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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.