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The Lady of the Stones
This poem was written by John Morrison who emailed it to me in 2006 with the note:

"I miss the Rideau River. Even though I now live in beautiful Mill Bay, BC, I lived for 11 years in Manotick and just loved spending time on what I thought was my little piece of heaven - the Rideau River. Spent many hours exploring by canoe the local area - from the Swan Pub, Manotick's Grist Mill up to Long Island Locks and all the places in between. Great stuff. I'll always cherish those years."

The following is the tragic tale of the death in 1861 of Ann Crosby, newly wed wife of Joseph Currier, the partner of Moss Kent Dickinson. Moss and Joseph built a beautiful stone mill at Manotick in 1860. Joe married Ann in 1861 and a month later took her on a tour of the new mill. A tragedy was about to unfold. Read on ...

The Lady of the Stones

When the moon shines bright on a cold winter’s night
As the wind frost chills the bones
While life is asleep ‘cept for the spirit it keeps
Amid the cries and the wails and the moans

All alone in the night in the soft winter’s light
Runs a river that’s cries as it leaps
Over weir and some falls as if dancing it calls
For the lady of the stones on the wheat

There stands all alone from a structure of stone
A whisper of death and despair
A suffering soul who cries out for her beau
Lost, breathless, alone she will stare

A lady so pale in her death knell she wails
For her time that was so tragically brief
Her soulful spent mourns and her perpetual scorn
For her life that was wrought by a thief


Moss Dickensen came to this landscape whose name
Its mantle Ojibwayan speak
Of a land all alone in a river that roams
From Big Rideau to the Ottawa it seeks

Moss Dickensen possessed as Joe Currier confessed
Great insight and vision to spare
One thing that he knew from this river would brew
Great fortune, great wealth and great fare

A partnership grew with Joe Currier, Moss proved
That a mill would be true to their dreams
A town that would grow from the natural flow
From the Rideau and land in the stream

The building that grew, stonemason’s cuts true
Majestic with a Scottish-like ring
The millstones were laid, then dressed and well made
From the skill that Tom Langrell’s hands bring

From the weir and the falls as the water is culled
By the timbers the current it bleeds
Directed through stalls, turn turbines, run sloughs
For the seed that a town dearly needs

Like grist to the mill old Manotick filled
With millers and farmers and feed
Prosperity grew from raw powered hewn tools
From a river that flowed to their needs

Joe Currier was blessed with good fortune and zest
That he married the girl of his dreams
Ann Crosby did come from Lake George she did run
To the arms of her lover she beamed

Yet fate has a way of having its say
When life is idyllic and sane
For the riches and fame for Joe Currier’s reign
Like the king of the Rideau in name

On one fateful day in March so they say
In eighteen and sixty-one
The first anniversary of the town’s new prosperity
On a day that should have been fun

Joe Currier is seen with Ann Crosby they’d been
From their wedding just one month before
Brimming with pride, a new life and new bride
His fortune had come to fore

With their wives by their side both men went inside
The mill had just started to run
The stop logs removed and the water gushed through
The turbines they started to turn

The shafts all-awhirl, the millstones grind shrill
The walls and the floorboards did sing
A deafening roar as the water gushed forth
Was music to the ears of these men

A danger in sight but blind to their plight
The couples they walked up the stairs
On the second floor stage, they stood in a daze
As the music did play through the air

Ann walked out in time oblivious in kind
As she looked at the marvels unfold
But mechanical whirls will tear off the swirls
From loose coats and those crinoline folds

Quick as a flash Ann faltered and smashed
Her head to the pillar and shaft
For her crinoline caught in a running gear fraught
With danger and death as it laughed

Her cranium whacked like a walnut it cracked
‘Gainst the pillar and shaft and the gears
Her eyes all ablaze in a mad induced craze
Amidst the screams and the wails and her fear

The light of her soul dimmed slowly then cold
As the darkness had captured her being
Her spirit was lost to mortality’s cause
Forever to mourn at this scene


As the years fell away and the memories fade
And life carried on as it will
The turbines still turn and the millstones still churn
Like time, like grist to the mill

Stranger be warned of a town that was born
From a river and land that was tamed
By men of such strength that they went to great lengths
For some profit, some glory, some fame

For a specter appears from a window so clear
For lost lovers, lost souls and lost tears
Poor Ann all alone in her death spell she roams
Amid the pillars, the shafts and the gears

For alone in the night in the soft winter’s light
Runs a river that’s cries as it leaps
Over weir and some falls as if dancing it calls
For the lady of the stones on the wheat

© John Morrison, June 2005
Manotick, Ontario

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