By MAGGIE M, Editor, Wedgee-in-Chief, East Ontario Trekker
The royal was reportedly elated. “It’s the most beautiful place in Canada,” Princess Louise, Daughter of Queen Victoria, had said while visiting Jones Falls, Ontario.
I have heard similar effusive remarks in the last few years from a number of visitors and Parks Canada employees. “You have to see Jones Falls,” they would accentuate in hushed tones, as though they were divulging the location of a hidden treasure.
This verdant location by virtue of its layout is indeed beautiful and frankly, unspoiled. There are two establishments that have been serving the public for some time: Hotel Kenney and Shangri-la cottages and camping. You can swim at the Shangri-la’s tiny beach or picnic on its grounds. The locks offer many picnic spots and tables.
The view in Jones Falls is spectacular.
Unfortunately, the Kenney is closed this 2019 for major renovations. It is rumoured the property is for sale. This beautiful, grand cottage was surely in the Princess’ thoughts. The wedge hopes for a 2020 rebirth of this historic place, either under current or new ownership.
The Kenney was the foodservice destination at Jones Falls. Restaurants are a mere 20 minutes at nearby Elgin or more abundantly in the renown village of Westport. The Cove Inn is an excellent choice for an extensive menu and patio dining throughout the day and evening–and an overnight stay.
Jones Falls has features as no other. The stone arch dam built in the late 19th century was an engineering feat, the first in the world. This is a must see on your travails. Find out why it is called the “Whispering Dam.”
It was said by workers during construction, it is the “Seventh Wonder of the World”, and is easily the most spectacular engineering structure on the Rideau Canal.”
The Whispering Dam:
Originally designed to be 17 m (48 ft) in height, it was increased by 2.5 m (8 ft) at the bottom (to find solid bedrock in the river bed) and 2 m (7 ft) at the top (to prevent overflow). It extends 107 m (350 ft) across the gorge and was the tallest dam in North America when it was built. It consists of three sections. First, a masonry face that is 8.5 m (27″ 6″) wide at the base, then, a clay puddle core for watertightness in the middle and lastly, earth fill on top, extending 39 m (127 ft) upstream. Like the locks, all the stones were carted from a quarry 10 km (6 mi) away. The old riverbed at the base of the dam supports a unique and fragile plant community. The protected southern exposure and fertile soil that is moistened by seepage from the dam supports mosses, liverworts, sedges, mint, touch-me-not, turtle head and Jack-in-the-pulpit. The dam has often been called the “whispering dam” because its acoustics allow the sound of someone speaking at one end of the face to be heard at the other. A viewing platform and interpretive display panel are at the western end. (Reproduced under Fair Use, Parks Canada.)
There are many features beyond the view, the locks and the dam. Parks Canada fleshes them out beautifully here. There is a surprising connection to Redpath Sugar.
Pack a picnic, get in the car and drive to Jones Falls.