What was Happening at the Carleton Place Library in 1930?




Carleton Place Herald, January 14, 1930


Very often one reads or hears the statement that this is not a reading age.

Well, there may be something in it, because the distractions are many, but it is a difficult theory to prove in Carleton Place.

When Miss McRostie presented her annual report to the Library Board last week, it showed that over 20,000 volumes had been issued to readers during 1930.

Here is proof positive that our citizens are a reading people.

It is proof too that of all our institutions the Public Library is the one that gives, if not the most instruction, at least the most pleasure, to our citizens, and gives it at the least cost.

Considering the smallness of the sum the Library Board has to administer, it is astonishing the number of volumes (over 8,000) that have been gathered through the years.

Now, it is not intended to convey that of the 20,000 odd volumes issued during 1930, all were books of deep import.  Thank goodness, that is not the case.  How awful it would be to live in a town of 4,000 people who had read over 20,000 heavy works in one year!  The thing is too frightful to contemplate.

No, while there was a goodly circulation of works of Biography, History, Poetry, Travel, Science, etc., just enough to keep us from being too tiresomely high-brow, or too lamentably low-brow, it must be confessed that works of Fiction were in the majority; our people read for enjoyment, which, after all, is the only way to read.  Instruction is a by-product, imbibed unconsciously with the enjoyment.

As you may well judge, it is a big task to keep track of the lending of 20,000 books, to say nothing of the other duties of conducting the Library.  Here is where our Librarian comes in for some well-deserved praise.  Her good nature, patience and helpfulness are proverbial.  The books are so placed in the Library that they are not easily accessible to the public.  The shelves in the reading room reach to the ceiling, and there are some thousands of volumes shut off completely in the library office.  As a result, you know what happens.  We usually go in and say, “Good evening, Miss McRostie, what have you tonight that is good?”  Then follows the usual proffering of what Miss McRostie has on hand, book after book, until a final choice is made.  This system puts an undue amount of work on the Librarian.  It narrows down the choice of books and causes unavoidable delays.

The Library Board have realized for a long time that this system is not the best one, and have set out to improve it.

Before anything was done, the assistance of the Provincial Government Library Department was asked.  The Department sent down a Library expert who spent a day going over the whole set-up.

After congratulating the Library Board on the splendid collection of books we have, this expert made the following recommendations:


  1. That an inventory of all the books in the library be made, and volumes in so tattered a condition that they are unfit for circulation should be thrown out.
  2. After this had been done, the books should be put in six foot shelves and all made accessible to the public, after being reclassified in keeping with modern Library practise.


This is a big job, but the Library Board  have tackled it, and a very enthusiastic volunteer committee of ladies, under the chairmanship of Mrs. C. W. Bates, are working every day raising a mighty dust and making splendid progress.  In this work the Board are fortunate in having the help of Mrs. David Findlay, Jr., who is trained in modern library systems.

While these changes are going on, the Library Board asks the patience of our citizens.  When the changes are made the improvement will undoubtedly be great.

Mention has been made about the smallness of the funds the Library Board have to administer.  These changes, particularly the new shelving, will require a moderate amount of expense.

To provide for this, at least in part, and to increase funds for the purchase of books, the Library Board are considering holding an entertainment of some sort, at which they expect to present some outstanding speaker.  Announcement will be made about this later, and we feel sure that if anything of this sort is done, the Library Board can count on the whole-hearted support of the town’s people.

Canadian Library Week – 1966

Mark Canadian Library Week Here

Carleton Place Canadian, March 31, 1966


This is “Canadian Library Week”.  From March 28th to April 2nd,  there will be a good deal of special publicity on the part of the Library Associations and Library Boards to bring home to Canadians the importance of libraries and to encourage their greater use.

In our Public Library there are some interesting historical records.  These show that in 1846 a subscription Library was formed with an entry fee of two shillings and sixpence and an annual fee of five shillings.  This first library later became the Mechanics’ Institute.  The Institute carried on until May 1st, 1895, when it handed over its affairs to a newly formed Public Library which has continued to the present day for most, if not all of the period of seventy-one years, in the Town Hall.

For a long time annual grants from the Town and the Province were small and fixed in amount.  Books, however, were much cheaper than now, as were all other running expenses, and through the years the book collection grew steadily.  Increases in both Town and Provincial grants during the last few years have brought to the Library Board the unaccustomed luxury of having more money to spend on books than ever before.

With more money to spend on books, there has been a corresponding increase in the use of the library by the public.  In 1965 the number of books taken out was 27,111, an increase of 23% in five years.  This total showed an adult circulation of 15,789 and a juvenile circulation of 11,322.  This is 5.7 books borrowed per capita, considered by established Library standards to be quite good.

In 1965, the amount of 2,855 was spent on 968 new books out of a total effective budget of $6,185.  The Board’s policy in buying books is to spend approximately one-third for juvenile books, one-third for fiction, and one-third for non-fiction.  The librarian reports that the Library contains about 15,000 volumes.

The Board works closely with the schools, not only in buying books and encyclopaedias which will be helpful in the students’ studies, but also by making the Library available for weekly visits by school classes with their teachers.

In the evenings, the Library tables are often filled with students working on their school assignments and projects with the help of books which are not to be found elsewhere, particularly out of school hours.  The fact that 11,322 books were taken out by juveniles during 1965 shows how well this policy of welcoming them to the Library is working out.  Undoubtedly, this feature of the Library as an adjunct to the education of our young people is of important value at a low cost to the taxpayer.

For adult readers great care is taken to provide, as far as funds allow, for the reading tastes of all library users.  The reference section is being steadily improved with the latest editions of standard encyclopaedias, dictionaries, and other useful and informative books.

Lately, at the insistence of the Ontario Library Association and with the blessing and financial backing of the Provincial Department of Education, a firm of library consultants has conducted an intensive province-wide survey of School, University, and Public Libraries.  Their report is now available, a document of one hundred and eighty-two pages.  It finds the library set-up in Ontario wanting in many respects and makes recommendations for far-reaching changes.

It seems that a new day is dawning for library services in the Province, and that, after long years of comparative neglect, our University, School, and Public Libraries will have the quantity and quality of books and other services which the authorities who know most about the subject recommend as necessary in these times.  As an indication of what is to come, the local Library Board has been informed that its Provincial grant will be increased by fifty percent for the present year.

This is good news for the Library Board and for all library users in this town.  But at present our Librarian, Mrs. Walsh, is faced with a problem of space.  Our library, in use for well over half a century, is already “bursting at the seams”.  Even with the most drastic and heartless weeding, Mrs. Walsh wants to know where she can possibly find room for this additional flow of new books.  The Board has suggested to the Project Committee and to the Council what it considers to be an entirely satisfactory answer to the problem, and earnestly  hopes that its suggestion will be adopted.

Library Proposed as a Centennial Project in 1966

Carleton Place Canadian, March 17, 1966

 Expect Library, Centennial Project


The special project committee of Carleton Place Council leans toward adopting renovations to the town hall to include a new library and court room and police facilities, according to a preliminary report given Council last Monday evening.

Chairman of the committee, Councillor John Ritchie, observed the committee was in favor of library renovations which would require moving this facility to the second floor auditorium and enlarging the court room and police facilities on the ground floor.

He requested that a special meeting of Council be held to consider the library as the town’s centennial project.  He first wanted his committee to meet with E. H. Ritchie, chairman of the Library Board.

The arena was dropped as the centennial project at a special meeting of Council last week because sufficient funds were not immediately available to guarantee a useable building by the centennial deadline for grants.  Municipal tax assistance or debentures have been ruled out by the Ontario Municipal Board.


Carleton Place Public Library Becomes Part of Region Co-Operative


Carleton Place Canadian, 10 March, 1966


The Carleton Place Public Library has become a member of the Eastern Ontario Regional Library Co-operative recently set up under a part section of the Public Library Act.  About fifty other libraries and associate libraries in Eastern Ontario have become members.

The purpose of this new organization is the improvement and extension of library services through the co-operative use of the area’s library resources.

The co-operative will be governed by a Regional Board which has been formed with the following persons as its first members:

Mr. W. J. Hodder, Chairman, Ottawa Public Library; Mrs. R. D. Butterill, Vice-Chairman, Nepean Township Public Library; Mr. F. B. Macmillan, Cornwall Public Library; Mr. M. B. Cameron, Brockville Public Library; Mr. D. E. Wolff, Pembroke Public Library; Rev. J. S. Bradley, Renfrew Public Library; Mr. Sarto Leduc, Hawkesbury Public Library; Mrs. Charles O’Reilly, Smiths Falls Public Library; Regional Director and Secretary-Treasurer, Claude B. Aubry, Ottawa Public Library.

The Public Libraries of Ottawa, Pembroke, Cornwall and Brockville have been designated “Resource Libraries”.  As these libraries are repositories of important collections they will play a major role in a rational development of library services within the region.  This will be done mainly through an active exchange of information, books and other library services among themselves as well as through the assistance they can provide to smaller libraries.

It is to be noted that the Regional Board will have no authority over the local Boards, which shall keep their autonomy.

The above information is gleaned from the first Bulletin issued by the Regional Board to member libraries.



Janet’s Last Day- 30 December 2013

I would like to take this opportunity, on the eve of Janet’s last working day at the Carleton Place Public Library, to say that I believe Janet always rose to the occasion, and enjoyed the hurly burly of it all – and her ability to make it all come together was always a source of pride. She thrived on adversity as much as on the multitude of successes enjoyed by the library over the years. From the smallest, inconsequential detail, like making schedule changes due to winter storms or staff illness, to orchestrating the mammoth rebuilding of the library after the fire of 1986, Janet was there, doing her job and working, along with all of her staff, to make a strong and vibrant library for the Carleton Place community.  Janet would see the wider picture and put it all into perspective. This, along with her compassion for others, was and is, her greatest asset. We will miss Janet, but she has certainly earned a happy, healthy, and carefree retirement!
Best wishes for the future, Janet.
Shirley Jones-Wellman
Assistant Librarian & Friend

Published in: on December 30, 2013 at 10:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Documents Showing the Establishment of The Carlton Place Library Association & Mechanics Institute-1846

Translation of the Establishment of the Carlton Place Library Association & Mechanics Institute in 1846:

 “At a public meeting held pursuant to notice at Carlton* Place in the office of Messrs. R. Bell & Co. on the evening of the 7th March, 1846.  Robt. Bell Esq. was called to the chair.  David Lawson appointed secretary.

Resolved that a Committee of three be appointed to draft a constitution for a public library.

Resolved that R. Bell Esq. & Messrs. J. A. Gemmel & David Cram form the above Committee.

Resolved that a public meeting be called on Saturday the 14th Inst. At 7 o’clock p.m. when the Committee will report proceedings.

D. Lawson, Secretary

At a public meeting held pursuant to notice at Carlton Place in office of Messrs. R. Bell & Co on the evening of the 14th March 1846.

Proposed that the Committee read their report.  R. Bell Esq. proceeded to read the following report.



Rules and regulations of the Carlton Place Library Association & Mechanics Institute:

This society shall be called the Carlton Place Library Association & Mechanics Institute; and its object shall be the establishment and management of a public library, the acquisition of suitable apparatus in connection with the Mechanics Institute, and a supply of lectures on useful & interesting subjects.”

*Please note that Carleton was spelled without the ‘e’ in this document.


Published in: on November 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What Were They Reading? : Ida Moore, Moore House Ghost, and the Library

What was Ida Moore, who some say is the ghost of Moore House in Carleton Place, reading in March of 1897?

From a record book currently on display at the Carleton Place Public Library,  which, I swear,  just happened to fall open to this page, we see that Miss Ida Moore borrowed book number 503, which was the “Story of Antony Grace,” by George Manville Fenn.

It was released in 1888 and according to Internet Archive:

“The Story of Antony Grace” is a pleasantly written English novel which minutely describes the life and adventures of a lad early left an orphan and supposed to be penniless. The plot is somewhat conventional, involving considerable persecution and brutality, which is, however, overbalanced by the kindness and generosity of Antony’s humble friends, and the story ends happily with the punishment of the vicious and the happiness of the virtuous. The style is excellent and the story entertaining.”

You too can read what Ida read in 1897, as the book is readily available online!

Stay tuned for more in this series, “What were they reading?”, as we shed more interesting insights into Carleton Place ancestors by peeking at what library books were on their night stands.  We may even still have some of them, and if we do, I will post a picture!

The Library & Ida Moore

The Library & Ida Moore



Retirement Poster

Published in: on October 28, 2013 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  


A History of the Carleton Place Public Library

In honour of Janet Baril’s Retirement, Head Librarian 1984-2013

Starting in 1829, the Ramsay and Lanark Circulation Library originally served the townspeople of Carleton Place.  It had over 500 volumes, and was located in the Anglican Church which stood at Lot 16, 1st Con. Ramsay, opposite the Union Hall and schoolhouse.

Our present library began on March 14, 1846, as a Subscription Library with 65 original members.  The entry fee was 2 shillings and the yearly fee was 5 shillings.  The subscription list continued until 1850.  By 1851, the Carleton Place library was operating out of the school house on Bridge Street, later Central School, which became the site of the post office.  Some pages are missing until a partial list appears in 1864 when the record ends.

The officers and directors of the Carleton Place Library and Mechanics’ Institute for 1851 were:

President:  James Duncan (blacksmith); Vice President:  William Peden (merchant); Treasurer:  Robert Bell, M.P.P. ; Secretary:  David Lawson (store clerk, postmaster) ; Librarian:  Johnston Neilson (schoolmaster) ; Directors:  George Dunnet (merchant), Duncan McGregor, James C. Poole (newspaper publisher), Thomas Patterson (Ramsay farmer), John McCarton (Ramsay farmer).

April 5, 1865:  “The Carleton Place Library will be open on Monday next, and on the first Monday of every month hereafter.  Person wishing to read can on payment of .25 cent per quarter of a year.”

Interest in the library seemed to have dwindled until 1883 with the formation of the Carleton Place Mechanics Institute.  The object of this Association was to:  “establish a reading room and library, procure suitable apartments (sic) and deliver courses or lectures on useful and interesting subjects, as well as supply its members with the means of instruction in Arts, Sciences, Literature and General knowledge.”  They housed the library wherever there was an empty building, or an individual would take it to their home.  The Mechanics Institute looked after the library until 1895, when legislation was passed in Ontario whereby the Mechanics Institute became the Public Library, free of subscription dues.  The Town by-law taking over the Library was not passed in its’ complete form until January, 1897.  Upon completion of the Town Hall in that year, the Public Library began its’ long stay there.  At this time the book collection was 2,458 volumes, and the number of books taken out during the year was 4,418. 

In 1897, the Art Loan Exhibit, an exhibit of Lanark and Renfrew’s social and natural history was put together by the library at the Opera Hall in the new Town Hall.

Information from 1956 shows that “At present there are about 1,000 borrowers, approximately 8,000 volumes to choose from, and a yearly and growing circulation of over 20,000…on the library tables there is an excellent range of daily papers as well as periodicals of Canadian, English and U.S. origin, which can be read in the quiet and well-lighted main room…the library is housed in the town hall main floor, a central and convenient place for its users…”

In 1966 the Eastern Ontario Regional Library System was set up.  This allowed for a pooling of book resources and interests of all Public Libraries in the ten counties of Eastern Ontario. 

In 1970 the new library was built on land donated by the Town and funded by private individuals.  It measured 3200 sq. ft., four times the size of the Town Hall library.  Once again, in 1979, the Library needed more space and was expanded to double its’ size.

Then in September, 1986, the Library was vandalized and set on fire, destroying the adult fiction collection and causing water and smoke damage to the rest of the collection.  The library was moved to temporary quarters in the Mews Professional Building on Lansdowne Avenue, until the library was rebuilt and the fire damage cleaned up.  The Library returned to its’ home in February, 1987, with an official opening on May 23, 1987.

In 1994, the Library held 35,569 volumes and 93,040 volumes circulated during the year.  Also, 910 volumes were loaned to other libraries in Ontario and 966 volumes were borrowed from them.

Computerization came to the library in 1992 in the form of an automated system.  No more card catalogues, or hand-written patron library cards.  The future had arrived!

As a millennium project, the library underwent a massive renovation starting in

June 1999, and ending in February 2000.  At that time, the large Barbara Walsh meeting room on the east side of the building was turned into a much needed larger children’s area, with a new and smaller Barbara Walsh room added to the front of the building.  Glass fronted offices were added close to the new circulation desk, along with public internet access terminals and storage areas.  A local history/microfilm room was located near the Beckwith Street side of the building.

In December 2010, the library began to provide access to e-books through  Southern Ontario Library Service, for all Carleton Place and area patrons.  Ancestry Library Edition also became available early in 2011 for local family history buffs.

Statistics from 2011 show the Library holding approximately 63,000 items, with 108,280 circulating throughout the year.  As well, patrons borrowed approximately 2,440 e-books, and Ancestry Library Edition saw approximately 11,691 research hits.  Also, 1,273 volumes were loaned to other libraries in Ontario and 1,245 volumes were borrowed from them.


 David Lawson          1846-1851

Johnston Neilson    1851-1887

Peter McRostie       1887-1909

Emma McRostie     1909-1941

Louise Elliott           1941-1960

Barbara Walsh        1960-1984

Janet Baril                1984-2013



Some First Events:  Lanark’s First 100 Years

By Howard Morton Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 14 May, 1959


For the countless stories of personal, business and community adventure which were written long ago by the deeds of Lanark County’s pioneers, a framework may be found in a list of some of the County’s first events.  The following brief listing of landmarks and outstanding events of the County’s first one hundred years of settlement is one of many similar selections which might be made from different viewpoints or differing bases of local emphasis.

The first settler in the county commonly has been said to have been William Merrick of Merrickville.  The arrival of an earlier and first settler, Roger Stevens, is recorded in this list of Lanark County events.  Official contemporary records of his coming as “the first who settled on the River Rideau”, places the start of the settlement of Lanark County within seven years of the first colonizing of the province by English-speaking people, made by Loyalists from the revolted British colonies.



First Family Settled – Roger Stevens from Vermont, an ensign in the King’s Rangers in the American Revolution; at S.E. corner of Montague township on the Rideau River, 1790, with wife and three children.  His occupied land extended into Marlborough township.  He joined with William and Stepehn Merrick in building a saw mill in Montague at Merrickville.  His death by drowning in 1793 followed an Upper Canada Order in Council authorizing a grant to him of the site of this mill and of the future village of Merrickville.

First Land Grants – In the 1790’s in the area of Montague and later N. Elmsley and N. Burgess townships.  These three townships until the 1840’s remained attached to the Leeds and Grenville (Johnstown ) District.

First Saw Mill and First Grist Mill – William Merrick’s at Merrickville in Montague township; saw mill 1793, grist mill 1803.  He came from New York State to Leeds County in 1791.

First Sponsored Migration  – from United Kingdom – About fifty Lowland Scottish families were granted farm sites in May, 1816, on the Scotch Line in Bathurst, Burgess and Elmsley townships near Perth, when a similar number of grants were made nearby to married and single demobilized British Soldiers of various nationalities.

First Large Scale Settlement  – The seven years 1816 to 1822, when seven thousand persons, mainly from Scotland and Ireland, aided by army settlement supervision and supplies, began the great task of clearing land and establishing farms and villages throughout most of the county’s present area.

First Group Migration From Scottish Highlands – About fifty families from Perthshire in 1818 settled in Beckwith township near Carleton Place; they came inland by the Ottawa River route.

First Settlement of North Lanark – Assisted emigrations of 1820 and 1821 from Lanarkshire added some 2,500 persons to the county’s population, mainly in Dalhousie, Lanark and Ramsay townships.

First Group Migration from Southern Ireland – About seventy-five families, mainly from County Cork, were brought to the site of Almonte in 1823 and settled in Ramsay and neighbouring townships.

First Resident Clergymen  – Officially recognized, Rev. William Bell, Presbyterian, 1817; Rev. Michael Harris, Anglican, 1819; both at Perth.




First Visit By Governor-in-Chief of Canada – by Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond in 1819.

First Member of Parliament – In 1820, William Morris (b.1786 d.1858), Scottish merchant at Perth, defeated Benjamin Delisle; became president of Executive Council of Canada, 1846.

First Steps towards Local Government –  Establishment of the judicial District of Bathurst in 1822, with centre at Perth, to serve some local executive and judicial needs of an area comprising most of the present Lanark, Carleton and Renfrew counties.

First Naming as County of Lanark – In 1824, when the ten northerly townships of the present Lanark County (excluding Pakenham) and the then unsurveyed present Renfrew County became an electoral district named County of Lanark.



First Newspaper – The Independent Examiner, Perth, 1828, edited by John Stewart, school teacher, succeeded in 1832 by the Constitution and in 1834 by the present Perth Courier.

First Public Libraries – Dalhousie Public Library, near Watson’s Corners, 1828 (still in existence); and the Ramsay and Lanark Circulating Library near Clayton, 1829.

First (and only) Extensive Riots – The ‘Ballygiblin Riots’ Carleton Place and Almonte, 1824.

First Execution for Murder – Thomas Easby, of Drummond township, 1829; found to have killed his wife and four children, publicly hanged at Perth after rejection of defence of insanity.

First Recorded Pistol Duels – James Boulton and Thomas Radenhurst, Perth barristers, June, 1830; Colonel Alexander McMillan and Dr. Alexander Thom, both of Perth, the latter wounded, January, 1883; John Wilson and Robert Lyon, law students at Perth, the latter killed, June, 1883.