9. The O.A. & P.S. Rail

Mark Despault, 2017

JR Booth had a huge impact on the Ottawa Valley, the lumber business and the development of the land that what would eventually become Algonquin Park. In this trilogy, we try to tell some of his story starting from his early days growing up on a farm in the eastern townships, taking a ride on The Ottawa-Arnprior & Parry Sound Rail which ran from Ottawa to Depot Harbour.

It was the largest railroad in its time owned and operated by one man. Depot Harbour was built by JR Booth to accommodate the unloading of various cargo from Great Lakes ships and continue transporting the commodities via rail. The town was destroyed by fire in the 19th century and is now a forgotten ghost town.


I hopped on board a train one day
From Bytown I was bound
Rollin cross Ontario
And heading for the Sound
Well first at Carp the engine stopped    
The conductor he did say
Well sir is this where you depart?
No I’m going all the way

From Ottawa to Arnprior  and then past Barry’s Bay
Along the shore of Carson Lake
A steammin’ all the way
From the  Madawaska River run
It’s really not that far
To the rocky shores of Georgian  Bay
On the O.A. & P.S. R.

Well we rolled passed farms and freight sheds too
Till we pulled into Arnprior
Then passed on by the Kick and Push
Like we was set of fire
At Eganville we stopped to rest
And took on water too
Then made our way to Golden Lake
And on to Killaloe


The hills began to grow and grow
All the way to Barry’s Bay
By Carson Lake through Whitney town
We steamed along our way
By afternoon we’d left behind
The cliffs at Rock Lakes shores
Past Little Joe and Brule Lakes
Then Rainy Lake and more


When we finally left the Highlands
We were surely on our way
To the town of Depot Harbour
On the shores of Georgian Bay
And that’s my tale and I must say
It really was a lark
The time I crossed Ontario
On the O.A. & P.S. R.