometres east of Ottawa there once was a place actually called CATHARTIC,  due to the fact that at one time the land there contained a number of ancient bubbling mineral springs that were known to heal and cleanse those who entered them. This place became known as Carlsbad Springs. Ottawa’s own “Fountain Of Youth”, where the wealthy and elite of Ottawa’s upper class ventured in attempts to reverse the aging process and to renew their bodies and mind.


An early 1900s postcard showing the resort and spring houses. 

The healing mineral waters of the springs became incredibly famous, and a number of resort hotels and even a CN train station were built around the bubbling baths. Then, as quickly as they were built, the station and hotels were demolished, the once coveted springs soon fading from memory. But do the springs still exist, and if so, where are they? As Ponce de León once searched for the Fountain of Youth, I began to search for our Lost Springs of Carlsbad Springs.


I always enjoying glancing through old maps, and my curiosity was piqued when I saw a small town outside Ottawa called “Cathartic” in 1879. Knowing what the word meant, but not knowing if that place still exists on current maps, I looked further into where this village may have been located. It turns out that CATHARTIC became what we now call Carlsbad Springs. Upon further investigation it turns out this small area has a most intriguing past.


A red arrow indicates the location of the healing spring on this map from 1879. 

Situated on a small creek called “Bear Brook” off Russell Road, Cathartic/Carlsbad Springs was located an and old native trail that once linked Ottawa to Montreal. Used for centuries by the indigenous people during their travels through the area, the trail became Russell Road as pioneer settlers took over the land in the 1850s.

The natural springs in the area were noted for their mineral content and qualities, with ancient bedrock waters bubbling up from subterranean aquifers.

Once called Boyd’s Mills, after the first mill owner on the creek, the settlement became known as “Cathartic” in 1870 and the first hotel was built in the vicinity of the springs by the Dominion Springs Company, who touted them for their healing properties.

By 1892 another hotel was built, and soon a train station to allow passengers to visit this new wonder, and what was Ottawa’s largest dance hall, the area’s first bowling alley, and many other recreational activities. Visitors from around the world soon flocked to Cathartic to drink its healing waters and soak in the bubbling baths. The mineral water was soon being bottled and sold throughout North America, and in true capitalist form, the village was rebranded in 1906 as “Carlsbad Springs” after the most fashionable aristocratic resort in Europe. The springs were given names based on the properties of the waters coming from them, such as Soda, Sulphur, Magic, Lithia, and Gas. A special fountain was constructed near the hotel that would be set on fire each night due to the flammable content of the water.


An 1890s photo shows the first hotel and the original sheds built over the healing springs. 

Thousands of Ottawa’s most wealthy residents took the trip to the “Springs” to relax, enjoy the nature trails and amenities of the hotels. This would all soon disappear when the Great Depression and World War 2 hit, sending the resorts and their healing waters down the drain. Even though all the hotels and buildings have since been demolished, the natural springs should still exist, so I thought let’s go find them.


An old map of Cathartic from 1879 shows a spring labelled on it next to the Bear Brook, and a small stream leading from it down to the creek. Comparing that to a modern Google Map of Carlsbad Springs, it reveals that nothing much is there now, and the old road has been shifted south, however the area where our fountain of youth was located looks to still be undeveloped.

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This GeoOttawa aerial view from 1965 shows the old hotel still standing in the upper left side. The springs would be across from it as referenced in the old 1890s photo. 


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Heading out to Carlsbad Springs and walking along the muddy shoreline of the BearBrook creek to where the spring was supposedly marked on the old map, a trickling sound was soon heard, and following it up the riverbank I came across a spring!

The source of the cathartic waters, and a late 1800s resort town were right there, still bubbling up from the earth, hidden amidst rocks and leaves of the now overgrown landscape. You could see the almost oily nature of the water with a film of some chemical on top of the bubbling water.



The National Capital Commission now owns the land and has graciously restored one of the old Spring House structures, which were built over the springs back in the early resort days. In the summer when the park is open there is a parking lot nearby.

I managed to find the spot where a promotional photo was taken in the 1890s, but it looks unrecognizable. A quick survey of the area revealed more old springs and their own particular properties as mentioned earlier. Some were moss laden, others were rust coloured.



A comparison photo..THEN and NOW…Almost unrecognizable. The restored Spring House structure is visible through the brush.

At one spring source there was what looked to be an old glass bottle used in the bottling of the spring water back in the popular resort days.


One of the old bottles used to bottle the cathartic mineral water? 

Nothing much else remains to indicate the once prosperous resort that used to be there. The old bridge area is visible with some interesting artifacts found around it.


This is where the old hotel would have been, note the old Russell Road in front of it. 


Where the old bridge was located over the Bear Brook.


Old foundation ruins along the shoreline. 



Remnants of a Carlsbad Springs’ glory days as a Health Spa Resort. 

Perhaps there lies a cure to the current coronavirus waiting in these forgotten healing springs, from a time when people put their health and faith in mysterious liquids bubbling up from the ground.

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The once famous healing and cathartic springs is now nothing more than a forgotten trickle from the ground. 


Andrew King, April 26, 2020


Google Maps,_Ontario

Carleton Atlas, 1879 Edition








VIRUS BRIDGE : A Forgotten 1800’s Iron Bridge That Carried Plagued Citizens to Isolation Island

Ottawa, like all cities and communities, is grappling with a pandemic situation, and it reminded me that the Nation’s Capital is no stranger to quickly spreading viruses.  Throughout history the city has dealt with quickly spreading viruses, and the unfortunate plagued souls were placed on an island in the Rideau River. A hidden and rusting iron truss bridge that once carried those virus victims still remains…

The year was 1893 and the smallpox virus was sweeping through the Nation’s Capital so the City Of Ottawa wanted to build an isolated smallpox hospital to keep those infected away from the general population. City Council chose Porter’s Island, an eight-acre, low-lying property in the Rideau River as the quarantine island.


This 1879 map from The Carleton Atlas shows the vacant Porters Island in downtown Ottawa, chosen as the site for the virus isolation island.

A hastily constructed isolation hospital was built on the island. In order to access the island, a bridge was needed, so this iron truss bridge was built for a cost of $5,000 in 1894. All those diagnosed with the virus were taken to the island across this bridge, which still remains in place today, although shut off from the public.


“The Virus Bridge” a more recent photo of it by Ross Brown. 


The 1893 iron truss bridge that once carried virus victims to their isolation hospital on Porter’s Island in downtown Ottawa. (Google Streetview)


After the smallpox epidemic of 1893 Porter’s Island was then transformed into a garbage dump. The abandoned and rat infested hospital buildings were demolished in 1904, but another smallpox epidemic hit the city and yet another hospital was erected in 1910. This time it would be in the form of tents.


The second quarantine camp on Porter’s Island used for isolating those infected with smallpox during the 1910 epidemic. This photo was taken in 1912 just before another hospital building was constructed. (Topley Collection)

But the quarantine camp on the island was short lived. The City Of Ottawa in 1913 hired Ottawa architect Francis Sullivan, who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous American architect who only had one Canadian student, which was Sullivan. Sullivan designed a very carefully designed new isolation hospital on the island, one of his first in the city. Sullivan would go on to design many notable buildings around Ottawa.


Made of brick and the latest construction techniques, the handsomely designed new isolation hospital remained on the island until it was demolished in 1967.

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This 1928 aerial photo of Porter’s Island shows the new Sullivan designed isolation hospital to the far left end of the island. Note the iron truss bridge at the opposite end. (GeoOttawa)


the new “Sanitary Hospital” built on the island in 1912.

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These two aerial images, the top 1965, the bottom a current view, show the isolation hospital before it was demolished and the new retirement facility that stands there today. (GeoOttawa)


a 3D image of Porter’s Island showing the new facilities and bridge, with the old 1894 bridge still standing on the right hand side.

The island was then developed into Retirement Residences in the late 1960s but the original, old isolation island bridge constructed in 1894 quietly remains. Closed off, and overgrown in summer, this little recognized iron bridge is a reminder of our city’s pandemic past…and as always, history tends to repeat itself. Perhaps the City of Ottawa will expropriate another island for quarantining its citizens once again.


Andrew King, April 19th, 2020



Childhood memories are an oasis for the mind in today’s challenging world, recalling nostalgic events or products brings us a brief moment of joy reflecting on those more innocent times. For me, BMX bike rides to the Becker’s convenience store after collecting bottles from the ditch is one of those happy recollections, as $2.00 in bottle deposit refund money was like winning the lottery. That bottle money was quickly put right back into the Becker’s cash register when I bought Wacky Packs, Dinosaur Eggs, Sour Chews and of course, Hostess Potato Chips. 


The 1980’s gave us such great movies, music and junk food. Washing down some fresh foil bagged Hostess chips with Jolt Cola was an integral part of our teenage lives, and for many, Hostess was THE GREATEST potato chip in Canada. As our carefree childhood days slipped away, so did our Munchies, and in what would be a sly corporate takedown, Canada’s beloved Hostess Chips were killed by a well-known American corporation: Pepsi.



Edward G. Snyder, 1962.
Photo by Belair.
Source: Mennonite Archives of Ontario 1992-14.1572

The epic Canadian story of Hostess Potato Chips stretches back to 1935 when Edward Snyder started making potato chips on his mother’s kitchen stove in Breslau, Ontario, near Kitchener. One Saturday he took a small supply to the Kitchener Market and was sold out by mid-morning. The potatoes were peeled by hand and salted from hand-shaken salt shakers. He wanted Snyder’s Potato Chips to be of the highest quality. He created foil bags in which to package the chips to retain their flavour and crispness. The public demand for Snyder’s Potato chips led Snyder to move a factory which he built on land he purchased that adjoined the Snyder farm. His entrepreneurial spirit and outstanding marketing ability led to his chips being sold across southern Ontario and in the city of Toronto. It wouldn’t be until 1955 that his chips went big when Mr. Snyder sold his Chip Company to E.W. Vanstone, who expanded it greatly  before he then sold it to General Foods four years later.


Hostess Chips were the new brand, and they soon garnered a solid reputation for quality, using foil bags to maintain freshness, and the bags of Hostess chips were easily recognizable using simple colour coding for each flavour. Regular was a blue package, Salt and Vinegar yellow, HOT BBQ in red. These colours for chip flavours were so effective that other brands still continue to use these packaging colours to this day. 



Hostess became the #1 potato chip in Canada and fought off US corporations that soon started entering the Canadian chip market. The genius of their marketing once again made waves when Hostess introduced “The Munchies” in 1981.

imageThese were three cartoon chracters that represented the “hunger munchies” one gets for salty snacks. Widely successful, the Munchies became the brand image for Hostess, and were placed on their chip bags, except for Hickory Sticks, that opted for the wood-grain motif on their packaging.

Hostess was so popular, they created giveaways inside their bags of chips, including Rock Music stickers, film tie-ins, and Munchie Merchandise prizes. They were the top potato chip in Canada and the choice of almost every Canadian kid who bought some chips in the 1980s.


The Classic Flap Hat of the Summers of the 1980s



1980s Hostess Rock Stickers that were inside bags of chips.

This irked the American companies that their brands could not compete with the formidable Hostess brand, leading to a plot to eliminate them, a Munchie Murder. 


The 1980s were the Golden Age of many things, including snack foods, and corn based snacks were rising in popularity. Fritos, Cheetos and Doritos all taking the stage. Hostess didn’t have any corn based snacks and decided to enter the market by entering into a partnership with Frito-Lay, who were owned by…..PEPSI.


In 1987 Hostess and Frito-Lay joined forces to introduce a corn based chip snack called Hostess “Taquitos” and they merged in 1988. The Pepsi owned Frito-Lay now started adding their own brands into the Canadian market, which included Ruffles, Cheetos, and Doritos. By 1992 Pepsi then bought out Hostess’ remaining interest from General Foods. This would spell doom and the eventually death of the beloved Canadian Hostess brand. 



Hostess Taquitos became “Zesty Doritos” after the Pepsi takeover of Hostess.

With Pepsi now owning Hostess, they replaced the Taquitos with their own brand, changing the name to “Zesty Doritos”. Yes, your Zesty Doritos are actually Hostess Taquitos.

With the introduction of other Pepsi owned chip brands such as Ruffles and “upscale brands” of chips such as Miss Vickie’s (another Canadian chip company bought out by Pepsi owned Frito-Lay in 1993) the Hostess brand was effectively destroyed by the very company that purchased it.

Pepsi made the decision to change the name of Hostess to “Lay’s” in 1996, using hockey players as spokespersons to rebrand the image of this new chip.


Hockey Player Marc Messier as the spokesperson for the newly branded “Lay’s Chips” 

The Munchies were killed off, Hostess chips were quashed, and Pepsi now only keeps the Hostess name on Hickory Sticks.


Now more than ever I think we need to re-visit the things that make us happy and bring them back by any nostalgic means possible. If that means that the American Corporate Pepsi Machine re-introduces the once #1 Canadian brand Hostess Potato Chips for its 85th Anniversary, then let it be so. Because in the end, when you got the munchies, nothing else will do….

Andrew King, March 19th 2020




The Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth, a vast network of lakes that ultimately connects to the the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence River. They have been traversed for centuries by those that inhabited its shores, first using dug out canoes stretching back 12,000 years ago. These ancient water dwellers lived and utilized the Great Lakes not only as a source of food, but as a network of highways for them to trade. Around 1000 AD these ancient mariners traded copper nuggets from Lake Superior which made their way down the Mississippi River into Southern Ohio, and even into Florida.

It would not be until the 17th century that the Great Lakes would see its first large sailing vessel on its waters, this is when the history books tell us a French brigantine or barque called “Le Griffon”, commissioned by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was built on the Niagara River. It would be labelled as the first known sailing vessel to travel the Great Lakes in the year 1679. However, LeGriffon disappeared on its maiden voyage, having never been found. It is considered the “holy grail” of shipwrecks, being the first of its kind. *Please note I refer to a “ship” as a large boat, not the official maritime three masted definition of the word*


Artist’s rendition of how “LeGriffon” may have looked like in 1679. 

Yet, an obscure letter dated 1673 mentions an even earlier sailing vessel that was part of a fleet of FOUR other vessels built BEFORE LeGriffon at Fort Frontenac, now Kingston, Ontario which would make those boats the earliest known sailing vessels on the Great Lakes. Uncovering old documents and notes from the 1600’s, I believe that LeGriffon was not the first, but actually the FIFTH sailing vessel on the Great Lakes, and as we will learn, the whereabouts of them might be just under our nose.



In July of 1673 Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac et de Palluau, better known as Count Frontenac, the Governor of New France, traveled to a place called “Cataraqui”, where the river that bears that name, and the St. Lawrence River meet at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. Now called Kingston, it is a strategic location since it is at the confluence of these three waterways where the fur trade could be easily monitored and controlled. Under the advisement of explorer and fur trader René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, this spot was chosen to build a French fort to control the lucrative fur trade in the Great Lakes Basin to the west. La Salle was left in command of the fort in 1673, where he immediately built a wooden fort and a harbour to contain a future fleet of sailing vessels which could control the expansive waters of the Great Lakes.


A map from 1685 shows Fort Frontenac, which is now Kingston, ON. The harbour where the 4 ships would have been anchored is where the anchor symbol is at the top. 


Fort Frontenac ghosted over present day Kingston to show its location in the 1600’s.


It was here, in this Kingston harbour, that it seems the very first sailing vessel on the Great Lakes was constructed and launched. I found this in my research of a document titled “Lettre de Frontenac au Ministre” dated November 13th, 1673, in which Frontenac himself mentions:

“…with the aid of a vessel now building, will command Lake Ontario, keep peace with the Iroquois, and cut off the trade with the English,”

The letter then continues to state that with “another vessel on Lake Erie, we, the French, can command all the Upper Lakes.”


So it would seem that this large sailing vessel mentioned by Frontenac under construction at Fort Frontenac in 1673 pre-dates LeGriffon by six years. Not only that, but another document from 1677 states that:

“Four vessels, of from twenty five to forty tons, had been built for the lake and the river,”


So it seems that LaSalle was busy at his fort’s harbour and built not just 1, but 4 ships in 1677 to command the waters of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. It would be two of these ships that would carry the supplies needed to built the famous “LeGriffon” on the Niagara River, and it is these first ships we will now look try and locate.



My sketch of how the very first sailing vessel on the Great Lakes, “Frontenac” may have looked, launched sometime around 1674.

The first of these ships built in 1673 by LaSalle at Fort Frontenac was constructed at what is now the intersection of Ontario Street and Barrack Street. This would have been the very first sailing vessel built and launched on the Great Lakes, if you don’t believe that Vikings had already ventured down the St. Lawrence and sailed here 600 years earlier. The rapids at LaChine in Montreal had prevented any large sailing vessels to pass south into Lake Ontario, so new ships would have to be built at Fort Frontenac if they wanted to sail the Great Lakes.

This first boat constructed is said to have been called “Frontenac” after the Governor of New France, and was a sloop type vessel of about 10 tonnes, with a single mast. It would be this vessel that would carry two men, LaMotte and Hennepin to Niagara where they would establish a construction site to build LeGriffon.



Of the four sailing vessels that were recorded as being harboured at Fort Frontenac in 1677, one was the sloop Frontenac, with another being recorded as a bigger vessel of about 40 tonnes, likely a ketch, that was used as a supply ship to carry the hardware and equipment needed to build another, bigger ship on the Niagara River. This earlier vessel would carry LaSalle and his companion Tonti (who was deeded Amherst Island, named after him before it was called Amherst Island, Isle Tonti) from Fort Frontenac to Niagara a few weeks after the first, smaller vessel had left Fort Frontenac.


So now we have two large sailing vessels, both built at Fort Frontenac, embarking on a sailing adventure to build another ship at Niagara. But what actually happened to these first ships? LeGriffon gets all the attention, but it was these first ships that were actually the first to sail on the great Lakes, a full six years prior to LeGriffon.


This map tracks the first two ships and their journey on Lake Ontario in 1678. 

It would be a cold November day in 1678 when LaSalle sent his comrades LaMotte and Hennepin aboard Frontenac to find a suitable spot to build and launch LeGriffon above Niagara Falls. Setting out on November 18th, 1678, the sloop encountered high winds whipping across Lake Ontario so the crew hugged to the north shore of the lake, stopping in many of its bays for refuge making their way west, likely stopping off in Prince Edward County, Port Hope, and other places until they finally reached the native village of Taiaiagnon on November 26th, which was located at the mouth of the Humber River near present day Mississauga, ON. Here they sought refuge from the cold and were welcomed by the natives, but their boat, Frontenac, was soon locked in ice in the freezing waters. Using axes and knives, they finally chipped out their vessel from this icy grasp, and sailed on across the lake to the mouth of the Niagara River on December 6th. Once there, they dragged Frontenac on shore to protect it from the lake ice, and trudged on to find a spot to build the new larger ship, LeGriffon.

old map

A late 1600s map showing the various locations the ships visited on their journey.


Scan copy

LaSalle’s supply ship he and Tonti took to Niagara from Fort Frontenac on Christmas Eve, 1678.

A month later, on Christmas Eve of 1678, LaSalle and his pal Tonti boarded their bigger sailing vessel of an unknown name at Fort Frontenac filled with anchors, cannons, cords, sails, hardware and other supplies needed to build LeGriffon at Niagara. Leaving Fort Frontenac’s harbour (which was filled in with landfill and now has condos on it) they sailed west to join LaMotte and Hennepin, however, the winds were fierce and they were almost bashed apart somewhere off Prince Edward County, likely around Point Traverse where there are many treacherous rocky shoals.

On Christmas Day, LaSalle and his team aboard their large, unnamed ketch crossed Lake Ontario to arrive at what is now Rochester, NY. They sailed along the southern coast of Lake Ontario where they stopped at a Seneca village. Here LaSalle and his comrades decided to carry on by foot to meet LaMotte at Niagara. Their vessel was left in charge of its pilot and crew, but they did not secure it well enough and on January 8th a wind carried away the supply laden boat 15km west, along the shoreline, where it broke apart near Thirty Mile Point, spewing its precious cargo on the lake floor. A messenger was sent to tell LaSalle his ship had been wrecked, sending him back to try and salvage what was left.



He and his men managed to salvage the anchors, chain, and some materials important for outfitting Le Griffon, but most of the supplies and provisions were lost, and remain there to this day. This would make LaSalle’s ship the first shipwreck in the Great Lakes, before the loss of LeGriffon in 1679.

LaSalle and his men dragged what they could salvage from his wrecked ship 50km overland on foot to the Niagara construction site, which is now Griffon Park in Niagara Falls. After laying LeGriffon’s keel on January 26th, 1679, and driving the first bolt into it, LaSalle left the operation in charge of his comrade, Tonti. LaSalle departed on foot heading back to Fort Frontenac, arriving almost starved to death after an arduous and cold journey of almost 400kms.


Tonti, LaMotte, Hennepin and their team would later re-float the first vessel, Frontenac, to try and salvage more equipment from LaSalle’s wrecked boat, but the winter ice prevented any further success. That first smaller boat would later go back to Fort Frontenac to retrieve more supplies for building LeGriffon, and return to Niagara once again, but what happened to what was the first sailing vessel on the Great Lakes remains a mystery.


An early 1700s illustration of the construction of “LeGriffon” in 1679.

LaSalle’s men continued to build LeGriffon throughout the winter months of 1679, but were met with cold temperatures, disgruntled workers, hostile natives, and the constant threat of sabotage. Tonti made sure to launch ahead of schedule and get out of there as quickly as possible, with LeGriffon hitting the water with great ceremony in early summer of 1679. It would be the largest sailing vessel on the Great Lakes when launched, but not the first as some will have us believe.



Tonti towed LeGriffon through the turbulent waters of the Niagara River to Lake Erie, before LaSalle climbed aboard, unfurled its sails and steered into the lake on August 7th, 1679. Outfitted with seven cannons, two of which were brass, LeGriffon now sailed the unchartered Great Lakes with LaSalle and headed for Green Bay, Wisconsin, where he got off the vessel to explore the head of Lake Michigan with some four canoes.

La Salle ordered LeGriffon to off-load merchandise for him at Mackinac Island, and then on September 18th, the pilot and crew of 5 left either Rock island or Washington Island for their Niagara River starting point with a cargo hold full of valuable furs.

LeGriffon was never seen again and disappeared into the Great Lakes somewhere between Green Bay and Niagara Falls, its final whereabouts being one of the greatest maritime mysteries of all time.


The last known location of LeGriffon on Lake Michigan before it disappeared in September of 1679. 

Some say the crew took the furs and burned the ship, others say it went down in a storm. No one knows for sure what happened or where LeGriffon lies, but it continues to intrigue shipwreck hunters from across the world.

Being a special wreck to find, little attention has been paid to where the first vessel was lost off 30 Mile Point. That vessel would in fact be the Great Lakes first shipwreck, and yes, it would be great to find LeGriffon, but wouldn’t it be more interesting to find LaSalle’s first ship, built 6 years earlier, with its supplies to build LeGriffon still lying somewhere on the lake floor?

At least we know the general vicinity where that wreck may lie. It awaits discovery after 342 years, and there might not be much left, but at least we now know where the Great Lakes first shipwreck may be hiding.

Andrew King
February 2020


Google Maps



Three hundred and sixty years ago, a vicious battle took place on the Ottawa River, a battle so epic that both history and folklore intertwined to create an enduring legend. It was a significant skirmish called “The Battle of Long Sault” which took place in this country’s formative years in 1660, and it occurred halfway between Ottawa and Montreal on the shores of the Ottawa River. It was a brutal battle that would later mold a Quebec folk hero by the name of ADAM DOLLARD.


A typical representation of Dollard’s Last Stand.

Yet the exact location of where this historic battle took place has never been determined. Recent research into the matter has uncovered compelling evidence of a quietly shelved archeological dig that took place in the 1950s indicating that the famous battle did not take place in Quebec but rather in Ontario.


One of Canadian history’s most glorified battles, The Battle Of Long Sault has been heavily engrained into Quebec cultural history, its central hero being Adam Dollard des Ormeaux. Finely crafted into a heroic figure of French-Canadian culture, he represents idyllic French Canadian nationalism and staunch Catholicism. Yet, some research brings up  key evidence that may reveal his tragic story ended in Ontario and not in Quebec as the textbooks would have us believe.


A massive memorial stature to Dollard and the Battle Of Long Sault in Montreal. (Wikipedia)

The May 24th weekend, or Victoria Day for the rest of Canada, is a bit different in Quebec where it is unofficially known as “Fête de Dollard”, in recognition of this character he will soon discuss. In 2003, provincial legislation officially declared the date to be National Patriots’ Day. A central figure of this Quebec patriotism is a young man named Adam Dollard des Ormeaux, a 25-year-old commander of Montreal’s (then called Ville-Marie) garrison. In April of 1660, Dollard requested permission from Governor Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve to take an expedition up the Ottawa River towards present day Ottawa to attack a war party of Iroquois before they could reach Ville-Marie and its few hundred inhabitants. Dollard believed that many Iroquois warriors who were encamped along the Ottawa River were preparing to destroy the French settlements at Ville-Marie, Quebec City and Trois-Rivières.

Dollard said he could surprise and ambush the Iroquois warriors before they could begin their campaign against New France. After assembling a force of sixteen volunteer riflemen and four Algonquin warriors, including Chief Mituvemeg, the expedition left Montreal in late April of 1660 with several canoes, filled with food, ammunition and weapons.


The rapids of Long Sault on the Ottawa River, pre-flooding.

Fighting the strong current of the Ottawa River, Dollard and his men finally reached their destination in early May, an area thought to be a good place for an ambush of the approaching Iroquois coming downriver from present day Ottawa. At the site he chose there was already an abandoned Algonquin fort built along the river made up of trees planted in a circle, cut down to trunks. Forty Hurons, under Chief Etienne Annahotaha came to this position to assist Dollard with his ambush plans. Dollard wanted to create a strong fortress from which to launch his attack, so he and his men reinforced the old fortification by building a new wooden palisade around the wall of existing tree trunks, but the Iroquois soon arrived before his new fortress could be completed.


How Dollard’s hastily constructed wooden palisade fort on the Ottawa River might have looked when he and his men built it in 1660. (sketch by author) 


The Iroquois approaching from the west came down the Ottawa River and quickly arrived at Dollard’s position, and in reaction Dollard engaged the Iroquois with musket fire. The result was an immediate assault made upon the fort by the Iroquois, but it was repulsed by the Frenchmen inside. The retreating Iroquois took the French canoes they had left on the beach, broke them up and set them on fire, using the burning wreckage to set ablaze Dollard’s new wooden stronghold. The French and their Huron allies were able to resist the attack and in doing so, killed a chief of the Seneca.

In what was a horrific and brutal scene, the French took the corpse of the Seneca chief and placed his head on a sharpened pole of the palisade as a grim warning to the remaining Iroquois. However, the infuriated Iroquois responded by calling in 500 more warriors to the scene. The Hurons loyal to Dollard, now witnessing the huge army of Iroquois in front of them, decided to defect over to the other side, except for the Huron chief, who loyally remained with Dollard.

The Iroquois wanted revenge and got busy building wooden shields called “mantelets” that were able to repel the firing French musket balls. After a week of back and forth harassment, the final battle began, and now armed with their shields, knives and axes, the Iroquois chopped through the fort’s walls and started pouring into Dollard’s wooden stronghold.


A painting depicting the gruesome end scene of the battle and the eventual demise of Dollard and his men.


Sensing imminent defeat, Dollard then ignited a keg of gunpowder inside the walls of his fort and prepared to hurl it down on the Iroquois attackers, but when the bomb left his hands, it struck the palisade wall, bounced back and exploded in his own fort. With the overwhelming Iroquois forces now inside his walls, Dollard and the defenders were quickly killed in a gruesome skirmish that left only 4 Frenchmen alive, three of them quickly burned alive within the fort, and a fourth being taken prisoner, later tortured and killed. Fearing more intense battle bloodshed ahead, the Iroquois decided to pull back their planned attack and retreated west to Ottawa, deciding it wise not to unleash more havoc in Ville-Marie where the French likely had more muskets and cannons.

Dollard was defeated and the Iroquois achieved their revenge, but the history books say that the young Frenchman managed to scare off the attacking Iroquois, saving Ville-Marie and the rest of New France from imminent bloodshed.


Native survivors of the epic battle on the Ottawa River then recounted the tale back in Ville-Marie (Montreal). The courageous tale of Dollard des Ormeaux and his men was then recounted to Catholic nuns who decided Dollard should became a heroic figure in New France, a hero who exemplified selfless personal sacrifice, a martyr for the church, and the colony.

In the 1800s The Catholic Church had become an influential representative of French Canadian interests within Canada, and to create an ideal moral and cultural hero, the Catholic church wrote their version of history with an emphasis on Christian heroes, which included the story of Dollard.


Dedicating a memorial to Dollard in 1919 in Carillon, despite any proof the battle actually took place there. 

So it comes as no surprise that in 1919 a small town in Quebec called Carillon was chosen as the spot to dedicate a massive memorial to Dollard on what was decided to be the battleground site and Dollard’s final resting place. However, the location was picked purely at random because it fit a certain narrative and was thought to be in the general vicinity of where this historic battle occurred. Good enough. No evidence was ever found of the battle ever taking place at that location, but it was symbolic a place as any to celebrate Dollard’s heroism, so the memorial was built. However, it seems evidence was eventually found, but it placed Dollard and his fort in Ontario…


After piquing my interest in learning where this historic fort might be located, I came across a journal article published in 1960, entitled “The Lost Battleground Of Long Sault” by National Museum of Canada archeologist Thomas E. Lee, who weirdly published his report through the University of Rome. Reading the report, it clearly outlines an extensive archeological dig done by Lee in the 1950s that indeed uncovered a burnt out palisaded fort…BUT, it was on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River. However, all this new historic evidence was soon conveniently submerged underwater, flooded out when the nearby Carillon Dam was built in 1959.

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The report by Thomas Lee who uncovered the archeological remains of the Dollard battle site in the 1950s. 

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Lee’s detailed investigation notes into the location of Dollard’s fort. 

The Carillon Generating Station uses a large dam, which raised the Ottawa River water levels by over 62 feet (19 m) at Carillon and flooded out the rapids of Long-Sault, submerging all evidence of Lee’s archeological find of Dollard’s fort in Ontario.


The Carillon Dam that flooded the Ottawa River, and the battlefield site. 

After 60 years of being quietly hidden underwater, I will tell you exactly where I think we can find the Lost Fort.

As with many important historic finds, a regular citizen can be attributed to finding this Lost Battleground, and her name was Miss Anne Dewar from Ottawa who had grown up near St. Andrews and had heard stories of an old French fort being on the farm property of a Mr. Ross. The farm, located just below the Little Rideau River and 8 kilometres east of the town of Hawkesbury, was apparently the site of Dollard’s Last Stand.. Dewar approached the museum with her thoughts and persuaded the curator at the time, a Mr. Alcock to join her along with some local French fisherman who also knew of the actual battle site.

Below: Rare photos of the Lee excavation in Ontario of the fort. 


Thomas Lee was then given the go ahead to begin an archeological survey of the site where earthen mounds and rings of earth would reveal a definite fortlike structure. I was able to track down Lee’s photographs of the site before it was submerged underwater for the dam construction, and the evidence Lee uncovered certainly does substantiates Dewar’s claim. Lee of course was met by opposition in the academic quarters who made it clear that Dollard was French hero, who died in Quebec.Yet many older generations in the area adamantly proclaimed the fort was indeed located on the Ross Farm on the Ontario side. Lee also mentions that local indigenous members traveling up and down the Ottawa River often spoke of the old battle at the Ross Farm, as did inhabitants on the Quebec side of the river.


Lee began his excavations in 1951 and unearthed the remains of a palisaded structure, which matched the description of the fort where Dollard, his men and countless native warriors perished almost four centuries ago. The fort would have been a rectangular, round-sided palisade, hastily constructed by Dollard, so not a huge size, but big enough to accommodate his men and supplies. Lee’s excavations uncovered quite a remarkable collection of archeological remains, so it was photographed and recorded, but it would soon be submerged under the rising waters of the river when the Carillon Dam was constructed, concealing once and for all the true location of this historic battle.


An 1800s map showing the area of the Ross Farm. 



Superimposing the old map with the original shoreline with a current, now flooded river shoreline. Where I believe the battlefield is located indicated in red. 


Red circle marks the location of the submerged fort. 

Cross referencing historic maps of the area to locate where “The Ross Farm” was located, and using the fact it was said to be 8km east of Hawkesbury, I was able to pinpoint the area where the fort would have been located. Then studying the photographs by Lee, it looks like the fort was constructed quite close to the water’s edge pre-flooding. Since the Ottawa River water levels rose significantly after the dam’s construction, the site is now likely under about 15 feet of water.

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Comparison imagery showing where the fort remains are likely located. 


Referencing Lee’s notes and the historic accounts of the battle, I sketched how a 17th century wooden palisaded fort may have looked like and then positioned it at the location of where I determined the site to possibly be. It seems to be located about 50 feet off the shoreline of private property, and if that property owner is willing, it might be worth doing some investigation on their property to see if metal detectors could unearth any evidence of the battle in the form of musket balls, arrowheads, knife blades, and any other remaining 17th century artifacts that could have survived. To my knowledge, no further archeological excavations have been conducted, and the site and its secrets remain submerged.



I firmly believe that Thomas Lee did in fact uncover the actual site and fort ruins of the Battle Of Long Sault, but whether it is because of old fashioned politics or a lack of funding, interest, or all of the above, the proof needed to confirm this historical event’s location continues to be concealed beneath the waves of the mighty Ottawa River.

Andrew King, February 2020


Google Maps


Once Upon A Time in Ottawood, our skies above the capital were abuzz with the sound of Rolls Royce Merlin engines, purring from the fuselages of the graceful and iconic WW2 fighter, the P-51 Mustang. After the war, Canada purchased a total of 150 Mustang P-51Ds from the United States for use by the RCAF and at No. 416 “Lynx” Squadron based at the RCAF Uplands Air Base south of Ottawa. This is where the MacDonald-Cartier International Airport is today. Operational for only a few short years between 1950-52, the Mustangs were declared obsolete in 1956 when they were replaced by the Canadair Sabre, and were later sold off to private buyers.

Do any of these remarkable Ottawa Mustangs still exist? I researched some serial numbers of these now sought after Mustangs to see if I could track any of these Ottawa Mustangs down. Selling for around $2-3million dollars nowadays, these once surplus planes would have been sold off for as little as $150 as surplus scrap in the 1950s.

Let’s push the throttle on these Ottawa warbirds and see where they may be located today using their old registration numbers…HERE THEY ARE:

Mustang 9273



Sold to James H. Defuria on 27 February 1959, later registered as N1070Z.  Acquired minus its engine.  Later sold to Robert J. Pond/Planes Of Fame East, Spring Park, MN, June 1980.  Registered as N151BP.  To Bob Pond/Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs, CA, December 1997.  Flown in  USAAF clours, coded “E2-S”, named “Button…circa 2002.


Mustang 9271


Ex USAF P-51D-25-NA serial number 44-73843. Registered to American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum of Texas on 6 September 1991.  Moved to CAF/Commemorative Air Force/Dixie Wing, Peachtree City, GA , 2002.


Mustang 9265



Ex USAF P-51D-30-NA serial number 44-74829.  Used at RCAF Station Uplands, Ontario.  Now in New Zealand at the P-51 Syndicate, Ardmore, NZ…  Named “Rudolph”.  Still airworthy circa 2002.


Mustang 9260


Ex USAF P-51D-30-NA serial number 44-74836.  Used at RCAF Station Uplands, Ontario.   Acquired as wreck by Walter Soplata Collection, Newbury, OH, 1979.  To Brian O’Farrell/Johnson Aviation, Miami, FL, 1986.


Mustang 9259


Ex USAF P-51D-30-NA serial number 44-74878.  Used at RCAF Station Uplands, Ontario.   Last registration, still as N6306T, to T. Wood on 21 May 1993.  In Texas, then sold to someone in Indianapolis. Flown marked as 44-74878, coded “HI-G” on RH side and “G-HD” on LH side (or codes changed at some time?).  Damaged in wheels up landing, June 2003.


Mustang 9258



Ex USAF P-51D-30-NA serial number 44-74865.  Used at RCAF Station Uplands, Ontario.   Restored to airworthy, Idaho Falls, ID, 1998.  Flew as Mormon Mustang.  To Mallette Family LLC, Provo, UT on 1 August 2001 as N8677E.  Flown as My Sweet Mary Lou since 2001 in Utah.


Mustang 9251


Ex USAF P-51D-30-NA serial number 44-74843.  With No. 416 (F) Squadron at RCAF Station Uplands, Ontario in 1951/1952.  Sold to James H. Defuria (dba Intercontinental Airways of Canastota, NY).  To US register as N6314T.


Mustang 9257


Ex USAF P-51D-30-NA serial number 44-74859.  Used at RCAF Station Uplands, Ontario.  Crashed at Carleton Place, near Uplands, on 9 November 1951.  Reported delivered to Israel with other damaged RCAF P-51Ds.  Reported delivered to IDFAF, their serial 39.  To Sterling Aircraft Supply, 1964.  To Pioneer Aero Service, Burbank/Chino, CA on 2 December 1964.  Registered as N7079V.  Restored as TF-51D, Chino, CA, 1988-1990.  To Doug Arnold/Warbirds of Great Britain, Biggin Hill/Bournemouth, UK, 1990.    Remains of 44-74859 reported stored, North Weald, UK.

Mustang 9243


Ex USAF P-51D-25-NA serial number 44-74012. With No. 416 (F) Squadron at RCAF Station Uplands, Ontario in 1951/1952. Crashed during forced landing due to engine failure at Hudson, WI on 4 August 1974. Wreckage sold to Gordon W. Plaskett, King City, CA on 30 September 1975. Used wing in restoration of 44-73458/N4151D. To Robert H. Jens/Executive Air Craft Ltd, Vancouver, BC on 27 September 1976. Registered as C-GPSI. Rebuild started but not completed. To Duane Williams, Kellogg, ID in February 1984. Registered as N6519D. Rebuild continued. To James E. Smith/Crystal Lakes Resort, Fortine, MT on 28 September 1987. Now operated in RCAF colours marked 9577, coded “PV*577”. Still airworthy circa 2002.


Mustang 9249


Ex USAF P-51D-25-NA serial number 44-73864.  With No. 416 (F) Squadron at RCAF Station Uplands, Ontario in 1951/1952. To US registry as N6316T, and N1451D.  Badly damaged at Rosenburg, Oregon on 15 June 1964.  Being rebuilt, registration N90338 allocated on 23 July 2004 to S.R. Loeffler of Italy.

Mustang 9246


Ex USAF P-51D-25-NA serial number 44-73979.  With No. 416 (F) Squadron at RCAF Station Uplands, Ontario in 1951. On display, first at College Militaire Royale, St. Jean, Quebec from 10 May 1955.  To RCAF St. Jean, Quebec by 1960.  To Imperial War Museum, Duxford, UK in 1968.  Restored for static display, completed in  October 1973.  To Imperial War Museum, London, UK in 1989.  Displayed marked as 472258 coded “WZ-I”, named “Big Beautiful Doll”.  Still there…


Mustang 9245




Ex USAF P-51D-25-NA serial number 44-73871.  With No. 416 (F) Squadron at RCAF Station Uplands, Ontario in 1951/1952.  Later at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario.  Ice Strike Corp, Dover, DE on 22 February 1996.  Reregistered as N7098V.  To Mustang Air Inc, Wilmington, DE on 5 September 1996.  Flown as “Stephanie”, later “Miss Stephanie”.  Based in Florida, still airworthy!




Andrew King, January 2020




Canada’s “Loonie” coin was supposed to be much different than the one we know today, altered after a mysterious theft in 1986. The original dollar coin molds could still be hidden within Ottawa…


The “Loonie’ (maybe I should say “one dollar coin” since the Royal Canadian Mint in 2006 secured the rights to the name “loonie” according to the Canadian Trade-marks database and Canadian Intellectual Property Office) was conceived in 1982 when the Government of Canada wished to introduce a new dollar coin to eliminate the ol’ green one dollar bills.


The old one dollar bill, in circulation from 1973-1989. (image: Bank of Canada)

Do you remember when a can of Coke cost $75 cents out of a vending machine but when the loonie® $1 coin came out, they magically went up to $1.00 in price? This is likely in part to the vending machine operators and transit system groups lobbying the Government of Canada to replace the old one dollar banknotes with a new dollar coin so their machines would not have to deal with the paper notes, just modify existing coin operated machines to accept dollar coins. Prices of everything from a can of pop to bus fare seemed to coincidentally go up to an exact one dollar amount, or loonie, after its introduction in 1987. That is another conspiracy for another time…

The government announced on March 25, 1986, that the new dollar coin would be launched the following year as a replacement for the dollar bill, thus saving taxpayers $200 million over 20 years. The new dollar coin was to be made so it matched the dimensions and weight of the American Susan B. Anthony dollar coin so it would be compatible with American manufactured vending machines being used in Canada.


The new dollar coin of 1986 was supposed to feature the Voyageur canoe that had been on coins since 1935.

It was also decided that the new Canadian dollar coin would feature the “voyageur” image from the old, but rarely circulated Canadian dollar coins made since 1935, but instead of being made of silver, the new dollar coin would be a bronze/gold colour due to it being bronze plated nickel. It would also have 11 angled sides instead of being perfectly circular.


A concept image of how the original Canadian one dollar coin was supposed to look when it was designed in 1986. (image by author)

The plan was approved, and the new dollar coin master dies were prepared in Ottawa to be sent to Winnipeg where they would be manufactured for circulation. But then…


In an effort to save $43.50 The Mint in Ottawa decided to use a local letter-courier firm instead of the usual high-security armoured service like Brinks to send the dies to Winnipeg. This decision would result in a historic turn of events.

As the dies were packaged to be shipped on November 3rd, 1986 the usual protocol of packaging each side of the coin’s dies separately was sidestepped for unknown reasons. The two dies were to be shipped in separate shipments. This security practice was in place so that if a die package fell into the hands of counterfeiters, they would only have one correct side of the coin. Yet, somehow, the new dollar coin dies were packaged TOGETHER and then went mysteriously missing.


An example of a coin die pair, one for each side of the coin.

With the new coin dies supposedly in transit via this cheaper courier service, the Winnipeg officials waited 11 days but still no delivery. On November 14th the RCMP was called. The dies never made it from Ottawa. It seems they had been stolen before they even left the Nation’s Capital.

Scrambling, the Royal Canadian Mint decided to keep the heist under wraps from the public in hopes they would turn up, but alas they did not. They even withheld the theft from Monique Vèzina, the minister of the Department of Finance, which was responsible for the mint’s operation.

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Headlines from 1987 Ottawa Citizen regarding the coin caper. (Google News Archives)

For several weeks, the lost coin stymied officials who considered making a minor variation to the voyageur design that could possibly reveal the thief’s location. It was thought the risk of counterfeiting was too great so it was quickly decided to use a new design, replacing the voyageur with a loon.


Robert-Ralph Carmichael who created the “Loonie” image for the coin (image: Canadian Geographic)

That loon image was done by artist Robert-Ralph Carmichael who had submitted it in 1976 for a $100 gold coin, but it was rejected. In desperation to get the new dollar coin in production, Carmichael’s once discarded image of the loon was decided upon for the new dollar coin and soon its dies were rushed off to Winnipeg (not using a discount courier) to be minted.

Six months behind schedule due to the Ottawa heist, the new “loonie” as we know it today was launched on June 30th, 1987. The bronze-plated nickel coin had 40 million units introduced into major cities across Canada that year.


The original Voyageur Dollar Dies are still missing to this day, whether they were sold on the coin collector black market, thrown into the Ottawa River or still hidden in someone’s basement here in Ottawa has yet to be determined. (if any readers know anything, please contact me, as an anonymous source of course!)

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The scene of the coin caper…are the original coin dies still in Ottawa? Bottom of the river? Your attic? (Image: Google Streetview)

Our loonie is a coin made from hasty necessity, a product of a government mishap, which propelled a rejected artist’s work to iconic status. His work has now made it into the Great Canadian lexicon, vending machines, arcades and laundromats across the country. Carmichael, who died in 2016, lives on through his initials, RRC, which are visible directly under the loon’s beak, between the ripples on the surface of the water.

Currently our loonie coin is no longer a bronze plated nickel coin but now made out of brass plated steel. This means that it is not being accepted in some older vending machines, but The Mint states that it produces an electromagnetic signature that is harder to counterfeit and by using steel instead of nickel it provides some cost savings….wait, isn’t that how we got into this whole situation in the first place?

Andrew King, December 2019


Ottawa Citizen, Feb.5, 1987


Parliamentary Secrets Of The Solstice

The winter solstice usually falls on December 21st of any given year, it is a day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The Sun is at its lowest elevation in the sky and since ancient times the winter solstice has been seen as a significant event for many cultures. Celebrated with festivals and rituals, it marked the symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. Cultures built monuments to recognize this special celestial day, such as at Stonehenge and within the pyramids of the Maya. The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘Sun standing still’. On this day the Sun seems to stand still before daylight lengthens again.

In recognition of the Winter Solstice tomorrow I’d like to share with you certain aspects of Canada’s Parliament Buildings that I discovered that seem to have been designed to honour this event. In 1859, The Legislative Assembly in Ottawa voted for the construction of a House of Parliament and the winning bid was made by Thomas Fuller.  The cornerstone was laid under the rituals of the Order of Freemasonry by the future King, Albert Edward, who later became Grand Master of the Convent General of the Knights Templar.


The cornerstone of the Parliament Buildings being laid under Freemason ceremony on Sept. 1 1860 by Fuller and the Prince Of Wales.

It is my belief that certain solstice secrets were built into the Parliament Buildings and surrounding area that can be seen by studying certain aspects on the Solstices using the app “Sun Surveyor” that maps out the position of the sun on specific days.


Parliament is in alignment with the sunset axis on Solstice day. The overall layout of the Parliament Buildings is aligned east-west along the axis of the setting sun on the Winter Solstice.



Second, the downtown core of Ottawa is laid out in alignment with the Winter Solstice. Wellington, Sparks & east-west streets all align with the setting sun on Winter Solstice. You can stand & watch the sunset down each street. This is why the sun is in your eyes driving west.



Third, & most interesting of all, is that the Library Of Parliament which was designed to resemble a Templar church, has a statue of the Queen at its centre. The Queen faces the entrance doorway where at noon, on the Winter Solstice, she watches the sun exactly above it. Note the special “runway” from the statue on the floor and also the bizarre geometric patterns built into the wood floor.




The statue of Queen Victoria as she gazes down the wooden runway awards the noon hour sun on the Winter Solstice. Note other curious geometric patterns on the floor.

And finally, the statue of Colonel By at Major’s Hill Park has been positioned so if you are there on the Winter Solstice you will see that he watches setting sun through the Peace Tower, & finally the Library Of Parliament. There is even an axis line built into the pad.


Call it coincidence, or call it a very specific and concerted esoteric effort to honour the Solstice event through the structures of the Parliament Buildings and the surrounding area.

Happy Solstice!


Andrew King, December 2019