A 17-year old Irishman by the name of Dennis Donovan was hired to work on building the Rideau Canal and is buried near Murphy’s Bay on Big Rideau Lake on a piece of land originally known as . The following is some material that has been gathered by researchers from old records:
Researcher H. Cavagnolo reports that this parcel of land, lot 22, Con 2 was owned by Dennis Donovan and his wife Elizabeth Morris Donovan. (Elizabeth was the sister of Henry and John Morris of Portland.) Dennis killed himself in 1851 (see 1851/1852 Bastard and Burgess Twp census), and was buried on the family land, with the burial site separated out as a separate parcel. His wife is buried in the Forfar cemetary where Ann Tyndall Morris Singleton is buried (who was probably her mother).
A gravestone was found in 1970 on Lot 22 Concession 2 of South Burgess (Tullocks’ Farm) for a DENIS DONOVAN. The inscription is faded but was recorded as “DENIS DONOVAN departed this life Dec. 18, 1851 aged 56 years, a native of the County Cork, Ireland.” From this, a birth date of 1795 is calculated. The local story about this grave says that DENIS was buried in the apple orchard on his farm. The farm was a truck garden to cater to the traffic on the Rideau Canal. There are still apple trees nearby and the gravestone faces the Rideau River.
Paul Cote extracted from the Perth Courier newspaper; March 7 & 14, 1851:
“Dennis DONOVAN was supposedly an engineer on the Rideau Canal, and either he or someone in his family received a grant of the land [Not so, according to the land books].“ Originally, there was an orchard and a truck garden to cater to the canal traffic. From his burial site there would have been an excellent view of the Rideau.
The land was purchased by DENIS DONOVAN in 1842 from Reuben Sherwood , and was later purchased in 1848 by James DONOVAN [probably his son James.] From the Land Book for South Burgess: Dec 1816 the Crown sold Lot 22 to Mary Bodien; in 1834 it was sold to Reuben Sherwood; in 1841 to Reuben Sherwood, Jr. U 347 B&S June 16, 1842 registered Mar. 24, 1847. Reuben Sherwood sold to Dennis DONOVAN for 100 pounds Lot 22 Con. 2 that part west 1/2 south of Rideau Lake 50 acres more or less. Reuben Sherwood lived nearby the David Murphy family near Murphys’ Bay on Big Rideau Lake.
On Mar. 22, 1848 Dennis DONOVAN sold this land to his son James DONOVAN for 50 pounds. There may have been a condition between them that when James bought the farm from his father, he was obliged to care for his parents for the rest of their lives.
On May 3, 1860 James and Elizabeth (his mother) sold the land to Myles Young for 125 pounds. On the same day Elizabeth DONOVAN (widow) gave a grant and quit claim for this land to Myles Young. There was no money involved. Myles might have been a son-in-law, or more likely the quit claim was required to clear title. Later, when Myles Young sold the property, it said that the buyer got the 50 acres, except a part 9 feet by 6 feet being the burial place of the late Dennis DONOVAN.
The land was sold several times later, and at one time or another was owned by: David Murphy, Michael Murphy, Robert Joynt, David DONOVAN & Homer Graham, Cynthia & Matte [Hatte?] Donovan (spinsters, daughters of James) and then it passed out of the family.