The King's Highway.

The Journey of the LOW Family
from Ottawa to Niagara Falls and Buffalo
during the summer of
Jim Low
(James William Alexander Low)

The LOW family has always been an adventurous sort.  While in 2008 a trip from Ottawa to Buffalo could easily be done in a day, a century ago, this was a true adventure.  James Low, then age 47, along with his three oldest sons, John Edward Low 19, James Low Jr 18 and William Wilson Low 15 travelled from Ottawa to Niagara Falls and Buffalo by car, steamer, and train.

The travellers prepared a photograph album of the trip and the album was eventually passed on to Arline Cloudsley Low/Brackenridge, a daughter of John Edward Low.  She allowed me to borrow it and I scanned the photographs, shown here.

Details of the trip have been lost.  There are short captions with most pictures, which allowed to determine the approximate path, shown on the map below.  I can't be sure how long the trip was, but about 1985, when I first saw the album, I asked Jean Rook/Low (widow of John Edward Low) about it and she indicated that she understood the trip from Ottawa to Niagara Falls took five days.

The current owner of the album, Arline Brackenridge was told that the family owned a Maxwell.  Comparing the pictures in this album with photographs other cars of the same vintage at various internet sites, it appears to be a Maxwell Touring car.

This site was prepared by the great grandson of James Low, also named James Low, on the centenary of the journey.  It reminds me of some adventurous journey's I have made by car:  Across the continent with my father Reed Low in 1952.  I drove the Dempster Highway in the Yukon and Northwest Territories in a Chevette in 1995 with my son Jerry, and did a repeat trip in a Ford Escort in 2002.  I drove the Trans-Labrador Highway in the Chevette in 1996. Many trips have been made across the continent in cars over the years.  This trip by James Low and sons in 1908 was just the first of many for the LOW family.

Those on the 1908 trip:

James Low
Born 1861-06-22, Montrose, Scotland.
Came to Ottawa, Canada in 1886.
Married Martha Ashe (1862-1938) 1888-01-12 at Ottawa.
Was a carpenter (Cabinet Maker; Contractor).
Died 1919-10-02 by accidental drowning in Rideau Canal, Ottawa, Canada.

John Edward Low
Born 1888-10-01, Ottawa, Canada.
Died 1976-07-31, Ottawa, Canada.

James Low, Jr.
Born 1890-04-06, Ottawa, Canada.
Died 1970-07-04, Inglewood, Ont., Canada.

William Wilson Low
Born 1893-03-13, Ottawa, Canada.
Died 1956-10-26, Burbank, California, USA.

There may be errors in description and identification of individuals.  Please send me corrections if you discover them.

Map of the Journey in 1908

Map from 1922.
Showing approximate route of the Low journey in 1908.
Railroads are shown. Roads are not shown.
It's possible the steamer route went via Toronto, where the family changed steamers.

The Pictures.
The captions with the original pictures are shown in quotes.
I will also make some comments on some pictures.

Title page of photo Album.

James Low Sr. at the wheel.  Note the car is right-hand drive.
Others in the back appear to be (left to right) James Jr., William, and unknown (possibly John?).
Person standing is unknown.

James Low Sr. driving.  Others appear to be William (mostly hidden), James Jr., John.

"Hotel Yard Smith's Falls"
John looking on.

"Smith's Falls"

"Smith's Falls"
John Low at the wheel.
Ontario Licence 2022.

"Hotel Rideau Smith's Falls"

(no caption)
Left to right: John, William, James Jr., unknown, James Sr.

"Lost (A Wrench)"
William looking on.



"Bird's Eye View Kingston"

"A Speedway"

"Having a rest"

"Pebbles on the Road"

"Scenes by the Way"

"Bridge at Trenton"

"Trent River"
William, James Jr., unknown.

"Fixing a Nut"

"An Automobile Crank"
William at crank.

"Bird's Eye View of Belleville"

(no caption)
William, John, unknown.

(no caption)
John, James Jr., William.

"Hotel Quinte"

"Manager of Hotel"

"Piece of Good Road"

"Toll Gate Port Hope"

"Our Chafeur"
James Sr., James Jr., William, John.

At Port Hope, the Low family left the car to take two steamers.  It is unknown where the transfer was made.

I gather one of the Low members thought the ladies being seasick was worth a picture!

"News Boy  Str Cayuga"
James Jr. with Newsboy.
The "Str" indicates "Steamer."
Doing research on the internet I found the Steamer Cayuga
sailed Lake Ontario, to and from Toronto and Niagara.
This steamer is shown below after the next picture.

(no caption)
William with Newsboy.

This is not part of the Album.
Picture of the Cayuga on a post card from 1906.

"On Deck"

"Str Chicora"
John, James Jr., unknown.
This was another Steamer they were on, and the Chicora is shown below.

This is not part of the Album.
Picture of the Chicora on a post card from 1907.

"On Great Gorge Route"

G.G.R. American Side

This is not part of the album.
Picture of the Niagara Gorge Railroad pre-1920.

"Whirlpool Rapids"

"G.T.R. Bridge over Niagara River"

"Fall Street Niagara Falls"
Reading some of the signs:
The rail car is number 633 and is the 'Belt Line.'
The only other sign legible is on a building saying 'Clifton.'

"Car Leaving for Buffalo."
On the right side is a building sign saying '10c Talking Movies.'
Next to it is a 'European Restaurant.'
On the left side is a sign for the '5c & 10c Store.'
I recall the 'Five and Dime' Store, as we called it, still existing until the 1950s,
although many items above that price were also sold in the store at that time.
The modern equivalent would be the 'Buck or Two' store!

It appears the LOW family only saw the falls from the American side.

"Niagara Falls"

"Niagara Falls"

"Niagara Falls"

John Low.
It appears the boys had some sort of nicknames on the trip, and don't know what they mean.

"Reddy at the Crank"
William at the crank.  James Sr at the wheel.

"After an all night Run Elgin to Ottawa"
James Jr., James Sr., unknown, John(?)

"Arrival in Ottawa"
James Sr at the wheel, William, James Jr, John(?)

"Home Again"
James Jr at far right.  Others uncertain.

"All in"
James Jr, James Sr, William, John.

James Sr., William, John, James Jr.

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