Life in the Eighteen Sixties in Carleton Place is recalled in the present fifth installment of a series of annals reviewing events in the first hundred years of this community and its surrounding district.
The location of Carleton Place at a waterfall on one of the larger tributaries of the Ottawa River and on one of Eastern Ontario’s first railways proved in the Eighteen Sixties to place this community in a position of some advantage in the lumber economy of the Ottawa Valley. A number of new industrial firms were established here. Among them were two sawmills and a foundry each of which grew to become a substantial employer of capital and labour and a leading industry of the town.
Prince of Wales
1860 – Archibald McArthur (1816-1884), reeve and prominent wholesale and retail merchant, enlarged his business premises here by building a store of stone construction in 1860 near the corner of Bridge and Mill Streets.
The young Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, viewed Carleton Place while travelling by coach and railway through Lanark and Leeds Counties in the course of a tour of Canada.
Patrick Struthers (1830-1907), merchant and later magistrate, became postmaster of Carleton Place. He continued in charge of the local post office for over forty-five years.
New Saw Mill
1861 – A steam-powered sawmill was built in the area of the present Riverside Park on the south bank of the river. The old Muirhead sawmill, which was located near the present electric power plant, was leased and reopened by Robert Gray.
Brice McNeely Jr. (1831-1920) began a forty year period of operating the long established tannery. The town bridge across the Mississippi was rebuilt.
1862 – In the infancy of the town’s present leading industry, a new foundry was opened on the Perth Road, now High Street, by David Findlay (1835-1890) for the manufacture of stoves, ploughs and other castings.
Canadian military preparations were begun in view of risks of the United States Civil War leading to war between Britain and the United States. At Carleton Place a volunteer rifle company, with newspaper editor James Poole as its captain, was equipped to take the place of the townships former militia regiment. A new infantry company was formed at Almonte.
In a match at the Almonte exhibition grounds between the Carleton Place and Almonte cricket clubs, the Almonte club’s resplendent uniforms featured white caps, pink shirts and white pantaloons.
1863 – The Ramsay lead mine at Carleton Place resumed operation. A woollen mill at Appleton built by Robert Teskey (1803-1892) was opened under the management of his son John Adam Teskey (1837-1908) and son-in-law William Bredin.
In a target shooting competition at Carleton Place between the local Rifle Company and the Almonte Infantry Company, the rifle company appeared in its new uniforms with green tunics, grey pants with red facings, and dark belts. The infantry uniforms had scarlet tunics, grey pants and white belts. The impressive headpiece of both companies’ uniforms was an ornamented cap known as a shako.
1864 – The Brockville & Ottawa Railway Company’s line was extended and opened from Almonte to Arnprior, providing rail transportation between the St. Lawrence River and Grand Trunk Railway at Brockville and the Ottawa River at Sand Point. George Lowe became the station master at Carleton Place.
1865 – A temperance society known as Temple No. 122 of the Independent Order of Good Templars, was formed at Carleton Place to oppose the sale of alcoholic beverages. A proposal to apply a local option Temperance Act to Beckwith township including Carleton Place was rejected by a majority of thirty votes.
The Beckwith municipal council elected for 1865 was Patrick Struthers, reeve, and Archibald McArthur, Donald Carmichael, George Kidd and Alexander Ferguson.
Gillies & McLaren
1866 – This town’s first large scale business had its start in 1866 with the opening of the Gillies & McLaren lumber mill with thirty employees. James Gillies (1840-1909) came as its manager. Five years later John Gillies (1811-1888), who had founded the firm in Lanark township, removed to Carleton Place. Both remained here for life and were leaders in the town’s industrial growth. James Gillies for over thirty five years was head of the later widespread lumbering operations of Gillies Brothers, a position occupied from 1914 to 1926 by his brother David Gillies (1849-1926) of Carleton Place.
A shingle mill also began business here in 1866, managed by John Craigie. He was the builder of the town’s first two steamboats, the Mississippi and the Enterprise. The local grist and oatmeal mills were bought by Henry Bredin from Hugh Boulton Jr. They continued to be operated by James Greig (1806-1884), who ran these mills from 1862 to 1868 after the death of Hugh Boulton Sr., founder of this first industry of the community.
The union of Lanark and Renfrew Counties was ended in 1866 by the establishment of a separate Renfrew County council and administration.
Raids from the United States upon border points were made in 1866 by groups known as Fenians, whose professed objective was political independence for Ireland. The Carleton Place and Almonte volunteer companies were dispatched to Brockville in June. Captain of the Almonte company was James D. Gemmill. Total of all ranks serving from Carleton Place numbered fifty-seven. Under local officers Captain James C. Poole, Lieut. John Brown and Ensign J. Jones Bell, they included such Carleton Place and township family names as Burke, Coleman, Cram, Dack, Docherty, Duff, Enright, Ferguson, Fleming, Hamilton, Kilpatrick, Leslie, Lavallee, Moffatt, Moore, Morphy, and McArthur, McCaffrey, McCallum, McEwen, McFadden, McNab, McNeely and McPherson, Neelin, Patterson, Pattie, Rattray, Sinclair, Stewart, Sumner, Williams, Willis and Wilson.
Volunteers from these and other Lanark County areas served also in the Fenian Raids of 1870. Drill halls built in 1866 at county centres including Perth, Carleton Place and Almonte were used for many years. The Carleton Place drill shed was at the market square between Beckwith and Judson Streets, at the present site of the skating rink. Almonte’s military quarters were combined with the North Lanark Agricultural Society’s main exhibition building then being erected.
1867 – Canadian confederation was hailed in Carleton Place by a day of celebration which extended from a sunrise cannon salute to an evening of torchlight processions and fireworks. There were speeches by the clergy, a military parade with rifles firing, a costume carnival and sports events featuring novelty races.
A new sawmill was built by the Gillies & McLaren firm to employ up to a hundred men. At Arklan Island a smaller sawmill was built by William Bredin. Erection of a large frame building on Mill Street for use as a woollen cloth factory was begun by Allan McDonald. The Allan McDonald foundry was reopened by John Grant and operated for four years, producing stoves, ploughs, ploughpoints and other castings. A local house construction boom was under way. Daniel Galbraith (1813-1879) of Ramsay township was elected to the Ontario Legislature of North Lanark. He represented this constituency in the House of Commons from the following election until his death in 1879.
1868 – Building of the Canada Central Railway between Ottawa and Carleton Place was begun and was completed two years later. In ceremonies marking the start of construction, held at the Carleton Place end of the line and attended by Richard W. Scott, Q.C., M.P.P., of Ottawa, the sod turning ritual was performed by the Rev. J. H. Preston of St. James Church, Carleton Place.
1869 – This towns second large sawmill business was started by Boyd Caldwell (1818-1888) and managed by his son William Caldwell. It operated for twenty-two years on the site of the present Riverside Park.
An enlarged stone grist mill building was erected by William Bredin on Mill Street, together with buildings occupied in the following year by Joseph Cram as a planing mill and by John F. Cram as a tannery. A stone church building for the Zion Presbyterian congregation was built at the church’s present Albert and Beckwith Street location.
The Mississippi Navigation Company was incorporated to build locks at Innisville and Ferguson’s Falls and open navigation from Lanark and Playfairville to Carleton Place. Its directors were James H. Dixon of Peterborough, Abraham Code, M.P.P. (then owning mills at Ferguson’s Falls) and Robert Bell, John Craigie and Robert Crampton of Carleton Place. The company’s brief existence ended with the building of a steamboat, The Enterprise. Bought by the Gillies & McLaren firm , The Enterprise plied the Mississippi Lakes for about twenty-five years in the service of the lumber industry and provided transportation for many of the town’s public events of bygone summer days.