Richard Birdsall Rogers -Miscellany

Biography and Career

Miscellaneous Items Categorized by Year:
1880's 1890's 1900's 1910's 1920's 1930's 1940's 1950's 1960's 1970's Undated



Following is a sample of materials found in the Collection. Included are: a Brochure Excerpt on the Trent Valley Route [189-], a Transcript of Rogers' Letter Requesting an Investigation (1905), a Transcript of Rogers' Preface to the Holgate Report (1915), Transcripts of Letters Relating to a Settlement with Department of Railways & Canals
(1925-1927), and an image of the Front Cover of the Peterborough Examiner 1979 Souvenir Edition of the 75th Anniversary of the Opening of the Peterborough Lift Lock.


Miscellaneous Items...

The Trent Valley Route
The Water-Way of Canada
(Brochure Excerpt)

A Few Reasons

Why the Government of Canada should push on with the immediate construction of those portions of the Trent Valley Route still necessary to the completion of a continuous line of Barge Navigation extending from tide-water at Montreal, through the St. Lawrence and Bay of Quinte to Trenton , thence through the chain of lakes and rivers lying between Trenton and the Georgian Bay at Midland and thence along the Eastern shores of the Georgian Bay as far as Sault St. Marie

[Note: The following are excerpts from ‘The Trent Valley Route" brochure. Only the Reasons have been listed here. In the brochure each of the fourteen reasons is followed with proof and statistics.]

Front Cover


Reason One

Because the full development of the natural resources of our country require that the cost of transport between its different parts and between them and the sea-board shall be reduced to and kept at the lowest possible point.

Reason Two

Because wherever available, waterways have invariably proved themselves the most economical means of transport for the bulkier and weightier articles of commerce, and consequently the best regulators of freight rates, and the only mode of transport which defies the machinations of combines.

Reason Three

Because the route by way of the Trent will be the shortest between the Great Lakes and tidewater

Reason Four

Because the Trent Route will afford the most economical route between the great lakes and Eastern Markets.

Reason Five

Because, when completed, this water-way will be a practical extension of the Harbour of Montreal into through the Midland district of the Province of Ontario; having a shore line of over 1000 MILES and having within a ten mile reach of its wharves an area of over SIX MILLION of acres, rich in forest, mineral and agricultural products.

Reason Six

Because the resources and products of the Midland-Ontario District are very largely of such a character, that the cheapest of cheap freights is a pre-requisite to their development.

Reason Seven

Because the natural and economical development of the manufacturing and agricultural interests of the District and the harvesting of its forest and mineral products are either unnecessarily retarded or rendered impossible for want of cheaper means of transport.

Reason Eight

Because in no other way can the Government of Canada, at so small a cost, do so much to promote both general and local interests as by the immediate completion of this waterway

Reason Nine

Because the surroundings and location of the Trent Route are such as to render it the ALL CANADIAN route par excellence between the Great Lakes and the seaboard – whether that seaboard be at Montreal, St. John’s or Halifax; because ONCE ON BOARD OF A TRENT ROUTE CRAFT, GRAIN STANDS NO RISK OF BEING TRANSFERRED THEREFROM BEFORE REACHING MONTREAL.

Reason Ten

Because the size of, and the relatively small capital required for, a Trent Route plant will ensure to the St. Lawrence route at Montreal advantages which cannot economically accrue from the use of vessels adapted to a 14 foot navigation.

Reason Eleven

Because the Trent Route will, in fact, be the "poor man’s" route. On lines of deep and wide navigation the vessels used are of necessity more costly and beyond the ownership of men of moderate means. On a line of barge navigation such as that of the Trent any one possessing a few thousand dollars of capital can engage in the business of transportation on its waters, and compete for the carrying trade tributary thereto.

Reason Twelve

Because by the Trent route, out of 1000 miles to be covered between Chicago or Fort William and Montreal, 450 miles is an inland, or perfectly protected navigation, by the use of which the tempestuous navigation of Lakes Erie and Ontario are entirely avoided and the cost of insurance proportionately reduced.

Reason Thirteen

Because the district through which this waterway passes, and to the further development of which its early completion is of such vital importance, already contains a population in excess of that of some of the Provinces of the Dominion that have and are contributing to the carrying out of undertakings which are of little direct of indirect benefit to them. The people of Midland – Ontario, have long enough been ground down by freight rates far in excess of those enjoyed by those at much greater distance from their common market. To them the building of railways and Canals have thus far only meant increased taxation, and increased competition.

Reason Fourteen

Because before this water route can be completed from end to end for traffic ALL THE ROUTES now under way WILL BE REQUIRED for the transportation of the rapidly growing trade of the West.


Collated for and Published by
The Trent Valley Association
J.R. Stratton, M.P.P., Chairman
S.R. Armstrong, Secretary


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Rogers' Letter Requesting an Investigation


Department of Railways and Canals

Ottawa, Nov. 21st, 1905


In view of the representatives recently made through the newspapers to the effect that there has been gross negligence in the construction work in connection with the Hydraulic Locks at Peterborough and Kirkfield, such representation seriously reflecting upon the Engineering and other supervision of these works, I beg leave to request that a thorough investigation be held into the matter.

Your obedient Servant,

Richd. B. Rogers
Superintending Engineer

M.J. Butler, Esq.
Chief Engineer,
Department of Railways and Canals.


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In connection with my reply to the report of H. Holgate, CE, Commissioner, appointed to enquire into the matter of alleged defects in the construction of the Hydraulic Lift Locks at Peterborough and Kirkfield, I beg to preface my reply with a few statements. Previous to my resignation, I had been in the service of the Government for nearly twenty-five years, during which time I have had the responsibility of designing works and expending the cost of the same, amounting to many millions of money; nevertheless, I have never had a charge of dishonesty or negligence proved against me. Notwithstanding this fact of faithful service, the Minister of Railways and Canals in the late Government did not consider that even this fact entitled me to an opportunity to vindicate myself before charges that practically robbed me of my profession – a right that any British subject might claim. This may be inferred from the letter addressed to me by the Secretary of the Department, dated February 18th, 1906, in which it is stated that, "the question is not a subject of contention or further correspondence."

Preface by R.B. Rogers to Holgate Report, 1915

After using every endeavor for the past three years, I at last obtained the consent of the present Minister of Railways and Canals to appoint a Commission to consider my reply to Mr. Holgate’s Report. The Commissioner’s Report, together with Mr. Holgate’s Report, and my reply, are appended herein.

Never was there truer exemplification of the old adage, "Making a mountain out of a mole hill," than is shown by the present case. Malicious and absurd reports having been published in the local Liberal organ, the "Peterborough Examiner," which was always antagonistic to my retaining the position of Superintending Engineer of the Canal after the change of Government in 1896 – as to the alleged defects in connection with the Hydraulic Lift Locks I Peterborough and Kirkfield, they were taken up by other papers and published throughout the length and breadth of the land, so it is little wonder that I applied to the Government to grant me an investigation into the matter, knowing the untruthfulness of such statements.

Outside of the unimportant and temporary leakage above referred to, there is no evidence whatever, either visible or oral, that these works, even after ten years’ service, are not everything they were intended to be, and have perfectly performed the purpose for which they were intended.

Owing to the fact that I was not represented by a special Counsel (a mistake I did not discover until it was too late to remedy), many pieces of favourable evidence were omitted, while others were left so as to leave an unfavorable impression.

As I considered the matter of such trivial importance, knowing the facts as I did, I was wholly unprepared, on the spur of the moment, to give the details of many of the questions that the Commissioner considered necessary to take up. The Commissioner, throughout his report, makes many damaging statements which are not warranted by evidence, nor are they according to facts, which can be proved by further evidence.

The Commissioner, in his report , has not done justice to the case even as presented, arriving at many important conclusions such as would not have been expected of an Engineer of experience. Neither do I consider that the Commissioner has been fair in the wording of many of his answers, as such bald statements and strong language are used that they give undue prominence to trivial matters. He has not placed responsibility where it belongs, and thus many unfavorable reflections have been cast upon me, for which I cannot be responsible. The fact that favorable points in the examination were not drawn out by an interested counsel, and evidence which I offered or suggested was not seized upon by the Commissioner, which in the light of the Commissioner’s report would have proved most important. Those concerned trusted to the professional knowledge of the Commissioner to draw out all points favorable to them – this being more of an engineering than a legal question. I make bold to say that this has by no means been done.

The Commissioner has thought fit to note all kinds of trivial matters and criticize adversely every method or means adopted in carrying out the work, still he sums up the question of leakage by stating in regard to the Peterborough Lock, that "the cause and effect of the leaks having been ascertained, their remedy is comparatively simple, and should be done as proposed by Mr. Rogers." The leaks at the Kirkfield Lock are referred to in similar terms. Of course, these leaks, being of simple nature referred to above (and as such common to all great works) were at once easily repaired. Such trivial matters would never have been heard of had not such publicity been given to them by the press.

Both of these works differed greatly from any works hitherto attempted in this line, and some allowance might, if necessary, have been made on this account, but the Commissioner can find no cause to give any words of commendation in any particular in respect to the carrying out of these works.

The result of the matter has been that two of the largest works of their kind – novel in many points of their construction, and of the most up-to-date design for navigation purposes in the world, have been built and operated in the most perfect manner from the first day of using them to the present time (ten years), and have fully accomplished the objects for which they were constructed, and have been the admiration of Engineers from every civilized country, that have been sent to examine them. Under the circumstances, though I may be pardoned for saying it, no other country in the world would have treated a public servant in the way the late Government has treated me.

I will now go more fully into detail with the several statements of the Commissioner.

Richd. B. Rogers, M.I.C.E.

Feby 15th 1915


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Letters Relating to the Settlement with Department of Railways & Canals


Dennon Paper Mills

Telegraph Road and One Mile Creek


October 31st/25

R.B. Rogers Esq.,

Peterboro, Ont.

Dear Mr. Rogers:-

I arrived home on Tuesday alright. Was expecting that I would have a letter here from you when I arrived but was disappointed. I supposed that there was no change since I left there.

I saw in our paper that the Grits were defeated on Thursday. It said that 8 on the cabinet ministers were defeated and Mackenzie King himself was one of them to go down. I did not see the complete returns as yet. Nothing in todays paper about it at all.

I sure hope that this will be to our advantage. The other fellows surely have done nothing much for us so far. Looked to me that they were not putting forth very much real push into our case.

I had a very pleasant visit with George in Buffalo. He looks real well. I enjoyed being with him very much. Charley Hayes spent an evening with us at George’s boarding place. I just got out Buffalo in time as there was 9 inches of snow reported to have fallen there the afternoon I left there.

Mulholland told me he was expecting to have a talk with Graham on Sunday the 25th of Oct. Did you hear anything from him about it?

The weather down here is quite cool and having lots of rain. We went out to Oak Grove yesterday where Dorothy is teaching and brought her home for the week end. She seems to be all in love with her work. Says she is so glad that she has taken up teaching-she likes it so well. She certainly looks just fine and seems very happy.

I sure hope that I shall soon hear from you and that you will have some real good news to tell.

Please give my very best wishes to Mrs. Rogers and the rest of the family. Trusting to hear from you soon, I am,

Sincerely yours,

W.B. Dennon



Dennon Paper Mills

Telegraph Road and One Mile Creek


March 16 1926

R.B. Rogers Esq.,

Peterboro, Ontario

Dear Mr. Rogers:

Yours of the 2nd instant received.

Things, politically, in Canada seems to be in a mess and are likely to be for some time from the way your letter reads. I sure do hope that the new Minister of R & C will not be hard boiled when he comes to look into our claims.

What is Mr. Henderson doing on our claims now? I do not hear anything of him. Last I heard of him he had written you that the shoe was on the other foot now as Alex Smith was after him to have a settlement fixed up.

Have you had any talk with Lazier regarding our claims? You said in one of your letters that he was having some trouble with his contract that he was making him feel rather hard against the engineering dept. That ought to make him feel sympathetic towards us in our trouble in getting a settlement with them.

We are trying to sell the paper mill here and are now offering it at a very low price to try to sell it quickly in order that I can devote my time to other matters. This just keeps me tied up.

We have Mrs. Bessie Ford and Miss Helen Burling with us now. Bessie has been here since Feb’y 12 and Helen came March 13th. Bessie was here to see all of the Mardi Gras celebration which was a wonder sight for her. She is not feeling very well at present. A touch of indigestion, I think. She is leaving here for Canada next Sunday. We have certainly enjoyed her visit with us.

Cliff and his wife were here for six weeks and went back to Cleveland. Feb’y 18th.

I trust that your family and yourself are in good health. Is George still in Buffalo? I hope that he is doing well.

I will say goodbye for this time hoping that your next letter will have good news. With kind regards to Mrs. Rogers, yourself and family, I am,

Sincerely yours,

W.B. Dennon

[Note: Letter continues in handwriting.]

Does it looks as though there will be any sale for the steam shovels this spring? They will have to go for junk if they stay there much longer, I think.


Gordon, Obrien & Gordon,

Barristers, Solicitors Notaries

Peterborough, Ontario

WE, Dennon and Rogers, retain G.N. Gordon, and agree to pay him 5 % (five per cent) of the amount recovered and received by us from the Dominion Government, in settlement or payment of our claim against the Department of Railways and Canals.

DATED this 15th, day of June, A.D. 1926.

[Note: Attached to the previous letter is the following]

WE, DENNON & ROGERS, retain and agree to pay Messrs. Gordon & O’Brien ten percent of all interest recovered or paid to us on our claim against the Department of Railways and Canals.

This does not apply to any retainer regarding the principal claim, but is limited to the interest claim alone.

DATED at Peterborough this 16th, day of June, A.D. 1926.



Peterboro June 21st/ 26

Dear Will

I am notified by Gordon that the Chief [Engr] Debuc has fixed the time that he is meeting to recommend at about $8,300.00 (I don’t know the exact figure as I only got it by word of mouth and I was so disgusted with the amount that I [the words ‘did not’ have been crossed out] didn’t remember the exact figures) besides we are to get about $3000.00 interest making about $11300.0. I went down to Ottawa on Wednesday and Thursday last to try and get Debuc to go over the case with me but he refused to do so. He said that the Minister had not yet agreed to give us the $5300.00 that [Daubney] had made out, but he had added $3000.00 making it $8,300.00.

He would not argue the matter at all and got up abruptly to catch the train for Montreal. I was never so disgusted with anybody that I am with the way Gordon has handled the case. I have never been able to get him to go over the items of our claim during the last four years.

The item of $11300 has been placed in the Supplementary [Estimates] though not passed yet. I presume we might go over with our case but the Dept’s action would put us in such a prejudiced position that I would be afraid to risk the expense of a court case. Besides

I am not in a condition to keep up the strain that I have been under for the last four years in preparing the court data which would take some weeks to do. I am advised by Mr. Peck and other of my friends & family that we had better settle now at this offer. It’s possible that the Gov’t will be defeated before long and if so we may be able to get a better settlement but in the mean time I think we had better settle at what we are offered.

Gordon made me sign a settlement to pay him five percent over the award to $8300) and then ten per cent if he got interest added making over $700 as fees. I asked him if he would settle with Henderson for what he has done and he said no. However he has not got his $700 fee yet and I think before he gets it he will be mighty glad to settle with Henderson. He may think that I have forgotten that he was a member of parliament when he made the arrangement with Henderson to give him one third and S. [paid to] me one third and Henderson one third of five percent of the total amount of the award we [the word ‘were’ has been crossed out and ‘would’ is written above it]to get from the Exch[illegible] Court Verdict. However Mum’s the word for the time being. I think I will go down and see Henderson and see what his bill is. I can’t find Gordon’s letter mentioning namely the above agreement with Henderson. Look and see if you can find it among my letters to your father or [the word ‘any’ has been crossed out] or my letter to your father telling him of the arrangement with Henderson it would be about June 1922. The only letter from Gordon in [illegible] reference to the matter that I can find is dated May 31st 1922 in which he says "I want to be careful about who this lawyer is who takes this case in the Exchequer Court and we should have an agreement with him that there will not be any question about it" Gordon suggested Henderson and made the arrangements with him but it most important that we have it under Gordon’s own signature. Look for any evidence that we may have and wire me if you find anything and send it to me as soon as possible.

Do you remember the year we were notified that we could only spend so much and that if we spent more we would have to finance it ourselves over [illegible] that year we could have got any number of men and w’d have got them and could have completed our contract in a short time. After that year we were notified that we could only spend so much each year.

Bob Weddell called me up about a week ago and asked me what we would take for our shovels. I told him $3200 for the [Busynes] & $800 for the Marion.


Dennon Paper Mills

Telegraph Road and One Mile Creek


June 23 1926

R.B. Rogers Esq.,

Peterboro, Ontario.

Dear Mr. Rogers:-

Yours of the 12th instant received.

There is a little encouragement in the way our claims stood at the time you wrote your letter. You say that Mr. Debuc has offered $8,000.00 as a settlement on claims of about 100,000.00 and that he will not go over the items and explain where the $8,000.00 has been allowed. This seems to be anything but a fair way to deal with us. Mr. Kydd’s opinions as expressed at our meeting in Eason’s office in 1920, when going over claims with him he approved of over $48,000.00 of the claims that he was familiar with and which did not include the hard pan cut and several others, does not seem to have any weight in connection with this offer.

I should think that testimony such as Lazier and Balfour could give on this hard material would have quite a weight in court but as you said it would be very expensive to go into court and it is hard to say what is best to do. Money is very scarce with us and we do not wish to lose what little we have in a law suit. The saying that "a poor settlement is better than a law suit won" fits here, perhaps.

This is a mighty poor offer to make us out of $100,000.00 worth of claims that should all be paid in full. This amount would not much more than pay our expense accounts. Have you any idea what the lawyers accounts will be? They should be but little as they have not made any showing so far. The Department has been holding us off now for over 7 years. It is a burning shame. I think that they should, at least, show us how they arrive at the $8,000.00 and also go over the claims with us and show us why they [should] not be paid.

Please convey to Leah my very best wishes for a long and happy wedded life. I am sure she will be a good house-wife and from my short acquaintance with her husband I would take him to be a regular fellow.

We are having real summer weather down here now, gets up in the nineties nearly every day. Still trying to sell out the mill and not making very much progress. It is mighty discouraging.

I hope that we shall be able to dispose of the mill before I am required in Canada as it would be hard to leave things here as they are without some one to look after them.

Trusting that you will have some good news next time, I will close,

W.B. Dennon

[Note: The letter continues…]

Remember me to Mrs. Rogers and family


Peterborough July 11th/26

Dear Will

I have to write in much the same unsatisfactory strain that all my letters have of late been in. As you know the King Gov’t has been defeated and Elections are about the Middle of September – [Mighen] has not finally decided who is Cabinet will but I think it is decided that Sir Henry [Drayton] is to be Minister of R & C. He is a great friend of my cousin Meyers and I may get some influence in this way. However our side has got to get in first. It is too soon to say which side will get in however we are hopeful our side will get in. The Supplementary Estimates we laid in on the table of the House but were not voted on so they cannot be used till they are passed by the House which will be at least three months. Our luck over again. I don’t know how I can stand the worry till then. It keeps me awake at nights. I would not go through this worry again for the amount we got promised so far. However, if our side gets in I hope for a more satisfactory settlement. I will write again as soon as I know anything definite. Kind regards to Mrs. D. and to the children.

Yours sincerely



Dennon Paper Mills

Telegraph Road and One Mile Creek


Sept. 13, 1926

R.B. Rogers Esq.,

Peterboro, Ont.

Dear Mr. Rogers:-

It seems quite awhile since I have heard from you. I hope that you and all your family are well. I expect that you are all up at your cottage at the lake and I wish that I might be able to call in on you and have a visit. I fully expected that I would have been up there this summer with all of our family. If we had had the good fortune of selling this paper mill I had intended that all of us would have motored up to Canada and visited all of our friends and to have made ourselves generally a nuisance. We still have the paper mill but always have some prospects of selling. The Chamber of Commerce of this city are now looking into the matter and will try to get some one interested and keep the industry in Mobile rather than let the plant be dismantled and taken away.

I suppose the claim case is dead until some time after the election. I expect that all hands and the cook are mighty busy out after votes right now? I can see Mr. Mulholland hustling around Toronto getting things going right for his party. He sure is quite a hustler.

There might be a possibility of selling the big shovel to some people down here and I have looked thro all my photos for a picture of it to show them but I can not find any. I have sent them all to you. I wish you would see if you have a good one that would show it up pretty well and send it to me. These people are going to open up a gravel pit over in Mississippi if they get a paving contract here and will use a shovel.

I trust that this will find you all well and that I shall soon hear from you. Are Mr. Gordon and Mr. Henderson still on the job?

Please remember me kindly to Mrs. Rogers and all the family.

Sincerely yours,

W.B. Dennon


Gordon, O’Brien & Gordon

Barristers, Solicitors Notaries

Peterborough, Ontario

October 9, 1926

R.B. Rogers, Esq.,

Beechwood Farm

R.R. #1

Peterborough, Ontario


I am closing out a settlement, subject to your approval for $8,386.64. plus five per cent interest to the date of payment. This will make a settlement I expect of $11,547.14, the principle being $8,386.64.


[M Gordon]



Peterborough May 2d 27

W.B. Dennon

Chicksaw – Mobile Alabama

Mother died suddenly – Father wants to see you [you] [immediately]

[the letters ‘RBR’ have been crossed out]

Heber S. Rogers,

per RBRogers


Dennon Paper Mills

Telegraph Road and One Mile Creek


May 4th 1927

R.B. Rogers Esq.,

Peterboro, Ont.

Dear Mr. Rogers:-

I am very sorry to learn of your illness and trust that you are well on your way to recovery by this time. You will have to follow the doctor’s orders very carefully now and get yourself back on the firing line. I know that it was strictly against your desire to be put to bed but that is surely the best place to get the relaxation and rest you need. I shall be anxiously waiting for more word from you as to your progress.

I have high hopes of being able to come up to Canada next month some time and thought that perhaps that we two might be able to get after the danged old claims (excuse the French) together and see if we could not squeeze a few more thousand out of those tight wads in Ottawa. If I am able to dispose of this mill property some way this month and can get up there in June sometime I could stay on the job. If there is a good probability of selling the shovels don’t you think it would be a good idea to clean them up a little and spread some oil and grease on the engines, etc. I have had some little hopes that I could sell them down here and think that I could have if they were not so far away. When do you expect that this work on the St. Lawrence will start? We do not see very much Canadian News in our papers unless it in on the wet and dry issues. Alabama is very very dry as per her laws but is very very wet as per some of the appetites for ‘shinny’ or moonshine booze. They sure do find plenty of stills around here. The officers of the law are destroying them, two or three a day all the time and killing a few moonshiners in the process and occasionally an officer bowls over too. There are some mighty large swamps around this county for the moonshiners to [hid] in.

We have tow pretty big public works going on here at present. The 10 million dollar state docks and a [16] mile bridge and roadway across Mobile Bay from Mobile to Baldwin County on the Eastern shore of Mobile Bay. This bridge is costing $2,500.000.00. and will be ready for traffic in about a month.

WE have been having the most delightful weather here now. In fact is has been lovely weather nearly all winter. Only had a few days that it was really cold and they were very cold, in fact, freezing. [Don’t] smile at that for I want to tell you that freezing weather here is mighty cold.

I wish you would thank Mrs. Rogers and Lillian for writing me regarding your illness and I trust that Mrs. Rogers is also gaining in strength and feeling fit again. Remember me to all the folks there and when you write to George, Harry and Leah please remember me to them also.

Goodbye now for this time. I trust that I shall soon hear of your complete recovery.

With best wishes to you all, I am sincerely

Will Dennon

Front Cover of the Souvenir Edition of the 75th Anniversary
of the Opening of the Peterborough Lift Lock


Peterborough Examiner - Friday July 6, 1979



1880's 1890's 1900's 1910's 1920's 1930's 1940's 1950's 1960's 1970's Undated


Biography and Career
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