The Rideau Canal: A Marvel of Engineering

How builders of the Rideau Canal lost their lives to malaria |

The genesis of the Rideau Canal: A poem by John Morrison.

The Rideau Canal

The curtain does fall so majestic and proud

Such a natural wonder, so gracious a shroud

As if a powerful train of glory descends

As a continuous fall at the Outaouais end


A fire alights from the south it did spread

To the north like a plague through its heart it has bled

With a mawkish like cry for freedom and joy

But freedom’s best chance was a fraudulent ploy


From a flicker of flame to a firestorm bred

Death escalates through a life cycle of dread

And taming this shrew with its penchant for blood

Was a foolish man’s bait for poor Madison’s club


Yet the fire would spread in its harrowing scene

From a spark it would roar with a devilish scream

From Niagara on east, to a Forty Mile Creek

To a nondescript farm and a Chateauguay sneak


From Queenstown to Lundy, Detroit and the Thames

The Boxer and Enterprise, surrender of Maine

Through Ohio and Plattsburg, to a Moravian town

The war it did rage for Miss Liberty’s crown


Cities would fall and the towns they would burn

First Newark then York; it was Washington’s turn

War’s firebrand eyes thrust farther to yield

And finally burn in an Orleans field


What came but a draw in this foolish man’s quest

For power and glory are such meaningless guests

Whatever the gain from the lives that were lost

For the hawkish bent men who lied at great cost


And the curtain still fell, so majestic and proud

As if sensing the chaos, so soothing its sound

Like the rapturous strains of a torrent, transcends

To emerge as a call at the Outaouais end


The years fell away and the anger did wane

Rush-Baggot had calmed such a petulant strain

An American age brought prosperity’s peace

As a confidant pace of change was unleashed


But the land to the north so upright and proud

Was paranoid still to the south’s freedom sound

A country that cried for security’s calm

Yet stands all alone ‘gainst a threatening psalm


But this land full of lakes and rivers and streams

Was a natural course for a military dream

For fear set in stride a magnificent quest

To build a canal that was strategically blessed


While the mighty St Laurence was a natural draw

It was fraught with real danger from its rapid rock falls

And upstream it ran from a thunderous roar

Too close to the south with its threatening core


And the Ottawa ran to St Laurence’s call

To strike from the north and a western landfall

An historical route that opened the west

Where the traders would meet at the curtain for rest


Yet two rivers did run from a common high ground

To the south and the north from Lake Rideau their sound

From the shallows and falls through the marshes and swamps

From King’s town to Wright’s town, two rivers as one


To build a canal through this wilderness screams

Of a madness and curse of the military’s dream

A task so immense, so daunting and brash

That only the British could fathom this task


But the British did find a man of the Corp

A Wellington man from the Peninsular War

A man who had held the Canadian Shield

So right for this task with indefatigable zeal


John By was a Colonel and a leader of men

Ahead of his time and a genius, well bred

An engineer’s man with a passionate streak

For simplicity’s beauty with its functional speak


With orders to build a navigable course

From the Outaouais south to St Laurence’s source

To rise from a bay named the Entrance – way crept

Up flight after flight, like some nautical step


A plan was developed and contracts were signed

Engineering so simple with symmetrical lines

Pure genius at work with a heavenly hand

To guide and instruct a magnanimous man


With Drummond and Redpath, Phillips, MacKay

Canadian contractors, strong men of their day

These artists of stone were men of their word

So forthright and loyal to the Colonel’s accord


The sappers and miners and mason’s stones lay

Stonecutters and woodmen, all of the trades

For comfort, their spirit; their love of the crown

Romantic and colourful, these men of the realm


But the marvelous work that was soon to unfold

Was dependent upon the poor labourer’s code

The back wrenching work to clear out the land

And dig such a ditch with just spades in their hands


Such men from hard times, forever were cursed

To fight for survival and work through their thirst

Through backbreaking strains as their calloused hands scream

As they toiled and they toiled for this military dream


The Frenchmen held sway with their skill and savvy

So noble these men and their role as navvies

Independent of mind with a will to succeed

Just pride in their work and their songs and their deeds


But an Irishman’s fate to arrive at this place

To rescue one’s life from some wretched like fate

The scourge of the earth in the Englishman’s eye

Forgotten at home, they severed all ties


For a pestilence spread to drive them afar

From an emerald isle to this devil’s back yard

Though beauty may rest on the eye from beyond

A hellish nightmare was reality’s song


Just rags on their backs with their wives by their side

With children so weak from starvation and pride

A thousand would fall from a dengueish like hue

And die from this work’s laborious flu


Poor brothers would cry as their graves had been marked

So blind to the danger and the peril from sparks

As the powder was set with a magical link

Their lives were extinguished from the death blast’s cruel drink


And the lakes and the streams, swift water, rock falls

Were captured and tamed by this engineer’s call

Magnificent feats what By had achieved

In this harsh, hellish wilderness was hard to conceive


The entrance way blessed by a protestant prayer

The first stone was set by John Franklin with care

Not mindful as yet that his greatness was cast

To die in the north from the Arctic’s cold blast


The curse of Hog’s Back; an Isthmus scourge

The tranquility of Chaffey’s; Long Island was purged

At Burritt’s and Black, these rapids were tamed

And Merrickville’s beauty, a religious refrain


With names like Poonamalie, with its cedar incense

An Indian aura in a wilderness sense

Opinicon’s names and a Cranberry fog

The curse of the labourer to die in this bog


The dam at the falls known locally as Jones

Is a testament still to its magnificent stone

Block upon block in a crescent like stance

Like a rampart of genius or an engineer’s dance


The work underway, six years to progress

The locks were completed and the dams were well dressed

Through steamy hot summers, through sweat and death’s fear

Through winter’s ice jams; hell’s nightmare those years


The locks and the dams, wastewater and weirs

The cut at the entrance, eight steps to the piers

The breadth of this work remains unfathomable, sealed

As a masterpiece set in the Canadian Shield


Building the Rideau Canal - The Canadian Encyclopedia


The threat from the south was all but contained

For the status quo boundary was all that was gained

From the firestorm set in those years long ago

Extinguished for good as a friendship would grow


Poor tragedy’s mark on this cornerstone lay

On the heart of a man who held the Rideau at bay

Called back by a King who questioned his deed

A question of funds from some zealot to heed


An inquiry would set the tone through the years

To diminish By’s feats; he was ignored by his peers

His spirit would die from his countrymen’s chill

And not from the bog or the Isthmus ills


Yet his legacy flows for our nation to see

A wonderment still, a magnificent deed

To balance such beauty with a functional stream

Through a Canadian wilderness with just minimal means


But the jewel in the crown of this engineer’s quest

Was not the canal or his technical best

For a town had been born in the Outaouais scene

In this land full of lakes and rivers and streams


By the Barracks Hill shanty near the Sapper’s stone bend

A magnificent tower of peace would ascend

From a lower town swamp to an upper town’s view

A great city would grow with great values imbued


For this capital’s crown of achievement remains

From the peaceful green flow of the Rideau, contained

The seeds of a city and a national theme

To build a great country with the freedom to dream


And the curtain still falls, so majestic and proud

Like a sentinel’s call or a passionate bow

For the genius who toiled on the Outaouais scene

And left such a mark with this beautiful stream


Peace Tower in Ottawa, Ontario |

Copyright John Morrison 2005

This song by the recently passed Canadian musical icon, Gordon Lightfoot, tells the tail of another national project that became the lifeline and foundation of the modern Canadian nation.

Kurofune and other books I have written. Good reads with great reviews.

Check them out at: of click on the links at the top of this page.


David Thompson (Koo Koo Sint)

Not sure how many of you out there have ever heard of David Thompson. He was without a doubt one of history’s greatest navigators – land that is. He could be placed on the same footing as Captain Cook, history’s greatest maritime navigator.

Thompson opened up the Canadian and US Northwest map with his various journeys from Lake Superior / Hudson’s Bay to the mouth of the Columbia River. He was born in London in 1770; hired by the Hudson Bay Company at the age of fourteen; and worked for the Northwest Company (1797….) of Traders for most of his professional life. As with most Canadian explorers he was never recognized by his government, dying penniless and in abject poverty in 1857. London’s Arrowsmith, the world’s leading cartographers of the time stole his maps and ripped him off of all royalties. Tragic. Interestingly, he married a Metis woman, Charlotte Small, of whom he stayed married to all of his adult life…for 57 years. That was unheard of in those days. They had thirteen children.

He outsourced and out-surveyed Lewis and Clark making them appear to be mere cartoon characters by comparison. Indeed, if Thompson had been an American his memory and body of work would have been lauded and placed front and center by the Smithsonian Institute of Washington DC. Indeed, a theme park would have been constructed in his memory. In Canada? Nada.

The following is a poem I wrote in his memory. Hope you like it:

Two Shillings and Six Pence

(David Thompson 1770-1857)


This winter’s shade  ‘s so cold and pale

It besets my gaze and arthritic limp

With chills and hunger’s ceaseless laugh

I sit like poverty’s brazen pimp


I sense death’s subtle whisper there

As she smothers all thoughts of present, seeing

No past, no future, no joyful screams

Just drains my life-blood’s present, being


Too weak to cry or beg to feed

Only Charlotte’s love to soothe my fear

To lose all pride and self esteem

For a morsel’s taste of youth to cheer


Two shillings here and six pence keeps

My life away from some beggar’s fate

How I laugh at such a meagre scrip

And a legacy lost to some scoundrel’s bait


This Judas touch forsakes my warmth

Within this cloak of adventurous tales

While hunger sings its cryptic, sorrowful song

So hauntingly long, so distressingly stale


Yet my hands betray my mind’s ambition

Of an artist’s touch that sowed this land

From the chartless wasteland’s fearsome grasp

To mark and plot from a surveyor’s stand


For I observed the cold Prince Rupert lands

That surrounds the grey vast inland sea

As I tracked the tundra’s hard core frost

And fed my mind’s curiosity


I observed the wasteland’s magnetic strength

That draws one in like a madman’s gaze

And witnessed the great white creature’s feats

These lords of the barrens, of the inland bays


I observed the lands where the muskrat calls

And let the beaver seduce the zealot’s mind

I observed, and marked…ten thousand times marked

And culled the wilderness’ fearsome grind


I observed and marked…ten thousand times… marked

With my dear and dependable friends

I marked the time on my sextant’s arc

And undermined the sun’s eternal bend


I observed and marked ‘cross prairie grass

Stark contrast ‘gainst the granite’s stoic stance

As far away as my good eye could see

Just wave upon wave in a dreamlike trance


I observed the rivers that fed a thousand lakes

As their headwaters announced a torrent of spring

I observed the power of the snow pack’s flood

That fed and nourished my soul to sing


I marked the mountains with my measured glimpse

As they dwarfed my being within heaven’s glance

I observed their snow tops blinding strength

Like whitecaps whirled in some frightening dance


I reduced the stars from their heavenly maze

Like magic that masks the mathematician’s skill

Or the illusionist’s trick that traps an ignorant man

To marvel at some sorcerer’s will


I dared to dream of stars to capture thus

With my filtered plates and their golden arc

And hear my mark like some winsome sonnet, ring

And resonate through the superstitious dark


I marked the paths across this special land

Each river, each stream, each mountain pass clear

From Superior’s strength to Columbia’s Bar

And the 49th line in my sextant’s mirror


Yet my great map there in the great hall falls

Like a silent echo of some passionate deed

Observe… deceit in its projection thus

While rotting there in its mold-like seed


But the pain that lives within my heart

Not sorrowful pity or self-loathing disgust

It’s Arrowsmith’s torment, which lingers so

And rips my heart with such subtle thrusts


Just memories now to ease my pain

Such wondrous thoughts that no wealth could bring

 And marvelous dreams of dreams await

On the plains and the foothills, where the mountain streams sing


I’ll embrace death’s call for my observer’s touch

For I made my mark and claimed my stake

I unlocked the secrets that my Lord did cast

And traced a course for man’s knowledge sake.

Check out my other literary offerings. Good reads with great reviews.

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Not dedicated to Thompson but a great song nevertheless.

Have a great Easter weekend and remember that Jesus’s sacrifice has set us all free.


No Joke

Truth, Justice and the Canadian way:

Criminal illegal immigrants are flooding into Canada and bringing their firearms and drugs with them. Why?

A man facing 40 months in jail for gun and heroin charges won’t have to serve any of them due to his Metis heritage . This individual was convicted of heroin trafficking and possession of an illegal firearm in 2018, but on appeal the B.C. Appeal Court ruled that the man’s heritage reduced his “moral blameworthiness” (sic) enough to justify skipping a jail sentence.

Wow. Remember, Metis are half breeds. One half is traditionally indigenous while the other half is traditionally French Canadian. In Canada that mix equates to a get out of jail free card and free money.

“Wow,” one illegal half breed immigrant was heard to say. “Life here in Canada is really, really good. Living the hallucinatory dream man, living the hallucinatory dream with no consequences whatsoever. And, with Canada’s lax immigration laws, I’m bringing in all of my extended criminal family just as soon as I find a good BC lawyer. Man, life is really, really good.”

Also, in Canada:

It is perfectly acceptable for Ottawa to bar grant money to non-profits depending on whether they support abortion, according to a new Federal Court decision . In 2017, the federal government required any organization applying for summer jobs program funding to sign an attestation declaring their support for “the right to access safe and legal abortions.” After Toronto’s Right to Life Association brought a court challenge alleging the policy infringed on their religious freedoms, Federal Court Justice Catherine Kane concluded it had, but not enough to matter.

“But, there is no narrative here so move on” so says Canada’s wishy washy justice system. “It is but it isn’t.”

Again in Canada:

In the last parliament Quebecer Steven Guilbeault was the face of Bill C-10, the Liberal’s push to censor the internet harder than any other Western democracy. Now he’s the Environment Minister. Guilbeault becomes the first person in the office to have once been arrested for unfurling a banner from the CN Tower that read “Canada and Bush Climate Killers.”

Who says crime doesn’t pay? This guy is an avowed anti fossil fuel activist with a criminal past. He will do everything in his power to shut down Alberta’s and Canada’s oil and gas industry sector.

My thanks to the National Post’s “First Reading.”

Next up. Victoria changes name to Camosun. Victoria Day is changed to Pierre Elliot Trudeau Day. British Columbia is changed to Columbia Gold or BC Bud.

This is no joke:

The Supreme Court of Canada is ruling this week on whether it was illegal for a Canadian comedian to tell jokes.

I kid you not. Now this is a joke:

Melanie Joli is appointed Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Canada’s beleaguered senior military staff who were once posted overseas are shaking in the boots over this one. Trudeau was heard to remark. “Just as our budget will balance itself, I have no interest in foreign affairs, unless our senior military staff are involved.”

Lester Pearson is rolling in his grave no doubt.

Only in Canada you say? I want my country back.

To all of Trudeau’s cabinet, especially the 25% from the province of Quebec, I give you this:





This Is Rich

Oh this is rich:

This is even richer:

The End of Bilingualism? Trudeau government will recognize French as the official language of Quebec.

He is bent on destroying Canada.

Richest BS:

His arrogance knows no bounds.


Is that his new squeeze? Rules are for thee and not for me.





Woke Up People

See the source image

Toxic Canadian white men land at Juno Beach 06 June 1944.

Ah, the millennial generation. Don’t ya just love it. Shout out to our wonderful leftist educational system that brought this generation into the world. Just think what their offspring will bring to the table. Consider:

Sunday was June 6. What pray tell happened on June 6? Our PM has no clue as there was no mention of this important date in history by him or anyone else in Canada;

There is a movement out there to cancel Canada Day;

Canada now has the highest level of debt of any G7 or G20 country. Higher than the so called failed states of Greece or Spain / Italy;

Residential school outrage – there has always been and always will be residential school outrage. It is tragic and sad but we know not of the circumstances behind this, other than the fact that it occurred…in the past;

Trudeau demands Catholic church address the residential school atrocities, issue an apology, which they have done numerous times, and hand over their records –  but no mention of the Anglican and United Church’s culpability in all of this;

Trudeau considers himself a feminist yet does very manly toxic masculinity things including firing two of his most important female cabinet ministers;

Trudeau calls us all racist yet I cannot remember ever wearing blackface – as our fearless leader had done three or four times;

Trudeau is against cultural misappropriation yet does that very thing with his trip to India;

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Trudeau has branded Canada a racist country guilty of genocide. Think about that. Every Canadian is guilty of genocide. The most heinous crime against humanity…ever.  Our PM says so. By making that statement Canada is on the same path as Nazi Germany, Uganda, Turkey and the Pol Pot regime.  So why hasn’t the Hague and the International Court taken action on the PM and his cohorts? Why hasn’t a Nuremberg style trial been initiated?;

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Trudeau supports Quebec separation by his acknowledgement that Quebec is a nation within Canada and has every right to change and amend our constitution without having been a signatory on it. But, the other provinces have no right to do the same;

Trudeau believes that the only good PMs of Canada have come from Quebec;

Trudeau is bent on the destruction of the Canadian economy and supports the so called great reset;

Trudeau loves the Chinese government;

Trudeau and his cohorts believe Climate Change is an existential threat because CO2 is a poison. That comment alone should scare people as Co2 is one of life’s building blocks. It is not a poison. Without it there would be no hospitable planet to live on;

Trudeau has put Canadian lives at risk by his poor response to the pandemic;

And on and on it goes. And yet his popularity increases.

I do not get it other than he is a product of this so called woke culture that is destroying the western world.

Wake up Canada to this Canadian woke madness. Vote this guy out of office at the next election.

Consider that:

Two toxic Canadian white men discovered insulin and saved millions of lives;

A toxic English white man discovered penicillin and saved millions of lives;

A toxic Jewish white man discovered the polio vaccine and saved millions of lives;

Hundreds of thousands of toxic white men led the fight against Nazi Germany and Hirohito’s Japan, and saved millions and millions of lives;

100,000 Canadian toxic white men of the Canadian Corp won the First World War during the last 100 days of the Great War.

To name but a few toxic white men.


Yes we are but not for reasons of wokeness.


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