A successful businessman from South of Ottawa had just built a brand new brick house for his young family, boasting the finest of Edwardian features. It was sitting waiting for them to take occupancy when Hudson Allison and his family returned from attending a Board Meeting in England. Mr. Allison was the epitome of success who seemed to make all the right decisions, with perhaps one exception…he bought tickets to come home on Titanic.


Titanic in Southhampton before its tragic crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in 1912.

As we approach the 110th Anniversary of the tragic sinking of Titanic, the gap of time continues to widen between us and that fateful night in 1912. A few artifacts have been recovered from the wreck on the bottom of the Atlantic when they found Titanic’s final resting place in the 1980s. Some deck chairs washed ashore and sit in museums, along with some survivor memorabilia which are our only physical connection to the ill-fated ship.

The Chateau Laurier has a curious piece of Titanic history in its lobby, a marble bust of Laurier that Charles Hays commissioned for his hotel, of which he would never see open as he perished aboard Titanic that fateful night of April 14th, 1912. (I wrote about that previously HERE.)

To honour the memory of the 1,514 lives lost that night I wanted to try and find another local connection to Titanic that may help bridge the widening gap of time between us and Titanic. That search turned up information there was indeed another local connection, just south of Ottawa. 

The Allison House that Hudson built for his new family in Chesterville, ON

It is the homestead of Titanic passenger Hudson Allison and his family, a stately Edwardian home he had built in Chesterville on his farm that was to welcome them back after their transatlantic voyage. However, the young family would never set foot in the house, as all but one member of the family perished in the icy waters the night Titanic slipped under the waves. The Allison family home still sits as a quiet memorial to that tragic night.

Hudson and Bess Allison and their children, Loraine and Trevor. (Image: Wikipedia)

Situated in Chesterville, Ontario, the Allison home was built for the successful businessman and his family in 1912. With the finishing touches being put on his new brick home, Mr. Allison and family were in England as Hudson was a member of the board of the British Lumber Corporation, and he and his family crossed the Atlantic to England for a directors meeting. While there, the Allison family took a trip to the Scottish Highlands where Mr. Hudson purchased two dozen Clydesdales and Hackney Stallions and mares for the farm back in Chesterville. 

They then reserved cabins C-22/24/26 on the First Class Upper Deck of Titanic. This cabin was just around the corner form the French sculptor Chevre that made the marble bust of Laurier that now sits in the Chateau Laurier lobby. Mr. Allison and Mr. Chevre likely passed each other in the hallways of Titanic, not realizing they were both connected to Ottawa that fateful night. 

The Allison Family cabins on Titanic (red square) and Chateau Laurier sculptor Chevre’s cabin (yellow) around the corner on the same deck.

Hudson, his wife Bess, and their children, Loraine and Trevor, all boarded Titanic for the exciting adventure across the Atlantic to their new home in Chesterville. Hudson and his wife would dine with Harry Molson from Montreal (yes, of Molson Brewery fame) the night Titanic hit the iceberg. In the aftermath of the sinking, only their young son Trevor would survive as he was hoisted into a lifeboat. Hudson, Bess and the daughter Loraine all perished, never to see their new home back in Chesterville. Trevor survived Titanic but would later die of food poisoning at the age of 18. 

In this film image released by Paramount Pictures, a scene is shown from 3-D version of James Cameron’’s romantic epic “Titanic.” (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures)

A few days after Titanic met its fate, Hudson Allison’s body was found floating in the Atlantic, the only one of the Allisons to be recovered. His body was brought to back to Canada and Mr Allison’s body was buried in the Allison family plot in Maple Ridge cemetery near Winchester, Ont.

One month after the funeral, Hudson’s brother Percy took delivery of the horses that Allison had arranged to be shipped by tramp steamer from Scotland. His house and farm was sold to new owners, and still stands much like it did back in 1912.

So, where exactly is The Allison House and his resting place? Let’s take a closer look. 


The Allison Stock Farm where Hudson’s new home was built was an Edwardian red brick home.

Together with his brothers Percy and George, Hudson acquired 100 acres of farmland to create the Allison Stock Farm, purchasing land from John Hummel for $15,000. He built the imposing red brick house and a fine set of barns which he stocked with imported livestock.

The Hummel property shown on an 1800s map that Hudson Allison purchased to build his new home.
The Allison House and farm as it appears today on Google Maps.

This home would later become the Vanden Bosch Farm. A quick Google map search of that farm reveals the location of the ill-fated Titanic passenger’s home that he never got to step foot in. Using this information I was able to spot the Allison Home. It stands back from the highway, the landscape not much different than what it would have looked like back in 1912. 

The Allison home as it appears today. Sadly, never set foot in by the young family whose lives were taken on Titanic.

Now locating the resting place of Hudson Allison was more difficult. On a cold blustery April day, the day after the Titanic sinking last year, we visited the cemetery to pay our respects to this Titanic connection. Looking for the Allison Family obelisk where he and his family are buried, we soon found the family memorial plot and paid our respects with a moment of silence to remember the Allison family that was lost on Titanic. 

This is the Allison family memorial obelisk site where the Titanic took the lives of all but one of the young family.
A closer inspection of the carved stone shows that the Titanic disaster claimed the lives of Hudson, Bess, Loraine, with Trevor the only survivor being buried with them at a later date.

The house and gravestone south of Ottawa is a sombre connection to the many souls lost along with Hudson and his family that tragic cold night on April 14th, 1912. 

Andrew King, April 2021





Driving along River Road south of Ottawa is a always a pleasant experience, with scenic views of the Rideau River on one side and pastoral farm fields on the other. Then you pass a crossroad called Snake Island Road and visions of a cursed island full of deadly snakes comes to mind. This would seem like a fictional scenario, except upon further investigation it’s actually true….there once was an island full of snakes that the road is named after.

So my quest begins…

After the Rideau Canal was completed in 1832 hundreds of unemployed laborers started to settle around the areas they once worked, the majority being of Irish descent. They traded in the pickaxes for pitchforks and switched from building canals to barns, with many of them settling in the areas south of Ottawa.

A settlement grew out of the wilds near Greely with the families of O’Connor, Devereaux, Shea, Tobin, and Otto all building a new life in the area of raised land amidst swampy marshes around Concession 4/5 and Lots 20-22.

The largest snake in Canada, (now an endangered species) the Black Rat Snake once surrounded a lost island called “Snake Island” south of Ottawa. (image: Wikipedia)

It was here on this raised land amidst the boggy marsh a settlement of families flourished finding a new life after the canal was finished. Yet what the families did not expect to find was that their new home was also the home of hundreds of snakes.

An old newspaper article from the Ottawa Citizen in 1928 describes the snake infested island. (Source: Bytown.Net)

It seemed the swamps around them were home to a large population of water snakes and black rat snakes, who would seek the higher ground when not hunting for prey in the marsh. Countless snakes slithered around the area and were said to grow up to six feet, likely the now endangered Black Rat Snake, which is the largest snake in Canada.

Measuring up to 6 feet in length, the Black Rat Snake slithered in numbers in the swamps early settlers were beginning to inhabit around the Greely marshlands. (image: Wikipedia)

One settler and his wife, John and Sally, allegedly experienced what would be a deadly snake attack. John decided to venture into the swamp and cut down some marsh reeds to feed their cow over the winter. John gathered his scythe, lunch and pipe and headed off the island to harvest the plentiful marsh reeds.

John soon came across a large snake that reared its head and lunged at John with its open fangs. Sadly for John, the fangs bit into his leg, and he required immediate medical attention which was provided by a passerby who saw the snake attack. John was bandaged up but the snake bite worsened likely by infection, and John soon died.

Not long afterwards the swamps were drained to create farm fields for the settlement, and the island of giant snakes disappeared as the surrounding waters receded.

So where was this legendary Island of Snakes exactly located? If you follow Snake Island Road from one end to the other, it begins at River Road near Kars, and stretches east to Metcalfe. It was along here that the island of snakes was located, but if the snake filled swamps were drained, where would this island have been?

Snake Island Road as viewed on Google Maps

If there was an island in a swampy land, that island would be the highest elevation topographically. That’s when I consulted a great topographic map resource and found the exact elevations of the area. The topo map revealed a highest elevation of about 92m in a marshy area, which would most likely have been the old Snake Island settlement.

This topographic map of the area shows the area of highest elevation, which would have been the original “Snake Island” back in the 1830s before the land was drained around it. SOURCE: https://en-ca.topographic-map.com/maps/q4e/Ottawa/

Using the old 1880s family names of those that settled on Snake Island, I researched a map from 1879 and saw all those same family names in that same area of high elevation. The two corresponding pieces of evidence thus pinpointed the spot that would have been the Snake Island Settlement.

Referencing Belden’s 1879 Historical Atlas of Carleton County the names mentioned in the old article were found, circled in red would be the original “Snake Island Settlement”
Compositing the topographic map with a current Google map the outline of the original 1800s Snake Island could be determined.

I drove out to this area to investigate and sure enough it is a very swampy area but the road climbs to a higher elevation area that would have been the original Snake Island.

The approach to Snake Island heading east on Snake Island Road.

This is at the current crossroads of Snake Island Road and Swale Road. There is even an out of place 1800s stone house (most period homes in this area are wood or log construction) on the top of the hill that would most likely would have been built by a former canal lock labourer who had previously built the stone locks on the canal.

The O’Connor stone home circa 1830s on what was once Snake Island.

Referencing the old 1880 map of that intersection shows the stone home would have belonged to the O’Connor family, which is listed as one of the settlers on the original Snake Island. There was even a Devereaux Road south of the intersection to confirm the location of the lost island.

The Abandoned Farmstead of the 1800s Coleman family on the original Snake Island.
The once snake infested swamplands still exist surrounding the original Snake Island.

A visit to the area reveals that much of that original snake infested swamp still surrounds the area, a reminder of the early days that gave Snake Island Road its legendary name.

Andrew King

March 2021




Google Maps

Historical Atlas OF Carleton County. Belden. 1879


The official City Of Ottawa Coat of Arms and logo that’s featured on Ottawa police and emergency vehicles show a shield with wavy blue and white lines. These lines represent the Ottawa River running from left to right, and the Rideau and Gatineau rivers represented above and below. The Nation’s Capital is surrounded by waterways, but despite our aquatic surroundings, we have no lighthouses. A feature of most shorelines surrounded by water, the City Of Ottawa curiously lacks any surviving lighthouses from the first decades of its existence, even though it was originally solely serviced by steamships. Sure, we have some modern navigational lights dotting the Ottawa River, but no classic old “LIGHTHOUSES”. 

As a fan of the old fashioned lighthouses and their symbolism of isolation and safety, I was glad to discover we did once have one across from Beacon Hill, of which I wrote about earlier, but it has been long demolished. Then I was recently contacted about one still in existence, a hidden relic of a bygone era on the Rideau River canal system. After some research proved the tip was true, it was successfully located. This is the tale of Ottawa’s LAST LIGHTHOUSE.


The Rideau Canal system stretches from Kingston to Ottawa across 202 kilometres of waterways, its largest stretch of interrupted water being called “The Long Reach” which extends 40km from the lock at Burritt’s Rapids, to the locks at Long Island near Manotick. It is along this stretch of the canal system the last lighthouse resides, hiding behind some trees amidst modern homes, a shadow of its former self.

A hastily snapped photo of The Last Lighthouse on the Rideau River.

Between Kars and Osgoode, there is an island called James Island, and on the eastern shore of the river, Doug Wallace and Harry Boyd decided to build a lighthouse in 1915. 

Situated on the eastern shore of the Rideau near James Island rests the Last Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse was a wooden clapboard beacon situated on a rectangular main building base and it is not known if it was an actual functioning government funded navigational aid, or simply a lighthouse built for fun. Nevertheless, The Lighthouse became the most popular landmark on the Long Reach between 1935 and 1967 as a Big Band Dance Hall. 

The Lighthouse’s resident orchestra during the 1950s was “The Cliff Wilkes Orchestra”, featuring Cliff, a barber from Vernon. In its heyday, the Lighthouse would be jammed with 400 people trying to dance the night away in the small Lighthouse dance hall. It was “THE” place to be on a Saturday night in the South Ottawa region, with food, drinks, swimming, boat races and regattas happening all summer long. 

Photo of the Lighthouse Orchestra, from the Osgoode Township Historical Society & Museum Newsletter, December 2005.

Canada Day, or “Dominion Day” as it would’ve been called back then, would feature a hydroplane boat race on the Rideau River which drew thousands of visitors to the Lighthouse to wacth these high speed river races during the day, and to dance and drink to the sounds of the Big Band Orchestra playing throughout the evening. 

Some of the typical 1950s river race boats that would have plied the waters in front of the Lighthouse during its heyday.

The Lighthouse became such a hotspot for raucous activity that it drew the ire of the local clergy who tried to shut its partying down, but to no avail. I can only imagine the scene on a warm summer Saturday night at the Lighthouse, roaring wooden boats pulling up to the dock, big band music blaring, couples dancing and drinking and enjoying the “river life” at this bustling beacon. As with most good things, they must always seem to come to and end, and in 1967 the Lighthouse was closed for good as teenagers found new things to do an a Saturday summer night, and the aging, older crowd just stopped attending. 

Doug Wallace, co-founder of the Lighthouse would later start up a tour boat company taking passengers up and down the Rideau Canal, that would later be sold and be known as “Paul’s Boat Lines”. 


After it closed in 1967, the lighthouse would be disassembled and modified. The pyramidal beacon would be placed off to the side of the property, with the main dance hall being converted into a residence. It is now an operating business, “Modern Living Realty Inc. Brokerage” whose office is in the historic old Long Reach landmark.

The Lighthouse Dance Hall as it appears today from River Road.

I noticed the little lighthouse on a summer boating excursion, now painted grey and red, and snapped a photo of it, not knowing it would turn out to be such a historical landmark. Now at over 100 years old, the Lighthouse remains a quiet reminder of the bygone days of river life, literally a beacon of fun and memories for so many of those that were lucky enough to have visited it over the decades.

The Lighthouse as it looks today from Google Satellite view.
The Lighthouse tower as it appears today as viewed from the river.

The beacon part of the Lighthouse has been maintained and sits quietly hiding behind some trees on the shore, still gazing out at the waters of the Rideau River, its light long extinguished, but its soul and 100 year old history intact for those of us that know it’s still there. 

Andrew King, January 2021


“On a Sunday Afternoon” Classic Boats On The Rideau Canal, Manotick Classic Boat Club, Turner, Douglas. 1989. The Boston Mills Press, Page 32.



A 13th century “cog” ship that likely visited the Canadian Arctic according to artifacts in the Canadian Museum Of History archives.

The “Medieval Period” lasted from the 5th to the late 15th century, and within that time frame the period known as the “Viking Age” spanned from the late 8th to late 11th century. The Vikings were seafaring Norse people from southern Scandinavia (present-day Denmark, Norway and Sweden) that explored westward to Iceland, Greenland, and to what is now Newfoundland & Labrador. The “discovery” of North America by these hardy Norse explorers was finally substantiated when Norwegian husband-wife team of explorer Helge Ingstad and archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad uncovered a Norse settlement at L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland. Their study of Icelandic sagas—Eirik the Red’s Saga, Saga of the Greenlanders, described how the Norse left Scandinavia and started to explore lands to the west of Greenland only a few years after settlements were established. 

Depiction of Vikings in 1100 AD.

The stories, or “sagas” as they are called, describe that in 985AD while sailing from Iceland to Greenland with a migration fleet consisting of 400–700 settlers and 25 ships (14 of which completed the journey) a merchant named Bjarni Herjólfsson was blown off course, and after three days’ sailing he spotted a land west of the fleet. Bjarni was only interested in finding the farm of his father, but he described his discovery of this new land to Leif Erikson who explored the area in more detail and planted a small settlement fifteen years later, which puts Europeans in North America in 1000AD.

A map showing places Vikings visited during their height of exploration, including Canada.

The sagas describe three separate areas discovered during this exploration: Helluland, which means “land of the flat stones”; Markland, “the land of forests” and Vinland, “the land of wine”, found somewhere south of Markland. It was in Vinland that the settlement described in the sagas was founded, and which is thought to be somewhere in the Atlantic provinces of Canada, although their main settlement, “Hop” has yet to be found.

A model diorama showing how the Norse encampment at L’Anse Aux Meadows would have looked like in 1000AD.

What was discovered in 1960 was a temporary Norse boat repair encampment at L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland. They found some rivets, iron slag chunks, and some bone items, but nothing too indicative of “Viking” swords or amour. During archeological excavation butternuts were unearthed but have never been native to Newfoundland. This means that the inhabitants of this camp ventured further south, likely into New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, but no new evidence has yet been found, nor has any expedition been ignited to find the true Vinland/Hop settlement of these Norse sagas. Norse settlement of what is now Canada would end quickly as they battled indigenous inhabitants and harsh weather, departing our shores only ten years after building a settlement. The “Viking Age” would end one hundred years later around 1100AD. So what are European artifacts from 1250AD, the Medieval Period, doing in the Canadian Museum of History?

Let’s take a closer look.


Without being able to visit museums in person, I enjoy exploring the various museum artifacts inside the museum online. A casual search turned up some interesting artifacts I’ve never seen before, of which I will share with you below. I think they blow out of the water anything that was ever found in Newfoundland. These revealing artifacts were found on Baffin Island sometime in the last 45 years.

The artifacts are carbon dated to be from around 1250AD and include sword blades, chain mail, oak barrels, wooden boxes, iron and copper, knives, and woven cloth. They are catalogued simply as “Norse” under “origin” but we are told that the Norse left what was North America hundreds of years before that date. One explanation states that the Norse continued to travel to trade with the Inuit inhabitants of Baffin Island at that time. So it seems that it wasn’t Vikings, but medieval Europeans who brought an assortment of items found recently on Baffin Island. Did we have other European visitors prior to Cabot, Cartier and Champlain? Seems so, but their story has yet to be told in greater detail. In the meantime, let’s check out these items from over 700 years ago.


  1. IRON BLADE: OBJECT NUMBER: SgFm-4:2 MEASUREMENTS: Length 68.4 mm, Width 47.0 mm, Thickness 4.5 mm. Date made: Unknown.


DATE MADE: Circa A.D. 1250-1500

OBJECT NUMBER: PgHb-1:8483 Length 104.4 mm, Width 27.0 mm, Thickness 17.1 mm

AUTHOR NOTE: This is curious due to it being made from pine wood, which does not grow in the Arctic.

3. IRON WEDGE. Circa A.D. 1250


Length 67.7 mm, Width 22.2 mm, Thickness 11.9 mm

AUTHOR NOTE: Possible ship building tool?


Circa A.D. 1250

OBJECT NUMBER SgFm-4:2239 Length 71.0 mm;:mm, Width 30.4 mm;:mm, Thickness 19.5 mm;:mm

AUTHOR NOTE: Awls were used for punching holes in leather and canvas.

5. CLOTH FRAGMENT: Circa A.D. 1200


Water transportation accessory: Mammal wool

MEASUREMENTS Length 135.0 mm, Width 105.0 mm, Thickness 11.5 mm

AUTHOR NOTE: Catalogued as “water transportation accessory” does that mean this is part of a ship’s sail?

6. SWORD BLADE: Circa A.D. 1200


Armament edged  Length 99.3 mm, Width 37.4 mm, Thickness 6.3 mm


Circa A.D. 1200


ACTIVITY Shipbuilding

Length 38.7 mm, Width 17.9 mm, Depth 18.4 mm, Thickness 5.1 mm

AUTHOR NOTE: Shipbuilding rivets from 1200 reveal that European ships were visiting Baffin Island..whether being repaired or built.


Circa A.D. 1260


Length 183.0 mm, Width 110.0 mm, Thickness 14.8 mm

AUTHOR NOTE: An amazingly well preserved piece of wood from almost 800 years ago! Also, where did the oak come from? What was in the box?


Circa A.D. 1260

Length 169.0 mm, Width 52.5 mm, Thickness 20.2 mm, Outside Diameter 210 mm

AUTHOR NOTE: Wow! Barrel piece…was this for wine? Again, where did they get the oak for this?


Late 13th Century

OBJECT NUMBER SfFk-4:193 Iron, Muskox horn Length 153.9 mm, Width 19.1 mm, Depth 9.3 mm, Thickness 9.3 mm


Circa 14th Century


Length 146.0 mm, Width 8.0 mm, Thickness 7.2 mm

AUTHOR NOTE: Look at the exquisite detail on this piece! Such a well crafted instrument from the 1300’s! That flush hinge joint is amazing….such a unique medieval item to be found in Canada. Weird they left it behind. What did they balance with it?


Circa A.D. 1250-1500

OBJECT NUMBER: RbJu-1:269 Length 101.7 mm, Width 68.9 mm, Thickness 2.4 mm

AUTHOR NOTE: Bronze bowl is unique in that it may have been moulded and formed, for cooking?


Circa A.D. 1260

OBJECT NUMBER SfFk-4:3502 Length 206.0 mm, Width 52.6 mm, Depth 31.0 mm, Thickness 31.0 mm

AUTHOR NOTE: Again, more pine wood from where? This woodworking tool is interesting as it was likely used for shipbuilding, carpentry tasks…on Baffin Island?


A.D. 1260’s


body armour, Height 25.6 mm, Length 53.0 mm, Width 36.7 mm, Thickness 25.0 mm

AUTHOR NOTE: Medieval Chain mail! In Canada! Imagine the suit of armour this came from and how they looked standing on Baffin Island with a sword. Hard to believe a 1260 Euro swordsman was in Canada, but here is the proof.


Circa A.D. 1250-1300


Length 53.8 mm, Width 18.7 mm, Thickness 9.4 mm

AUTHOR NOTE: A carved representation, again in pine wood, of the medieval visitor to Baffin Island. A hooded cloaked figure with a cross on the chest…perhaps chainmail beneath the cloak? Where have we seen this before?


With the above artifacts representing a definite presence of medieval Europeans on Canadian soil in the 13th century, we have to speculate why they were here, and where exactly they came from. Were they trading with the Inuit for whale bone and other supplies? Did the Norse set up another settlement in North America after leaving 200 years before? The shipbuilding related artifacts suggest they had a presence for sometime, and not just a meet and greet, hello/goodbye visit. Were these 13th century medieval knights on a new crusade to the New World to expand their realm? What other artifacts are out there?

Some 13th century folks that may have visited the Canadian Arctic.

This treasure trove of unique artifacts might just be the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, with other items waiting to be found on Arctic shores, or even further south where they perhaps found their pine and oak wood for these items. Unfortunately, most of these revealing artifacts of a medieval presence in Canada lie in storage and the full story has yet to be told. Maybe someday we will find more pieces to this vast puzzle called history, and soon we will snap together a more detailed story as to what our medieval guests were up to.

Andrew King, January, 2021


ALL ARTIFACT IMAGES AND INFO FROM: Canadian Museum of History Online Archives: https://www.historymuseum.ca/collections/search-results/?q=norse&per_page=25



One of the favourite holiday traditions for many families, mine included, is to watch the classic Rankin and Bass produced “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” stop motion animated special. It first aired Sunday, December 6, 1964, on the NBC in the United States, and was sponsored by General Electric as part of the The General Electric Fantasy Hour. It is the longest continuously running Christmas TV special.

Rankin and Bass chose Canadian voice actors because radio dramas were still being produced in Canada at the time, which gave producers a large talent pool to choose from. Rankin and Bass were also financially stretched and knew there were lower labour costs in Canada if they used Canadian voice talent.

In 1964, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer had all its voice recording done in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at CBC studios.

Now, Hermie, the elf that wants to be a dentist, was voiced by Paul Soles. He currently lives in Toronto.

And the mean head elf, was voiced by fellow Canadian voice actor, Carl Banas.

But what I didn’t know was that BOTH THESE VOICE ACTORS ALSO DID VOICES FOR THE OLD SPIDER-MAN CARTOON. Paul Soles voiced Spider-Man/Peter Parker & Carl Banas voiced Scorpion!

Now here is where my mind is blown: SPIDER-MAN AND SCORPION YELL AT EACH OTHER IN THE SPIDERMAN CARTOON AND HEAD ELF AND HERMIE ALSO YELL AT EACH OTHER IN RUDOLPH. This mashup and revelation may just be too much for my nostalgic mind to handle. So let’s just switch gears, what ever happened to all those little stop motion puppets from the film? The crew involved with the production had no clue of the future value of the stop-motion puppet figures used in the production, so many were not preserved. It is claimed that Rankin was in possession of an original Rudolph figure.

The remaining nine other puppets—including Santa and young Rudolph—were given to a secretary at the studio, who gave them away to family members. Seven were discarded, leaving only two in existence.

The original figures appear in 2006 on the “Antiques Roadshow” aired on PBS

In 2005, those surviving two puppets magically appeared on the Antiques Roadshow episode that aired in 2006 on PBS. At that time, their appraised value was between $8,000 and $10,000. The original puppets had been damaged through years of rough handling by children and storage in an attic. Toy aficionado Kevin Kriess bought Santa and Rudolph in 2005 and in 2007, he had both puppets restored by Screen Novelties a Los Angeles-based collective of film directors specializing in stop-motion animation. 

The figurines were recently sold at auction on November 13, 2020, netting a $368,000 sale price, doubling the expected return.

This year the two original figures sold at auction for $368,000

You could now legitimately say that “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer….You’ll go down in history..”

Andrew King, December 2020





I am fortunate enough to live in the wonderful village of Manotick, Ontario, a quaint little town with white picket fences and historic homes and buildings lining picturesque streets. What I didn’t know is that there is a dark secret lying within its most recognized jewel…a ghost in the the mill…

Nestled on the west bank of the Rideau River south of Ottawa there lies a stately stone mill surrounded by falling water and thick trees. Built in 1860 by Moss Kent Dickinson and his business partner Joseph Currier, Watson’s Mill is a gorgeously restored old grist mill that harnesses the power of the river to grind wheat into flour, of which it still continues to do today. In addition to the over 150 year old relics that occupy this unique landmark, the spirit of a ghost is said to also lie within its walls, a confined spirit who haunts the mill where a young life came to an untimely end one tragic day in 1861. 

Joseph Currier, co-owner of Watson’s Mill.

A native of North Troy, Vermont, mill co-owner Joseph Currier’s first wife died in 1858 after all three of their children died within five days of each other three years earlier. After his wife’s death, a saddened Currier traveled to the waters of Lake George, New York and stayed in the Crosbyside Hotel. During his stay at the hotel Currier fell in love with a tall, beautiful young woman by the name of Anne Crosby, the daughter of the family who ran the Crosbyside Hotel. Soon Joseph and Anne were married and honeymooned in the North Eastern United States. An investor and co-owner of brand new grist mill in Manotick, Ontario, Joseph wanted to show his new bride the mill he had built in Manotick and brought his love there to celebrate its first year anniversary that February. 

The ghost of Anne haunts the second floor of the mill to this day….

A cold February night in 1861, Anne wrapped herself in a flowing assortment of clothing as she toured her husband’s new mill. Strolling through the operating machinery, Anne’s white dress suddenly became caught in the revolving turbine equipment, violently throwing her against a nearby support pillar which killed her instantly. 

With his new bride dead on the floor of his mill, a heartbroken Joseph immediately sold his shares in the mill to his partner Dickinson and never set foot in Manotick again.

Anne was buried in Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa and Joseph, picking up the pieces of his shattered life, moved there where he became a member of Ottawa city council and was later elected as a representative for Ottawa in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada. Becoming president of the Citizen Printing and Publishing Company which produced the Ottawa Daily Citizen, he was also president of two railway companies in the Ottawa area. 

Yet Anne never seemed to leave the mill. Her spirit was said to remain on the site along with blood stains and fingernail marks on the post where her body struck.  Current visitors are said to feel cold air and goosebumps on the second floor where she perished. 

Joseph soon built another stately stone building in Ottawa in 1868 called “Gorffwysfa” a Welsh word for place of rest, a home he built as a gift to his third wife, Hannah, granddaughter of Philemon Wright.  This stone house is better known as “24 Sussex Drive” and was purchased by the Government of Canada in 1943 to become the official residence of Canada’s Prime Ministers.

24 Sussex Drive today, after it was heavily modified from Currier’s original home to become the official resident of Canada’s Prime Minister.

Joseph Currier died in 1884 and finally came to rest next to his beloved Anne at Beechwood Cemetery where the two still continue to haunt Ottawa’s special stone buildings in their own respective ways.

Andrew King, October 2020

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: Urbsite.blogspot.com)

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: Urbsite.blogspot.com)
Shape OF Flight sculpture (image: Urbsite.blogspot.com)

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.

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 5.17.28 PM

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. 


Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 5.17.49 PM


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.

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 5.02.57 PM

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


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.

Screen Shot 2020-04-19 at 1.36.20 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2020-04-19 at 1.36.41 PM

Screen Shot 2020-04-19 at 1.38.06 PM

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