An asset which the Ontario government and a number of Ontario communities have begun to exploit to greater public advantage in recent years is one which costs relatively little to the taxpayer. It is the publicizing of district history, both as an asset of local value and as a magnet to the tourist.
As one of the longest occupied parts of the province, Eastern Ontario is generously supplied with undeveloped historical attractions for vacationists. The Lanark County area is one which within a few years will pass its one hundred and fiftieth year of settlement. In 1960 this town itself will have completed one hundred and forty years of its life as a community.
The Canadian has arranged to provide for its readers a series of reviews summarizing typical local events of Carleton Place’s first one hundred years. Both for its local interest and as a basis for a possible search of the area’s older sites or events for those most capable of being developed as lures for vacation tourists, the selected annals will seek to recapture some impressions of the town’s earlier public and its people of past generations. This first record of its kind for this area has been prepared by Howard M. Brown of Ottawa, a former resident of Carleton Place who has contributed a number of the Canadian’s local history stories. It will be published in about ten installments.
The present opening installment mentions some of the occurrences of the first decade of settlement in the community founded here and in the two townships which provided its location.
The persons who first built permanent homes at Carleton Place were the families of two emigrants, Edmond Morphy and William Moore. The time was at the half-way mark of an eight year period in which most of the land of Lanark County and of adjoining parts of Carleton County was surveyed and granted for occupation by British emigrants and demobilized soldiers. Three main government settlement offices to serve the area were opened at Perth in 1816, at Richmond in 1818 and at Lanark in1820. For its first fifty years Carleton Place, now extending also into Ramsay township, remained without separate incorporation and was a part of the township of Beckwith for all municipal purposes.
Nomadic native Indians continued to hunt, trap and fish at some of their favoured sites in the neighbourhood of the early settlers. Later generations of Indians camped nearby from time to time as sellers of their furs or handicraft products. The nightly howling of wolves or of an occasional prowling lynx could be heard at times near farm clearings or at the village borders, providing a disturbing serenade for timid persons and owners of unprotected young livestock. These and other reminders of the not far distant wilderness remained during many years of pioneer life here.
The Moore and Morphy land grants of 1819 included the greater part of the present built up area of the town of Carleton Place. The Moore farmsteads (located to William and his sons William and John) extended on both sides of Moore Street and the Franktown Road from Lake Avenue south to Highway 15. In width they ran west from Park Avenue to about Caldwell Street. The Morphy area (granted to Edmond and his sons, William, John and James) occupied the central part of the town from Lake Avenue north to the Town Line Road, and extended along both sides of the river from about the downstream or eastern side of the town’s present limits to Hawthorne Avenue and Moffatt Street. Town streets which appear to be named for members of the Morphy family include William, George, Morphy, James, Edmund, Thomas and Franklin Streets. Other Beckwith settlers of 1819 to 1822 whose 100 acre farm grants extended within the town’s present limits were Robert Johnston, James Nash, Thomas Burns, Philip Bayne, Manny Nowlan and George Willis.
Birth of the Town
1820 – the birth of the town came about a year after the first farm clearings were made upon its site. It came in the year 1820, when the construction of a grist mill and saw mill and the local business activities of several tradesmen began. These forgotten first local business men in addition to Hugh Boulton are recorded as being William Moore, blacksmith ; one Robert Barnett, cooper – said to have begun that once essential local trade carried on later by such pioneer townsmen as Napoleon Lavallee and Edmond and Maurice Burke – ; and Alexander Morris, innkeeper and trader, whose Mill Street tavern was operated by Manny Nowlan after the 1829 death of its first owner.
The new district gained its first member of parliament in 1820. William Morris of Perth was elected by the vote of a majority of the 250 settlers who had been enfranchised by the issue of the patents for their land grants. The numbers of adult male settlers within the principal township of the new district in 1820 were, in round numbers, Bathurst 400, Drummond 350, Beckwith 300 and Goulbourn 300.
Ramsay Township Opened
1821 – Settlement to the north of the infant community of Morphy’s Falls followed when the government in 1821 opened Ramsay township for occupation by part of a large group emigration of Lanarkshire weavers and other Scottish and Irish emigrants. Among them, those taking land near the site of Carleton Place in 1821 included John and Donald McLean, William Hamilton (1794-1882), John McArton, John McQuarrie, Hugh McMillan, John McLaughlin, John Griffith (1749-1852, died age 103), and William and Stuart Houston. Proceeding toward Appleton there were William Wilson, Caton Willis (1795-1869), Thomas Patterson, James Wilkie (1791-1862), Robert and William Baird, Robert Struthers, John Fummerton and others. Among many other Ramsay township settlers of 1821 were those of such family names as Bryson (including the later Hon. George Bryson, then age 6), Bain, Beatie, Black, Carswell, Chapman, Drynan, Duncan, Dunlop, Gemmill and Gilmour ; Kirkpatrick, Lang, Lowrie, Mansell, Moir, McDonald, McFarlane, McGregor, McPherson and Neilson ; Pollock, Robertson, Smith, Snedden, Steele, Stevenson, Stewart, Warren, Wallce, Yuill and Young. The journey to Ramsay township from the North Lanark settlement depot at Lanark village was made by some of the 1821 settlers by boat down the Clyde
Militia and Clergy
1822- A militia regiment of eligible settlers of Beckwith and Ramsay townships was formed in 1822. Its first officers, commissioned under authority of the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, included senior officers of the Perth area and Ramsay township residents William Baird (Appleton), James Smart (9th concession) and William Toshack (Bennie’s Corners). Beckwith township settlers among its captains, lieutenants and ensigns in 1822 were Thomas Glendinning (Glen Isle), John Cram (1795-1881), Robert Ferguson, Duncan Fisher (11th conc.), William Moore (Carleton Place), Dr. George Nesbitt (Franktown), Israel Webster (1st conc.), and junior officers John Dewar. Alex Dewar Jr., Daniel Ferguson Jr., John Fulford, Peter McDougall, Peter McGregor, John Nesbitt and Manny Nowlan.
The Rev. Dr. George Buchanan (1761-1835), Presbyterian minister and medical doctor, came with a large family in 1822 as the first resident clergyman for the township of Beckwith and Carleton Place. A log building centrally located in the 7th concession served as his church. At Franktown occasional Church of England services were conducted by the Rev. Michael Harris of Perth, at first in a tavern and after 1822 in the government warehouse, until a church was built and a resident Anglican missionary, the Rev. Richard Hart, came in 1829.
1823 – a second notable addition to settlement in Ramsay township, including locations near Carleton Place, was made by a southern Ireland group migration in 1823. They came chiefly from the County of Cork. Selection of these settlers in Ireland was superintended by Peter Robinson (1785-1838), Upper Canada government official, who accompanied the emigrants to Ramsay township and remained here for a time to arrange their establishment. Their inland journey from Prescott was by way of Franktown and Carleton Place to their settlement depot set up at the site of Almonte. Among many others were the Thompson, Teskey, Dulmage, Corkery, Foley, O’Brien, Haley, Nagle and Young families. One of the group, Francis W. K. Jessop, later of Perth, was for some time a brewer, distiller and early land owner at Carleton Place.
Casualties among local settlers in 1823 included John Hays, an Irish immigrant carried over the falls here while attempting to cross the river by canoe ; and James Craig and Crawford Gunn, Scottish settlers killed while felling trees at their Ramsay township farmsites.
1824- The Ballygiblin riots of 1824, named for the Cork County place of origin of some of the Irish newcomers of the previous year, were a series of public disturbances given widespread and sensational publicity in Canada and reported in newspapers in the United Kingdom. The riots began at a militia muster at Carleton Place, and were incited in part by objectionable conduct on the part of one of the local officers, Captain Glendinning. In a one-sided shooting episode in the first day of fighting here, several of the Irish settlers were wounded. The affrays ended in a misguided raid on the Irish settlement headquarters at Almonte by a large force of militiamen and others, sponsored by district authorities of Perth. One of the Irish was killed by gunfire of the raiders.
At this time the population of the present province of Ontario had reached a total of only 150,000. This area was its northern fringe of established settlement.
Schools and Stores
1825- A school house at Carleton Place is said to have been established in 1825 near the corner of Bridge Street and the Town Line Road, with James Kent as teacher. Legislative provision for schools for the district was made by the provincial Parliament in 1823.
Caleb Strong Bellows (1806-1863) came to Carleton Place in 1825, opening a general retail store in the former public premises of William Loucks. Its location was on Bridge Street opposite the present Town Hall. His shop also was licenced in 1825 to sell spirituous liquors, as was the nearby Mill Street inn of Alexander Morris.
1826- The building of the Rideau Canal provided a welcome infusion of currency in the local economy, employing contractors and a number of workmen of this district over a six year period. Among the contractors was James Wylie (1789-1854), Almonte merchant, later a member of the Legislative Council of Canada. A village to be called Bytown was established near the mouth of the Rideau River in 1826 to serve the building of the canal.
Churches and Distilleries
1827- In Franktown the building of the stone structure of St. James Anglican Church, still in use as such, was begun with the assistance of government gifts of money and land.
Caleb S. Bellows in 1827 built a distillery at Carleton Place, operated for a few years by Francis Jessop and later by others. James McArthur (1767-1836) also was a licenced distiller in 1827. His Beckwith township distillery was located in the 7th concession at his farm near the Presbyterian church, where the same business was continued through the eighteen thirties and forties by Peter McArthur (1803-1884).
1828- Robert Bell (1807-1894), a resident of Carleton Place for sixty-five years and a leading pioneer figure of the town and district in public and business life, came in 1828 or 1829 to Carleton Place from Perth. He first established a general mercantile business here with the assistance of his younger brother James and in association with the new business of William and John Bell, merchants of Perth. Before Confederation he served for some thirteen years as a member of Parliament. James Bell (1817-1904) continued in business in Carleton Place until becoming County Registrar in 1851.
The district gained its first weekly newspaper in 1828 when the Bathurst Independent Examiner, predecessor of the Perth Courier, began publication. In this year there was a failure of the wheat crop, a serious event for many families.
1829- The name Carleton Place came into use about 1829 as a new name for this community, until then known as Morphy’s Falls and often misnamed Murphy’s Falls. The new name was taken from Carleton Place, a location in the city of Glasgow.
The Ramsay and Lanark Circulating Library, the first community library in this immediate neighbourhood and the second in the county, was formed in 1829 by farmers of the area between Carleton Place and Clayton. It continued in operation for over twenty-five years.
In the tenth year of settlement at Carleton Place the teachers of the 120 children attending the Beckwith township’s four schools, including the village schools at Franktown and Carleton Place, were John Griffith, James Kent, Daniel McFarlane and Alexander Miller. In Ramsay township, with four schools and 105 pupils, the teachers of 1829 were David Campbell, Arthur Lang, Finlay Sinclair and John Young.