SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-ONE

Let it snow!

I wonder how the first immigrants to this area said that in Gaelic?  Gaelic was the language of choice when they arrived in 1816 and well into the mid-50’s, but by the mid-1880’s only a handful of people would be speaking Gaelic in this area. English became the language of choice.  Below is an article dealing with the origins of the Ottawa Valley Twang (which we call the Lanark County Twang), and the ethnic diversity of the Ottawa area, by Gavin Taylor from centretownnewsonline.ca.  Centretown News is produced in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, which has been studying this in their linguistics department.

I wonder if anyone in the Carleton Place-Beckwith-Mississippi Mills area has any handwritten correspondence in Gaelic from the 1800’s?  Now that would be a memory to share!

History has sewn a colourful ethnic quilt

By Gavin Taylor from centretownnewsonline.ca

If you ever find yourself in a small Ottawa Valley town, don’t be surprised if you hear echoes of Ireland in the voices of old folks.

“Let’s give’er a go,” they might tell you in a brogue as thick as corn soup.

“Let’s go up the line by shank’s mare; I think this way is better n’r that one.”

The distinctive Ottawa Valley twang, with its twisted vowels and idiosyncratic expressions, is a reminder that the culture of the region was shaped by several waves of immigrants who settled in the valley during the 19th century.

More than half the people who lived in the Ottawa Valley in the mid-1800s were immigrants

By comparison, only 18 per cent of Canadians were born abroad in 2001 — the highest proportion of immigrants since the 1930s, but small potatoes compared with the massive immigration levels of 150 years ago.

Since the 1970s, researchers at Carleton University have been recording the varieties of English spoken in the valley.

The researchers have so far identified several old-world dialects rooted in Scottish, as well as traces of American English, German, Scots Gaelic, and a Polish dialect known as Kashubian.

But the most important source of valley speech is Ireland.

“In rural areas, there was a sea of Irish-influenced English, with little islands of other groups,” says Ian Pringle, a Carleton University linguistics professor who helped lead the project.

From the 1820s to the 1880s, English-speaking migrants to the valley were overwhelmingly Irish: in some townships, as much as 90 per cent of the residents traced their ancestry to Ireland.

The first census after Confederation showed that the Irish were the largest ethnic group in Ottawa, representing almost 39 per cent of the total population. By comparison, the proportion of Irish in cities such as Boston, New York and Montreal hovered around 25 per cent for most of the nineteenth century.

Bruce Elliott, a Carleton professor who heads the university’s Centre for the History of Migration, says that most English-speaking migrations to Ontario during this period came from the Celtic fringe of the British Isles.

“In some rural areas of the valley, English were as rare as hens’ teeth,” he says.Before 1815, most of the migrants to the valley were Scottish. By the 1820s, Irish families — typically “poor-to-middling farmers” who crossed the Atlantic in search of land — had become the largest immigrant group in the region.

There was also a steady migration of French-Canadians to the valley in the 19th century, chiefly from parishes west of Montreal. Elliott says French migrants typically worked in lumber camps in the winter and cultivated garden plots along the riverside during the summer.

Philemon Wright, the entrepreneur who oversaw the construction of the Rideau Canal in Hull, hired French-Canadian labourers instead of the Irish because he thought they were more “docile” workers, Elliot says.

French and Irish Catholics in Ottawa were clustered in Lowertown in the late 19th century — early Irish immigrants to the region were largely Protestant, but the number of Catholic migrants grew steadily over the course of the century.

A handful of smaller ethnic groups also settled in the city in the late nineteenth century, most of them finding a niche in Ottawa’s retail trades.

Several families from southern Italy found a home in the Preston Street area — then a suburb — and one Greek person in Ottawa was recorded in the 1871 census. A number of African-Canadians worked as street vendors at the turn of the century. Moses Bilsky, the first Jewish resident of Ottawa, arrived in 1857, and the first synagogue in the city was built in 1892.

Migration to the Ottawa region tended to be “ethnically and religiously biased” at this time, says John Taylor, a Carleton University history professor, who has written extensively about Ottawa history.

Immigrants tended to be clustered into ethnically and religiously homogeneous groups that were fleeing economic or political hardship in Europe. But in the early 20th century, Taylor says, the character of immigration began to change.

The lumber industry — the magnet that drew migrants to Ottawa in its early years — fell into a slow and steady decline after the First World War. At the same time, the public service expanded rapidly: the number of government workers in Ottawa grew from about 1,000 in 1900 to over 30,000 by the end of the Second World War.

The public service tended to attract educated professionals from other parts of Canada.

“They were professional people moving toward economic opportunity, not away from political hardship,” Taylor says.

One of the consequences of this migration was that the ethnic character of Ottawa became increasingly similar to the rest of the country — by the 1940s, Irish-Canadians represented less than one-sixth of the city’s population.

The “Valley twang” that inflected rural speech in nearby areas virtually disappeared in the city, as public service workers increasingly spoke a standard version of Canadian English.

While some government workers remained clustered in ethnically and religiously homogeneous neighbourhoods, high-ranking public servants tended to move to Sandy Hill regardless of their ethnic background, Taylor says.

The growth of the civil service has slowed since the 1970s, but the high-tech sector has continued to draw educated professionals to the city. Like civil servants, computer engineers are migrants who come to the city for economic reasons and who tend not to cluster in ethnic neighbourhoods.

But since the 1970s, Taylor says, a new wave of immigration has been patterned along ethnic lines.

As Canada’s immigration and refugee laws were liberalized, families fleeing ethnic or political strife came to Ottawa in increasing numbers. Thousands of Lebanese have migrated to Ottawa since 1975, when a bloody civil war began in their country. Since then, Vietnamese, Sri Lankans, Somalis, and other groups escaping persecution and war have made their homes in Ottawa.

The result, Taylor says, is that Ottawa is more ethnically diverse than ever before: English remains the most commonly spoken language in the city, but allophones outnumbered francophones in the 2001 census.

The history of these successive migrations—Irish migrants in search of lands, public servants in search of a career, and Asians and Africans in search of freedom—has made Ottawa a patchwork of distinctive neighbourhoods, some based on social class and others on ethnic identity.

“We really do have a community of communities here, more than in other places,” Taylor says.

Thanks to centretownnewsonline.ca

Centretown News is produced in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK FOURTEEN

Carleton Place First County Town – Lights

By Howard M. Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 21 May, 1959

 

County’s First Hundred Years (Part 2)

Montague township, where settlement on the Rideau River began in 1790, is the oldest township in Lanark County.

Ninety persons were living in Montague township in 1802, according to a local census.  Included were families of the name Arnold, Chester, Covell, Haskins, Hill, Hodgins, Jarvis, Merrick, McCrea, McIntyre, Nettleton, Nicholson, Stafford and Van Dusen.  The Arnolds were Henry and Richard, sons of General Benedict Arnold; and Hannah Arnold, the sister of the General.  John Arnold, born 1786, another of General Benedict Arnold’s sons, lived in Kitley township, Leeds County, where he is buried with members of his family in Leahy’s cemetery near Frankville.  The nine Merricks named were the family of William Merrick, whose building of mills on the Rideau River in Montague township in the 1790’s originated the village of Merrickville.

Government and Industry

 

First Canal Transportation – Rideau Canal, 1832; Tay Canal, 1834.

First Township Officers – Elected in the early eighteen-twenties.  An 1835 Act provided for officers including an assessor, a collector, a clerk and three commissioners with narrowly limited powers, together with overseers of highways and poundkeeprs, for each township of adequate population.

First Continuous Fall Fair  – Bathurst District Agricultural Society, formed at Carleton Place, January, 1840.

First Member of Parliament of United Canada – Malcolm Cameron (1808-1876), elected 1841, defeated Sheriff John A. H. Powell, became cabinet minister in several administrations, member of Legislative Council, Queen’s Printer, and member of Parliament after Confederation.  Re-established the County’s newspaper at Perth in 1834 under the name Bathurst Courier.

First Township Elections of District Councillors – January 1842, under an Act transferring regulatory duties from appointed magistrates of court of quarter sessions.  This District’s area was changed by withdrawal in March 1842, of Carleton County’s present townships of Goulbourn, Newpean, March, Fitzroy, Torbolton and Huntley, and in 1845 by the entry of Montague, N. Elmsley and N. Burgess townships.

First Power Looms for Weaving Cloth – Installed in James Rosamond’s woolen factory, Carleton Place, 1846.

First Municipal Government as County – Came in 1850 under Municipal Institutions Act of 1849 which abolished district councils and placed county and other forms of municipal government on an enduring basis.  First Warden of United Counties of Lanark and Renfrew, 1850, was Robert Bell, M.P., Carleton Place.

First Incorporated Urban Community – Perth, as a town, September, 1850.

First Railway Transportation – The Brockville and Ottawa Railway, 1859, extending then from Almonte, Carleton Place, Perth and Smiths Falls to the Grand Trunk  Railway at Brockville.

First Royal Visit – By Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, in 1860.

First Separate Government as County – The two United Counties separated in 1866, Perth remaining as county seat of Lanark.  Warden, Daniel Galbraith of Ramsay township.

CONFEDERATION

 

First Members of Dominion Parliament – North Lanark; Hon. William McDougall (1822-1905), minister of public works, later active in transfer of much of Canada’s north and west from Hudson’s Bay Company. 

South Lanark:  Alexander Morris (1826-1889), son of Hon. William Morris of Perth, and later a cabinet minister, chief justice and lieutenant governor.

First Canadian Senators – Hon. Roderick Matheson and Hon. Henry Graham, Perth merchants; Hon. James Shaw, Smiths Falls merchant.

First Members of Ontario Legislature – North Lanark: Daniel Galbraith (1813-1879), later M.P. for North Lanark, 1872 to 1879.  South Lanark:  William McNairn Shaw (1823-1869), barrister, born Ramsay township.

First Railway to Ottawa – 1870, from Carleton Place.

 

USE OF INVENTIONS

 

First Community and Long Distance Telephones:

Bell Telephone Company, 1885, including Smiths Falls, Perth, Carleton Place and Almonte.

First Electric Lights Installed:

In mills including Peter McLaren’s Carleton Place lumber mills in early 1880’s; first community lighting service, Carleton Place, September, 1885.

First Roller Process Flour Mill:  Carleton Place, February, 1886.

COUNTY CENTENNIAL YEAR

 

First Century of Settlement – 1890; hundredth anniversary of first settlement by a family of European racial origin in area of the present Lanark County, the first Ontario permanent settlement north and west of the Rideau River.

 

 

 

Law Enforcement in Lanark County

132 Constables Once Patrolled Lanark, Renfrew

Carleton Place Canadian, February 20, 1958

By Howard Morton Brown

 

Some of this district’s law enforcement officers and ways of caring for indigent persons are recalled to view in this installment of a series of records of former local social conditions, which concludes with a brief glimpse of work and leisure in Carleton Place’s distant past.

Law Enforcement

The constables who assisted the sheriffs of the judicial district of Bathurst and of the later counties of Lanark and Renfrew in maintaining the law were once part time officers.  Sheriff of the two united counties from 1852 to 1866 and of Lanark County from 1866 to 1903 was James Thompson.  His predecessor for ten years had been Andrew Dickson of Pakenham.  Sheriff Thompson, first editor and one-time owner of the Perth Courier and county sheriff for over fifty years, lived until 1912 and the age of 100.

Local magistrates of the district at the middle period of Andrew Dickson’s regime numbered forty-three, three at present Renfrew county points and forty in the Lanark area.  Beckwith township’s magistrates in 1846 were Robert Bell, James Conboy, Robert Davis, Peter McGregor, Colin McLaren and James Rosamond.  Prominent names of magistrates in other townships then included John G. Malloch, Alex McMillan, Roderick Matheson, John Haggart and John Bell, all of Perth; John Balderson of Drummond, John Hall of Lanark, James Shaw of Elmsley, John Lorne McDougall of Horton and Alex. McDonell of McNab.  Magistrates of Ramsay township at the same time were Wm. Houston, Wm. Rae, Wm. Wallace, James Wylie and W. G. Wylie.

Part Time Constables

 Constables appointed for Lanark and Renfrew counties for the depression year of 1858 at the spring General Quarter Sessions of the Peace numbered one hundred and thirty-two.  There were twenty-one for Drummond township including Perth, nineteen for Beckwith including

Carleton Place, nine for Montague including Smiths Falls, and numbers from two to nine for twenty-four other townships.  Including some long-lived citizens and sons of district pioneers, the constables appointed for Beckwith township an even one hundred years ago were –

Carleton Place:  Joseph Bond (1805-1902, shoemaker), Hugh Boulton Jr. (1839-1887, miller, farmer), Abraham Morphy (1835-1910, farmer), Absolem McCaffrey (later grocer and liquor dealer), David McNab (1822-1903, saddler, later miller), Nathaniel McNeely (blacksmith), George McPherson Sr., (wagonmaker, later bailiff), Wm. Rorrison (builder) and Walter Scott (tailor).

Franktown: Allan Cameron (farmer), Arch. Campbell (1815-1899, farmer), Wm. Gibson, Robert Lever (cabinet maker), John Morris (blacksmith), and Michael Murray (shoemaker).

Ashton: Arch. Campbell (Con. 9, lot 27) and James Conn (merchant).

8th Concession:  John McEwen

9th Concession:  Alex. Stewart (1792-1892, merchant, Black’s Corners)

Residents of Ramsay township appointed to serve as constables in 1858 were Wm. Coleman (Con. 8, Lot 6), Patrick Corkery (Con. 3, lot 10), Wm. Gilmour, Duncan McGregor (Almonte), James Robertson (Con. 1, lot 15), Norman Shipman (Almonte), and James Toshack (Con. 8, lot 24, Bennie’s Corners).  Among similar appointments for Perth was Anthony H. Wiseman as High Constable.

Town Police

 Joseph Bond and Alvin Livingston were among the longer-term constables of Carleton Place’s village days.  Alvin Livingston became local full-time constable when appointed in 1885 at a salary of $350 a year as “Chief Constable, Street Commissioner, Collector of Young Man’s Statute Labor Tax and Sanitary Inspector.”  He had served in an earlier seven year period as constable and lock-up custodian at a $60 a year salary.  Occupant of the same post of chief constable for the lengthiest period, dating from about 1894, was Hugh MacConachie Wilson, with his once familiar greeting to street-loitering youngsters, “Weel noo, b’ys, ye’d better be movin’ an.”

County Jail

 Some of the kinds of century-old criminal charges which led to jail confinement are seen in a list of the offences alleged against the occupants of the united counties jail at Perth at one time in 1862.  Its prisoners at this time, grouped by kinds of offences charged, were – breach of indenture by leaving his master, 7; theft or larcency, 5; murder, 1; assault with an axe, 1; concealing birth of a child, 1; lack of bail, 3; and vagrancy, 3.  Including an additional six confined as mentally ill, the jails inmates were eleven men and sixteen women.  The united counties jail of 1862, then about to be vacated in favour of a new structure, was a small two storey bastille with stone walls of a thickness of almost three feet.  A barricade of brick, elm and oak composed the second storey floor.

A generation later a similar number of Lanark county occupants of the jail at Perth, mostly “tramps sent in from Smiths Falls and Carleton Place”, included such prisoners as a man charged with stealing a horse and buggy, and “a boy twelve years old, a boot-black and a very cunning youngster, awaiting trial for stealing a gold watch and fourteen dollars.” (July 1898).

Indigents in Jail

Care of Lanark County’s nineteenth century aged indigent residents without family or other private means of support was provided by the available public shelter, the county jail.  There a few respectable elderly citizens without friends or money could be housed and fed and classed as vagrants.  The Grand Jury report of inspection of this institution for imprisonment of alleged criminals related in part in December, 1880:

“The Grand Jurors for our Lady the Queen, have examined the jail and they find it in a very satisfactory state.  There are only two persons committed for crimes and these are of a comparatively trifling character.  We are glad to find there was only one insane person confined in the jail.  The rest are aged persons who have been committed under the Vagrancy Act.  Mr. Kellock who has filled the office of jailer for the last thirty years has resigned.”

The Lanark County House of Refuge was opened formally in 1903 when public figures of the county invited to speak at the ceremony, including Lanark’s members of Parliament, Hon. J. G. Haggart of Perth and Bennett Rosamond of Almonte, provincial members W. C. Caldwell of Lanark and Lt. Col. A. J. Matheson of Perth, Senator F. T. Frost of Smiths Falls and former provincial member Dr. R. F. Preston of Carleton Place.  The disappearing old order is seen in a Carleton Place editorial comment on the death of two residents of the county, one of Beckwith and the other of Drummond, in 1901 in the county jail.  Like others before them, they had been consigned to spend their last years in jail as provision for their maintenance in their helpless old age. 

“What better arguments do our County Councillors want to warrant them in proceeding with the House of Industry than deaths in such circumstances?  Poverty, from whatever cause it comes, is not a crime.  The only crime of these two elderly citizens was their poverty, yet note their obituaries.”

Hospital Proposals

 A revolutionary plea for state support for the building of hospitals had been offered by the Carleton Place Herald in its first year of publication.  Its young editor of over a century ago suggested: (Feb. 7, 1851)

“Public Hospitals – The want of hospitals for the indigent infirm in this part of the Province is beginning to be felt as a serious inconvenience.  It has become a pretty heavy tax on the benevolent part of the community to be obliged to support those who are unable to support themselves.  We would therefore suggest the idea that the Provincial Legislature enact that a sum equal to that raised for the Lunatic Asylum should in like manner be raised for the erection and support of three hospitals, to be situated at the most convenient points in the province.”

Sixty years later the building of a hospital at Carleton Place was proposed and discussed at a Town Hall public meeting held in 1910. William Thoburn outlined the origin and growth of the Rosamond Memorial Hospital at Almonte.  Dr. Bruce Smith of Toronto, Inspector of Hospitals, attended and estimated the 1910 cost of a suitable building and equipment at $1,000 a bed, and the cost of annual maintenance in a town of the size of Carleton Place at $3,500 to $4,500 a year.  With local capital being invested in industrial expansion of value to the town, including a hydro electric plant and foundry and woolen mill enlargements, and with installation of an expensive municipal waterworks system in prospect, it was decided not to duplicate the facilities of available neighbouring hospitals.

Earning a Living

In ordinary ways of earning a living, the nineteenth century’s old days seem by present standards to have been for most people a perennial struggle for subsistence unlike anything known in Canada’s recent decades.  Supported by its farming background, a sturdy race was able to survive independently and commonly to enjoy its life through intervals of moderate prosperity and recurrent times of industrial and trade unemployment, widespread bankruptcy and meager existence; with little organized assistance for its physical and social casualties.  There was another side to the conditions in which some of these generations gained their livelihood.  It is found in a simpler, less hurried and now generally unacceptable way of life.  A glimpse of its ending is seen among recollections written some seventy-five years ago by George Lowe, a seventy year old resident of Carleton Place: (July 1884)

“This day twenty years ago I came to Carleton Place, near the close of the Civil War.  At that time property was of little value.  I took charge of the railway station.  The only industries in the place were the grist mill, run by Mr. Bolton, Allan McDonald’s carding mill, Brice McNeely’s tannery and the saw mill run by Robert Gray, with one circular saw.  David Findlay’s foundry was just starting.  The lead mines were about closing down then.  Twenty years ago it may be said there was no such thing as employment here for anyone and, strange as it seems, no one seemed to wish for work.  Their wants were few, and those wants seemed to be soon supplied.  Smoking around, a good deal of fishing on the river, and a little loafing about the taverns, put in the day.  One day was the history of another.  Living was cheap then, but when those public works started – saw mills, wollen mills, etc. – then the whole place wakened up, and there has been no more industrious race than ours.  From the progress of this place in the last twenty years what shall it be at the end of the next twenty.”

CARLETON PLACE PUBLIC LIBRARY – 1846

From the Carleton Place Canadian, 01 September, 1955

By

Howard M. Brown

 

One of the earlier public libraries established in eastern Ontario inland from the St. Lawrence River, the Carleton Place Public Library, will reach its 110th birthday in March, 1956.

 When organized settlement of the area between the Rideau and Ottawa rivers was begun in 1816, the first townships occupied by the emigrants were in what is now Lanark County north to the townships of Drummond and Beckwith.  The settlers knew the value of books and education and sought both.  The best known pioneer public library in the county probably is the Dalhousie Township library, founded near Watson’s Corners in 1828.  The Governor General of the Canada’s, the Earl of Dalhousie, then assisted this early library of the Scottish settlement by becoming its patron and the donor of over a hundred substantial volumes.

 The Carleton Place Library was established in 1846, a year before the Bytown Mechanics Institute was founded as the first library of the present city of Ottawa.  A report of the beginnings of the Carleton Place library has been found in the Canadian Public Archives in Ottawa, published in volume 1, number 10, of the Carleton Place Herald of November 30, 1850, then called the Lanark Herald.  It follows in part:

“I would lay before the public a statement of the affairs and general rules of the Circulating Library of this place.  The Library was established on the 14th March, 1846, under the name of The Carleton Place Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute, professedly to provide a cheap and well assorted class of books, accessible to all classes of the community.  The terms were 2 s. 6 d. entrance money and 5 s. annual subscription, the payment of 25 years subscription constituting a person a free member.  The library was first opened with 16 volumes and as many members, the books increasing in the first year to 144 and does now consist of 363 volumes; 38 of them have been purchased in the last week.  They may be classed as follows:  Religion 89, Historical 67, General Information 49, Scientific 18, Agricultural 4, Voyages and Travel 19, Biographical 29, Narrative 11, Fictitious 41, and Miscellaneous 36.”

“The affairs of the Institution are conducted by a body of directors chosen annually by the members from among themselves.  As none of the officers receive any pecuniary compensation, the whole of the receipts go for the purchase and repair of books.”

“There is also provision for young persons who may wish to improve their minds by reading upon payment in advance of 5 d. per month, having use of the Library as long as they continue to pay that sum; but they are not considered members, consequently they have no right to vote at any of the meetings.”

“A few of the young men about the neighbourhood who are not of the orchard-robbing, bar-room-loafing hang-about-the corner class, have availed themselves of the opportunity of storing their minds with useful information, instead of their pockets with pilfered fruit, and are habituating themselves to habits of study that will materially forward their interests in the future.”

This libelous concluding blast accompanied the accession to the post of librarian by Johnston Neilson, stern village schoolmaster.  David Lawson, local pioneer librarian, had resigned his library duties in 1851 because of increased demands on his time in operating the community’s post office.

Officers of the local Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute for 1851 were James Duncan (blacksmith) president, William Peden (storekeeper) vice-president, David Lawson, secretary and Robert Bell, M.P.P., treasurer.  The additional 1851 directors were James C. Poole (newspaper editor), George Dunnett (store-keeper), and Duncan McGregor (blacksmith), all of Carleton Place, and Thomas Patterson and John McCarton (farmers), both of Ramsay township.

Public schools and school libraries also began to improve in the 1850’s with the introduction of municipal institutions with locally elected officers.  A local newspaper editorial in 1851 titled “The Fool’s Penny” reported the purchase of  “178 neatly bound octavo volumes, containing from 300 to 400 pages each, for school libraries of the Township of Beckwith out of the Tavern Licence money of last year, which was set aside for that purpose by the Township Council.”

These books were allotted among the 11 school sections of the township according to their populations, which totaled 2,354 persons.  The largest school section, No. 11, with 525 inhabitants, included the village of Carleton Place, where its school was located.

A contemporary of the Dalhousie library of Watson’s Corners was the Ramsay and Lanark Circulating Library, also apparently founded about 1828.  It served the area immediately north and north-west of Carleton Place.

Minutes of its 1847 annual meeting, held at the residence of Edward Leary (Lot 19, Con. 1 Ramsay) with Alex Stevenson as chairman, included a motion by John Robertson Jr. and J. Rath “that the library be removed from the house of Mr. Edward Leary and taken to the Episcopalian Church situated on Lot 16, 1st concession of Ramsay.”

A  January 1847 letter to the Bathurst Courier, Perth, reporting this meeting, stated in part : “Monday the 25th instant being the natal day of Scotia’s bard, the annual general meeting of the Ramsay library was held.  Another has been instituted in the township with success, yet the numbers of this have increased in the last year and it is at present in a thriving condition, numbering upwards of 600 volumes.”

“The business of the day being over, a number of the members and admirers of Burns retired to Mr. Edward Houston’s Inn to celebrate the birthday of the poet and the 18th anniversary of the Society.  Mr. James Bryson was called to the chair.”

Ramsay township, into which the borders of the village of Carleton Place expanded after its early years, had as its second library that of the Ramsay Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute at Almonte, corresponding to the similar organization in Carleton Place.  An account of its 1857 annual meeting, held at the schoolhouse at Almonte, shows its library then contained 750 volumes. Its president, James Hart, and secretary, David Campbell, reported votes of thanks to James D. Gemmill of Almonte, then visiting in Europe, for a donation of forty volumes and to Robert Bell of Carleton Place, North Lanark M.P.P. , for “procuring to this institution the annual Government appropriation of Fifty Pounds.”

A decline in the Carleton Place library’s operations in the 1860’s is seen in the critical note of an 1864 local editorial calling “the attention of the inhabitants generally, but more particularly the young men, in this vicinity, to a notice in today’s Herald calling on them to reorganize the Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute.  We understand there are six or eight hundred books in the Library which have been almost unlooked at for several years.  Our young friends have abundance of time to read, and the knowledge so acquired will be far superior to that obtained at the corners of the streets.”

Public appreciation of the works of great authors was further encouraged by a long-lived series of open meetings during the winters, popularly known as Penny Readings.  These were sponsored locally under the name of the Carleton Place Mutual Improvement Association, formed at a meeting at innkeeper Napoleon Lavallee’s Carleton House (later the Leland Hotel) in December 1868 to promote a weekly course of public readings, with the admission set at one penny.  Among those attending the organization meeting were James Poole, Robert Bell, Robert Crampton, William Peden, James Gillies, and Rev. James Preston.  A principal supporter of this latter enterprise was Robert Bell, whose own library in Carleton Place was described in the Toronto Mail in 1887 as “the largest and best chosen private library in the Ottawa Valley.

In 1887 the Carleton Place Public Library, still associated with the Mechanics’ Institute of the village (population 3,600) was again in a thriving state, following a reorganization five years earlier.  Its position was described in a valuable and generally accurate history of Carleton Place in the Christmas number of the C.P. Herald, containing the following:

“For the Mechanics’ Institutes, as they exist throughout the Province, we are largely indebted to the Provincial Government, which makes grants of money for their maintenance.  The subsidies are regulated by the amount of subscription raised from private or municipal sources, by the extent of the libraries and by the various facilities that are afforded.  Provision is made for giving instruction in the mechanical sciences, such as draughting and mathematics, through practical teachers as well as through books of latest publication.”

“Our Institute has a membership of a little less than 200.  Mr. Lacy R. Johnson, who at the time of its re-establishment in 1883 was mechanical superintendent with the C.P.R. here, Robert Bell Esq., W. H. Wylie Esq., Mr. A. C. McLean and other citizens were the leading spirits in its establishment.  The library contains some 600 volumes.  The reading room contains about thirty of the leading newspapers and popular magazines as well as current scientific periodicals.  The Institute has given instruction to a large number of our mechanics and others, principally young men employed in the C.P.R. shops, in mechanical draughting, bookkeeping and general mathematics.  Some of the drawings were sent to the great Indian and Colonial Exhibition held in England last year.  The executive judges forwarded bronze medals to the draughtsmen, and to the Institute a diploma of merit and bronze medal.  The officers at present are: President, Wm. Pattie; Vice-president, Rev. A. Jarvis, Secretary, A. C. McLean, Treasurer, J. A. Goth.”

Peter McRostie, librarian of the Carleton Place Library from April 1887 to December 1909, symbolizes the public library to the elder residents of this town.  Born in Carleton Place in 1832 and raised in the old McRostie home on the riverside recently bought and renovated by Mr. and Mrs. Howard Dack, he became a farmer in Bruce County and later in Ramsay township, where he was assessor, school trustee and treasurer for some years.  After his return to Carleton Place he became librarian of the town library.  When the present Town Hall was opened in 1897, the library was changed to a municipal public library.  Mr. McRostie continued as librarian until within a year of his death at the age of 78.  He was succeeded in that office by his daughter, Miss Emma McRostie.

With the 110th anniversary of the founding of our library approaching, some fitting recognition of its origins and its principal representatives of the past, such as a display of historical pictures and other exhibits of the stirring days of early district history, might perhaps be considered by the citizens of this area and the Library Board of the town.

 

Carleton Place Stirring Village Back in 1840’s, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, July 7, 1960

Carleton Place in the times of the Eighteen Forties is recalled in the present installment of a year by year listing of local scenes and events which had their part in shaping the present character of this section of Lanark County.

The first signs pointing to this community’s growth to the proportions of a town began to show themselves in the Eighteen Forties.  Still in the handicraft era, the district after its first twenty-five years was gradually leaving behind it the kinds of hardships its people had known in their first years of settlement in the woods.  In the sixty year old province of less than five hundred thousand people, substantial government reforms in parliamentary, municipal and educational institutions began to be launched.  This district and this young community shared in promoting their reforms and in their benefits.

FARM IMPROVEMENTS

1840 – A district agricultural society, the parent of the present North Lanark Agricultural Society, was founded at a January, 1840, meeting at Carleton Place, with James Wylie of Ramsayville as president, Francis Jessop of Carleton Place as secretary and Robert Bell as treasurer.  Its activities for the improvement of farming methods and products have included from the beginning an annual exhibition, held until the late Eighteen Fifties at Carleton Place and thereafter at Almonte.  Carleton Place exhibitions were continued for some further years by a Beckwith Township agricultural society.

Ewen McEwen (1806-1885) in 1840 became clerk of Beckwith Township and postmaster at Franktown.  He held both positions for forty-five years and was township treasurer for twenty years.  His son Finlay McEwen for many years was Carleton Place municipal treasurer and postmaster.

STIRRING LITTLE VILLAGE

1841 – Dr. William Wilson, graduate of Glasgow University and son of a district settler, began in 1841 a medical practice of about fifteen years in Carleton Place, building later his stone home which remains on Bell Street.  Edward M. Barry, M.D., trained in London and Dublin, opened a briefer medical practice here a few months before Dr. Wilson, as another of the town’s early surgeons.

A visitor in 1841 recorded this description of the section between Carleton Place and Almonte :

Carleton Place, about seven miles from Ramsay (Almonte) and eighteen from Perth, is a stirring little village.  By Franktown it is twenty-four miles from Perth, by Bellamys (Clayton) it is eighteen.  It has advanced greatly of late years, and the active enterprise of the Bells, merchants here, have contributed in no small degree to this.  They have several buildings themselves, one being a large two-storey stone dwelling.

There are three churches in Carleton Place – one Episcopal, a new Presbyterian and a Methodist church.  The Rev. Mr. Boswell officiates in the first, none yet appointed to the second but suppose Mr. Fairbairn will occasionally preach in it, and Mr. (Alvah) Adams is the stationed Methodist preacher.  The interests of religion are much attended to in the whole township, as well as in Carleton Place.  The Mississippi river runs through the village, and if it prevents the place from being as compact as desirable it at least contributes to its beauty and loveliness.  There are mills here by one Boulton, and more taverns I think than necessary for comfort or accommodation, numbering about five or six.  Mr. John McEwen has opened his home again for respectable travelers.  He is a man much esteemed, his fare excellent and his charges reasonable.

The township of Ramsay is well settled, very prosperous, and can boast a goodly number of experienced practical farmers – men of extensive reading and sound knowledge.  Its appearance plainly proves this, by the number of schools and churches within its range which are erected and in process of erection.  About the centre of the Township is a substantial Presbyterian Church of stone in which a Mr. Fairbairn officiates, also a Methodist meeting house where a Mr. (Alvah) Adams preaches – with a Catholic Church where Rev. Mr. McDonough of Perth officiates occasionally.  The great number of substantial stone houses erected and being put up speaks more favorably than words of its growing prosperity.

James Wylie Esq., a magistrate and storekeeper, has erected a fine house, his son another.  About half a mile from this, Mr. Shipman’s spacious stone dwelling, his mills and surrounding buildings, present a bustling scene.  There is one licenced tavern here, and a school.

DISTRICT COUNCIL ELECTED

1842 – Residents of Carleton Place in 1842 included about twenty tradesmen engaged in metal, wood,  textile and leather trades, in addition to farmers, merchants, innkeepers, labourers, two surgeons, two teachers and one clergyman.  Of the present Lanark County’s 1842 population of a little over 19,000 persons, Beckwith township including Carleton Place had some 1,900 inhabitants and 330 houses.  Ramsay township with 390 inhabited houses, had a population of 2,460.  Each of the two townships had eight elementary schools.  Half of the number of children of ages 5 to 16 in the two townships had attended school within the past year.

An elected council assumed duties of county administration for the first time in 1842, under legislation of the new united Parliament of Upper and Lower Canada.  District council members elected for Beckwith township were Robert Bell and Robert Davis.  Those for Ramsay were John Robertson Sr. (1794-1867) and Arthur Lang. 

A convention of district teachers of common schools met in the fall of 1842 at John McEwen’s hotel, Carleton Place.  A long-lived local Union Sabbath School was commenced in this year.

LOCAL MAGISTRATES

1843- Justices of the peace in Beckwith township authorized to act as magistrates included James Rosamond and Robert Bell, Robert Davis, Peter McGregor and Colin McLaren.  Those in Ramsay township included James Wylie and his son William H. Wylie, William Houston and William Wallace.

The Rev. Lawrence Halcroft (1798-1887), a resident of Carleton Place for over forty years, came here by call in 1843 and for eleven years was minister of the local Baptist Church.  He combined farming with his religious duties, and was a man of broad and liberal views who afterwards preached to all denominations.

A GENERAL ELECTION

1844 – Malcolm Cameron (1808-1876), supported by the large Scottish reform party element of this district and by others, was re-elected member of Parliament in a general election after the capital of Canada was moved from Kingston to Montreal(?).

The Rev. John Augustus Mulock, uncle of Sir William Mulock, became rector of the Carleton Place Anglican Church after a two year vacancy.

CHURCH DISSENTION

1845 – Dissention and division in the organization of the Church of Scotland was followed here in 1845 by the construction of the present stone building of Knox Presbyterian Church at Black’s Corners, parent of Carleton Place’s Zion Presbyterian Church.  In Ramsay township the frame building of a Free Presbyterian Church was erected at the 8th line of Ramsay, which for about twenty years served the congregation of the later St. John’s Presbyterian Church of Almonte.

POWER LOOMS

1846 – James Rosamond in 1846 was manufacturing woollen cloth by machinery at Carleton Place.  His mill at the foot of James Street with two looms operated by water power, was the first of its kind in Eastern Ontario.

The Carleton Place Library was established in March, 1846 as a subscription library under the management of the Carleton Place Library Association and Mechanics Institute.  Napoleon Lavelle began his hotel business which he continued here for nearly forty years, commencing as the Carleton House in the Bell’s stone building on the south side of Bridge Street facing Bell Street.  The three, two-storey stone structures among the sixty occupied dwellings of Carleton Place were this building, plus Hugh Boulton’s house (later Horace Brown’s) on Mill Street, and James Rosamond’s home (later William Muirhead’s) on Bell St.

WARDEN ELECTED

1847 – District wardens, previously appointed by the government of the colony, were first chosen by election in 1847.  The warden elected by the council of the Lanark and Renfrew district was Robert Bell of Carleton Place.

STOVE FOUNDRY

1848 – Samuel Fuller in 1848 opened a stove foundry here which he ran for ten years.  Its first location was near the site of the power house now owned by the Ontario Hydro Electric Power Commission.  The bridge over the Mississippi River was rebuilt.

A stone schoolhouse building was erected at Franktown.  In the United Counties of Lanark and Renfrew there were 1,069 inhabited and assessable houses and 120 public schools.  Most were log buildings.

POLITICAL VIOLENCE

1849 – The Hon. James Wylie (1789-1854) of Almonte was appointed to the Legislative Council of Canada.

Local school trustees James Rosamond (1804-1894, John Graham (1812-1887) and Brice McNeely (1794-ca 1878) advertised for a classical teacher for the Carleton Place School.

Robert Bell, elected as member of Parliament for Lanark and Renfrew Counties in the previous year, when the reform party attained power and responsible government arrived, was present when the Parliament Buildings of Canada were burned by an influentially backed Montreal mob.  He is said to have made his escape by a ladder from the burning building.  Delegates from district points including Beckwith and Ramsay townships were received at Montreal by Lord Elgin, governor general.  They delivered resolutions prepared at local meetings which supported his reforms and condemned the outrages committed by his opponents.  One of the addresses presented was that of the Carleton Place Library Association.

Central School Once Single Room Under Eye of Teacher, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 12 December, 1957

School Building, 1850

The first Carleton Place Common School was replaced at the same Bridge Street site, by the original form of the present Central School in 1870. The old school was enlarged in 1850 as described by James Poole in volume I of the Carleton Place Herald :

Our school house has been improved during the past year by erection of an addition some fifty feet in length. The school house is now in the form of a letter T, with a front of fifty feet to the street and measuring 48 feet from front to rear at the widest part, the wings being 24 feet wide. It is so arranged that the whole can be under the eye of one teacher, or if desirable a part of it can be shut off with folding doors and used either as a female school or as a juvenile department to the male school.

The building committee intends to have a porico put up. Outhouses have been erected and the whole ground, about a third of an acre, has been neatly enclosed with a good substantial fence. It only remains to have the building painted and a few trees set out in the grounds to make it everything that can be desired as a village school house.

Yearly rates payable for cheap education by an efficient teacher in the new school were advertised by the trustees of Beckwith school section No. 11, after the school had remained vacant for a few months in 1852 for want of a teacher.

Private classes offering tuition for young ladies also opened at this time in Carleton Place when in 1851 a Miss Roy opened a day school, quoting rates of 4 pounds per year for English only and 6 pounds for English, Music, French and Drawing. Miss Margaret Bell also announced a school for young ladies to be opened by her at her mother’s home. Several years later she was the teacher of the local community school.

Grammar School

The first high school facilities in Carleton Place were provided in about 1852. Their establishment accompanied appointment by the Governor General of town residents – Robert Bell, James Duncan and James Rosamond as associate members of the Board of Trustees for superintending grammar schools in the united counties of Lanark and Renfrew. Peter McLaren, when teacher of the Carleton Place Grammar School, obtained his Queen’s College B.A. Degree in 1853. The common school board and the high or grammar school trustees were united, about this time, as they continued to be for many years. The pupils of both schools shared the same building. Samuel G. Cram (1838-1915), son of David Cram of Beckwith, was later head of the old Grammar School.

Quarterly examinations exercises, reported to be so neglected by parents in 1848, were found commanding parental attendance at Carleton Place twelve years later, as told in James Poole’s press reports of midsummer and year-end school exercises here :

An examination of the pupils of the Union Grammar and Common School at Carleton Place, under the charge of F. S. Haight, M.A., took place on July 19, 1860, previous to the summer vacation. The forenoon was devoted to the examination of the several classes in reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography, with French, Latin, geometry, etc. In the evening essays and other compositions were read, and addresses delivered, by some of the more advanced scholars. The spectators now amounted to several hundreds. Pieces of music were performed by the scholars. We noted the essays on Scotland, Mahomet, Astronomy and Education as being particularly worthy. The exercises were closed with an address by Rev. W. C. Clarke of Lanark.”

Christmas Party

An account of the year-end school exercises of the same year tells of the first community Christmas party in Carleton Place to be placed on public record :

The Carleton Place Union Grammar and Common School closed its fourth term for 1860 on December 22nd, and was examined by Rev. John McKinnon. Grammar school prizes were awarded in arithmetic, spelling and composition, grammar and three classes of geography. On the evening of December 24th the teacher and senior pupils gave a soiree to the inhabitants of the Section.

The spacious school house, which has recently been thoroughly repaired, was beautifully decorated with evergreens and flowers and lighted up with a great variety of candles and coloured lamps. Vocal and instrumental music enlivened the scene. It gives us great pleasure to state that music is cultivated in this school to a greater extent than any other school with which we are acquainted.

Robert Bell Esq., M.P.P. Presided and Rev. Mr. McKinnon opened with prayer. Orations and addresses in different languages were delivered by some of the senior pupils which did them great credit. We give a list of the most prominent, viz., David Duff, Salutory ; Rufus Teskey, Greek oration ; Wm. Sinclair, English oration for abolition of capital punishment ; Josiah Jones Bell, 1845-1931, French oration ; John M. Sinclair, 1842-1926, English oration, on evils of intemperance ; D. McKinnon, Latin oration.

Some pieces of composition by the female pupils were then read by Miss H. Halcroft which showed that the young women attending the school were determined not to be distanced by their male competitors. A presentation of an elegant writing desk was made by the senior class of boys to the teacher, F. S. Haight, M.A. The evening’s entertainment closed with an excellent address to the pupils by Rev. John McMorine, ‘God Save the Queen’, and benediction by Rev. Mr. Halcroft.

On Tuesday evening the scholars, parents and trustees were again invited to the school house, which was well lighted up. In the centre stood a Christmas tree, twinkling with wax tapers and loaded with useful and ornamental articles in endless variety. Every pupil plucked some of this fruit, and seemed to be delighted with the proceedings.”

Local Teachers Once Paid Less Than $200 per Year, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 28 November, 1957

The state of schools and school teaching in Ontario’s early days has long been a favourite topic in oldtimers’ tales of life in the past century.

Before the Canadian union of 1841 and for sometime after, ability to read and write and to do more than elementary calculation by numbers was beyond the reach of many citizens, both natives and immigrants, unless obtained by home training. A grammar school or high school education was for the few, mainly a rare few with the opportunity and wish to prepare for a life in one of the learned professions. The widespread existence of tax-supported public schools in the province has a record extending back little more than a hundred years.

Among the reforms of the 1840’s and 1850’s was a slowly growing common school system, fathered mainly by the native-born Rev. Dr. Egerton Ryerson, Methodist minister, first head of Victoria College, Cobourg, and from 1844 to 1876 Superintendent of Education for Ontario. Admission to a large share of the province’s public schools remained subject to payment of school rates or fees which not all parents were prepared to pay.

For the so-called Free Schools the part of operating costs not met from county and provincial taxes were raised by ordinary local property taxes instead of by rate-bill admission fees. Free schools increased in number only after overcoming strong opposition in many districts. Compulsory school attendance remained a remote idea. Men with ideas ahead of their time, as James Poole showed in his Carleton Place newspaper of the early 1850’s could be friends of education and enemies of the free schools.

Teachers Salaries Under $200

In Lanark County tax-supported schools had increased in number to 91 by 185?, and teachers to 102, thirteen of which were women teachers. Only five of the county’s schools were free schools. Teachers average yearly salaries including board were about 40 pounds for men and 30 pounds for women, and about 10 pounds less excluding board. Fourteen of the county’s schools were good or first class schools, as graded in inspections of 1850. The rest were equally divided between second class and inferior or third class schools.

The schools of Lanark and Renfrew counties of this time are pictured by the Rev. James Padfield, rector of the Church of England at Franktown, in an 1848 report to the Bathurst District Council in his capacity of superintendent of common schools of the united counties. He found 120 schools in operation under the Common School Act in the two counties, all but a few of which had been inspected by him in the preceding fall and winter.

Teachers of schools selected by Mr. Padfield for commendation were Mr. Warren, then of McNab township, Mr. Hammond of Lanark township, Mr. McDougall of North Sherbrooke, Mr. Morrison of Perth, Mr. Heely of Carleton Place, James Poole and Mr. York of Ramsay, Mr. McDougall and Mr. Lindsay of Beckwith, and Thomas Poole of Pakenham.

Log Schools

Mr. Padfield provides an eye witness summary of the nature of this district’s pioneer schools :

The Schools in general are better attended from the middle of November to the end of April. Among the pupils may often be found many young persons, both male and female, from 15 to 20 years of age and upwards. During the other six and a half months the older pupils are kept at home to assist their parents in agricultural employments. The Schools then are practically deserted, having frequently and in almost every township not more than ten or twelve scholars in regular attendance in a school, often fewer.

This interferes in a most disastrous way with the education of the young.

The School Houses throughout the District are for the most part built of logs, not more that twenty feet square and seldom eight feet high. Many are much smaller and of less height. In each of these are crowded during the winter months from twenty-five to forty children. The interior arrangements are often very defective. Many are quite unfit for schools.

Among the few good and tolerably commodious school houses in the District may be mentioned one on the south side of Perth and another under construction in Perth, both frame buildings. Another in Smiths Falls, built of stone, if finished bould be the best in the District. But it is suffered to remain in an unfinished state and a high rent is paid for a miserable building in which the school is kept. There are also a few good log school houses in some of the townships, including two in Bathurst, three or four in Beckwith, a very good one at Westmeath and another at Pembroke. Of the rest many are two small and some few are ill built and worse finished, exhibiting loose and shattered floors, broken windows, ill-constructed desks, unsafe stoves and stove pipes and unplasterd walls.

A greater uniformity in textbooks is beginning to prevail. I recollect visiting one School last winter at which fifteen children were present, no two of whom had books of the same kind. The quarterly examinations have been almost a dead letter. In many instances not a single person has been present to show the least interest in the advancement made by the scholars, except perhaps a solitary Trustee. On the whole in spite of these various hinderences our Common Schools are undoubtedly improving. (Signed) J. Padfield, S.C.S. Bathurst District, 2 October, 1848.”

 Of ten new school houses completed in the district in the following six months, as noted in Mr. Padfield’s next inspection report, one in Perth was “a commodious frame building divided into two apartments, one for boys and the other for girls”, three were log schools in Montague, one a 22 foot square log school in No. 18 Drummond, and one in Beckwith at Franktown, described as a substantial stone building. It appears the latter building is still standing at Franktown, though not in school use. At Franktown and No. 14 Montague the previous schools had been destroyed by fire.

Teachers Convention, 1842

School teachers meetings at Perth and Carleton Place in 1842 were the first general conventions of this District held following enactment of the Canadian school statute.

At Perth the superintendent of Education for Canada West, Mr. Murray, had recommended to an August gathering of teachers of the two counties that they select a committee to suggest improvements to the new Common School Bill. The committee, consisting of one teacher, from each of the townships of Bathurst, Beckwith, Burgess, Drummond, Horton, McNab, Pakenham and Ramsay, met at John McEwen’s inn at Carleton Place a month later.

Its recommendations, compiled by a subcommittee of three teachers (Thomas Ferguson of the Derry School, Beckwith, J. Fowler of Bathurst and Mr. Kerr of Ramsay), favoured “a union of Townships for the proper forming of School Districts, and that the Commissioner in whose Township the school is located manage the same.” Other recommendations were that no teachers lacking specified qualifications be employed, and that teachers salaries be not less than 50 pounds per year, payable half yearly.

First Local Schools

Carleton Place, like other points in the district, opened its first school with its first growth of settlement. A log hut near the corner of Bridge Street and the Town Line road is said to have become the first local school in 1825, with James Kent as teacher. William Poole, father of the town’s future newspaper editor, taught here from his arrival in 1831 to his death in 1844.

A second school in a frame building in the south side of the village was aquired and enlarged by the Common School Board when the Schools Act and municipal system of 1841 became effective. The bylaw passed for this purpose at the first session of the newly established District Council was introduced by Robert Bell. It provided for a 50 pound assessment upon the inhabitants of Beckwith School Section No. 11 to erect a school house at Carleton Place.

Best known early teacher of the Carleton Place common school probably was Johnston Neilson (1798-1857). Trained in colleges of Belfast and Glasgow, he taught here until 1851, retired on pension while teaching at Pakenham and died at Perth. His somewhat biassed strictures on the manners of the youth of his time in Carleton Place, recorded in newspaper correspondence, have since been given more publicity than might be deserved. A longer lived pioneer local teacher was Peter Comrie, (1819-1901), who came from Comrie, Perthshire, in 1836 and was a teacher living in Carleton Place in 1842. He is said to have maintained a school house for some years on High street near Bridge Street and to have taught in the Carleton Place grammar school.

A Carleton Place newspaper editorial of the late 1850’s offered a brief and effective tribute to the province’s schoolteachers of that day :

The telegraph and steam engine are powerful civilizers. The printing press is almost invincible in eradicating ignorance and chasing away superstition. But there is a power among us doing for us a greater service. It will be found in small, low roofed, ill ventilated scantily furnished and generally neglected houses, at the crossroads and in public places, here and there, throughout the whole country. He who directs it has many difficulties.

Scanty remuneration is doled out to him, probably months after it is honestly due. Nevertheless the improved facilities for learning today should be contrasted with those of pupils whose lot was cast in days when the dreaded ferule and the awful birch reigned triumphant as the alternate sceptres in the grasp of a tyrant.”

 

 

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.”