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The following is the Introduction and Table of Contents from The Second Tay Canal in the Rideau Corridor, 1880-1940, Manuscript Report 295 by Larry Turner, Parks Canada, 1986. Republished by Friends of the Rideau as digital book DB-MR295, 2014:


The history of the Second Tay Canal is very much a companion volume to my study, The First Tay Canal in the Rideau Corridor, 1830—1850 (Parks Canada, Microfiche Report Series 142, 1984). In this volume an examination is made of the promotion, construction and use of the Second Tay Canal between 1880 and 1940. Unlike the First Tay Canal which is barely discernible in its ruins and where little documentation survives of its use, the Second Tay Canal is still in use and is accompanied by a wide range of source material in the form of Federal Archives Division papers, contemporary newspaper accounts and the photographic record.

The first chapter creates a link between the private venture of the first Canal and the public promotion of a second Canal. To place the new canal in a local, provincial and national perspective, the second chapter takes account of the post—confederation economic climate in Perth. The third chapter describes the economic and political promotion of the new canal with special emphasis on iron smelting possibilities, phosphate mining, local promoters, outside promoters and the singular force of John G. Haggart as a promoter of a canal that would wear the facetious name ‘Haggart’s Ditch’.

Chapter four encompasses the construction history of the Second Tay Canal. Like the gradual and piecemeal building of the canal, the chapter is divided into seven parts which include: the planning stage; Beveridges Bay to Perth; the Perth Basin; Perth swing bridges; Tay Canal extension; Gore Street Bridge; and small contracts. Work was begun in 1883 and the final touches were not completed until 1892. This chapter describes innovations in technology, the construction chronology as well as problems with contracts, contractors, government engineers, and labourers.

Chapter five is an investigation of Tay Canal administration with special reference to the dispute over Sunday lockages, the Beveridges lockmaster and the unique evolution of the Perth bridgemaster into first—rate gardener and park—warden on the canal banks. In three parts encompassing navigation, commercial traffic and recreational boating, chapter six outlines the use of the Tay Canal including its physical limitations and shortcomings, its commercial failure, and the surprising success of recreational activity on the waterway. One aspect of Tay Canal history not discussed was the flooding of lands, and resulting legal difficulties over the nature of the rights and obligations of government and landowners which continues to this day.

The first two appendices record the differing amounts for tenders on two of the Tay Canal contracts while the latter two outline the House of Commons Debates that raged on Parliament Hill in 1891 and 1894 when full disclosure of the cost of construction and the limited use of the Tay Canal called into question the ruling Conservative government and the ubiquitous John Haggart. Attention should also be addressed to the illustrations at the end of the report which include maps, plans, postcards and photographs of various phases of the Tay’s history. The research and writing of this report were completed in six months. This study is intended for the development of the economic, social and cultural interpretation of the Tay Canal for Environment Canada — Parks.


i        Table of Contents

iii      Illustrations

viii      Acknowledgements

ix      Introduction

1      Chapter I. The Old Tay Canal Lies Abandoned.

7      Chapter II. Post—Confederation Economic Climate in Perth.

17      Chapter III. The Economic and Political Promotion of a New Canal.

18        Iron Smelting
27        Phosphate Mining
30        John Haggart
36        Local Promoters
44         Outside Promoters

48      Chapter IV. Construction of the Second Tay Canal.

48        Part I: The Planning Stage
54        Part II: Beveridges Bay to Perth, 1883—1887
54        Project Commenced
62        1884
75        1885
81         1886
89         1887

97     Part III: The Perth Basin 1888—1889

97        Prelude to Construction
106        The Basin Constructed 1888
115        A Feeling of Deja Vu

124     Part IV: Perth Swing Bridges,1888—1889

133     Part V: Tay Canal Extension to Haggart’s Mill

143     Part VI: Gore Street Bridge

151      Part VII: Small Contracts

156     Chapter V. Tay Canal Administration

156        Beveridges Lockmaster
160        Bridgemaster
173        Sunday Lockages

178     Chapter VI. Use of the Tay Canal

178        Part I: Navigation
185        Part II: Commercial Use
201        Part III: Recreational Boating
205         Private Recreational Boating
211        The Small Scale Dual—Purpose Steamer or Steam Yacht
219        Cabin Steamer

227     In Conclusion

230     Appendix I. List of Tenders received for the Construction of the Tay Canal from Beveridges Bay to Craig Street January, 1883. PAC RG43, Vol. 998, file 98085.

231     Appendix II. List of Tenders for the extension of the Tay Canal from east side of Craig Street to South Side of Peter Street, Perth. May 1888. PAC RG43, Vol. 1002, file 199475.

232     Appendix III. The Tay Canal Debate 1891

260     Appendix IV. The Tay Canal Debate 1894

270     Endnotes

286     Bibliography

290     Illustrations

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