Confederation’s Armed Defenders Recalled : First Part
Carleton Place Canadian, 28 April, 1966
By Howard M. Brown
When agreement was being reached for the attainment of Canada’s Confederation, the borders of the present provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick were manned with Canadian and British forces prepared to repel invasion. The strange enemy was the private army of the Fenian Brotherhood and its so-called Irish Republic of North America. It was based in a northern United States flushed but worn by its Civil War success and lacking to this extreme degree in an attitude of friendship for Great Britain and Canada.
The Fenians and their followers quickly formed a misguided but large and reckless organization. Their preparations had been carried out with the tolerance of the United States government during the term of office of one of that nation’s worst presidents. Canada, by the Fenian plan, was to become Irish Fenian territory from which, with the aid of other nations, Ireland would be freed from England’s rule. Then Canada might possibly be handed over to the United States.
The Fenian Raids against Canada in 1866, renewed in 1870, came from a fertile soil for this mad scheme. Calling their organization an Irish Republic, the American Fenian leaders and their delegates from most of the then existing states of the union met in Cincinnati in September, 1865, and adopted a paper constitution modeled on that of the United States. Its active parts were its War Department and its Treasury. Foot-loose soldiers trained in the Civil War were available by the thousand and not averse to conquest and plunder. The tools and the spirit of war were in abundant supply. With more able Fenian direction Canada might have paid dearly.
The main encounters of the 1866 Raids were in Welland County and in the Eastern Townships in the first week of June. They were recalled in the first installment of this story of invasion dangers accompanying our Confederation, for which local and national Centennial celebrations now are being prepared. The Eastern Ontario points considered most threatened were Cornwall, Prescott, Brockville and Kingston. Some two thousand troops hastily placed at Cornwall included parts of two British regiments and militia of Cornwall, Argenteuil County, Kingston and Ottawa.
At Prescott a force of similar size included several companies of British troops and militia units of Hawkesbury, Belleville, Gananoque and the Ottawa area. Two of the latter companies were those of Fitzroy and Pakenham. Prescott’s Fort Wellington was strengthened and supplied with artillery reinforcements. Kingston’s fortifications remained garrisoned by British troops. Its district district militia units of rifles, infantry, artillery and cavalry went on active service standing. With lighter forces of the Ottawa area the capital city of Ottawa also was garrisoned.
Brockville’s defences were provided by the rifle companies of Brockville, Carleton Place and Perth and the infantry companies of Almonte, Perth, Brockville and Gananoque, under Lieut. Colonel James Crawford. A principal historical account of the Fenian Raids published in 1910 states: “These companies were exceedingly efficient, and did great service in guarding the riverfront and railway communications at Brockville. Col. Crawford and his troops received great praise from the Major-General for the very satisfactory manner in which they did their duty on these trying occasions.” (John A. Macdonald, writer of the 1910 history of the Fenian Raids, served on the Niagara frontier in 1866 and 1870, founded and edited the Arnprior Chronicle, and was a captain of the 43rd Battalion, Ottawa and Carleton Rifles.)
Captain James Poole’s newspaper’s report of the departure of June 3 of the Carleton Place company for the front said in part:
“After having been on the alert for about twenty-four hours awaiting an order to proceed to the frontier, a hurried dispatch was received about midnight on Sunday that the volunteer companies of Carleton Place and Almonte should be ready in about an hour to repair to Brockville by a special train. At 2:30 a.m. on Sunday the train arrived bringing the Almonte Company of Infantry under the command of Captain Gemmill. The Carleton Place Rifle Company commanded by Captain Poole and Lieutenant Brown were in waiting, having been accompanied to the station by over a hundred of our citizens. At the request of Captain Poole the Rev. J. A. Preston addressed the men.
It was a solemn and moving sight, the moonlight giving a dim view of the outline of the ranks and the friends and relatives moving to and fro as they took leave of those near and dear to them, discharging their duty to defend out hearths and homes against the invasion of a lawless band of marauders. As the train left the station three hearty cheers from the citizens rang the air, lustily re-echoed by the true men whom we hope to welcome soon again.”
To be continued……
War Clouds Menaced Confederation—Canada
By Howard M. Brown
Carleton Place Canadian, 14 April, 1966
In the last year of the founding of the Dominion of Canada, storm clouds surrounded the disturbed Canadian springtime of 1866. To our forefathers of the towns and farms of the present provinces of Ontario and Quebec, rallying to the defence of their southern border, these storm signals gave new practical weight to the merits of forming a federal union with the provinces of their Atlantic neighbours.
Preserved among the remaining vivid Eastern Ontario pictures of Canada’s spirit of 1866 are the news and editorial columns of the Carleton Place weekly newspaper of that day. They reflect the indignation and confidence of a province bracing itself to meet the threat of guerrilla attacks which might be made with the tolerance or tacit consent of United States authorities. The generally similar view shown in newspapers and public attitudes in the future first Dominion of Canada in that troubled time is illustrated by such statements as these, made in this district’s widely circulated Carleton Place Herald:
“It appears almost incredible that the Fenian operations should have been allowed to be carried on in the States to so great a length as they have been. But at latest reports the Washington authorities seem very little inclined to check their operations, and seem rather amused at the trouble, danger and expense to which the British provinces are subjected. Mr. Seward (United States Secretary of State), may have to laugh on the other side of his mouth before the American government is done with Fenianism, its consequences and its responsibilities.”
“Prejudiced, although unfairly so, as the Americans are against us, we have but little to hope for or expect from their goodwill to us. Indeed, without their countenance and support the present state of things could not have existed. But in their own circumstances we have a reasonable guarantee that they will, if they have not already gone too far, stop the movement. They know well too that the very first effect of a war with John Bull would be the total and irreparable loss of the fruits of their four years’ struggle with the South, with national bankruptcy and a long train of other evils. We must not shut our eyes to the fact that if unhappily a war should take place with the United States, Britain and her colonies would suffer severely in the struggle.”
“At Ottawa during the past week guards have been placed at night on the armoury, the banks and the Railway Depot. The city has a martial appearance. Bugles are sounding, and the tramp of armed men is becoming familiar to our ears. The number of volunteers in the city must now be over five hundred men. There may be no actual necessity for this but it is better to be sure than sorry.
Large reinforcements from England are expected here shortly. At present we have about ten thousand regulars in Canada, besides eleven thousand volunteers on duty. Then there are at least fifteen thousand fully armed and ready at a moment’s notice, another eight thousand militia could soon be made available. The Government has had an immense number of offers of veterans and others who are well drilled.”
A visitor’s impressions of the Carleton Place Rifle Company during its March, 1866 first call to arms were given in the Brockville Recorder, whose writer said:
“We learn from a gentleman who was travelling on the Brockville & Ottawa Railway that on Friday last a company of volunteers, fine looking men under Captain Poole, made their appearance at the Carleton Place railway station in full uniform, guns and bayonets in first best style. Indeed a gentleman present said he never saw a better looking company of men, or arms better kept. The company was led by the good old Scotch bag pipes and drum, well played. The Captain and officers may be proud of their men. If the interests of the country require it, this company will give a good account of themselves. When the train started three cheers were given for the Queen, and three more for the Carleton Place volunteers.”
A brigade and divisional muster and review was held at this time (March 23 and 24) at Montreal. Its proceedings, as reported by Captain Poole in the Carleton Place Herald, included imposition of a severe sentence of a court martial, later greatly reduced, for an unfortunate corporal of the Carleton Place Rifle Company:
“On Friday last, the Militia Brigade mustered at the City Hall in Montreal. The sentence of the Court Martial on two of the volunteers belonging to the Shefford Light Infantry Company was read by the Assistant Adjutant General, George Smith. The charge against the men was simply one of gross insubordination, and they were sentenced to sixty days imprisonment without hard labor.”
“On Saturday there was a ‘Grand Divisional Field Day’ of the whole garrison, regulars and volunteers. The First Brigade, on the left, consisted of H. R. Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade, the 25th. King’s Own Borderers and the 30th Regiment. The Second Brigade was composed of the Volunteer Militia, under command of Colonel Dyde, Brigadier. The inspecting officer was Lieut. General Sir John Michel (then commanding Her Majesty’s forces in North America).”
“In Colonel Dyde’s staff we noticed Lieut. Colonel George Smith, A.A.G. After the inspection the route of march was then taken up. Each regiment was preceded by its band. On completing a lengthy march by way of the following streets…., the regulars proceeded to the barracks and the volunteers turned into Craig Street at the French Square.”
“The volunteers then marched up to the Victoria Square, where the Brigade was drawn up in square of close column and the proceedings and sentence of a Court Martial on Corporal Patrick Tucker of the Carleton Place (C.W.) Rifles were read by Assistant Adjutant General George Smith. The offence proved in this case was gross insubordination. The sentence of the Court was ninety days imprisonment, the first and last seven days with hard labour. At the conclusion of this unpleasant part of the day’s proceedings, the several corps marched off to their armories and dispersed.”
The thanks of Carleton Place to its volunteers at the end of their March service was offered at an oyster supper for the Rifle Company, held within the stone walls of William Kelly’s British Hotel at the corner of Bridge and High Streets, in an evening of songs and speeches. One erring member of the Company, found after this event to have ‘persisted in wearing his uniform clothes for days together and even sleeping in them’, was fined five dollars with an alternative of ten days in jail.
Expectations of further dangers, which soon were to come, called for continued preparation and frontier watchfulness in the interval between March and June. In their local prediction in the Carleton Place Herald three months before the June abortive invasion our chronicle Captain Poole wrote, in part:
“By recent orders from Headquarters the several companies relieved from active duty are required to assemble for drill twice a week, for which the non-commissioned officers and men are to receive each the sum of fifty cents for each drill: the commissioned officers, nothing. Until further orders the Carleton Place Rifle Company will assemble on Wednesdays and Saturdays at four o’clock.”
“The country is threatened with invasion by a reckless horde of robbers and scoundrels. The danger may possibly be postponed but there is little doubt that before many weeks it will come to the hard pinch, and we trust every volunteer will show himself to be A Man And A Soldier, and ‘rally round the flag’ in defence of his country and his home.”
The strains created by an aggressive United States and the threats from irregular forces within its borders were giving their unintended impetus to the union of the Province of Canada with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, then in its final stages of negotiation. This was the Herald forecast:
“The idea of Confederation is making rapid strides in the Lower Provinces. The prospect of ultimate success now amounts to almost a certainty. The ‘blue noses’ are beginning to regard Canadians as friends and neighbours and are almost inclined to cultivate a closer relationship. Canadian capital and enterprise would, it is believed, give a powerful stimulus to the progress of New Brunswick and the other colonies. Again, the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty showed, too clearly to be misunderstood, the necessity of commercial union between the Provinces. The feeling was made stronger by the avowed annexationist doctrines of some American politicians, and their supposed sympathy with the Fenian movement. The demonstrations of the latter Order on the frontier, with their statements that they were determined to frustrate the Confederation scheme, sever the Colonies from Britain and erect them into a Republic, also have had their effect.”
The Carleton Place Herald, January 8, 1879
Article by James Poole, owner & editor
Scientific Progress, Year 1878
The past year has been, in many respects, the most remarkable of modern times. The historic tableau may be described in post Raphaelitic parlance as a “nocturne in black and gold,” charged with a brighter tint of hope and deeper gloom of utter darkness than the combined genius of Turner and Whistler ever painted, or the erratic pen of Ruskin ever characterized. How many brilliant promises belied at the critical moment, how many confident anticipations swept away, by the remorseless logic of history. Saluted at its birth by a volcanic roar of artillery from the passes of Etropole Balkans, where Muscovite and Muslem were ringing down the curtain upon the lurid drama of the “Indpendence and Integrity of the Ottoman Empire:, the year closes amid the deepest intricacies of the “Great Asian Mystery” now being enacted amid the everlasting snows of the Hindu-Kush, the pathless wastes of the “Roof of the World” and the shifting sands of the Kixil Kum (Kyzyl Kum). The interpreters of prophetic visions still have
Ample room and verge enough
The characters of hell to trace
Upon their premillennial canvas, and they would do well to keep their lamps trimmed and burning, for the dawn of peace is not yet come.
But while the political annals of the year are writ large with battle, murder and sudden death, the scientific record stands written in letters of living light. No future chance or change in human event can rob this passing year of the glory of being one of the greatest epoch-making crises in man’s knowledge of nature – a Promethean moment richly fraught with “the wonders that shall be,” the marvels of the present, the axioms of the coming hour. In no other seas of human activity is it truer than in the deepest gulfs of physical speculation that “there is a tide in the affairs of men.” Every really great discovery is reached almost simultaneously by isolated workers separated by thousands of miles. These earnest searchers are like so many athletes swiftly speeding toward a common goal, which the most fortunate gains but a moment before the slowest of his competitors.
At the very outset of the past year the world of science was assembled on the judges’ stand, counting seconds in the race between Pictet and Cailletet for liquefying the last of the gases, and thus experimentally proving the unity of nature and the continuity between the solid, liquid and gaseous domains. Cailletet had scored the first round by liquefying oxyen and carbonic oxide as early as December 2, 1877, but being then a candidate for election to a seat in the Academy of Science he magnamiously refrained from announcing his success and consigned the account of his discovery to a sealed packet, which was opened at the academic session of December 24. Strange to relate, M. Raoul Pictet, of Geneva, announced by letter at that meeting the same result achieved by entirely different processes. Scarcely had the wandering savans found time to announce to the public this double triumph when M. Cailletet, on the last day of the year, accomplished the liquefaction of hydrogen, nitrogen and atmospheric air, and, pressing closely upon him M. Pictet swept to the goal January 11, definitely establishing the sequence of the “constants of nature” by the solidification of hydrogen. It was found to be a metal, thereby brilliantly justifying the conclusion first reached forty years ago by the veteran chemist, J. B. Dumas, who had the honor, as president of a leading scientific society, to receive the first telegraphic announcement from M. Pictet, and to make known to his associates at Paris this grand discovery on the very day it was made at Geneva.
Results such as these would suffice to make the year 1878 forever memorable in the annals of science, but only the first page had yet been written. In the same month of December, 1877, when Cailletet and Pictet were winning their first laurels in Paris and Geneva, Thomas Alva Edison rode into New York one morning from Menlo Park with a queer brass cylinder under his arm, and astonished the ‘Scientific American’ with the brazen-faced assertion that “Mary had a little lamb.” The phonograph had sprung, unheralded upon the world, and so incredible was the scientific fact thus revealed that several weeks elapsed before it was generally credited. Although the full-fledged discovery of the phonograph pertains to 1877, the whole of its development, and world-wide renown belong to 1878 and it is assuredly not the least of its many titles to perpetual remembrance that “the Wizard of Menlo Park” then first assumed a recognized position as a factor to civilization. Of Edison’s manifold other and curious inventions – the megaphone, the phonomotor, and the aerophone – we have no need now to speak, though in other times they would rank high among the curiosities of science. But there are three other achievements of his genius which distinctly call for mention among the wonders of the year – the improved carbon telephone, the tasimeter, and the electric lamp. Other workers have inscribed their names upon Fame’s eternal bead-roll with similar titles, and it would be unjust not to recognize the great merit of Professor Hughes in the discovery of the microphone, of Professor Graham Bell in perfecting his telephone, of Mr. Sterns in “duplexing” the Atlantic cable, of Professor Alfred M. Mayer in his illustrations of the atomic theory by floating magnets, of Sir J. D. Hooker and Paul Bert in their discoveries in vegetable chemistry, of Count Du Moncel in his ingenious development of the phonograph into a condensateur chantant, of Lewis Swift and Professor Watson in their discovery of intra-Mercurial planets, of Professor Wilde Newlands and others in their ingenious classifications of the elements by periodic laws, and of Loutin, Repiaff, Jablochkoff, Werdermann, Sawyer, Hommer and Gary in their important, but not yet fully realized, applications of electric forces.
The crowning discovery of the year, however, if the half that has been claimed should prove true; will belong neither to Pictet, Cailletet, Edison, Hughes, Watson nor Swift, but to the eminent English astronomer and spectroscopist, Mr. J. Norman Lockyer, who visited America in July last for the observation of the great solar eclipse. His discovery is nothing less than that all the sixty-four so-called ‘elements’ are condensations or modifications by the interaction of the cosmic forces upon a single primitive matter, which, so far as this earth is concerned, seems to be hydrogen, but which, in the solar ? is found to be four times lighter than hydrogen. Of course men are already speaking of this discovery as if it were synonymous with alchemy or the transmutation of metals.
In one sense they are right, but not in the most important meanings connected with those expressions. It may be found possible to reduce gold and other precious metals and ? to their primitive calcium or hydrogen, but it may be positively stated that it will never be possible to make gold from hydrogen or calcium. The reason is the same as in the parallel case of reducing fuel to ashes. To destroy is easy; to reconstruct from the same or similar materials is impossible. Above all, one of the factors in the formation of metals is unlimited duration of time for the play of the cosmic forces, and until the new alchemists can control that factor their efforts will be useless. It is too early to predict the range of Mr. Lockyer’s discovery; but granting all the facts which he claims, he has but demonstrated experimentally an idea which is perfectly familiar to modern chemists. It is highly probable that Mr. Lockyer’s conclusions are well founded and that they will revolutionize the formal teaching of chemistry, but they cannot change the facts as they have always existed. Meanwile the scientific world is becoming impatient for the record of Mr. Lockyer’s experiments – not for his conclusions, for those they can draw as well as he.
The Carleton Place Herald, December 25, 1878
Article by the editor, James Poole
This newspaper belonged to Robert Bell, Esq.
Christmas Day again! And with it comes to all the welcome wish, “A Merry Christmas.” And merry it will be, for with each succeeding year it grows more genial, and with every anniversary it reaches a wider range. The cheer of Christmas covers every creed; the holiday breathes the all-embracing religion of humanity that hallows home and makes the fireside happy. There is no heart so hard, no home so humble that does not feel something of the sweet and softening influence of the person. The chimes ring now with a more silvery sound, and the cricket chirps more cheerily on the hearth. The lively streets, the shop windows all aglow with gifts, the markets and stalls teeming with good cheer and green wreaths everywhere, have presaged the pleasures of the festival. The brief bright holiday period beginning with Christmas, always seems not only to condense an immense amount of pleasure in the present but to invest a large fund of happiness for the future. The whole world starts fresh again from a new standpoint. The miseries and misfortunes of the past year seem smaller. Great griefs are lessened. Braver feelings surmount surmount broken fortunes. Youth expands with hope. Age is young again with brought-back memories.
This is indeed, the season of green wreaths and greener memories, of ind words and kindlier deeds. Centuries before the actual day which Christians of all creeds now celebrate, the prophet and the poet sang of the future when the twined box and pine should “beautify the sanctuary,” as is fulfilled, and will be in all coming time. And he whom the day especially commemorates came as a little child, and so Christmas ever since comes for children. But not alone for the little ones of our own households, or for our families or immediate friends, should the genial time teem with gifts, good words and hearty cheer – something of these should reach out now to the helpless and the homeless, the sick and suffering, the naked and needy children of our common father. If we open our door, and churches and close our hearts we shall fail to hear and to heed the good words of the season.
No influence should be allowed to stand between us and the opportunity which Christmas affords of shaking off for a time our everyday selfishness, and for a brief space thinking and acting for others. Our daily lives are quite sufficiently crowded with our individual interests to make us thankful to be forced out of ourselves and into a region of a broader human thought, feeling and activity. Do not forget Christmas then; do now set aside its claims; do not think of it as merely the representative of a religious event or pious dogma. To all it means the celebration of the festival of a sacrificial love, a lessening of the bonds of self, a cementing of the bonds that bind us to the larger family.
Let the plum-pudding and the roast turkey flourish, then, not because of themselves they are better now than at any other time, but because they represent the peace and good will, the hospitality and fraternity, which at this season should be cherished towards all men and women. Fill the children’s stockings or decorate the beautiful Christmas tree with liberal hands, for Christmas may come to you no more, and you would not miss the golden opportunity afforded you for adding your mite to the sum of human happiness before the present has gone into the past to return no more.