Ruthven Park National Historic Site
Cayuga, Ontario

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Indiana: A Ghost Town of Haldimand County

 

 

Roads in the Province of Canada were either poor or nonexistent. Products and other goods were unable to make it to centers where it could be easily transported.

"The Ouse (Grand River) is a beautiful stream. With its branches it flows through a very extensive and fertile territory, which being remote from market, is but thinly settled and little knownthe proposed canals would give a new stimulus to population and improvement, and in places where at present not an inhabitant is to be seen, towns and villages would speedily rise." (Bruce Hill, The Grand River Navigation Company, 1994, Brant Historical Publications, 4).

"Chartered in 1831, the GRNC was one of the few privately owned commercial canals in the province, built during a period when these transportation networks offered a relatively inexpensive method of shipping commodities from the undeveloped interior regions of the province to a domestic and overseas market hungry for timber products and flour exports." (John Triggs, Wherefore Indiana? Doing Archaeology and History in a 19th Century Mill Village, Unpublished paper, 6).

There were problems with the Grand River: it was wide but in sections not deep enough for boats with heavy cargo; there was a rise of forty five feet in the river from Dunnville to Brantford (a distance of 100 km) and the mouth of the river was not suitable for a port.

To improve the situation, a dam was built in Dunnville which raised the water level of the Grand by eight feet but later proved not to be dependable. In 1827, the GRNC surveyed the river from Dunnville to Brantford to determine the feasibility of making adjustments to address these obstacles.

A charter concluded that lands could be used to facilitate navigation along the Grand; however, there were problems. Six Nations people owned sixty per cent of the lands required for the building of locks and dams. Their funds were to be used to appropriate and finance the purchase of some of the company stock. In addition the Iroquois objected to the building of locks as they would ruin their fishing. They also opposed flooding the lands as it had an impact on agricultural activities. In the building of the Dunnville dam by the Welland Canal Company, the crops of the Six Nations were flooded out. In response the latter sued the former for four thousand pounds. The Company was in poor shape financially and could only recoup losses on the crops. The Grand River Navigation Company project was already in trouble.

 

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