“I used to show my pictures in conjunction with Fran Laflamme and her pictures dealt mostly with the Lost Villages.
And Fran and I, we were on council at the same time. She was Osnabruck and I was in Williamsburg. And we would sort of argue back and forth, all in fun.
She took the point of view it was a terrible thing. And I always took the point of view it was a great thing. And I think we were both right, quite frankly.
But one day she said to me, she says, ‘You know, Lyle, my father was a barber in Wales and he was a very strong-willed man. By the time Hydro finished talking to him, he was bawling and crying.’
And I never argued with Fran after that. You know, she witnessed a part of it I didn’t witness.”
Lyle Van Allen, Interview Audio Excerpts, Link Family Farm, Winchester, Ontario. August 22, 2013
I would argue with Fran LaFlamme, but I never did after she said her father was broken by what happened after Hydro was done talking to him.
It’s like the War of 1812. Wages improved. Cruikshank Brothers got their start.
I had to work on the farm while dad burned houses for the Seaway.
In Morrisburg Max refused to sell drygoods store. Hydro just offered him a fraction what it was worth. Where I come from I had to obey people because I had a bayonet pointed at me. I don’t need to listen to them in Canada. So hydro tore down everything around Max. And then didn’t get much business.
Video Excerpt: Lyle Van Allen, Winchester, Ontario. August 22, 2013
In this video clip Lyle Van Allen of Williamsburg discusses conversations he would have with Fran LaFlamme about the Seaway. He thought it was a good thing; she did not. He now figures they were both right.
Like many mega-projects the St Lawrence Seaway had many supporters, including many in Eastern Ontario who benefited from the bonanza of contracting and construction work.
The situation becomes more complicated for those who were directly affected. Fran LaFlamme was the founding President of the Lost Villages Historical Society a community response 20 years after to Inundation to preserve and protect the memory and legacies of the lost villages.
Lyle Van Allen grew up and continues to live in Williamsburg, Ontario.
His family was involved in contract machinery work for the construction of the Seaway. He has been a municipal/regional councillor. He keeps the memory of the lost villages alive by publicly sharing a collection of photographs from before and after the construction of the Seaway.