SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-THREE

Making Charcoal in Pits Once Town Attraction

Carleton Place Canadian, 28 February, 1963

By Howard Morton Brown

 

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

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

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

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

This is Sid Annable’s story:

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

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

LENGTHY PROCESS

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

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

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

BONFIRE ENTERTAINMENT

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

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

 

CHARCOAL SALES

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

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

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

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SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK EIGHTEEN

8 H.P. Ford Was Bought By Findlays – First Local Car

The Carleton Place Canadian, 15 September, 1960

By Howard Morton Brown

 

Some of the local events of fifty to sixty years ago in the Carleton Place area are recalled in the present section of a continued story summarizing the history of this town’s early days.

This was the time which saw both the heyday of the Empire on which the sun never set and the end of the Victorian era.  It opened to the martial air of The British Grenadiers, with Canadian soldiers on active service in South Africa, and closed on a modern theme with such developments as the motor car and electricity on their way towards changing the ways of life of half the world.

In the first year of the present century Canadian soldiers, including several volunteers from Carleton Place, were in South Africa serving in the Boer War.  Some of the present century’s great changes in living conditions had their start in these years.  Electricity began to be used as a growing source of power instead of mainly for lighting and communication equipment.  While annual local horse shows were being held the first automobiles appeared on the town’s streets.  Business and social life began to have a greater resemblance to conditions of the present.

Among the towns of the Ottawa Valley, Carleton Place, with its population reduced to 4,000 at the opening of the century, had been outdistanced in size by the growth of Smiths Falls and Pembroke, each of which had attained a population of about 5,000.  The brief views of local scenes and events which follow are based on news reports of the two Carleton Place weekly newspapers in the years from 1900 to 1909.

South African War

1900 – To supply serge for British army uniforms the Canada Woollen Mills expanded its operations here at the Gillies and Hawthorne mills. 

Local talent presented the Temple of Fame, an historical pageant.  The town had a day of enthusiastic celebrations when news of the Relief of Ladysmith came from South Africa.

Abner Nichols & Son brought their season’s log drive down the lake to their newly opened sawmill at the riverside on Flora Street; while two drives of logs, ties and telegraph poles were reaching the mill operated by Williams, Edwards & Company at the dam.  A new branch of the Union Bank of Canada was in operation in Carleton Place, in addition to the longer established branch of the Bank of Ottawa.

The Carleton Place Canoe Club was reorganized as a racing association and joined the new international canoe association.  A district grouping to include Ottawa, Brockville, Aylmer, Britannia and Carleton Place clubs was planned.  This town’s club ordered its first war canoe.

Peter Salter bought and reopened the Carleton House, the oldest two storey stone building in the town.  He renamed it the Leland Hotel.

Findlay’s Foundry Rebuilt

1901 – Findlay Brothers large new stove foundry of brick construction was built on land sold by the Canada Lumber Company.

The McDonald & Brown woolen mill at Mill and Judson Streets was continued in operation by John Brown on the retirement of John McDonald.

In the first local celebration of Labour Day the moulders and machinists unions held a sports day in Gillies Grove near the lower woollen mill, with football, baseball and lacrosse games and track and field events.

William H. Hooper, who had returned to Ottawa from the South African War, bought Charles C. Pelton’s Carleton Place photographic business.

A Carleton Place firemen’s demonstration was attended by the fire companies from Renfrew, Arnprior, Lanark, Perth and Smiths Falls, the Ottawa Nationals baseball team and the Perth Crescents lacrosse team.  Among its other sports events in Gillies Grove were hose reel races, tug of war contests, a hub and hub race and tossing the caber.  A parade included the fire brigades, decorated floats, and the Town Council and citizens in carriages.  A massed band uniting the citizens’ brass and silver bands of Pembroke, Smiths Falls and Carleton Place marched through the town in an evening parade, playing The British Grenadiers.  Officers of  the Carleton Place band included leader Joseph McFadden and secretary James Edwards.

About sixty neighbours helped in the raising of a barn of forty feet height at the farm of John McArton in the sixth concession of Ramsay near Carleton Place.

With Robert C. Patterson, barrister, as mayor, the town bought a twelve ton $3,000 steam road roller.

Queen Victoria’s long and illustrious reign ended early in 1901 and Edward VII became King.  At Ottawa the Duke and Duchess of York – the future King George V and Queen Mary – witnessed a war canoe race of Ontario and Quebec canoe clubs including Carleton Place.  South African War service medals were presented and a statue of the late Queen was unveiled on Parliament Hill.

Shanty Horses

1902 – The closed Carleton Place sawmills and upper Mississippi reserve dams of the Canada Lumber Company were bought by H. Brown & Sons for water conservation and power development uses.

The Canadian Canoe Association held its annual regatta at Lake Park during two days of high winds, with over two hundred visiting paddlers present from clubs of Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Smiths Falls and Brockville.  The mile course, from Nagle’s Shore to about the Lake Park steamer dock, was measured in the previous winter on the ice.

A railway bridge of steel construction on stone piers replaced the former railway bridge across the Mississippi at Carleton Place.

At the Queens and Leland hotel yards, agents were hiring teams of horses in December for winter work at Ottawa Valley lumber shanties.

 

Two Mills Closed

1903 – The Gillies and Hawthorne woollen mills – recently working on overtime hours with 192 employees, after six years of improvements under the ownership of Canada Woollen Mills Limited – were closed.  The reason was stated to be loss of Canadian markets to British exporters of tweeds and worsteds.  The company went into bankruptcy.

Twenty miles of toll roads were bought by Lanark County and freed of tolls.

For the killing of a foundry employee by stabbing during a week-end drunken quarrel, an elderly resident of Carleton Place was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a three year term of imprisonment in the Kingston penitentiary.

Carleton Place curlers, with William Baird and Dr. D. A. Muirhead as skips, won the Lanark County Curling League cup.

Town Park

1904 – The Caldwell sawmill property between Lake Avenue and the river was bought by the town and, after consideration for industrial uses, was reserved for a town park.

Sir Wilfred Laurier addressed a Carleton Place meeting on behalf of T. B. Caldwell, successful North Lanark candidate for Parliament.

An eight horsepower Ford was bought by Findlay Brothers as the first automobile owned in Carleton Place.  It was the local harbinger of great changes in transportation and in ways of life, comparable to the results of railway construction of fifty years earlier.

Street Lighting

1905 – Carleton Place street lighting was improved under a ten year contract, with introduction of a year-round all night service and erection of 150 street lights to supplement the arc lamp system.

Use of the Town Park was opened by the visit of a three ring circus with a thirty cage menagerie, a twelfth of July celebration attended by 5,000 out of town visitors, and a lacrosse game between Renfrew and Carleton Place teams at the newly built grandstand and fenced athletic grounds. 

Car Casualty

1906 – A fire at Gillies Engine Foundry and Boat Works destroyed the stone building’s two top storeys and a number of completed motor launches.  Work was resumed by some twenty employees. 

A mica-splitting industry of the General Electric Company was being carried on in J. R. McDiarmid’s Newman Hall at the corner of Bridge and William Streets.  Gardiner’s Creamery was built on Mill Street.  Concrete sidewalks were being laid on many town streets. 

Thousands of European immigrants were passing through Carleton Place weekly on their way to western Canada.  An exhibition of moving pictures was held in the Town Hall by the Salvation Army in aid of its work for assistance of immigrants.

For causing the death of his brother in a drunken quarrel in a motor boat near Lake Park, a local resident pleaded guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

The first car fatality in Carleton Place occurred when Samuel A. Torrance’s automobile collided with a locomotive at the railway station crossing.  One of his passengers was killed. 

The first of a series of annual horse shows was held at the Town Park.

Bates & Innes Mill

1907 – Bates and Innes Co. Limited bought and equipped the former Gillies Woollen Mill as a knitting mill.  A Quebec company, the Waterloo Knitting Co. Ltd., similarly re-opened the Hawthorne Woollen Mill.

The Carleton Place Canoe Club won the Canadian war canoe championship and other races at the year’s Canadian Canoe Association meet, held at Montreal.

Mississippi lumbering continued on a reduced scale.  A Lanark Era spring report said:  – The Nichols drive on the Clyde parted company here with Charlie Hollinger’s logs at the Caldwell booms, and swept its way over the dam to await the coming of the Mississippi sawlogs.  The gang folded their tents and rolled away up to Dalhousie Lake where the rear of the drive floats.  It will take about two weeks to wash the mouth of the Clyde, and then the whole bunch will nose away over the Red Rock and on to Carleton Place.  While going through Lanark some of the expert drivers did a few stunts for Lanark sightseers.  Joe Griffiths ran the rapids on a cedar pole just big enough to make a streak on the water.  The Hollinger logs were retained at the Caldwell mill, where they are now being rapidly manufactured into lumber.

Street Traffic Rides

1908 – A Bridge Street runaway accident took the life of Archibald McDonnell, aged 77, son of one of Beckwith township’s original few settlers of 1816.

Spring floods burst the old lumber company millpond dam and two flumes at Carleton Place.  Users of Mississippi River water power united to plan the building of retaining dams at headwater locations.

George H. Findlay was mayor, W. E. Rand, M.A. was High School principal and principal of the public schools was Reg. Blaisdell.

Roller Skating

1909 – Bates & Innes knitting mill, after making waterpower improvements, began running night and day with about 150 employees.  The Hawthorne knitting mill was closed by reason of financial difficulties, and its operating company was reorganized as the Carleton Knitting Co. Ltd.

Construction of a hydro electric power plant was begun by H. Brown & Sons at the former site of the Canada Lumber Company mills, after several years of preparation of the riverbed including tailrace excavation and building of a concrete millpond dam.

A roller skating rink with a new skating floor was re-opened at the militia drill hall on the market square.

J. W. Bengough, noted Canadian cartoonist, entertained a Town Hall audience with his skill, making such sketches of local celebrities as Reeve William Pattie at his desk, Dr. J. J. McGregor extracting a horses’ tooth, Arthur Burgess in his automobile, William Miller in a horse deal, and Tom Bolger with his hotel bus at the railway depot.

 

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Liquor in Carleton Place before Prohibition in 1921

 

Liquor Once So Strong Fumes Blew Apart Barrel

Carleton Place Canadian, April 17, 1958

By Howard Morton Brown

 

Stories of less commendable features of Lanark County’s nineteenth century social life are found accompanying records of the pioneer progress of the county.  Among these was the liquor problem, frequently a controversial combination of poverty and alcohol.  Some of its aspects, as seen and reported by weekly newspaper editors of this district, are reproduced here from the so-called good old days.

Social Problem

Licenced or unlicenced bars and other private sources of liquor supplies were among the ordinary features of community life throughout the century dating to the World War of 1914-1918.  They carried on a flourishing business in every village or town, and once in taverns at strategically located country crossroad points.  Examples were those in the “stirring little village” of Carleton Place, appraised in a traveller’s “Sketches by the Way”, in 1841 as “more taverns I think than are necessary for comfort or accommodation, numbering about five or six”.

Effects of excessive consumption of alcohol became a nineteenth century social problem.  Commonly caused or aggravated by other social conditions, it appears to have been a conspicuous contributor to crime and to other broader social losses.  Local temperance societies were formed as early as about 125 years ago to combat its evils.  At the outset of settlement at Carleton Place the Ballygiblin Riots of 1824 – joined in the name of law and order by participants of the areas from Perth to Almonte, with gunfire casualties including loss of a life – had been sparked by a drunken military Donnybrook on Mill Street in Morphy’s Falls.

Drunken Bipeds

 

A similar scene, checked at its onset, is found in James Poole’s press report of the next generation’s Spring Fair Day of 1852 at Carleton Place:

“The Spring Fair was held at Carleton Place last Tuesday.  Very indifferent Milch cows brought 20 pounds.  There was an average stock of drunken bipeds in the village, some of whom were under eighteen years.  The day was finished with one of those party fights between Orangemen and Catholics, which have been the disgrace and ruin of Ireland and which occasionally break out among her sons in this land of their adoption.  We know not what length their passions would have carried them had they not been checked by the prompt and decisive action of Mr. Robert Bell, who was called there by the uproar, where there were about fifty actually engaged, and the whole crowd which filled the street were fast giving way to their passions.”

Explosion

 

Among other less typical and therefore newsworthy incidents of the liquor trade, a classic barroom news item is one recorded in the July 12th  Carleton Place Herald of the summer of 1860, reported from the village of Clayton:

“An accident happened at Clayton on Monday last by which a young man named Andrew Waugh came near losing his life, and may serve as a caution against similar occurrences.  Accident happened at the Hotel of Mrs. Sutherland.  A newly emptied high-wines barrel was turned out in the morning and stood on end outside the barroom door.  In the afternoon the young man, who is the bar-keeper in the hotel was sitting on it and took out a match to light a pipe for another individual.  The fire ignited with the gas or steam of the alcohol escaping out of the tap-hole of the barrel and caused it to explode with a terrible cannon-like report, pitching the young man and the barrel a considerable distance out on the street and severely burning one of his hands.  Had not the lower end of the barrel burst out the consequences might have been serious.”

Tribunal

 

Alleged dispensing of liquor in proceedings of a junior court of justice at Carleton Place became the theme of an 1858 editorial onslaught by the town’s prohibitionist editor (Herald, July 22, 1858):

“Whatever notions of respect we may hitherto have felt for magistrates as peace officers of Her Majesty and the dispensers of justice among the people, we can entertain nothing but the most profound contempt for a tribunal of Just-asses who sat in this village on the 19th instant.  The first case tried was that of a woman who threatened to murder a boy about fifteen years of age who, as she stated, said something prejudicial to her character.  The case was clearly proved but the magistrates, one of whom seemed more like counsel employed by the defence, insisted on settling the case.

A decanter of liquor was immediately placed on the table in front of the justices who helped themselves liberally, and invited the parties partake freely.  At this stage we left the courtroom, completely disgusted with the proceedings.  The second case was that of some little boys who had climbed a fence for the purpose of eating green peas, and were brought before the Solomons.  We were not present but have been told the witnesses were sworn on Wesley’s Hymns, the magistrates being so tight that they probably did not perceive the difference.”

Syrup Labels

 

A period of restriction of sale of alcoholic beverages, imposed in Lanark County in the 1870’s under the Dunkin Temperance Act, was ended for this county in 1879.  Its suspension was reported by editor James C. Poole (Herald, June 18, 1879):

“Hotels – The hotels throughout the county are again in full swing, though to be candid they “swung” just as freely while the Dunkin Act was in force.  Our genial landlords can now remove the syrup labels off their brandy bottles.”

Lanark and Renfrew hotel keepers two years later were found getting together to raise the prices of meals and liquor.  As reported in Carleton Place, “The hotel keepers of this section held a largely attended meeting at Arnprior, and unanimously agreed on raising the price of liquor to ten cents a glass, and meals to thirty-five cents.”  Similar liquor prices seem to have prevailed for many years, as suggested by a 1905 report from Brockville, relating that “Brockville hotel men have combined to raise the price of liquor dispensed over the bar.  Five cent drinks will hereafter be ten cents.”

Missing Tanglefoot

 

Editor J. C. Poole’s characteristic version of a Carleton Place liquor enforcement case of 1881 was published by him under the title “Suction”:

“A few weeks ago complaint was made before Licence Inspector Manning of certain infringements of the law.  After examination of the houses and premises of Messrs. George Warren and James Lee, a considerable number of bottles supposed to contain ‘crooked whiskey’ were seized and said to be confiscated.  The matter was published in the papers at the time.  Praise was given to the local constables for at least ferreting out and assisting in disposing of the ‘tanglefoot’ by placing it under lock and key in the building which was at one time known as the Town Hall and Lock-up, but which has since been dignified with the name of an educational institution.  For several years this building was presided over by a most worthy and efficient constable by the name of Alvin Livingston.  Mr. Livingston was deposed and the office filled by the favorites of the Reeve and Council, named Donald Stewart, musician, and James Nolan, carpenter, bona fide residents of the ‘South Side’!

Our reporter saith that the Inspector with the aid of his assistants placed in the Lock-up the large amount of twenty-seven dozen of bottled ale and porter and, by way of spice, two large jars of whiskey; and that every drop of this large stock of stimulants has, by thirsty palates or otherwise, been drawn through the massive stone walls of the lock-up building!  We do not wish to be understood to be attaching any blame at all to the worthy inspector, although the placing of such a powerful temptation in the way of his assistants may seem extraordinary.  At or near the close of the picnic, which neighbouring observers say was kept up for several days in jolly style, the lock disappeared from the door, as if pried off.”

Bar Room Conditions

 

Seasons of lumbering prosperity in the twenty-five years before 1900 provided their share of unconscious human figures laid out on Bridge Street in Carleton Place on Saturday nights.  A local editorial verdict was that the accompanying prevalence of drunkenness was both disgusting at times and a disgrace to the town.  Such penal enforcement of liquor licencing as prevailed from time to time seems to have been aimed largely at support of the local and other revenues gained from licence fees.  Unlicenced production and sale included such arrangements as those reported to the Kingston Whig from one of the small up-river lumbering centres in the Mississippi watershed, on the Clyde River and the K. and P. Railway.

 

Licenced Vendors

(Herald, Sept. 10, 1894):

“Although we have no licenced hotel, for some little time ‘bug juice’ has flowed freely.  The ‘bhoys’ do not have to go down lanes, through long dark corridors or spell such a long word as Constantinople to get it, either.  We have a good corn and potato crop.”

Licenced liquor vendors in Lanark County when the time of the brass-railed open bar was nearing its end included, in South Lanark in 1903, nine hotels and one shop at Smiths Falls, seven hotels and shops at Perth, in Beckwith township two hotels at Franktown and one at Lake Park, in Drummond township a hotel at Innisville and one at Ferguson’s Falls, and a hotel at Maberley in South Sherbrooke.  North Lanark in 1900 had twenty-three licenced outlets, including eight hotels and two shops at Carleton Place.  A change in public opinion leading to stricter licencing and prohibition of sale by local option vote – carried in 1910 at points including Almonte, Pakenham, Ramsay and Beckwith and in 1916 at Carleton Place – brought the final trend noted in 1914 in the Carleton Place Herald, April 21, 1914:

“North Lanark is gradually becoming dry.  Only seven applications came before the Licence Commissioners at their meeting here this morning, all for hotel licences.  Six of these are in Carleton Place, the seventh is in Lavant.  The latter was renewed.  The applications of W. C. McIlquham, M. Doyle and Mr. Lambertus were granted.  Mr. Rothwell was given three months notice for improvements, and at an adjourned meeting the applications of E. White and M. Morris were refused.  The Commissioners are Messrs. Cole of Almonte, Howe of Pakenham, and Berryman of Carleton Place.”

In the post-war depression of 1921, the last step in prohibition of alcoholic beverages in Ontario was taken when by referendum the previously permitted importation into the province was barred under the Canada Temperance Act.

Riverside Park Site of Carleton Place Graveyard

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.

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.

Working Hours

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.

Indian Camp

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.

Railway Shops

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.

River Rights

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.

Divisional Point

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.

Junction Town

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.

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Victoria School Was First Town Hall in 1872, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 11 Aug, 1960

The Carleton Place scene of the Eighteen Seventies is reviewed in the present section of a continued account. 

The larger industrial plants opened here in the Eighteen Seventies were the McArthur and Hawthorne Woollen Mills and the Gillies Machine Works.  Others included a lime kiln, which still remains in operation, and two planning mills.  As a village of 1,200 persons the municipality of Carleton Place was first incorporated in 1870.  A town hall was built and was converted within a few years to help meet the public school needs of an enlarged population.  A new high school remained unused during several years of municipal dispute.  A great fire destroyed a lumber yard stock valued at over $125,000.  A lengthy business depression placed severe limits on the country’s prosperity.  Western migration of the district’s sons continued, and began to reach the new province of Manitoba.

Building Boom

1870 – Carleton Place was first incorporated as a separate municipality by a county bylaw effective in November 1870.  Its future growth was assured when at the same time the Canada Central Railway line was opened for use between Ottawa and Carleton Place, connecting here with the Brockville and Ottawa Railway Company’s tracks which extended from Brockville to Arnprior and Sand Point.

Building of the first stone structure of the present Bates and Innes Woollen Mill was begun by Archibald McArthur and was completed a year later.  The central building was five stories in height.  Other building construction included the present Central Public School on Bridge Street, later enlarged ; the present Queen’s Hotel, also later enlarged, built for Duncan McIntosh of Perth, father of the late Dr. Duncan H. McIntosh of Carleton Place ; and about fifty residences.  The Carleton Place grist and oatmeal mills were taken over from William Bredin by Horace Brown (1829-1891), in partnership with W. C. Caldwell of Lanark, and were further equipped to manufacture wheat flour.

In the Fenian Raids of 1870 the Carleton Place Rifle Company, which had become No. 5 Company, 41st Regiment, served on duty at Cornwall under Captain John Brown of Carleton Place, and numbered fifty-three of all ranks.  It included the regimental band under Bandmaster J. C. Bonner, proprietor of a local music store.  Lieut J. Jones Bell (1845-1931) of the Carleton Place Company was serving at this time in the Red River Rebellion expedition.

Local Elections

1871 – Elected officials of this newly incorporated community were chosen in January 1871.  Those elected were Reeve Robert Crampton, general merchant, and Councillors Patrick Galvin, tailor ; John Graham, wagon maker ; Dr. William Wilson, surgeon ; and William Kelly, innkeeper.  School trustees elected were James Gillies, lumber manufacturer ; William Taylor, hardware merchant ; William Bredin, mill owner ; Patrick Struthers, general merchant and postmaster ; and Allan McDonald, woollen manufacturer.  Other officers were James Poole, clerk ; James Gillies, treasurer ; James McDiarmid, assessor ; William Patterson, tax collector ; Joseph McDiarmid, assessor ; William Patterson, tax collector ; Joseph Bond, constable and road commissioner ; William Morphy and Brice McNeely Jr., pound keepers ; and Finlay McEwen and John Brown, auditors.

Town Hall

1872 – The first Carleton Place Town Hall was built on Edmund Street and opened in 1872.  On the ground floor of the two storey stone building was the council chamber, a jail and caretaker’s living quarters.  The second storey served as a hall for public gatherings.

James Docherty built the Moffatt planing mill on the former Fuller foundry property at the south shore of the river.  In the McArthur cloth factory (now Bates & Innes) ten new looms were added.  Napoleon Lavallee removed his hotel business to his large new stone building at the corner of Lake Avenue and Bridge Streets.

John G. Haggart (1836-1913), Perth miller, was elected member of Parliament for South Lanark.  He continued to hold that seat for a record period of forty-one years and was a member of several conservative cabinets.

 

 

Lumbering

1873 – A lumber industry change in 1873 was the sale by John Gillies to Peter McLaren of control of the Carleton Place sawmill and Mississippi timber limits of the Gillies and McLaren firm.  The Gillies interests of Carleton Place bought sawmills at Braeside, together with some 250 square miles of timber limits at a price reported as $195,000.

Gambling

1874 – Members of the Carleton Place Council were John Graham, reeve, and William Taylor, John F. Cram, Dr. William Wilson and James Morphy.  Public billiard and pool tables were prohibited.  The next year’s Council permitted their operation under municipal licence.  A press report stated the Council of Carleton Place have passed a by-law prohibiting the keeping of billiard, bagatelle and pigeon-hole tables for public resort in that village, under a penalty of not less than $25.  The reasons for this stringent step as set forth in the preamble to the bylaw are contained in the following paragraph :  As gambling is a vice of a very aggravated nature, which encourages drunkenness, profane swearing and frequently causes the ruin of both body and soul of those addicted to it, and not infrequently murder, it should therefore be discountenanced and suppressed within the Corporation of Carleton Place.

The famous P. T. Barnum’s Circus was billed to appear here.  Claiming such attractions as the only giraffes and captive sea lions in America, Fiji cannibals, a talking machine and over a thousand men and horses, its announcement said :

P. T. Barnum’s Great Travelling World Fair, Museum, Menagerie, Caravan Circus and Colossal Exposition of all Nations will pitch its Mighty Metropolis of twenty Centre Pole Pavilions at Carleton Place on Wednesday, July 15 and at Perth on Thursday, July 16.

New Growth

1874 – A volunteer fire brigade, the Ocean Wave Fire Company, was organized at Carleton Place.  The municipality bought a hand operated pumper fire engine for $1,000 and a $200 hose reel cart.  Members of the committee appointed by Council to organize the brigade were William Patterson, William Kelly, A. H. Tait, James Shilson and Abner Nichols.  The new brigade’s initiation to fire fighting was the McLachlan lumber mills fire at Arnprior.

In the first stages of a five year business depression two new industries were started here.  They came with the building of the three storey stone structure of the Gillies Machine Works on the north side of the river at the lower falls, and the opening of the four storey stone woollen factory of Abraham Code, M.P.P., later known as the Hawthorne Woollen Mill.  Mr. Code was a member of the Ontario Legislature for South Lanark from 1869 to 1879.

Famous Struggle

1875 – A ten year losing battle was begun by Peter McLaren (1831-1919), owner of the largest lumber mill at Carleton Place, for monopoly controls over the navigation of logs on the Mississippi River.  It was fought between the government of Ontario and the Dominion, by physical force between opposing gangs of men on the river, and in the courts of Canada and England.

In the opening rounds of 1875, men of the Stewart and Buck firm brought their drive down the river to the Ottawa after cutting a passage through a McLaren boom at the Ragged Chute in Palmerston, and a twenty foot gap through a closed McLaren dam at High Falls in North Sherbrooke.  Boyd Caldwell & Son, which later carried this famous struggle for public navigation rights to a successful conclusion, was then employing seventy-five men on a ten hour day at its Carleton Place mill managed by William Caldwell.

Our Volume One

1876 – This newspaper was founded in January 1876, under the sponsorship of William Bredin of Carleton Place, with William W. Cliff of Napanee as editor and publisher.  There were 1,800 persons living in Carleton Place.

When adverse winds delayed timber drives for several days in the lower Mississippi, some 24,000 sticks of square timber lay in the river between Appleton and Almonte at the end of June.  Owners were the Caldwell, McLaren, Mackie, Campbell and Buck & Stewart firms. 

A Saturday vacation starting date for the province’s public schools was advanced from July 15 to July 7.  The Minister of Education addressed a meeting of the county’s school teachers here.  Carleton Place had five public and two high school teachers.

 

Local Taxes

1877 – The McArthur woollen mill, equipped to operate by waterpower of the lower falls, was leased and reopened by William H. Wylie when the country’s business depression became less severe.

The six largest assessments for local taxes were those of the railway company, Peter McLaren, lumber manufactuer ; Archibald McArthur, woollen mill owner ; Boyd Caldwell, lumber manufacturer ; Abraham Code, M.P.P., woollen manufacturer ; and Horace Brown, grain miller.  A tax exemption for the machine works of Gillies, Beyer & Company continued in effect.  The tax rate was 14 ½ mills.

O’Brien’s Circus visited Carleton Place, Perth and Smiths Falls, with its transportation provided by horses and two hundred mules.  Barnum’s Circus showed at Brockville and Ottawa.

High School

1878 – A separate High School of stone construction was built on High Street.  During the course of bitter and widespread disputes and litigation, based on a division of business and real estate interests between the north and south halves of the town, the new school, though much needed remained unused for nearly five years. 

A local option temperance statute of 1864 was brought into force in this area and retained for one year, prohibiting all sales of liquor in quantities of less than five gallons.

Alexander M. Gillies and Peter Peden, aged 21 and 24, were drowned in September while duck hunting at night near Black Point in the lower Mississippi Lake.

Great Fire

1879 – In continuance of prolonged controversy over the sites of the High School and Town Hall, the Town Hall on Edmund Street was converted in part into a public school, a step which brought a brief stage of physical violence followed by allegations of riot, assault and libel and a number of related court actions.

A planing mill was opened by Abner Nichols (1835-1905) on the riverside at Rosamond Street adjoining the Gillies Machine Works.  A lime kiln which continues in operation was built by Napoleon Lavallee, hotelkeeper, on his farm at the present site of Napoleon Street.  William Cameron acquired the business ten years later and operated it for many years.  With two local woollen mills remaining in operation, the closed Hawthorne Woollen Mill was offered for sale by Abraham Code.

A great fire destroyed over thirteen million feet of sawn lumber in the northern part of the Peter McLaren piling yards, together with a section of ties and rails of the Canada Central Railway.  The yards extended about three quarters of a mile along the railway line.  The lumber firm’s loss was recovered from $50,000 in insurance and $100,000 in damages paid when court decisions holding the railway company responsible were upheld five years later in England.  Fire engines and men came to Carleton Place from Almonte, Arnprior, Brockville, Smiths Falls and Ottawa, and hundreds of local helpers aided in saving lumber and checking the spread of the conflagration.

 

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Carleton Place Stirring Village Back in 1840’s, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, July 7, 1960

Carleton Place in the times of the Eighteen Forties is recalled in the present installment of a year by year listing of local scenes and events which had their part in shaping the present character of this section of Lanark County.

The first signs pointing to this community’s growth to the proportions of a town began to show themselves in the Eighteen Forties.  Still in the handicraft era, the district after its first twenty-five years was gradually leaving behind it the kinds of hardships its people had known in their first years of settlement in the woods.  In the sixty year old province of less than five hundred thousand people, substantial government reforms in parliamentary, municipal and educational institutions began to be launched.  This district and this young community shared in promoting their reforms and in their benefits.

FARM IMPROVEMENTS

1840 – A district agricultural society, the parent of the present North Lanark Agricultural Society, was founded at a January, 1840, meeting at Carleton Place, with James Wylie of Ramsayville as president, Francis Jessop of Carleton Place as secretary and Robert Bell as treasurer.  Its activities for the improvement of farming methods and products have included from the beginning an annual exhibition, held until the late Eighteen Fifties at Carleton Place and thereafter at Almonte.  Carleton Place exhibitions were continued for some further years by a Beckwith Township agricultural society.

Ewen McEwen (1806-1885) in 1840 became clerk of Beckwith Township and postmaster at Franktown.  He held both positions for forty-five years and was township treasurer for twenty years.  His son Finlay McEwen for many years was Carleton Place municipal treasurer and postmaster.

STIRRING LITTLE VILLAGE

1841 – Dr. William Wilson, graduate of Glasgow University and son of a district settler, began in 1841 a medical practice of about fifteen years in Carleton Place, building later his stone home which remains on Bell Street.  Edward M. Barry, M.D., trained in London and Dublin, opened a briefer medical practice here a few months before Dr. Wilson, as another of the town’s early surgeons.

A visitor in 1841 recorded this description of the section between Carleton Place and Almonte :

Carleton Place, about seven miles from Ramsay (Almonte) and eighteen from Perth, is a stirring little village.  By Franktown it is twenty-four miles from Perth, by Bellamys (Clayton) it is eighteen.  It has advanced greatly of late years, and the active enterprise of the Bells, merchants here, have contributed in no small degree to this.  They have several buildings themselves, one being a large two-storey stone dwelling.

There are three churches in Carleton Place – one Episcopal, a new Presbyterian and a Methodist church.  The Rev. Mr. Boswell officiates in the first, none yet appointed to the second but suppose Mr. Fairbairn will occasionally preach in it, and Mr. (Alvah) Adams is the stationed Methodist preacher.  The interests of religion are much attended to in the whole township, as well as in Carleton Place.  The Mississippi river runs through the village, and if it prevents the place from being as compact as desirable it at least contributes to its beauty and loveliness.  There are mills here by one Boulton, and more taverns I think than necessary for comfort or accommodation, numbering about five or six.  Mr. John McEwen has opened his home again for respectable travelers.  He is a man much esteemed, his fare excellent and his charges reasonable.

The township of Ramsay is well settled, very prosperous, and can boast a goodly number of experienced practical farmers – men of extensive reading and sound knowledge.  Its appearance plainly proves this, by the number of schools and churches within its range which are erected and in process of erection.  About the centre of the Township is a substantial Presbyterian Church of stone in which a Mr. Fairbairn officiates, also a Methodist meeting house where a Mr. (Alvah) Adams preaches – with a Catholic Church where Rev. Mr. McDonough of Perth officiates occasionally.  The great number of substantial stone houses erected and being put up speaks more favorably than words of its growing prosperity.

James Wylie Esq., a magistrate and storekeeper, has erected a fine house, his son another.  About half a mile from this, Mr. Shipman’s spacious stone dwelling, his mills and surrounding buildings, present a bustling scene.  There is one licenced tavern here, and a school.

DISTRICT COUNCIL ELECTED

1842 – Residents of Carleton Place in 1842 included about twenty tradesmen engaged in metal, wood,  textile and leather trades, in addition to farmers, merchants, innkeepers, labourers, two surgeons, two teachers and one clergyman.  Of the present Lanark County’s 1842 population of a little over 19,000 persons, Beckwith township including Carleton Place had some 1,900 inhabitants and 330 houses.  Ramsay township with 390 inhabited houses, had a population of 2,460.  Each of the two townships had eight elementary schools.  Half of the number of children of ages 5 to 16 in the two townships had attended school within the past year.

An elected council assumed duties of county administration for the first time in 1842, under legislation of the new united Parliament of Upper and Lower Canada.  District council members elected for Beckwith township were Robert Bell and Robert Davis.  Those for Ramsay were John Robertson Sr. (1794-1867) and Arthur Lang. 

A convention of district teachers of common schools met in the fall of 1842 at John McEwen’s hotel, Carleton Place.  A long-lived local Union Sabbath School was commenced in this year.

LOCAL MAGISTRATES

1843- Justices of the peace in Beckwith township authorized to act as magistrates included James Rosamond and Robert Bell, Robert Davis, Peter McGregor and Colin McLaren.  Those in Ramsay township included James Wylie and his son William H. Wylie, William Houston and William Wallace.

The Rev. Lawrence Halcroft (1798-1887), a resident of Carleton Place for over forty years, came here by call in 1843 and for eleven years was minister of the local Baptist Church.  He combined farming with his religious duties, and was a man of broad and liberal views who afterwards preached to all denominations.

A GENERAL ELECTION

1844 – Malcolm Cameron (1808-1876), supported by the large Scottish reform party element of this district and by others, was re-elected member of Parliament in a general election after the capital of Canada was moved from Kingston to Montreal(?).

The Rev. John Augustus Mulock, uncle of Sir William Mulock, became rector of the Carleton Place Anglican Church after a two year vacancy.

CHURCH DISSENTION

1845 – Dissention and division in the organization of the Church of Scotland was followed here in 1845 by the construction of the present stone building of Knox Presbyterian Church at Black’s Corners, parent of Carleton Place’s Zion Presbyterian Church.  In Ramsay township the frame building of a Free Presbyterian Church was erected at the 8th line of Ramsay, which for about twenty years served the congregation of the later St. John’s Presbyterian Church of Almonte.

POWER LOOMS

1846 – James Rosamond in 1846 was manufacturing woollen cloth by machinery at Carleton Place.  His mill at the foot of James Street with two looms operated by water power, was the first of its kind in Eastern Ontario.

The Carleton Place Library was established in March, 1846 as a subscription library under the management of the Carleton Place Library Association and Mechanics Institute.  Napoleon Lavelle began his hotel business which he continued here for nearly forty years, commencing as the Carleton House in the Bell’s stone building on the south side of Bridge Street facing Bell Street.  The three, two-storey stone structures among the sixty occupied dwellings of Carleton Place were this building, plus Hugh Boulton’s house (later Horace Brown’s) on Mill Street, and James Rosamond’s home (later William Muirhead’s) on Bell St.

WARDEN ELECTED

1847 – District wardens, previously appointed by the government of the colony, were first chosen by election in 1847.  The warden elected by the council of the Lanark and Renfrew district was Robert Bell of Carleton Place.

STOVE FOUNDRY

1848 – Samuel Fuller in 1848 opened a stove foundry here which he ran for ten years.  Its first location was near the site of the power house now owned by the Ontario Hydro Electric Power Commission.  The bridge over the Mississippi River was rebuilt.

A stone schoolhouse building was erected at Franktown.  In the United Counties of Lanark and Renfrew there were 1,069 inhabited and assessable houses and 120 public schools.  Most were log buildings.

POLITICAL VIOLENCE

1849 – The Hon. James Wylie (1789-1854) of Almonte was appointed to the Legislative Council of Canada.

Local school trustees James Rosamond (1804-1894, John Graham (1812-1887) and Brice McNeely (1794-ca 1878) advertised for a classical teacher for the Carleton Place School.

Robert Bell, elected as member of Parliament for Lanark and Renfrew Counties in the previous year, when the reform party attained power and responsible government arrived, was present when the Parliament Buildings of Canada were burned by an influentially backed Montreal mob.  He is said to have made his escape by a ladder from the burning building.  Delegates from district points including Beckwith and Ramsay townships were received at Montreal by Lord Elgin, governor general.  They delivered resolutions prepared at local meetings which supported his reforms and condemned the outrages committed by his opponents.  One of the addresses presented was that of the Carleton Place Library Association.

Early Beckwith Settlers Included York Chasseur Men, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 21 February, 1957

This is the third in a series on early life in Beckwith Township prepared by the historian, Howard M. Brown.

 Settlement Day

Predominence in pioneer Beckwith of Scots “having the Gaelic” was limited by families coming from Ireland. These outnumbered annual arrivals from Scotland for several years after 1818, and within three or four years had brought a roughly equal division of numbers of the township’s farms between Irish Episcopelians and Scottish Presbyterians. The number from England remained small, mainly the demobilized war veterans.

A glance at one of the varied problems met by the administrators of settlement operations is permitted by a letter from the Earl of Bathurst, Secretary for the Colonies, to the Duke of Richmond who in the same year died here near the village previously named for him. Dated Downing Street, February 13, 1819, it refers to the undesirable reputation of men of a regiment of whom over twenty-five were offered land in 1819 in a section of Beckwith township between the two lower Mississippi Lakes and present Highway 29:

“My Lord,____The Prince Regent having been pleased to direct that the York Chasseurs should be disbanded in Lower Canada, the Regiment has been ordered from Jamaica for that purpose. On their arrival Your Grace will ascertain what number of the men are disposed to accept of Grants of Land in the Province, and will adopt the necessary measures for locating them in those parts of the Province best calculated for such a Settlement.

Your Grace is no doubt aware that the men composing this corps are to a great degree deserters and men otherwise of doubful character. It will be expedient therefore, in disbanding them in the Province, to prevent as far as possible the interference of the more ill-conducted individuals with the settlements already established.

The reports of the officers of the Corps will afford the means of distinguishing those who are most worthy of encouragement as settlers. With respect to the other it would certainly be more desirable that every facility should be given to their removal out of the Province. It is with this view that the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury have made provision, in their minute of which an extract is enclosed, for a pecuniary payment in liew of their rations. Your Grace will see the necessity of not making such a payment except under a reasonable expectation that the persons receiving it will without delay take their departure.”

Some half dozen of these “most worthy” men out of the ranks of the York Chasseurs remained in Beckwith township, with locations along the present road from Highway 29 to and including Lake Park, at least long enough to qualify for patent grants. Two died before the end of their first three year term of occupation of their land.

A bright picture of local progress is painted by the Earl of Dalhousie, the succeeding Governor General and Commander in Chief of British North America, after his visit in 1820 to the new settlements. Writing in September from Sorel to Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, he says in part:

“Perth and Beckwith already shew what the whole of these townships severally will be, abounding in population and in produce. When I was there the harvest was getting in, and they all informed me that there was not a settler from Beckwith to Perth around them who might not have one half of his crop as surplus, after setting aside sufficient for his family and seed for next year. The people from Lanark, 1,200 going there, will afford a market for that surplus, and the money paid to them by order from Government will provide the funds. Thus these settlements will benefit each other.

The impediments in their way are the want of roads leading through them. I hope we may contrive to give some effectual assistance to this. But the serious evil appears to me to be the system of Crown and Clergy reserves. I cannot but think this an unwise plan. I do not however exactly know upon what views it has been adopted, and I should feel myself obliged to you to inform me ; as Cockburn has mentioned to me that he believes it to proceed from recommendation of yours in which the late Duke of Richmond concurred.

……In the wish to encourage these new settlements I gave 200 Pounds at Richmond to open the great line of road to Beckwith store, 200 Pounds at Perth to open also towards Beckwith, and 200 Pounds to clear it into the Lanark township from Perth, twelve miles if it being already fit for wagons in that direction. Next season I will repeat this, provided your Legislature shall vote us some efficient aid to that main line from Richmond landing place, at the falls of the Ottawa Chaudiere, to Kingston.”

A Case of Law Enforcement

The beginning of the local administration of justice in the district is shown in one of its settings by the following petition on the conviction of Patrick Nowlan, Beckwith innkeeper, at the future Franktown, addressed by the alleged offender to Sir Peregrine Maitland and dated Beckwith, October 16, 1820:

“Your petitioner, having been recommended by Colonel Burge to his late Excellency the Duke of Richmond, drew land agreeably thereto in the Township of Beckwith, and by his Excellency’s wishes took out a Tavern Licence for the accomodation of the public.

On his Excellency the Earl of Dalhousie’s way with Colonel Cockburn from Richmond to Perth his Excellency called at Petitioner’s place and stopped one day, and was well pleased with his accommodation.

Your petitioner’s neighbour Thomas Wickham, being a Tavern Keeper, through spite and malice watched his opportunity and seeing some people go to the King’s Store to draw some articles and they were getting some Liquor not agreeably to the Licence of Petitioner, he made Information that your Petitioner was selling Liquor as a Store Keeper and not as a Tavern Keeper. Consequently Petitioner has been fined twenty pounds, with costs.

A copy of George Brooks affidavit sworn at Perth on 23rd September 1820 states : George Brooks do swear he went on or about the 10th of September last for a grinding stone to Patrick Nowlan, Tavern Keeper being in charge of the King’s Store. He called for some spirits, when he got a half pint and drank in said house, and the said Patrick Nowlan filled a small jug of spirits and gave i to me in a small vessel for the nourishment of the men that was to carry the stone with me home, also which spirits he never charged me for. (signed) George Brooks.

John Rice, being sworn at Perth 23rd September 1820 states that the said John Rice and Thomas Barracklough, the postboy, being on their way from Richmond to Perth with the Post, called in at Patrick Nowlan’s Tavern, called for a quart of spirits, set down and rested ourselves, drank what we wished, and put the remainder in a Bottle for their Nourishment on the road to Perth.

Petitioner humbly solicits your Excellency may be humanely pleased to take his case into your favorable consideration and have the fine mitigated. Petitioner, having a numerous family to support, feels himself very much distressed to pay the fine as petitioner has layed out a great deal of money to accomodate the Public, as it is fifteen miles from any accommodation on any side of him. (signed) Patt Nowlan. P.S. Petitioner now has a Store Licence, also his Tavern Licence specifies to be consumed in his house.”

Accompanying official correspondence indicated that, following policy of the Inspector General, prosecutions had not been taken in the past under similar circumstances in neighbouring jurisdictions, and that, on being so advised, convicting magistrate Thom, Powell and MacMillen suspended an execution on the effects of the Beckwith innkeeper.