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Some Personal Recollections and Historic Facts About Kingsmere

By Arthur S. Bourinot
D.C.L., F.RS.L.

A paper read at Muorside, Kingsmere. on October 8th, 1963, to the Historical Society of The Gatineau,

Limited Edition of One Hundred Copies

Copyright, Canada, 1963
290 Acadia Avenue,
Rockeliffe, Ottawa 2, Canada
(All rights reserved)

A portion of this paper was published in The Ottawa Journal under the title Memories of Kingsmere, on October 25th, 1963.—A.S.B.


To and Fro im the Earth
(Poems 1963)

Very Limited Edition
Price $3.00

“The last poem ... is a remarkable attempt at autobiography in verse... It is a success, for it makes the reader aware of how real is that once known, and how clear in memory is the pleasant and the repellant, the pain and the wonder.”

Edgar Andrew Collard in an editorial in The Montreal Gazette.

“A poet who within a relatively limited range of technique and experience is undoubtedly a superb poet aad craftsman.”

Fred Cogswell in Canadian Author & Bookman.

“is distinguished as artist, poet and man of letters.”—

D. Kermode Parr in Atlantic Advocate.

In this ... volume, he has tried the unusual ... and we think successful experiment of presenting his autcbiogrephy in veree”.

Madge Macbeth in Oftawa Citizen.

“Mr. Bourinot is at his best in sections of the autobiographical “To and Fro in the Barth.” Here the remembrances of things past come through, not sentimentally, but in vivid particulars.”

Ottawa Journal.

“Perhaps the most interesting poem is a long autobiographical and philosophical account of his youth, his mother, his hopes, and from it the small volume takes its name.”

Sherbrooke Daily Record.

Beaver Dam
Beaver Dam, Fortune Lake, Gatineau Park, from an oil painting by Arthur S. Bourinot.

Some Personal Recollections and Historic Facts About Kingsmere

Perhaps this is superfluous but as I am speaking to an historical association I thought I had better start off with a definition of the word history. Websters International Dictionary gives I think the best. “A systematic written account of events ... distinguished from memoir which is history composed from personal experience, observation and memory.” My talk will come mostly under the latter portion. It is largely personal recollections. I am sure many of my audience will know more than I do about the place, but in my humble opinion it is a good thing to get even my recollections and facts down on paper, before it is too late. In that way they will survive if they are worthy of it. Here let me pay a tribute to the late Mr. Alistair MacTavish, with whom I went to school, and who lived in and loved the old Jeffs’ and Bourinot house on the north side of the lake — the house where I lived as a boy. He had compiled a book about Kingsmere based on interviews, articles and other material and which I have had access to through the kindness of his sister, Mrs. Sturgeon. It is an invaluable record.

Once again it has been driven home to me that in doing research, and I have done considerable, one should never take anything for granted. This relates to King Mountain and the origin of its name. The Canadian Encyclopedia states, “King Mountain, Kingsmere, are both named after an early chief of the Canadian Geodetic Survey, John King, who surveyed the neighboring Ottawa Valley from the mountain, the highest point in the district.”

Nowhere in this Encyclopedia or elsewhere that I can find is John King mentioned. The Geodetic Survey think the name probably should be Dr. W. F. King, L.L.D., C.M.G., who was born in England and was the first Director of the Dominion Astronomical Observatory. He entered the civil service in 1881 and started the Geodetic surveys in 1905. I have been in touch with the Board of Geographic Names and they say it was not named after Dr. King but probably after a John King, an early settler. They state further that the name King Mountain was used as early as 1870. They are still investigating but most of the records were destroyed during the great Hull fire. Mr. C. C. J. Bond, Historian, National Capital Commission, said in an address delivered to the Canadian Author's Association at “Moorside”, June 1963, “Neither the settlement, the lake called Kingsmere, nor the mountain was named after W, L. M. King, nor after Geodetist, Dr. W. F. King, who had worked on the mountain.”

Mr. J. E. R. Ross, who worked with the late Dr. W. F. King has written me in part as follows:

“Dear Mr. Bourinot,

My information about the naming of King m’t’n, Kingsmere, is as follows;—

Near the cliff there is an historic monument with a bronze plaque referring to the establishment of the Geodetic Survey of Canada under Dr. W. F. King, then in charge of the Dominion observatory. This has no doubt been the forerunner of the belief that the mountain bears his mame. The plaque refers only to the Geodetic Survey and not to the site being named after him.

Previous to the erection of the Historic Monument, I visited its present location in company with Mr. Mulvihill, the then owner who lived in a stone house on the mountain road about one-mile from the foot of Lariault’s Hill and I questioned him as to the name “King”, He was then 70 and to his boyhood recollection it was then called King Mtn. This precludes it from being associated with the above Dr. King. He thought that it referred to an early settler but added that there were not then any settlers by that surname in the area. Mr. Mulvihill’s observation is the cause of my statement that it was so known as King Mtn. as early at 1870.

Dr. King died in 1916, age 63, and in 1870 would have been less than 20.

Sincerely, J. E. R. ROSS.”

In an article I wrote for Toronto Saturday Night some years ago, I stated “the name was apparently given by an English officer many years ago at a time when there was a permanent force of regulars on Barracks Hill in Ottawa”. At this time I have not found the source of my information but it seems a reasonable explanation — and was probably named King Mountain because of its height, towering over the other hills.

The Lake, Kingsmere, was for some time called Loon Lake because of the loons that visited there every year in the early days. In 1863 a farmer named Jeffs owned most of both sides of the lake and its name was changed to Jeff's Lake. In the early 80's, Dr. F. G. Bourinot, Colonel Dennis and H. V. Noel, (who lived in what later became the Grimes house at the top of the hill) had the name of the lake changed to Kingsmere. Mr. Noel was manager of the Quebec Bank in Ottawa. My father bought the Jeffs property in the seventies, and did over the old log farm house, which looks very much the same as it did when I was a boy. He had large orchards, grew excellent grapes, and, of course, kept a horse which was a necessity. The house was bought by Mr. John Grimes who sold it to the MacTavish family and it is now owned by Mrs. Sturgeon, a daughter of Judge and Mrs. MacTavish. My father and his family once stayed at Kingsmere in the 1880's until Christmas. It must have been quite a rigorous life. No indcor plumbing. Just a double section outside, one for adults, the other for children, a custom of those days. No running water, just a well, (this is still in use but with a pump) and instead of a bath a large tub. Supplies had to be got at Chelsea and milk from the farm. And speaking of water, I can remember the barrels at the roof troughs to collect the rain. In dry weather, a neighboring farmer Joseph Fleury or his son, Charles, would take barrels in a dump cart to the lake, fill them and bring them up the hill to the house. The well water was rather hard and besides it had to be carried by the pailful. And while I am on the subject, the various property owners had bath houses on the lake. These consisted of a small platform with a roof, extending to the edge of the water and beyond this were three high walls of wood without a roof. So there in the summer one could bathe in privacy. The lake was dotted with them. They were walled in swimming pools, and unpainted, with the weathered gray beauty of old barns. Electric pumps and bath rooms have done away with them, Another memory is that of stiles instead of gates. They were quite numerous. Steps going up one side of the fence and down the other. There was no danger of leaving the gate open. I remember one particularly between the Dunn farm and the Welch’s (now the Mountain Lodge) as I used it often. There was another at the Devlins, where Mr. Mulvihill now lives.

Mr. W. L. Mackenzie King bought his first property from my mother in about 1902, And in 1903, he built his first house which still stands and is now owned by the Canadian Government. My home, Deepwood, part of the Jeffs’ farm is next door. I can remember as a boy seeing Mr. King carry his old mother down the hill to the lake where he would sit with her in the evenings, and then carry her back up the hill, No small feat as anyone who knows the slope can testify to. Some day I may write my recollections of Mr. King as I knew him ever since 1902 or 1903 when he first came to Kingsmere and he was a neighbor for many years.

Getting to Kingsmere in the early 1900’s was not so easy as nowadays. Our family usually spent three or four months there, depending on the House of Commons, of which my father was Clerk. The day of the move, we hired a moving van to take extra furniture, more particularly the piano, which my mother played beautifully, pigeons and a dog and various other articles. The van, pulled by horses, left early and usually arrived about lunch time. The family drove their own horse in a buggy or carriage. There was, of course, a train, and William Murphy drove the stage to Chelsea. (His forerunner was a Mr. Shean) who sold his place to the Murphy’s and it was eventually owned by Captain Wattsford. It is now torn down. If you were taking the stage, you listened for the horn blown by “Billy” Murphy at your gate, who drove you to Chelsea station. You then took the train to the old Broadstreet station in Ottawa, and from there took a street car up town. Going home was the same in reverse. I think I paid five dollars a month for the stage service when I lived in a tent at Welch’s and was working in Ottawa. A Mr. Hill, who lived about where the Stitt’s house now is, would have nothing to do with the stage, but walked every morning to Chelsea station and back in the evening. Mr. Murphy also ran the post office, later moved to the Dunn’s, a boarding house, and hired his hay carts for hay cart drives, one of the current amusements.

At one time there was on the top of King Mountain a huge red Cross, just about where the cairn now stands, which could be seen for miles around. I can remember it well. It eventually rotted and fell over the cliff and was never re-erected. It was originally placed there through the efforts of the Rev, Father Maguire, parish priest at Old Chelsea, 1888 to 1891.

The Cairn, was the spot where the first triangulation system in Canada was started by Dr. W. F. King. I can remember as a boy seeing the surveyors’ lanterns shining as they climbed the mountain path at night and then at the top the flashing signal. One of our amusements in those days was to gather a party together and climb the mountain at night, or sometimes in the very carly morning to watch the sun rise. We also walked to old Chelsea quite frequently to visit the Misses Edmunson’s store for candy. The building still stands almost opposite the Murphy store. Sometimes we even walked to Aylmer.

One of the famous hills, now gone, was of course, Lariaults. There used to be a skull and cross bones at the top with the legend, “13 people killed on this hill”, Whether that was the actual total or just a number to warn superstitious people we will never know. The hill, I believe, is named after a Peter Lariault who settled over a hundred years ago near the foot of the hill in the section we always called “The Hollow". If we were going down the hill we always said “We were going to The Hollow”. Lariault came from the Blue Sea Lake Country and for a time kept a stopping place at Maniwaki.

Our neighbor, Joseph Fleury ran a dairy farm and I used to walk over the hill with pitchers for the milk and cream, The herd of cows pastured beyond where Moorside now is (Martin’s Pasture) and every evening they were brought home along the lake shore where they stood in the shallow water and drank and cooled themselves. Just about in front of where Mr. Redmond Quain’s house now is. It was a pleasant sight to watch them and hear the tinkling of their bells.

There was once what we boys called a haunted house at Kingsmere. There was only part of it standing. It was located just below where the Mackenzie King ruins now are in Martin’s Pasture. You can still see the rows of old maple trees which the early settler planted around his home. We used to play there and looked upon it with awe. It is now all gone and covered up; even the foundation; but the maples are still there. There was supposed to have been a murder there, so the legend goes.

There was also a hermit at Kingsmere. His name, was, I believe Barnes and he lived on a cut off from the Pink Lake Road about a mile beyond the Moores. He grew his own vegetables and had a large orchard. He kept several dogs to protect his apples. He was a very tall man with a white beard. We boys used to visit him occasionally and if he was in a good mood he would see us. I remember seeing him occasionally walking to Old Chelsea with a sack on his back for supplies. Some of his apple trees can still be seen from the Parkway which cuts through his property. I once wrote quite a long narrative poem about him. He was a great admirer of Mackenzie King, and once sat on an election platform with him.

Mr. Mackenzie King was as we all know fond of poetry. His great friend W. W. Campbell used to stay with him and one of his best poems was written in the King cottage by the Lake, “Lines on a Skeleton”. I remember hearing Mr. King recite the lines on the verandah of the same house, and very well he did it. He always hoped, he told me, that Kingsmere would become some day like the English Lake District with its literary connections, — and Kingsmere has attracted writers. My father did a great deal of his writing in the summers at Kingsmere. Lampman knew the place well and walked here, His sister, of course, was Mrs. Jenkins, who had a house here for many years. It is said that Lampman’s famous poem “Heat” was a result of a walk up the mile hill beyond Ironside. Duncan Campbell Scott also knew and loved this spot and his sisters lived here in the summers in the house now owned by Major General Kennedy. Scott’s poem “Last Night a Storm Fell on the World” was written on a visit to Kingsmere — as well as “Spring Midnight, Deepwood” included in his last book “The Circle of Affection”. He visited us at our cottage many times, sitting on the verandah and revelling in the beauty and the bird song. The English poet, Alfred Noyes spent an afterncon here one autumn day when the leaves were at their best. When Rupert Brooke visited Canada, Scott took him on a tour of Kingamere.

Early Names

Some of the early names of summer and other residents were Bate, Beddoe, Maingy (Herb Maingy lived where Mr. Panet now resides.) The Bates were in what is the Harris home, The Hills and the Wrights, the Grimes, the Mulvihills near the foot of Lariaults Hill. The old stone house is still there. The Flecks’ up on the hill, near where the McKinleys are, The Pratt’s now owned by the Wilsons, between the Bourinots and Joseph Fleury. The Quains, who are still here but in a different place. The original Quain house was burned, the Stewart house was moved there. The Scott's now have it. The Crannels, Dr. Bradley who lived on Murphy’s Hill; the Devlins who lived just about where Mr. Muivihill’s house now is. It was built originally, I believe, by Noah Timms. The Brysons owned the whole end of the lake and had a separate dining room house, two cottages and the main house. The property was originally owned by William Dunlop. The house was built by Colonel Dennis. The Jobn Brysons built the house on the south shore so long occupied by the Russell Smarts and now owned by Graham Spry. There were at least two Fleury families, the Joseph and the Henry. The Henry Fleury property was bought by Mr. King and there he built his winter house, “The Farm,” and in that home he died in 1950. The front part of his building, where the Kelly's live, is probably partly what is left of the Henry Fleury house. The original Moore house was down what we called the Swamp Road, just this side of the creek beyond which Mr. George Moore lives. Then there were the Murphys, William and Paddy. The latter lived in Old Chelsea. The Murphy property was first owned by Raiff Kenny, then Timothy Sheehan, then James Murphy Sr. — The Dunns on Dunns* Hill. — It is still there, and at one time was the Kingsmere post office. The Welchs’, now the Mountain Lodge; they kept summer boarders, I, myself, being one for a time. They had an improvised Golf course behind the house up in the hills. It was pretty rough but good exercise. It preceded by some years that of Captain Wattsford's who bought the Murphy house and farm. The Murphys moved to the house now owned, I believe, by the Hylands. Dr. Wilson lives in the old Joseph Fleury farm house. Then there was the home of Dr. Herridge bought by Mr. King and where we are meeting to night. Up the hill from the Stewarts was the Macoun house opposite the Bates. Where the Williamsons lived was once the home of the McMinns. The Maingys (there were two families) lived next door. The house is now “Shady Hill” part of the King property, where the Pattesons lived for many years.

Where the Barry Germains, the Goodeves, and the Quain houses are was once the old Jeff orchard. Later the Bourinots and the Grimes. It was known to skiers as Grimes Hill. Just below the Goodeve house, by the roadside, there used to be a spring of beautiful clear water which was known for some reason as Bradley's.

The Seybolds bought the Joseph Fleury holdings. Many of the early settlers had owned their property from 1863 and earlier.

The Nelson house on Dunn's Hill is still there as is also the old Butterworth place on the hill behind the Dunns. The Jenkins’ on the south side of the lake is still occupied by a son of the family, A family named Gibson lived near or where the Hon, Duncan MacTavish now owns. The house was burned down. Mrs. Gibson wrote verse and published at least one book. There was once a house on Murphy’s Hill near the road, in the Fleury orchard. I think it was owned by the Fleury’s. Louis and Ken Fleck and their parents occupied it for several years as did Dr. and Mrs. Ami.

The Young farm was about where the Clover Leaf is on the way to Old Chelsea. The old log house was still standing not so many years ago. One of the sons, John Young, now lives on the cutt off road at Old Chelsea. In the early days of skiing we often parked our T model Ford in the Young farmyard. That was before LeMay's parking lot existed.

In the early days there were settlers along the Ridge Road. The largest clearing was where Camp Fortune now is and also, of course McCloskey’s. I noticed recently the old house was gone; burned I think. How the settlers eked out a living I don’t know but I have been told they carried bags of flour and other necessities on their shoulders all the way up the long steep hill to their homes. They must have been a hardy breed. Another clearing still to be seen is the one where the Log Cabin Trail crosses the Ridge Road, also Keogan’s, where the Cliff Side Ski Lodge was located, and is still there. Many years ago there was talk of putting a penal settlement in the neighborhood.

The site where Mr. Masson’s house now stands was once occupied by a log cabin built for one of Canada’s first movies, The Man from Glengarry. That was in the early twenties. I had just started practising Law and a Mr. Shipman who commenced the enterprise asked me for some reason to act for him. I found it new and most interesting. He resembled Mr. King very much and when he occupied a box at the old Russell Theatre he was often mistaken for him, much to Shipman’s pleasure and King’s annoyance. Whether the project was successful or not I do not remember. But it is interesting to recollect it happened at Kingsmere.

Some Early Memories

We used to hike along the Ridge Road and then go through the bush, there was no trail, to the clearing, an abandoned farm, where Camp Fortune Lodge was later built. In those days the foundation or cellar or perhaps a root house was all that was left and a few apple and plum trees. From there we went through to Fortune Lake which at that time had rocky shores and an island with a hugh pine, we naturally called Pine Island. We would picnic on the rocks and go swimming. The beaver have changed all that. The rocks are covered with water and the island submerged and the pine tree fallen. It is now a wilderness of dead skeletal trees.

Another favorite walk was to Pink Lake and back. Paper chases and hay cart drives were the outstanding amusements for the young. “Billy” Murphy who always drove and had a fresh fund of stories and an attractive Irish wit, made a point of driving us when it was dark to the cemetery, and daring us to go in. Beforehand, of course, regaling us with hair raising ghost stories. Some took up the dare and some did not. I remember Jack Devlin and I in the height of summer carried a canoe up to Black Lake. Just, I suppose to be able to say we were the first. If you know the terrain, it was quite a feat for two young boys.

We once had a fire at our cottage; it was a cool morming and the fire place had been lighted. The hangings on the mantle caught fire. My parents’ bedroom was off the living room. My father was having his bath in the usual tub when the hired man excitedly shouted, “Here’s a fire, here’s a fire”. My father minus clothes but with monocle in eye rushed out and grabbing a table cloth extinquished the fire. When it was all over he still had the monocle firmly set in its place.

There was an old woman, Mrs. Webb, who came to Kingsmere by cart and horse regularly, at least once a week, to sell vegetables, whose small farm was on the Chelsea Road just about where the Ayalon stands. A Mrs. La Charité built herself, one summer, a one room shack in front of the Pratt house on the Lake shore and took in washing. I don’t know what became of her or how she managed in the first place to build there. The two stores I remember are the Edmunsons’ in Old Chelsea, mainly candy and small stuff, and Dewar’s in Chelsea, a large general store.

I would like to read a poem I wrote about Kingsmere, years ago. Mr. King liked it, had it framed and it hung over his desk at Moorside for many years; so it has a history.


(For music)

Mere of my heart, I've seen you lie,
Blue as the blue of a summer sky;

Mere of my heart, I've seen you still,
Fallen asleep with the Whip-poor-will.

Mere of my heart, I’ve watched you hush,
Thrill to the note of the Hermit Thrush;

Mere of my heart, I’ve seen you cold,
Burdened with planets and stars untold.

Mere of my heart, I’ve watched you wake,
Rise and the mist from your shoulders shake;

Mere of my heart, I’ve seen you creep,
Beneath the snows for your winter sleep.

Mere of my heart, when earth was planned,
God grasped you, drank, and then uncupp’d His hand,

Biue hills sprang to hem you, lest you part,
Mere of my heart, Mere of my heart.


Kingsmere And The Poets, by Arthur S. Bourinot.

Kingsmere Where Twe Prime Ministers Tramped the Woods ...

Toronto Saturday Night, by Arthur S. Bourinot.

Dunardarie, by Alastair MacTavish.

Mackenzie King Estate — by C. C. J. Bond, Historian.

National Capital Commission — 1963.

Personal Memories — Arthur S. Bourinot.

Letter of Mr. J. B. R. Rass.