Welcome to the
Slate Falls Loggers' Memorial Site
Lower Madawaska River
Brudenell, Lyndoch & Raglan Township
Gravemarker Cemetery Album Effective - July 2008
1. Credit is given to G a r n e t W i l k e s, N o r m a n S c h i e m a n n, D i a n e D i l l o n and K e n H a r r i s who generously
and enthusiastically volunteered to help out by travelling by road and canoe to photograph the inscriptions on these stone markers. Their
hard work, dedication and interest in cleaning away moss to uncover the names; and preserving these burial sites, has been priceless.
2. Additional credit is given to G a r n e t W i l k e s who has kindly agreed to be an online contact.
Follow Hwy 41 from Eganville in the north or from Napanee in the south, to the town of Griffith. At Griffith turn north onto the Hyland
Creek Road. At approximately the 14 km point, on Hyland Creek Road, turn left on an unmarked bush road. Travel approx 1 km to
the river to launch canoe. This portion of the river is within the boundaries of The Lower Madawaska River Provincial Park. No fees
are required. Visitors must then paddle up river approx 1 km to the bottom of Slate Falls and cross to the south (left) bank. The
inscribed rocks are located back in on the banks at the base of the falls around a rough trail which used to be the portage around the
falls and is easy to traverse. A map is included among the photos below.
Logging in the wilderness forests of Ontario was at its peak in the late 19th & early 20th century. The logs would be cut in the winter
and hauled onto the ice. In the spring, when the rivers were swollen from the spring thaw, they would be floated downriver to markets
in Ottawa, Quebec and even overseas to Europe. The Madawaska River, which originates in the Lake of Two Rivers in Algonquin Park and
terminates at Arnprior Ont, where it flows into the Ottawa River, was used extensively for this purpose. Logging was an extremely
dangerous business especially for the log drivers who floated the logs down river. The Madawaska River was very treacherous in places.
Slate Falls was one of these places and it claimed the lives of many men who came from all over to earn a meager living on the annual
river drive. When the logs would "jam up" it would be the job of these log drivers to clear the jam quickly before it became too large
and to get the logs moving again. They had to walk out on the tangled logs in the fast moving water and attempt to clear the jam with
long pike poles. If this didn't work they would use dynamite. They took extreme risks & many were drowned or died from other accidents.
They used no safety equipment and no life jackets. If the body was recovered, sometimes much later, it would be buried wherever it was
found, wherever a grave could be dug. It was not practical in those times to return the body to his family because no access roads
existed to these wilderness areas to permit a timely return. Therefore, many men were buried along the Madawaska River in unmarked graves
where they were found. The inscriptions, chiseled by hand into the granite rocks at Slate Falls by their friends and fellow workers, are a
permanent record of only some of the unfortunate men who died and are buried near Slate Falls, earning their livelihood driving logs
down the Madawaska River.
History provided by Garnet Wilkes.