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.
Some First Events: Lanark’s First 100 Years
By Howard Morton Brown
Carleton Place Canadian, 14 May, 1959
For the countless stories of personal, business and community adventure which were written long ago by the deeds of Lanark County’s pioneers, a framework may be found in a list of some of the County’s first events. The following brief listing of landmarks and outstanding events of the County’s first one hundred years of settlement is one of many similar selections which might be made from different viewpoints or differing bases of local emphasis.
The first settler in the county commonly has been said to have been William Merrick of Merrickville. The arrival of an earlier and first settler, Roger Stevens, is recorded in this list of Lanark County events. Official contemporary records of his coming as “the first who settled on the River Rideau”, places the start of the settlement of Lanark County within seven years of the first colonizing of the province by English-speaking people, made by Loyalists from the revolted British colonies.
First Family Settled – Roger Stevens from Vermont, an ensign in the King’s Rangers in the American Revolution; at S.E. corner of Montague township on the Rideau River, 1790, with wife and three children. His occupied land extended into Marlborough township. He joined with William and Stepehn Merrick in building a saw mill in Montague at Merrickville. His death by drowning in 1793 followed an Upper Canada Order in Council authorizing a grant to him of the site of this mill and of the future village of Merrickville.
First Land Grants – In the 1790’s in the area of Montague and later N. Elmsley and N. Burgess townships. These three townships until the 1840’s remained attached to the Leeds and Grenville (Johnstown ) District.
First Saw Mill and First Grist Mill – William Merrick’s at Merrickville in Montague township; saw mill 1793, grist mill 1803. He came from New York State to Leeds County in 1791.
First Sponsored Migration – from United Kingdom – About fifty Lowland Scottish families were granted farm sites in May, 1816, on the Scotch Line in Bathurst, Burgess and Elmsley townships near Perth, when a similar number of grants were made nearby to married and single demobilized British Soldiers of various nationalities.
First Large Scale Settlement – The seven years 1816 to 1822, when seven thousand persons, mainly from Scotland and Ireland, aided by army settlement supervision and supplies, began the great task of clearing land and establishing farms and villages throughout most of the county’s present area.
First Group Migration From Scottish Highlands – About fifty families from Perthshire in 1818 settled in Beckwith township near Carleton Place; they came inland by the Ottawa River route.
First Settlement of North Lanark – Assisted emigrations of 1820 and 1821 from Lanarkshire added some 2,500 persons to the county’s population, mainly in Dalhousie, Lanark and Ramsay townships.
First Group Migration from Southern Ireland – About seventy-five families, mainly from County Cork, were brought to the site of Almonte in 1823 and settled in Ramsay and neighbouring townships.
First Resident Clergymen – Officially recognized, Rev. William Bell, Presbyterian, 1817; Rev. Michael Harris, Anglican, 1819; both at Perth.
First Visit By Governor-in-Chief of Canada – by Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond in 1819.
First Member of Parliament – In 1820, William Morris (b.1786 d.1858), Scottish merchant at Perth, defeated Benjamin Delisle; became president of Executive Council of Canada, 1846.
First Steps towards Local Government – Establishment of the judicial District of Bathurst in 1822, with centre at Perth, to serve some local executive and judicial needs of an area comprising most of the present Lanark, Carleton and Renfrew counties.
First Naming as County of Lanark – In 1824, when the ten northerly townships of the present Lanark County (excluding Pakenham) and the then unsurveyed present Renfrew County became an electoral district named County of Lanark.
KNOWLEDGE AND VIOLENCE:
First Newspaper – The Independent Examiner, Perth, 1828, edited by John Stewart, school teacher, succeeded in 1832 by the Constitution and in 1834 by the present Perth Courier.
First Public Libraries – Dalhousie Public Library, near Watson’s Corners, 1828 (still in existence); and the Ramsay and Lanark Circulating Library near Clayton, 1829.
First (and only) Extensive Riots – The ‘Ballygiblin Riots’ Carleton Place and Almonte, 1824.
First Execution for Murder – Thomas Easby, of Drummond township, 1829; found to have killed his wife and four children, publicly hanged at Perth after rejection of defence of insanity.
First Recorded Pistol Duels – James Boulton and Thomas Radenhurst, Perth barristers, June, 1830; Colonel Alexander McMillan and Dr. Alexander Thom, both of Perth, the latter wounded, January, 1883; John Wilson and Robert Lyon, law students at Perth, the latter killed, June, 1883.
As October is Canadian Women’s History month, I thought it would be interesting to write about a woman born & schooled in the Carleton Place area, who went ahead to make a significant contribution to the world.
Margaret Verne McNeely was such person. Born in Beckwith Township, Lanark County on 13 August 1885, she was the daughter of James McNeely (1860-1948) and Margaret Jane Duff (1863-1930). After completing her education at local schools in Beckwith and Carleton Place, she attended and graduated from University College at the University of Toronto in 1908. In 1909 she became a missionary of The Presbyterian Church in Canada to China.
According to Ontario’s Archival Information Network, “from 1909 to 1914, supported by the Women’s Missionary Society, Verne assisted Rev. Donald MacGillivray of the North Honan Mission with compiling and editing the China Mission Year Book published by the Christian Literature Society. From 1914 to 1917, Verne worked with the China Continuation Committee which developed into the National Christian Council of China. In 1917 Verne accepted an invitation to work in a bookstore in Shanghai that specialized in the sale of English and Chinese books. This bookstore eventually became the Kwang Hsueh Publishing House which had, by 1943, about one-third of its business in Chinese textbooks sponsored by the Nurses’ Association of China. In 1923 Verne became the manager of the bookstore until the onset of the Second World War during which she spent two and a half years in a Japanese interment centre. After the war she made her way to Nanking to assist the Secretary of the Nurses’ Association of China but returned to Canada in 1950, and made her home in Toronto, Ontario.”
Margaret Verne McNeely passed away on 28 Dec 1975 in Newmarket, Ontario, at the age of 90.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Teaching School Once Hazardous Occupation
The Carleton Place Canadian, January 9, 1958
By Howard M. Brown
Among public school inspectors in Lanark County a record of long service was made by F. S. Michell who continued in that capacity from 1880 to 1921. Near the beginning of his forty years of duty he reported his views and findings on teachers’ prevailing salaries:
“The headmasters of the Public Schools in Carleton Place and Pakenham received the highest salaries paid teachers in this County – $550. Male teachers salaries of 1884 ranged from $300 to $550, averaging $337.50. Female teachers received from $150 to $350, the average for 1884 being $193. Even the princely sum of $550 is but poor inducement for a man to undertake the ordeal of preparation in High, Model and Normal Schools and the harass and responsibility of a large graded school. While the false economy of cheap teachers is the rule, the work must remain largely in the hands of students and school girls who intend to teach until something better presents itself.”
Twenty-five years later Carleton Place appointed a new public school principal to teach the senior class and supervise the operation of two schools and the work of thirteen other teachers. The opening salary was $800. Teachers were: Misses McCallum, Shaw, Burke, Anderson, O’Donnell, Caswell, Sturgeon, Sinclair, McLaren, Fife, Flegg, Morris, Cornell, and Mr. R. J. Robertson, principal.
Public school teachers of 1917 as listed by R. J. Robertson, principal, were Misses V. Leach, H. Cram, Laura Anderson, A. L. Anderson, I. H. Caswell, M. E. Sturgeon, Lizzie McLaren, Kate McNab, S. P. May, M. I. Mullett, C. Mallinson, M. M. McCallum and Mary Cornell.
An item of juvenile training of this period was the Carleton Place curfew bylaw passed to protect youth or public order from the post-war perils of 1919. It provided for ringing of a curfew bell at 9 p.m. standard time. After this hour children under 16 years unless accompanied by a parent or guardian were required by law to remain indoors.
An earlier list of Carleton Place public school teachers available is that of 1890 : Misses Munro, Nellie Garland, Shaw, Cram, Flegg, Garland, Smitherman, Lowe, Suter, Ferguson, McCallum, Mr. Neil McDonald (who transferred to the high school in 1890), and T. B. Caswell, principal. Public school principal preceding Mr. Caswell was John A. Goth. The local school board in 1890 comprised of Robert Bell, chairman; board members, McDonald, Struthers, Taylor, Donald, Begley, Kelly, Wylie, Breckenridge and, until his death in 1890, David Findlay, Sr. In the same period J. R. Johnston, M.A. (Queens) was high school principal, with D. E. Sheppard, barrister, as assistant.
A selection of the local university students of the 1890’s are named in a note by Editor W. H. Allen reporting their return from college in the spring of 1896:
“Among those who have arrived are : R. W. Suter from McGill, W. H. Cram, J. S. McEwen, Herb Sinclair, D. L. Gordon, and W. McCarthy from Queen’s. Among those who have passed we note with pleasure the name of C. H. Brown who tied for first place in the honor class in anatomy at McGill, W. J. Cram who also passed with honors in the same class and Holden Love who passed his first exam. In Queen’s W. H. Cram captured his B.A., W. B. Munro of Almonte took his M.A. with honors and J. B. McDougall a B.A. J.R. Conn of Prospect took his M.A. with honors and the medal in political science. In Trinity, J. D. McCallum, B.A. passed his second year divinity with honors.”
A little log school house traditionally has been the first school of many prominent persons in the professions, agriculture and business. Like others of the province and nation, Lanark county’s humble early schools, despite their disadvantages, and aided by the family backgrounds of their students and teachers, filled this role well. For a typical early list of eastern Ontario rural and village teachers, Beckwith township’s teachers of 1855 may be taken. In order of school sections they were:
1U (Gillies) Alex McKay; 2 (Franktown) John Sinclair; 3 (Coocoo’s Nest) Wm. Kidd; 4 (Prospect) Donald McDiarmid; 5U (Tennyson) Donald Cameron; 5 (7th Line E.) Alex Armstrong; 6 (The Derry) Duncan McDiarmid; 7 (9th Line W.) Elizabeth James; 8 (9th Line E.) Elizabeth Murdock; 9 (11th Line E.) Fleming May; 10 (Scotch Corners) Helen Johnston; 11 (Carleton Place) Margaret Bell; 12U (with S.S.11 Goulbourn) Wm. McEwen.
A glimpse of rural schools of about fifty years ago may be gained in extracts from Lanark school inspector F. L. Michell’s reports of 1905 on Beckwith township schools:
“No 2 (Franktown) – The school suffers greatly from that evil so prevalent in our schools, irregularity of attendance. School work is well done in the junior grades but unsatisfactory in senior grades. The grounds are rough and not fenced along the road.
No. 3 (Cuckoo’s Nest) – The school house is small and worn out. Doing excellent work under disadvantages.
No. 4 (Prospect) – An excellent school property. Attendance is very large. The old useless well should be filled in.
No. 5 (7th Line East) – Always kept in first class condition. The school work is excellent. The attendance is small, but few schools in the county have to their credit a larger number of graduates who have taken prominent positions in our land.
No. 5U (7th Line West) – This is also one of our banner schools.
No. 6 (The Derry) – This is also an excellent section, and like No. 5 it has sent out numerous young people to lives of usefulness. Attendance is very small. The school work is excellent.
No. 7 (9th Line West) – A good site and in fine condition. The school work was not up to average.
No. 8 (9th Line East) – An excellent new school house, and work well done.
No. 9 (11th Line East) – One of the richest sections of the county. There is no library. The school ranks excellent.
No. 14 (11th Line West) – Some small repairs are needed. The school work is generally good.”
School sections in Beckwith township which had their first teachers in the 1820’s about the same time as Carleton Place were those of the Derry and Franktown.
Early stages of local high school cadet training are found in a July 1913 Carleton Place press report:
“High school principal E. J. Wethey with a squad of nine high and public school pupils spent a week at Barriefield Camp, being attached to the Prescott company of cadets. Between 1,200 and 1,300 boys were in the camp. All went through the regulation drill and exercises and athletic contests. In the athletic events all our boys qualified for at least one bar and the Y.M.C.A. medal, Thorold Kellough and Horace Brown doing exceptionally well. It is the intention to organize a cadet company here next season in connection with the high school.”
High School Opening
Closing at the years following the World War of 1914-18 these local school notes of the period which opened after the world war of a century earlier, the latest local school landmark was the building of the present High School. It was completed in 1923. In its corner stone, laid by Dr. Milo H. Steele, Board of Education chairman, was placed a local and school history record read at the ceremony by J. Morton Brown, chairman of the building committee. John A. Houston, inspector of Ontario High Schools, was present at the opening ceremony. He added to local school records by recalling his own youth in Carleton Place. Between 1865 and 1871 he had attended school here in four locations, first in the old school on the present Central School grounds, next at Hurd’s Hall, the frame building at the southwest corner of Bell and James streets, then in the former Baptist Church building on Bridge Street, and finally at the newly erected Central School. School teachers in 1923 in Lanark County numbered 224, including those of public schools and 33 high school teachers. These and their successors have been part of the army of classroom heirs to the first government-supported school in the old Lanark, Carleton, and Renfrew Counties district, opened in Perth in 1817 by the Rev. William Bell.
20-Foot Square Unmarked Grave in Riverside Park
The Carleton Place Canadian, 27 December, 1956
By Howard M. Brown
In Riverside Park there lies a little-known site which is of some interest in the town’s history. It is found at the extreme end of the town’s park, near Lake Avenue and close to the Mississippi River. This was a burial ground, where members of one of the first families of settlers of the town were laid in a now unmarked graveyard.
Discovery of this site some ten years ago was reported at a Parks Commission meeting, at which the suggestion was made that the area should be marked as a historical site by erection of a cairn. Pending the receipt of further particulars no action was taken. The Canadian subsequently found from the late Alex John Duff, Beckwith farmer, that he recalled this burial ground in his youth in the 1880s as being at that time a little cemetery about 15 or 20 feet square, a gravestone in which bore the name Catin Willis.
With the Morphys and the Moores, the Willises long were among the widely known earliest owners of farm land coming within the present boundaries of the town. It is well recorded that the whole central section of the present town was first located to the Morphy and the Moore families in 1819 as Crown grants of farm land; the part extending north of Lake Avenue to four of the Morphys, and three hundred acres at the south side of Lake Avenue to three of the Moores. William Moore is said to have aided in the founding of the town by opening its first blacksmith shop in 1820, the first year of settlement as a community. About the same time the first marriages here were those of Sarah, daughter of George Willis, to William Morphy, and Mary, daughter of Thomas Willis, to John Morphy. Well known descendants of these families continue to live in the town and district.
On a farm which reached the western end of Riverside Park George Willis, born about 1778, settled and raised his family. Other Willises coming from Ireland and settling near Morphy’s Falls between 1819 and 1821 were Henry, William, Thomas and Catin Willis. When the present Carleton Place Town Hall was built, the central building on its site, said to be the second dwelling built in the town, was the home of Mrs. William Morphy, daughter of George Willis, where she had lived to 1888 and the age of 85, a widow for over fifty years. The Bathurst Courier at Perth, reporting her husband’s death in August, 1837, said in part:
“Fatal Accident. On Friday afternoon last, William Morphy of Carleton Place, whilst on his way home from this place on horseback, in company with several others, met with an accident from the effect of which he died on Sunday morning last, under the following circumstances. Between this and Joseph Sharp’s tavern the deceased and another of the party were trying the speed of their horses when, on approaching Sharp’s house at a very rough part of the road, his horse fell and threw him off, by which he was placed under the animal. Severe wounds causing a contusion of the brain led to his death…….The deceased was a native of Ireland, and has left a wife and family to deplore his sudden death.”
Grandchildren of William Morphy and his wife Sarah Willis included William, Duncan and Robert McDiarmid, prominent Carleton Place merchants, sons of James McDiarmid, Carleton Place merchant, and his wife Jane Morphy.
George Willis Jr. (1820-1892) succeeded his father on the farm at the end of Lake Avenue (Conc. 11, lot 12) and there brought up a family long known in Carleton Place, including Richard, drowned while duck hunting in November 1893, and George E. Willis, photographer, musician and bandmaster, who died in Vancouver in 1940 at age 96 while living with his son Stephen T. Willis of Ottawa business college fame; William and John H. of Carleton Place, and daughters including Jane, wife of James Morphy Jr. the son of “King James” of the pioneer Morphy family.
The George Willis place on the river side during one period was the annual scene of colourful sights and stirring sounds on the 12th of July. It was a marshalling ground and headquarters for the great Orange parade, with the Willis boys of the third generation prominent among the performers in the bands. The names of George Willis, Senior and Junior, appear with sixty others on the roll of the Carleton Place Loyal Village Guards which mustered in 1837 and 1838 at the time of the Upper Canada Rebellion and “Patriot War,” and again with that of Catin Willis in the St. James Church monster petition of November 1846 for maintaining tenure of the Church’s clergy reserve land in Ramsay against claims of Hugh Bolton and others.
Catin Willis, born in Ireland in 1795, settled as a young man in Ramsay on the present northern outskirts of Carleton Place (con. 8, lot 2w) when that township was opened for settlement in 1821. He died there in 1869. His name appears as contributor to the Carleton Place fund for providing and operating a curfew bell in 1836. The Church Wardens of St. James Church here in 1845 were Catin Willis and James Rosamond, founder of the Rosamond textile manufacturing firm.
William, another of the first Willises here, took up land in the 4th concession of Beckwith (lot 18W) in 1820, securing his location in the usual way through the district settlement office and performing the settlement duties required for obtaining a patent to his land, which lay east of Franktown. Franktown, then usually referred to as The King’s Store at Beckwith, and later named possibly for its sponsor, Colonel Francis Cockburn, had already been approved for surveying into town lots, and had the taverns of Patrick Nowlan and Thomas Wickham for the accommodation of travellers, in addition to the government supply depot for the Beckwith settlers.
George Ramsay, Ninth Earl of Dalhousie and Governor General of British North America, made the Nowlan Inn his stopping place, accompanied by Colonel Cockburn, during a one day visit in 1820 in the course of a tour of inspection of the Perth, Beckwith and Richmond settlements.
Henry Willis landed from Ireland in the early summer of 1819 with his young family on the sailing ship Eolus, whose passengers included the families of Beckwith settlers Thomas Pierce, James Wall and William Jones. He first settled on the 2nd concession of Beckwith (lot 13W) near Franktown, and later moved to Carleton Place where he is found as a contributor to the 1836 curfew bell fund and on the roll of the Loyal Village Guards of 1838.
Henry was an unsuccessful 1838 petitioner with Captain Duncan Fisher for preferential purchase from the Crown of a farm lot extending near Indians Landing (con. 11, lot 11), adjoining the farms of George Willis and Captain Fisher. Those providing certificates of facts in support of this petition were Catin Willis, John Moore, William Willis, Greenwall Dixon, and Edward J. Boswell, Anglican “Missionary at Carleton Place.”
Thomas Willis is shown by Beldon’s Lanark County Atlas of 1880 to have been an inhabitant of the new village of Morphy’s Falls in its first year, and to have given his daughter in marriage then to John Morphy. John (b.1794, d.1860), another of the family of six sons and two daughters of Edmond Morphy, built his home for his bride at the east end of Mill Street on the present Bates & Innes lands. It stood there for over fifty years after his death, and last served as the watchman’s house of the Bates & Innes mill. The large family of John Morphy and his wife Mary Willis, raised in that pioneer home, included Abraham Morphy of Ramsay, near Carleton Place; and Elizabeth, Mrs. Richard Dulmage of Ramsay, who was born in 1821 as the first child born to the first settlers in Morphy’s Falls.
It is possible that further consideration will be given to providing the added note of interest and distinction to the town, and to its popular Riverside Park, which would be furnished by a cairn and tablet at the Park denoting some of the ancient origins of the town.