SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTY-EIGHT: Canada’s Centennial (5) Part Two

Carleton Place Canadian

12 May, 1966

By Howard Morton Brown


The companies of the 42nd Battalion from Perth, Smiths Falls, Almonte, Fitzroy and Landsdowne all were at Brockville within twenty-four hours.  No. 4 Company of Fitzroy, under Captain Allan Fraser, with the greatest distance to travel, mustered at Kinburn, moving from there by wagon to Pakenham and by rail to Brockville.  Captain John A. Macdonald’s history of the Fenian Raids states:

“The Forty Second did very great service in protecting the railway docks and other points of landing at Brockville, besides patrolling the river banks as far east as Maitland, thus keeping up a chain of communication with the garrison at Prescott.  Several ‘scares’ occurred during the time they were on service, which caused sleepless nights, but by their vigilance the Fenians were deterred from making an attack.”

At Prescott, opposite which a large body of Fenians had gathered at Ogdensburg, seven hundred and fifty officers and men were placed under Lieut. Colonel Jackson, Brigade Major of the 8th Brigade Division.  The greatest probability of attack from Fenians assembled at Malone was deemed to be on Cornwall.  The Cornwall command was placed with Lieut. Colonel Atcherly, Deputy Adjutant General of Military District No. 4.  Here the 59th Battalion was mustered, joined by the 41st Battalion by steamboat from Brockville with its Pakenham, Carleton Place, Perth, Merrickville, Brockville and Gananoque companies and accompanied by its Carleton Place battalion band.  A valuable corps of about sixty mounted scouts was gathered, and an armed steamer patrolled the river.  Here as at other Ontario points the Fenians failed to venture across the water in the face of the defences mounted for their reception.  Fenians at Buffalo who had gathered from several states, intending to cross the river after a successful outcome of the Quebec frontier operations, soon returned to their homes and the Fenian Raids of 1870 were at an end.


On Guard Against The Fenians

The 41st Battalion’s Carleton Place No. 5 Company and Band serving at Cornwall totalled fifty-three officers and men, under Captain John Brown and Ensign David McPherson.  Its lieutenant, J. Jones Bell, had left earlier in the month to become an officer of the Ontario Battalion in the expedition to quell the Red River Rebellion.  No. 5 Company non-commissioned officers were Sergeants Robert W. Bell, Ephriam Kilpatrick and Robert Metcalf; Corporals James Moore, A. Hume, William Patterson and William Rattray, and Bandmaster J. C. Bonner.  Of the forty-three privates in the Carleton Place Company and Band on active service at Cornwall no more than three had been with the company in its Brockville service in 1866.  They were George McPherson, George Willis and Richard Willis, all of the regimental band.

Among other No. 5 Company privates from the Carleton Place area serving at Cornwall during the 1870 raids were Samuel Crampton, Frank Boyle, Alex and John Drynan, David Henry, James Irvine, Henry Metcalf, William Moffatt, David Moffatt, blacksmith, and David Moffatt, carpenter, William Munro, George Morphy, William Murray, Daniel McDougall, Brice McNeely, Jerome McNeely and Thomas McNeely, Charles Patterson, William Pittard, William Poole, John Rattray, Duncan Stewart, W. S. Watson, and Alex Wilson.

David Moffatt (1848-1926), carpenter, a private of age 22 during the 1870 raids, became a building contractor and planning mill operator with his brother Samuel, later of Renfrew, and was the father of William, Howard and Lloyd Moffatt.  His father James (1819-1901) lived then in the stone house remaining on the riverside beyond the end of High Street, where David Moffatt senior in 1820 had become one of the early farm settlers of the vicinity of Carleton Place.  Daniel McDougall and later his son Norman were farmers on Glen Isle.  Charles Patterson was then age 19 and a cabinetmaker with William Patterson.  William W. Pittard (1850-1938), who was a printer with the Carleton Place Herald, founded in 1882 the Almonte Times, which he published until his retirement.  Unmarried, he died at age 88 in a fire in his Almonte home.  During the First World War he was mayor of Almonte.  William Poole, age 21, was the eldest son of the Herald publisher.  John Rattray, 21, and Corporal William Rattray, 25, were sons of William Rattray (1812-1898), Beckwith 11th Line farmer who came there with his parents in 1822.

Bandmaster J. C. Bonner recently had opened a shop selling musical instruments and stationery on Bridge Street near Bell Street, and advertised his services as “Band Master, Teacher of Piano, Melodeon, Organ, Voice, Thorough Bass and Harmony, Violin, etcetera.”  Sergeant Robert Metcalf, hotel-keeper, and Corporal William Patterson, cabinetmaker, were the other non-commissioned officers of the battalion’s Carleton Place band at Cornwall.  Other band members included Privates Joseph H. Bond, 30, tinsmith; William Glover, 33, blacksmith; James Morphy, 27, butcher; and James Munro, 39, carpenter; also Alex. McLean, 19, carpenter; John McLean, 25, store clerk; George McPherson, 30, later hotelkeeper; and Franklin Teskey, 29, later a town councillor, son of Appleton miller Joseph Teskey.  Privates George E. Willis, 26, photographer, Richard Willis, 29, and William Willis, 22, sons of Lake Avenue West farmer George Willis; and Joseph Wilson, 27, later hotelkeeper and Alex. Wilson, 20, sons of Dr. William Wilson, completed the 1870 roll of band musicians of the 41st Battalion in its short period of active service at Cornwall.

At the collapse of the Fenian campaign the Canadian militia forces were released from duty, in most cases within ten days of their last service postings, receiving an official statement of the “gratitude and admiration of their Queen and country”.  Reporting on the repulses of the “cut throats in green”, Major Poole wrote:  “The military officers who had an opportunity of observing the conduct of the volunteers speak in enthusiastic terms of their endurance, courage and discipline”.  In Carleton Place a victory ball and supper “in a style not to be surpassed” was held for the volunteers in the stone building on the corner of Bridge and High Streets which was then William Kelly’s British Hotel.

Veterans who had seen active service in Ontario in 1866 or 1870 became entitled eventually to provincial grants of 160 acres of Crown lands.  Service medals, some of which survive as family heirlooms, bear the receiver’s name and rank, a portrait of the queen and a design representing Canada, with a clasp carrying the words Fenian Raid 1866, or 1870.  Eighteen veterans of the Fenian Raids marched at Carleton Place thirty years later, together with Andrew Dunlop, Crimean War medallist, in an impressive parade and reception held in November, 1900, on the return of Alex. C. Cram from the South African War.  Some twenty-five veterans of the Raids who had served with the Carleton Place company and still were residents of the town included Maurice Burke, John Burke, William Beck, John Cavers, William Glover, David Moffatt, James Munro, David McPherson, Patrick Tucker, William Pattie and William Patterson.

Militia appointments of commissioned officers of No. 5 Company, Carleton Place, 41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles, made three years after the 1870 Fenian Raids, were Lieutenant Robert W. Bell as Captain, replacing David McPherson, resigned; Joseph Cram as Lieutenant, and George Gillies as Ensign replacing William Poole, deceased.  Joseph McKay, son of James McKay, Bell Street baker, rose in his long militia service here from lieutenant of No. 5 Company in the late 1870’s  to lieutenant colonel of his regiment at the turn of the century.  Rifle Ranges at Carleton Place were constructed during Lieut. Colonel McKay’s command.  Carleton Place No. 5 Company in the 1890’s had become No. 2 Company of the 42nd Lanark and Renfrew Regiment, which it remained in the years up to the opening of the First World War.  In August 1914, its first twelve volunteers for overseas active service left Carleton Place, commanded by Captain William H. Hooper.  They were sergeants Horace Brown, James McGill and George New; privates Robert Borland, Lochart Campbell, Leonard Halsey, Joseph Hamilton, Harry McLaren, Neil McPhee, Ernest Reynolds and Arthur Simons; and their captain, Will Hooper.

When Canada’s accomplishments of the past and promise of the future are being recognized in the Centennial of Confederation, and honours paid to its defenders and servants of peace and war, the military volunteers who were ready to offer their lives in the confederation decade will have a secure place among those worthy of remembrance.

 Officer in the 41st Brockville Rifle Battalion.  Likely Capt. James Condie Poole, first Company Commander of No. 5 Company (Carleton Place)

Officer in the 41st Brockville Rifle Battalion. Likely Capt. James Condie Poole, first Company Commander of No. 5 Company (Carleton Place)

No. 5 Company (Carleton Place) 41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles:  From left to right: James Storey, William Dack, Donald Stewart, William Duff, Patrick Tucker.

No. 5 Company (Carleton Place) 41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles:
From left to right: James Storey, William Dack, Donald Stewart, William Duff, Patrick Tucker.

These Photos are courtesy of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.  Thanks Jennifer!

The Good Old Days

Life in the 1500’s —–
Anne Hathaway was the wife of William Shakespeare.
She married at the age of 26.
This is really unusual for the time. Most people married young, like at
the age of 11 or 12. Life was not as romantic as we may picture it.
Here are some examples:
Anne Hathaway’s home was a 3 bedroom house with a small parlor, which
was seldom used (only for company), kitchen, and no bathroom.
Mother and Father shared a bedroom. Anne had a queen sized bed, but did
not sleep alone. She also had 2 other sisters and they shared the bed
also with 6 servant girls. (this is before she married) They didn’t
sleep like we do lengthwise but all laid on the bed crosswise.   At
least they had a bed.
The other bedroom was shared by her 6 brothers and 30 field workers.
They didn’t have a bed. Everyone just wrapped up in their blanket and
slept on the floor. They had no indoor heating so all the extra bodies
kept them warm.
They were also small people, the men only grew to be about 5’6″ and the
women were 4’8″.
SO in their house they had 27 people living. Most people got married in
Why? They took their yearly bath in May, so they were still smelling  pretty good by June, although they were starting to smell, so the brides
would carry a bouquet of flowers to hide their b.o.
Like I said, they took their yearly bath in May, but it was just a big
tub that they would fill with hot water. The man of the house would get
the privilege of the nice clean water.
Then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the
Last of all the babies. By then the water was pretty thick. Thus, the
saying, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,” it was so dirty
you could actually lose someone in it. I’ll describe their houses a
You’ve heard of thatch roofs, well that’s all they were. Thick straw,
piled high, with no wood underneath.
They were the only place for the little animals to get warm. So all the
pets; dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs, all lived in
the roof.
When it rained it became slippery so sometimes the animals would slip
and fall off the roof. Thus the saying, “it’s raining cats and dogs,”
Since there was nothing to stop things from falling into the house they
would just try to clean up a lot.
But this posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other
droppings from animals could really mess up your nice clean bed, so they
found if they would make beds with big posts and hang a sheet over the
top it would prevent that problem. That’s where those beautiful big 4
poster beds with canopies came from.
When you came into the house you would notice most times that the floor
was dirt.
Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, that’s where the saying
“dirt poor” came from.
The wealthy would have slate floors. That was fine but in the winter
they would get slippery when they got wet.
So they started to spread thresh on the floor to help keep their
footing. As the winter wore on they would just keep adding it and adding
it until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside.
SO they put a piece of wood at the entry way, a “thresh hold”.
In the kitchen they would cook over the fire, they had a fireplace in
the kitchen/parlor, that was seldom used and sometimes in the master
They had a big kettle that always hung over the fire and every day they
would light the fire and start adding things to the pot. Mostly they ate
vegetables, they didn’t get much meat. They would eat the stew for
dinner then leave the leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and
then start over the next day.
Sometimes the stew would have food in
it that had been in there for a month!
Thus the rhyme: peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in
the pot nine days old.”
Sometimes they could get a hold on some pork. They really felt special
when that happened and when company came over they even had a rack in
the parlor where they would bring out some bacon and hang it to show it
That was a sign of wealth and that a man “could really bring home the
They would cut off a little to share with guests and they would all sit
around and “chew the fat.”
If you had money your plates were made out of pewter. Sometimes some of
their food had a high acid content and some of the lead would leach out
into the food. They really noticed it happened with tomatoes. So they
stopped eating tomatoes, for 400 years.
Most people didn’t have pewter plates though, they all had trenchers,
that was a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl.
They never washed their boards and a lot of times worms would get into
the wood. After eating off the trencher with worms they would get
“trench mouth.”
If you were going traveling and wanted to stay at an Inn they usually
provided the bed but not the board.
The bread was divided according to status. The workers would get the
burnt bottom of the loaf, the family would get the middle and guests
would get the top, or the “upper crust”.
They also had lead cups and when they would drink their ale or whiskey.
The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days.
They would be walking along the road and here would be someone knocked
out and they thought they were dead. So they would pick them up and take
them home and get them ready to bury. They realized if they were too
slow about it, the person would wake up. Also, maybe not all of the
people they were burying were dead. So they would lay them out on the
kitchen table for a couple of days, the family would gather around and
eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. That’s where the
custom of holding a “wake” came from.
Since England is so old and small they started running out of places to
bury people. So they started digging up some coffins and would take
their bones to a house and re-use the grave. They started opening these
coffins and found some had scratch marks on the inside.
One out of 25 coffins were that way and they realized they had still
been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on
their wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and
tie it to a bell.
Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to  listen
for the bell. That is how the saying “graveyard shift” was made.
If the bell would ring they would know that someone was “saved by the
bell” or he was a “dead ringer”.

Published in: on January 3, 2014 at 9:33 pm  Leave a Comment