Cask & Barrel

The Wreck of the Bavaria

Mar
22

South Marysburgh

The Bavaria was a three-masted timber drogher under tow by a steam barge, when it ran into mountainous seas near Point Petre. The Bavaria’s tow line parted and the ship, unable to gain any steerage way, quickly drifted off. She wasn’t found until two days later on Great Galloo Island, southwest of Main Ducks. The ship was intact, ropes in place and sails stowed. The Captain’s papers and freight money were in his desk; there was a batch of bread in the galley oven, and a pet canary was found chirping cheerfully in its cage. The disappearance of the crew of the Bavaria remains a mystery to this day.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

The Schooner Picton

Mar
15

South Marysburgh

One of the strangest stories of shipwrecks in the vortex is the tale of the schooner “Picton” which, along with two others ships, the “Acadia” and the “Annie Minnes”, was carrying coal back to Canada.

The three ships were lying in harbour in Charlotte, across the lake in New York. There had been a storm the night before, but the day dawned fair.

Captain Jack Sidley of the Picton was known as a skilled and daring skipper and the Picton had the reputation of running “like a scalded cat”. Sidley had his young son, Vessey, on board with him and he was anxious to get home, so the Picton headed out of the harbour first with the Acadia about ten minutes behind her and the Annie Minnes a half an hour behind that. An hour out into the lake eye witnesses among the crew members of the Acadia and Annie Minnes reported being surprised when they saw the topsails of the Picton coming off. They thought that Sidley had decided to reef, but all of a sudden the Picton just went out of sight, “like she’d fallen into a bottomless pit.”

The two following ships dropped their sails down, looking for survivors, but all that floated by them were a few loose gratings and a sailor cap, with not a sign of the crew. The Annie Minnes and the Acadia searched for some time, but no bodies were ever found.

Months later, near Sackett’s Harbour, New York, a fisherman’s son saw a bottle bobbing in the water for three days running. Curious, he finally rowed out to pick it out of the water. Inside was a note, written in pencil that said:

“Have lashed Vessey to me with heaving line so we will be found together.” — Captain J. Sidley, The Picton

Nobody to this day has been able to explain how the Picton went down so fast, or what happened to the wreckage, or how Captain Sidley had time to write a note, or lash his son to him.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

The Marysburgh Vortex

Mar
08

South Marysburgh

So many ships have gone down in the stretch of water around Main Duck Island and Point Traverse the area has become known as “The Graveyard of Lake Ontario”. In these waters compass readings are unreliable, shoals and sandbars lie treacherously waiting, and fierce storms blow up with no warning. The number of tragedies that have occurred rivals the infamous “Bermuda Triangle”. Local lore refers to the area as “The Marysburgh Vortex” and any strange events are automatically attributed to its effect.

Also, Prince Edward County sailors will never paint their boats blue. The colour is considered very unlucky. The only boats that are blue belong to yachters and that’s because “they don’t know any better” according to the sailors.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

The Germans of Marysburgh

Mar
01

North Marysburgh

After the American Revolution, there were many mercenary soldiers who had been hired by the British who had no wish to return to Europe. One such group of soldiers from Brunswick and Hanau were offered settlement in Marysburgh, or Fifth Town as it was then known. The group was left waiting at Kingston until the distant township was surveyed. It was late fall by the time they reached their land. Materials and supplies were promised, but at that time, Marysburgh was at the ends of the earth, and very little help actually arrived. The leader of the group, Baron von Reitzenstein, borrowed money to outfit the settlement when his complaints to British authorities went unanswered. When creditors pressed the Baron to repay this money, he was unable to settle his debts, and his 600 acre allotment was seized. Disillusioned, he returned to Quebec City where he died in 1794.

The settlement hung on. Eventually the farms prospered and the little German community grew. The first church in the County was the Lutheran Church which stood just north of Roses Cemetery, which was known for many years as “The Old Dutch Burying Ground”. (“Dutch” is a corruption of “Deutsh”). The church lasted for only a few years, as the congregation was too small to support a regular clergyman, but these early settlers have left their legacy in the form of the many German names that are still found on County mailboxes; names like Minaker, Dainard and Bongard. A plaque in front of the Rose House Museum in North Marysburgh commemorates Baron von Reitzenstein and his little band of soldiers turned settler.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

Treasure at Glenora

Feb
22

North Marysburgh

At Glenora there is a cave some 50 feet from the top, which can only be reached by a narrow path along the face of the cliff. During the Seven Years War, a French admiral watched from the cave while the British and French fleets fought one of the last marine battles of the war. Fearing defeat, the admiral hid all his treasure in an adjoining room-sized cave and sealed the small entrance to it. No record can be found of the admiral ever returning to claim it, and his treasure still waits somewhere high up on the cliff.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

Lake on the Mountain

Feb
15

North Marysburgh


Lake on the Mountain is one of the most famous, and most mysterious places in Prince Edward County. Lying 190 feet above the level of the Bay of Quinte, it has no visible source of water supply, but maintains a constant level and even has an overflow down over the cliff to the Bay below.

It was known as Okenoga, “Lake of the Gods” to the Hurons, and they offered gifts to the three sisters who lived in the bottomless lake. Another native legend says the lake had once been a smoking mountain, with a passage to the centre of the earth. Many early white settlers believed it was a volcano crater and would become alarmed whenever the waters of the lake became warmer than normal.

A local legend tells the story of the daughter of an Indian chief, who was very beautiful. Anxious to cement an alliance with a neighbouring tribe, the chief ordered his daughter to marry one of their warriors, Annosothka, who was very powerful. But the girl was in love with Gowanda, a brave from her own tribe. Gowanda was ambushed by a hostile tribe while on a hunting trip and was taken hostage. The Indian maiden waited and waited, but eventually gave up hope and agreed to marry Annosothka. The chief prepared a great feast and lit a huge ceremonial fire to celebrate the event. As the girl sat in front of the fire, a snake slithered towards her, prepared to strike. Suddenly, out of the woods, leapt a young brave who killed the snake with a knife, saving her life. It was Gowanda, who had escaped from his captors and found his way home, guided by the light of the ceremonial wedding fire. The girl then informed her father and her fiance of her love for Gowanda. Dejected, Annosothka accepted her decision. He then plunged into the icy waters of Lake on the Mountain, never to be seen again. On a still night, if one listens carefully, Annosothka’s call to his betrothed can still be heard.

Many people believe that the bottom of the lake has a subterranean passage to Lake Erie, which is at the same altitude, but scientists claim it is fed by an underground spring. Whatever the explanation, it is one of the most intriguing mysteries of the County.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

The Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy

Feb
08

Eagle Hill, located in the Bay of Quinte (Tyendinaga), is said to be the birthplace of Tekanawita, the Peacemaker who brought the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca Nations together under the Great Law of Peace in the 12th Century to form the Five Nations Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee). In 1722, the Tuscaroras were adopted into the Confederacy and the Iroquois became known as the Six Nations Confederacy.

The Great Law of Peace provides the guidelines for a political, social, and spiritual order for Haudenosaunee and its peoples. When the countries of Canada and the United States were being formed and their governments created, the founding fathers found inspiration in the Great Peace. The based the concepts of representational government and the division of governing bodies on the Iroquois system.

To symbolize the Great Peace and the unity of the Confederacy, the Peacemaker chose a tall white pine. The tree had long branches to cover the nations of the Confederacy, and long roots to reach out to other nations that would hear the laws of the Great Peace and want to follow them as well. Under the tree all the weapons of war would be buried, never again to be used by the nations of the confederacy to do battle against each other. On top of the tree sat an eagle, which would act as a guardian to the Great Peace, watching for anything that might be a threat.

The Peacemaker created a new clan system with nine clans that would be found across the Confederacy: Turtle, Bear, Wolf, Heron, Hawk, Snipe, Beaver, Deer and Eel. In this way, the Peacemaker reasoned, members of the same clan would develop familial ties, regardless of which nation they were from. Clans within the Mohawk nation are the Bear, Turtle and Wolf.

Mohawks are the “People of the Flint” within the Haudenosaunee.  The Mohawk Nation (Kahniakehaka) are considered the easternmost Nation within the Haudenosaunee and as such are referred to as the Keepers of Eastern Door.  Members of the Mohawk Nation include Kahnawake, Kanesatake, Akwesasne, Tyendinaga, Ganienkeh, Kanatsiohareke, the Kahniakehaka of Ohsweken, and Wahta.

 


“Culture.” Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. <mbq-tmt.org/community/culture>.

Camp Picton

Feb
01

Picton

The plateau overlooking the town of Picton was first used as an army camp in 1938, in preparation for World War II. Buildings and runways were constructed in 1940 by the Royal Canadian Air Force, but in early 1942 it was taken over completely by the Royal Air Force, who used the facility as No. 31 Bombing and Gunnery School to train British airmen. An area was set aside at Pt. Petre as a bombing range, and the entire southern shore from Pt. Petre to Pt. Traverse was used as a bombing and gunnery range. At one point during the war, two County residents were arrested for attempting to remove scrap metal from Pt. Petre. Unexploded munitions remained a hazard for many years in this area, and as late as 1977, a grass fire set unexploded shells off, hampering fire-fighting efforts.

Control of the camp reverted to the RCAF in 1944. During the fifties, Camp Picton was a thriving base. 250 houses were constructed as Married Quarters and a 15 room school was constructed on base. The camp was taken over by the Ministry of Community and Social Services as a complex for the Mentally and Developmentally Handicapped after the Armed Forces closed the base.

Camp Picton, with many of the old hangars and barracks intact, is a favourite location site for film-makers wanting to capture the flavour of a World War II army base.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

The Regent Theatre

Jan
25

Picton

Dominating Picton’s main street is the old Regent Theatre, which many people remember fondly from Friday night movie dates and Saturday afternoon matinees. But the Regent started life as a first-class vaudeville theatre, its stage built to the same specifications as the old Royal Alexandria Theatre in Toronto.

The Regent was built in 1922 by Greek emigrant George Cook, who had come to the area via the United States. For a number of years, it was a popular booking for touring reperatory companies, opera companies and local amateur theatrical groups. Many tourist would come to the County for the shows and stay for the weekend in the then elegant Royal Hotel.

Cook had also had considerable experience presenting and promoting moving pictures, and the Regent was equipped to show the latest reels. Prior to the building of the Regent, Cook was involved with the Bijou Opera House (the Town Hall), which stood where Picton Town Hall is still located. The Bijou had long been a popular venue for local productions and Cook utilized the hall for many movie presentations. Unfortunately, the hall was gutted by fire in 1923.

The Regent became an institution in the town. Many families from outlying areas would come into Picton on a Saturday night, take in the show at the Regent, then purchase groceries and do their shopping after the movie. (In those days, Picton stores stayed open until midnight.) Sadly, as operating costs became prohibitive in recent years, the theatre was seldom used and was in danger of falling into disuse completely, until a local group decided to try and purchase the building. The Regent Theatre Foundation eventually succeeded in raising a down payment for the building in the spring of 1994, but were faced with the costs of a substantial mortgage when an anonymous donor presented the Foundation with a donation of $300,000, on the proviso that the mortgage be retired.

Restoration of the Regent Theatre continues and the foundation hopes to re-establish its reputation as “the finest stage between Toronto and Montreal”.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

Weddings

Jan
18

Ameliasburg

Getting married in the early days of settlement was a great and sometimes difficult undertaking. At first, the performance of a marriage ceremony could only be undertaken by a clergyman of the Church of England or a Justice of the Peace. Most marriages in Ameliasburg were performed by a Mr. Young at Carrying Place. The wedding party would put chairs in a lumber wagon to carry the young people to the ceremony. Normally old people did not attend the actual wedding. The men would sit on the chairs, while the women sat on their laps (supposedly to make room for everyone). Drinking was allowed, but fighting was frowned upon. If a fight broke out, the miscreants were put out of the wagon.

A wedding without a dance afterwards was considered an insipid affair and the old people joined the young in a party that would often go on for two or even three nights! A favourite wedding trick was to take the groom’s wagon apart and reassemble it without the bolts, so that it would fall apart as soon as the couple started off on their wedding journey. Sometimes the wagon would be taken apart and reassembled on the roof.

Another common practice when a marriage was unpopular, was the chivaree. Normally reserved for second marriages, or when there was a great disparity in the ages of the bride and groom, the chivaree was a raucous affair, with a great deal of noise and carousing. Neighbours would gather under the window of the newly-married couple equipped with tin pans, drums, whistles, copper kettles or anything that would make noise. They would then “serenade” the honeymooners. The bridegroom was faced with a choice: furnish or pay for drinks for the entire mob, or listen to them all night. In most cases, the groom would send them off to the local tavern. If the marriage was particularly objectionable, the pranksters might climb up on the roof and stop up the chimney, hoping to smoke the wedding party out, but most of the time the chivaree was a good-natured, if rowdy, affair. This custom of chivaree is still practiced occasionally in the County, but it is becoming more and more uncommon.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.