McNeely Home on 11th Line Once Built in a Day, by Howard M. Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 01 August, 1957

Incidents as seen and recorded in Carleton Place some sixty years ago by William W. Cliff are told in the following conclusion of a series of extracts from this newspaper’s earliest existing files. Parts of these files now are located in the Public Archives of Canada at Ottawa. The newspaper then was called the Central Canadian. The pioneer editor wrote of district events, great and small, in an intimate style picturing the period when he was in his heyday as a weekly newspaper publisher.

Wedding Anniversary (1893)

“Christmas Day was the sixtieth anniversary of the marriage of Mrs. John Bell of High Street, formerly Margaret Wilson of Appleton and mother of the well known A. W. Bell. The happy event occurred in Appleton at the hour of 9 o’clock in the evening, and the wedding trip was a promenade in the icy night air to Carleton Place. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. William Bell of Perth, father of the bridegroom. The parents of Mr. Robert Baird took advantage of Mr. Bell’s presence to have the boy christened. Mr. and Mrs. John Bell lived in the house (on Bridge Street at north-east end of the bridge) now occupied by Mr. Robert Bell. It was built in 1831. Mrs. Bell is in her 81st year. We wish her and her faithful daughter Mary the compliments of the season.

Colonel John Sumner (1894)

“Obituary : The late John Sumner was born in England in 1814. His father was a Church of England clergyman, his grandfather an army officer. He finished his education at Christ’s Church Hospital School, commonly called the Blue Coat School as the boys wore long blue coats, with yellow stockings and no hats. He next studied medicine, gave it up and came to Canada in 1832, year of the plague. He clerked in stores in Montreal, Kingston and near Ottawa, coming to Carleton Place in 1836 where he was employed in the stores of Andrew Thompson and Robert Bell, our old M.P.

He commenced business for himself in Ashton in 1840, and opened a second store for a frew years on Wellington Street, Ottawa. Continuing his business at Ashton, he became an able magistrate and Colonel of the militia. It was at this period, probably that he was at the full flood of his career. Everywhere he was known as Lord John. He removed to Carleton Place in 1859, buying the business and shop of Mr. Robert Bell and replacing it with the present stone structure (at north-east corner of Bridge and Bell Streets). Afterwards came financial difficulties. He went to work as a commercial traveller for grocery houses in Montreal and gradually redeemed his house and shop. He then for a long period was in the service of the Dominion Government as an immigration agent, retiring a few years ago.

The Colonel was an Episcopalian and a Conservative, and in each department in his prime he was a great force. Though a man given to social splendors, and who spent money like water, he was largely under the infuluence of his wife, a lady of uncommon tact and patience and superior attainments. He was a man of great natural strength, and it is related that the people used to watch him handle barrels and carcasses of pork as a sort of amusement. He never drove less than a team, and never one that wasn’t the best.

Upon one occasion driving to Ottawa he met a Revenue officer. At that time there was a great deal of smuggling, especiall of tea. The Colonel thought, after he passed the officer, that it might be his store he was seeking, though he was never known to be a contrabandist. Wheeling his flyers around he soon overtook the officer, shot past him, and reached his store in time to get possession of his papers, which proved his complete innocence.

The funeral on Monday was a very imposing ceremonial. The pallbearers were Mayor Nichols, Capt. McKay and Messrs. George Godden, George Dummert, E. G. P. Pickup and H. McCormick.

Good Old Days

“A load of townspeople were passing Mr. McNeely’s house near the 11th Line School a few dyas ago. Among them was ex-Mayor Pattie who pointed to the house and recalled how, some decades ago, when Mr. Charles Munroe lived on the spot, the old house was burned down one night. The men of the town and neighbours next day resolved to rebuild it, and divided into sections, each with a distinct purpose. They went into the virgin forest, chopped down trees, hauled them out and hewed them, and framed, erected, shingled and clapboarded the structure and made it habitable all in a single day. At noon and night the women sent their contributions by the hands of their daughters, in the shape of refreshments. Those are the good old days one loves to hear about.”

A Green Christmas (1895)

“Christmas was a green one, and a muddy green. It is blowing great guns today and turning colder. A boom holding between 5,000 and 6,000 logs broke in the river in the morning and poured over the dam in sad desolation. The scene from the bridge was a most exciting one. The Citizens Band serenaded several leading people Christmas Day, receiving in return gifts from $2 to $10.

Laird of Glen Isle

“The Laird of Glen Isle, Mr. McDougall, and seven of his children are frequently seen at the rink on Mr. Doherty’s place in Ramsay.”

Gypsy Horses

“The gypsies who have been tenting around the old camp ground where Uncle Peter Lake used to live moved out on Friday last. More than twelve horses and eight rigs, single and double, formed the cavalcade. Some of the vehicles were dome-shaped and stoves inside. The procession halted for a while near this office and there was a brisk exchange of horses, much to the merriment of large crowds of citizens. A little black mare, the best animal that they had, was secured by Mr. Alex McRae.”

 

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