Author: Andrew King

An artist living in the Nation's Capital fascinated by its past...I hope you are too. I can be reached at:

Remains Of A Hudson’s Bay Trading Post on the Ottawa River

Situated approximately 57km northwest of Ottawa there is a nondescript piece of property near Chats Falls on the Ottawa River. It is part of the oldest known European settlement in the Ottawa Valley and includes the ruins of a centuries old Hudson’s Bay Trading Post.


Lying quietly on the shores of the Ottawa River near Quyon, QC are remains of the Ottawa Valley’s oldest settlement and a Hudson’s Bay Trading Post.



Concealed under the cover of bushes and underbrush, the original stone foundation of a structure is visible. This is most likely the remains of Mondions original home he built in 1786, the oldest known settlement in the Ottawa Valley, and later a busy trading post.


More stone ruins.


Before Philomen Wright arrived in 1800 from Massachusetts to settle the National Capital Region in Hull, there was another visitor that settled in the wilds of the Ottawa River Valley. An 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, this parcel of land was an important strategic and cultural piece of property.  Samuel Champlain would have passed by this property in the early 1600’s but it wouldn’t be until 1786 that Joseph Mondion would decide to build a permanent residence here. Fourteen years prior to Philomen Wright setting up shop in Hull, Mondion arrived in 1786 on what is now called Mondion Point, or “Indian Point”.

A description of the trading post at Mondion Point from an 1832 publication entitled "British Dominions in North America" by Joseph Bouchette

A description of the trading post at Mondion Point from an 1832 publication entitled “British Dominions in North America” by Joseph Bouchette. Note “spirits” for sale. SOURCE: Google

Known to be a major transit route for both First Nations tribes and French voyageurs and “coureur des bois”, Mondion built what is now known to be the first permanent structure in the Ottawa Valley when he built his home there in 1786. A wise entrepreneur, Mondion raised cattle and hogs and sold meat to the hungry fur traders passing by and portaging Chats Falls in the late 18th century. After the British took control of the previously French occupied lands of New France in 1763, Mondion operated his little trading empire on the Ottawa River until he was apparently shut down for selling illegal whisky to those en route along the river. Packing up shop in 1800, he sold his piece of property to a trading company from Montreal: Forsyth, Richardson and Company. In 1804 the Northwest Trading Company took over the property, a valuable piece of land known to be a strategic fur trading point along the Ottawa River.

An 1804 survey map outlines where the structures of the trading post and previous Mondion buildings were located.

An 1804 survey map outlines where the structures of the trading post and previous Mondion buildings were located. (Source-

The North West Company of Montreal and Hudson’s Bay Company were forcibly merged in 1821 by order of the British government in an effort to end the often-violent competition between the two trading companies and the piece of land became an official Hudson’s Bay trading post. This once remote outpost consisted of log cabin structures and wooden outbuildings that would contain the inventory needed to trade with natives, such as guns, blankets, iron tools, and clothing.

A typical Hudson's Bay Trading Post in the 1800's.

A typical Hudson’s Bay Trading Post in the 1800’s.

In 1837 the trading post was abandoned since most of the native population had been displaced and the fur trade was coming to an end with lumber being the new commodity along the Ottawa River. The trading post log cabins fell into ruin and the land was transformed into farmland until it became cottage country, of which it remains today.

Overlaying the 1804 Northwest Trading Company map over a current map we can see where any ruins may be located.

Overlaying the 1804 Northwest Trading Company map over a current map we can see where any ruins may be located. SOURCE: Bing Maps

In an effort to locate this once prosperous 200 year old Hudson’s Bay Trading Post I referred to an 1805 map by the Northwest Trading Company that outlined where the original structures would have been. Transposing that map on a current aerial view map indicated where any ruins may lie today.

Another map from 1845 indicates where Mondion's original 1786 house would have been.

Another map from 1845 indicates where Mondion’s original 1786 house would have been. Some cottages are built on a burial ground. (Source: The Upper Ottawa Valley by Clyde Kennedy)

Of course the original plot of land settled by Mondion and used by the Hudson’s Bay Company has been subdivided into many lots since they departed, but a significant parcel of waterfront land that was once owned by Mondion and the Hudson’s Bay Company is still undeveloped. Nearby, off the main road it was also discovered that some overgrown stone foundations remain, likely those of the original 1786 Mondion house and the 1800’s trading post. The crumbling stones of this once bustling fur trading dynasty now sit quietly forgotten in the bushes.

Concealed under the cover of bushes and underbrush, the original stone foundation of a structure is visible. This is most likely the remains of Mondions original home he built in 1786, the oldest known settlement in the Ottawa Valley.

Concealed under the cover of bushes and underbrush, the original stone foundation of a structure is visible. This could be the remains of Mondion’s original home built in 1786, the oldest known pioneer settlement in the Ottawa Valley.

The stone ruins lie almost exactly where the old maps indicated it would be.

The stone ruins lie almost exactly where the old maps indicated it would be.

The concealed stone ruins measure approximately 10ft by 20ft.

The stone ruins measure approximately 10ft by 20ft.


Lying quietly on the shore of the Ottawa River the remains of the Valley's oldest home and a Hudson's Bay Trading Post lie forgotten.

It seems a shame that the area of Ottawa Valley’s oldest pioneer settlement and a Hudson’s Bay Trading Post lie forgotten on the shores of the mighty Ottawa River.

I find it seriously disheartening that such an important piece of Ottawa Valley history, if not Canadian history remains forgotten. This is certainly an important part of our national history that I think should be considered for recognition by the federal or provincial government. Who knows what important historical artifacts lie beneath the surface of this land. With the Hudson’s Bay Company recently sold to an American private equity firm, these ruins of the old HBC trading post, whoever they belong to, should be preserved and recognized for their cultural and historical value to this country.

Andrew King, October 2019


Wikipedia: Hudson’s Bay Company

Google Maps

Bing Maps

The Upper Ottawa Valley by Clyde Kennedy, 1970.





After six years and one hundred articles, Ottawa Rewind will now be available October 15th as a book! Ottawa Press and Publishing now makes it possible to take home the mysteries and adventures uncovering this area’s hidden secrets.

Ottawa Rewind: A Book of Curios and Mysteries will arrive in Chapters/Indigo/other bookstores in early October, but you can pre-order your copy today by visiting Ottawa Press and Publishing at


Click the LINK HERE TO OTTAWA PRESS AND PUBLISHING to reserve your copy AND as a special BONUS, receive a complimentary signed, but limited print featuring one of the sketches in the book. NEW PRINT ADDED OF OTTAWA”S FIRST RAILROAD LOCOMOTIVE.


So click now and join the adventure ahead of time, while also receiving a bonus postcard print.

The book will then appear on store shelves October 15th with book launch events soon to be announced!



After six years and one hundred articles, Ottawa Rewind will now be available this Fall in a handsome page-turner book format! Through Ottawa Press and Publishing you can now take home the mysteries and adventures uncovering some the area’s hidden secrets.

Ottawa Rewind: A Book of Curios and Mysteries will arrive in Chapters/Indigo/other bookstores in early October, but you can pre-order your copy today by visiting Ottawa Press and Publishing at


Click the LINK HERE TO OTTAWA PRESS AND PUBLISHING to reserve your copy AND as a special BONUS, receive a complimentary signed, but limited print featuring one of the sketches in the book. So click now and join the adventure ahead of time and get your bonus print.

The book will then appear on store shelves sometime in October with book launch events soon to be announced!



During the Swinging Sixties Canada had three Prime Ministers: Diefenbaker until 1963, Pearson 1963-68 and Trudeau starting in 1968. One of them is responsible for the installation of a secret Coke machine that still dispenses Coke in those old fashioned individual glass bottles.

According to my informant, the machine still exists, caught in a weird state of suspended animation, perhaps tied to a contract in perpetuity for it to be filled with those glass bottles then, today and into the future.


Word on the street is that in the 1960s a certain wife of the Prime Minister in office at the time would often demand ice cold, freshly-bottled Coca Cola. In response, Hill staff orchestrated to have the freshest Coke available underneath Centre Block, dispensed by a modern (at the time) vending machine. The Prime Ministers and their wives have come and gone, but the Coke machine still remains hidden in the subternnean tunnels beneath Parliament Hill. It is unclear if a contract with Coke was set up in perpetuity so the machine will always remain filled, so I investigated.

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A recent photo given to me of the covert Coke machine hidden beneath Parliament Hill. Note the pile of empty glass bottles sitting beside the machine.  (photo: “J”)

During the 1980s the machine was updated from the 1960s machine, but instead of dispensing easier to handle aluminum cans of Coke, it was replaced by an 80s machine that was designed to maintain the tradition of spewing forth ice cold glass bottles of Coke as it originally did in the 1960s.


A 1960s glass bottle dispensing Coke machine, likely similar to the one that first was installed below Centre Block. (Photo: Etsy)

By closely examining the photograph it reveals the name of  “Navan Vending” as the company that maintains the machine. I contacted the owner of the company to see if I could extract any further intel about this curiosity hidden beneath our country’s seat of power. Navan Vending is currently listed for sale, so I’m not sure if the business will dissolve and the contract for the hidden Coke machine along with, or if the contract has to be fulfilled by a new company. No reply has been received as of this posting, but if I do hear anything, I will update this story accordingly.

The Concealed Coke Machine’s fate may also be further sealed because Centre Block is now closed for major renovations. Shutting down for restoration work for a period of TEN YEARS, the Coke machine may thus be mothballed, or worse, permanently removed. Again, I have asked Navan Vending for comment and await their response to get answers about this cool facet of obscure history hidden below the Nation’s Capital.


Until that time, we now know a covert Coke machine has been dispensing ice cold bottles of refreshing cola for over 50years in the subterranean halls beneath Parliament Hill, quenching the thirst of Prime Ministers and staff for half a century.  I’m surprised our current Prime Minister did not have it replaced with a healthier Organic Cold Pressed Juice Machine, but maybe through some strange perpetuity contract with Coca Cola or just good old fashioned nostalgic reasons, the wood grained relic remains.

It is a reminder that even in today’s world of fake news and political lies, those that operate in parliament still sometimes need the Real Thing, and Coke is it!

Andrew King, September, 2019


The ‘deputy streaker’ and more: Stories of sex, violence and stonework from parliamentary history



After six years and one hundred articles, Ottawa Rewind will now be available this Fall in a handsome page-turner book format! Through Ottawa Press and Publishing you can now take home the mysteries and adventures uncovering some the area’s hidden secrets.

Ottawa Rewind: A Book of Curios and Mysteries will arrive in Chapters/Indigo/other bookstores in early October, but you can pre-order your copy today by visiting Ottawa Press and Publishing at


Click the LINK HERE TO OTTAWA PRESS AND PUBLISHING to reserve your own copy today and join the adventure ahead of time. It will appear on store shelves sometime in October with book launch events across the region.



On a recent camping trip north of Kingston, Ontario, a lunch-time picnic at an unusual rocky structure revealed an intriguing inscription. While looking for a spot to set down our picnic blanket at a peaceful waterfall, an inscribed cross in granite was discovered.
Containing deep grooves and lichen growth, the cross symbol appeared to be quite weathered and did not seem like a recent addition to the stone. Who would inscribe such a symbol in this hidden place? Was this a surveying mark for the nearby 19th century Rideau Canal? A bored religious hiker from decades ago? The mark of a lost Samuel deChamplain in 1615, or is it the mark of an earlier explorer?
This is the mystery of the carved cross.


The Rideau Canal is a 200km waterway built between 1826 and 1832 that snakes through Eastern Ontario between Kingston and Ottawa. It is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America, and we often enjoy traveling through its many locks and camping at the lock stations. This summer was no exception, and on a recent two-day campout on Whitefish Lake, we discovered this unusual inscribed cross.
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“The Rideau Route” was a waterway route used by natives who wanted to travel from Lake Ontario to the Ottawa River. In 1783 a survey expedition initiated by the British government was led by a native guide along this ancient highway. From the Ottawa River they travelled south along the Rideau River to its source in the Rideau Lakes, then down through the lower Rideau lakes into the Gananoque River. From there it leads down to the St. Lawrence River and further to the Atlantic. Traveled for centuries before any Europeans arrived, the route was chosen by Lieutenant Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers who was given the arduous task of building a navigable waterway, with a minimum depth of 5 feet, from the Ottawa River to Kingston where the eastern end of Lake Ontario enters the St. Lawrence River.

Original waterway as surveyed in 1783 from the St. Lawrence north to present day Ottawa. Image:, “Communication with the St. Lawrence & Ottawa Rivers, by the Rivers Petite Nation and Rideau” copied from sketches by Lt. Gershom French 1783, by William Chewitt, August 26, 1794, Archives of Ontario, AO1336 (left panel).

The proximity of the carved cross to the Rideau Canal creates a suspicion that it was possibly inscribed by one of the thousands of labourers or tradesmen that were hired by independent contractors, with the rock work completed by French Canadians and Scottish stone masons. The unskilled labour was generally made up of Irish immigrants and French Canadians. Could one of them made the cross? It seems unlikely as the cross was carved on a very unusual rock feature that would have been hidden away from the labour camps.
Situated on a granite rock facing an opening where a stream of descending water enters, the carved cross is about 15 feet up from ground level and would require a person with some level of skill to ascend to.

Detail of the inscribed cross showing weathering and lichen.

Facing the rising sun in the east, the cross is carved with deep grooves with exact precision to replicate the exact proportions of the Latin Christian cross.


Someone who knew those dimensions and proportions carved that cross. Approximately 10 inches in height, the cross is intentionally carved to be visible when at the cavern opening where the water enters into the cave below.

The carved cross is on a stone that faces the rising sun in the east.

So who carved the cross? With dating methods to try and date the inscription not being available, we must look back at possible creators through history. The indigenous people are a possibility, but would they replicate a Christian Cross in exact proportions? The only other rock inscriptions by indigenous people are at the Peterborough Petroglyphs where the soft stone was carved using gneiss hammers to incise human figures, animals, and figures by the Algonkian or Iroquian speaking people between 900 and 1100 AD.
Was there a visitation to the area by pre-contact Christians who used the ancient waterway of the native population at the time? Legends of Irish monks like Saint Brendan that travelled to North America in 520AD, as well as Prince Madoc from Wales who apparently made it to North America in 1170AD. Other possible visitors are medieval Norse Christians who we know visited North America in 1000AD and in the Arctic region in 1200-1300.

The robed carving dated to the 13th century with an etched cross found on Baffin Island (photo:

In fact there is a wooden figure that was uncovered along with sword fragments, chain mail and tools during a 1970s archeological dig on both Baffin and Ellesmere Islands that shows a carved Christian cross on its chest. There is always the theory that Templar Knights ventured to North America and followed routes inland to create a new establishment. Did they follow the routes of the native people from the St. Lawrence up the waterway and leave their mark at this unusual location? Without being able to date the inscription it is hard to say who made the symbol of the cross.

Size relation of a watch with the carved cross.

Other possibilities include a surveying mark left by the British Ordnance survey team while surveying the Rideau Canal. But further research and a note from the British Ordnance says that they did not, and never would have made that mark.

British Ordnance survey benchmark carved into rock. Images: Wikipedia


Was it just some random religious person taking the time to carve out an exact Christian cross for fun? It seems unlikely, as this was precisely carved using a tool of some precision.

Another contender is the famous explorer Samuel DeChamplain who was lost in the woods for a week in the fall of 1615 after his failed mission to destroy the Iroquois in what is now Syracuse. His exploits and the ensuing battle resulted in him being shot twice with arrows in the leg, forcing him and his party to retreat across Lake Ontario to a “large river” where they built cabins and stayed for a period of a month. Champlain pleaded to be returned to his settlement and as he recounts in his journal:

“after crossing from the island, the end of the lake, we entered a river some 12 leagues in length”. This I believe to be Cataraqui River, now part of the Rideau canal system.


Converting Champlain’s “French League” from his journal into modern kilometre measurement.

This entry most likely refers to crossing “from the island” which would be Wolfe Island, over to Kingston, On and into the Cataraqui River. When we apply Champlain’s “12 leagues in length” it calculates to be 42km up the Cataraqui River, placing Champlain up near Seeley’s Bay, ON. and Whitefish Lake. A This leaves the Cataraqui River as the most likely option and matches the “marshy” description of the river’s entrance in his journal.


Champlain’s group built two or three log cabins most likely on the shores of  a lake, likely Whitefish Lake, where a great deer hunt was established using native hunting methods of building traps and deer capture enclosures. This “great deer hunt area” is marked on a map made by Champlain in 1632 that is marked “Lieu Ou il y a Forte Cerfs” which when translated means “place where there is strong deer”.


Champlain’s 1632 map mentions the area where the cross was found as a place with strong deer, as noted from his 1615 journey.

Champlain at this point on his adventure gets lost in the woods of which he transcribes into his journal in great detail. Having wandered off trying to capture an unusual bird he had spotted, Champlain was separated from his native companions and was lost in the woods North of Kingston for days. Spending the first night at the foot of a massive tree, Champlain trudged on and came to a pond where he killed some birds of which he ate to survive. In what he describes as being about 5-6 days lost and wandering the woods north of Kingston, which I think is in the vicinity of Jones Falls where he came across a stream that he followed to a small lake about 4km in length which would have been Whitefish Lake before the building of Rideau Canal in 1830 and the subsequent flooding of the land.


Champlain mentions hearing a great waterfall and being surrounded by mountains, of which were probably Jones Falls (the falls are long gone as they were dammed up for the canal project) and the mighty and nearby Rock Dunder mountain area respectively. There are no large mountains per say anywhere west of the Frontenac Axis geographical formation of which his terrain descriptions would match. It has to be here.



The only “mountains” north of Kingston where Champlain would have ventured are the mighty Dunders, at Morton, On on Whitefish Lake.

Following the river Champlain was finally re-united with his worried native companions who told Champlain that if had not returned, they would never again meet with the French in fear that they would think they had killed Champlain. It is something to contemplate that history could have been much different if Champlain remained lost in the woods and perished north of Kingston.



Did a lost Champlain thinking he would die in the wilderness leave a trail of bread crumbs in the form of carved crosses? It is unique and recognizable symbol of a European Frenchman at a very prominent location on the waterway.  His accounts match the area where the cross was found almost exactly and this geological feature would sure be a known location on a travelled route. Further investigation into Champlain’s possible route would be necessary, but the carved cross could have been made by Champlain as he wandered the wilderness in 1615.


I contacted both Parks Canada and The Canadian Museum Of History about the inscription, but as of this posting, neither has responded. 
Was it carved by a bored religious person at the falls or was it something more meaningful? Roaming Knights Templar on a journey through North America? The lost explorer Champlain leaving a trail of recognizable French Christian symbols of his whereabouts in 1615? Without further study of this inscribed cross hidden in the woods its origins will continue to pass through time, yet another piece of a puzzle lost in the margins of history.
Andrew King, August 2019
The Voyages and Explorations of Samuel deChamplain, Journal by Champlain. c. 1616.

THE GREAT WISHING TREE: In Search of The World’s Oldest Maple Tree


When most people are asked what best symbolizes Canada, almost everyone responds with “the maple leaf”. Emblazoned on our national flag, federal government signage and in our collective minds, the maple leaf has the distinction of being our beloved national symbol. The mighty tree from which it comes from is strong and beautiful, but where can we find the oldest maple tree? Is it even in Canada? This question is what lead me to the legend of THE GREAT WISHING TREE. 

History books tell us of the many events that took place in the 13th century, from the fierce invasion of China by the Mongols lead by Genghis Khan, to the signing of the Magna Carta, and here in Canada, the exploration of the arctic region by Norse Vikings. It was also at this time in history that a little maple tree began to grow, a tree that would end up being the oldest known sugar maple in the world, a tree that would see countless meetings and events take place beneath its leaves over a span of 700 years…a tree that was right here in our backyard. 

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Location of what was reported to be the world’s oldest hard maple tree in Prince Edward County. Image: GoogleMaps

The area of West Lake in Prince Edward county is a magical place lined with blazing sand dunes, lapping waters and a vibrant flock of tourists that descend upon it in the summer months. Thousands upon thousands of people drive along West Lake Road each year on their way to Sandbanks Provincial Park, but very few of them probably realize that they are driving over what was once the world’s oldest sugar maple, a tree known to locals as “The Wishing Tree’. Currently, the oldest known maple tree resides in Mark. S. Burnham Provincial Park near Peterborough, Ontario. It is the oldest known living sugar maple in the world, certified by Wasyl Bakowsky, a biologist at the Ministry of Natural Resources in Peterborough, who determined the tree age to be at least 330 years old based on samples he drilled. Another UNconfirmed maple tree in the Comfort Maple Conservation Area in Pellham in the Niagara Region is said to be more than 500 years old. 


Ministry of Natural Resources biologist Wasyl Bakowsky points to a hole he drilled in the world’s oldest known living sugar maple tree in Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park on Hwy. 7 just east of Peterborough. PHOTO: ROB McCORMICK/Peterborough Examiner/QMI Agency

The legend of our famed tree in Prince Edward County puts its age at over 700 years old. How can this be true? Well let’s take a look…

The tree we are in search of is said to have started its life as a sapling around 1200AD, a maple tree growing in size and reputation at West Lake where it became a special meeting place for the local indigenous tribes. It was under this maple tree that elders and tribe leaders would meet. In its shade, Mohawk and Algonquin tribes would barter goods, becoming a well known meeting place not just in Prince Edward County, but across North America. 

The mighty maple would be recognized by native tribes across the continent as a place for feasting, celebration and also of negotiating conflicts. It is said that the Mohawks met under this tree to form their allegiance with the Iroquois League in the 1500s. 

The tree got its name “The Wishing Tree” from the fact that young native children would collect fallen bark from its branches, and then toss up the pieces into its web of leaves and branches. If the piece of bark stayed up in the tree, they were then granted a wish. It was thus known as The Wishing Tree.

This magical tree continued growing for hundreds of years and in the 1700s when the first of the United Empire Loyalists began to settle in the area, the simple foot path to the tree was widened to accommodate horseback travelers and a larger volume of visitors who wanted to see this legendary old maple tree.


The Great Wishing Tree. 

As more and more people began to populate the County, the footpath, turned horse path, was widened further to accommodate carriages, and the path to the tree expanded to go around the tree. Measured to now be at close to 200 feet in height in the 1800s, people flocked to it for picnics, family gatherings and much relaxing under its cooling shade. Postcards were made featuring the legendary Wishing Tree. Tourists now driving automobiles would make it a destination to have their photo taken with the famous old Wishing Tree. 



A lodge was built in 1837 across from the tree which was aptly named “Wishing Tree Lodge” on what is now called West Lake Road. A landmark tree standing strong for centuries would sadly soon see the fame it created for itself contributing to its demise. 


With so many cars now passing over its giant network of roots, the weight of traffic compacted them, irreversibly damaging it. The magical maple’s fate would soon be sealed when nature itself decided to end the tree’s existence in 1925. A bolt of lightning struck the tree and it began to decay back into the earth form where it began. In 1941 after years of dying slowly, the grand old Wishing Tree was finally felled, its true age now being revealed by chainsaw. 

A cross section of its trunk was cut and the rings could now be counted. Sure enough, it was confirmed that the Wishing Tree was truly the oldest known maple tree in the world at 731 years. The tree that lived through so much history since its life began in 1200AD, was then hauled away with not a single trace of its existence left behind. Lost in time, it vanished.

It was thus my goal to find out where this legendary tree once stood and bring it to the attention of you, the reader, who may have unknowingly driven over the same magical spot that those before us once met, shared knowledge, stories, items and the simple enjoyment of the great Wishing Tree. 

So how do we track down where the Wishing Tree once stood? No one seems to know exactly where it was that I talked to, except one person who pulled out the book “A Settler’s Dream”. There is a mention of a Wishing Tree Lodge, an old inn built across from the tree. Opening it up to page 126 there is listed “Wishing Tree Lodge” where the house is described along with the story of the Wishing Tree. The Inn still stands there today, but is now a private residence. A quick check of Google Streetview confirmed the old brick lodge is still there, but where was the mighty tree that once stood outside of it? Was there an old stump? 


My parents remembered seeing an old photo in a book they had, and an elderly gentleman who knew of the tree before it was cut down in the 1940s was pictured standing on West Lake Road where the tree once stood. That photo was found, and sure enough the old brick lodge is seen in the background. We could then use that photo to superimpose it over a current photo taken at the same angle to give us the exact location of where the Wishing Tree once stood. 


A simple exercise in Photoshop quickly revealed where our legendary landmark once was. A drive to the spot to see it in person was extremely gratifying, as I was now able to stand on the very same spot as the legend told, the place where countless people once met to share in the tree’s magical essence. All around me smaller maple trees were growing, likely the offspring of the now vanished Wishing Tree.


Other maples, likely offspring from the original Wishing Tree in the area where it once stood. 

No plaque exists, no marker shows those who pass by what a special place that this once was where the oldest maple tree once made its home. I quickly jumped off the road before a speeding car of beach-goers zoomed by, its driver oblivious to the fact they were roaring over this special spot.


The exact location of where the world’s oldest sugar maple once stood. 

Perhaps someday a plaque will be erected to mark the location of what was once the oldest known sugar maple tree in the world, a place that meant so much to so many people over the course of 700 years of history. Maybe someone in Prince Edward County has a table or other furniture made out of the wood from this special tree. Maple is renowned for its hardiness to make pool cues and guitar necks. As I drove back home I smiled at the thought that somewhere, an aspiring musician is strumming a tune on a piece of the Wishing Tree, hoping their wishes come true. Until those artifacts are found, the legend of the Wishing Tree and the world’s oldest maple quietly lies unknown among the dune dotted landscape of Prince Edward County. 


Andrew King, July 2019


The Settler’s Dream, Corporation Of the County Of Prince Edward, 1984.

SERPENTINE: An ancient solstice monument in Ontario


Mankind has always worshiped the sun and the planets, whether through spiritual practice or the construction of large scale monuments. Ancient civilizations such as the Mayans and Egyptians all shared a common reverence for the sun and the earth’s astronomical relationship with the heavens, as did ancient Celtic cultures along with many others across the globe.

In the state of Ohio there is The Great Serpent Mound which is the largest effigy mound in the world that relates to the sun’s position during equinox and solstice events, yet its age and who created it is still debated among archaeologists.

On the shores of Loch Nell in Scotland, there is a 100m serpent shaped mound, long forgotten and crumbling away after thousands of years. It is similar to other serpent mound formations in Scotland and in Ireland. The Damnonii, an early Celtic tribe of the Strathclyde area were known for their serpent/sun worship, and in Argyll serpent worship was also common.

To add to the mystery of these separated, but similar ancient monuments that are spread across the globe, right here in Ontario, just a few hundreds kilometres west of Ottawa, there is another massive ancient serpent structure, but it remains closed off to the public. It is the only one of its kind in Canada but has been studied without current technical advances in archaeological resources.


This large snake effigy on Rice Lake, south of the village of Keene in Peterborough County, was constructed thousands of years ago, yet its greater purpose remains unknown.


Currently access is restricted, but on the Summer Solstice on June 21, 2016, I was given permission to study the site in detail and to test my theory about a possible solar alignment. I have since completed my own research into this fascinating archaeological structure which I believe possesses something of far greater significance than originally thought. Through these studies, sketches, and actually visiting this ancient site, it was proven beyond a doubt that there lies a greater secret, and a deeper history to our nation than we may have first thought.


On the northern shore of Rice Lake along the Trent River system there is a point of land that has been closed off to the general public for a number of years. Beyond the locked gates lies an ancient serpent effigy mound. It is the only one of its kind in Canada. First discovered in 1896 by David Boyle who photographed and sketched this mysterious structure, it was first studied by Boyle, but it was not until 1955 that it was studied in any greater detail.


Measuring almost 200 feet (60m) in length and serpentine in shape, there are several small circular mounds nearby, commonly referred to as the “serpent’s eggs.” Boyle noted there was an alignment of the axis through these mounds in an east-west orientation. Both native and non-natives of the area stated that the mound was believed to be a former raised earth defence embankment against attacking Iroquois. It was only when Boyle in 1897 dug into the snake mound that he discovered grave burials and skeletons.*

Boyle would state in the Peterborough Daily Examiner of September 5th, 1896 that:

“The serpent-and-egg mound is one of the most unique and interesting features of archaeological occurrence in this country. These mounds are found commonly in the remains of Europe and the old world and are regarded as evidences of the prevalence of serpent worship, one of the earliest forms of adoration amongst primitive peoples; suggestive of religious reminiscence of the serpent incident of Eden, doubtless the germ idea of this form of worship.”


The site was further studied when the Royal Ontario Museum initiated a program in 1955 to discover the nature and origin of the mounds. An archaeological investigation was carried out during the summer months and over the next few years, a considerable number of prehistoric native burials had been discovered in the immediate vicinity, some twenty-one of these in the mounds themselves. In 1961 a provincial historical plaque commemorating the prehistoric Serpent Mounds was unveiled with the academic world providing the following conclusion:

“While no definite conclusions have been drawn regarding the purpose of these ancient mounds, it is believed they were originally constructed about the second century A.D., and they were of religious or ceremonial significance to the people who built them.”

Further study was conducted in 1968, with more artifacts recovered, but it has not been studied in detail any further since.


This ancient site then operated as a provincial park and during this time, in 1982, the mounds were designated a National Historic Site. From 1995 to 2009, the Hiawatha First Nation operated the park privately, offering camping facilities, beach access on Rice Lake, a cultural center, and interpretive walks among the historic serpent and nearby mounds. Then in 2009 the park was closed and the gates were locked.


No further information or study to my knowledge has been conducted of what could be one of the most significant archaeoastronomical sites in Canada.

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I studied the ancient structure and found there to be greater history and meaning behind this historical monument, which I have compiled into my latest book, “SERPENTINE”, which examines it in great detail. This never before explored theory of an archeoastronomical solstice alignment brings to light a deeper understanding of who built and and why.

You can purchase a copy here, or read the full digital book below by clicking on the link:

SERPENTINE: An Ancient Solstice Monument In Ontario


Andrew King, June, 2019


*ROM Archeology ‘Mounds of Sacred Earth’, Kenyon 1986

Prehistoric Meteor Impact Site Submerged Under Lake Ontario


Setting sail on a clear sunny day in late June 1900, Captain Sidley along with his 12 year old son Vessy left Rochester, New York aboard the 100 foot schooner “Picton”. With a crew of five and a cargo of coal bound for Canada, the ship picked up speed heading across Lake Ontario with two other boats following close behind. A strong wind blew across the lake, taking the topsail off the Picton when the two following ships witnessed the Picton suddenly vanish before them, as if being sucked to the bottom of the lake. Catching up to where the schooner had apparently vanished, all that remained was a sailor’s cap and some floating deck debris.  No trace of the Picton or her crew were found until weeks later when a boy discovered a bottle bobbing in the waters off Sackett’s Harbour, NY. Corked and sealed with wrapped wire, inside was a pencil scrawled paper note with the words: “Have lashed Vessy to me with heaving line so will be found together. -J.Sidley, Picton”. This is the story as told by a plaque inside the Mariners Park Museum in Prince Edward County. 

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Along with countless other lost ships, the story of the ill-fated Picton is part of a local legend known as the Marysburgh Vortex, an area of Eastern Lake Ontario that has claimed over 100 vessels over the last two centuries. Bizarre tales of ships and their crew disappearing have been attributed to the Marysburgh Vortex, defying explanation for just as long. Having myself grown up with the legend living on these shores for most of my childhood, I decided to take a closer look at this “Bermuda Triangle of the North” to see what could possibly be behind this enduring folklore. 

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I grew up sailing with my family on eastern Lake Ontario, plying the waters of the “Marysburgh Vortex” and on numerous occasions witnessed our boat’s compass erratically alter direction along with terrifyingly swift changes in weather. Navigational charts become a trusted aid in making your way through these unpredictable waters, and on them is a warning: “MAGNETIC ANOMALY: ANOMALIES IN THE VARIATION OF THE COMPASS READINGS MAY RANGE FROM 27degrees WEST to 3degrees EAST”


This magnetic anomaly of the the area, and in other parts of the world, had both the Canadian and American governments looking into magnetic field disturbances under a program code-named PROJECT MAGNET. Initiated in 1950, PROJECT MAGNET was established by the Canadian Department of Transport, the Defence Research Board and the National Research Council (NRC) trying to determine characteristics of the Earth’s magnetic fields. A similar American study, also code-named PROJECT MAGNET, started a year later, and according to the website of the NATIONAL GEOPHYSICAL DATA CENTRE “The U.S. Navy, under its Project Magnet program, continuously collected vector aeromagnetic survey data to support the U.S. Geospatial-Intelligence Mapping Agency”. This US Navy led program continued operations until 1994 researching the nature of Earth’s magnetic fields using Lockheed Constellation aircraft equipped with highly sensitive electro-magnetic sensing equipment. The findings from this 60 year PROJECT MAGNET study according to the NGDC were assembled to simplify the work of scientists performing regional and global geophysical studies, including research into the nature of Earth’s magnetic field.


Looking at a current marine navigational chart of the area there is a noticeable and unusual feature that could provide an explanation for these odd magnetic anomalies. Noted as “Charity Shoal”, a ringlike shape 25 km south of Kingston, ON is clearly visible on the bottom of the lake. Charted at a depth of 25 feet the ring-like structure is 1km in diameter, and is almost perfectly circular. Recently studied by the National Geophysical Data Centre and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) whose website indicates they “provide stewardship, products and services for geophysical data describing the solid earth, marine, and solar-terrestrial environment, as well as earth observations from space.” The NGDC study of the ring-like structure below the waters of the Marysburgh Vortex reveal the following, as obtained from their study document:

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“A small equidimensional circular depression 1000 meters in diameter, with a continuous encircling rim, coincides with the feature referred to as Charity Shoal on nautical charts. An elongated ridge extends southwest from the feature, resembling the tail of a crag-and-tail feature common to some drumlin fields. The basin is slightly deeper than 18 meters and the rim rises to depths of 2-6 meters. The origin of the feature remains unknown. Although a sinkhole in the limestone terrane is a possibility, an origin related to a meteor crater, that was subsequently glaciated, seems more likely. Aeromagnetic mapping by the Geological Survey of Canada revealed a negative magnetic anomaly over Charity Shoal, which is a characteristic feature of simple impact craters.” 

The Charity Shoal Structure (CSS) was studied even more recently in 2013 by the Universities Space Research Association, an independent, nonprofit research corporation who completed a comprehensive study of the ring shape. I obtained a copy of their research document that states “The origin of the CSS is uncertain but it has been interpreted as a an Ordovician age meteorite impact.” 


That puts the underwater structure at about 460 million years of age. The 2013 USRA study conducted a detailed geophysical survey of the structure, creating a 2-D magnetic model to try and evaluate its origin. Their research shows that the underwater structure is defined by a ring-like magnetic high and central magnetic low with the total field magnetic anomaly being quite large which cannot be accounted for. The study then states “the anomalies large magnitude indicates a deep basin and/or demagnetization effects in the Precambrian basement rocks below the structure.” The conclusion of this study indicates that the structure is “consistent with a meteorite impact”. If this is the case, then the mineral deposits or deformation of the earth’s surface from a 460 million year old meteor impact could possibly give us further answers.


Contacting Dr. Richard Herd, retired curator of the National Meteorite Collection of the Geological Survey of Canada, Herd states the impact of such a meteor could “depress the earth’s crust and have brought up molten material from inside.” Herd also explains that meteors are of two types, a stoney meteor and an iron-nickel meteor, the latter being parts of small planets from when the solar system was formed.


If the structure is indeed a meteor impact crater, it would rival the Barringer Crater in Arizona, a structure of the same size with similar properties to the Charity Shoal Structure. The Arizona crater is the same size, and was formed when a nickel-iron meteorite about 160 feet in diameter hit the surface of the earth. An underwater study of Charity Shoal is necessary to provide the physical evidence of what the structure actually is and if it is indeed emitting a strong enough magnetic field to affect the navigational instruments of nearby vessels. 



The legend of the Marysburgh Vortex continues to create mystery as recently as 2013 when it was reported that an unmanned sailboat was spotted drifting off the southern shore of Prince Edward County. A recovery crew was dispatched and found an empty boat, and according to the local newspaper The County Weekly News, the 32 foot sail boat “Persnickety” last sailed out of Sodus Bay, NY into Lake Ontario. The boat was found inexplicably drifting with no crew off Prince Edward County with all sails up, no signs of trouble and after a closer inspection by authorities, the operator’s drivers license, money, food, and ice in a cooler were found intact onboard. A three day rescue operation to locate the missing operator of the boat was unsuccessful and the operation was suspended with the reason for the disappearance unsolved. 

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Perhaps this unique crater shaped structure on the lake floor is composed of meteorite minerals that affect the earth’s natural magnetic fields that in turn displace compass readings of vessels entering the vicinity, inadvertently sending them off course into unmapped shoals. With the advent of GPS and improved navigational aids, the frequency of ships disappearing has certainly diminished, but until what lies beneath is studied in greater detail, it seems the Marysburgh Vortex will continue to be a source of mystery for years to come.  

Andrew King, April 2019

The Last Zellers


Six years ago we lost a Canadian icon, someone who told us that the lowest price is the law and quite frankly, “Only you’ll know how little you paid”. It was in March of 2013 that the last Zellers store shut its doors, unsuccessfully replaced by the failed Target chain. With all Zellers department stores closed across Canada, this retail giant of the 1980s and 90s reached its peak in 1999 with 350 stores across the country.  Then, an American retail giant arrived. Walmart entered the scene in Canada and facing fierce competition, Zellers announced in 2011 that the U.S. Target Corporation would be purchasing the lease agreements of 220 Zellers stores for $1.825 billion, and under the agreement, Zellers would sublease the properties and continue to operate them until the end of March 2013. At that time 100 to 150 of them would reopen as stores under the Target banner, with remaining sites transferred to other retailers. Target closed all operations in 2015.


The bootlegged Atari games that Zellers sold in its stores in the 1980s. (image: AtariAge)

 Personally, I have always had fond memories of Zellers as kid growing up in the late 70s and early 80s. I saved up my paper route money to buy an Atari2600 at Zellers for $99.99 (on rain-check) and countless bikes, clothes and toys were also purchased there. In fact, Atari was such a hot item for Zellers, that they packaged and sold counterfeit copies of Atari games, 18 of them in fact, which were clones of Atari games they got in trouble from Atari for selling. Whoops, the lowest price wasn’t the only law I guess. 

With Zellers wiped out from our retail landscape in 2013, it would seem that it would just fade away as all other department stores of our youth do, like Kmart, Towers and Simpsons. But what if I told you that it hasn’t quite disappeared, and in fact there is a secret Zellers, once a Kmart, still open for business? It is the last Zellers in Eastern Ontario (there are 2 left in Canada, the other one is in Etobicoke, ON) and it is still open for business. 

As some will undoubtedly point out, this may not be exactly the same as the Zellers of past, but rather a liquidation outlet for the parent company, Hudson’s Bay, which acquired full ownership of Zellers in 1981. So I guess things have come full circle. There is no question though that this location uses all Zellers signage, displays, cash registers, shopping baskets and all manner of the old Zellers. 

With camera in hand I visited this retail remnant hidden away in Bells Corners to record what is left of this once prosperous store of our youth…..



The Zellers sign in Bells Corners is actually put overtop an even older Kmart sign. There was a Kmart location in Bells Corners until the 1990s when Zellers took over, and apparently just put their sign overtop. (comparison photo below)



This would have been what the original Kmart store was like in Bells Corners, note the big sign.


You can see here the metal brackets that once held the old Kmart sign, with the newer sign placed overtop of it.

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This ad from 1987 shows that it was still a Kmart in Bells Corners at that time.


Once inside this old Kmart/Zellers the familiar sight brought back a flood of nostalgic memories.

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A typical Kmart layout that was later  to become the Zellers that is there now.


Lots of fluorescent lights. Love it. Such a classic old lighting system.


Old pegboard shelves.


Upon closer inspection of the shelves, old Zellers price stickers became noticeable….


The polished linoleum that has been trod upon by thousands of shoppers from its time as Kmart to the present Zellers.


I will always remember these huge ceiling vents from when I was a kid at these department stores.


The store still uses the familiar red plastic shopping baskets.


I love these old chrome metal sign stands and makes this feel like a real throwback to the Kmart/Zellers experience.


Zellers trademark red and white motif is still going strong here. Many a late August days in the 1980s were spent buying back to school clothes from these rack displays.



Zellers discount bins. I remember these being full of socks and shirts as a kid.


I also remember these from my 1980s youth and still think they are creepy.





For over 50 years this location has been a Kmart and a Zellers, and you can still visit it and experience what the atmosphere of 1980s department store was like.


Fare thee well my old friend in Bells Corners…The Last Zellers.

Andrew King, February, 2019