Carleton Place’s Great Fire Occurred in 1910
By Howard M. Brown
Carleton Place Canadian, 27 June, 1963
Stories of former days in the long and distinguished record of the Ocean Wave Fire Company of Carleton Place, founded in 1875, are continued in this instalment.
It recalls the years of the eighteen eighties, and this town’s perilous fire of 1910, in the times when steam fire engines and equipment were raced to the scene of action by galloping fire horses.
Officers of the Ocean Wave Fire Company in the early eighteen eighties were William Patterson, captain; George Warren, first lieutenant; George Crawford, second lieutenant; John R. Galvin, secretary; William Rogers, treasurer; and John Flett, company engineer. The grants of the Carleton Place Council to the fire company at that time were $200 a year. The company usually had about 25 or 30 members; 35 was the membership attending its annual meeting in 1882. Leaders of the ld days subsequently included Tom Nagle, Dave Moffatt, Tom Lever, Jim Warren, Alex McLaren and the great Billy McIlquham.
After the years of the hand pumpers, the purchase of a steam fire engine finally was authorized by an 1884 bylaw to raise $6,000 for this purpose. A brick fire hall, still standing, had been built on Bridge Street at the end of William Street. Several large tanks were situated at points distant from the river to serve as fire engine water reservoirs.
The new fire engine was unable to save the inflammable new tannery and wool pulling plant of John F. Cram and Donald Munro, burned in 1886 with a fire loss of $10,000. Spectacular fire in the town of the nineties included the destruction of the Moffatt & Cavers shingle mill and most of the firm’s planning mill, and two losses of groups of Bridge Street retail shops. The plant and office of this newspaper, then named the Central Canadian and located at the corner of Bridge and Elgin Streets, were consumed by fire forty years ago.
Keen public interest and pride was taken not only in the speed and skill of the Ocean Wave firemen but also in the horses which drew the fire fighting equipment of a generation ago. A glimpse of one of many similar races to smaller fires is given in a Carleton Place Herald report of a 1910 fire which threatened to destroy St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Appleton several weeks before the great Carleton Place fire disaster of that year:
“The town team, driven by James Walters, took the big fire engine to Appleton – four miles – on Saturday night in the dark in thirty-five minutes, and there were four men on the engine. Mr. J. M. Brown, with one horse, took a load of firemen and a hose cart down in half an hour, and signaled for water thirty-seven minutes after leaving the hall here.”
As in the country’s other larger towns and cities of fifty years ago, the pounding gallop to a Carleton Place fire by great teams of horses, drawing heavy brass-stacked fire engines belching their smoke and fire, and clanging and rattling hook and ladder wagons manned with firemen, brought a never to be forgotten wave of excitement to young and old alike. To youthful onlookers it was a latter-day Roman chariot race, in a vital and perhaps desperate cause.
Battle Against Disaster
This town’s greatest fire came in mid May of 1910, and rode to its crescendo on the peak of a heavy gale. It came about the time predicted for the reappearance of Halley’s Comet. Some when half-awakening to its glare, thought they were viewing the light of the comet. Within four hours after midnight about thirty buildings were destroyed, most of them residences. Property losses in 1910 values were estimated at over $150,000. Through heroic work by the town fire department, the Canadian Pacific Railway fire force and Almonte firemen with their fire engine, aided by the courageous and frantic efforts of householders and others, a greater part of the south and east sides of the town was saved from equal devastation.
The fire started on Bridge Street in a pair of retail stores at Albert Street, from a cause not known. Fanned by a high southwest wind it swept an area equaling about two blocks, centred in the Albert, Beckwith, Judson and Franklin Streets section. The block bounded by these four streets was reduced completely to ashes and ruin.
Zion Presbyterian Church, valued at over $35,000 with its additions and renovations of the previous two years was wholly destroyed. Other public and church buildings bunred down, in addition to retail stores, were the curling rink, the militia drill shed, the Masonic Temple and St. Andrew’s and Zion church manses.
A total loss at the residence of Mrs. James Gillies, on the site at Franklin and Judson Streets where fire had struck over thirty years earlier, was set at $18.000. For some time the fire illuminated the windswept night sky to an extent at which in Almonte and more distant points a newspaper could be read in its light.
These were some of the tactical incidents and sidelights of this fire of over fifty years ago, as told by William H. Allen in the Carleton Place Herald:
“The first water supply came from the new engine, which played two good streams from the bridge. The old fire engine also played two streams from the bridge but gave out early in the fight, the lift being too much for her. Two streams were laid from Brown’s, one from the pump at the light station and one from the grist mill. Another stream came from Mr. Nichols planning mill and still another from the Bates & Innes mill, to which the C.P.R. brigade attached their hose and held the fire from spreading across the tracks.
Early in the night Mayor Albert Cram telephoned Almonte for aid. Our neighbour at great risk sent over their fire engine and a squad of men, the run being made over at a mile a minute rate by a locomotive and a flat car with Howard Moffatt at the throttle. The Almonte engine, was placed on Judson Street. As all the own hose were in service one of Brown’s pumps had to be cut off to give sufficient hose to the Almonte engine, which was placed below Brown’s mill. It did excellent service for some hours.
Away over the track the tower of Bates & Innes mill took fire and was saved after a hard fight. Many houses on William Street were covered with embers, but the careful work of the owners prevented any outbreak. Half a mile further the granary and driveshed of Mr. Herbert Morphy took fire and was swept, the barns nearby being saved with difficulty.
The firemen had a desperate fight with Zion Church manse. Here there would have been no hope for the wooden houses adjoining, and the Methodist parsonage and church and the Brown mills with dwellings would all have been in line.
The uniforms and arms of the volunteers were removed from the drill shed, but some blank ammunition kept up a mournful fusillade when the fire reached it. The only thing standing in the block bounded by Beckwith, Albert, Judson and Franklin streets is a lattice-work in the rear of Mrs. Gillies home.
Norman McNabb got caught in the bellrope when sounding the alarm from Zion Church. He had a narrow escape from strangling and has a sore neck. We regret to observe that there were thieves among the crowd, and many articles were afterwards lost that had been saved from the flames.”
Reminiscences of former generations of the men of the Ocean Wave Fire Company at work and in their lighter moments at play, as written about 50 years ago by the great, old sportsman W. J. ‘Baldy’ Welsh, will conclude the present group of stories of that memorable era of the town’s fire fighters.
“Beards” of Bygone Days
Recalled by M. J. Shields
Carleton Place Canadian, 29 December, 1960
By Howard M. Brown
Random recollections of Myles J. Shields of Ottawa as supplied to H.M.B.
“Extemporaneously I am sending you a few items on local affairs that I recall and hope will be readable:
Long ago twilight brought out Harry Tetlock to light the switch and semaphore lamps on the CPR yard tracks. He was always smiling and walked fast. Jim Moore with brown beard and big clock in leather case went out to watch the lumber yard. Mr. Cram with white beard went to watch Gillies Woollen Mill.
In the day time Ned Carr, old tall and gaunt, was crossing guard at the foot of Bell street where the sawmill tracks crossed the CPR. In his prime he was, according to my father, a famous axeman.
George Tait had a market garden on Lake Avenue. He did not believe in trimming fruit trees. He said they had a hard enough time surviving in our climate. This theory has since been upheld by many fruit growers.
Maurice Burke, a cooper, made barrels across the street from where the post office now stands. His sister Julia taught school in the Public School for many years. We often heard the youngsters rhyming c-a-t CAT, r-a-t RAT, etc. She was burned to death in a fire as was Levi Brian’s wife.
Sam McLaren with a red beard was captain on the steamer, Carleton, which plied the Mississippi lakes and river in those days.
Alvin Livingston had a long, almost white beard and was town constable in the 1870’s.
Patrick (Peter) Struthers, post master, and his assistant Finlay McEwen, had rather thin light coloured beards. Peter had a farm on the 5th Line of Ramsay, operated by Jim Boyd.
William Goth, of Beckwith, from the breastbone up was entirely hidden in white whiskers, hair and eyebrows. All one could see was a purple nose and two twinkling blue eyes. He kept good horses and many a time passed the C.P.R. station, homeward bound, at a full gallop. Mr. Goth had a sense of humour and my mother, nee Margaret Holland, who was telegrapher in the post office, situated at that time, in the building across Bell Street from the Arcade, recalled a remark he made to her one time. It appears that Mr. Goth and David Findlay Sr. had a tussle in the post office and Mr. Findlay apparently got the worst of it. When Messrs Struthers and McEwen remonstrated with Mr. Goth, he threatened the whole staff, at which my mother burst out laughing. Mr. Goth turned and said to her; “Young lady, when I was young I used to laugh too, but, now that I am in an office of public trust I am above laughing.” John Goth, a son, was principal in the Town Hall school and his daughter, Miss Goth, taught in first grade.
Mr. Aitken, from Appleton way, used to leave town in the same style as Mr. Goth, his horses on the gallop down William Street, but they arrived at a more sedate pace on entering the town.
Dr. Howard, who claimed to have been descended from one of the original 13 Barons of England, was a big man, soft spoken, and used to relate to me about his turkey hunting trips in the U.S.A. He had a law suit with the Montreal Daily Star and lost. The Star published a pamphlet about him and distributed it to the householders of Carleton Place.
Andrew and Robert Bell were descendents of the famous clergyman William Bell; Andrew lived near Taylor’s big house and Robert lived at the end of main street bridge, where Dr. McFarlanes old residence stands. There is, or was, a stained window in St. James Anglican Church inscribed “To the Glory of God and the memory of Jane A. Bell”.
Peter Lake and his wife Susanna lived in the big stone house at the river at the end of the Town Line. He also had a beard and was Choir Master in Zion Church.
Abe Morphy Sr. was tall and blackbearded, he lived in the white house at the Town Line and 8th line. He was born in the yellow house that stood between the Gillies Mill flume canal and the C.P.R. subway.
Mr. Griegson, a stout husky type operated a farm on the 5th line of Ramsay. He always carried his buggy whip while in town and walked about 4 or 5 feet ahead of his wife. They would have a beer at Wilson’s hotel and then do their business. Mr. Griegson worked on the railway that was built across the Isthmus of Panama to prepare for the building of the great canal. I remember when he told my Grandfather Holland that he had worked there and what a surprise, because my grandfather had taken the first stationary steam engine down there. They had a terrible time, heat, flies, filthy water, fever and the late arrival of the relief ship. Every man in my grandfathers group of labourers died one after the other. He buried the last man just before the relief ship arrived. He said he paid a native two cents a day to follow him around swishing a bunch of palm leaves to chase flies and create a little breeze.
Mr. Hamilton, a painter, father of John R., a C.P.R. conductor was a veteran of the Crimean war as was my grand uncle who was a V.S. (Farrier Sgt. In army parlance); he was at the Charge of the Light Brigade, although not actually in the charge, took care of the horses. I have a tin-type of him in full uniform taken about 1850 in Dublin.
William Street, as I recall it, had its list of tragedies, perhaps, more so than any other street. A young Glover child was killed by being crushed under a lumber yard wagon; Billy Glover fatally injured sliding down the Spring Street hill; Bob Illingsworth shot in a bar room squabble; Miss Reynolds drowned; Mr. Summers had legs crushed in lumber yard; amputated twice but gangrene set in and he died. Mr. Quackenbush was run over by a lorrie the first day he worked in the lumber yard; he said he always had a premonition that he should not take a job there; around the turn of the century Abe Morphy Jr. drowned; Neil McDonald died from an overdose of sedative (I believe); Harry Clark fell down cellar; Proctor Moore fell in a C.P.R. culvert.
And I could go on, and on, but enough is enough.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Bees! A few hives of bees for sale at the Herald Office. March 13th, 1865.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Parrot for Sale. An African Grey Parrot for sale at the Herald Office. Cheap for Cash.
November 16, 1881.
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.
Humor and Spice News Contained in Old Time Ads
Carleton Place Canadian, 27 February, 1958
By Howard M. Brown
Impressions of some of the varied local conditions of the earlier days of this district may be gained from the old time advertisements published in its newspapers. A random selection of these will be taken as illustrations of the fading Ottawa Valley scene which was viewed from the nineteenth century newspaper office of the Carleton Place Herald.
Those which follow in the present column are advertisements and similar contributed announcements reproduced in abbreviated form from the Perth Courier, one of the first and the oldest of existing Ottawa Valley newspapers.
They are the period before the establishment of the Herald at Carleton Place.
The Bathurst Courier is printed and published in Perth, Upper Canada, every Friday morning by James Thompson. Terms 15 shillings if paid in advance, 17s.6d. if not paid till the end of the year. Postage included. Produce taken in part payment. Agents at Bytown, Pakenham, Richmond, Carleton Place, Horton, Lanark, Dalhousie, Sherbrooke, Smiths Falls and Merrick’s Mills.
September 18, 1835.
Staple and fancy dry goods, groceries, liquors-also for sale, a few first rate building lots in the flourishing village of Carleton Place. – W. & J. Bell, Perth, August 14, 1834.
Died, at his residence in Beckwith, Upper Canada, on September 12, 1835, the Reverend Doctor Buchanan in the 74th year of his age, and the 45th of his ministry. He has left a widow and nine children to mourn his loss.
A convention of delegates of the Bathurst District Temperance Society was held in the Methodist Chapel, Carleton Place on February 23, 1836. The Rev. William Bell was appointed chairman of the meeting and the Rev. T. C. Wilson, secretary. The secretaries of the five societies whose delegates were present gave an account of the formation, constitution and present membership of their respective societies. Memberships are Perth 511, Mississippi and Ramsay 295, Lanark 187, Richmond 57, and Franktown 18. There are several other Temperance Societies in the District –
Thomas C. Wilson, secretary.
The subscribers having held a meeting at Carleton Place, Beckwith on March 10, 1838, herby notify the public that they have adopted the resolution of Carding Wool and Dressing Cloth, at their respective places of abode, for ready pay only. The prices will be as low as the circumstances of the individual establishments will admit of, and merchantable produce shall be taken in payment at cash price. Edward Bellamy, Ramsay; Elijah K. Boyce, Smiths Falls; Isaiah K. Boyce, Drummond; Silas Warner, Merrickville; James Rosamond, Carleton Place; Gavin Toshack, Ramsay.
Rapine and Bloodshed
To the inhabitants of the townships of Drummond, Lanark, Darling, Dalhousie, Bathurst and North and South Sherbrooke, comprising the First and Second Regiments of Lanark Militia. Another attempt to invade these provinces is about to be made by numerous bands of lawless citizens of the United States, associated with disaffected persons who have left this country.
Rapine and bloodshed will mark the progress of these diabolical disturbers of our quiet homes. Be ready to march to the frontier on a moment’s notice. – Wm. Morris, Col. Com’g, 2nd Lanark Regt., Alex McMillan, Col. Com’g, 1st Lanark Reg’t. Perth, 2nd November, 1838.
Wanted immediately. A common School Teacher for the Second Concession of Beckwith. None need apply wh cannot give satisfactory reference as to character in every respect. Apply to the Trustees or to the subscriber. – William Moore, Beckwith, 15 April, 1839.
Gentleman With a Cloak
A hint to Stage Drivers. It would be well if stage drivers be more on their guard and first ascertain who they are giving passage to, and if such are their Own Masters! Before they enter into a contract with them, or they may get into trouble. On Thursday morning, the 11th instant, a gentleman with a cloak was quietly taken from our door, by the Brockville stage on his way to the land of liberty. This was our newspaper boy, an Indentured Apprentice! – February 19, 1841.
Card. – Mr. William Wilson, surgeon, Licentiate in Midwifery and late of Glasgow University, begs to inform the inhabitants of Carleton Place and surrounding territory that, having come to reside among them, he has opened apartments in Mr. Rosamond’s building opposite the residence of R. Bell Esq., where he will be ready to wait upon or be consulted in any case requiring medical advice or interference. He refers to the length of time he has resided in the country and the attention he has paid to those diseases peculiar to the climate. – Carleton Place, April 6, 1841.
To the Temperate – but not Teetotalers. Malt whiskey for sale. 1,000 gallons of very superior malt whiskey is offered in quantities of not less than 3 gallons. Merchants and Innkeepers will be supplied at the moderate rate of 4s.9d. per gal. This whiskey is strongly recommended, being made by an experienced distiller, Mr. Peter McEwan, from the Braes of Breadalbane in the Highlands of Scotland, who in former years, with his drop of ‘mountain dew’ over his shoulder, played the game of hide-and-seek with the Gauger, with glorious success.
Having just got a new tub erected which will contain 1,400 gallons at a distilling, he hopes yet to enjoy a good share of public patronage, notwithstanding the progress of teetotalism – ‘go it, ye cripples!’ –
William Lock, Perth
April 29, 1841.
A public meeting was held at Pakenham Village on June 16 in reference to the school of that village. Mr. Andrew Russell presented regulations including the following to the consideration of the trustees, subscribers and others.
Hours of attendance from 10 to 4 with an interval of 15 minutes; and 5 minutes in the course of the former and 5 in the latter meeting.
The exercises of Saturday to consit of a repetition of the weekly lessons, with questions on the first principles of Christianity.
The school fund to be a pound per annum, with half a cord of wood or two and sixpence, the former payable in February and the latter on or before the 1st of December.
For purchasing maps and other classics apparatus, each subscriber shall advance an additional sixpence.
Pakenham, June, 1841.
We the undersigned elders and trustees of the Presbyterian Church in Ramsay in connection with the Church of Scotland beg leave to state –
When two ministers styling themselves the Bytown Presbytry gave a notice of a Presbytry meeting, in a most illegal manner, to be held in the Ramsay Church to moderate in a call to Mr. McKid, while an appeal to the Synod was pending, the Church Trustees with the concurrence of the Session did the, to prevent that meeting only deliver the keys to Mr. Wylie as collateral security for the debt on the church property, with instructions to shut the door against the pretended Bytown Presbytry. (signed) Andrew Toshack, Duncan Cram, elders; James Wylie, James Wilson, William Wilson, Robert Bell, John Gemmill, David Campbell, trustees. –
Ramsay, September 8, 1843.
Stolen. From the subscriber’s Great Coat pocket, in the Inn of John McEwen, Carleton Place, a large pocketbook, containing $18 in bills, promissory notes amounting to about 90 pounds, a small memorandum book and sundry other papers. The notes were all payable to the order of the subscriber. All the makers of the said notes are hereby cautioned not to settle with any other person presenting them for payment. –
Samuel Young, Carleton Place,
February 15, 1844.
Mr. Archibald McArthur of Ramsay is induced to give a splendid Concert and Ball on Friday, April 4th in Mr. Peter Young’s barn, 8th line Ramsay, which will be fitted up expressly for the purpose. He has acquired the valuable assistance of Mr. John McFarlane, the celebrated Musical Bell player; Mr. Joseph Docherty of Ramsay, the Solo singer; Mr. John Brennon of Perth, the Clarinet player; also Mr. Peter Young, Ramsay, comic singer, whose powers are well known. He has procured the valuable assistance of a Flute Band, and a number of other performers, along with your humble servant who will do all in his power to amuse them with the Patent Kent Key Bugle.
Tickets are 1s.6d. each, reserved seats 2s each; to be had of Mr. John Gemmill, merchant, Carleton Place. Mr. Alex Snedden and Mr. David Leckie, Ramsay, also at the door on the night of the concert. Performance to commence at 7 o’clock precisely. –
March 24, 1845.
Return of licences issued in the Bathurst District in the first half of the year, 1847:
Township of Beckwith Inn licences – Ann Burrows, Donald McFarlane, Archibald Gillis, Thomas Kidd, James Jackson. Carleotn Place, Robert Mclaren, Manny Nowlan, Napoleon Lavallee.
Beckwith Shop licences, John A. Gemmill, Carleton Place.
Township of Ramsay Inn licences, James Coulter, Edward Houston, James McAllister, John Wright.
Stills, Bathurst District, Peter McArthur, Beckwith; Thomas Findlay, Lanark; Robert McLaren, Perth. –
Anthony Leslie, Inspector of Licences, Bathurst District.
Results of the Ploughing Match conducted by the Bathurst District Agricultural Society on the farm of William Walllace, 8th Line Ramsay, yesterday. The judges James Wilkie, James Black and James Duncan, reported the following winners:
Old Ploughman’s Class – 1st, Lawrence Naismith, 2nd Robert Cowan (James Drynan’s man), 3rd Matthew Millions, 4th James Stewart.
Young Men’s Class – 1st Wm. Young (son of Peter Young), 2nd Robert Steele, 3rd Wm. Young (son of Robert Young), 4th Peter Cram.
Four prizes awarded in each of the two classes were in the amounts of 25s., 20s., 15s., and 10s.
James Bell, secretary, B.D.A.S., Carleton Place,
October 18, 1848.
Last Service At Beckwith Old Kirk Held 35 Years Ago, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 23 March, 1961
This is the third and final part of a story which has recalled some of the events in the memorable background of the Old Kirk Ruins of Beckwith township. The first Presbyterian Church of the eastern half of Lanark County was built near Carleton Place in 1832, replacing a primitive log structure in a vicinity where services had been held since about 1818 and continuously since 1822. The church remained in use until about 1870.
On the township’s Seventh Line road, two miles south of Black’s Corners and a mile east, its foundations may be seen. In a recent pictorial map issued by the National Capital Commission its location is shown as one of the district’s historic sites. Church services here were carried on for two pioneer generations by the first colony of Scottish Highlanders to be established north of the Glengarry settlement in Ontario.
One of the last commemoration services to be held within the walls of the Beckwith Old Kirk was conducted thirty-five years ago by a native son who still “had the Gaelic,” the Rev. Dr. James Carmichael, returning at the age of eighty-eight for the occasion.
A service of commemoration had been observed at the Old Kirk in the previous year. It had opened with a procession in which the beadle, William Young, followed by the precentor, D. R. Ferguson and the minister, the Rev. J. W. S. Lowry, in black gowns, accompanied by a large number of the ruling elders of the neighbouring congregations, had made their way out from one of the doorways of the hallowed ruins to a raised platform. A concluding service of prayer within the Old Kirk walls was attended by those present who in their youth had had their church upbringing there. Among them were Margaret Anderson, Alan Cameron and Mrs. Cameron, Mrs. Donald Carmichael, William Drummond and James C. Elliott, John H. Ferguson, Mrs. Robert Ferguson (The Derry), Mrs. T. Ferguson, Mr. and Mrs. John McArthur and Mary McArthur ; also Duncan McEwen, Mrs. Finlay McEwen (Jock), Mr. and Mrs. Hugh McEwen, John McFarlane (11th line) and Mrs. Peter McLaren.
Gaelic Commemoration of Highland Scots
Reports of the commemoration services of 1916, conducted in English and Gaelic at the honoured meeting place, said in part:
Sunday last was a red letter day in Beckwith township, when the Presbyterian Church people observed the anniversary of the first public services held there by their forefathers. The renowned highway, the Seventh Line, was all a-going with automobiles, rigs and pedestrians for the Presbyterian rally at the Old Kirk. They came from all over Beckwith, from Montague and Elmsley, from Almonte and Carleton Place and from Ottawa, to pay their reverential respect to the days of the fathers and to that scriptural and reformation faith in which they lived and died.
After a largely attended and impressive sacramental service in Knox church in the morning, at which Rev. Mr. Lowry presided and Rev. Dr. Carmichael of King preached, the people assembled in large numbers in the afternoon beside the ruins of the Old Kirk on the seventh line of Beckwith, where for a generation the worship was conducted according to the principles and usages of the Church of Scotland. A pulpit and precentor’s desk were erected and comfortable seating accommodation provided. Following the opening exercises of prayer and scripture reading, and the singing of the 100th, 90th, and 103rd Psalms led by Mr. D. R. Ferguson as precentor, Rev. James Carmichael, D. D., was introduced by the pastor, Rev. Mr. Lowry, as a son of Beckwith welcomed back to his native heath. Dr. Carmichael preached the commemoration sermon, the theme of his discourse being “The Cloud of Witnesses,” and was a most pathetic exhortation to those present to walk in the ways of their fathers.
With the singing of “O God of Bethel,” the benediction and the singing of “God Save the King,” the people crowded inside the stately old walls of the church ruin and listened to devotional exercises and a short address in the Gaelic language by Dr. Carmichael. At its conclusion the cheerful tones of “When the Roll is called up Yonder” rang through the old gray walls.
Many visitors from outside points spent the day “on the line” and some, following the old-time custom, “walked to meeting.” They took part in a bilingual service on the Sabbath and all seemed to enjoy the variations, whether they understood the ancient Gaelic or not. It is the mother tongue of many of them, and they still dearly love its soft toned accents. Those who know the Gaelic sincerely sympathize with those who have only the Saxon tongue. It is the language of paradise, “which the devil does not understand, and in which the angels praise God.”
Beckwith Twp. Church Had Turbulent History, By Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 09 March, 1961
This is the second part of a story of the pioneer past of the Old Kirk of Beckwith township. The remains of the recently demolished Old Kirk Ruins may be seen near Carleton Place on the Seventh Line road of Beckwith township, two miles south and a mile east of Blacks Corners. The stone church was built in 1832, replacing a log church building. It served the first two Canadian generations of the first large settlement of Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highlanders in the district of Upper Canada north of the Rideau River.
Within the historic church walls recently torn down after standing for over 125 years on the old Beckwith Cross Keys road, the Rev. John Smith from Edinburgh preached and ministered for eighteen years to the township’s Perthshire Highlanders as the second minister of the Beckwith Kirk. The church’s six trustees in 1834 were Alexander Stewart (1792-1892, Blacks Corners, from Blair Atholl), John Scott (The Derry, from Kinardchie, Parish of Dull), Finlay McEwen (The Derry, from Arveuh, Balquhidder Parish), Donald McLaren (1774-1847, conc. 4, from Achra, Balquhidder Parish), Colin McLaren (The Derry, from St. Fillans, Comrie Parish), and James McArthur (1767-1836, conc. 7 at Kirk, from Ross, Comrie Parish). The two elders were Peter Campbell and John Campbell.
The Great Disruption
In the spread of the Scottish Disruption of 1843 to Presbyterian congregations in Canada the Beckwith Kirk, like those of neighbouring townships and many others, divided into Church of Scotland and dissenting Free Church followers. The Beckwith Free Church body withdrew from the Seventh Line Church during the Rev. Mr. Smith’s pastorate. They formed a separate congregation with the Rev. Mr. Blair as first minister, building Knox Presbyterian Church at Blacks Corners in 1845, the building for which funds now are being collected for its conversion to serve as a United Cemeteries vault. This was the first Presbyterian Free Church of stone construction in the district. Its congregation included the Free Church Presbyterians of Carleton Place until 1868, when it became the mother church of Zion Church of Carleton Place.
When the Rev. John Smith died in 1851 in his fiftieth year, leaving a wife and six children, James Poole noted in his Carleton Place Herald : “Mr. Smith had been in the habit of officiating both in English and Gaelic, an accomplishment particularly grateful to our Highland friends.” His large monument in the United Cemeteries, Carleton Place, was erected by his congregation. In the six concession near the Church was his stone house and his farm which in part had been that of his predecessor the Rev. Dr. George Buchanan. It was offered for sale at Lavallee’s Hotel in Carleton Place on the fall fair day of 1864 by the Rev. Mr. Smiths’s heirs and was long the Drummond farm. Succeeding him as the ministers of the Beckwith Auld Kirk were the Rev. Duncan Morrison and the Rev. William McHutchinson, with pastorates of five years each. The manse then was in the seventh concession (NE ½ lot 12) nearer the intersection with the Mill Road now Highway 29.
Moved to Carleton Place and Franktown
After nearly fifty years of regular services at the Seventh Line site, since 1833 in the stone church and before that in more primitive buildings, the increase in the populations of Carleton Place and Franktown led to the congregation’s decision in 1869 (perhaps hastened by the formation of the Zion Free Church congregation in Carleton Place) to hold its services in the two villages and to close the Old Kirk building. In Franktown a frame church was built in 1871.
In Carleton Place there were two Presbyterian Church buildings, both on William Street. That of the Cameronian Reformed Presbyterians had been built in the 1840’s. Construction of the stone church building which remains at the corner of St. Paul Street, facing the park of the old Commons, had been started in the 1840’s after the Disruption. It had been completed but lack of agreement had prevented it from being occupied. It was being used by Robert Bell for the lowly purpose of storing hay. Now it was renovated and fitted as the first St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Carleton Place, for the part of the Seventh Line Church of Scotland congregation living at and near the village.
It served that congregation for nearly twenty years, until the present St. Andrew’s Church building on Bridge Street, with its corner stone laid by the Rev. George M. Grant, Principal of Queen’s University, was dedicated and occupied in 1888. The connection between St. Paul’s Church of Franktown and St. Andrew’s of Carleton Place as one congregation under one minister and one session severed in the following year. The Rev. A. H. Macfarlane, father of J. Calvin Macfarlane, moved from Ashton to Franktown and continued to minister to the congregations at Franktown and Blacks Corners from 1889 until his retirement in 1913.
Last Days Of Beckwith Auld Kirk
The last of the five ministers of the Seventh Line Kirk congregation was the Rev. Walter Ross, M.A. He was inducted there in 1862. For nineteen years he contined to serve his congregation, both at the Old Kirk building and after the move to Carleton Place and Franktown. In 1875 he changed his place of residence to Carleton Place, where he died in 1881. He was the father of A. H. D. Ross, M.A., M.F., whose history of “Ottawa Past and Present” was published in 1927. His successor for nine years was the Rev. Duncan McDonald, M.A., a graduate of Queen’s University, inducted at Carleton Place in 1882, who was followed by the Rev. Robert McNair and in 1897 by the Rev. G. A. Woodside, M.A., later of Winnipeg.
Upon the opening of the new St. Andrew’s Church in January of 1888, the fixtures which still furnished the Seventh Line Old Kirk were advertised for sale and it was announced the building would be sold. The contents went to buyers in five lots for $78. The stone building of the first St. Andrew’s Church on William Street was sold for $500 for conversion into a double dwelling.
Kirk Pulpit At Gallery Height
The interior structure and arrangement of the old Seventh Line house of worship were recalled from vivid boyhood memories of Peter Drummond in the history of a part of Beckwith township published in 1943 by the late Dr. George E. Kidd, M.C., “The Story of the Derry” :
“The most unique feature of the building was the pulpit. It was placed high in the centre of the north side. This recalls how in the reign of Charles I, Archbishop Laud had, among other things in an attempt to force the return of Episcopacy on the Covenanters, insisted on the return of the pulpits to the east ends of the churches, whereas they then stood in the middle. The Beckwith church pulpit was so high as to be on a level with the gallery opposite ; and its canopy, made of finely carved native wood, reached to the top of the wall behind it. The precentor’s stand was placed directly in front of and below the pulpit. It was reached by ascending three steps.”
“There was a doorway in each end wall of the church. These doors were connected by a wide aisle which divided the floor in halves. The pews in the south half all faced north, while those in the other half were placed at right angles to the aisle, and faced the pulpit from the east and west respectively. The gallery was reached by two flights of steps, one at each end of the church. An impassable partition cut across its centre. A long table, at which communicants sat while they partook of the Sacrament, stood in front of the pulpit.”
The Old Kirk’s last years before its stand of more than half a century as an historic ruins are viewed in an early story of the Auld Kirk on the Cross Keys by J. T. Kirkland, Almonte barrister, the years when “John D. Taylor with his schoolboy companions, hunting wild pigeons through the Beckwith woods, could peep in through the dismantled windows and see the sagging roof, the rotting floor and the faded plush and tassels of the old pulpit.”
St. James Church Franktown Oldest in Ottawa Valley, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 26 January, 1961
“The Humble Petition of the Inhabitants of Beckwith sheweth that we are desirous of a Place of Divine Worship and not having the means to Erect a suitable Place we humbly beg of your Excellency to take it into your consideration to grant the King’s Store Beckwith for a Church of the Established Religion of England.”
These words related the first steps toward the erection of Lanark County’s oldest existing church building, one which apparently is the oldest structure in Ontario’s Ottawa Valley to have been preserved in substantially its original form and in use as a church.
Franktown Inn Served As Church
The Rev. Michael Harris, M.A., on a winter day in his fourth year in the new Perth settlement of Upper Canada, scanned the eighty-two names attached to the petition that had been circulated among the Anglican men of Beckwith township. To the Lieutenant Governor’s military secretary at York he wrote:
“At the request of the Inhabitants of the Township of Beckwith I forwarded the enclosed petition for His Excellency’s consideration, to request your interests with him to forward so desirable an object as that which the petition contains. I am in the habit of performing Divine Service there once a month, and there is no place suitable for the purpose, therefore am compelled to make use of the Tavern which you will agree with me is not the most proper place.
If His Excellency should grant their petition the people have pledged themselves not only to take care of it but to finish it off for Divine Worship.”
In the centre of the same township the body of emigrants from the Scottish Highlands had their Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Dr. George Buchanan, who in response to their request had arrived from Scotland in the summer of the previous year. Pat Nowlan’s tavern stood on the north side of the present village of Franktown. It already had the distinction of having served as overnight accommodation for a Governor General of Canada and his travelling party as well as for holding Church of England services. As a lesser distinction its owner also had been convicted of selling spirits in illegal quantities at his tavern. Near it in the present village was the King’s Store, a government warehouse from which for several years farming supplies had been issued to new settlers. On the east side of the warehouse an area equaling about the present size of the town of Carleton Place had been surveyed as a town site. It had been portioned out in the past two years in town lots of 25 acres each by Lieut. Colonel James H. Powell, Perth district settlement superintendent. Most of the town lot holders were his Irish compatriots, members of the Church of England.
But the government storehouse in Beckwith was no longer in active use. Neither were the sites and buildings of the government’s main settling establishment in Perth, where the superintendent’s office and supply warehouse stood on opposite corners of Harvey and Gore streets. Six years of military supervision had completed the substantial task of placing the first wave of several thousands of posts-war emigrants and disbanded soldiers as settlers in the woods of Lanark and Carleton counties.
Beckwith’s Anglican Church Founders
Beckwith township settlers who had petitioned in 1823 for the grant of the government building in Franktown for Church of England uses included such names as Austin Allen, George Bailey, John Conboy, Robert and William Davis, several Edwards (George, Thomas, Richard and Francis), James Garland, George, John, Robert and William Griffith, Henry and William Hawkins, Luke and William James, Peter Jones, William Kerfoot and William Kidd. Others were Leaches (Edward, Thomas, Samuel and William), John, Thomas and William Lummox, Phineas Lowe, John and Dr. George Nesbitt; also Nowlans (John, Luke, Manny and Patrick), and John Poole, Peter and William Salter, James Saunders, Stephen and William Tomlinson, William Willis, Allan and William Wilson.
Original holders of rights to the town block lots of the 600 acre site over which Franktown must have been expected to grow had also received 100 acres farm sites elsewhere in the township. They included Thomas Armstrong, William Burrows, John Conboy, Daniel Ferguson, Andrew Hughton, three Nesbitts, four Nowlans, Josiah Moss, Owen McCarthy, Thomas Wickham and others.
Government Store Became Church
Permission to use the government store at Franktown as a temporary church was given at once in March of 1823 by Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. After another three years had passed, the promise of a free grant of ownership of the government building and its cleared six acres of land to the Church of England was obtained from the Lieutenant Governor by the persistent Rev. Michael Harris. From the spacious rectory which he had built in Perth, now the Inderwick residence on Craig street, he wrote to Sir Peregrine’s secretary, Major Hillier of a more ambitious plan for the Beckwith Church:
“Relative to the sale of the lots in this place (Perth) for the purpose of erecting our church in Beckwith, I do not think we could get more than 100lbs for the one that the Office is built on, and as the Store is falling into decay I am of opinion that no more than 50 or 75 at the outside could be got for it.
A short time ago I brought down with me a person to estimate the expense of repairing the Store in Beckwith and fitting it up in a manner suitable for Divine Service. He thought the whole of the repairs would amount to seventy or eighty pounds. He strongly recommended that instead of repairing it we should lay out whatever funds we could collect on a new building, as the money that would be expended on the old one would go far in putting up the walls etc. of a stone Church. I have since been to Beckwith and have had some conversation with the inhabitants of that township on the subject, who now offer to put the whole of the Stone and Lime on the ground if His Excellency will permit the funds to be appropriated to that purpose, and they would much rather turn the old Store into a temporary Parsonage and to have a good substantial place of Worship.
I have therefore made an enquiry of the probable expense and find that if the people make good their proposals of furnishing the stone and lime we will be able to complete the whole for 200lbs. You will therefore confer an infinite obligation on me by your using your interest with His Excellency so that we may have the benefit of the Sums arising from the sale of the two lots. Tho’ I am aware this demand is rather extravagant, still when I consider the benefit likely to accrue from this request to our Church establishments in this part of the Province, I am induced to trespass on Sir Peregrine’s liberality and to request your assistance to further our views.”
A glimpse of monetary values of the times may be had in comparing the estimate of costs of the proposed Beckwith Church with the Rev. Mr. Harris’ own government stipend, which was 200lbs a year.
County’s Oldest Stone Church
The responsive hierarchy at York soon authorized by orders in council the free grant of the government property in Franktown, and also the use of a share of the proceeds of the proposed sales of the government building in Perth, to aid in constructing a suitable building at Franktown for services of the Established Church. The government’s disposal of its Perth storehouse was allocated to providing help for a plan to build a Perth town market house on Cockburn Island ; and when the sale was made in May, 1827, William Morris, the local Member of Parliament, paid 81lbs for the Perth government store property. To get the funds for starting the Beckwith Church building the Rev. Mr. Harris had written in early March to the Lieutenant Governor’s secretary, urging the hastening of the sales:
“Relative to the lots to be sold for the Beckwith Church, if the deeds are not completed I would wish for an authority to sell them as the sleighing is nearly over. Unless we provide the necessary materials now we will not be able to go on with the building till next year. We have already provided the stone and lime, and are now only awaiting the sale of those lots to make the necessary arrangements. The Bishop has promised me one hundred pounds but we cannot touch that till the building is enclosed.”
Eventually Mr. Harris was able to write his Bishop, Charles J. Stewart, second Anglican Bishop (1826-37) of Quebec, saying:
“I take the liberty of writing your Lordship respecting the Beckwith Church. I have got it completely enclosed, with the exception of the windows, which are now ready to be put in. They are being made at this place (Perth). In the meantime we are going on with the inside. In consequence of the roads being bad we are not able to send the windows out.”
Seeking the appointment of a missionary to the Beckwith station, Mr. Harris in a letter of 1827 gives his view of the importance of his area as compared to mission stations reported to be planned at Toronto and St. Catharines :
“From letters I have received from York, I understand that Toronto and St. Catharines are to be opened immediately as mission stations. I should be sorry to remind His Lordship of his promise concerning Beckwith, but I must be allowed to say that, whatever claim both these places may have as to priority of settlement, still in point of church population I will not give in to them, both put together. Besides Beckwith is a station where it is not necessary to build up the church but to preserve that where it is already established.”
The Gospel in Foreign Parts
The Rev. Richard Hart in 1829 was appointed to the Franktown station as Beckwith Township’s first resident Anglican clergyman. He remained until 1833. He is said to have conducted the first Anglican services in Carleton Place. On a visit to Smiths Falls in January, 1833, before a Church of England existed there, he is reported to have preached to upwards of one hundred and fifty people, performed a marriage service and baptized fifteen children. The first Anglican clergyman of the mission of Carleton Place, the Rev. Edward Jukes Boswell, received this appointment in December, 1833, as a “Missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.” Within a year a Carleton Place Anglican Church of substantial size (75 feet by 34 feet) was near completion of its construction at Bell and Edmund Streets. Other Ottawa Valley pioneering Anglican clerics of the 1820’s were the Rev. Mr. Byrne at Richmond and the Rev. Amos Ainslie of Hull, the latter also conducting occasional services at points from Bytown to Pakenham and Ramsay.
The community of Franktown, which developed beside Beckwith’s historically notable Anglican Church, was one of the central points of the transportation of a part of the county’s winter shipments of goods to and from Ottawa and Brockville by bush road “trains.” Soon it was outdistanced in growth by neighbouring villages having advantages of water power and of transportation by water and later by railway. Numbering about a hundred persons by 1850, and 200 in 1870, Franktown’s residents, like those of other county villages of the time, included such trades and business people as innkeepers, tailors and merchants, blacksmiths, carpenters and sawmill workers, plasterers, masons and cabinetmakers, potash, soap and candle makers, broom makers, milliners and dressmakers, tanners, shoemakers and saddlers and regularly two doctors and one or two clergymen.
District Landmark Destroyed
Standing apart from the village’s several remaining most venerable buildings which have survived their busiest days, the old stone church continues to preserve its little-known high rank of age among Ontario’s few church buildings which have remained in use with few structural changes since the eighteen twenties. A lamentable loss of a landmark of pioneer Presbyterianism of the Ottawa Valley has occurred in the recent destruction of the honoured stone walls of the Beckwith Seventh Line Gaelic Kirk of 1832 by a new owner. This loss perhaps may lead to directing a wider deserved recognition to the historical standing of old St. James Church of Franktown, a remaining original monument to the founding fathers of this region of Ontario and to their religious faiths.
80 Buildings Once Erected Here Within A Year’s Time, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 25 August, 1960
About seventy-five years ago, Carleton Place reached the speediest single period of its growth. The present instalment of a summary of events in the town’s youthful years tells briefly of some of the developments that were in the foreground seventy to eighty years ago. It reaches the period of the first childhood recollections of this district’s present elder citizens.
The selection of Carleton Place at his time by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company as a divisional and repair shop point added a third main industry to growing textile and lumber businesses. Other principal manufacturing industries here, notably the making of stoves and machinery and grain milling, were all expanding. Revolutionary discoveries in telephone communication and electric lighting and in new types of industrial machines were being put into use in this area.
Building construction and the number of the community’s residents doubled within about five years. At the end of the decade, Carleton Place, with a population approaching only 4,500, was second in size to Ottawa alone in the Ottawa Valley. On the main line of the new railway to the west coast Carleton Place was the largest community between Montreal and Vancouver with the exception of Winnipeg. While the Carleton Place of later years may be found to have increased in wisdom and prosperity as measured by its way of life, its stature as rated by the conventional yardsticks of population and of total commercial activity has remained with relatively little change.
1880 – The idle Hawthorne woollen factory was bought by James Gillies of Carleton Place from its original owner Abraham Code at a reported price of $16,400.
A one hour strike fro a shorter working day by about fifty men at Peter McLaren’s sawmill was unsuccessful. Working hours continued at thirteen hours a day, from 6 a.m to 7 p.m., and twelve hours on Saturdays.
Lawsuits were under way between the rival sawmill owners here, Boyd Caldwell and Peter McLaren, based on McLaren’s efforts to exclusively control the passage of logs down the Mississippi at High Falls and other points.
The first annual regatta and sports day of the Carleton Place Boating Club was held at Carleton Park (Lake Park), featuring sailing, rowing and canoe races, the Perth band and baseball team, and oarsmen from Brockville and Ottawa. Its evening events on the river in Carleton Place were a promenade concert, an illuminated boat dispaly contest, fireworks and a balloon ascension. The Carleton Place brass band wearing new uniforms rode in a large carriage drawn by four horses to a concert and ball in Newman’s Hall which lasted until morning.
1881 – St. James Anglican Church was rebuilt, the present stone structure replacing a former frame building. The building contractors were William Moffatt and William Pattie. Chairman and secretary of the building committee were Colonel John Sumner and Dr. R. F. Preston. The Rev. G. J. Low succeeded the Rev. G. W. G. Grout before the building was completed.
John Gillies of Carleton Place bought the McArthur woollen mill at the present Bates & Innes site from its first owner Archibald McArthur. The reported price was 40,000. W. H. Wylie, lessee of the McArthur mill, bought the Hawthorne woollen mill from its new owner James Gillies at a price reported as $19,000.
Several parties of Indians were encamped late in the year at the east side of the town and frequented the streets daily. An Indian war dance was held at a local residence.
1882- A new railway station was built at the junction of the two lines here. Exemption from municipal taxation was granted for the C.P.R. workshops being moved to Carleton Place from Brockville and Prescott. Major James C. Poole (1826-1882), Herald editor, predicted the town was “about to enter upon an era of advancement and unparalleled prosperity.”
Boyd Caldwell & Sons river-men, when their log drive was blocked by Peter McLaren’s dam at the foot of Long Lake, cut a passage through the dam under claimed authority of the Ontario Legislature’s Rivers and Streams Act, which had been reenacted after its disallowance by the Dominion Government. The ten thousand logs reached the Carleton Place mill in good condition after having been delayed three years en route. Peter McLaren’s assertions of exclusive river rights which had been rejected by the Ontario Supreme Court were sustained by the Supreme Court of Canada. The Caldwell firm appealed to the Privy Council.
Sawdust had become a local furnace fuel, according to Mr. W. W. Cliff, Central Canadian publisher, who reported : Messrs. Wylie & Co. use about fifteen cartloads per day, the machine shop about four, and Mr. Findlay about one. The sawmills of course regard it as their staff of steam life.
1883 – The Bank of Ottawa opened a branch at Carleton Place, located on Bridge St. near Lake Avenue, opposite the Mississippi Hotel, with John A. Bangs as managaer.
The town’s leading hotel, the Mississippi, was sold to Walter McIlquham, formerly of Lanark, by Napoleon Lavallee at a price reported at $9,400.
In the Mississippi River strife between the two lumbermen whose principal mills were at Carleton Place, the Ontario Rivers and Streams Act was once more disallowed by the Dominion Government under Sir John A. MacDonald and was again introduced by the Ontario Government under Sir Oliver Mowat. The last disallowance held fifty thousand Caldwell logs in the upper Mississippi near Buckshot Lake and forced the Caldwell mill here to remain idle.
The James Poole estate sold the Carleton Place Herald, founded in 1850, to William H. Allen and Samual J. Allen ; and sold the family’s large stone residence at Bridge Street and the Town Line Road to David Gillies, son-in-law of James Poole. William H. Allen continued publication of the Herald for sixty years. David Gillies, original partner and later president of Gillies Brothers Limited of Braeside and member of the Quebec Legislature, maintained his home here until his death in 1926. Its site was the place of residence of six generations of the Poole family.
1884 – Carleton Place became a railway divisional point. A result was an expansion of the town’s population and of its commercial activities. A large railway station addition was undertaken.
The McLaren-Caldwell lumber litigation ended with a Privy Council judgement upholding the Caldwell claims for public rights for navigation of logs throughout the length of the Mississippi River.
To make way for the building of a new flour mill the John F. Cram tannery and wool plant was removed to Campbell Street after fourteen years of operation on Mill Street. Other building operations in addition to house construction included erection of the town’s Roman Catholic Church and a bridge by the Gillies Company at the lower falls. The Council Chamber of the Town Hall was vacated to provide additional classroom accommodation for the Town Hall School. A bylaw authorized the raising of $6,000 to buy a new fire engine for the Ocean Wave Fire Company.
Electric Lights and Telephones
1885 – A telephone system connecting eastern Ontario centres including Carleton Place was established by the Bell Telephone Company. Twenty telephones were installed in this town in the first year, all for business purposes.
A direct current electric lighting system was installed here by the Ball Electric Light Company of Toronto, including five street lights on Bridge Street. The generator was placed by the Gillies firm at the Central Machine Works. It was moved in the following year to a new waterpower installation opposite the west side of the Gillies woollen mill.
On Mill Street a four storey stone mill was built by Horace Brown, joined by a grain elevator to his former flour mill, and was equipped for the new roller process of flour milling.
Working hours for the winter season at the woollen mill of Gillies & Son & Company were from 7 a.m. to 6.15 p.m. with closing time one hour earlier on Saturdays.
1886 – The railway junction and divisional town of Carleton Place was a stopping point for the first through train of the C.P.R. to reach the west coast from Montreal.
The new tannery of John F. Cram and Donald Munroe was destroyed in a fire loss of over $10,000.
Abner Nichols’ planing mill was built at the corner of Lake Avenue and Bridge Street.
Indians who had camped for the winter at Franktown, selling baskets through the district, struck their tents and returned to the St. Regis Reserve.
The May 24th holiday was celebrated by a sports day at Allan’s Point (Lake Park). Its baseball score was Carleton Place Athletics 16, Renfrew 5 ; and a no score lacrosse game was played between Ottawa Metropolitans and Carleton Place. The practice field for the lacrosse and cricket clubs at this time was the picnic grounds of Gillies Grove below the woollen mill.
Canada Lumber Company
1887 – Peter McLaren sold his lumber mill properties at Carleton Place and upper Mississippi timber limits at a price reported as $900,000. The buyers, the McLarens of Buckingham and Edwards of Rockland, formed the Canada Lumber Company. It doubled the mills capacity, with Alexander H. Edwards (1848-1933) as manager here. Peter McLaren three years later was appointed to the Senate, and died at age 88 at Perth in 1919.
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was built on its present Bridge Street site donated by James Gillies, the congregation vacating its previous location in the old stone church building still standing at the corner of William and St. Paul Streets.
A bridge of ironwork on stone piers replaced the wooden bridge across the Mississippi at Bridge Street. A brick and tile manufacturing yard, which operated for about fifteen years, was opened by William Taylor, hardware merchant. A large brick manufacturing business of William Willoughby, building contractor, continued in operation. The Herald office and plant moved to a new brick building at the south side of the site of the present Post Office. A Masonic Temple was built, and a considerable number of residential and other buildings.
Reduced railway fares were granted for the fifth annual musical convention and choral festival of the Carleton Place Mechanics Institute, held in the drill hall at the market square, with guest performers from Boston, Toronto and other points. The Institute’s officers included William Pattie, Dr. R. F. Robertson, Alex C. McLean and John A. Goth.