Tay Canal 175 th Anniversary 2009

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History of the Tay Canal

There are numerous stories about the early days of the Tay Canal, locally known as Haggart's Ditch, after John G. Haggart, local MP, who held the portfolio of Railways and Canals and who poured government money into upgrading the Tay Canal and constructing Beveridges locks.

  • Local historian, Susan Code, has the following to say in “A Paddle Down the Tay” – a great, short history of the contentious Tay Canal:
      "While, today, the Tay Canal welcomes boaters from both near and far who seek a quiet idyll, its founders foresaw it as a conduit for commerce. When Colonel By bypassed the Tay and Perth as a route for the Rideau Canal in the late 1820s, the town fathers took matters into their own hands and established the Tay Navigation Company for the purposes of building their own canal. Road travel was hazardous at best, and non existent at worse, preventing inland communities from establishing markets and procuring goods. A navigable waterway offered a fast, efficient and proven means of raising a community out of subsistence and into prosperity."
      To read more from Susan's work, please click here.

  • A less flattering narrative by H.R. Morgan in 1933, about the abortive attempt to build the first Tay Canal, starts out:
      "Although it is one of the most important tributaries of the Rideau, the river Tay is not a very impressive stream; nor can it be truthfully said that such was ever the case. A matter of a century ago, however, it was considered by the people of Perth, which is situated upon its banks, and by those who dwelt in other sections of the military settlement in that area, to be sufficiently impressive to warrant a prolonged agitation for its creation into a navigable waterway. When this agitation, in which petitions replaced the deputations of the present, failed to stir the government of the day to action, Perth and Montreal capital partially carried out the same object and gave to the merchants of Perth and to the inhabitants of the neighborhood the boon which they had long sought -- direct communication by water with Lower Canada. This did away with all necessity for the long overland transit of goods from Brockville over a mere excuse for a road which was, until the time of the construction of the Rideau Canal, the sole practicable method of reaching the military settlement." Click here for more.

  • The Lower Tay River ca 1828 - Surveyor's report ~ Click here for report

  • The Tay River Trail is an historic pathway and portage site that dates back to the military settlement of Perth-upon-Tay in 1816. For more click here.

  • The Rideau and Tay Canals - celebrating the 175th anniversary of the opening of the Tay Canal ~ Click here.

  • Celebrating the Tay Canal ~ an excellent article on the Friends of the Rideau website ~ click here

These pictures are worth 3,000 words
(move your mouse/ cursor over the images for a closer look):

The Basin in Perth

Gathering in the Perth Basin during the Old Boys Reunion 1905

Perth Residents aboard the cruise boat Arrah Wanna,
before sailing up the Rideau for a picnic ~ circa 1909.
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Tay Canal 175 th Anniversary 2009