SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-SEVEN

 

 Story of the Telephone in Carleton Place District

Carleton Place Herald, 18 October, 1962

By Howard M. Brown

 

Within the lifetimes of our present elder citizens, telephones first came into public use in Carleton Place and nearby Ontario communities in 1885.

Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone in this province in 1874 at Brantford was followed by convincing proofs of its commercial usefulness within two years in Ontario and Massachusetts.  In Lanark County, only one year later, “one of Prof. Bell’s telephones” appeared in 1877.  It was obtained by Mr. F. A. Kennedy, Perth dentist.  With the sensational new devise he talked between his office and his house in Perth.

At Ottawa the possibilities of the telephone were demonstrated by electrical pioneer Thomas Ahearn (1855-1938) in a talk in 18778 over telegraph wires with the Montreal Telegraph Company’s agent at Pembroke.  The Bell Telephone Company of Canada, of which Mr. Ahearn was a director until his death, was formed in 1880.

Musical Overture

The company’s lines spread rapidly through southern Ontario and Quebec.  The Carleton Place Herald early in 1885 reported that Mr. S. S. Merrick of Carleton Place was “obtaining 3,300 first class poles for the 106 mile contract” awarded to him for the Ottawa Valley telephone line then being built, that would connect Ottawa and Brockville, Perth, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place and points northward.  The new telephone service in this district was proposed to be placed in operation with a musical programme by telephone, according to Mr. W. W. Cliff of the Carleton Place Central Canadian.  Listing the subscribers and intending subscribers of Perth, Smiths Falls and Carleton Place, he wrote in June:

“Mr.  Marshall has been pushing the business of the Bell Telephone Company in this County with much success.  When all connections have been made Mr. Marshall intends to carry out a musical programme in Almonte and have the Hall connected with the system, so that subscribers in any of the places mentioned may sit in their offices and houses and be a part of the audience as enjoyably as if present in body.”

An Instant Success

With or without the musical overture, the district lines went into use in November, 1885.  The revolutionary convenience and speed of communicating by telephone conversation was an instant popular success for business purposes.  William H. Allen in his Carleton Place Herald nine months later reported:

“When first introduced here last November there were only ten names on the local exchange.  Towards spring the ten line switch was replaced by a twenty.  Now, as all these lines have been taken and more are in demand, a fifty line switch is to be placed in the central as soon as it can be manufactured.”

The company’s first published telephone directory for Lanark County subscribers was that for “Ottawa and Connections, June 1886.” Local and long distance calls were made by name instead of by telephone number.  It listed seventeen Carleton Place telephones, all at business premises excepting the residence of the McLaren sawmill manager, and similar numbers of telephones at Almonte, Perth and Smiths Falls.  Pakenham had ten telephones.

Trunk Line Business

The first Carleton Place exchange was located in the McDiarmid block, Bridge Street, in the jewelry store of Mr. R. J. E. Scott.  This office was said in 1887 to be “owing to its central location, transacting next to the largest trunk line business in the Ottawa Valley.”  The Canadian company at the beginning of that year had a total of twelve thousand telephone subscribers.

Mr. W. J. Warwick, a year or so later succeeded Mr. Scott in the same location as a jeweler and as holder of the Bell Telephone Company’s local agency.  An early private exchange in the town was that installed in 1890 by the H. Brown & Sons firm between its flour, feed and cereal mills and the offices and residences of its two senior partners (with the modern colour feature provided by receivers which were solidly ringed in gay colours).

After six years of daytime public service a Carleton Place day and night telephone service appears to have been started early in 1892.  An effort was put forth then “to add a few more subscribers to the telephone exchange to make fitty, when the company have promised us a night operator, giving us continuous service night and day.”  Within a few weeks it was reported that Mr. Warwick had succeeded so admirably in impressing the usefulness of the telephone upon our citizens that nearly sixty will be in operation this week.  A feature of the increase is the number of private dwellings that have secured it.”

Trial By Fire

When fire in 1897 destroyed a Carleton Place business section from the old frame McDiarmid block at the corner of Bridge and Franklin Streets south to and including the Keyes building, the Bell Telepone Company with a loss reported at $2,000 was one of the lesser victims of the destruction.  Editor W. W. Cliff’s rhetorical news report in December 1897 said in part:

“Mr. Moss of the Central Telephone was brought into instantaneous action, and his first thought was to wing a message to Mr. McFadden at the Fire Hall, who was up and at the engine in a few minutes and, all alone, pushed the monster out upon the platform and applied the torch.  The Chief and several others were aroused by Mr. Ross and the electrical alarm, which worked well.  In a little while two streams were playing.

As the Chief saw the fire was in a nest of wooden buildings, he had Mr. Brown’s splendid equipment brought out into the action, with five hundred feet of hose from the Gillies factory, hitherto unsoiled.  While all this was proceeding, the occupants of the doomed buildings were getting out what they and the crowds could lay violent hands on.

The firemen fought the flames with undying vigour.  The hook and ladder was on the spot in five minutes, thanks to the speed of Mr. McGonigle, whose alarm went off early and who had a team hitched up and away in the twinkling of an eye.  This apparatus was of inestimable value and one of the most agile and fearless in the contest was Mr. Mort. Brown, ‘the best fireman in Canada’, says Mr. Graham, who risked his life in climbing ladders and hurling the hooks.

The firemen were soon coated with ice, and in this awkward condition worked with tireless energy, the branchmen especially doing brave and effective service.  Towards daylight all danger of further inroads was over, but streams were poured steadily into the debris until noon.  The engineer and Mr. Virtue stood steadily at their freezing posts on the river from three o’clock until noon, the noble engine old Sir John, not once stopped his powerful motion all that time.

There were several narrow escapes.  The most thrilling was that of Mr. Galloway, a Presbyterian clergyman who had preached the night before in the Methodist church and who was sleeping at Mr. McGregor’s.  He is a cripple, and helpless in such a crisis.  Mr. Howe, jeweler, and Mr. Hartley, book-keeper at the Shops, heard of his condition and rushed up after him.  They grabbed him and carried him out, the roof falling in just as they left his room.

The Bell Telephone showed their quick resource.  Burned out at three, everything swept but the books and a box with two new switchboards, at ten in the evening they were going almost as usual.  General Manager McFarlane, of Montreal, and Mr. Winters, Superintendant of Construction, arrived within a few hours.  The present abode is temporary.  The old Mechanics’ Institute flat has been rented, and the plant will be installed there in two weeks.”

Continuous Service On Sundays

Telephones had been in use in Carleton Place for some thirteen years before continuous service including Sundays became available.  This newspaper in March of 1899 reported:

“The Bell Telephone Company announces in this issue a continuous service on Sundays the same as on week days.  This is due to the very rapid growth of their business and its persistent success.  Carleton Place is the central point between Pembroke, Ottawa and Brockville, and stoppage here means the holding up of this entire system.”

The Bell Telephone Company’s present Carleton Place office, when twenty-nine years of ‘continuous service on Sundays’ had passed, was opened in its new building at the corner of Beckwith and Albert streets in January, 1929.  The lot on which the building stands had been vacant since the great fire of May 1910, which swept this section of the town, destroying in its path the McNab home which is said to have stood at the precise site of the present building.  There were some eight hundred town and rural telephones in direct connection with the exchange in 1928 when it was moved to its present location, and six operators.

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SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-FIVE

Life in Lumbermen’s Shanty on the Mississippi

Carleton Place Canadian, 14 March, 1963

By James Sidney Annable

 

(Contributed by H. Morton Brown)

Some scenes of the Ottawa Valley’s great square timber era have been preserved in a group of boyhood recollections of a native of Carleton Place, James Sidney Annable, continued here.

As a young boy Sid Annable left his home in Carleton Place to spend a winter in the early eighteen eighties as a cook’s helper at a Boyd Caldwell lumber camp in the forests of the upper Mississippi River district.  Over fifty years later he presented his version of his experiences, which follows here in a shortened form.  Allowance may need to be made in some respects for the long interval between the time of his youthful employment and his time in writing of it.

“I left home to go to the head waters of the Mississippi River as a cook’s flunkey in the shanty of Boyd Caldwell, Sr., pioneer lumberman with timber limits near Ompah.  We outfitted in Lanark village and travelled by wagons.  There were about thirty teams of horses.  The wagons were loaded with bob-sleighs and tools, along with provisions to feed seventy men that winter.  The foreman in charge, we shall call him Bob Price, was six feet tall and weighed about 200 pounds.

Wagons were loaded to capacity with flour, beans, black molasses, salt pork, sugar, tea etc.  The cook wagon was equipped with utensils and food already cooked to feed the crew of teamsters, axemen, roadmen, sawyers and river drivers.

At Lavant Station near Ompah our camp site was already staked out.  On our arrival at Snow Road the ice was on the inland lakes and creeks.  We arrived with a number of men sick with colds and sore feet.  Many of them had to cut brush roads.  At last the wagons arrived.

Building the Bush Camp

We lived in tents while the shanty was being built out of hemlock logs.  Trees were felled and axemen notched the ends and locked them on the corners, boring an augur hole through each tier and driving dowel pins of ash and hickory to hold the corners intact.  When the walls of the shanty were up and the plates were hewn out, rough timbers were placed on top of them.  Rafters were made out of tamarack and spruce tapered from eight inches at the butt to four inches on the top.  The pitch of the roof was about thirty degrees.

The roof was made by hewing out the centre of eight inch split logs with an adze.  They were placed alternately, first concave and the next convex, allowing the edges to lie down snug in the concave side.  This made the roof watertight and almost air tight when completed.  Ventilation was provided at the eaves, and by the big open chimney which carried off the smoke.

Around the south end of the shanty, bunks were constructed three tiers high and five feet wide, each to hold two men.  The beds were made soft by cutting cedar boughs and filling the bunks with them.  Each man had to make his own bed, the blankets being furnished.  Pillows were ‘out’ until flour sacks were empty.  They were filled with straw and in time everyone had his pillow.

The cookery was a log box about six feet wide and eighteen feet long, filled two-thirds full of sand.  Tamarack wood in six foot lengths would burn and crackle at both ends of this fireplace.  A post was set in the centre with iron bands, with loops for the large iron pipe that supported the cooking utensils over the fire.  When we were boiling spuds, beans and ‘sow belly’, the beans when boiled soft were placed in a two foot cast iron kettle with a cover which projected out over its edge.  These were buried in the hot sand and ashes overnight.  They were ready to serve for breakfast piping hot, flavored with blackstrap molasses, and with plenty of salt pork browned to a golden hue.

The bread was baked in the same way, the huge loaves coming out of the Dutch oven with crust on all sides.  They were cut in wedges.  At meal time each man took his tin plate and tea basin and knife and fork, and stood in line until the cook or the cook’s devil would help him with his food.  After each meal each man took care of his dishes and utensils and put them on the rack ready for the next chow time.

Days Work Done

When the day’s work was done and supper over, the boys, seated on the long benches that ran in front of the bunks, would enjoy themselves by playing euchre, pitch or old sledge for tobacco or any of the goods that were in the company’s van.  The men could have all the supplies they wanted as their credit was o.k. until spring.  There was always music galore, flutes, fiddles, mouth organs and jews harps.  Old shanty songs prevailed.  The old timers took delight in hanging it onto the tenderfoot, but it did not take long for the first-timer to learn his way about.  Wrangling and fighting were taboo.

Washing was usually the Sunday pastime.  This day was my hardest task.  It was up to me to see that plenty of hot water was in the big cauldron kettles and that the soap, which the cook made, was not wasted.

Fresh meat was seldom served in those days but there was plenty of wild game to be had.  With no shooting allowed we used to snare rabbits, and trap deer.

Partridge were plentiful and many a brace would come to camp, killed by the boys on the trail.  Venison was packed in snow and on Sundays we usually would have a feast.

Spring Drive Starts

Now spring was coming and the square timber that had been hewn by the broadaxe men on the banks of the river was slid down on the skidways, greased with pork rind, into the water.  Each stick would be sixteen inches square and thirty to forty feet long.  They were floated alongside each other and held together with swifters and rope sometimes made of the inner bark of the ash or elm.  They were formed into cribs of twelve sticks each.  If the streams were narrow the cribs were made narrower so they would float and not break apart.  When the drive was ready the cribs were polled by hand down to the big waters or lakes.  Then they were fastened together to cross the lake.  In the centre the cookery was located, and tents for the river drivers.

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-FOUR

ECHOES OF THE PAST

Phantom Light on Lakes Once Talk of the Town

Carleton Place Canadian, 07 March, 1963

By James Sidney Annable

 

A mysterious red light was seen for a week one summer moving high over the lower Mississippi Lake at night near Carleton Place.  Evidently it was a windy week.  This phenomenon was recalled in a series of old time yarns, some possibly including stray “Believe-it-or-not” incidents, written twenty five years ago by J. Sid Annable, then of Ottawa.

Two incidents on the Mississippi here in that year, as remembered by him, were the introduction of sailing catamarans and also the excitement created by the phantom light.  He was a young Carleton Place boy at the time and had a leading part in promoting the flurry of excitement, recounted here as he described it.

“In the summer of 1883 when catamarans became numerous on the Mississippi River and Lower Lake, the elite of Carleton Place were all agog over the appearance of the first pontoon craft called the ‘Kattermeran’.  It was constructed on two cigar shaped floats with a platform and a fancy railing two feet high.  In the center was a mast sail and a jib.  A rudder was built at the rear with an arm attached for steering.

CAUSED ENVY

This new pleasure craft was designed to carry ten or twelve people.  It was equipped with comfortable rattan chairs.  The proud owners of the strange craft were William Pattie and Alex Sibbitt.  It became the envy of all the poor lads in the neighbourhood who had to be content with flat-bottomed monitors or log canoes made out of ash and basswood by the well known Indian brothers, Johnny and Joe Bay, on their reserve at Indian Landing.  They were the noted basket makers of that period.  Their colored hampers and clothes baskets were sold on Main Street by Eli Hutchings, Jimmy Weeks and Jim Sumner.  Usually the Indians traded their wares to the merchants for food.

Just a mile away was Allen’s Point, now Lake Park, with one lone shack erected by the writer as a bunk house when pike fishing through the ice was his favorite pastime.  This shack was a two room affair equipped with bunks for beds and an old fashioned ‘Forest Beauty’ stove for warmth and cooking, made by David Findlay of Carleton Place.

My chum ‘Peck” Wilkie and I used this shack as the base of operation in constructing a huge box kite.  We had little difficulty in building the frame of old cedar rail material from the line fence of Bill Duff’s farm.  Our kite was three feet wide and six feet long, covered with cheesecloth with glue sizing brushed on.  The tail was six feet long.  A wire was fastened to the nose to attach our twine and to make a perfect balance.  To fly the kite as high as possible we bought five pounds of binder twine.

We then made a windlass with a crank on each side, placing a leather brake on to control it.  Then we made a rack on the seat of our rowboat, fastened the twine, rowed out on the lake and hoisted our kite in a successful test.

TALK OF THE TOWN

That night we attached a railroad lantern to the tail of the kite and sent her up.  The red light showing brightly in the sky caused quite a sensation.  After people were all in their beds we brought our kite down and tucked it away for another night’s fun.  Next day everyone in Carleton Place was talking about the mysterious light in the sky over the lake.  The Carleton papers had a front page story, and the next night people came from Almonte and nearby villages in horse and buggy to investigate the strange phenomenon.

After a week of this, old Charlie Glover, crack rifle shot of the village, rowed up to Nagle’s Bay to take a pot shot at our mysterious light.  We kept the kite moving and he wasted many shots before he made a lucky hit.  Down came our kite in the lake, but the boatmen who set out in search of it failed to locate it.  The next morning we retrieved it ourselves in the rice bed, some distance in from the edge.  Our fun was at an end, someone spoke out of turn and let the cat out of the bag.

The frame of this kite was in the attic of William Wilkie’s home for a long time.  W. W. Cliff, editor of the Central Canadian, published the story in 1884, picturing ‘Peck’ Wilkie as the Peck’s bad boy of the village.  Some years later Peck Wilkie was drowned in the pond on the Boston Common.

Other owners of Catamarans on the Mississippi were Ad. Peden, James Gillies and Adam Dunlop.  The fad was short lived, however, owing to the hard work of rowing home after the wind went down.”

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-THREE

Making Charcoal in Pits Once Town Attraction

Carleton Place Canadian, 28 February, 1963

By Howard Morton Brown

 

Some tales of Mississippi lumbering and timber driving and of life in Carleton Place at the height of its sawmill days will be recalled in this and following installments of the Canadians old time views.

Written by James Sidney Annable and published in the Ottawa Citizen about twenty-five years ago, they tell of shanty and river life and of boyhood pranks and adventures of the eighteen eighties.  Sid Annable, born in 1871, was a younger son of John Sidney Annable of Carleton Place.  He left Carleton Place in his youth, returning only as a visitor, but kept up his interest in the activities of this town until his death in 1959 in Toronto.

His story retold this week is of scenes around the charcoal pits operated in Carleton Place by Alex. Hunter.

Alexander Hunter, father of the late Fred Hunter, was a blacksmith and axe maker of great skill.  He came here from Lanark village at the age of 36 to do the smith work in connection with the Boyd Caldwell and Sons sawmill when it was being built in 1869.  For many years he carried on his trade on Mill street.  He died here by drowning in December 1910.

This is Sid Annable’s story:

“In 1881 and 1882 charcoal was made by Sandy Hunter, a blacksmith in Carleton Place, first for his own use in his blacksmith shop to shrink the wagon tires on the wood felloes of the large six foot wheels of the dump carts used by the Boyd Caldwell and Peter McLaren lumber firms.  His sons Alex and Lorenzo Hunter followed in their father’s footsteps and continued this enterprise from a commercial standpoint for some time.

Charcoal formerly was made in large quantities by cutting down trees and piling the logs in pyramids or moulds, covering them with earth and sod and restricting the draught of air so as to keep the logs from burning completely to ashes.  This required much labor and it was necessary to watch the pits night and day.  Just as soon as the earth and sod would dry out and the smoke and gas show forth through the moulds, the men would place boards with cleats on the pits so they could cover up the air holes with wet earth and green sod.

LENGTHY PROCESS

Alex Hunter contracted with the Caldwell firm to take all the sawmill refuse, slabs and ‘buttons’, and he disposed of them to the people in the village.  The heavy or thick slabs he piled up on the banks of the Mississippi until he had enough for their charcoal pits.  These pits were formed by cutting long elm saplings, eight inches at the butt, three inches at the top and eighteen feet long.  With these they built a frame in tent formation, leaving a door opening at earth end so the watchers could see if there was any daylight showing through them.

Inside this green framework they piled the slabs on their end and placed the ends called buttons against the standing slabs.  They continually placed the green wet pine and hemlock until the thickness of the pits would be form eight to twelve feet.  Those moulds, as I remember them, were one hundred feet long.

When the wood was all in formation, earth was piled over, about twelve inches thick, then grass sod was cut in squares and laid on top of the clay.  The ends of the pits would be in conformity with the sides.  This resembled the igloo the Eskimos live in around the Arctic Circle.  When the pits were completed the fire was started from many places, all from the undersides of the pits.  Great care was exercised in watching the fires so they would burn simultaneously.

BONFIRE ENTERTAINMENT

The village folk were on hand every night to watch.  Many potato roasts and roasted ears of corn were enjoyed by the young set, night after night, until the pits were ready to be drawn and the charcoal cooled off.  Old time dances with Dick Willis performing on the fiddle gave the young folk much merriment.

Old Paul Lavallee, the proprietor of the Mississippi Hotel, often amused himself with other old cronies – Pat Gavin, Tom Nagle, Jim Nolan, Tom Buckeye Lynch, Pat Tucker, Bill Patterson, Alex Wilson, and my dad – who listened to the Little Napoleon tell his stories while they watched the men climb up and down, plugging the air holes as the fire burst through the sod.

 

CHARCOAL SALES

Thousands of bushels of the shining black blocks and logs were ready to be sold.  Blacksmiths from the surrounding towns – Smiths Falls, Perth, Almonte and Ottawa – were on hand to purchase the salt bags holding two bushels each, which were sold for fifty cents each on the cash and carry basis.

Sandy Hunter, with a mustache like the handlebars of the bicycle of today, was in his usual good humor, taking in the cash as long as there were customers in sight.  The balance of the pit products was stored in the old barn where his son Alex Hunter had his livery stable, at the rear of the old Metcafe property (between Bridge and Water Streets).

His son Alex Hunter had a large livery stable in the village with many horses known by such names as Swayback Charlie, Black Rat-tail, and Old Buckskin.  He made the horses work night and day, drawing wood in the daytime and human freight at night.  He was the same tall, sandy-haired horseman who owned and drove Little Vic at the ice meets in Ottawa with Nellie Sharper.  Later he operated the former Metcalfe House, which he bought from Joe Wilson.  He owned a hotel in Ottawa afterwards, on George Street down on the market square, the Grand Central Hotel.

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK SIXTEEN

The Carleton Place Herald, December 25, 1878

Article by the editor, James Poole

This newspaper belonged to Robert Bell, Esq.

 

Christmas

 

Christmas Day again! And with it comes to all the welcome wish, “A Merry Christmas.”  And merry it will be, for with each succeeding year it grows more genial, and with every anniversary it reaches a wider range.  The cheer of Christmas covers every creed; the holiday breathes the all-embracing religion of humanity that hallows home and makes the fireside happy.  There is no heart so hard, no home so humble that does not feel something of the sweet and softening influence of the person.  The chimes ring now with a more silvery sound, and the cricket chirps more cheerily on the hearth.  The lively streets, the shop windows all aglow with gifts, the markets and stalls teeming with good cheer and green wreaths everywhere, have presaged the pleasures of the festival.  The brief bright holiday period beginning with Christmas, always seems not only to condense an immense amount of pleasure in the present but to invest a large fund of happiness for the future.  The whole world starts fresh again from a new standpoint.  The miseries and misfortunes of the past year seem smaller. Great griefs are lessened.  Braver feelings surmount surmount broken fortunes.  Youth expands with hope.  Age is young again with brought-back memories.

This is indeed, the season of green wreaths and greener memories, of ind words and kindlier deeds.  Centuries before the actual day which Christians of all creeds now celebrate, the prophet and the poet sang of the future when the twined box and pine should “beautify the sanctuary,” as is fulfilled, and will be in all coming time.  And he whom the day especially commemorates came as a little child, and so Christmas ever since comes for children.  But not alone for the little ones of our own households, or for our families or immediate friends, should the genial time teem with gifts, good words and hearty cheer – something of these should reach out now to the helpless and the homeless, the sick and suffering, the naked and needy children of our common father.  If we open our door, and churches and close our hearts we shall fail to hear and to heed the good words of the season.

No influence should be allowed to stand between us and the opportunity which Christmas affords of shaking off for a time our everyday selfishness, and for a brief space thinking and acting for others.  Our daily lives are quite sufficiently crowded with our individual interests to make us thankful to be forced out of ourselves and into a region of a broader human thought, feeling and activity.  Do not forget Christmas then; do now set aside its claims; do not think of it as merely the representative of a religious event or pious dogma.  To all it means the celebration of the festival of a sacrificial love, a lessening of the bonds of self, a cementing of the bonds that bind us to the larger family.

Let the plum-pudding and the roast turkey flourish, then, not because of themselves they are better now than at any other time, but because they represent the peace and good will, the hospitality and fraternity, which at this season should be cherished towards all men and women.  Fill the children’s stockings or decorate the beautiful Christmas tree with liberal hands, for Christmas may come to you no more, and you would not miss the golden opportunity afforded you for adding your mite to the sum of human happiness before the present has gone into the past to return no more.

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK FIFTEEN

Christmas ‘Snapshots’ From The Carleton Place Herald, 1878-1880

 

 LAKE FROZEN – 1878

Although late in the season, it is only about a week ago that Jack Frost succeeded in laying a coating of ice over the Mississippi Lake.  We have not heard of any teams attempting to cross on the ice yet.

 JUMPING ON SLEIGHS – 1878

We observe that the youth of this place, since the commencement of sleighing, are indulging in the dangerous practice of jumping on sleighs while going at a rapid pace.  We would offer a word of advice to them to cease this habit, before it becomes our unpleasant duty to chronicle the occurrence of a serious accident to some of them by it.

 CHRISTMAS DAY – 1880

Christmas Day was observed here by everyone, all the places of business were closed and service was held in St. James’ Church at 11 a.m.  A shooting match for turkeys, deer etc., was held in the afternoon, a good number participating, but very poor shooting was made.

 CHRISTMAS TREE – 1880

On Thursday evening last an entertainment was held in Zion Church under the auspices of the Sunday School Scholars.  The programme consisted solely of songs, after which – the many prizes which bedecked the Christmas Tree were distributed among the Sunday School children.

 FIREMAN’S BALL – 1880

On Wednesday evening last the members of the Ocean Wave Fire Co., held a grand ball in Newman’s Hall.  We believe a large number were present, who indulged in dancing to an unlimited extent.  An excellent supper was served at the Wilson House.

The following ads are all from the December 1880 edition of the Carleton Place Herald:

Christmas 1880-Book store ad

Christmas 1880-Book store ad

Golden Lion Store-1880 Ad

Golden Lion Store-1880 Ad

Xmas 1880-Ad-3

 

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWELVE

Louis Cyr, Canada’s Strongman Once Competed Here

By Howard M. Brown

The Carleton Place Herald, May 29, 1958

 What were some of the differences between life in Ontario towns of sixty to seventy years ago and today?  Glimpses of a town of 4,000 people at work and at play, as mirrored in advertisements in Carleton Place’s two newspapers of that time, the Central Canadian and the Herald, offer one of the answers.  A few of these advertising announcements have been culled and condensed for their following second publication.  They tell of some of the typical minor scenes and local events of an enthusiastic, hard working and lively period of national development, sometimes recalled as the booming ‘80’s and the gay 90’s.

New Publishers

We have fitted out our office with an entirely new stock of job and advertising types, in addition to what was good of the old plant which we purchased.  Heretofore the Herald has been conducted by a gentleman endowed with more than ordinary knowledge and ability, a man residing in this county the greater part of his life.  We come as comparative strangers to resume his position.  As formerly, the Herald will give its support to the Liberal Party in everything that is for the benefit of the country and in accordance with the principles of morality and justice. 

Allen Bros. & Kibbee, Publishers and Proprietors.  July 18, 1883.

Engineering Works

Central Canada Machine Works, Carleton Place.  Saw Mill Machinery, Engines, Waterwheels, Grist Mill Machinery, Shafting, Gearing, Pulleys, Hangers.  All lof the above are our specialties.  We also make custom Cards, Pickers, etc., Drop Hammers, Presses, etc., Stump Screw Machines always on hand.  Good Circular and Drag Saws made to order.  Also Repairing and Castings of all kinds in Iron and Brass. 

Graham, Lawson & Co. – July 1883.

World Champion Oarsman

Fourth Annual Regatta of the Carleton Boating Club.  Mississippi Lake Regatta Grounds, Thursday, Sept. 6, 1883.  Edward Hanlan, the Champion Oarsman of the World, will give an exhibition.  Lee, Plaisted, Hosmer and other notted oarsmen will take part in the professional race.  $800 in prizes.  Baseball match.  Prescott Oddfellows Band, 28 strong.  Grand Evening Concert in the Drill Hall.

Shouting Soprano

The Jubilee Singers of Tennesee University under the auspices of the Carleton Place Mechanics’ Institute, in one of their Weird and Thrilling Concerts.  Plantation Melodies in the true Southern Style.  Miss Piollie Johnson, The Great Shouting Soprano.  Admission 25c, 35c, children 15c.  Tickets at MacLean’s Book Store.

September 1883.

Food Costs

The Summit Store is the Spot.  Your choice for #1.00: 6 cans Salmon, 6 cans Lobster, 8 boxes Sardines, 11 lbs Prunes, 12 lbs. new Valencia Raisins, 13 lbs. Bright Sugar, 4 lbs. choice Japan Tea.  Five dozen Labrador Herring for $1.00, or $3.00 per half barrel.  Also Fresh Halibut, Mess Pork, Fresh Herring, Tommy-Cods, etc.  Early Rose Potatoes.  Green Apples – Glassware and Crockery, Boots and Shoes. 

Eli Hutchings. – May 1884.

Gillies Grove

Zion Church Sunday School will hold its annual picnic Saturday, August 15, 1884 in Gillies’ Grove, just below the factory.

Stoves Supplied

Carleton Place Foundry.  Come and examine our stock.  Diamond ‘G’ Coal or Wood.  Show Room at the Foundry.

Dave Findlay. – October, 1884.

Bucksin Mitts

Prepare for Winter.  First class handmade Buckskin Moccasins and Mitts.

James Presley, opposite Methodist Church.  –  December 1884.

Newman’s Hall

New Public Hall opened by Mr. Robert McDiarmid.  One of the best in this part of the country.  Auditorium rearranged to accommodate 500 people.  The stage scenery, painted by Sosman & Landis, Chicago, provides four scenes, the ‘woods’, ‘parlor’, ‘kitchen’, and ‘street’.  The drop curtain presents a view of placid waters, rugged mountain rocks and ancient castle.

February 1885.

Shooting Gallery

Mr. Bush, proprietor of the Shooting Gallery under Victoria Hall, has taken out a licence for his business.  He has good rifles and air guns.

May 1885.

Roller Flour

Now in operation.  One of the best and most complete mills in this country.  Price of Roller Flour, Bran, Shorts, etc. reduced.  Graham Flour, Cracked Wheat, Oat Meal, Corn Flour, Brose Meal, Buckwheat Flour, etc., also manufactured.  Liberal discounts to the Trade.  Custom grinding as usual.

Horace Brown.  –  February, 1886.

Bedroom Suites

Furniture – A good handsome Bedroom Suite, five pieces for $16.00.  Undertaking, Open Day and Night.

Five Dollar Suit

Golden Lion Stores.  Every man should see our Five Dollar Suit. – Dress Goods – Carpets – Spring Leaf Japan Tea, 25c per pound.

W. & D. McDiarmid, near Post Office. – May, 1887.

Hand Loom Weaving

Weaving.  The undersigned desires to inform the citizens of Ramsay, Huntley, and Beckwith that he is prepared to do all kinds of Country and Custom Work.  A call from old customers solicited, as I intend to do all the work myself. 

Andrew Dunlop, Weaver.  Near George Tait’s Gardens, 12th Line Beckwith.  – July 1888.

Sailing Yacht

For Sale.  Small Sailing Yacht, nearly new, 22 ft. long, 5½ ft. beam, built of cedar, quarter-decked.  Patent folding steel centerboard, and carry 90 ft. of sail, mainsail and two jibs.

James Winthrop, Lake Avenue. – July, 1889.

Retail Trade

The undersigned has reopened his Meat Business.  Hours 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., every lawful day, except Tuesday and Saturday mornings, when he will visit Appleton and Ashton with choice supplies, and Friday afternoons when the shop will be closed.  Fifteen pounds of roasts, steaks and stewing for $1.00 cash.

Augustus Lavallee.  –  August, 1889.

Blacksmith Work

The undersigned are prepared to do every kind of Blacksmith work – Mill and Factory work – River Driving Tools – Waggons, Sleighs and Cutters made to order.  Quarry Men’s Tools, Mason Tools, Agricultural Implements and Machinery repaired.  Horse shoeing a Specialty.

T. & W. Glover.  Alex Hunter’s Old Stand, Mill Street near Grist Mill. – March 1890.

Louis Cyr, Strong Man

In the Drill Shed, Louis Cyr, the Strong Man.  His holding against a team of the Canada Lumber Co’s horses will be repeated at tonight’s performance.  Concluding feat a lift of fifteen heavy citizens upon a 200 pound platform.

May 1892.

Kickapoo Indians

Free!  The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Co. will open in Victoria Hall on November 30, 1892 for two weeks.  Indian War Dances, Buffalo Dances.  Also Ventriloquists, Banjo Players, Comedians, Contortionists, Wire Walkers and high class wonder working.

Meat Prices

Central Meat Market.  In future I intend to carry on a strictly cash business.  Beef prices per pound – steaks and roasts 10c, boiling 5 to 6 c, corned beef 7 to 8c.  Ten cents a pound for cutlets, leg, loin or chops of pork, veal, mutton and lamb. 

E. J. Griffith, proprietor.  Shop next to the Bridge. – October, 1891.

Incandescent Lighting

Commercial and meter rates for lighting.  The first supply of lamps furnished free.  Renewal lamps free on return of burnt out lamps.  Prompt attention to orders for wiring. 

Carleton Place Electric Light Co., J. M. Brown, Manager.  May, 1893.

Canoe Meet

First Annual Meet of the Ottawa Valley Canoe Association to be held at Lake Park, Carleton Place, Wednesday, August 16th, 1893.  Single and Tandem Races, half mile and mile, with turn.  Tilting, Smoking and Upset Races.  Grand evening Boat Illumination and Citizens’ Band.  The Steamer Carleton will leave Town Dock at 1:30, 2:30, 7 and 8.  Usual fares of 15 cents includes the sports.

S. J. McLaren, president; W. J. Welsh, vice-pres.; Colin McIntosh, secretary.  Committee Robert Patterson, A. E. Cram, Robert Sibbett.

Winter Lumber Trade, 1895

The Canada Lumber Co. desires to intimate that its Water Mill is in running order.  Custom Sawing at satisfactory prices.

Custom Sawing at our Saw Mill on the river bank, beside the Machine Shop of John Gillies & Co.  Logs Wanted.  Shingle Sawing done as usual at our Planing Mill near C.P.R. Freight Sheds.  – A. Nichols & Son

Planing Mill and Sash Factory – Furniture and school desks a specialty.  Mill on river bank.  –  Moffatt & Co.

Arklan Saw Mills.  Now prepared to do Custom Sawing.  Also hashing of grain.

Andrew Hawley, Sr.

All grades Rough Lumber constantly in stock.  Also joist, scantling, plank, lath.  B.C. Red Cedar shingles, $2.75 per M. Yard at Caldwell’s Old Piling Grounds.  –  Nathan D. McCallum.

Steamboat Schedule

Steamer ‘Carleton”.  This week’s time bill to Lake Park.  Boat will run from Caldwell’s Dock as follows:

Tuesday – 7:30 p.m.  Citizen’s Band and Hop;  Wednesday-9:30 a.m., 1 and 2 p.m.  St.  James Sunday School Picnic;  Thursday-9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Baptist Sunday School Picnic;  Friday and Saturday – 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and to Innisville.

August, 1896.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Under the personal direction of John F. Stowe, nephew of the celebrated authoress Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin will appear in the Town Hall, Carleton Place, September 19, 1896.  Company of 40.  Novel features include the blowing up of the battleship ‘Maine’.

Wool Wanted

The undersigned are prepared to purchase any quantity of Good Clean Wool.  A full line of Fine and Coarse Tweeds, Blankets, Flannels and Yarns, always in stock.  Custom work as formerly.

Carleton Place Woollen Mills, McDonald & Brown. – June, 1900.

Three Ring Circus

Lemen Brothers World Monster Shows and Three Ring Circus, at Carleton Place, Friday, August 10, 1900. –  Roman Hippodrome – Five Continent Menagerie – Rajah bigger than the famous Jumbo – 100 Exalted Circus Champions – Parade at 10 a.m. – High Dive at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

 

 

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TEN

Amusing Advertisements Published in Old Days

Carleton Place Herald

May 15, 1958

 

A series of glimpses of local life as seen in newspapers of the past is continued here.  The time is in the days of James C. Poole, one of the town fathers and founder of the first Carleton Place newspaper.  When newspapers were few the pioneer Carleton Place Herald once carried business notices of a large area of Lanark and Renfrew counties, together with advertisements of other classes and places.  The few which follow, unless otherwise noted, are of Carleton Place businesses and events.

New Foundry

New foundry in Carleton Place.  Two doors west of Mr. Pittard’s Waggonshop, on the Perth road.  David Findlay, having commenced a Foundry in the above premises, begs to intimate that he is prepared to execute all kinds of Castings, such as Ploughs, Coolers, Stoves, etc., of the most modern patterns.  Having worked in some of the best establishments in Scotland, the public may depend on getting their work well done.  Castings exchanged for old metal or farm produce or sold cheap for cash.

Rifle Match

A Rifle Match will be held near this village on Saturday, August 15, 1863, between the Carleton Place Rifle Company and the Infantry Company from Almonte.  The Riflemen are requested to be in uniform at the armory at 6 o’clock and be in readiness to march to the station to meet the Almonters.

Blakeney Brewery

To Let.  That building at Pine Isles, near Sneddon’s in Ramsay, known as being formerly occupied as a brewery.  It is a good building and may be used for any purpose.  Apply to Robert Gomersal, Bennie’s Corners, P.O., Oct. 4th, 1864.

Taylor’s Tinware

Highest price paid in cash for wool, sheep pelts and cow hides.  Cotton and woolen rags taken in exchange for tinware.  Also cooking, box and parlor stoves sold cheap for cash or approved credit.  Stove ovens lined.  Stove pipes 12 ½ cents.  William Taylor, tinsmith, September 12, 1864.

Newsman’s Bees

Bees!  A few hives of bees for sale at the Herald Office.  March 13th, 1865.

Medical Accounts

Notice – As medical accounts are too exorbitant for many families who live several miles from the village, I have resolved to reduce my charge.  In future I will for half the usual fee visit any person who lives more than one mile from my office.  Henceforward my motto shall be, Sempter Paratus, ever ready. 

William Wilson, surgeon, July 12, 1867.

Butternut Sawlogs

Saw logs wanted.  Highest price in cash or lumber for good white oak, hard maple, black birch, white and black ash, basswood, butternut and cherry saw logs.  Custom sawing. 

Gillies and McLaren, December 3, 1869.

Hair Dressing Salon

The Hair Dressing Salon in Mr. McCaffrey’s building having fallen into his hands, William Chenett is prepared to execute hair dressing, hair dyeing, shaving, shampooing, the setting of razors, scissors, shears, etc.  Gentlemen’s and ladies’ curling particularly attended to.  He has spent a considerable park of the last 15 years in the leading establishments of New York, Montreal and Ottawa.  Hair restorative always on hand. 

September 14, 1869.

Hoop Skirts and Parasols

New firm, in Sumner’s stand.  Dry goods, fancy flannel shirtings, hoop skirts, parasols, gloves, veils, gents’ paper collars, ladies’ do., groceries, crockery and glassware, hardware.

Carley and McEwen, April 18, 1870.

Treat Your Girls

Carleton Place Bakery.  Come boys, treat your girls to temperance drinks such as lemon, vanilla, cherry, sarsaparilla, pineapple, raspberry syrups, ginger beer, etc. at McKay’s.  Also oranges, apples, raisins and other fruits.  Cakes, confectionaries.  Picnic parties supplied.  Remember the spot, under the Masonic Hall.

James McKay, May 2, 1870.

Church Guide

Guide to Church Services, 1870.  St. James’ (Church of England) – ½ past 10 o’clock a.m. on each alternate Sabbath, and at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on the other Sabbath.  St. Andrew’s  (Church of Scotland) – 11 o’clock a.m. every Sabbath.  Zion Church (Canada Presbyterian) – ½ 2 o’clock p.m. every Sabbath.  Reform Presbyterian – 11 o’clock a.m., and 3 o’clock p.m., on alternate Sabbaths.  Wesleyan Methodist – ½ past 10 o’clock on alternate Sabbaths, and ½ past 6 o’clock on the other Sabbath.  Baptist – ½ past 2 o’clock every Sabbath.  Roman Catholic – occasionally, of which notice will be given.

Music Lessons

Music.  The undersigned has just opened a music store opposite Metcalfe’s Hotel.  He has on hand all kinds of musical instruments, sheet music and stationery.  J. C. Bonner, band master, teacher of piano, melodeon, organ, voice, thorough bass and harmony, Violin, etc. 

May 11, 1870.

Steamer Sailings

The Steamer Enterprise will leave her wharf at Carleton Place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 1 o’clock for Innisville, returning in time for the train going south.  Also every Friday evening at 7 o’clock will leave for a pleasure trip round the lakes.

John Craigie, agent, May 11, 1870.

New Railway

Canada Central Railway.  The section of this railway between Ottawa and Carleton Place, forming with its connections a through Broad Gauge route between Ottawa and the west, will be open for traffic on September 16, 1870.

H. Abbott, Managing Director, Ottawa.

Guaranteed Flour

The subscribers having leased the Carleton Mills for a term of years are prepared to do custom grinding on the shortest notice.  Flour, Bran, Hash, etc. for sale.  Wanted, a large quantity of Wheat, also Oats, Peas, Corn, etc., highest prices paid.  Orders delivered free of charge.  We guarantee our flour to give entire satisfaction.  Caldwell & Brown.  April 16, 1871.

Town Hall Tenders

Sealed tenders will be received by the undersigned up to September 30, 1871 for the building and finishing of a Town Hall and Lock-Up in the village of Carleton Place – the building to be completed by September 1, 1872.

John Graham, Wm. Kelly, Dr. Wilson, Building Committee.

Credit and Depression

A. McArthur & Son, Carleton Place. –

Believing that too much credit has been one of the main causes of the depression which is now felt throughout the country, we are prepared to sell for Cash or Short Date on approved Credit, at prices to suit the times.

A. McArthur, W. B. McArthur, March 1, 1879.

Book Store

Having brought out the Stock in Trade of Mr. Stackhouse, I am about making large additions to the stock, which will be sold at Lowest Living Prices.  Books, Stationery, Jewelry and Fancy Goods in large variety.

John Flett, March 31, 1880.

Reputation of the Town

Those Editors and Professional men that persist in going to the Junction twice daily should get a good fitting suit at Sumner’s Old Stand and keep up the reputation of the town, in the tailoring line at least, especially as Bob will sell them a suit so cheap.  Also dress shirts at a great bargain.  Come in, gentlemen, and try ‘em on.

Robert McDiarmid & Co., April 28, 1880.

National Policy

New Goods.  Owing to the benefit arriving from the National Policy I am adding a choice assortment of staple Dry Goods to my large stock of Groceries, Boots & Shoes, Crockery, etc. –

Fred Hollingsworth, June 2, 1880.

News Office Canaries

Canary Birds, warranted first class singers, for sale at the Herald Office.

June 9, 1880.

Lost.  Some Tame Canary Birds.  As they will fly into some house, their return to the Herald Office will be thankfully received and suitable rewarded.

June 28, 1880.

Olympian World Wonders

Pullman & Hamilton’s Electric Lighted Great London Seven-Fold Confederation of Equine, Pantominic, Educated Animal and Olympian World Wonders will exhibit at Carleton Place, Ontario, Friday October 8th, 1880.  It presents for the first time to the Canadian Public the Great Electric Light.  It cost $30,000, requires a 30 horse-power engine, a 40 horse-power boiler, and miles of Copper Cable Conductors.  It exceeds the power of 240,000 Gas lights.

Early Closing

The following number of the business men of Carleton Place have agreed to close their stores and shops at 8 o’clock every evening except Saturdays, during the months of June, July and August.

–         Wm. McDiarmid, James L. Murphy, Robert McDiarmid & Co., A. McArthur & Sons, James S. Galvin, Colin Sinclair & Son, Alex Sibitt, Stewart & Code, John Flett, George Graham, M. W. Sumner, James Sumner, Wm. Taylor, Brice McNeely Jr., Fred Hollingsworth, Patrick Struthers, Alex Steele. –

           June 22, 1881.

Editorial Parrot

Parrot for Sale.  An African Grey Parrot for sale at the Herald Office.  Cheap for Cash.

November 16, 1881.

Gas Light

William McDiarmid’s Golden Lion Store will be lighted by gas in a short time, and will have a gas light on the street corner. –

April 12, 1882.

90 Black Bass In Less Than 2 Hours Once Caught, by Howard M. Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 14 June, 1962

In the early days of Carleton Place’s Vacationland of the Mississippi, most of the tenting lakeside vacation dwellers seem to have taken only a casual interest of the frying pan in the excellent fishing that was available.  Their numbers included few duck hunters, though the duck hunting season then started in mid-August.

Very large catches of fish and bags of ducks by other town and district fishermen and hunters were reported, and earlier the similar wholesale shooting of now extinct passenger pigeons.  The harvests of fish and ducks by some went to the town’s food markets and restaurants, then a legal selling operation.  Occasional notes in the local newspapers told of catches of fish in what were considered newsworthy quantities and sizes.

Fish Stories

Of the larger game fish, black bass were prominent in reported catches, before an apparent increase or dominance in numbers of pike and the later introduction of pickerel.  Introductions of whitefish and lake trout in the Mississippi Lakes in the eighteen eighties were unsuccessful.  The whitefish experiment was made in 1884, year of the formation of the “Carleton Place Game, Fish and Insectivorous Birds Protective Society.”  On May 1st this newspaper reported:

“Through the active agency of Mr. Joseph Jamieson, M.P., about 300,000 fry of the white fish species were deposited in the lakes here last Saturday.  The fry came in three large tin cans from Ottawa and in charge of an expert.  The Morning Star was chosen, and accompanying the expert were Deputy Reeve William Pattie, Thomas L. Nagle, Joseph Wilson, and William Bell.  The first can was emptied into a quiet cove near Squaw Point, the second off the Landing at Prettie’s Island, and the third in the channel reaching into the Big Lake.  In three years maturity will be reached and propagation set in ; and the fish grow and increase to between eight and twelve pounds.”

According to our fishing news note of early September of the same year, “Mr. Sid Anable and son Hiram went off in a skiff Friday morning last at 3 a.m., reached the mouth of the Innisville river at 6, and fished from 6 to 9 a.m., catching 37 black bass, five pike, and sixty rock bass.  On one side of the boat they caught minnows for bait.  On the other side the rods had not a moment’s rest.”  Several weeks earlier in a record catch, as reported in the Carleton Place Herald, “The Messrs. Anable last Friday caught ninety five black bass in the Innisville branch in less than two hours.  Among them were some very heavy black bass.”

Fish from large catches sampled by local newsmen were fairly sure of receiving public mention.  A corrected report of an August 1890 outing, previously misprinted in this column, said in part: “One morning last week a party composed of Rev. Father O’Rourke, Maurice Burke and the old standby Sid Anable in five hours landed sixty of the finest black bass we have ever had the opportunity of tasting.  The fish weighed on an average three pounds each.”

A similar news note of the following July stated:  “Mr. S. J. McLaren caught thrity-two fine black bass up near the Big Lake lasts Thursday.  The previous Friday he made a haul of forty-two.”

The Perth Courier a decade later reported in July, 1903:

“There has been some excellent fishing in the Mississippi waters at Carleton Place this season.  Many good catches of black bass and pike have been reported.  Among them, John Butts and James Umpherson frequently bring down from fifty to sixty fine fish in a morning’s catch.”

Duck Shooting in the Eighties

Down from the eighteen eighties came samples of similar news stories of the abundance of ducks on the Mississippi Lakes.

An October 1883 account said:

“A party of Ottawa gentlemen were out duck shooting on the Mississippi last week and succeeded in bagging no less than one hundred and forty of them.  Mr. Hugh Moore of Carleton Place, who was one of the party, shot a fine deer at Squaw Point near Wylie & Company’s shanty, for which the Ottawa men gave him eight dollars.”

According to a late August report of the following year, “Messrs. Glover had a very successful duck hunt last week.  One day they killed forty-six.  The C.P.R. restaurant took four dozen of the luscious fowl.”

Present Lake Problems

This last series of brief glimpses of activities on the Mississippi of over fifty years ago in recent numbers of The Canadian has been designed to recall a few more of the many ways in which these waters continued to serve from the first years of settlement as one of the leading natural assets of the Carleton Place area.  The decades of large scale lumbering and of industries based on local waterpower were followed by the rise of hydro-electric power and a decline in industrial uses of the lakes and river here.  Now the Mississippi from Carleton Place to Innisville serves in the role of a recreational area which is attracting growing numbers of some thousands of seasonal residents and visitors yearly.

The future quality of this latest phase of development of the lakes, and the trend of its value to Carleton Place and to the adjoining townships, can be expected to depend in part on whether land and water use in this recreational region receives the community guidance and assistance needed.  Such needs, as seen by some observers, include improvements in lot and building restrictions, and the promotion and application of policies to prevent unsanitary or offensive conditions, game law and traffic misconduct, and water pollution, among others.

Improvements and precautions of varying degrees of adequacy have been provided in some such respects in recent years under township, provincial and national government auspices, and at the instance of several lake community associations and by the Mississippi Lakes Association of Carleton Place.

Lakes A Town Asset

The Mississippi Lakes Association is a pioneering illustration of how our water recreational resources may be maintained and improved in the interests of the town.

In an earlier age, an incidental effect of the towing of great rafts of logs down the Mississippi Lakes to Carleton Place appears to have been the prevention of excessive waterweed growths over wide areas.  After the ending of nearly a century of rafting on these waters, rank growths of underwater weeds gradually spread, choking navigation and speeding the growth of mud shoals by slowing the normal flow.  In this way a large part of the lakes and river here was being progressively ruined for boating, swimming and the most popular types of fishing.

Now for nearly 20 years weed cutting machines have been operated by the Mississippi Lakes Association of Carleton Place.  Initiated by public-spirited citizens including the founding president, Mr. E. H. Ritchie, and bought and maintained by voluntary public support, these machines, together with other activities of the association, have been instrumental in keeping a large lake and river area in good usable condition.

The erection of additional scores of summer cottages of lengthening seasonal use and the occupation of an increasing number of year-round residences on the lake shores has followed this checking of the lakes’ deterioration.  Among the yearly products of this continued lake maintenance and development are additions to the volume of business of local merchandising and service trades, with the prospect of a continuing contribution of useful proportions to the population and general business and tax revenues of this area.

These gains can remain only if the lakes remain a desirable summer resort region.  The principal attraction inducing most of the lakeside summer visitors and residents of today to come here and to buy and continue to occupy property here is a readily accessible lake with water which has been kept fit for swimming and fishing and boating, activities of newly soaring national popularity.  A lake shrunken in usefulness and attraction by wide spreading weed beds, and with future boating by newcomers and others endangered by unmarked rocks, submerged piers and shoals, would not meet this modern test.  In that case many summer residents, both owners and tenants, soon would go elsewhere.  Such business benefits, instead of increasing, would decline accordingly.

It would be a greater loss to the town than appears to be generally recognized if insufficient assistance for this Lakes Association work were to lead to the eventual abandoning of our waterways near and in the town to their approaching weedy stagnation of fifteen or twenty years ago.

The Association’s prime mover and president since its founding, Mr. E. H. Ritchie, indicated a year ago his intention of asking to be replaced, after his many years of vigorous and successful direction of this Association’s activities.  The Mississippi Lakes Association at present is in urgent need of more Carleton Place members who are willing to give some of their time and ability in the spring and summer seasons to its particular community services, by helping in the management of the association’s work and annual membership fund collection campaigns on the lakeshore roads and in the town.

An enthusiastic response to this need and opportunity will ensure against a decline and ultimate loss of a large part of the water vacationland for which Carleton Place now serves as the headquarters.

Story of First Steam Boats On The Mississippi, by Howard M. Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 31 May 1962

One of the newer features of the Carleton Place area is the growth of its Vacationland of the Mississippi during the past few years.

It is a growth recorded in increases in numbers of summer homes bordering the Mississippi Lakes, and in the larger numbers of summer visitors seen each year on the township roads to lakeside sections and on the streets and in the stores of Carleton Place.

The multiplying numbers of boats on the lakes and the river tell the same story.  There now are probably larger numbers of motor-propelled craft afloat here in an average summer day than could be seen in the course of a year a generation ago.  Between this recent change in the face of the lakes and the countless years of the birch bark canoes of the Indians, there lies a time of little more than a hundred and twenty five years during which these local waterways have been used for transportation, for supplying food and water and water power, and for recreation.

The record of this intervening time since the beginning of agricultural settlement and commerce shows that the use of steam powered engines on these waters began with the development of the region’s lumbering industries.  It may be surprising to recall that the days of the steamboat lasted as long on our Mississippi as has the period of boats with gasoline engines.  Throughout the same times sailboats, canoes and rowing skiffs have been used in varying numbers and types.  Other water craft of such contrasting kinds as commercial barges and rowing shells for racing are now locally things of the past, as are the odd sailing catamarans at one time in limited vogue.

Steamboats of Romantic Names

Steamboats of romantic names and impressive size, most of them locally built, operated between Carleton Place and Innisville from the eighteen sixties to the nineteen twenties.  While serving mainly for industrial towing and incidentally for pleasure excursions, several of the larger ones were designed for paying their way by the carrying of passengers and goods.  That aim was attained only briefly, if at all, even in a time when summer roads remained bad and automobiles and trucks did not exist.

The first steamboat on the Canadian Mississippi was launched in the year of national confederation.  It was built here by John Craigie, who had opened a riverside shingle mill producing for the United States market with machinery of his own invention.  His boat, like the last steamer to be built and used here, was given the name of the river.  An announcement of August, 1867, said, “The little steamer Mississippi is now making regular trips between Carleton Place and Innisville, carrying freight and passengers.  Excursion parties desirous of seeing the lakes, or fishing, shooting ducks, gathering berries, etcetera, can have the use of the boat at reasonable charges.”

A larger steamboat was wanted for the ambitious plans of the Mississippi Navigation Company, incorporated two years later with an authorized capitalization of $100,000 to build locks at Innisville and Fergusons Falls and transport commodities expected to include sawn lumber and iron ore for rail shipment at Carleton Place.  Headed by James H. Dixon of Peterborough, the company’s local directors included Abraham Code, M.P.P., then of Innisville, John Craigie, Robert Bell and Robert Crampton.  The new steamer, the Enterprise, built here by John Craigie for the short lived navigation company, was launched in October, 1869.  James Poole, secretary treasurer of the company, said in May, 1870, in his Carleton Place Herald:

“The steamer Enterprise has now made several successful trips between Carleton Place and Ennisville.  We have not had time or opportunity, owing to the demolition of our old building and the erection of new premises, to avail ourselves of the pleasure.  We notice also several packages of freight leaving the steamer.  We believe that our spirited member, Mr. Code, is sending his manufactured cloth to Montreal by steamer via Carleton Place.  Soon also picnics and other social gatherings will be the order of the day.  When the locks at Ennisville and Fergusons Falls are built the property of our beautiful village will be a fixed fact.” 

The navigation scheme collapsed and in the spring of 1872 the Enterprise, in a neglected state of repair, was sold by auction.  The Enterprise operated on the lakes and river in the service of the lumber industry under the ownership of Peter McLaren and the Canada Lumber Company for about twenty-five years.  It was made available throughout those growing years of the town as an excursion steamer for many summer and social activities.

Other towing and excursion steamers were added on the lakes in the eighteen seventies and eighties.  Among them were the Witch Of The Wave, The Morning Star, the 43 foot Ripple, and the 30 foot Mayflower.  In the eighteen nineties there were added the Commodore, which was to see many years of service, the big 80 foot shallow draft paddle wheeler the Carleton, and the Lake Park hotel’s 40 foot Lillian B.  Smaller private steamboats included the Nellie, the Four Macs, the Lizzie, the Reta and the Carmelita.  After 1900, with several of the oldest steamboats no longer in use, the Nichols’ 26 foot tug, the Belle, was launched in 1903 and Mr. S. Cooke’s larger Mississippi in 1905.  The hulls and engines of both were built in Carleton Place by the John Gillies Estate Company, as were those of the lake’s largest steamboat, the Carleton.

Carleton Place Boat Builders

The leading Carleton Place builders of skiffs and other small boats of superior quality, starting in the eighteen seventies and continuing his individual craftsmanship for fifty years, was Adam Dunlop.  The John Gillies Boat Works, which began operating here in the eighteen eighties as a branch of the Gillies machine and engine manufacturing plant, produced boat engines and marine craft for national distribution for about twenty-five years.  The company’s master boat builder, J. S. Ferguson, before coming here already had taken exhibition prizes awarded at Quebec City and London, England, for boats of such variety as a thirty foot racing shell weighing only thirty four pounds and a Gaspe fishing boat.

For the Gillies firm Mr. J. S. Ferguson directed the making of vessels ranging from paddle wheeled steamboats to standard types of gasoline launches, and large and luxurious cabin boats finished in fine woods for shipment to such places as the St. Lawrence’s Thousand Islands, Montreal and western Canada.  At the time of the company’s plant fire of 1906 it had some twenty or more employees.  When this Gillies business was closed after the death of James Gillies, Frank Walton, former Gillies boat builder for many years, continued to build hulls for gasoline launches and other boats at Carleton Place.