The Plan to Drain Grant’s Creek

Posted by on November 16, 2023 in Blog Posts, Community & Family History, Featured Flag | 0 comments

Every spring, as we travelled to the sugar camp, we would cross a flow of water moving from Grant’s Creek to the Tay River. The water would be about one to two feet deep in March and April, but the remainder of the year, the channel would be relatively dry. This seemed to be a natural watercourse and for farm convenience a small culvert was installed at one crossing, and, at the second crossing, loose stones were embedded in the mud to allow horses and light loads to cross during the spring. The news items were discovered in the Perth Courier of 13 Nov 1896 and 7 May 1897. Hopefully further research (and gathering together of personal paper) Will provide more information. Did this project proceed? or not? Or did the landowners have to wait until the Haggart dam deteriorated until they regained some of the lost land? If so, only a small land reclamation of the potential land reclamation would be possible. Grant’s Creek continues to flow along it’s natural course.

The power of the land-owners in Bathurst township was no match for that of the mill owners and political structure in the town of Perth and left the farmers to remedy the situation they considered unfair. Each of the affected landowners had received a grant of 100 acres but were handicapped in benefiting from their grants when Haggart’s dam was built and a large portion of the grant was flooded. The banks of Grant’s Creek are low-lying and easily flooded, creating marsh and swamps as the creek flows through relatively flat land.

On 13th November 1896 – The proposal

“Some time ago, in answer to a petition from a number of ratepayers interested the Bathurst township council engaged Mr Alfred Morris, C.E., of Perth, to make a survey and estimate of cost, and draw plans, of a scheme proposed to drain a part of Grant’s Creek from Glen Tay to the town limits. At present, a large area of good land is drowned through the back water up Grant’s Creek by the dam at Haggart’s mill; and the amounty of land estimated to be capable of being reclaimed by draining this part of the creek is placed at 800 to 1,000 acres, an area equal to from eight to ten good-sized farms, and most of it supposed without doubt to be excellent farm land. Mr. Morris completed the survey, etc., a few weeks ago, and on the 26th Oct. laid his report and plans before the council.

In this image we can see the impact of the the very small “Grant Creek” waterway as it winds it’s way between the Glen Tay sideroad and Perth. It also shows the impact of the creek on the farms between the Scotch Line and the Christie Lake Road.

The Scheme Contemplated

At a point opposite to Glen Tay the channel of Grant’s Creek approaches to within no great distance of the River Tay, and at this point it is proposed to cut a ditch, following a natural depression from one stream to another, and along which the water at the spring freshets flows. This ditch would be 2,100 feet long, with a width of 20 feet at the bottom, and intended to throw the water of Grant’s Creek into the parent River Tay. If the scheme is adopted, immediately below this a dam is to be built across Grant’s Creek so as to allow no water flow down the old creek channel. This dam will be a substantial one of earth between stone retaining walls. The ditch cutting will be both through earth and rock.

Possible 'ditch' to connect Grant' Creek and the Tay River
Far left, upper quadrant is the Tay River. Right side is the winding Grant’s Creek. The light line between the two about the centre of the circle is a shallow, seasonal waterway between the creek and the river and can be followed into the upper left quadrant via the tree line. The John Miller Park label is about the location of two farm crossings of this possible ditch, and the farm crossings.

To prevent the water backing up from the Tay into Grant’s Creek, at the outlet in Perth, two dams will have to be built – one at the “Devil’s Rock,” near the outlet, and the other just below the swale land, near the western limit of the Grant Matheson property, the first of timber crib work, filled with stone, six feet across the top, and the other of stone and earth ten feet wide at the top. The two lower dams will keep the water of the river from backing up into the creek both at the outlet and the low land on the neck of the peninsula of the Sym farm. It will only remain now to keep the reclaimed bed of Grant’s Creek clear of chance water, and force this lake-like expanse, as it now appears, to become dry farming land. This will be done by cutting a ditch from a point in the old channel between the two lower dams, across the front of the Grant Matheson land past the waterfront of the Canning factory and the Gemmell’s mill to the old watercourse still to be seen here, and following it to its outlet below Haggart’s dam. This ditch, including the small creek, will be 1,750 feet long, and will be one of the most expensive sections of the work, the cutting being principally of hard granite. This is in brief terms the scheme to be submitted to the farmers interested in draining this land. The engineer’s estimate of the cost is about $12,000, which includes all ditches, dams, claims for damages, culverts, payment for right of way, material, etc.

The work will go on if all the parties give their consent, and it will be strange if they do not. For land worth $50 an acre they will have to pay about $12, and their farms will be neater, healthier, anad improved in every way. In case of the scheme being carried out, the Council will borrow money and issue debentures to defray the cost, and the parties will be taxed, each one at a rate to be determined by the engineer or other competent person. We hope to see the matter brought forward again without delay, and have an eyesore to this district blotted out.

Grant’s Creek- 7 May 1897

“The Bathurst township council have engaged Mr. Alfred Morris, C.E., to make a survey of the dry lands in the first and second concession lines of Bathurst from Glen Tay to Perth, with the object of finding out the area of lands in this distance that would be recovered from the present flooding of Grant’s Creek; and he is now at work at his job. Messrs. Hughes & O’Brien (the former of Perth, the latter of Renfrew) have put in an offer of $11,000, doing all the work of draining the submerged district, according to the plans, and the matter will be considered by the council at the proper time.

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