Historian Recalls Visit of Royal Party 100 Years Ago
Carleton Place Canadian, 14 November 1957
By Howard M. Brown
The route of the state tour of Ottawa’s first royal visitor, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, included Lanark, Renfrew and Leeds counties. Proceeding in 1860 by boat from the new capital, the royal party received an elaborate lumbermen’s reception at Arnprior. Its progress continued by road from Arnprior to Almonte, the royal carriage passing through many triumphal arches erected at various points along the way.
Lanark County Royal Visit
After an Almonte reception the future Edward VII boarded his waiting train at that temporary terminus of the new railway, continuing by rail through Carleton Place and Smiths Falls to Brockville. A report of the royal progress through these Eastern Ontario counties, given by James Poole in the Carleton Place Herald, tells of a minor amusing adventure of the future king in Almonte as seen by the Carleton Place editor.
He writes in September, 1860:
“The laying of the corner stone of the Government Buildings in Ottawa is, to the people of this section of Canada, one of the most interesting events of the visit of the Prince of Wales, particulars of which we publish today. His trip on Monday last to the Chatt’s Lake, escorted by the canoes, reception at Arnprior and carriage drive to Almonte were, we are informed, very pleasant and highly gratifying to the young Prince and Royal Party. We have heard scores of people say that it is mainly owing to the liberality and exertions of Mr. Daniel McLachlan of Arnprior that we were indebted for the visit of the Prince along this route.
For the size of the place, Almonte was second to no other village on the whole route in the taste and enthusiasm of the reception for their Royal visitor. During the few minutes we had to spare we could not see one half of what had been done in the village, and nothing in the country, where we understand great triumphal arches were also erected.
We noticed any number of constables armed with staves of office and mounted with badges of their rank. A rather amusing incident occurred which drew a hearty laugh from the Prince. Just as the royal party ascended the platform the crowd, anxious to see the Prince, rushed together from all directions in spite of the best efforts of the constables, whose painted sticks might be seen flourishing at all points. One of them undertook to push back the royal party, with cries of “Ye canna get up here!” The Prince nimbly eluded his vigilance and having succeeded in getting on the platform of his own car, laughed heartily at the mistake.
The Prince remained outside for some time and received several hearty cheers which he duly acknowledged. The day being far spent, his train hurried off to Brockville, stopped a few minutes at Smiths Falls Station and received an address from the village corporation. With our other reports of the Royal Tour we publish the Address and Reply.
The town of Brockville was lit up to perfection and contained arches and decorations too numerous to mention. The excursion train was left far behind and did not get to Brockville until far after the excitement of the evening was nearly over. The excursionists had barely time for supper when the hour was announced to return.”
Canadian patriotic spirit was further increased in the early 1860’s by perils and alarms from the south, accompanying and following the United States Civil War. Defence preparations included locally the authorized formation in 1862 of a relatively large and active rifle company at Carleton Place replacing, with popular acclaim, Beckwith township’s former 5th Battalion of Lanark Militia. This new unit, with James Poole as its senior local officer, like units similarly formed in neighbouring towns, was active in frontier guard duty in the Fenian Raids of 1866 and 1870. Uniforms of the new volunteer forces of the ‘60s were green for the rifle companies and scarlet for other infantry units, the headgear being a high shako bearing a brass plate ornamented with a beaver, the words ‘Canadian Militia’ and a wreath of maple leaves.
A brief press account of the Carleton Place May 24th celebration of 1865 shows the local rifle company on display and engaged in a target shooting competition:
“Wednesday last, the 46th birthday of our Queen, was a general holiday all over the Province. The members of the Carleton Place Rifle Company met at the armoury at 10 o’clock and, after going through sundry evolutions, marched around the principal streets of the village to music of the Appleton Brass Band. At 12 o’clock noon they halted on the bridge, took open order and fired a feu-de-joie. The national anthem was played by the band, one part intervening each round of firing.
Through the liberality of the Beckwith Council $30 was divided into six prizes for the best target shooting, competed for in the afternoon by firing five rounds at 300 yards and five at 400 yards. The following are the successful competitors – W. B. Gray, $8; Absolem McCaffrey, $7; Robert Metcalf, $6; John Ellis, $4; Albert Patterson, $3; James McFadden, $2. Particular praise is due to the Appleton Brass Band and the Carleton Place pipers for their services.”
District militia activities of the 1860’s renewed the Lanark County military tradition which was begun here by the large element of disbanded members of the armed forces of the Napoleonic Wars period among the original settlers of 1816-1819. This tradition and service continued through the times of the Rebellion of 1837-38, the Fenian Raids and the Red River and Northwest Rebellions of 1870 and 1885 to the Boer War and this district’s records in the victorious tragedies of the last two World Wars.
First Local Militia
Representing earliest local militiamen, pledged to serve the interests of the Province and King George IV, are the officers of the unit based at the newly settled Morphy’s Falls area in 1822. The three senior officers are of Perth, the others following include names of Beckwith township families now well known and a few of Ramsay township origin:
Colonel Josias Taylor, Lieut. Colonel Ulysses Fitzmaurice, Major Donald Fraser.
Captains T. Glendenning, John Robertson, Wm. Pitt, John Ferguson, James
O’Hara, Julius Lelievre.
Lieutenants, Wellesley Richey, Thomas Wickham, Wm. Moore, George Nesbitt
M.D., Duncan Fisher, Robert Ferguson, Wm. Toshack, Israel Webster, James
McFarlane, John Cram.
Ensigns, John Fulton, Peter McDougall, Wm. Baird, Peter McGregor, James
Smart, John Nesbitt, Alex Dewar, John Dewar, Manny Nowlan, David Ferguson.
One of the annual musters of these militia units of long ago is vividly pictured in an 1841 letter from “A Militia Man” of Carleton Place, published in the Bathurst Courier at Perth:
“Beckwith, Friday June 4, 1841.
Sir —- I send you for publication a statement of the proceedings at Carleton Place today.
Col. The Hon. H. Graham, commanding the 3rd Regiment of Lanark Militia, in common with all other Colonels of Militia, received some time last winter a Militia General Order directing him to form two flank companies in his regiment, and that those companies should be formed of volunteers if possible, but that if such could not be obtained the number should be drafted.
As the Regiment was deficient in officers and the promotions recommended had not been Gazetted, the above order had not been complied with up to this date. However this being the day appointed by law for a general muster of the Milita, Co. Graham, to give as little trouble as possible to the farmers at this busy season, determined to call for volunteers for the flank companies on the present occasion.
Never having attended a militia training before, I felt some curiosity to meet my Brother Soldiers. At an early hour this morning I was awakened by the sound of a Pibroch. In an instant I was out of bed and from the window perceived a body of most respectable looking young men marching into the village to the tune of ‘Patrick’s Day’, played by one of Scotia’s sons in Scotia’s garb on Scotia’s national instrument. Until about 11 o’clock the men were arriving in parties equestrian and pedestrian.
At this hour the Companies were ordered to ‘Fall In’, and soon after we were all on the parade ground in open column. Then the Major, Alexander Frazer, formerly of the 49th, the Green Tigers, General Brock’s regiment – made his appearance in uniform, mounted on a white charger. Having inspected the companies and formed us into close column, he addressed the Regiment in a short but pithy speech, stating the object for which the flank companies were to be formed and his hope that there would be sufficient volunteers and that it would be unnecessary to have to resource to drafting.
This was received with enthusiasm, and ‘I’ll volunteer’ was responded from all directions. We were again formed into open columns, wheeled into line, the ranks opened, and three deafening cheers for Her Majesty made the forests re-echo to the joyful chorus. Immediately after, the Captains of the respective companies enrolled the names of the volunteers. To the honor of the Regiment be it spoken, the flank companies were soon filled up, the full number having volunteered with the exception of some fifteen or twenty. Had the officers recommended by the Colonel last fall been Gazetted I firmly believe there would have been more volunteers than required.
The 3rd Battalion of Lanark Militia is formed of the yeomen of the townships of Beckwith and Ramsay, the sons of English, Scotch and Irish emigrants. Four-fifths of the regiment are under forty years of age, and a finer or more orderly set of young men I never saw in a body.”
Victoria Proclaimed Queen
The Queen cheered at Carleton Place in 1841, like her successor here in the Royal Visit of 1957, was a young monarch and in the early years of her reign. Four years earlier on the death of William IV proclamations of her accession to the throne had been made throughout British lands. The proclamation for the judicial district of Lanark, Renfrew and Carleton counties, made at Perth, was concisely described in a Bathurst Courier report:
“On Saturday last Queen Alexandrina Victoria was proclaimed here by the Deputy Sheriff, in the absence of the Sheriff. The ceremony was but meagerly attended in consequence, we suppose, of the short space of time which intervened between the notice and the day selected for proclaiming.
The order in which the procession moved was as follows – The Deputy Sheriff on horseback, the Clergy, Members of the Medical Profession, Members of the Bar, Officers of Militia, Clerk of the Peace, and the Magistrates, with the Perth Volunteer Artillery in the rear, in uniform.
When Her Majesty had been proclaimed in four different parts of the Town, the Artillery fired a Royal salute of twenty-three guns from the island to conclude young Queen by those assembled, and then they dispersed.”