Carleton Place Public Library 110th Anniversary, November 3, 1956

Carleton Place Library’s 110th Anniversary Marked

Ottawa Journal, 03 November, 1956

By Howard M. Brown


Residents of Carleton Place are celebrating the 100th anniversary of one of the town’s oldest institutions, the public library.

Special activities have been held to mark the event, for the library is the oldest in this part of Ontario, being in operation since 1846, a year before the Bytown Mechanics Institute founded the first library in Ottawa.

Its history actually goes back to an earlier date, for a predecessor existed in the form of the Ramsay and Lanark Circulation Library as early as 1829.

The Carleton Place library began with 16 subscribing members and in the first year the number jumped to 144.  It has served the community ever since, and today more than 1,000 persons use its facilities regularly.

David Lawson served as the first librarian.  Records show that in 1851, officers of the Library Association included James Duncan, a blacksmith, as president; William Peden, storekeeper, vice-president; David Lawson, secretary, and Robert Bell, MLA, treasurer.  Directors included the pioneer editor, James C. Poole; George Dunnett, a storekeeper, and Duncan McGregor, a blacksmith, all of Carleton Place, and two farmers, Thomas Patterson and John McCarton of Ramsay Township.

Peter McRostie was librarian from 1887 to 1909, during the period when the town hall, which had housed the library over the years since, was opened in 1897.

Mr. McRostie retired a year before he died at the age of 78 and his daughter, Miss Emma McRostie, became librarian.

Miss L. Elliott, present librarian, was appointed in 1941.  She takes a special pride in the library, for she sees in its shelves evidence that a high standard was set at the beginning in collecting its volumes, and has been maintained ever since.

On the library board are chairman E. H. Ritchie and directors Mrs. E. S. Fleming, Mrs. H. T. Rhul, Miss B. C. Brown, Miss Elliott and D. McLaren.

The anniversary celebrations included presentation by 12 boys and girls of a play, “The Marvellous story of Puss in Boots”, under the supervision of Miss Elliott.  There was also an “open house” at which was a special showing of pictures, maps and other documents relating to the library’s early days.  It was made available through the courtesy of Howard Brown.

An anniversary cake was presented and the guests were entertained at a social period by members of the board.  A number of former residents were on hand from Ottawa, Toronto and other points.


Carleton Place Public Library 110th Anniversary Celebration, 1956

Public Library Celebration Thursday, Friday

Carleton Place Canadian, October 25, 1956


Plans have been completed for the celebration of the 110th anniversary of the founding of the Carleton Place Public Library.  The event will be marked on Thursday and Friday evenings this week. 

On Thursday evening, a group of boys and girls will present a play “The Marvelous Story of Puss in Boots” by Nichols Stuart Gray.  On Friday evening, the public is invited to view a rare collection of early scenes marking the history of Carleton Place.

The following story of the Public Library has been prepared for The Canadian by Howard Brown of Ottawa and formerly of Carleton Place.  He is an authority on events of historical nature in this area.

Public Library Once on Grounds

Of Central School

By Howard M. Brown


With the one hundred and tenth anniversary of the founding of the present community library of the town of Carleton Place being commemorated this month, some features of its origins may be recalled in acknowledging our debt to its founders.  Its organizers included leading citizens of the day, whose public services were marked by the forming and administering of other of this community’s institutions which we have inherited.  In 1846 this Library was established by sixteen subscribing members, and with sixteen volumes which were increased in the first year to 144.

In honoring the local pioneers who aided in civilizing this district by adult education through community libraries, the present Carleton Place library’s predecessor, the Ramsay and Lanark Circulation Library, may be given the first place in time of origin in this immediate neighbourhood.  Instituted in 1829, and located on our northern outskirts when Morphy’s Falls at this site contained but a handful of village residents, it both served the citizens of the Carleton Place district until the Carleton Place library was begun and continued to operate for some years thereafter.

When the present Carleton Place library was in its first year, members of the earlier library association were holding their eighteenth annual meeting, followed by a gathering at Houston’s Inn in joint celebration of the birthday of Scotland’s Robert Burns and the anniversary of the founding of the Ramsay and Lanark Circulating Library Society.  Its volumes, numbering over five hundred, were then located in the Anglican Church which stood at lot 16, 1st concession of Ramsay, opposite the Union Hall and schoolhouse at that crossroad point between Carleton Place and Clayton.

A Carleton Place Library Association notice of April, 1851, shows our town library had then been moved to the village school house, a school house built with public funds on the grounds of the present Central School in 1842 and enlarged in 1850.  The 1851 notice follows in part, as a record contrasting with library conditions of today.

“The members of the Carleton Place Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute are requested to observe that in consequence of Mr. Lawson (Postmaster), from not now having time at his disposal to attend to the duties of Librarian, which he has hitherto discharged with so much attention, accommodation and civility, having resigned that office and having advised the removal of the Library to the School House as the most suitable place, to which, by the permission of the Trustees, it has consequently been removed, the undersigned will attend to their wants at such times as may not interfere with his professional duties (as schoolmaster).

They shall obtain an exchange of books on the second Saturday of each month, from 2 p.m. to 4 o’clock; and if this be required at other times, it will be necessary for them to send or bring in their volumes with a note on paper with the numbers desired in lieu thereof, observing to note always more numbers than their quota, which at the utmost is limited to four, to prevent disappointment.

The undersigned will, at his leisure, enter the numbers they get and lay the volumes aside for their call on any subsequent day.  It is his desire, however, to have the exchanging confined as much as possible to the occasion of his vacant Saturday, the second one of each month.  On that day a meeting of the Directing Committee is also expected monthly at the same hour and place.

To the present very valuable collection of works, which has been lately enlarged, an accession of new works ordered from New York is daily expected, the same having arrived on this side of the lines.  Former subscribers who have been for some time out of receipt of volumes should consider the gratification that reading useful works affords to all members of the family, and resume their station on the role.  How pleasant, useful, and improving to all in the house would it be were they to engage the young in reading aloud to the other members of the family while engaged in sedentary occupations!

There is no restriction with respect to distance from the seat of the Library, except particular punctuality in returning the books by safe hands and regular prepayment of subscriptions; so that persons at the distance of Franktown, Ennisville, or Bellamy’s, may under these circumstances become entitled to the benefits of the Library.

The Officers and Directors of the Carleton Place Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute for 1851 are – President: James Duncan; Vice President: William Peden; Treasurer: Robert Bell, M.P.P.; Secretary: David Lawson; Librarian: Johnston Neilson; Directors: George Dunnet, Duncan McGregor, James C. Poole, Thomas Patterson, Ramsay, John McCarton, Ramsay.

(signed) Johnston Neilson, Librarian.”

Two years later, in October 18, 1853, a local newspaper editorial by James C. Poole recorded and supported a proposal of establishing a News and Reading Room as an addition to the existing circulating library.  A following notice of April 5, 1865, announced “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 cents per quarter of a year.”  A reorganization of the Library took place in 1883.  Provincial legislation of 1895 enabled its conversion in 1897 from a subscription library, under its original auspices of the Carleton Place Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute, to a Public Library free of subscription dues.  Its location was moved in the later year to the newly erected Town Hall, where it has continued to serve the public with steadily increasing facilities for the past sixty years.

Rare Collection of Early Scenes for Library Display, Carleton Place Canadian, 18 October, 1956, by Howard M. Brown

At the Carleton Place Public Library, a collection of scenes of local bygone times will be on display on Friday, October 26.  With several of the earliest maps of the Lanark County area, and a few public documents of the same period, it is expected to provide an attractive feature of the commemoration on October 26 of the one hundred and tenth year of the existence of the library.  A list describing some twenty-five photographs  and maps will be available.

Pictures of local scenes have been gathered covering a period from the first decade of the present century to as early as ninety years ago.  Among them are a view of the Carleton Place Rifle Company Brass Band at Brockville during the Fenian Raids of 1866, Carleton Place street scenes of the 1870’s , and groups of local foundry and railway shop employees photographed fifty to sixty years ago, provided by Mr. J. W. Patterson.  Copies of these and most of the pictures included in the exhibit, have been acquired by the Public Archives of Canada by reason of their interest in illustrating the local history of this district.

Persons willing to provide old photographs of local public interest for the same purpose are invited to communicate with Mrs. Evangeline Ruhl, Miss Bessie Brown, or Mrs. E. S. Fleming.

Views of the lumbering period of the past century represented one of the many gaps in the small collection which might be filled by pictures probably available in the town.  Similar notable subjects at present missing are early textile views and agricultural scenes.

Copies of four or five ancient maps, made available by the Public Archives for this exhibit, will provide possibly the best geographical record of Lanark County settlement ever placed together on public display.  A large scale map of 1833 is believed to be the first detailed map of the district showing lot lines, roads, villages and mills.  Another shows the names of many of the land owners of a hundred years ago in Carleton Place and six surrounding townships of the county.

Prominent among the old documents to be shown will be a three page list of the Library’s books in the first year of its existence.  Some 140 volumes are recorded.  By classes, these first books of the Library may be grouped as, geography and exploration 29, fiction and miscellaneous 23, philosophy and ethics 22, history 20, biography 18, religion 16, science, engineering and agriculture 15.  A copy of this venerable list has been presented by the manuscript division of the Toronto Public Library for use in marking the Carleton Place Library’s 110th anniversary.  Another document of considerable interest, obtained in Photostat from the Librarian of the Public Archives at Ottawa, is a Carleton Place citizen’s petition of 1871, with over sixty signatures, dealing with selection of the location for the first Carleton Place Town Hall.  The building erected was the present Victoria School, formerly called the Town Hall School.  The petitioners were mostly south side residents advocating location of the hall on the south side of the river, a course followed twenty-six years later with completion of construction of the present Town Hall, in which the Public Library now has been located for almost sixty years.

For the rare opportunity of examining these graphic examples of our district’s storied background, no admission fee will be charged.

Public Library Open House on Anniversary, The Carleton Place Canadian, Oct. 11, 1956, by Howard M. Brown

At the Public Library Open House on Friday evening, October 26, there will be a display of photographs, maps and other interesting documents and exhibits relating to former days in Carleton Place.

A number of these historical reminders of persons and events of earlier times have been lent to the library board for the celebration of the 110th anniversary of the founding of the library, by Howard Brown of Ottawa, formerly of Carleton Place.

For some years, Mr. Brown has been delving into the early history of the town and district and is a recognized authority on the subject.  It is expected Mr. Brown will be present to display the treasures which he has accumulated in his years of research into records and archives of the local past.

All citizens are invited to this Open House celebration of an important event in the town’s history.

Carleton Place Public Library in 1896-97

Public Library Plans To Celebrate 110th Anniversary

Of Its Founding

From the Carleton Place Canadian, 16 February, 1956

By Howard M. Brown


The following material in connection with the Public Library has been found in copies of the Carleton Place Canadian on file in the Dominion Archives at Ottawa by Mr. Howard M. Brown.  In view of the library board’s intention to observe the 110th anniversary of the founding of a library in Carleton Place, these extracts from The Canadian are of particular interest.

Carleton Place Public Library

Transfer of Management from C. P. Mechanics’ Institute  to C. P. Public Library Board


Extracts from Carleton Place “Central Canadian”

By Howard M. Brown


1896, Thurs., October 22:

“Dr. May, Inspector of Public Libraries, appeared before the Board of Management of that body last Friday and laid before it a proposition for turning the limited Library into one that should be free for all.  He showed that the annual cost to the town would be only $250 more than the present municipal grant, which is $100, and in addition the library would receive an annual endowment from the Provincial Government of $200 for the purchase of new books.  Sixty libraries in Ontario have been made free during the present year, including the City of Ottawa, and the towns of Renfrew and Almonte have signified their willingness to make their respective libraries free on the first of January next.”

1896, November 12:

“Town Council Proceedings – in the Opera Hall last evening.  Mr. C. McIntosh and J. C. McNie appeared before the Council as a deputation from the Public Library and asked the Council to take it over with a view to making it a Free Library.  Moved by Mr. McNeely, seconded by Mr. Cram, that the Memorial presented by the Directors of the Public Library be adopted, and that a bylaw be introduced at our next regular meeting confirming the transfer and establishing the Library as a Free Library.  Carried.”

1897, January 14:

“Carleton Place Council.  The New Representatives Have Their First Meeting…….All were present except Thomas Begley, Reeve, and W. R. Williamson.  The following took the oath of office:  A. H. Edwards, Mayor; Abner Nichols, Deputy Reeve; James Warren, William Willoughby, Daniel Watt, William Shanks, J. F. Cram, S. J. Berryman, H. McCormick and William Baird, Councillors. 

Mayor Edwards outlined the important matters to be dealt with during the year, viz. The completion of the Town Hall, the purchase of new fire apparatus, the overseeing of the building of the new C.P.R. Shops, the revising of the assessment rolls, etc. 

The Council resumed on Tuesday evening, all present. 

Moved by W. Baird, seconded by H. McCormick, that the bylaw appointing the new Library Board, be now read the second time, and that the first blank be filled with the name of Charles Cato, the second with that of George Fulton, and the third with that of J. C. McNie.  Carried.

The bylaw provides that the present Library shall pass, in its complete form, into the hands of a Board of Management composed of three appointees of the Council and three of the Board of Education, who shall have full charge of the Library and manage it as was formerly done by the Council of the Institute, under the authority of the Town.  It will be free from the first of February.  The bylaw as read the third time and passed into law.”

1897, August 12:

“The adoption of the open shelf system by the Public Library is a step deserving commendation.  Most visitors to a library are unable to pick out the right book from a catalogue.  A few minutes before a case enables them to make a selection to their taste, and puts them on friendly relations with the contents of a library.”

1897, September 16:

The officials of the Public Library worked last week moving from the old to the new rooms, worked with the thermometer at 92 in the shade.  The thousands of books were safely transported and placed in ordered array on the new shelves.”


From the Carleton Place Canadian, 01 September, 1955


Howard M. Brown


One of the earlier public libraries established in eastern Ontario inland from the St. Lawrence River, the Carleton Place Public Library, will reach its 110th birthday in March, 1956.

 When organized settlement of the area between the Rideau and Ottawa rivers was begun in 1816, the first townships occupied by the emigrants were in what is now Lanark County north to the townships of Drummond and Beckwith.  The settlers knew the value of books and education and sought both.  The best known pioneer public library in the county probably is the Dalhousie Township library, founded near Watson’s Corners in 1828.  The Governor General of the Canada’s, the Earl of Dalhousie, then assisted this early library of the Scottish settlement by becoming its patron and the donor of over a hundred substantial volumes.

 The Carleton Place Library was established in 1846, a year before the Bytown Mechanics Institute was founded as the first library of the present city of Ottawa.  A report of the beginnings of the Carleton Place library has been found in the Canadian Public Archives in Ottawa, published in volume 1, number 10, of the Carleton Place Herald of November 30, 1850, then called the Lanark Herald.  It follows in part:

“I would lay before the public a statement of the affairs and general rules of the Circulating Library of this place.  The Library was established on the 14th March, 1846, under the name of The Carleton Place Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute, professedly to provide a cheap and well assorted class of books, accessible to all classes of the community.  The terms were 2 s. 6 d. entrance money and 5 s. annual subscription, the payment of 25 years subscription constituting a person a free member.  The library was first opened with 16 volumes and as many members, the books increasing in the first year to 144 and does now consist of 363 volumes; 38 of them have been purchased in the last week.  They may be classed as follows:  Religion 89, Historical 67, General Information 49, Scientific 18, Agricultural 4, Voyages and Travel 19, Biographical 29, Narrative 11, Fictitious 41, and Miscellaneous 36.”

“The affairs of the Institution are conducted by a body of directors chosen annually by the members from among themselves.  As none of the officers receive any pecuniary compensation, the whole of the receipts go for the purchase and repair of books.”

“There is also provision for young persons who may wish to improve their minds by reading upon payment in advance of 5 d. per month, having use of the Library as long as they continue to pay that sum; but they are not considered members, consequently they have no right to vote at any of the meetings.”

“A few of the young men about the neighbourhood who are not of the orchard-robbing, bar-room-loafing hang-about-the corner class, have availed themselves of the opportunity of storing their minds with useful information, instead of their pockets with pilfered fruit, and are habituating themselves to habits of study that will materially forward their interests in the future.”

This libelous concluding blast accompanied the accession to the post of librarian by Johnston Neilson, stern village schoolmaster.  David Lawson, local pioneer librarian, had resigned his library duties in 1851 because of increased demands on his time in operating the community’s post office.

Officers of the local Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute for 1851 were James Duncan (blacksmith) president, William Peden (storekeeper) vice-president, David Lawson, secretary and Robert Bell, M.P.P., treasurer.  The additional 1851 directors were James C. Poole (newspaper editor), George Dunnett (store-keeper), and Duncan McGregor (blacksmith), all of Carleton Place, and Thomas Patterson and John McCarton (farmers), both of Ramsay township.

Public schools and school libraries also began to improve in the 1850’s with the introduction of municipal institutions with locally elected officers.  A local newspaper editorial in 1851 titled “The Fool’s Penny” reported the purchase of  “178 neatly bound octavo volumes, containing from 300 to 400 pages each, for school libraries of the Township of Beckwith out of the Tavern Licence money of last year, which was set aside for that purpose by the Township Council.”

These books were allotted among the 11 school sections of the township according to their populations, which totaled 2,354 persons.  The largest school section, No. 11, with 525 inhabitants, included the village of Carleton Place, where its school was located.

A contemporary of the Dalhousie library of Watson’s Corners was the Ramsay and Lanark Circulating Library, also apparently founded about 1828.  It served the area immediately north and north-west of Carleton Place.

Minutes of its 1847 annual meeting, held at the residence of Edward Leary (Lot 19, Con. 1 Ramsay) with Alex Stevenson as chairman, included a motion by John Robertson Jr. and J. Rath “that the library be removed from the house of Mr. Edward Leary and taken to the Episcopalian Church situated on Lot 16, 1st concession of Ramsay.”

A  January 1847 letter to the Bathurst Courier, Perth, reporting this meeting, stated in part : “Monday the 25th instant being the natal day of Scotia’s bard, the annual general meeting of the Ramsay library was held.  Another has been instituted in the township with success, yet the numbers of this have increased in the last year and it is at present in a thriving condition, numbering upwards of 600 volumes.”

“The business of the day being over, a number of the members and admirers of Burns retired to Mr. Edward Houston’s Inn to celebrate the birthday of the poet and the 18th anniversary of the Society.  Mr. James Bryson was called to the chair.”

Ramsay township, into which the borders of the village of Carleton Place expanded after its early years, had as its second library that of the Ramsay Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute at Almonte, corresponding to the similar organization in Carleton Place.  An account of its 1857 annual meeting, held at the schoolhouse at Almonte, shows its library then contained 750 volumes. Its president, James Hart, and secretary, David Campbell, reported votes of thanks to James D. Gemmill of Almonte, then visiting in Europe, for a donation of forty volumes and to Robert Bell of Carleton Place, North Lanark M.P.P. , for “procuring to this institution the annual Government appropriation of Fifty Pounds.”

A decline in the Carleton Place library’s operations in the 1860’s is seen in the critical note of an 1864 local editorial calling “the attention of the inhabitants generally, but more particularly the young men, in this vicinity, to a notice in today’s Herald calling on them to reorganize the Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute.  We understand there are six or eight hundred books in the Library which have been almost unlooked at for several years.  Our young friends have abundance of time to read, and the knowledge so acquired will be far superior to that obtained at the corners of the streets.”

Public appreciation of the works of great authors was further encouraged by a long-lived series of open meetings during the winters, popularly known as Penny Readings.  These were sponsored locally under the name of the Carleton Place Mutual Improvement Association, formed at a meeting at innkeeper Napoleon Lavallee’s Carleton House (later the Leland Hotel) in December 1868 to promote a weekly course of public readings, with the admission set at one penny.  Among those attending the organization meeting were James Poole, Robert Bell, Robert Crampton, William Peden, James Gillies, and Rev. James Preston.  A principal supporter of this latter enterprise was Robert Bell, whose own library in Carleton Place was described in the Toronto Mail in 1887 as “the largest and best chosen private library in the Ottawa Valley.

In 1887 the Carleton Place Public Library, still associated with the Mechanics’ Institute of the village (population 3,600) was again in a thriving state, following a reorganization five years earlier.  Its position was described in a valuable and generally accurate history of Carleton Place in the Christmas number of the C.P. Herald, containing the following:

“For the Mechanics’ Institutes, as they exist throughout the Province, we are largely indebted to the Provincial Government, which makes grants of money for their maintenance.  The subsidies are regulated by the amount of subscription raised from private or municipal sources, by the extent of the libraries and by the various facilities that are afforded.  Provision is made for giving instruction in the mechanical sciences, such as draughting and mathematics, through practical teachers as well as through books of latest publication.”

“Our Institute has a membership of a little less than 200.  Mr. Lacy R. Johnson, who at the time of its re-establishment in 1883 was mechanical superintendent with the C.P.R. here, Robert Bell Esq., W. H. Wylie Esq., Mr. A. C. McLean and other citizens were the leading spirits in its establishment.  The library contains some 600 volumes.  The reading room contains about thirty of the leading newspapers and popular magazines as well as current scientific periodicals.  The Institute has given instruction to a large number of our mechanics and others, principally young men employed in the C.P.R. shops, in mechanical draughting, bookkeeping and general mathematics.  Some of the drawings were sent to the great Indian and Colonial Exhibition held in England last year.  The executive judges forwarded bronze medals to the draughtsmen, and to the Institute a diploma of merit and bronze medal.  The officers at present are: President, Wm. Pattie; Vice-president, Rev. A. Jarvis, Secretary, A. C. McLean, Treasurer, J. A. Goth.”

Peter McRostie, librarian of the Carleton Place Library from April 1887 to December 1909, symbolizes the public library to the elder residents of this town.  Born in Carleton Place in 1832 and raised in the old McRostie home on the riverside recently bought and renovated by Mr. and Mrs. Howard Dack, he became a farmer in Bruce County and later in Ramsay township, where he was assessor, school trustee and treasurer for some years.  After his return to Carleton Place he became librarian of the town library.  When the present Town Hall was opened in 1897, the library was changed to a municipal public library.  Mr. McRostie continued as librarian until within a year of his death at the age of 78.  He was succeeded in that office by his daughter, Miss Emma McRostie.

With the 110th anniversary of the founding of our library approaching, some fitting recognition of its origins and its principal representatives of the past, such as a display of historical pictures and other exhibits of the stirring days of early district history, might perhaps be considered by the citizens of this area and the Library Board of the town.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Many Town Streets Named After Settlers 140 Years Ago, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 23 June, 1960

An asset which the Ontario government and a number of Ontario communities have begun to exploit to greater public advantage in recent years is one which costs relatively little to the taxpayer. It is the publicizing of district history, both as an asset of local value and as a magnet to the tourist.

As one of the longest occupied parts of the province, Eastern Ontario is generously supplied with undeveloped historical attractions for vacationists. The Lanark County area is one which within a few years will pass its one hundred and fiftieth year of settlement. In 1960 this town itself will have completed one hundred and forty years of its life as a community.

The Canadian has arranged to provide for its readers a series of reviews summarizing typical local events of Carleton Place’s first one hundred years. Both for its local interest and as a basis for a possible search of the area’s older sites or events for those most capable of being developed as lures for vacation tourists, the selected annals will seek to recapture some impressions of the town’s earlier public and its people of past generations. This first record of its kind for this area has been prepared by Howard M. Brown of Ottawa, a former resident of Carleton Place who has contributed a number of the Canadian’s local history stories. It will be published in about ten installments.

The present opening installment mentions some of the occurrences of the first decade of settlement in the community founded here and in the two townships which provided its location.


Settlers Arrive

The persons who first built permanent homes at Carleton Place were the families of two emigrants, Edmond Morphy and William Moore. The time was at the half-way mark of an eight year period in which most of the land of Lanark County and of adjoining parts of Carleton County was surveyed and granted for occupation by British emigrants and demobilized soldiers. Three main government settlement offices to serve the area were opened at Perth in 1816, at Richmond in 1818 and at Lanark in1820. For its first fifty years Carleton Place, now extending also into Ramsay township, remained without separate incorporation and was a part of the township of Beckwith for all municipal purposes.

Nomadic native Indians continued to hunt, trap and fish at some of their favoured sites in the neighbourhood of the early settlers. Later generations of Indians camped nearby from time to time as sellers of their furs or handicraft products. The nightly howling of wolves or of an occasional prowling lynx could be heard at times near farm clearings or at the village borders, providing a disturbing serenade for timid persons and owners of unprotected young livestock. These and other reminders of the not far distant wilderness remained during many years of pioneer life here.

The Moore and Morphy land grants of 1819 included the greater part of the present built up area of the town of Carleton Place. The Moore farmsteads (located to William and his sons William and John) extended on both sides of Moore Street and the Franktown Road from Lake Avenue south to Highway 15. In width they ran west from Park Avenue to about Caldwell Street. The Morphy area (granted to Edmond and his sons, William, John and James) occupied the central part of the town from Lake Avenue north to the Town Line Road, and extended along both sides of the river from about the downstream or eastern side of the town’s present limits to Hawthorne Avenue and Moffatt Street. Town streets which appear to be named for members of the Morphy family include William, George, Morphy, James, Edmund, Thomas and Franklin Streets. Other Beckwith settlers of 1819 to 1822 whose 100 acre farm grants extended within the town’s present limits were Robert Johnston, James Nash, Thomas Burns, Philip Bayne, Manny Nowlan and George Willis.


Birth of the Town

1820 – the birth of the town came about a year after the first farm clearings were made upon its site. It came in the year 1820, when the construction of a grist mill and saw mill and the local business activities of several tradesmen began. These forgotten first local business men in addition to Hugh Boulton are recorded as being William Moore, blacksmith ; one Robert Barnett, cooper – said to have begun that once essential local trade carried on later by such pioneer townsmen as Napoleon Lavallee and Edmond and Maurice Burke – ; and Alexander Morris, innkeeper and trader, whose Mill Street tavern was operated by Manny Nowlan after the 1829 death of its first owner.


The new district gained its first member of parliament in 1820. William Morris of Perth was elected by the vote of a majority of the 250 settlers who had been enfranchised by the issue of the patents for their land grants. The numbers of adult male settlers within the principal township of the new district in 1820 were, in round numbers, Bathurst 400, Drummond 350, Beckwith 300 and Goulbourn 300.


Ramsay Township Opened

1821 – Settlement to the north of the infant community of Morphy’s Falls followed when the government in 1821 opened Ramsay township for occupation by part of a large group emigration of Lanarkshire weavers and other Scottish and Irish emigrants. Among them, those taking land near the site of Carleton Place in 1821 included John and Donald McLean, William Hamilton (1794-1882), John McArton, John McQuarrie, Hugh McMillan, John McLaughlin, John Griffith (1749-1852, died age 103), and William and Stuart Houston. Proceeding toward Appleton there were William Wilson, Caton Willis (1795-1869), Thomas Patterson, James Wilkie (1791-1862), Robert and William Baird, Robert Struthers, John Fummerton and others. Among many other Ramsay township settlers of 1821 were those of such family names as Bryson (including the later Hon. George Bryson, then age 6), Bain, Beatie, Black, Carswell, Chapman, Drynan, Duncan, Dunlop, Gemmill and Gilmour ; Kirkpatrick, Lang, Lowrie, Mansell, Moir, McDonald, McFarlane, McGregor, McPherson and Neilson ; Pollock, Robertson, Smith, Snedden, Steele, Stevenson, Stewart, Warren, Wallce, Yuill and Young. The journey to Ramsay township from the North Lanark settlement depot at Lanark village was made by some of the 1821 settlers by boat down the Clyde


Militia and Clergy

1822- A militia regiment of eligible settlers of Beckwith and Ramsay townships was formed in 1822. Its first officers, commissioned under authority of the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, included senior officers of the Perth area and Ramsay township residents William Baird (Appleton), James Smart (9th concession) and William Toshack (Bennie’s Corners). Beckwith township settlers among its captains, lieutenants and ensigns in 1822 were Thomas Glendinning (Glen Isle), John Cram (1795-1881), Robert Ferguson, Duncan Fisher (11th conc.), William Moore (Carleton Place), Dr. George Nesbitt (Franktown), Israel Webster (1st conc.), and junior officers John Dewar. Alex Dewar Jr., Daniel Ferguson Jr., John Fulford, Peter McDougall, Peter McGregor, John Nesbitt and Manny Nowlan.


The Rev. Dr. George Buchanan (1761-1835), Presbyterian minister and medical doctor, came with a large family in 1822 as the first resident clergyman for the township of Beckwith and Carleton Place. A log building centrally located in the 7th concession served as his church. At Franktown occasional Church of England services were conducted by the Rev. Michael Harris of Perth, at first in a tavern and after 1822 in the government warehouse, until a church was built and a resident Anglican missionary, the Rev. Richard Hart, came in 1829.


Irish Emigration

1823 – a second notable addition to settlement in Ramsay township, including locations near Carleton Place, was made by a southern Ireland group migration in 1823. They came chiefly from the County of Cork. Selection of these settlers in Ireland was superintended by Peter Robinson (1785-1838), Upper Canada government official, who accompanied the emigrants to Ramsay township and remained here for a time to arrange their establishment. Their inland journey from Prescott was by way of Franktown and Carleton Place to their settlement depot set up at the site of Almonte. Among many others were the Thompson, Teskey, Dulmage, Corkery, Foley, O’Brien, Haley, Nagle and Young families. One of the group, Francis W. K. Jessop, later of Perth, was for some time a brewer, distiller and early land owner at Carleton Place.

Casualties among local settlers in 1823 included John Hays, an Irish immigrant carried over the falls here while attempting to cross the river by canoe ; and James Craig and Crawford Gunn, Scottish settlers killed while felling trees at their Ramsay township farmsites.


The Ballygiblins

1824- The Ballygiblin riots of 1824, named for the Cork County place of origin of some of the Irish newcomers of the previous year, were a series of public disturbances given widespread and sensational publicity in Canada and reported in newspapers in the United Kingdom. The riots began at a militia muster at Carleton Place, and were incited in part by objectionable conduct on the part of one of the local officers, Captain Glendinning. In a one-sided shooting episode in the first day of fighting here, several of the Irish settlers were wounded. The affrays ended in a misguided raid on the Irish settlement headquarters at Almonte by a large force of militiamen and others, sponsored by district authorities of Perth. One of the Irish was killed by gunfire of the raiders.

At this time the population of the present province of Ontario had reached a total of only 150,000. This area was its northern fringe of established settlement.


Schools and Stores

1825- A school house at Carleton Place is said to have been established in 1825 near the corner of Bridge Street and the Town Line Road, with James Kent as teacher. Legislative provision for schools for the district was made by the provincial Parliament in 1823.

Caleb Strong Bellows (1806-1863) came to Carleton Place in 1825, opening a general retail store in the former public premises of William Loucks. Its location was on Bridge Street opposite the present Town Hall. His shop also was licenced in 1825 to sell spirituous liquors, as was the nearby Mill Street inn of Alexander Morris.


Inland Waterway

1826- The building of the Rideau Canal provided a welcome infusion of currency in the local economy, employing contractors and a number of workmen of this district over a six year period. Among the contractors was James Wylie (1789-1854), Almonte merchant, later a member of the Legislative Council of Canada. A village to be called Bytown was established near the mouth of the Rideau River in 1826 to serve the building of the canal.


Churches and Distilleries

1827- In Franktown the building of the stone structure of St. James Anglican Church, still in use as such, was begun with the assistance of government gifts of money and land.

Caleb S. Bellows in 1827 built a distillery at Carleton Place, operated for a few years by Francis Jessop and later by others. James McArthur (1767-1836) also was a licenced distiller in 1827. His Beckwith township distillery was located in the 7th concession at his farm near the Presbyterian church, where the same business was continued through the eighteen thirties and forties by Peter McArthur (1803-1884).


Leading Townsman

1828- Robert Bell (1807-1894), a resident of Carleton Place for sixty-five years and a leading pioneer figure of the town and district in public and business life, came in 1828 or 1829 to Carleton Place from Perth. He first established a general mercantile business here with the assistance of his younger brother James and in association with the new business of William and John Bell, merchants of Perth. Before Confederation he served for some thirteen years as a member of Parliament. James Bell (1817-1904) continued in business in Carleton Place until becoming County Registrar in 1851.

The district gained its first weekly newspaper in 1828 when the Bathurst Independent Examiner, predecessor of the Perth Courier, began publication. In this year there was a failure of the wheat crop, a serious event for many families.


Carleton Place

1829- The name Carleton Place came into use about 1829 as a new name for this community, until then known as Morphy’s Falls and often misnamed Murphy’s Falls. The new name was taken from Carleton Place, a location in the city of Glasgow.

The Ramsay and Lanark Circulating Library, the first community library in this immediate neighbourhood and the second in the county, was formed in 1829 by farmers of the area between Carleton Place and Clayton. It continued in operation for over twenty-five years.

In the tenth year of settlement at Carleton Place the teachers of the 120 children attending the Beckwith township’s four schools, including the village schools at Franktown and Carleton Place, were John Griffith, James Kent, Daniel McFarlane and Alexander Miller. In Ramsay township, with four schools and 105 pupils, the teachers of 1829 were David Campbell, Arthur Lang, Finlay Sinclair and John Young.