Fossils & Culture at the Bonnechere Museum in Eganville: Canada's Ordovician Fossil Capital, 21 Jul 2022 5:14:39 +0000en-us<![CDATA[Events]]>, 21 Jul 2022 5:14:39 +0000

2022  For an admission fee, Museum staff offer a guided tour of Museum Exhibits or a guided tour of the Geoheritage Trail. Individuals may take a self-directed tour of the trail any time - no charge .  A printed brochure with a map is available at the museum or walkers can download the brochure from here:


Only 100 tickets will be sold @ $100.00 each

Two Early Bird draws for $100.00 each: July 1 and July 15

Ten draws at the Museum for $500.00 each, aiming to start in June or as soon as 100 tickets are sold

Winning tickets are returned for future draws

Purchaser(s) must be 18 years of age or older

  Follow this link to see additional community events.

MUSEUM ACTIVITIES organized by 2022 calendar date, location, and time.

 DATES in 2022




 May 17, 2022

 Virtual Annual General Meeting

 By Email

 Contact  Information:


 Museum reopens May 23rd, 2022

Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat 


Monday of long weekends


10:00 am to 4:00 pm

 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

 August 7th, 2022

Gillan Rutz Entertainment "Tellin Tales" Show

2:00pm at Eganville Centennial Park 

Rain Location: Grace Lutheran Church

Aug 20th and 21st, 2022

Fossil Hunt Weekend  Bonnechere Museum at 10:00am

 Monday, Sept 6th 

 Museum closes

 End of summer season

 4:00 pm

<![CDATA[Contact]]>, 07 Jun 2022 2:54:34 +0000

Museum Location:

85 Bonnechere Street West, Eganville, Ontario, Canada, K0J 1T0


Heritage stone building at the traffic light in Eganville, Junction of Highways 41 and 60.


Museum: 1 613 628 1000 |Municipal Office:1 613 628 3101


<![CDATA[Donations]]>, 07 Jun 2022 2:53:11 +0000Support Bonnechere Museum Through:
Memberships and donations   Form provided above pdf download (tax receipt)
Annual lottery: Guidelines provided at bottom (no tax receipt)
Special events, such as: Robbie Burns Celebration every January

If you buy a lottery ticket, you automatically receive a one year membership. Members elect directors, guide business and influence heritage decisions. Membership benefits include: voting rights at the Annual General Meeting of the Bonnechere Arts and Historical Society, the satisfaction of knowing you are doing your part for the heritage of the Bonnechere region.

Please make cheques payable to: Bonnechere Museum
Mail completed form and cheques to: 193 Sand Road, Box 369, Eganville ON, K0J 1T0
A donation of $10.00 or more includes a one year membership. A tax receipt will be issued for donations of $10.00 or over.

E-transfer donations are welcome at

ANNUAL LOTTERY! Win Big Money While Supporting The Bonnechere Museum! Our museum 50/50 lottery pays essential expenses such as liability insurance. We sell only 100 tickets at $100.00 each, available in May, June and July.

Tickets are available from directors or at the museum: 85 Bonnechere St W, Eganville.
(There are 2 Early Bird draws for $100 each. They will take place on Canada Day and mid July)

There are 10 draws for $500. Weekly draws for $500 each aim to start the first week of August or as soon as 100 tickets are sold. Winning tickets are re-entered for each succeeding draw: a ticket can win more than once

To reserve a ticket, call the museum at 613-628-1000; or forward your cheque to:

Bonnechere Museum
193 Sand Road, Box 369,
Eganville, ON
K0J 1T0

<![CDATA[Share Your Memories]]>, 25 May 2022 6:30:52 +0000Memories are part of what makes us who we are...

Please share one of your memories with us: a relative, a friend, an object, a creature. A photo helps. Read the sample memory below.

Use email or address mail to:

Your Memories
193 Sand Road,
Box 369,
Eganville, Ontario, Canada,
K0J 1T0

<![CDATA[Home]]>, 30 Jun 2021 2:39:12 +0000Bonnechere Museum, also known as the Ordovician Fossil Capital of Canada, presents both the natural and cultural history of life as it developed along the Bonnechere River.

A live museum aspires to encompass a whole community, not just a building or a single artifact theme.

In its efforts to promote heritage tourism, cultural tourism, and cultural landscapes, Bonnechere Museum recognizes that the Bonnechere Valley has three primary natural symbols or totems: rocks, trees, and waters.

Our history is truly Written in stone - Carved in wood - Silvered in water.

Written In Stone

Carved In Wood

Silvered In Water

Written In Stone Carved In Wood Silvered In Water

Ordovician fossils are found within the outliers of limestone along the Bonnechere River. Bonnechere Museum sponsors fossil education and fossil hunting. Visitors of all ages participate in demonstrations, walkabouts and site explorations.

Since the great pineries of the Bonnechere Valley supplied wood to England and to United States, the following words express a short history of the area: square timber, lumber, pulp. Transporting timber by water gradually was replaced by rail and then truck. Much of the economy of the region is still dependent on wood products from second and third growth forests.

Algonquin Park's dome is the source of seven rivers which feed streams, lakes, wetlands and aquifers, creating a recreational, accessible, natural wild. The Bonnechere Valley is close to Algonquin Park, the Ottawa River, and the city of Ottawa, Canada's Capital - all well-known international tourist destinations. The lakes and waterways have become destinations for recreation including fishing, boating, and cottage life, along with an increasing interest in the production of electrical energy.

Cycle of life: From the three regional symbols, flow the 5 R's, which represent the cycle of life as it developed along the Bonnechere River:

  • River
  • Route
  • Railway
  • Road
  • Recreation

Preston O'Grady, Bonnechere Museum

Bonnechere Museum also has a Resource Centre which follows an organizational pattern typical of an archive:

The way in which records are arranged and catalogued in an archive should be dictated by their origin and the administrative processes that created them.

This arrangement or grouping is often referred to as respect des fonds.


The museum is located at 85 Bonnechere Street, in Eganville, at the junction of Highways 41 and 60.

<![CDATA[The Charles Thomas Story]]>, 30 May 2021 3:39:45 +0000Charles Thomas was an important figure along the Bonnechere River. His life spanned 80 years, partly spent in the north and partly at Golden Lake. After he left the Hudson Bay Company, he started his own stopping place which he called Charlie’s Hope. Maps of the Golden Lake area show that the point at the end of the McMillan Road bears the name “Thomas Point”

He was born Sept. 9, 1793 and died Mar. 14, 1873. To several of his children, he left farms or properties along the Bonnechere River. Many of his descendants still live in the area, especially in North Algona Wilberforce Township. His diary is a valuable resource for information on the lives of people travelling along the Bonnechere in the 1850’s. He records the weather, the traffic on the river, the various visitors and lumbermen who stayed at his stopping place, the seasons, celebrations, family events, hunting and fishing tasks, and business trips.

As background, it is worth noting that he was a Factor or agent at Hudson Bay Post Golden Lake in 1832, although his training took place during the years that his father, John Thomas, was Chief Ffactor at Moose Factory, James Bay.

Main Source - Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online: MITCHELL, ELAINE ALLAN. Toronto, Ontario. Æneas Cameron. Alexander McDougall. John Thomas.

Fact summary

Charles was the son of John Thomas who emigrated in 1769 from London, Middlesex, England or Wales to Moose Factory, Rupert’s Land, James Bay. John worked with HBC until 1813. He left the HBC in 1814.

On November 2, 1815, John Thomas addressed a letter to the Governor and the Committee of the HBC from Vaudreuil, Lower Canada, requesting to be allowed to return to Moose Fort, but he was advised from a meeting held on March 6, 1816 "that his sons may be taken into the Service at Moose Fort but that he himself cannot be allowed to return thither, but if he wishes to settle in Hudson's Bay the Committee will assign him Lands in the Red River Settlement." John did not appear to take advantage of this proposal. He died in Vaudreuil in 1822.

Charles Thomas was baptised and educated in England before returning to Moose Factory. He returned from England by 1808 when he entered the HBC service.

From 1811-1814, he worked as a clerk at Moose Factory and as writer and assistant trader at New Brunswick House. About 1813, he married Hannah Mannall, daughter of "Chief Trader", John Mannall.

He retired for the first time from the HBC on June 22 , 1814 and left for Vaudreuil, near Montreal with most of his extended family.

Charles re-entered the service in 1815, serving in the Athabasca until 1817, and at Cumberland House, 1817-1818.

He was at St. Mary's, Peace River District 1818-1819, in Athabasca, 1819 -1820, and at Fort St. Mary's, Peace River District 1820-1821

Charles Thomas is highly praised by Company leaders, as recorded in letters by George Simpson, an active leader for the Company in North America and one who replaced Colin Robertson in Athabaska.

Charles Thomas retired from the HBC the second time, in 1822, when he returned to Vaudreuil on the death of his father. He was referred to as a good Clerk and Trader.

Stationed 1830 to 1832 at Lake of Two Mountains in the Montreal department

He went to Golden Lake in 1832 as a Certified Agent of the Hudson Bay Company.

After the expiration of his contract with the Hudson Bay Company, Charles became a “Free Agent” remaining at Golden Lake and opening a stopping place which he called “Charlie’s Hope”.

  • 1 Charles Thomas, 1793 - 1873
    +Hannah Mannall, 1795 - 1868
  • 2 Elizabeth Thomas, 1812 - 1892
  • 2 Charles Thomas, 1815 - 1865
  • 2 John Thomas, 1817 - 1839
  • 2 Edward Thomas, 1819 - 1897
    +Catherine Pierce, 1826 - 1881
  • 2 William Thomas, 1822 - 1886
    +Zylpha (Sophia) Pierce, 1831 - 1896
  • 2 Margaret Thomas, 1824 - 1899
    +Charles Laflaure, 1820
  • 2 Thomas(Tommy) Thomas, 1827 - 1870
    +Jane (Jenny) Simmons, 1829 - 1923
  • 2 Hannah Thomas, 1830 - 1863
    +Hugh Mcdonald, 1827
  • 2 Frances Ann Thomas, 1832 - 1908
    +William Sunstrum, 1831 - 1923
  • 2 Alexander Christopher Thomas, 1836 - 1907
  • 2 Richard Story Thomas, 1838 - 1902
    +Elizabeth McLennon, 1841 - 1918

Obituary in the Renfrew Mercury Friday Mar 14, 1873:

"At Golden Lake, on Saturday, the 8th quite unexpectedly, at the advanced age of 80 years, Mr. Charles Thomas. He had resided at Golden Lake for a number of years, and was one of the oldest pioneers on the Bonnechere River. His father was formerly Governor of one of the Hudson Bay Company's Posts; and Mr. Thomas being possessed of a good education, held different trusts under him.

In all his dealings with the public, he earned the respect and esteem of all. He was upright and independent, honest and honorable generous and a fast friend. For his years he was a hale hearty man, and in the best of spirits; and his sudden decease has cast a gloom upon the village of Eganville, where he was better known. He was a gentleman of most kind and pleasing manners much respected in his walk of life.

For the past thirty years he kept an accurate Diary, and was preparing it for publication. It contains thrilling excitements and perilous adventures in the Northwest, and pleasing reminiscences that took place on the different chains of lakes on the Bonnechere, Madawaska &c

Experts from the diary of Charles Thomas

Sept. 30, 1850
Monday. A fine day & weather calmed down – Perrigo & a number of Men (timber makers) ___ passed after taking breakfast, on the way up, as also a Canoe with a Gang of Timber makers for Upper Little B. Chere & in the Evening Beaudoin & 4 men bound up to commence farming operations for E E & Co on L B Chere. B. Baptiste & Alick brought us up 10 Bags of small potacs, & the Old Woman & Marie brought us a Bag of real Indian Corn for the 2 little Pigs they got _____ I shot 6 partridges in the Point. The Cows regularly came once a day – the Bull lazy – 4 pike, 2 trout & 1 Crappie out of net – East of C H Island.

1851 March 17, St. Patrick’s Day
Monday. Misty morning. Coll McDonell came up and went across with the cullers. Baptiste off on a personal tour of the 2nd Chute. Charles also went down and I gave him a commission for me, I sent $100 to R Mc I. Numbers of teams up and down today. Williams for Mr. Byers down, and Leith down and up for dinner as also Jack Prince Albert. Tommy and Jack Price up with a load of hay to C&R Mc D and settled with him. Tom Joynt over on Spree - St. Patrick’s Day. Coll went down again at night.


October 15
Perrigo & Payet also went down in a 3 ½ ft. canoe(with 2 men) for Fairfield…. Baptiste went to show Egan’s party thro’ Byers Old Shanty aback of Brennan’s Creek meadows

October 20
Baptiste went down to Fairfield [Eganville] for lime and other things….


February 18
Charles started for Bytown (Ottawa)…

February 19
visit from Silurry of Fairfield. About one dozen teams went up for Perrigo’s.

March 22
Charles brought down Mr. Egan and Perrigo having come down in 5 hours from the Basin including stoppages – They proceeded to the Farm [Eganville].

<![CDATA[Cultural History]]>, 30 May 2021 3:20:10 +0000What forces influenced life along the Bonnechere? There are several answers:
  • The Algonquin Dome in Algonquin Park which influenced moisture and weather patterns
  • Aboriginal communities especially the Algonquin people,
  • Fur traders supplying the fashion houses of Europe,
  • Timber barons who opened up this area to Europeans as they sought out the giant pineries to supply Englands’s housing, furniture and shipbuilding industries after Napoleon cut off England’s Baltic supply of wood, forcing her to look to the Ottawa Valley for timbers and lumber.
  • Farmers who fled the wars of Europe, accepted land grants and found a market for their summer products in the hundreds of lumber shanties, and earned off-farm income as woodsmen during the winter harvest of the forests along the seven rivers that flow from present day Algonquin Park.
  • Tourists who flock to the many lakes, streams, woodlands and mountains of this rural part of Canada.

Our history from the 1700’s to now is closely linked to wood, especially red and white pine. The first growth pineries provided masts and lumber for England’s shipbuilding as well as later housing and industrial markets both in Canada and in the United States. A short history of the Ottawa and Bonnechere Valleys might be expressed in these few words:

  1. Square Timber,
  2. Lumber,
  3. Pulp.

To this day, many workers in the Bonnechere Valley continue to earn a living from wood or wood related industries.

<![CDATA[Discover Eganville]]>, 05 Jun 2019 4:10:05 +0000Renewal of the Eganville  Area is the main goal of the Eganville and Area Community Development Group whose name has been shortened to Discover Eganville to match its website marketing. Its website can be found through this link:

The story of Eganville will unfold in three phases.

Phase 1: The Beginnings: First Nations and Europeans

Phase 2: Timber Hub,  Disaster to Recovery,  Electronic Connectedness

Phase 3: Improvements and Possibilities

Videos in support of the positive work of the Eganville and Area Community Development Group

Two videos have already been filmed, with a third forthcoming. They can be viewed by clicking on each of the following links:

  • Discover Eganville - Part 1
  • Discover Eganville - Part 2
  • Duscover Eganville - Part 3 - still in development

1. Discover Eganville - Part 1

2. Discover Eganville - Part 2

<![CDATA[Links]]>, 04 Jun 2019 1:53:53 +0000Bonnechere Caves

Friends of Bonnechere Park

Golden Lake Property Owners Association

Lake Clear Property Owners Association

“Number Please”, the History of the Davis Telephone Company This Community Memories Project, prepared by volunteers Tish Smith and Shelley McLeod, is hosted on the Canadian Heritage Information Network site.

Ottawa Valley Tourist Association, Ontario's Adventure Playground!

Ross Museum, Whitewater Region's only museum

Township of Bonnechere Valley

Valley Video Professionals

Discover Eganville  Eganvile And Area Community Development Group

<![CDATA[The Ordovician Period (438 to 510 Million Years Ago)]]>, 18 May 2017 4:10:30 +0000The Ordovician period began approximately 438 million years ago, with the end of the Cambrian, and ended around 510 million years ago, with the beginning of the Silurian.

The Ordovician is best known for the presence of its diverse marine invertebrates, including graptolites, trilobites, brachiopods, and the conodonts (early vertebrates). A typical marine community consisted of these animals, plus red and green algae, primitive fish, cephalopods, corals, crinoids, and gastropods.

From the Early to Middle Ordovician, the earth experienced a milder climate in which the weather was warm and the atmosphere contained a lot of moisture. During the Late Ordovician, massive glaciers formed causing shallow seas to drain and sea levels to drop. This likely caused the mass extinctions that characterize the end of the Ordovician, in which 60% of all marine invertebrate genera and 25% of all families went extinct.

The name Ordovician. The name Ordo-vic- probably means "those fighting with a hammer".

The Ordovices were a Celtic tribe living in the British Islands, before the Roman invasion of Britain. Its tribal lands were located in Wales between the Silures to the south and the Deceangli to the north-east. The Ordovices were conquered by the Roman governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola in AD 77 / 78.

<![CDATA[Geoheritage Trail Walk]]>, 14 Jun 2016 4:37:20 +0000

Video produced by: Megan McMaster


Self Directed: get a guide-chart at the museum


Guided Tour: click on menu item "Events" for tour schedule.

<![CDATA[Fossil Hunts]]>, 14 Mar 2016 6:31:12 +0000

Video produced by: Valley Video Professionals


Fossil Hunts start at the Bonnechere Museum at 10 AM:

  • Information
  • Walkabout
  • Fossil
  • Search

Dates 2016
Friday, July 1, Canada Day; Saturday, July 23; and Saturday, August, 20..

<![CDATA[Genealogy]]>, 08 Mar 2016 4:44:53 +0000This is the most frequently asked question: ‘How do I get started?’

Begin with yourself and your family.

Use the enclosed page to help you keep track as you talk to relatives and friends.

There is electronic help available, but walk before you run. Build a base of family information to work out from.

Learn about Eganville's name sake, John Egan.

<![CDATA[The Opeongo Line]]>, 08 Mar 2016 4:42:53 +0000One way to know an era and its people is to study the historical events that influenced them. Another is to look at what the people said about themselves and about one another; in short, their literature.

Roots become tangible through the life lived in small settlements and along the roads that served them. One such road is The Opeongo Line, surveyed in 1852, at first called the Ottawa and Opeongo Road.

A few people think the Opeongo line is a manner of speaking that belongs to a certain type of Ottawa Valley person. ‘He is not one to spoil a good story with the truth,’ they say. However, it’s not true at all, hardly worth considering, scarcely believable.

The Opeongo Line is the most famous of several local settlement roads. At first considered to be an alternate route to move troops to Toronto in case American forces seized the Rideau and Kingston corridors, it later became a major artery for settlement and accessing the stands of giant pine in and near Algonquin Park. Although the days of squared- timber rafts and log drives are gone, the abundant waters, second and third growth forests, and beautiful scenery are known worldwide for recreation, business and wilderness settings. Opeongo, likely of Ojibwa origin, means a safe place to cross, a place to be on the lookout for, ‘a shallows at the narrows’ of a river. From such historical origins springs the name - Opeongo High School - a school that is proud of its roots and is forging its own traditions.

Traditions old and less old

Lumbering, hunting and fishing, old-time fiddling and step-dancing, fairs, bazaars, church suppers, soft ball and base ball, hockey, squared- log buildings, mixed farming, stone fences, split rail fences, hiking, cave exploring, alternative life styles, studios for arts and crafts, classical music groups, electrical energy, nuclear energy, resorts, water recreation, construction and transportation businesses, technical and professional skills, snowmobile races, Rural Ramble, celebrating the Flaming Leaf - they are all part of the area within a half hour's drive of the Opeongo Mountains.

Learn more: take a self-guided driving tour of The Highway 60 Corridor through the Bonnechere and Madawaska River Valleys.

<![CDATA[Bonnechere River Facts]]>, 07 Mar 2016 8:55:55 +0000The Algonquin Dome

The Algonquin Dome lies between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa Valley. Warm moist air rising through 1000 feet condenses in the form of rain or snow as it ascends the Dome, blown by the prevailing westerly winds off Georgian Bay / Lake Huron. This gives rise to the source waters that form 7 major waterways: the Madawaska, Muskoka, Magnetawan, Amable du Fond, Petawawa, Bonnechere and York Rivers, a situation unique in Ontario and probably in the world.

The Five R’s

  • River: spring freshets, chutes
  • Route: interior – wagon and sleigh trail
  • Railway: distance, speed
  • Road: transports, freedom of automobile
  • River: electrical energy, recreation

A Short History of the Bonnechere Valley

- square timer, lumber and pulp -


The most significant of the government development roads was the Ottawa and Opeongo Road which followed a westward course in its climb from the Ottawa River to the Madawaska Highlands. North/south settlement routes, bisecting the region, included the Hastings, Peterson and Addington Roads.

The Bonnechere Watershed

The Bonnechere River, stretching 145km (90mi), from near McAskill Lake in Algonquin Park to the Ottawa River at Castleford, has a long history as well, but does not enjoy quite the same stature in our nation’s heritage. It is among the smallest of the major tributaries, of the Ottawa even though it drains 2400 square kilometres (935 square miles) – an area larger than Prince Edward Island. Over the centuries, the Bonnechere (often pronounced locally as the bone-chur) has been a conduit for transportation, a powerhouse of energy, and a source of food and recreation for residents and travellers. The productive soils and enticing landscape of the Bonnechere Valley watershed (the area of land which feeds the river) were among the first logged, settled and farmed in Renfrew County.

Grist Mills at each Chute of the Bonnechere

There was a grist mill (several successive) at each chute. The following were the names of first mill owners at each of the 5 chutes.

  1. James Bell at Castleford. 30 foot
  2. John Lorne McDougall at Renfrew. 82 foot
  3. Elias Moore at Douglas. 21 foot
  4. Robert Merrick at the present Bonnechere Caves. approx 35 foot
  5. John Egan at Eganville. approx 40 foot

Bonnechere River Timeline

1688 R. de Bonnechere appears on a map by Jean Batiste Louis Franquelin, French cartographer, who came to New France in 1672 and was appointed Hydrographer at Quebec in 1685 (Thomson, 1966) (Kennedy)

1820 Lumbering activities extend up the Bonnechere.

1825 Gregoire Belanger erected the first shanty on the site known as the Dawney House or Dionne home west of the present village of Eganville on the site of the later C.P.R freight shed.

1826 Alexander McDonell took his first raft of pine timber down the Bonnechere. He is said to have been among the first lumbermen to see the headwaters of the Bonnechere and Madawaska, Joan Finnegan (1981) said he was known as: ‘the King of the four rivers’ because of his association with the Madawaska, the Bonnechere, the Indian and the Mississippi. (McKay).

1826 James Wadsworth bought the land from Gregoire Belanger and cleared an area later known as ‘The Farm’, a depot for lumbering rather than farming. Wadsworth, in his retirement, said he established ‘Fairfield Farm’; the name is used in the diary of Charles Thomas, referring to Eganville.

1826 Owen Quinn acquired the rights to land at the Second Chute, and then sold the land to Lieutenant Christopher James Bell the following spring.

1829 Lieutenant Christopher James Bell built a sawmill and later a grist mill at the First Chute, a thirty foot high falls close to a mile from the mouth of the Bonnechere where it enters the Ottawa at Lac des Chats.

1831, 1834 Maps of Alexander Shirreff show the ‘Riv Bonne chere’. Also shown are Round Lake named L. Ronde, and Golden Lake named Norway Lake. The headwaters are labelled ‘Pine Lands’. (McKay)

1834 J. Arrowsmith’s map shows the series of small lakes on the Little Bonnechere River, as that section above Round Lake is called.

1835 Wadsworth had completed slides at the first and second chutes and others on the Little Bonnechere. (McKay: Russell, 1853).

1836 John Egan purchased Fairfield Farm from James Wadsworth.

1838 There were a few timber surveys along the Little Bonnechere.

1840 Robert Merrick built a grist mill at the Fourth Chute and dammed the river to divert water through the caves in order to direct it to his mill wheel.

1843 John Egan sold The Farm to Robert Mills, his business manager, who built a sawmill at the fifth chute. Egan bought back the property two years later and the sawmill built by Robert Mills.

1847 Surveyor James McNaughton began an official mapping of the course of the Bonnechere River, although he had visited and surveyed sections in 1840 and 1843. He finished the lower river on August 6, 1847 and began the upper which he finished on November 9. His maps took several more months to prepare. (McKay)

1849 John Egan built a grist mill on the south side of the river.

1853 The Hon. Francis Hincks bought the land at the Second Chute owned by Bell, had it surveyed for a townsite, now Renfrew – incorporated in 1858, and sold the millsite to John Lorne McDougall to build a mill, now Renfrew Museum, established in 1969. The Bonnechere here dropped a total of 82 feet over a series of ledges.

1853 John Egan surveyed a village site which became Eganville.

1853 William E. Logan, later Sir William Logan founder of the Geological Survey of Canada and after whom Mount Logan, Yukon, is named, appointed as his assistant, Alexander Murray, who studied the geology of the Petawawa and Bonnechere rivers. (Kennedy) 1853 Geologist Alexander Murray speaking of the square timber harvest: ‘ . . . there are still vast quantities brought down the tributaries annually, and made to descend to the Ottawa by the course of the Bonne-chere. On our way up the stream we repeatedly found it almost entirely blocked up with square timber, sometimes for miles together.’ (McKay 43)

1853 Construction began on the Ottawa and Opeongo colonization road, often called the Opeongo Line.

1853 Judge John G. Malloch of Perth bought land near the Third Chute which had a 21 foot wall of water. Malloch had the land surveyed for a village, which he named Douglas after Douglas in Lancashire, Scotland. Douglas became better known for its March 17 Irish celebrations.

1857 Geologist Alexander Murray traveled the Bonnechere and commented on the remarkable caves. In 1961, Ford said the caves were formed from Ordovician limestone since the last glacial age about 11,000 years ago. (Kennedy)

1857 John Egan died of cholera at age 47.

1860 circa D. McGregor had a carding mill at the Fourth Chute.

1868 James Bonfield and Robert Turner purchased the Egan Bonnechere timber limits. Bonfield soon became the sole owner.

1911 The last raft of square timber descended the Bonnechere. (See McKay 49): Golden Lake Lumber Company (M.J. O’Brien and J.A. O’Brien of Renfrew, and, George D. McRae of Eganville)

From The Woods Industries of Canada

A few figures will show what quantities of provisions a firm has to supply in the course of a year in the getting out of 150,000 logs. This service requires during the winter season, in the woods, 430 men getting out the logs, 300 men piling and forwarding and 300 teamsters with the same number of teams. (McKay p.49)

The average provisions required for each gang of men is as follows:

  • 825 barrels of pork
  • 900 barrels of flour
  • 925 bushels of beans
  • 37000 bushels of oats
  • 300 tons of hay
  • 1000 grindstones
  • 75 doz. axes
  • 1,500 boom chains (7 ft. each)
  • 3,750 gallons of syrup
  • 7,500 lb of tea
  • 1,875 lb of soap
  • 6,000 lb of tobacco
  • 60 crosscut saws
  • 225 sleighs
  • 900 pairs of blankets
  • 45 boats

Learn more about the cultural history of the Bonnechere River and The Opeongo Line.

<![CDATA[Geologic Time]]>, 07 Mar 2016 8:52:41 +0000

Geologic Time is subdivided into a number of categories.

  1. Eons are divided into...
  2. Eras which are divided into...
  3. Periods and subperiods which are divided into...
  4. Epochs. (Epochal subdivisions are referred to as "ages")
  5. MYA = millions of years ago

Traditional Geological Time Scale

<![CDATA[Bonnechere Museum's Fossil Collection]]>, 07 Mar 2016 8:51:27 +0000Graptolites

These narrow skeletal-like creatures lived nearly 400 million years ago. They floated on the surface of the ocean forming fragile, often branching skeletons.  Typically Graptolites were only between ½ and 4 inches long.  In the rock they look very much like pencil marks.


The Crinoids’ soft body was protected by several hard plates which formed in a bowl-like shape.  From this came tentacle-like arms, which were used to gather food.  It was fixed to the sea floor by a long flexible stem consisting of many discs.  Once the crinoid died, the discs were scattered over the sea floor, and we find many examples of these in some limestone.


Trilobites are related to crabs, spiders and insects we see today.  They were aquatic creatures that had fragmented bodies with multiple limbs.  Most fossils of Trilobites are only about an inch long but when they were one of the dominant species in the Cambrian and Ordovician periods, they reached more than eighteen inches long.


There are many different species of cephalopods.  Some have long straight shells and others are intricately coiled and decorated.  Cephalopods are related to modern-day squids and cuttlefish.  One of the most common fossils found in limestone in Ontario is the straight-shelled species (closely resembling the squid).  During the Ordovician period it was one of the most dominant invertebrates and it sometimes reached over four feet in length.


Found in both fresh and salt water, gastropods are commonly known as snails.  Many fossils of freshwater gastropods can be found in sands and gravels.


Also known as clams, pelecypods can be found all over the world.  Pelecypods date back as early as the Cambrian period and live in both fresh and salt water. 


Brachiopods resemble clams but are actually unrelated.  These animals have been found in rocks dating back as far as 700 million years.  Brachiopods were very abundant before the time of the dinosaurs, but have declined since.  A species of Brachiopod we still have today is the Lingula, found in mudflats.  It has changed very little in the last 100 million years.

Resource: R.R.H. Lemon, Fossils In Ontario

<![CDATA[Fossils & Geological History]]>, 16 Nov 2015 3:59:34 +0000Our Bonnechere history is written on stone, wood, paper and the hearts of those who love the Bonnechere valley. The stone records include fossils. A fossil (the word is from the Latin fossilis, meaning "dug up") is an impression, or the actual remains of an animal or plant preserved in rock.

Our major fossils are from the Ordovician time period, a time when North America was drifting away from the equator and the outlines of billions of small animals and plants were preserved in the sedimentary rock formed in the seas that covered much of this landscape. The Ordovician geologic period was first described by Charles Lapworth in 1879 based on rocks located in the original lands of the Ordovices and was named after them.

The study of fossils is called palaeontology. Palaeontologists are able to describe much of the geological history of a region from fossil remains.

The museum has a collection of fossils and encourages people to find their own samples by holding fossils hunts which grow more popular every year. Donated fossils are welcome and enhance our collection

<![CDATA[Videos]]>, 14 Nov 2015 10:15:49 +00002015

Video produced by: Megan McMaster


Video produced by: Samantha Hein

Video produced by: Valley Video Professionals
<![CDATA[About]]>, 01 Oct 2015 6:33:48 +0000The Bonnechere Arts and Historical Society is a community-based, volunteer organization. It is an incorporated, non-profit, registered charity, which has three functions:

  • to operate Bonnechere Museum,
  • to search for, collect, and encourage the writing of historical materials; and
  • to showcase artistic and cultural events.

Museum Mandate

Bonnechere Museum presents life as it developed along the Bonnechere River: its environs, its landscape, exploration, settlement and development.

To fulfill its mandate, the Museum pursues the following objectives:

  • to collect, preserve, research and interpret artifacts for the enjoyment and education of residents and visitors now and in the future,
  • to present or display interpretive, artistic, educational, scientific, and historical projects that express the identity of the community,
  • to interpret natural heritage and diverse cultures,
  • to form strategic partnerships with various groups that help it fulfill its goals
  • to foster cultural tourism by offering enrichment or educational experiences that attract visitors whose stay in the community would benefit businesses.

The Bonnechere Arts and Historical Society is licensed to use the names Bonnechere Museum and Ordovician Fossil Capital of Canada.

A Live Museum

Learn by doing. Fossil hunters of all ages assemble at the museum but extend their hunt to village walkabouts and quarry searches for real Ordovician fossils. The Bonnechere natural landscape is a fossil hunter’s paradise: the Ordovician Fossil Capital of Canada.

Quilting exhibits attract artisans from across Canada, and the workshops showcase skills and inspire creativity.

Dancers and painters, writers and musicians – all weave the fabric of life along the Bonnechere.

Community Connections

As part of a larger economic community, Bonnechere Museum promotes tourism. Tourism has three dimensions that seem easy to understand but are difficult to turn into reality: heritage tourism, cultural tourism and cultural landscape..

Heritage tourism

Heritage tourism means a whole community agrees to capitalize on the traditional aspects of its area under the broad umbrella of businesses, professional groups and residents, all of whom support one another in actions and marketing strategies to attract visitors whose spending will boost the local economy.

Cultural tourism

Within the idea of a whole community being involved in, and supportive of, heritage tourism, there is a particular approach called cultural tourism. Cultural tourism attracts visitors or travellers by ensuring that they have an opportunity to learn and understand the history, use, influence and context of objects and landscapes, or presentations and displays.

A Lou Harris Poll for Travel & Leisure Magazine, 1993, identified this important trend in why people travel. The poll found that 88% indicated a desire for enrichment; they wanted to understand a culture: they wanted to learn something, not just look at objects or landscapes, but to understand how both objects and landscapes made the people and their community what they are.

Cultural landscape

John Weiler defines cultural landscape this way:

"The use and physical appearance of the land as we see it now as a result of man's activities over time in modifying pristine landscapes for his own purposes."

Weiler puts his focus on how people have changed the landscape. However, Bonnechere Museum's plan will focus on the two way interaction between people and the landscape. The human activities, the languages, the arts and crafts of an area reveal its culture. Adding the natural environment to culture creates cultural landscape. This double approach – culture and landscape – is the basis for Bonnechere Museum's plan that will be called "Cultural Landscapes". This plan will offer education and enrichment to residents and visitors, a goal which is supportive of cultural tourism, as well.

<![CDATA[Dowdall]]>, 30 Sep 2015 8:09:35 +0000Say a little prayer for Father Dowdall

This was a favourite line spoken by Jim Foy in the concerts that the Parish of St. James the Less used to present annually around March 17. If he himself or a fellow performer forgot a stage line and created a pause that was a bit too long before the prompter tried to restore the flow of dialogue, Jim would insert this line, “Say a little prayer for Father Dowdall” The line was an inscription on a plaque in the grotto of the former St. James. In the way Jim spoke this line, it might sound like an appeal for assistance directly to the spirit of the great cleric who served in Eganville from 1981 – 1914, or it might sound like an assurance that all was well if under his protection and rescue would be imminent. It seemed the audience enjoyed this “fill line” as much as they would have the regular dialogue.

An expanding role

Traditions of holding such concerts fade and revive only periodically unless a group in a community offers some organizational and leadership support. There is a need for writers, storytellers and researchers to tell the stories of people who have influenced our community – to tell the stories with print and photography, with artifacts and tapes, and crafts and performances as well.    Soon after Bonnechere Museum opens officially on May 18, watch for an appeal for writers and artists who want to collect and contribute historical and artistic materials partly for publishing and partly for museum display and resource. This expanded role allows those who may be interested in research, writing and performing to pursue their interest in conjunction with or parallel to the museum organizing. This creative basis and a series of weekly programs that will be advertised soon will ensure that ours is a “live” museum, not merely a place that collects artifacts. Each of the amalgamated municipalities had prominent families and community leaders whether religious, political, or recreational. Their portraits, their biographies, even the political issues they were part of, should be recorded and find their way into performances. Bonnechere Valley Players, who were especially active in Eganville’s 1991 Centennial, helped to dramatize incorporation, the Great Fire of 1911, Lacey’s General Store (The museum has a pickle crock stamped D Leacy,[spelling variant] Eganville.), the War Years and many others. There are important events and portraits of residents of Sebastopol, South Algona and Grattan too. Once the research writing gets shaped into dramatic forms: plays, poems, songs, a theatre group would be able to perform selections whether for Canada Day or special events such as Sebastopol’s homecoming weekend and “walk about”.


Community projects usually struggle with start-up costs. The same is true of our community museum project. Eganville Legion Branch 353 has contributed $500 seed money, with the possibility of further donations, to start the renovations to the second floor. The donation is timely and much appreciated. The renovations for the first floor have cost $14,000. Window casements and second floor renovations will need about the same amount. There are additional expenses related to opening. No donation is too small: every donation helps make this community project a success. People want a museum and the generous donations and personal time contributed to get it started indicate the enthusiasm and broad support for this community project. Several donations have come from outside the municipality and we anticipate more. By making a building available to house our museum, Bonnechere Valley Township has shown foresight and tangible support. It has encouraged the actual development of the museum as a project of the people. The entrance fee for visitors to the museum is a suggested donation of $2.00 for adults, $1.00 for students, children under five free. On the subject of fund raising, I should mention that you can buy an annual membership: for an individual, the fee is $10; for a family, the annual fee is $15. Benefits of buying a membership include: free entrance to the museum throughout the membership year, invitations to special events, voting rights at the annual meeting, a newsletter, and the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing your part for the heritage of the Bonnechere region.


To date artifacts seem to fit into the following themes: general store; logging and pioneer tools; textiles; schools; government – official seals, flags or plaques; area churches; sports; the wars; family histories and heirlooms.  Books written by Brenda Lee-Whiting and by Carol Bennett would be welcome additions to the family history section. We do have Jewel of the Bonnechere. This past week, some photos and title documents arrived. Percy and Annabel Bradley have contributed land deeds and photos of various churches. Pat and Ramona Foran donated a 1908 copy of the Sears, Roebuck catalogue. It fits nicely into the general store section. Rod and Sylvia Wilcox have also added deeds, sports photos and school class photos. This area is known for its interest in sports but so far the museum has very few photos to tell our sports stories. We need more. This area has a hunting tradition. So far, there are no photos of hunters or trophies, although we have two antiques shotguns. Children’s’ toys reveal craftsmanship and reflect the interests of an era. We should have some in the museum. Jock Von Karstedt has donated the George Hockey Cup, a riding crop and an attractive century-old lady’s jacket. Gerald Tracey was instrumental in finding this cup that was hidden away in a basement. AEnid and Eric McMaster brought in carvings done by Tom Mills, and several photos with write-ups to accompany them.

To do list

Watch for an ad for summer programs. Buy your membership. Add your name to the list of volunteers who will be taking a once weekly 3 hour or 6 hour shift in the museum after our opening on May 18 so that there will always be someone to greet and chat with visitors. Find large photographs up to four feet high that fit into our artifact themes. Help us find a low cost fridge so that volunteers can store a lunch or a cool drink. Tell me what this description means: “His high order of intelligence was dimmed by his following a downward path.”

<![CDATA[Mar 11, Photos]]>, 30 Sep 2015 8:05:22 +0000Is Himself in?

There are so many expressions we treasure!  Since my father was clerk of the township and had his books and office in our home, and since I was the youngest, I was often the one to open the door for a visitor, although I was never quite sure whether it was to be a business call or a family visit. I knew it was business if the visitor asked, “Is Himself in?” Sometimes when I answered the phone, I was asked, “Is it Himself? There were other variations too.  If you had a flu or a sick bout that left you looking a bit pale and wan, a kind relative or neighbour might say, “Is it Yourself? My gawd but you look awful!”

Around March 17 these expressions are especially used and remembered. It’s a time that seems more like an extended celebration of the arrival of spring than a saint’s anniversary, although that may depend on whether you feel the magnetic pull of McHale hospitality in Douglas. In fact on March 18, I’m told, there is still another variation: “I’m not quite myself today.”

The word “quite” is another one to enjoy. It is really the word quiet, but pronounced “quite”. You have to know what’s being talked about to get the meaning just right. Not so long ago, I had a fine young bull for sale. When one of my own sons took a phone call from a man in Palmer Rapids, I heard my son asking in bewilderment, “Is he quite what?”  The man inquiring had asked, “Is he quite?”  It’s a moment like that which makes one realize there is indeed a generation gap and some of the traditional expressions should be explained and protected. The family roots section in Bonnechere Museum will have a collection of these local expressions. The ones we ourselves heard or used when we were growing up seem in later years to trigger fond memories and are still handy to sum up situations that are beyond easy description. The phrases were not always kind: “She made a Molly Hogan of it altogether;”  “Bad cess to the lot of them;”  “He’d offer you an egg if you promised not to break the shell;”  “He’d offer help if he was certain you didn’t need it at all, at all.”

Recent acquisitions

Some of the recent artifact donations have deep local roots. Karl and Mervin Fick donated a fine, working pump organ that used to be in a former Silver Lake church that has been disassembled and moved to Milton.  It will be enjoyable to have Mervin stop in to play from time to time. Loretta and Emerson Handke donated a Raymond sewing machine that served three generations: Emma Luloff Miller, wife of August Miller, senior; Joyce Layman Miller, wife of August Miller, junior; and Loretta Handke herself. Alcis Griese has donated his rock collection, even some polished stones, mostly from the area. From Mildred Drynan of Chalk River, the museum now has an extension table with pegged joints made by Charles Gustave Tiegs (1843 – 1918) of Grattan. Mildred is a daughter of Herb Tiegs, senior. Herb Tiegs, junior, was pleased to see the table. He said, “You know, I have eaten many good meals at that table.”

Photographs needed

Surprisingly, there have been few photos offered to the museum. These are precious to families. However, it is possible to make copies and return the originals. Some of the buildings and businesses and crafts of the area will be lost to us if there are no pictures. This is not a library, but a display museum. It needs a variety of photos: log drives, log jams, the fifth chute – especially the fifth chute since the museum is located “at the fifth chute” –  picnics, family gatherings, threshing, horses, the race track (There were two: one through the middle of Eganville!), the train stations, CP and CNR, and tracks and people meeting the trains, parades, celebrations, snowmobile racing, fire equipment, sports trophies and teams, deliveries, the inside of the post office, the rinks, concerts, to name a few possibilities.

The next phase

The second floor needs attention now. The rotated displays will be on the first floor organized by themes; for instance, farm tools, logging - old and new, house wares, garments, costume, special booklets, seals and stamps, rock collections, musical instruments. The permanent display will be on the second floor. However, donations are still needed to buy the second floor materials for remodeling and preparing walls for displays.

The target opening date is May 18. The sooner we receive artifacts, the more likely they can be recorded, numbered and displayed for opening day. If you use the internet, browse to the museum page or

Here are a few Irish wishes and bits of advice for the week of the 17th, offered, typically, half in fun and all in earnest. Would you believe that at all, at all?

As you slide down the banister of life,
May the splinters never point in the wrong direction!
God is good, but never dance in a small boat.
May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.

<![CDATA[Feb 18, Fences and roads]]>, 30 Sep 2015 7:55:55 +0000Horse High, Bull Strong and Skunk Tight

One of the first duties of a rural council was to appoint at least two people to the important position of Fence Viewer. Their function was to determine what was a lawful fence and impose fines as required. A lawful fence had to be HORSE HIGH, BULL STRONG AND SKUNK TIGHT. (Taylor Kennedy, as found on Al Lewis' internet site.) Our area has many kinds of pioneer fences: stump fence, split rail fence – often called a snake fence, round log fence with bunks – sometimes with wired pickets holding bunks in place, stone fence, stone fence bottom and log top for height. Later types were the straight wire fence, the barbed wire fence – often combined with a stone or log fence, and paged wire fence. There are, of course more modern ones such as electric fences and radio collar fences. The older ones still have charm. Many people travel the Opeongo Line just to see the traditional fences. It would be a great historical photo project to assemble a display of the different types labelled with their location. Models of each would be good too. It is a worthy dream to think of owning a property with each type on display for visitors to see.

Good for 1 loaf: A Response

Baptiste Pigeon of Cobden collects tokens. He was able to tell me that the “GOOD FOR 1 LOAF”; token “FROM LISK’S BAKERY, EGANVILLE, ONT” is one of several types, for there were milk tokens and meat tokens as well.  Tokens could be purchased and were left in a box or even a mailbox to tell the deliveryman what produce to leave. Money left in a mailbox for a loaf of bread, or coins in an empty milk bottle, were easy to spot and often disappeared into little pockets. Paying in advance for tokens avoided the disappearing-money problem and indicated how many loaves of bread or quarts of milk were to be left. Tokens for milk were later replaced by paper tickets. However, the milkmen disliked them for they were so hard to remove from a damp bottle. Meat tokens were usually used at the butcher shop by children or a neighbour picking up meat for someone unable to shop that day.

Loggers, Settlers and Roads

Lumber camps needed farmers to supply meat, grain, hay, horses, and a local labour force with tradesmen for the many building and repair tasks. Yet, there was another enticement: “One Hundred acres will be given Free to any settler, 18 years of age, who shall take possession of the Lot within one month from the date of his application, erect on it a house, 18 by 20 feet, put in a state of cultivation at least 12 acres in the course of four years, and live on the Lot during that period.”  (Cf:  Clyde Kennedy)

Many early log dwellings, still in evidence locally, have an 18 x 20 dimension.  To settlers, who found themselves forced from their lands in Europe, the offer of free land was a major attraction to the Ottawa Valley. Because the United States was offering free land in the 1800’s, Canada tried to attract and keep its settlers by surveying and building settlement roads. One of the most famous was the Ottawa and Opeongo Road; a second was the Addington Road; and a third the Hastings Road, among others.  Robert Bell surveyed the line for the Opeongo Road in 1852, although parts of it had been surveyed before. The War of 1812 was a victory for Canada. However, the risk of invasion from the United States made it important to be able to move troops quickly. The Rideau Canal served this military purpose and on over land route to Toronto was another consideration. There was speculation that a trail from the Ottawa River could be upgraded to passable conditions and connect with the Hastings Road, running from the south. Both the Opeongo Road and the Bonnechere Road had traffic before each was surveyed, developed and named. The diaries of Charles Thomas record traffic on the Bonnechere Road as early as 1851 and make reference to the transport of supplies from Fairfield Farm (Eganville) to the surveyors working about six miles above Barry’s Bay (Roddy MacKay). In 1847, James McNaughton surveyed and mapped the course of the Bonnechere River; the river itself was important for transporting people and goods.

How can you put roads in a museum? There are several ways: maps, plaster models, photos, records of land patents. Transfer deeds often make reference to roads. Stories about ancestors who helped to build and maintain roads are interesting heritage items.

"We drink from wells we did not find;
we eat from farmland we did not develop;
we enjoy freedoms we have not earned...
make us grateful for our heritage."

Heritage Maritime Prayer, Anonymous

<![CDATA[Jan 14. Artifacts]]>, 30 Sep 2015 7:47:35 +0000It is better to give than to receive. The phrase has different meanings depending on whether you are still thinking about Christmas, or the Acts of the Apostles, or income tax, or Bonnechere Museum.

It's time for artifacts.

On both Saturdays, January 25 and February 2, from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM the museum board members and volunteers will be at the museum to start receiving artifacts. The focus is local artifacts, most of which may come from the four municipalities that make up Bonnechere Valley Township. However, since objects, activities and lands of the whole Bonnechere Watershed are intertwined, the museum will accept some artifacts which reflect these broader roots.

Objects, land and family records, memorabilia

The following list will give a glimpse of the range of local artifacts possible: timber era, agriculture, settlement, businesses, post office, manufacturing, military, natural history, arts, household items, telephone equipment, churches, schools, professions, occupations, sports, glass, photographs and negatives, family history, crafts, textiles. Because of space limitations, the museum prefers artifacts that can be placed in a display case or upon a wall or pedestal. There is room for some that are a bit larger that one person could move about, but the upstairs will need to be remodeled to accommodate large and permanent objects. It is the intent to have many of the main floor artifacts displayed on a rotation basis. The museum welcomes objects which show the heritage past and recent history too. If you have questions or transportation concerns, the following are contact persons: Mike Stone 754 2552, Jo-Anne Koch 628 3137, Preston O'Grady 628 3240.

Forms and signatures

A museum must keep records. Since donated artifacts are gifts to the museum, not loans, owners need to be willing to sign a gift form indicating that they indeed are the owners and that the object is being given to the museum with no strings attached. The new owner will be the museum. There will be several people available to help make this simple transfer. The museum will need to give each object an accession number and enter a record of the donated object in its ledger. The museum must keep an archive or documentation form giving a short history of each artifact. Owners will asked about the origin, the location, and the length of time in use.

We've come a long way

"From an idea, to a meeting, to a committee, to directives, to new members - that was the easy part," said Chairman Mike Stone, at the first museum meeting of 2002. "Then", he said, "came the nitty gritty. It was not just a matter of collecting stuff and hanging it on the walls or putting it in showcases. Instead, it meant plans and design, deconstruction and reconstruction, and a great paper chase learning what forms and records had to be in place for smooth operating." He went on to say, "The phone calls, the emails, the research, the meetings, the fund raising and having fun were all part of the background for the highlight, the grand finale of 2001, namely, the open house with its displays, positive comments, very supportive donations and great entertainment." He closed his remarks indicating priorities for 2002: reorganizing committees, planning daily operations, installing wall treatment and showcases, getting a wheel chair ramp, beginning renovations on the second floor, seeking a computer and microfilm reader, and calling for artifacts soon so that exhibits can be prepared for a spring opening."

Your museum

Make sure to let museum members know what you want to see in your museum. Its success depends on many the things, the most important of which is that it is truly representative of the area and the people who have built its heritage.

<![CDATA[Dec 17. Wishlist]]>, 30 Sep 2015 7:14:50 +0000Fornenst

"I got to go home with the lad who brung me." Liza Boland of Killaloe remembers hearing this local expression at a dance in Germanicus. Liza was one of several who contacted me about Ottawa Valley expressions. Irene Foran Dooling sent a wonderful booklet of expressions used in her family. I'll just put a few fornenst one another here or you'll be wonderin' what kind of riggin' I am altogether for not sharin'. I'm sure you'll twig to each one. At Christmas dinner, if someone says "I bar the right leg", you'll know that that person has placed dibs on a turkey leg and you are honour-bound not to claim it for yourself. If you are told to "Take off your hat and stay a while," it's not referring to a teenager wearing his cap backwards in imitation of his southern brothers, but instead a welcoming invitation to visit.


The people, the displays, the donations and the entertainment made the November 25 Preview Opening of Bonnechere Museum a great success and an indicator of how a visit to the future museum should be a welcoming experience. Everyone seemed pleased with the new décor and the temporary displays. Residents and visitors alike were in an upbeat mood and responded very positively to those presenting donations, and enjoyed the performing of both the singers and the actors. Although a separate thank you to individuals and to groups and businesses has already been published in the Eganville Leader, I want to emphasize that it was a concerted effort that made the day a success. The donations of $4325 were very much appreciated; and, in the next week, the additional $4000 from the Eganville Rotary Club and $400 from Valley Savings guaranteed that work on the next phase is underway. Thanks are due to all individuals and groups for their generous support. Rotary has specifically targeted display cases. Materials have been sourced and will provide the much needed four foot and six foot display cases; as well, these cases include drawers for storage space. The Front Runner display fabric and moldings for the walls are on order. The cost of these major installations will match the current donations.

Interior Display walls

It is the time of year for wish lists and I have been asked if the museum has one. Yes, it does, but equipment will be included only as funds allow. What else would help to make the museum a welcoming place? As mentioned, the walls and display cases have been assigned $8000; there are still the interior wall panels which will increase the display area. These need wood and fabric and wheels; about $4000 will assemble them. They need to be moveable for performances which also need risers and lighting. The main desk needs a register and copies of temporary receipts, gift forms and documentation forms? Some records must be hand written; but there should be computer copies too.


Starting in the last two weeks of January, the museum will ask for artifacts. Apart from our First Nation people and then fur traders, Europeans came to this area in pursuit of timber. The museum will need artifacts related to the pineries and lumber camps. Since agriculture followed timber, farming artifacts are needed too. Settlements, and businesses and professions and services followed. All of these should be represented in artifacts as well. Some artifacts are old, some new. A sawmill may have photos of the founding members and some of the present family who still run the business. Post Office artifacts are especially needed. It would be great to have the original wall of mail boxes, and the instrument used to cancel stamps. We do have a post master's chair. John Sterling, whose family lived in the upstairs apartment, will provide an historical summary. It is the intention of the museum to have scheduled programs and scheduled rotations of groups of artifacts. Businesses and families should take note of this rotation and make sure each is represented as part of the community's roots and heritage. Another helpful piece of equipment is a costume cabinet, one with wide, deep drawers so that each drawer can have the layout for a complete ensemble. Several people have already expressed an interest in displaying period clothing or individual styles with accessories. Fluorescent lighting contributes to the decay of artifacts; the present lighting will eventually need to be replaced.

The Wars

The museum would be incomplete without acknowledging those who served in wars. Families and, of course, the Eganville Legion are sources for both artifacts and guidance in making such a commemorative display.

Handicapped access and upstairs

There is new legislation regarding access facilities for the handicapped; our main floor needs a wheelchair ramp and modified washroom ready for spring opening. Presently, the upstairs would benefit from donations of 2 x4's, gyproc, joint plaster, nails, trim and moldings and paint; these materials would keep volunteers busy for the winter. Access to the upstairs is a longer term project.

Family History Centre

There is interest in having a family history centre, which needs a computer and internet access; Windows XP on a Pentium 4 with a read-write CD ROM would offer stability, file access control and up-to-date equipment for several years. Eventually, there should be a projector for image files stored on the computer. Other electronic equipment for music and voice will eventually be required; for instance a DVD - digital video player. A microfilm reader and shelving for family resource materials and books on the area and census copies would enhance this service area. A microfilm copy of the Leader's files would be an asset costing about $1500. The museum wish list has many short term and long term items. However, if you really believe in the dream, it will come true. Now, I had better whisht and skedaddle. May the peace and joy of Christmas be yours. If you travel, safe home

Donations: cash or cheque - birthday, Christmas, anniversary, in memoriam, bequest

Bonnechere Museum c/o Bonnechere Valley Township,
49 Bonnechere Street East,
P.O. Box 100, Eganville ON   K0J 1T0.
Phone: 1 613 628 3101 | Fax: 1 613 628 1336

<![CDATA[Oct 22. Expressions]]>, 30 Sep 2015 6:46:14 +0000Tamarack'er down on the red pine floor!

Many of us remember the dance hall called Sunnydale Acres on Lake Dore, or Royal Pines at Higgison's Hill. Some of us know how to tamarack'er down as the fiddle plays and the caller shouts, "partners for a square." Only a few may know why it was "on the red pine floor." A red pine floor was considered a hard surface; tamarack was even tougher. If you've listened to a step dancer slap the floor, you get the idea easily. The Ottawa Valley has its local sayings, many of which are connected to work and play, to logging and rafting - timber rafting, that is. Wouldn't if be fun to see these expressions collected and recorded in Bonnechere Museum? Birling a log during the spring drive was routine for the lads with the caulked boots. However, as motor cars became more available, the expression was transferred to wheels spinning on ice. "Don’t birl'er so fast." Still today, an invitation to try out something such as a car is "Give'r a birl."

If you say you were talking to some of the lads, the folks in Ottawa will know that you are from up the line. If you are invited to sit in, do so and know that you are welcome and a fine meal is before you. Afterwards, when everyone has enjoyed the meal, it's time to red-up the dishes. As you leave, if it's winter time, you may be warned that it's slippy out, but it's a cam night. Should you be lucky enough to go on a sleigh ride, you might be able to pet the horses if they're quite. Do you be understanding this at all? I hope so.

Lumber companies: past and present

The language people use is influenced by the activities that influence their lives. Although the first Europeans interested in the Bonnechere Valley area were explorers and fur traders, those who put down roots and established conditions for settlement were the heads of the timber trade in the Huron tract: James Wadsworth, Alexander McDonell, Alex Barnet, William Bannerman, William McKay, William G. Perley, Daniel McLachlin, M.J. O'Brien, J.A. O'Brien, George D. McRae, John O'Manique, and especially John Egan. Egan's managers and clerks, including Robert Mills, Robert Campbell, James Bonfield, Robert Turner, Richard Nagle and Patrick Hickey, John Foran and Harman Moore went into business for themselves. Bonfield and Turner bought most of the local Egan holdings. The many partnerships formed and dissolved by the heads of the timber trade are like tree rings marking the years of growth of a founding industry from approximately 1806 to 1950.

The early British market for squared timber was gradually replaced by that of sawn lumber largely for United States and British export markets but also for local use. The shift to sawed wood created the lumber companies and related businesses, many of which are still active. It is a worthwhile goal to have every lumber company or associated business represented in displays within Bonnechere Museum. I encourage owners and the descendants of owners to think of creating a history in pictures and print of these businesses that were and still are important in a heritage and economic sense. A horizontal time line depicting dates, places, changes, and personnel would be a very good way to begin.

The production of pine timber and lumber of mixed species laid the foundation for settlements and support occupations and trades, such as, farming, blacksmithing, general stores, harness makers, carriage makers, coopers, shoemakers, cheese makers, tailoring, barbering, dairying, quarrying and limekilning, to name a few.

On the Opeongo Line I drove a span of bays
One Summer, once upon a time for Hoolihan and Hayes.
The road was rough; the hours long; the pay, scarcely a wage;
The stopping places, none too good; but work was then the rage.
How time has slithered nonchalantly to another page!
On the Opeongo Line I walked beside the load
As, pulling hard, the team went up the winding mountain road;
"Whoa, lads," I cried, from time to time, with kindliest intent
And wedged a stone behind a wheel, so steep was the ascent.

(Tom Devine)

Settlements created other needs: local government, churches, schools, doctors and nurses, clergy, lawyers and teachers, fire departments, service clubs, and hobby groups such as the more modern snowmobilers.

A community such as the Township of Bonnechere Valley has a rural or small town flavour. We should not let that flavour disappear; we should not try to imitate city life. Visitors like to experience what has made us what we are. Let us preserve and conserve our timber and lumber roots first, then expand our museum collection to include agriculture, and other businesses and organizations that create the feeling of home, of belonging.

"Which municipality are ye from?"
"The Township of Bonnechere Valley."
"Ah, the one with the museum that shows how a lumberman's dream turned into a paradise?"
"Turrible, how news gets around! There's an open house on Sunday, November 25. Give'r a go."

Petawawa to the 'Bogie,
Eganville to old Smith's Creek;
You will find exiles returning
To revisit, every week.

(Reverend Jack O'Gorman Sammon)

<![CDATA[Nov 5. Update]]>, 30 Sep 2015 6:21:33 +0000My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.

Robert Burns 1759 - 1796

Robert Burns might not have had Renfrew County, Ontario in mind when he wrote these lines. However, his feelings of freedom, individualism, and loyalty to the land live on in the hearts of the many hunters who will take to the woods this week and next. Love it or hate it, the annual deer hunt is an important tradition. There is a place for hunting records and a set of trophy antlers in Bonnechere Museum.

Paid and unpaid

The past week has been another busy one at the museum site. Volunteers and trades people have been very active. Ken O’Day, Mike Stone and Gerry Bimm completed the gyproc restoration, plastering and sanding. Gerry and his father, Ken, tidied up the loose telephone wires and removed obsolete plumbing. Reinert's Electric has rerouted some feeds and made the wiring safe, and Robert Bimm has shifted the two floor heaters that jutted into walking space. Chris Von Herff and Mike Stone shopped for a new carpet and have it on order; Wilbert Kauffeldt will lay it as soon as conditions make it possible. Having done a major cleaning before painting, assisted by Debbie O’Neill and Joan Lehto, Noreen Calver removed the old carpet, rolled the scaffolding into position and started painting the ceiling moldings. Quite a list! The coffee-mustard moldings, stone-grey walls, white baseboards and windows and new matching carpet make an impressive and attractive main floor – definitely worth seeing on November 25, the date of our Open House.

Open House

There are more recent plans to share. Organizing the open house are Stewart Jack and Jo-Anne Koch. Viewing displays will start at 1:30 P.M. There will be a display for each of the former municipalities that make up The Township of Bonnechere Valley. Joey Shay is preparing one for South Algona, Gerry Bimm for Sebastopol, Frank Cosentino and Stewart Jack for Grattan, Lois and Graeme Leonard for Eganville with some material from Terry O’Brien and Mary Whelan. Also, Mike Lett is making a special firemen’s display. You will see several artifacts from Father Roy Valiquette’s collection. Then the program will begin. This writer will be director of ceremonies. After opening remarks, a cast of three, Maureen Power, John Stewart, and Marlene Green , will present the first skit, freshly entitled "Counting Eggs". Since the open house is so close to St. Andrew’s Day, November 30, Guy Jamieson will entertain with some Scottish music. The Ladies’ Barbershop Chorus will sing selections they have called "Just For Fun". The members are Karen Krieger, Patti Wren, Elaine Krieger, Jo-Anne Koch, Elaine Drefke, Pam McNeil and Liz Pilatzke. The second skit daringly called "The Temptress" has a cast of four: Sherrée Letovsky, Maureen Kelly, Tom Gallagher, and Claude Jeannotte. Both skits are directed by Mary Whelan and John Stewart. After the entertainment, there will be refreshments. Ron Nelson has donated desserts for the occasion. It’s going to be fun. The entertainment will be an hour in length. I mention that for those who intend to watch the Grey Cup. There are no tickets; it’s admission by donation. Come and enjoy the afternoon.

How and When

Both encouraged and appreciative, museum board members have tailored renovation expenses to match the arrival of donations, and volunteer help has closed the cost gaps.

Two consultants from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Susan Hreljac and Fiona Graham, who visited last Friday, expressed surprise to find the development of our museum almost a year ahead of their expectations; they offered some practical advice and assured the board of their willingness to provide guidance and keep us informed of financial support channels which open up as budgets get drawn up. Plans for the spring opening include display cases and pedestals, wall furnishings and pillar lighting, along with display carrels – all expensive and needed items; these plans await further funding.

Several people have asked if they could give a donation as a memorial or as a gift in recognition of a friend or family. The answer is yes and a tax receipt is available on request.

Protect our past; give to our future.

<![CDATA[Oct 1. Renovations]]>, 30 Sep 2015 6:06:21 +0000One of the tall tales of the Ottawa Valley is that of big Joe Mufferaw's pet frog named Barrum. It was killed when it was hit by the train just outside Eganville. Because of the giant size of Joe's frog, it took several weeks to clear the tracks. The steaks cut off the frog fed the work crew for two weeks!

How do I know it's true? Just ask Bernie Bedore of White Lake. He told me himself.


There was another train in Eganville during the past week, but it was a work train inside the future Bonnechere Museum! On Tuesday, September 25, by noon, the Bonnechere Valley Works crew, along with volunteers, removed the partitions on the first floor. They set aside wiring and outlets to make them accessible and traceable and to allow a supply of electricity for tools. They saved crown moldings for future restorations to keep the traditional or heritage look. In the afternoon, more volunteers swept and vacuumed the remaining debris. On Wednesday, Stephen Contant began to demolish the cement block walls of the vault and its five-inch, cement cap. A combination of muscle-powered sledge-hammer and electric jack hammer slowly reduced the metal-reinforced blocks and ceiling to chunks and chips. On Friday, the Works Crew removed the cement debris. Final clearing will take place on Monday, October 1. During a chat with Ken Bimm yesterday afternoon, he happened to cough and I could see his breath, I thought. However, I knew it was too warm to see one's breath. Then, I realized that what I saw was really his share of the plaster dust he had inhaled while we were vacuuming after the demolitions.


The main display area is open. The next task is running electrical wiring. While this proceeds, installing some gyproc, plastering joints, and touch-up plastering can get under way. The removed partitions left spaces and rough sub-surfaces, which will need some carpentry to close. Reusing some of the saved moldings will unify the surroundings. At this point, cleaning and painting can begin. The carpet will need some inserts, some repairing and a very thorough cleaning - for now. The board hopes to stretch the start-up cash to buy the wall fabric and materials for some display cases. With volunteer help, the support of the Works crew and some trades people, the funds donated will just cover costs of demolition and minimal renovations. Fortunately, an additional donation for the museum start-up arrives at the municipal office almost every day. The Country Depot and M W Miller Tim-Br Mart have donated some materials needed for basic restorations. The sign Future Home of Bonnechere Museum, recently mounted, is just a temporary identification. A sign with heritage symbols will follow next year.


The first floor will be sufficiently dressed up for a preview to be held on Sunday afternoon, November 25. Mark your calendars. Residents and visitors will have an opportunity to view displays for each of the four former municipalities that now comprise Bonnechere Valley Township and special artifacts presented by the Eganville Firemen. Mary Whelan and John Stewart, members of Bonnechere Little Theatre, will present two comic skits of rural characters and recollections. Guy Jamieson will perform some St. Andrew's Day music as well. There will be a donation box too, of course. This preview is a form of progress report and a way of saying thanks to those who have given time, money and moral support to get the museum up and running.

Behind the scenes

The physical changes to the museum building are the most noticeable indicators of growth. However, there are other forms of progress. With our thanks, The Eganville Leader provides publicity and resources. On October 17, board representatives will meet with the Senior Needs Association to discuss ways in which this group can become involved in the museum. On October 26, the board will meet with two consultants from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Recreation to discuss planning, funding, and the provincial standards for Ontario museums. In between meetings, discussions continue with personnel of the Museum Studies c program of Algonquin College Ottawa, on how they and their students can offer our museum various forms of help, in a partnering relationship. Local students will be encouraged to contribute to research and create projects for the museum.

This museum train is leaving the station: All aboard!

<![CDATA[Sep 17. History]]>, 30 Sep 2015 6:00:55 +0000Following the disastrous 1911 fire, the federal Department of Public Works constructed a beautiful stone public building for the Post Office in Eganville. Files from The Eganville Leader of 1982 and 1991 provide some information on this 1912 structure, the future site of Bonnechere Museum.

The contractor for the building was Leo Lachance of Ottawa, who hired French and Scottish stonemasons. The awarding of the contract was the subject of great political controversy; and the selection of the site also caused debate, not only in the local community, but also in Parliament. In 1914, several pages of Hansard report that the Hon. George Graham took issue with the alleged influence of Gerald V. White, MP for North Renfrew, for having the post office relocated to the north side of the Bonnechere, away from the south side where it had been housed in rented premises which were destroyed in the fire of 1911. The O'Brey Bros. and local labour cleared the site for the new structure in early 1912.

A quarry on the north shore provided most of the stone. Among other local residents, Matthew Melcher and August Bochert quarried and cut the white granite-like material used in the cornerstones, steps and sills, from a site at Haley's near the present magnesium mines. Then the material was shipped to Eganville by train and transported from the station to the site by horse and wagon.

The local firm of R.G. Reinke provided lumber and millwork services for the new building. Construction was completed in the summer of 1913. The late James Sterling was the first caretaker of the building.

The Victorian mansard roof, with its steep pitch and upper portion nearly flat, results in a higher and more useful interior space than can be obtained with other roof types. The second floor windows are rectangular, but the white lintels and sills help them blend with those of the main floor.

W.H. Evans and Sons of England built the clock which was installed in the tower of the Post Office. In the early years, R.G. Boland maintained it. Designed to work on gravity feed, after years of wear, it became inaccurate showing different times on each of its four faces. In 1978, Mac Peever, who retired from work at the National Research Council, donated many hours of free labour to overhauling the clock, converting it to electrical power. However, its time was still inaccurate. In 1990, Martin Elderhorst of London, Ontario, a supplier of tower clocks, church bells, and automatic ringing apparatus, submitted a price of $3,520 to repair it and guaranteed that the clock would work. His offer was accepted, and the work was done.

After a new post office complex was built in Eganville in 1973 - back on the south side of the river - the Department of Public Works sold the building. The building remained vacant from 1973 to 1978. Former Eganville Reeve, the late Ivan Hoffman, purchased the old building from the federal government in 1976 for $19,000 and turned the structure over to the village.

The village remodelled the building for office use as its Village Centre. MPP Paul Yakabuski, Reeve Archie O'Grady, Councillors Don Downey, Leslie Moore and Gordon Laundry were present for its official opening in October, 1978. Following the amalgamation of Grattan, Eganville, South Algona and Sebastopol into the Township of Bonnechere Valley in 2001, the building became surplus.

The new municipal council, made up of Reeve Arlene Felhaber, and Councillors Gerry Bimm, Harvey Schruder, Jane Dedo, and Rita Culhane, retained the building and offered it as a site to house Bonnechere Museum. The museum board is a sub committee of Bonnechere Valley Township council. The composition of the first board follows: Mike Stone, Chair, and members Gerry Bimm, Frank Cosentino, Tony Cowan, Stewart Jack, Joanne Koch, Ken O'Day, Preston O'Grady, Chris Von Herff, and Joey Shay, with Marilyn Casselman as secretary.

Dimensions and layout plans

The exterior walls are 18 inches thick. The main floor, second floor and basement have approximately 1369 square feet each. The Romanesque style windows on the main floor provide natural casements for displaying artifacts. The wall space from floor to window sill height will be painted and used as a background to highlight floor displays reserved for heavy artifacts, pedestals and show cases. This perimeter floor area will accommodate approximately 225 square feet of three-dimensional exhibit space. The walls, from the window sills to a height of 8 feet will be covered with "Front Runner" fabric, to which Velcro will adhere, making mounting and removal of objects such as photos, maps, or text panels quick and easy with no damage to the surface, allowing 375 square feet of wall display area. This fabric will also be used on column display walls, a method which will add another 780 square feet of exhibit wall surface. A security and fire alarm system is already installed.

This elegant stone edifice is one of the most attractive buildings in the Ottawa Valley. The museum board intends to restore the interior for presentations and exhibits, and, in particular, return the upstairs apartment to its period layout and décor, designating space for each of the original municipalities.

<![CDATA[Aug 27. Frequently Asked Questions]]>, 30 Sep 2015 5:51:36 +0000Many people are showing enthusiasm for our museum and are asking a wide range of questions.

The following is a FAQ; that is, a list of Frequently Asked Questions and answers.

What is an artifact?

An artifact is anything made by human work or art. The museum's main function is to collect, preserve, and display local historical artifacts. Artifacts can include native arrowheads, photographs, sketches, postcards, or books. Collections are artifacts too: photographs, personal papers, official records, newspapers, books, horse or ox shoes, maps, scrap books, or figurines. A typical museum also promotes the rich history of its area by activities such as identifying heritage properties and buildings, and educational tours that may include hands-on experiences, such as carving or quilting, rock polishing or making music.

Will the museum do more than collect artifacts?

Yes, it will promote local artists, sculptors, writers, photographers, musicians, performers and researchers, with public exhibits showcasing these cultural talents.

Why did you call your plan "cultural landscapes"?

Although the term has several meanings, it is a composing guideline to make display projects historically meaningful. Here's the plan in a simple formula: geographic location and dates + importance of artifacts + people involved and affected + attractive layout or presentation = cultural landscape = interesting, meaningful exhibit.

I'll volunteer to do a display project for our museum, but can you help me get started?

One way is to start with an artifact that you believe should be in our museum, such as a moustache cup or a land deed. Then, compose a description applying the formula to it: where and when, what it reveals about particular people, perhaps its impact on others, and create an attractive layout about 30 inches by 40 or a bit smaller. Another way to begin is to start with an idea such as the Bonnechere Road or the Opeongo Line or a heritage house or barn, and apply the formula, but, along with the written information, create your own artifact: a map or drawing. A third way is to get three or four people together and prepare a display project such as barbershops of the area, or garages or dairies or saw mills, grocery stores, or uses for horses; baby clothes, wedding dresses, or quilts; fishing or game records, sports or racing trophies. A fourth way is to start a once a week workshop. This could be an activity for a group to prepare some cultural landscape displays for the spring opening. One person might write, another draw, a third collect pictures or artifacts, a fourth type, a fifth do the layout.

What sources are available for finding historical dates and facts?

The library has books and materials, and there are private sources that people will share, such as the Old Home Week book. The Eganville Leader has a wealth of local history. In addition, these are helpful: Clyde Kennedy's, The Upper Ottawa Valley, published by Renfrew County Council, 1970 and Roderick MacKay's, Spirits of the Little Bonnechere, 1800 - 1920, published by Friends of Bonnechere Park, Design House and FDR Printing, Pembroke, 1996.

Don't the words heritage and historic mean the same thing?

Ann Faulkner says heritage refers to something inherited from our cultural past with no judgment made as to whether it is good or bad. Historic goes a step further in that it refers to something inherited from the past but also carries a definite suggestion of value, importance or fame.

What is a museum? Will it be different from the library?

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) defines a museum as: "A non-profit making, permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, and open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of people and their environment." A museum collects and exhibits artifacts of local significance. The library collects and circulates books and other reading materials from worldwide sources. Although displays and educational programs may be part of a library, the main emphasis is on reading materials and research resources.

"Through interpretation understanding; through understanding, appreciation; through appreciation, protection." (F. Tilden)

<![CDATA[Aug 13. Introduction]]>, 30 Sep 2015 5:32:19 +0000If you visit White Water Country, but wonder what life was like before rafting, where would you find out? You could tour the Ross Museum in Forester's Falls. If while attending Renfrew's Lumber Baron Festival, you begin to wonder why this town honours the giants of the square timber past, where would you learn about such a background? The McDougal Museum right by the swinging bridge has the artifacts and displays you need to understand the celebrations. If you have summer visitors to your home in the new Township of Bonnechere Valley who want to know what there is to do and see in this area and why there are so many log buildings and rail fences and churches, what can you tell them? Well, there are the famous Bonnechere Caves, and fishing and swimming, and the Tourist Information Centre, but up to now - no museum to exhibit and explain the heritage that makes people call this area home, a welcoming escape from the big city with mixed farming, lumbering and specialized arts and crafts in rural settings overlooking lakes and streams in the Bonnechere watershed. Bonnechere Museum has been born!

The Township of Bonnechere Valley has taken the initial steps to establish a local museum in Eganville's previous Village Centre, formerly a heritage post office, a stately and magnificent site with a tower that has a heritage clock. The building itself was a gift from a former Reeve, Ivan Hoffman. Twice a month, By the Tower Clock will provide readers and volunteers with updates on Bonnechere Museum's progress. Suggestions and comments from readers and volunteers are welcome.

Who We Are

We are all volunteers. The heart and soul of a small community museum are the volunteers who do what needs to be done to preserve the area's heritage and culture. The following is a more formal description:

Bonnechere Museum serves mainly the Township of Bonnechere Valley, specifically, those areas which have amalgamated: formerly, Eganville, Grattan, Sebastopol, and South Algona; and because of geography, also those areas in the Bonnechere Watershed whose histories are linked closely to the roots of Bonnechere Valley Township. The museum strives to attain the following goals:

  • to preserve natural heritage and diverse cultures,
  • to collect, preserve, research and interpret objects for the enjoyment and education of residents and visitors now and in the future,
  • to preserve evidence of cultural landscapes and interpret them,
  • to present or display interpretive, artistic, educational, scientific, and historical projects that express the identity of the community,
  • to form strategic partnerships with various groups that help it fulfil its goals
  • to foster cultural tourism by offering enrichment or educational experiences that attract visitors whose stay in the community would benefit businesses.

The museum has a board and a plan for project development and collecting artifacts. With Mike Stone as chair and Marilyn Casselman as secretary, the board, with representatives from all four wards, has already formed working committees: Fundraising: Chair Ken O'Day, Gerry Bimm, Joe Shay; Artifacts and Acquisition: Chair Preston O'Grady, Frank Cosentino, Tony Cowan, Joanne Koch; Building and Construction: Chair Mike Stone, Chris Von Herff, Gerry Bimm. Board committees will be supported by additional volunteers from our current list. The board operates as a sub-committee of Bonnechere Valley Township's council.


To function, the museum has some immediate needs to meet, one of which is start-up costs for office supplies, lighting and renovations both for displays and visitor traffic. Fortunately, the Eganville Clothing Bank has generously donated $2000 to get things under way. The Fundraising Committee is making further plans to raise funds including donation boxes and circulating a letter seeking donations to get the building in shape for a museum. The Building and Construction Committee has reviewed the architectural drawings of the building and offered recommendations for open display and traffic space and lighting, aiming to keep the design and style of the attractive mouldings. In a future column, By the Tower Clock will outline the renovations that will require volunteer labour, as well. It is too early to ask for particular objects or artifacts, but if you have some, tell a board member or give our secretary, Marilyn, a call at 628 3101 to add your artifact to our growing list.

A Sense of Direction

The Artifacts and Acquisition Committee has developed a plan, a sense of direction, for developing museum content through volunteer projects. This plan, like every good plan, has a name: it is called Cultural Landscapes. It can get under way before the renovations are done. If you are willing to develop a project for display, do let us know, for in November, there will be a special pre-view evening when these projects can be displayed and still more in the spring at the official opening. Mike Lett has already begun a project on the "great fires" which will include some equipment artifacts that the firemen have. Here is a short list of categories for developing heritage projects: Natural Heritage, Native, Farming, Settlement, Commerce, Industry, Government Institutions, Arts, Culture, Recreation, Religion, Military, Transportation. These grow into several hundred projects shown in our plan, which volunteers could start on right away. If you would like the expanded list of projects and guidelines, ask Marilyn at 628 3101. The sooner you volunteer to develop a project, the sooner we call a meeting of project volunteers to explain the how's and when's.

In the meantime, if you have not already, add your name to our list of volunteers; do not throw out any old photos; be careful with old books and catalogues and land deeds and maps. Watch The Eganville Leader for museum news in By The Tower Clock. Keep time with us as we count down to official opening day.

<![CDATA[Geoheritage Trail/Map]]>, 30 Sep 2015 1:21:45 +0000

A geologically rich trail leads you to an exhibit of rock types, a limestone quarry, a dug trench, a riverview walk and fossils.

Hikers, Geologists and Fossil Hunters!

The Bonnechere Museum is happy to offer this local trail for recreational geology and for educational exploration, an outdoor, enjoyable way to learn some of our ancient history written in stone.

<![CDATA[When Continents Collide]]>, 18 Sep 2015 2:56:25 +0000When Continents Collide
by Ole Hendrickson

Slow-motion video footage of the Ottawa Valley’s past would have captured the formation and disappearance of great mountain ranges and ice sheets, accompanied by massive earthquakes and floods, interspersed with long periods of warm, shallow seas.

We have no videos, but thanks to the efforts and research of many scientists we have a pretty clear picture of the Valley’s geological history.

Marine bacteria ruled the Earth in the Precambrian over a billion years ago. Precursors of the continents of Africa, Europe, and South America converged on an older and smaller version of North America, creating a supercontinent called Rodinia. Continental plates crashed together and buckled upwards, forming the mighty Grenville Mountains, higher than the Himalayas. Molten rock surged from deep within the earth to fill the spaces beneath the up-thrust plates. Near the epicentre of this great collision a great upsurge of magma slowly cooled into the granite dome of the Algonquin batholith, occupying much of the current area of Algonquin Park and adjacent Renfrew County.

Erosion wore away Rodinia’s great mountains and exposed their granitic roots during the next 250 million years. As the thickness and weight of the crust decreased, the remaining nubs of the mountains floated upwards on the heavier underlying molten mantle. During the late Precambrian, 750 million years ago, Rodinia cracked into new continental plates. These pulled apart, leaving bits and pieces stuck onto the North American plate and increasing its size.

During the break-up of the super-continent, North America itself began to split apart in the area now occupied by the Ottawa and St. Lawrence valleys. Through a series of massive earthquakes, a great rift opened in the continent with deep cracks extending downwards 40 kilometers to the base of the Earth’s crust. As these cracks widened, the land between them slumped downwards, leaving a “graben”: a valley with sheer escarpments on either side. Views of the northern and southern walls of the graben – the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec and the Opeongo Mountains of Ontario – are a defining feature of Renfrew County.

The newly created Ottawa Valley was transforming into an ocean with Ontario and Quebec on opposite sides - just as a new ocean was appearing between the North American and Eurasian continental plates. But then the rifting stopped and the earthquakes subsided.

Tranquillity followed. North America lay near the equator, drifting slowly northwards. Warm, shallow tropical seas covered the Ottawa Valley. Marine life flourished during the Ordovician Era. Fossils of trilobites, clams and mussels, snails, relatives of squids and octopi, sponges, corals, and sand dollars were deposited in the 450-million-year-old sedimentary limestone that formed over billion-year-old Precambrian rocks. These marine fossils are readily found along the Ottawa and Bonnechere Rivers today.

During a more recent geological era, continental plates again converged to form another great supercontinent, Pangaea. Their collision created another mountain range - the Appalachians – to the east of the Laurentians. Around 175 million years ago Pangaea split apart and the Atlantic Ocean re-opened, accompanied by more earthquakes and faulting in the Ottawa Valley.

The geological history of the Ottawa Valley was not well understood until the 1960s. Scientists such as the Canadian John Tuzo Wilson agreed that evidence was overwhelming for seafloor spreading and collisions of continental plates. Wilson’s scientific contributions were so critical that the cycle of formation and disappearance of oceans is known as the “Wilson Cycle”.

The final events in the Valley’s geological history took place during a 3-million-year ice age. For 2 million years glacial and inter-glacial periods alternated quickly, lasting about 40 thousand years each. But during the past million years the cycles lengthened to 100 thousand years. Intense cold periods created continental-scale ice sheets.

The last of these, the Laurentide Ice Sheet, flowed southwest from the region of Hudson Bay. It reached the Ottawa Valley around 60,000 years ago, covering the Valley with ice to a maximum thickness of two to three kilometers. When the ice began its retreat around 20,000 years ago, its weight had greatly depressed the land surface, and it held so much water that global sea level had fallen by 70 meters. As it melted the Atlantic Ocean flooded into the lower portions of the Ottawa Valley and formed the Champlain Sea, with its rich diversity of marine life. In 1977, a quarry operation in eastern Renfrew County near White Lake uncovered the skeleton of a bowhead whale.

During their advance and retreat, glaciers scraped over the Ottawa Valley and the Algonquin highlands, exposing bedrock in some places, and dumping materials (“glacial till”) elsewhere. For thousands of years the upper Great Lakes and much of Canada west to the Rockies drained through the Ottawa Valley. At maximum flow the Ottawa River rivalled the Amazon in size. Water from the melting ice transported boulders, gravel, sand, and clays, carving deep channels such as the Barron River Canyon. The finest clay-sized particles were carried furthest downriver and deposited in the Champlain Sea, creating some of Renfrew County’s best farmland.

Renfrew County residents live in an ancient and special place. Mountain-building forces of continental collisions, combined with the erosive and depositional power of water (both ice and liquid), sculpted the present-day landscapes of the Ottawa Valley - its hills, plains, escarpments, canyons, rivers, lakes and wetlands. Knowledge of this geologic history informs decisions to conserve our precious soils, waters, and biological resources.

Ole Hendrickson is a forest ecologist and current president of the Ottawa River Institute
(, a non-profit organization based in the Ottawa Valley.

<![CDATA[Annetta Schroeder, nee Zadow March 27, 2003]]>, 15 Sep 2015 4:05:13 +0000In the 1950’s, my husband Rudolph Schroeder and I lived on a farm on RR 4, Killaloe. Since we raised sheep, I made use of the wool to make needed bed comforters. After the spring shearing, I selected some wool, washed it, spread it on the grass to dry, then used the drum carder to clean it. That was faster and easier than using carding paddles. It was practical to card enough wool to make one or two comforters each year. We sold the rest of the wool.

After carding, the wool was spread to about a three-inch thickness and laid out the size of a comforter. Neighbours and relatives helped with the next steps of putting the wool in a removable cover and tying. Tying meant placing a wool strand through the cover about every five inches to hold the wool in place. Adding an attractive print cotton exterior gave the comforter a finished look. ‘It took us about a day to finish each comforter.’ said Annetta. It was satisfying work, for you could see your progress; and several people working together made it fun too. The comforters were cozy and made nice family gifts too.

<![CDATA[The Highway 60 Corridor]]>, 02 Sep 2015 7:20:54 +0000Choose a route less traveled. Soak up the feeling of stepping into a rural past set apart from cell phone or computer chip. Create your own self-directed tour of the Bonnechere and Madawaska River Valleys where timber makers cut and squared logs and sent them down the slides and rapids to the Ottawa and St. Lawrence. Whether you approach from the headwaters in Algonquin Park or from Chats Lake on the Ottawa River, you will be steeped in the lore of pristine white water and flat water where descendants of the pioneer loggers have built settlements and small businesses.

Renfrew, located at the second log chute boasts the O’Brien Theatre, home of an operational Theatre Organ, along with the McDougal Mill Museum. To the pioneers, the rivers were the first roads. Today, if you start at the east from Highway 17, you can travel parallel to the Bonnechere along the Highway 60 corridor, passing from Renfrew through the settlements of the founding Scots, Irish and Polish to Douglas, the leprechaun capital, a centre for crafts, a general store, and bed and breakfast accommodation.

In Douglas, take the road to the world famous Bonnechere Caves and be a spelunker. From the Caves it is a short run to Eganville, namesake of Ottawa Valley timber king John Egan, site of the fifth chute on the river, and the location of Bonnechere Museum, which presents the story of the river, its people, and a model log chute. A walk in the park above an outlier of Ordovician limestone is refreshing and there are several good restaurants.

Highway 60 west leads to Golden Lake’s Aboriginal site, the Algonquin Culture and Heritage Centre, and to a craft store at Deacon called the Algonquin Trading Post. Beyond lies Killaloe, named by James Bonfield, timber king of the Bonnechere. You can head north to Round Lake and the relaxation of Bonnechere Parks, or search out the spirits of the Little Bonnechere. Westward again on 60 takes you to the Wilno lookout where an historic plaque describes Wilno as Canada’s first Polish settlement; it is also the home of Stone Fence Theatre, presenters of the lore and talents of the Ottawa Valley on stage in small community performances.

Still to the west, lies Barry’s Bay. If you stay on 60 west, you can relax and dine at Madawaska Valley Inn. By now, you will have retraced many of the steps of timber giants O’Brien, Barnet, McDonell, McKay, Egan, Bonfield and Turner, McLachlin and McRae, Omanique, and John Rudolphus Booth who had the contract to supply the timber for Canada’s first parliament buildings and built a railway to American markets. The timber makers searched out the great pineries that extended into the reaches of what is now Algonquin Park where you can visit Loggers’ Museum.

Travelers may approach the valleys from the Park as well as coming north on 62. Regardless of the arrival point, there is another ‘must see’ route with stone and rail fences and a mix of rolling and abrupt hills and hilltop views. From Barry’s Bay, go south on 62. Enjoy the South of 60 arts Centre and proceed along Kaminiskeg Lake, where a dead man saved three from drowning when the Mayflower sank.

To continue your journey parallel to the Madawaska, watch for Highway, which leads to the white water of Palmer Rapids or to Aqua Rose Gems and Minerals in Quadeville. This is an astounding trip amid the glory of autumn colours. An option at this point is the road to Rockingham to visit the historic Anglican Church. You will notice that many of the rural communities still have lumbering as a main part of their economy.

Traveling east on 515 leads to an intersection with Highway 512. You have another choice here. Heading north takes you to a village of past-greatness, Brudenell, which once boasted three hotels, a race track, blacksmith shops, and the Costello store which provided winter supplies to the loggers heading into the lumber camps, and ran a tab for their families. If you go south on Highway 512, you come to Foymount, the highest populated point in Ontario, site of the Pine Tree Line radar station, Black Water Designs factory outlet, and the Whip-poor-will Tea Room – a great place to have lunch and enjoy the view.

If time or endurance is an influence, following 512 will bring you back to Eganville. However, you should not miss the historic Opeongo Line which swings south about a mile east of Foymount. The Opeongo Line leads you along the south side of Lake Clear, down Plaunt’s Mountain overlooking Turner and Blueberry Island to the sparkling waters of Opeongo Mountain Trout Farm. The famous Opeongo settlement road leads south and east to The Stopping Place. At this point you can take the McGrath Road to 41 and Eganville or advance through Esmonde to intersect with Highway 41. Travel south on 41 brings you to Dacre where you can turn east to visit the Balaclava mill and return to Douglas, or continue south through Shamrock, returning to Renfrew. Memories are made of such rural routes, exploring the historical roots and landscapes of the Bonnechere and Madawaska Valleys.

<![CDATA[John Egan]]>, 02 Sep 2015 6:58:07 +0000

‘King of the Ottawa Valley Rivers’, Businessman, mayor, founder of Quyon, member of the legislative assembly, justice of the peace, militia officer, namesake of Eganville, founder of Quyon, partner, railroad builder, canal advocate, advocate of the Opeongo Line. Immigrant to Clerk to Spouse to Entrepreneur
Main Resource - Dictionary of Canadaian Biography Online: REID, RICHARD M. Associate professor of history, University of Guelph, Ontario. John Egan.

  • John Egan was born on November 11, 1811, in the town of Lissavahaun, Galway County, Ireland.
  • Egan immigrated to Canada in 1830, settling in Clarendon Township where he became a clerk for Thomas Durrell, selling supplies for the shanties.
  • In 1838, after years of experience in the square timber trade, purchasing supplies and gaining many friends in the timber industry, he decided to go into business for himself. He formed John Egan and Company and bought the farm of James Wadsworth on the Bonnechere River which was later to become the village of Eganville.
  • On August 13, 1839, he married Anne Margaret Gibson. They had three sons and five daughters.
  • Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa has a record of his son and daughter-in-law: Egan, Henry, b. Feb 15, 1848, d. Oct 19, 1925, Sir, [MB]; Egan, Mrs, b. Oct 09, 1846, d. Mar 21, 1926, Lady Egan (w/o Sir Henry Egan), [MB] . [W. Stewart Wallace offers additional information on his son, Henry Egan, Sir Henry Kelly (1848-1925), capitalist, was born at Aylmer, Canada East, on January 15, 1848, the son of John Egan and Anne Gibson. He was educated at the Montreal High School, and went into the lumbering business. He was one of the founders, and became managing director, of the Hawkesbury Lumber Company; and he became interested in a variety of projects in the Ottawa valley. He died at Ottawa on October 19, 1925. In 1878 he married Harriet Augusta, daughter of W. A. Himsworth, clerk of the Queen's Privy Council in Canada. He was created a knight bachelor in 1914. Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 283.]
  • At the age of 46, he died of cholera on July 11, 1857at Quebec and was buried in Aylmer, Lower Canada, on his estate called Mount Pleasant.

The Person

  • Handsome
  • Genial and gentlemanly
  • 1839 fought a duel of honour with Andrew Powell, a barrister in Bytown, no one injured, insult to Egan was withdrawn


  • depot clerk for Thomas Durrell, a leading lumberman in Clarendon Township, Lower Canada, on the upper Ottawa River
  • 1836 formed Ottawa Lumber Association at Bytown and that winter he was cutting red pine on the Riviere Schyan in Lower Canada
  • that winter he was cutting red pine on the Riviere Schyan in Lower Canada.
  • 1837 he purchased the farm of James Wadsworth at the ‘Fifth Chute’ on the Bonnechere River in Upper Canada, which he later developed as the village of Eganville.
  • supplying more than three dozen other producers, Egan began building dams and timber slides on the Bonnechere River and on Hurd’s Creek in order to get out his own timber
  • 1837 formed John Egan and Company at Aylmer; associates: Henry LeMesurier (timber exporter at Quebec), William Henry Tilstone, and Haviland LeMesurier Routh
  • 1840’s: dealt mainly in red pine, scarcer and more profitable than white pine;
  • 1842 general depression brought business to standstill but recovered
  • Rafting 2.5 million feet of square timber; less than 1/5 came from crown land
  • Small producers and settlers used timer to pay for land
  • Spent more on dams and timber slides in upper and lower Canada: Quyon, Petawawa, Madawaska and their tributaries
  • Timber producers such as Egan and Ruggles Wright often cooperated in the use of built private facilities
  • 1852 joined Danial Mclachlin, James Skead and others to build a wagon road from Arnprior to the head of the Log Rapids on the Madawaska.

John Egan house - Aylmer - description

‘Mount Pleasant’, was built for Egan in 1840, on thirty acres of land purchased from John Wright, was unmatched in its magnificence. Panelled throughout in carved oak, the large stone residence contained a second-storey ballroom where Egan entertained such distinguished visitors as Lord Elgin in 1853, and Sir Edmund Head, the Governor General, in 1856.

John Egan died of cholera in Quebec City in 1857, at the age of forty-six. He was buried in the west-side lawn which, at his widow's request, the Anglican Church had consecrated as a private burial ground. The 1878 sketch depicts the stone monument which was erected there in his memory. The house, occupied until the 1890's by Egan's son-in-law, W. R. Thistle, is shown as it appeared then in the Canadian Illustrated News sketch of 1878.

The property was sold in 1897 to William J. Conroy who sold it in turn a few years later to Johnstone Edgerly. Mr. Edgerly was manager of the controversial Georgian Bay Ship Canal, a never-realized nineteenth century scheme, supported by John Egan, which proposed to construct a canal linking Georgian Bay with the Ottawa River at Mattawa.

Robert H. Wright, a neighbour on the east side and a grandson of John Wright, the original landowner, purchased the house in 1909. At that time the burial ground was deconsecrated at the joint request of Mr. Wright and Egan's son, Sir Henry K. Egan. R. H. Wright, Mayor of Aylmer from 1907-1911, supplied his florist shop in Ottawa with seedlings grown in a vast, four-acre complex of greenhouses located East of the house. The coal required to heat the greenhouses was transported from the C.P.R. tracks by means of a private railway spur which came up Mountain Street (now Frank Robinson) and entered the property through the west gate.

In 1937, the estate was sold to the Congregation du St-Redempteur which erected the enormous stone seminary building at the rear of the house in 1938. Here they formed a self-sufficient community of 130 people for 30 years. A portion of the priests' walk can still be seen behind the buildings.

In 1978, the Redemptorist Fathers returned after an absence of 10 years to run the monastery as a pastoral centre for spiritual renewal. No entrance to Aylmer's historic Main Street could be more attractive than this handsome stone building with its fine old shade trees, well-kept lawns and air of calm repose.

Began to diversify his business in late 1840’s

  • 1846 built a large sawmill with 14 saws and a grist mill at Quyon.
  • 1849 erected two smaller sawmills on the Bonnechere and Little Bonnechere and a grist-mill at Eganville, and purchased a carding and fulling mill in Lochaber Township
  • 1853 completed a large sawmill near Quyon at foot of Chats Falls: most extensive establishment on the Ottawa with most up-to-date machinery
  • Established a transportation system to compete with a line of steamboats that were operated by Jason Gould
  • 1845 Egan and Joseph-Ignace Aumond contracted for two prefabricated iron steamers from John Molson in Montreal; hauled the sections over the ice of the Ottawa.
  • 1846 launched The Emerald at Aylmer to serve between Aylmer and Chats Falls; launched ‘The Oregon’ on the Mississippi River to run above the falls to Arnprior
  • 1846 with Aumond and Ruggles Wright formed the Union Forwarding Company to operate these vessels and to transport passengers and goods around the falls by means of a short horse-drawn tramway, the Union Railroad

Egan at his peak as a businessman

  • 1851 Egan’s firm employed 2,000 men throughout the Ottawa valley and gave work to hundreds of farmers who provided supplies including 1600 oxen and horses which the firm used
  • 1852 Egan’s timber limits covered more than 2000 square miles, and were unmatched by anyone on the Ottawa except perhaps Allan and James Gilmour
  • 1854 emplyed 3,500 men in 100 lumber camps
  • Cash transactions exceeded $2 million
  • It had been Egan, in the opinion of the Canadian Merchants’ Magazine and Commercial Review of Toronto, who first gave a systematic business character to the lumber trade of the Ottawa. Before his day, lumbering on the Ottawa was nothing more than a wild venture.
  • the dominant square-timber king on the Ottawa River, the Canadian Merchants’ Magazine later described him as the ‘Napoleon of the Ottawa’.

Political Activist and Church Supporter

  • He was the first warden in 1841 of the Sydenham District, served as a justice of the peace, and in 1847 became the first mayor of Aylmer.
  • An Anglican, he helped found Christ Church there in 1843.
  • Egan viewed political office as a means for promoting the welfare of the Ottawa valley generally and lumbermen specifically. In 1841 he and others had supported the election in the Lower Canadian riding of Ottawa of Charles Dewey Day, a tory and a former counsel for several timber barons, whom Egan viewed six years later as the ‘only man connected with the Government in whom I have the slightest confidence.’
  • 1847 Following the retirement of Denis-Benjamin Papineau, Egan ran successfully in the general election of 1847?48 in Ottawa, – unpledged to any party? but with strong reform sympathies.
  • 1851 Re-elected to the Legislative Assembly by acclamation in 1851, he was returned three years later for the newly created constituency of Pontiac. He held the seat comfortably until his death, a situation attributable to his wide popularity and to the fact that he had timber limits on most of the unoccupied lands in Onslow, Bristol, and Clarendon and owned extensive blocks of land in those townships.
  • Egan frequently spoke with considerable passion in the assembly on matters pertaining to the Ottawa valley, which, he believed, the government neglected.
  • Early in 1852 he helped organize and lead the movement to have the timber dues on red pine reduced from a penny to a halfpenny per cubic foot. After the fee was reduced in September by provincial order-in-council, Egan and others faced allegations in the assembly that they had ‘put the screws on’ the government by threatening to oppose it in votes on the clergy reserves issue unless the duty was reduced.
  • 1853 In 1853 he used his influence with Francis Hincks to persuade the government to vote $50,000 for the construction of a small canal, roughly parallel to the Union Railroad, at Chats Falls. Plagued by labour shortages and problems in excavation, this highly political project, which Egan had promoted as a public work despite its clear value to his own business and that of Ruggles Wright, was suspended in November,1857 after almost half a million dollars had been spent.
  • Outside the assembly Egan was a central figure in the promotion of a series of internal improvement schemes, especially those which would benefit the lumber industry. He was an early supporter of the Bytown and Prescott Railway because, he claimed in 1848, it would open ‘a profitable market for manufactured timber’ in the United States. He and Joseph-Ignace Aumond helped recruit Walter Shanly in 1851 to build the railway.
  • Opeongo Advocate:In 1852 Egan was a founder of the Bytown and Pembroke Railway Company. He was first president of the Bytown and Aylmer Union Turnpike Company, which had completed a road between the two towns in 1850. In addition he supported the government’s construction in 1852 – 54 of a colonization road between the Ottawa River and Opeongo Lake, believing that it would help lumbermen as well as settlers.
  • In 1853 he joined James Bell Forsyth, Malcolm Cameron, and others in founding the Cap-Rouge Pier, Wharf and Dock Company, which operated near Quebec.

Reverses of Fortune

  • The red pine market had declined steadily after 1847, with both exports and prices falling 30 per cent by 1852.
  • Late in 1855 it was widely rumoured, according to the Perth Courier, that he had failed and the cause was attributed to his heavy involvement with an English firm, Delisle, Janvrin and Company, which had collapsed.
  • 1855-1857 At this time his health was failing and his death at Quebec two years later was not unexpected.
  • The personal property in his estate was worth only about £5,000.
  • In 1867 his rich timber limits on the Madawaska River were bought for $45,000 by John Rudolphus Booth but his executors were unable to dispose of John Egan and Company until 1868, when it was sold to James Bonfield, a former bookkeeper in the company, and Robert Turner.
<![CDATA[The Bonnechere Road]]>, 02 Sep 2015 6:11:32 +0000Excerpts from Spirits of the Little Bonnechere by Roderick McKay.

Activity on what became known as the Bonnechere Road was heavy at times, and the distances travelled were great. The Bonnechere Road originated at Castleford, at the first chute on the Bonnechere River, a short distance upstream from the Ottawa River. The road then stretched past Renfrew, at the second chute of the Bonnechere River, to Douglas on the third chute, crossed to the south side of the river at the fourth chute and made way to Eganville at the fifth chute. There the road again moved to the north shore, followed the shoreline of Golden Lake to Thomas’ Point and then beyond, to Round Lake and the headwaters country.

Thomas’s diary suggests that it was along the Bonnechere Road that men surveying the Opeongo Road travelled to get to some of their supplies. On July 3, 1851, Thomas wrote, “At night we had Milo Burke and one Stubbs coming down on their way to Fairfield (Surveyor’s party). They report the explorers are ab’t 6 miles above Barry’s Bay, Kaminiskeg.”

<![CDATA["Bonnechere" What Does It Mean?]]>, 02 Sep 2015 5:55:43 +0000The name Bonnechere is made up of two French words: bonne and chère.

Bonne, as an adjective can mean good, fair, pretty, attractive and even further complimentary things. As a noun or naming word, bonne can mean a servant girl, a maid, or a maiden, or a pretty attendant.

Chère as an adjective means dear or fond or loving or darling.

When the two words are put together, there are new meanings: dear one, fair maid, darling sweetheart, fine dining experience, a place of good food.

There is even the suspicion that the French pronunciations of chère and chats sound a bit alike and perhaps the early explorers were referring to cute little cats, another name for raccoons which were so plentiful along the river. The same idea connects to calling the large part of the Ottawa River, north of Renfrew, at Castleford Lac des Chats – lake of the cats, which we now refer to as Chats Lake.There is a suggestion the rocks scraping on the bottom of canoes sounded like cats' nails. Perhaps some explorers did not like the sound and made the chats or cats association. I think this explanation is too far fetched, although I have read about it twice.

The usual meanings associated with Bonnechere are a fine meal or a fair maid. To the isolated, early explorers and loggers who travelled the Bonnechere, a pretty young woman and a good meal would be appreciated and long remembered.

Therefore, if you are romantic, to you Bonnechere may mean my darling sweetheart, "ma bonne chère". This should be spoken slowly and softly.

If you like food and appreciate a good "snack", you might prefer that Bonnechere means good food, a mighty fine meal, or a tasty snack. This should be said briskly while patting the tummy, as in "not a bad snack at all, eh" – no burp allowed, just proud contentment

It may not be what is said but how it is said that conveys the meaning. The way you say an expression changes the meaning. Watching fireworks or the birth of a child may be "Wonderful", experiences that create admiration and awe. However, if you spill ketchup on your new Dockers, you may say "Wonderful" in a different way and probably are expressing disgust or at least ironic displeasure.

Isn't it great that the name Bonnechere can say all these things to us? Bonnechere Valley, Bonnechere River and Bonnechere Museum all echo these traditional meanings and serve as reminders that along the Bonnechere we have had First Nation people, hunters and trappers, explorers, loggers, farmers, business people, doctors, nurses and teachers, railroad workers, teachers and clergy, pioneer men and women, hydro electric workers, recreation lodge owners and campsite operators.

As it flows 135 kilometres from Algonquin Park to the Ottawa River, through at least three lakes and over five cascades of rocks for which the loggers had to build five chutes to help get the big timbers down to the Ottawa River and then to Quebec City for shipping to England, the Bonnechere has earned a reputation world wide as a wild, cascading waterway in spring, and a flat water, recreational river the rest of the year.

Gather some friends and visit Bonnechere Museum located at the traffic light in Eganville; see the maps and fossils and other river artifacts which show that our roots and lives are still linked to the Bonnechere.

May you have many memorable experiences that lead you to say about each that it was "bonne chère"

<![CDATA[Museum Related News Articles]]>, 02 Sep 2015 5:55:12 +0000To read an article, click on the links below.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us by email or address mail to:

Bonnechere Museum News
193 Sand Road, Box 275
Eganville, Ontario, Canada,
K0J 1T0

<![CDATA[Foymount Reunion Speech]]>, 02 Sep 2015 5:20:07 +0000<![CDATA[Natural History of The Bonnechere Valley]]>, 02 Sep 2015 4:58:19 +0000Source: Clyde Kennedy, The Upper Ottawa Valley

Glaciation and climate change shaped the Bonnechere Valley. The weight of mile-thick ice compressed the land, pushing it towards the earth’s crust and below the existing sea level. When the Wisconsin glacier receded, the land gradually rose, but not before the Atlantic Ocean swept in from the east, flooding the Ottawa Valley and the lower Bonnechere Valley, creating a branch of the ocean known as the Champlain Sea which lasted from about 11,000 to 9,500 years ago.

The rising land ended the drainage of the Great Lakes into the Ottawa Valley and caused the Champlain Sea to recede. The in-flooding deposited the flat clay sea bed which today’s Highway 60 follows. These same gray clays, which turn reddish-orange when baked, are used in the manufacture of brick and drainage tiles at Arnprior, Renfrew, Pembroke and various other communities.

As you approach Eganville from the east, the land valley becomes more hummocky and hilly. Here, Highway 60 courses along glacial tills and moraines (piles of rock left behind by melting glaciers) which, although nearby, were not likely flooded by the Champlain Sea. This stretch of road travels to the edge of, and briefly into, the adjacent Snake River watershed and along the fault lines which confine the north side of the watershed to a narrow band.

Near Golden Lake, Highway 60 drops down into a huge glacial spillway where an enormous river once flowed through the graben, (an elongate crustal block that is relatively depressed (downdropped) between two fault systems)  depositing sands and gravels across the flat land.

According to Clyde Kennedy in The Upper Ottawa Valley, “Most of the surface rocks in Renfrew and Pontiac counties are Precambrian in age; the region lies within the area termed the Canadian Shield. These very ancient rocks included the dolomite from which magnesium is extracted near Haley’s; the crystalline limestone quarries that supplied some lime kilns, such as the Biederman quarry near Lake Dore; the crystalline limestone host rock at the Black Donald graphite mine; and the great outcrops of crystalline limestone at Calumet Falls and Portage du Fort.

A large part of the Upper Ottawa Valley, which lies within the Grenville Province of the Canadian Shield, is underlaid by gneisses, with large bodies of granite, syenite and other igneous rocks. The age of some of the Precambrian rocks is about one billion years; some rocks of the Shield north of the Ottawa River basin have been dated at about two and a half billion years.

Faults, breaks in the earth’s crust, caused some limestone covered areas to be dropped down and thus protected from erosion. Outliers of limestones may be seen in the Pembroke area; at the northwesterly end of Muskrat Lake near Meath (this outlier also covers much of Stafford Township); along the southerly shore of Lake Dore and extending in a four-mile-wide band past Mink Lake to a point five miles northeast of Douglas, along the Bonnechere River from five miles downstream from Douglas through the Fourth Chute (where the Bonnechere Caves were formed by erosion of the limestone) and beyond Eganville to Golden Lake village; on the northwest side of Lake Clear;  in a large part of Westmeath Township – the ‘peninsula’ portion, enclosed by the great bend of the Ottawa River; and in the Braeside, Sand Point, Lochwinnoch areas.

In the Ordovician limestones are a variety of fossils, including sponges, corals, brachiopods, pelecypods (clam type), gastropods (snail type) cephalopods (the squid is a modern cephalopod), and crinoids (animals that were thought to be plants – crinoids live in the Mediterranean Sea today). Fossils may be seen in the limestones in several places in the Valley, including the Eganville area and the Bonnechere Caves at the Fourth Chute on the Bonnechere River.”

Today, while the larger Ottawa and Madawaska are noted for their white water, the Bonnechere is known for its smooth water, allowing scenic canoe and boat rides, although springtime freshets allow white water activities too.

Stretching 145km (90mi), from near McAskill Lake in Algonquin Park to the Ottawa River at Castleford, the Bonnechere River  drains 2400 square kilometres (935 square miles) — an area larger than Prince Edward Island.

Over the centuries, the Bonnechere (often pronounced locally as the bone-chur) has been a conduit for transportation, as an access route to the pineries, for its square timber drives and later log drives. It spawned sawmills and grist mills, carding mills, and was a powerhouse of energy for mill wheels as well as hydro generators. (Currently, Eganville is served by a generator located right down town.) It became a route along which settlements grew, and farmlands extended from its banks and tributary streams, a source of both food and recreation for residents and travellers. The productive soils and enticing landscape of the Bonnechere Valley watershed (the area of land which feeds the river) were among the first logged, settled and farmed in Renfrew County.

Life along the Bonnechere sprang up at several locations simultaneously, although usually related to logging or its supporting trades and supply lines - including dam building, farming, general store items, blacksmithing, as well as housing, health and family care, education and worship.

The owners of the logging companies were called timber-makers and several acquired the name of “King”; for example, Alexander McDonell was known as the King of the four rivers because of his association with the Madawaska, the Bonnechere, the Indian and the Mississippi; John Egan was called the King of the Ottawa Valley because of his extensive holdings and political influence, and James Bonfield was known as King of the Bonnechere because of his sustained logging in its reaches.

<![CDATA[Fossils: Four Questions And Answers]]>, 28 Jul 2015 4:46:51 +0000What Are Fossils?

Fossils are the remains or impressions of animals and plants which lived in prehistoric times. In Ontario, we have some of the richest fossil bearing rocks in the world, providing fossil hunters with countless examples of the type created by animal impressions.

Where Do Fossils Come From?

During the Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian periods (350 to 450 million years ago), most of Ontario was under water. More recently, during the Pleistocene Period (10,000 to 1,000,000 years ago) giant glaciers were advancing and retreating over the entire Bonnechere Valley. These conditions allowed many species of early animals, especially water dwellers, to live and die in our area.

How Are Fossils Formed?

When an ancient creature, such as a trilobite, died, it floated down to the sea bottom, where was gradually covered with sand, silt and other organic material. Over hundreds of years, the layers above the dead creature gradually deepened, although water could still reach it. As the layers turned to rock, a chemical reaction between the animal’s shell and the minerals carried in the water caused the shell to be replaced, molecule by molecule, with calcite or silica. After this replacement process had been going on for about 100,000 years, the original shell had been completely carried away by water, and in its place was an exact replica in stone. Once the surrounding layers turned to stone, the fossil lay preserved, awaiting discovery by fossil hunters.

Where Can I See Some Of These Fossils?

Bonnechere Museum’s has a collection of fossils, which you can view and learn from. However, the “fossil hunts” conducted from the museum every summer are an opportunity to apply what you have learned about fossils. Travelling with other fossil hunters, you, yourself, can discover real Ordovician fossils.

Resource: R.R.H. Lemon, Fossils In Ontario