From Pont Rouge to Gold Rock..........and Back!
(Story of a 6hp. La Cie. Charles A. JULIEN Ltee gasoline engine).



Pont Rouge is a small town situated 20 miles from Quebec City in the Province of Quebec. The year is 1876 and Mr. Charles-A. Julien along with a bussiness partner, acquired the "Bussieres and Beaudry Co. Ltd" which had been making furniture in Pont Rouge for two years but had gone bankrupt. By 1880 Charles-A. Julien had become the sole owner of the factory. Eventually Mr. Julien started making the JULIEN grain threshers he invented. These early threshers were activated by horses. It is the JULIEN threshers that put Pont Rouge on the map as they were not only sold in Quebec, but also in New Brunswick, Ontario and in the Canadian prairies. The strong demand for the JULIEN threshers caused the old factory to be inadequate and outdated so in 1903 it was abandoned and a new factory and foundry was built nearby. At its peak Charles-A. Julien had more than one hundred men working for him.

In the late eighteen hundreds, 1,320 miles away from Pont Rouge, Quebec, gold was discovered in the 'Manitou Gold Fields' situated in Northwestern Ontario, with access by water from the new Canadian Pacific Railroad Company. Regular commercial steamboat service was established on Lake Wabigoon in the 1880's, based in the village of Wabigoon which was favourably located with respect to Upper Manitou Lake, a particularly active exploration area. There was also considerable mining exploration activity west of Contact Bay on Lake Wabigoon, and this was accessed by canoe starting at Barclay Tank as a cheaper alternative to scheduled steamboat from Wabigoon. To meet this competition, a steamboat dock was established at Barclay Tank and regular steamboat service from Barclay Tank to McLeods creek (the west arm of Wabigoon Lake) was instituted. In the 1890's, actual producing mines resulted in the growth of the town of GOLD ROCK on Upper Manitou Lake, and this precipitated a building boom in its railway access point of Wabigoon as well, and an expansion of scheduled steamboat service on the lake. In order to facilitate this steamboat traffic, and especially navigating some shallows near the Gold Rock end of the line, dams were constructed between a small island and each shore in the Wabigoon River, thereby raising the level of the lake several feet. In 1895, GOLD ROCK would have numbered several hundred inhabitants, Wabigoon was experiencing a building boom, Eagle River was the established commercial centre in the area, and all there was at Dryden was 'Barclay Tank', a steamboat dock, and a low dam. By 1900 the GOLD ROCK mining camp had become an area of intense prospecting.

Back in Pont Rouge the Charles-A. JULIEN company continued to prosper and several farm implements were built and offered along with the popular JULIEN threshing machines. In 1916 a larger and modern machine shop was added to the existing factory and soon after the foundry's capacity was increased. The foundry became known as "La Fonderie Supreme" where many "Supreme" furnaces were cast. By 1910 there was a strong demand for gasoline engines to run the JULIEN threshers, so to meet the wishes of his customers Charles-A. Julien approached the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. of Waterloo, Iowa and sold their engines during a few years. Around 1917 or so the Chs.-A. JULIEN gasoline engines built at the Pont Rouge foundry appeared on the market.

In the meantime in GOLD ROCK, the Gold Rock mining company, owner of 32 mining units in the area was looking for ways to increase production and mechanize its operations. In the Summer of 1919 the Gold Rock mining company sent a telegram to Charles-A. JULIEN in Pont Rouge for the purchase and delivery of a 6hp. JULIEN engine with clutch pulley. Shipping was not a problem even if 1320 miles separated GOLD ROCK from PONT ROUGE as both towns were along side the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. Charles.-A. JULIEN had the JULIEN gasoline engine loaded onto a flat car which soon headed for GOLD ROCK. The whole trip must have taken many weeks as there must have been over 100 train stations between the two locations. So the JULIEN left Pont Rouge, went though Montreal, Ottawa, Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie, Thunder Bay and finally arrived at the train station in Wabigoon, Ontario. The JULIEN must have travelled the final 25 miles to GOLD ROCK on the Upper Manitou Lake by Steam boat. From then on the JULIEN was assigned different tasks at the gold mine during several years, then being used less and less frequently until 1939 when it was abandonned completely and soon forgotten.

Well this is the twenty first century. The Chs.-A. JULIEN went bankrupt in 1928 and if you were to drive by Pont Rouge today you would learn that the JULIEN factory and foundry have been torn down and in its place you will find a nice residential area. Some 1320 miles down the Trans-Canada Highway, GOLD ROCK has long become a "ghost town" with nature having claimed the land back.

In 1985, Mr. Wesley Webb a long time resident of Dryden Ontario purchased a vaste piece of land on the Upper Manitou Lake. This land was one of the mining units once owned by the Gold Rock Mining Company. This particular mining claim had been operated by a Montreal based company until 1924 and again for a short period just prior to the outbreak of World War II. Mr. Webb, an avid hunter and fisherman made occasional visits to his property at Gold Rock and on one of these trips there, found the Julien engine next to a buzzsaw. Not much was thought of the Julien gasoline engine then and it stayed in the woods for another 20 years.

In the Fall of 2006 Mr. Webb decided it was time to move the Julien from Gold Rock to his place in Dryden. There are no roads between the two locations so it was decided that he would travel the 25 miles seperating Dryden and Gold Rock in his fishing boat. He then remove the flywheels, and the water hopper from the main block to make it easier to bring the Julien closer to the shore of the lake. Small parts like gears, head and mixer were brought home by boat. By January of 2007 the Upper Manitou lake was frozen solid and a few inches of hard snow was covering the ice on the lake. With his four wheeler pulling a small sleigh, Mr. Webb brought the Julien home in Dryden in 2 trips. The Julien was now safely stored inside after spending all these years in the wild.

The story could have ended there but it did not. In September 2007 Mr. Webb send me an email requesting information about Julien gasoline engines after he had found my website on gas engines where I have several pictures of these fine machines. I tried to be as helpful as I could and we emailed back and forth several times. I never asked Mr. Webb if his Julien was for sale as I was under the impression that he wanted help in finding some missing parts and eventually restore the Julien. In December he sent me an email asking me if I knew someone who might be interested in his Julien at a "very reasonable price". I asked him how much he wanted for his Julien and when he told me the price I agreed to his price and I sent him a check for the whole amount.

I live in Gatineau, Quebec 1200 miles away from Dryden and last Winter we had record breaking snowfall. Our worse Winter in over 50 years and I knew it would only be worse in Northern Ontario so I decided to wait until all the snow had melted before I would go and bring my Julien home. I have been collecting engines for over 20 years now an a JULIEN has always been on my "wish list" but I never had the chance to find one. Fellow collectors will understand that having found and bought the "engine of my dreams" site unseen, made it for a long Winter.

Finally on April 17, 2008 most of the snow was gone and the weatherman was calling for a week of mild and sunny break so I headed out for Dryden, Ontario at 5am. I drove for 15 hours the first day, ate sandwiches on the roll and made only a couple of pit-stops for gasoline and got a motel room at about 8pm in Geraldton, Ontario. After a good night sleep I was on the road again at 5am. Later that morning I crossed a "time change zone" and around noon I reached Dryden, Ontario. The roads were good, the traffic was light and the trip was uneventful. As I was expected in Dryden on Saturday and I was ahead of schedule I called the Webb residence from a phone booth in town. Fortunately Mr. Webb was working the night shift and he had a couple of hours before starting his work shift so he came and meet me in town and I followed him to where the Julien engine was stored. Since the engine had been taken apart and turned out to be a 6hp rather than a 9hp as I was previously told, it was fairly easy for the two of us to load the Julien onto my trailer and after an hour of small talk Mr. Webb had to get ready for work and I headed back home. I drove another 4-5 hours to Thunder Bay and called it quits for the night. On Saturday April 19, 2008 I continued my journey back home from 5am, driving through Saut Ste-Marie, Sudbury and stopping around 4pm for a well deserved rest in Sturgeons Falls, Ontario. I hit the road again around 5am on Sunday morning April 20, 2008. I had been driving back for about 2 hours and the sun was barely up when I heard a loud "boom". I stopped by the side of the road to see what the problem was. The spring on one of the axles had broken, causing one tire to touch the inside of the fender on the trailer and in doing so, completely destroyed the tire. My spare tire was of no use as one axle was hanging loose. I was still 6 hours away from home on a Sunday morning in the middle of nowhere and I did not want to leave the Julien and trailer on the side of the road. I figured that the 6hp Julien was not that heavy of a load on the trailer so I jacked it up and removed both tires from that axle and using a chain to hold the axle up high enough so it would not touch the ground, I was able to resume my journey home with a now single axle trailer. I was glad my Julien was the smaller 6hp and not the 9hp I first thought I was getting.

The final 6 hour drive was uneventful and at 1pm I crossed the Ottawa River between Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec. So 89 years later the JULIEN was back in the province of Quebec where it was born.

For those of you who were able to read the whole journey "From Pont Rouge to Gold Rock....and back" here are some pictures of JULIEN 1263.

Pictures of my 6hp. JULIEN s/n1263





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