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Season of Surveys Victoria County, Ontario Canada

Nothing was done, however, until February 1833. An Act was then passed appointing Commissioners to "receive plans and execute works necessary to the improvement of inland waters of the Newcastle District, commencing at the mouth of the Otonabee, which discharges into Rice Lake, and extending to Lake Scugog." For this purpose the Commissioners were authorized to raise 2000 ($8000) on the security of tolls.

The Commission at once proceeded to let a contract to Messrs. Pearse, Dumble and Hoar for a short canal and lock at Bobcaygeon. The lock was to be of wood, 119 1-2 feet long by 28 feet 'wide, with 7 1-4 feet of water on the sills at high water and 4 3-4 feet at low water. The canal was to be 973 feet long. This unit was 'to connect the navigation of Chemong, Buckhorn, and Pigeon lakes with Sturgeon Lake and the Scugog River as far up as Purdy's Mills, now Lindsay.

The work at Bobcaygeon was begun in 1833 and completed in 1835. The contract price was 1600, and the contractors did extra work to the value of 84. From the Commissioners, however, they actually received only 918, because of pecuniary embarrassment which had overtaken one of the Commissioners, who had been entrusted by the rest with making disbursements. In the end, the Legislature had to make good a balance of 766.

A Season of Surveys

Meanwhile several general surveys were under way. It seems understood that the small wooden lock at Bobcaygeon was only a temporary expedient and that the government was planning works on a larger scale, with stone locks, extending from the Bay of Quinte to Georgian Bay.

In 1833 the Lieutenant-Governor instructed Mr. N. H. Baird to survey the section from the mouth of the Trent to Rice Lake and to estimate the cost of making it navigable for vessels drawing five feet of water. All locks were to be 134 feet long by 33 feet wide. Mr. Baird reported that in the 61 miles from Trenton to Rice Lake there were five main impediments to navigation:
(1) at Ninemile Rapids,
(2) at Chisholm's Rapids,
(3) at the rapids between Percy Landing and Crow Bay,
(4) at Healey's Falls, and
(5) at Crook's Rapids.
To eliminate these obstacles he prescribed 37 stone locks, 18 dams, and 4 3-4 miles of side-cuts, all at an estimated cost of 233,447. 6s.. 1 1-2d.

In 1834 a charter was granted to a private company to build a canal from Port Hope, on Lake Ontario, to Rice Lake. The authorized capital of the company was 50,000. Surveys were made. The distance of the only feasible route, from Orton's Creek, Rice Lake, to the pier at Port Hope, following the curves of the ravines, was 14 miles. The estimates of the engineer, Robert A. Maingy, M.L.C., M.S., on a canal 22 feet wide and 4 feet in depth, with locks 70 feet by 14 feet, was 101,426. 6s. 6d. Of this sum, 60,000 was to cover unexpected excavation on the summit ridge near Rice Lake. The company did nothing within the seven-year limit set by the government and the charter lapsed in 1841.

In April 1835, Sir John Colborne, then Lieutenant-Governor, instructed N. H. Baird to survey the second section of the main transprovincial canal, from Rice Lake to Lake Simcoe. His report divided this unit into five sub-sections, as follows:

(1) Rice Lake to Peterborough, 21 miles with a rise of 4 1-2 feet, requiring 2 dams and 1 lock;
(2) Peterborough to Clear Lake, 14 miles, with a rise of 147 1-2 feet, requiring 6 dams and 14 locks;
(3) Clear Lake to Bobcaygeon, 31 miles, with a rise of 38 1-3 feet, requiring 2 dams and 5 locks;
(4) Bobcaygeon to Balsam Lake, 26 miles, with a rise of 34 feet, requiring 3 dams and 5 locks; and
(5) Balsam Lake to Lake Simcoe, 16 1-2 miles, with a fall of 118 1-2 feet, requiring 12 locks. The distance of the whole section from Rice Lake to Lake Simcoe was thus approximately 11,0 miles. The estimated coat of con struction, including standard stone locks, 134 feet by 33 feet, was 262,067. 16s. 4d., Halifax currency, or $1,048,271.27.

In, 1837 still another survey was undertaken. It had been suggested that a much shorter route than that already mapped out might be had by running a canal from Lake Simcoe to Scugog Lake and from Scugog Lake south to Lake Ontario. A civil engineer named Killaby was instructed to examine the physiography 'f the region. He ran a line from Port Darlington on Lake Ontario up Barber's Creek past Bowmanville and north to Scugog Lake, and found that the summit of the morainic ridge which intervenes between the two bodies of water was at its lowest point 250 feet above Scugog Lake. Lack of water on these higher levels made the use of locks impracticable and wholesale excavation, rivalling the Culebra Cut, was considered out of the question. This route was therefore abandoned.

No further surveys were made for some time, for the new administration which took over after the Act of Union of 1841 abandoned the trans-Ontario scheme and dismissed all thought of examining the section from Lake Simcoe to Georgian Bay.

Further Construction in the Thirties

Considerable construction had, however, been prosecuted in the meantime. In 1836 the Legislature had divided the canal, so far as surveyed, into two sections: a Trent Division, from Trenton to Healey's Falls, and an Inland Division, from Healey's Falls to Scugog Lake. Two Boards of Commissioners were appointed, one for each division, and work was begun in 1837 with N. H. Baird as supervising engineer. 16,000 was voted to the Inland Division.

Work was done at Healey's Falls, Crook's Rapids, Whitias' Rapids, Buckhorn, Bobcaygeon, and Purdy's Mills.

At Bobcaygeon it was found that the original designs were so defective that the bottom of the wooden lock was dry at low water. Repairs were therefore made, an embankment built near by, and a dam constructed at Buckhorn Lake, all at a cost of 3500.

At Purdy's Mills, now Lindsay, a wooden dam and a lock, 134 feet by 33 feet, by 5 feet, were to be built. In 1837-38, the site of the lock was excavated to a depth of seven feet and coffer dams were made around the excavation. Lumber for dam and lock was prepared and delivered on the ground. The lock was partly framed. By 1839 some 1200 had been spent; but 1300 more was needed to complete the undertaking. Funds were not forthcoming from the Commissioners and the contractors abandoned the works, leaving the materials to waste and rot for five years before anything further was done.

Prior to February 1841 the total expenditure on both divisions of the canal amounted to only 44,398 or $177,592.00.

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