Water

An important consideration of the first settlers was a reliable source of water. Failing the presence of a natural spring a well was dug and various methods, usually related to the depth of the well, of bringing the water to the surface were used. They ranged from a long pole weighted at one end and a hook to suspend a bucket at the other end to the traditional cylinder and rope method. 

Hand made pumps such as this one were also an interesting option.

Photo 1902

With time a more modern pump was available.

Originally they were installed out of doors but soon the reality of winters in Quebec saw them brought indoors and mounted on a counter in the kitchen. These pumps were used in country homes until electricity finally came to the Township between the late 1940’s and 1960’s.

Photo 1940

Originally water was drawn from a well dug for each residence, in both urban and rural areas of the Township. In 1910 the village residents finally had water system installed.

The following information re the installation of the waterworks was taken from an address by Henry Lord’s son, Eddy, to the Rawdon Chamber of Commerce, October 9, 1952.

 In 1909  a representative group of residents of Rawdon approached William Lord of St Jacques de Montcalm requesting he build an aqueduct for their town. After careful consideration and planning Mr. Lord sent his son, Henry, to install the requested water system in Rawdon. 

The work started that year and was completed in 1910. The water was taken from a stream running north of Queen Street and went down the village as far as Crowe’s (the brick house on the corner of Metcalfe Street and 4th Avenue). The source of water was below the village level and so a ram, a self propelling device in common use at the time, was installed to pump the water through the system.

Of the population of about 557 people, 18 property owners subscribed to the water system giving a total of $180. per year to pay Lord for this new service. The first subscriber was John Daly. From this seemingly slow start, demand outgrew the supply and in 1939 Henry built a dam on a stream coming down from Lake Brennan and Lac Clair. The main pipeline was changed from a 4” (approx. 10 cm.) pipe to pipes of 6” and 8” (approx. 10 to 20 cm.). 

A funny anecdote was told about this new source of water causing decided frustration among the clients. 

Apparently about 6 o’clock every morning and evening water from their taps became noticeably sandy. This new inconvenience did not go down well among the subscribers and complaints were soon flowing freely.

The farmer on whose land the dam was built got an earful about the muddy water from a very unhappy lady, his mother. 

Hearing her rant he immediately realized the cause of the problem. He pastured his cows in a field on the other side the dam. Twice a day he drove his herd through the creek feeding the dam stirring the mud and sand. 

That evening he moved the crossing to a site with a more stable bed slightly farther up the creek. Once again the water in the village ran clear.

The mother, nor anyone else, was ever told the source of the contamination. The secret remained a secret.

Again in 1946, the demand outgrew the supply and a new source of water was needed. Henry Lord engaged engineers to survey the area for another source of water.

Lake Vail, a spring fed lake with enough height to give adequate pressure, was considered  a promising source but at this time Mr. Lord felt he could not invest the required capital.

By 1948 Henry  was not in good health and sold the water system to his son, Eddy. The latter immediately looked around for a less expensive solution to the problem of inadequate water supply for the ever increasing population.

The Minister of Health gave permission for the water to be taken from the Oureau River below the Gatineau Power Dam. Two thousand feet of 8” (approx. 20 cm.) pipe was purchased and a 100 h.p electric pump with a gas auxiliary in case of a power failure, was to be installed. This was expected to have a capacity of pumping  1,000 gallon per minute into the system. Such an investment required a guarantee of some sort and Mr. Lord asked for a 25 year franchise from the village councillors.

The council considered purchasing the system would be a better idea and in January 1950 a referendum was held on the subject. The result was a resounding approval for purchase. (191 for, 15 against).

In May 1951 the municipality purchased the system with Eddy Lord appointed manager.

Nothing was done to increase the water available until a few years later when Lake Vail was finally tapped.

Once again the demand outgrew the supply and soon villagers were complaining long and loud about lack of water pressure, yellow water and plain, dirty water. For years their cries went unheeded. 

Meantime in the township various areas had their own water supplies, installed by the individual land developers. Various degrees of satisfaction to the recipients regarding the quantity and quality of water.

The provincial government established basic requirements for all water supplies. Legislation was passed by the provincial government requiring municipal councils to take over all private systems and bring them up to the new standards. The village corporation tapped onto the township supply where it was feasible.

With the fusion of the township and village in 1995 the waterworks came under a single jurisdiction and a new, more adequate, supply became a primary concern which still has not been resolved.