Late W. J. Welsh Recalls Story of Fire Department
By Howard Morton Brown
Carleton Place Canadian, 04 July, 1963
Some fire department recollections from the early days of Carleton Place are concluded in this installment. It recounts the late W. J. Welsh’s memories of some locally famed firemen, of firemen’s annual picnics and balls of more than half a century ago, and of the origins of the town’s present fire company and its predecessor during his childhood.
The Ocean Wave Fire Company was established under its present name by the Carleton Place municipal council in 1875. Jack Welsh, widely known as “Baldy”, the grand old man of Canadian competitive paddling, died in Carleton Place in 1957 at the age of 96. His story which follows was written by him in 1917 and was first published in this newspaper:
“What a flood of pleasant memories the name of this fine fire fighting force revives. To those who know it in its splendor today a short sketch of its origin and early days might be of interest. While I will not try to confine myself strictly to data, the nearness of it will suffice.
About the years 1868 or ’69, the need of some better means of fire protection than the bucket brigade was apparent and with that end in view a meeting of the village was called to discuss the matter. The meeting was called to order by the late James Poole, editor of the Herald and captain of the volunteer company at that time.
It was held on the street near Glover’s carriage shop, and the chairman’s rostrum was the corner of the log fence where now stands the English church rectory. A fire company was formed with Mr. Poole as captain, but they had no engine. At that time, Robert Bell, who was a great lover of flowers, had a small hand engine or more properly a pump which he used for watering his garden.
He offered them this. While it was a first class article for its purpose and there is no record of it being a failure at a fire, we will judge that it was a success.
Among the members of the company at the time were: W. Patterson, Alex. Wilson, William Glover, J. S. Nolan, William Rogers, William Pattie, J. R. Galvin, Nathaniel McNeely and others.
A larger engine was purchased as the brigade became more efficient and the need grew greater. This was the ‘Defiance,” the first engine purchased by the village. It was a hand engine, commonly called a man-killer. Next was purchased the original Ocean Wave, also a hand engine but the most powerful of its kind at that time.
It required 40 men to work it, but when it was going it was a fire fighter. It would throw a stream of water over Zion church spire, a feat our streamers are not capable of today. In order to give the engine a fair trial and initiate the firemen into the proper working of it the Renfrew fire brigade were invited down.
They were a large fine-looking body of men. The trial took place on the bridge and as the husky firemen forced the breaks to the cry of “Heave Her Down,” the stream rose towards the sky and the dam at the same time which caused the late James L. Murphy to exclaim with rapture, “The Ocean Wave.” From that day so well remembered the Ocean Wave was christened.
The late William Patterson was the next captain, followed by the late T. L. Nagle, D. Moffatt, Thomas Lever, James Warren, Alex. McLaren and Wm. McIlquham. The hand engine gave way to the steamer and the “Sir John” was purchased and still another steamer was added. Now with a first class waterworks system, Mort. Brown’s and the Hawthorn factory auxiliary power, we stand as second to none as a well equipped town.
A chief engineer was attached to the brigade in the person of the late James Shilson whose mechanical ability was a wonder. The company made a wise selection. He was followed by the late James Doherty. The next chief, Mr. McIlquham, brought the company up to a high state of efficiency and what Billy can’t accomplish in the way of fire-fighting with the Ocean Waves would be a shame to tell. As a mechanic of man-power he had no superior.
While firemen have built up a company they did not forget the social side of life. Years ago the firemen’s picnic was the event of the season. It was held on Pretty’s Island, and the date was fixed to correspond with the ripening of John McCann’s corn – his contribution to the feast, as that was a big item on the bill of fare.
The steamer Enterprise was donated free by Senator McLaren. He also gave a substantial cash donation to purchase groceries and the said groceries to be purchased at Sibbitt’s.
One fireman was hiding a basket containing a bottle of ‘milk,’ under a clump of bushes at the water’s edge when smash came a rock over the bush and when he got the water out of his eyes the bottle was gone.
While the women spread the table cloths on the ground and were emptying the well-filled baskets, the corn and tea were bubbling in the boilers sending forth an appetizing odor that could be felt over at Shail’s Settlement.
A glance at the names of the committee in charge of the picnic is enough to convince the most skeptical that a better day’s outing could not be held – such names as the late Sid Anable, Bill Whalen, Bill Patterson, Joe Wilson, Alex. Wilson, Oliver Virtue. Wylie’s barge was towed along for a dancing platform for the home trip and with the late George and Dick Willis playing the fiddles – it was not called an orchestra in those days – such foot-inspiring music was produced by these two musicians as has never been equaled.
The annual ball was another event that was looked forward to as the ball of the season. Started years ago in Newman’s hall, it outgrew that. The first record I can find is 1882. Then the old town hall and Pattie’s hall were each used until the present town hall was built. Supper was served in the different hotels until they secured their present quarters and with their own outfit have served as many as 600 visitors from all over the country.
McGillicuddy’s orchestra, of Ottawa, – some class in those days – furnished the music. A comparison of the program in those days is worthy of notice. It consisted of a Grand March, Cotillion Quadrille and Varsuvienne. And to see them hit the floor, yea, couldn’t they dance.
I have lately seen three generations of the same family dancing at one time, the grandmother having attended the first annual ball. Of late years Valentine’s orchestra, of Ottawa, and the Hulme Family, of Prescott, have furnished music. While the profits have varied from a small sum to hundreds of dollars, with their usual generosity, they were able last year to give $50 to the Red Cross. The athletic and gladitorial side of the brigade was not neglected during these years as the numerous victories of fleet footed hose reel and giant tug-of-war teams testify competing in every town from Pembroke to Brockville.
They proved their mettle. When you think of a team of such men as Chief McIlquham, Adam Pretty, John Morris, Chief Wilson, James Loftus, William Hurdis, Tom Johnston, Jim Rogers, Alex. Wilson, John D. Taylor, John Willis, John Dolan and the late James Warren, it was easy to understand why they were victors.
Time has laid its hand heavily in the ranks of the company and very few remain in 1917. The old spirit created years ago and which has made a single success of this valuable asset to our town, still remains and when the last trumpet calls and each man has received his reward we will find them not sitting “around the fire” but basking in that celestial light – the reward of all who have been good and faithful firemen.”
Carleton Place’s Great Fire Occurred in 1910
By Howard M. Brown
Carleton Place Canadian, 27 June, 1963
Stories of former days in the long and distinguished record of the Ocean Wave Fire Company of Carleton Place, founded in 1875, are continued in this instalment.
It recalls the years of the eighteen eighties, and this town’s perilous fire of 1910, in the times when steam fire engines and equipment were raced to the scene of action by galloping fire horses.
Officers of the Ocean Wave Fire Company in the early eighteen eighties were William Patterson, captain; George Warren, first lieutenant; George Crawford, second lieutenant; John R. Galvin, secretary; William Rogers, treasurer; and John Flett, company engineer. The grants of the Carleton Place Council to the fire company at that time were $200 a year. The company usually had about 25 or 30 members; 35 was the membership attending its annual meeting in 1882. Leaders of the ld days subsequently included Tom Nagle, Dave Moffatt, Tom Lever, Jim Warren, Alex McLaren and the great Billy McIlquham.
After the years of the hand pumpers, the purchase of a steam fire engine finally was authorized by an 1884 bylaw to raise $6,000 for this purpose. A brick fire hall, still standing, had been built on Bridge Street at the end of William Street. Several large tanks were situated at points distant from the river to serve as fire engine water reservoirs.
The new fire engine was unable to save the inflammable new tannery and wool pulling plant of John F. Cram and Donald Munro, burned in 1886 with a fire loss of $10,000. Spectacular fire in the town of the nineties included the destruction of the Moffatt & Cavers shingle mill and most of the firm’s planning mill, and two losses of groups of Bridge Street retail shops. The plant and office of this newspaper, then named the Central Canadian and located at the corner of Bridge and Elgin Streets, were consumed by fire forty years ago.
Keen public interest and pride was taken not only in the speed and skill of the Ocean Wave firemen but also in the horses which drew the fire fighting equipment of a generation ago. A glimpse of one of many similar races to smaller fires is given in a Carleton Place Herald report of a 1910 fire which threatened to destroy St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Appleton several weeks before the great Carleton Place fire disaster of that year:
“The town team, driven by James Walters, took the big fire engine to Appleton – four miles – on Saturday night in the dark in thirty-five minutes, and there were four men on the engine. Mr. J. M. Brown, with one horse, took a load of firemen and a hose cart down in half an hour, and signaled for water thirty-seven minutes after leaving the hall here.”
As in the country’s other larger towns and cities of fifty years ago, the pounding gallop to a Carleton Place fire by great teams of horses, drawing heavy brass-stacked fire engines belching their smoke and fire, and clanging and rattling hook and ladder wagons manned with firemen, brought a never to be forgotten wave of excitement to young and old alike. To youthful onlookers it was a latter-day Roman chariot race, in a vital and perhaps desperate cause.
Battle Against Disaster
This town’s greatest fire came in mid May of 1910, and rode to its crescendo on the peak of a heavy gale. It came about the time predicted for the reappearance of Halley’s Comet. Some when half-awakening to its glare, thought they were viewing the light of the comet. Within four hours after midnight about thirty buildings were destroyed, most of them residences. Property losses in 1910 values were estimated at over $150,000. Through heroic work by the town fire department, the Canadian Pacific Railway fire force and Almonte firemen with their fire engine, aided by the courageous and frantic efforts of householders and others, a greater part of the south and east sides of the town was saved from equal devastation.
The fire started on Bridge Street in a pair of retail stores at Albert Street, from a cause not known. Fanned by a high southwest wind it swept an area equaling about two blocks, centred in the Albert, Beckwith, Judson and Franklin Streets section. The block bounded by these four streets was reduced completely to ashes and ruin.
Zion Presbyterian Church, valued at over $35,000 with its additions and renovations of the previous two years was wholly destroyed. Other public and church buildings bunred down, in addition to retail stores, were the curling rink, the militia drill shed, the Masonic Temple and St. Andrew’s and Zion church manses.
A total loss at the residence of Mrs. James Gillies, on the site at Franklin and Judson Streets where fire had struck over thirty years earlier, was set at $18.000. For some time the fire illuminated the windswept night sky to an extent at which in Almonte and more distant points a newspaper could be read in its light.
These were some of the tactical incidents and sidelights of this fire of over fifty years ago, as told by William H. Allen in the Carleton Place Herald:
“The first water supply came from the new engine, which played two good streams from the bridge. The old fire engine also played two streams from the bridge but gave out early in the fight, the lift being too much for her. Two streams were laid from Brown’s, one from the pump at the light station and one from the grist mill. Another stream came from Mr. Nichols planning mill and still another from the Bates & Innes mill, to which the C.P.R. brigade attached their hose and held the fire from spreading across the tracks.
Early in the night Mayor Albert Cram telephoned Almonte for aid. Our neighbour at great risk sent over their fire engine and a squad of men, the run being made over at a mile a minute rate by a locomotive and a flat car with Howard Moffatt at the throttle. The Almonte engine, was placed on Judson Street. As all the own hose were in service one of Brown’s pumps had to be cut off to give sufficient hose to the Almonte engine, which was placed below Brown’s mill. It did excellent service for some hours.
Away over the track the tower of Bates & Innes mill took fire and was saved after a hard fight. Many houses on William Street were covered with embers, but the careful work of the owners prevented any outbreak. Half a mile further the granary and driveshed of Mr. Herbert Morphy took fire and was swept, the barns nearby being saved with difficulty.
The firemen had a desperate fight with Zion Church manse. Here there would have been no hope for the wooden houses adjoining, and the Methodist parsonage and church and the Brown mills with dwellings would all have been in line.
The uniforms and arms of the volunteers were removed from the drill shed, but some blank ammunition kept up a mournful fusillade when the fire reached it. The only thing standing in the block bounded by Beckwith, Albert, Judson and Franklin streets is a lattice-work in the rear of Mrs. Gillies home.
Norman McNabb got caught in the bellrope when sounding the alarm from Zion Church. He had a narrow escape from strangling and has a sore neck. We regret to observe that there were thieves among the crowd, and many articles were afterwards lost that had been saved from the flames.”
Reminiscences of former generations of the men of the Ocean Wave Fire Company at work and in their lighter moments at play, as written about 50 years ago by the great, old sportsman W. J. ‘Baldy’ Welsh, will conclude the present group of stories of that memorable era of the town’s fire fighters.
Story of the Telephone in Carleton Place District
Carleton Place Herald, 18 October, 1962
By Howard M. Brown
Within the lifetimes of our present elder citizens, telephones first came into public use in Carleton Place and nearby Ontario communities in 1885.
Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone in this province in 1874 at Brantford was followed by convincing proofs of its commercial usefulness within two years in Ontario and Massachusetts. In Lanark County, only one year later, “one of Prof. Bell’s telephones” appeared in 1877. It was obtained by Mr. F. A. Kennedy, Perth dentist. With the sensational new devise he talked between his office and his house in Perth.
At Ottawa the possibilities of the telephone were demonstrated by electrical pioneer Thomas Ahearn (1855-1938) in a talk in 18778 over telegraph wires with the Montreal Telegraph Company’s agent at Pembroke. The Bell Telephone Company of Canada, of which Mr. Ahearn was a director until his death, was formed in 1880.
The company’s lines spread rapidly through southern Ontario and Quebec. The Carleton Place Herald early in 1885 reported that Mr. S. S. Merrick of Carleton Place was “obtaining 3,300 first class poles for the 106 mile contract” awarded to him for the Ottawa Valley telephone line then being built, that would connect Ottawa and Brockville, Perth, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place and points northward. The new telephone service in this district was proposed to be placed in operation with a musical programme by telephone, according to Mr. W. W. Cliff of the Carleton Place Central Canadian. Listing the subscribers and intending subscribers of Perth, Smiths Falls and Carleton Place, he wrote in June:
“Mr. Marshall has been pushing the business of the Bell Telephone Company in this County with much success. When all connections have been made Mr. Marshall intends to carry out a musical programme in Almonte and have the Hall connected with the system, so that subscribers in any of the places mentioned may sit in their offices and houses and be a part of the audience as enjoyably as if present in body.”
An Instant Success
With or without the musical overture, the district lines went into use in November, 1885. The revolutionary convenience and speed of communicating by telephone conversation was an instant popular success for business purposes. William H. Allen in his Carleton Place Herald nine months later reported:
“When first introduced here last November there were only ten names on the local exchange. Towards spring the ten line switch was replaced by a twenty. Now, as all these lines have been taken and more are in demand, a fifty line switch is to be placed in the central as soon as it can be manufactured.”
The company’s first published telephone directory for Lanark County subscribers was that for “Ottawa and Connections, June 1886.” Local and long distance calls were made by name instead of by telephone number. It listed seventeen Carleton Place telephones, all at business premises excepting the residence of the McLaren sawmill manager, and similar numbers of telephones at Almonte, Perth and Smiths Falls. Pakenham had ten telephones.
Trunk Line Business
The first Carleton Place exchange was located in the McDiarmid block, Bridge Street, in the jewelry store of Mr. R. J. E. Scott. This office was said in 1887 to be “owing to its central location, transacting next to the largest trunk line business in the Ottawa Valley.” The Canadian company at the beginning of that year had a total of twelve thousand telephone subscribers.
Mr. W. J. Warwick, a year or so later succeeded Mr. Scott in the same location as a jeweler and as holder of the Bell Telephone Company’s local agency. An early private exchange in the town was that installed in 1890 by the H. Brown & Sons firm between its flour, feed and cereal mills and the offices and residences of its two senior partners (with the modern colour feature provided by receivers which were solidly ringed in gay colours).
After six years of daytime public service a Carleton Place day and night telephone service appears to have been started early in 1892. An effort was put forth then “to add a few more subscribers to the telephone exchange to make fitty, when the company have promised us a night operator, giving us continuous service night and day.” Within a few weeks it was reported that Mr. Warwick had succeeded so admirably in impressing the usefulness of the telephone upon our citizens that nearly sixty will be in operation this week. A feature of the increase is the number of private dwellings that have secured it.”
Trial By Fire
When fire in 1897 destroyed a Carleton Place business section from the old frame McDiarmid block at the corner of Bridge and Franklin Streets south to and including the Keyes building, the Bell Telepone Company with a loss reported at $2,000 was one of the lesser victims of the destruction. Editor W. W. Cliff’s rhetorical news report in December 1897 said in part:
“Mr. Moss of the Central Telephone was brought into instantaneous action, and his first thought was to wing a message to Mr. McFadden at the Fire Hall, who was up and at the engine in a few minutes and, all alone, pushed the monster out upon the platform and applied the torch. The Chief and several others were aroused by Mr. Ross and the electrical alarm, which worked well. In a little while two streams were playing.
As the Chief saw the fire was in a nest of wooden buildings, he had Mr. Brown’s splendid equipment brought out into the action, with five hundred feet of hose from the Gillies factory, hitherto unsoiled. While all this was proceeding, the occupants of the doomed buildings were getting out what they and the crowds could lay violent hands on.
The firemen fought the flames with undying vigour. The hook and ladder was on the spot in five minutes, thanks to the speed of Mr. McGonigle, whose alarm went off early and who had a team hitched up and away in the twinkling of an eye. This apparatus was of inestimable value and one of the most agile and fearless in the contest was Mr. Mort. Brown, ‘the best fireman in Canada’, says Mr. Graham, who risked his life in climbing ladders and hurling the hooks.
The firemen were soon coated with ice, and in this awkward condition worked with tireless energy, the branchmen especially doing brave and effective service. Towards daylight all danger of further inroads was over, but streams were poured steadily into the debris until noon. The engineer and Mr. Virtue stood steadily at their freezing posts on the river from three o’clock until noon, the noble engine old Sir John, not once stopped his powerful motion all that time.
There were several narrow escapes. The most thrilling was that of Mr. Galloway, a Presbyterian clergyman who had preached the night before in the Methodist church and who was sleeping at Mr. McGregor’s. He is a cripple, and helpless in such a crisis. Mr. Howe, jeweler, and Mr. Hartley, book-keeper at the Shops, heard of his condition and rushed up after him. They grabbed him and carried him out, the roof falling in just as they left his room.
The Bell Telephone showed their quick resource. Burned out at three, everything swept but the books and a box with two new switchboards, at ten in the evening they were going almost as usual. General Manager McFarlane, of Montreal, and Mr. Winters, Superintendant of Construction, arrived within a few hours. The present abode is temporary. The old Mechanics’ Institute flat has been rented, and the plant will be installed there in two weeks.”
Continuous Service On Sundays
Telephones had been in use in Carleton Place for some thirteen years before continuous service including Sundays became available. This newspaper in March of 1899 reported:
“The Bell Telephone Company announces in this issue a continuous service on Sundays the same as on week days. This is due to the very rapid growth of their business and its persistent success. Carleton Place is the central point between Pembroke, Ottawa and Brockville, and stoppage here means the holding up of this entire system.”
The Bell Telephone Company’s present Carleton Place office, when twenty-nine years of ‘continuous service on Sundays’ had passed, was opened in its new building at the corner of Beckwith and Albert streets in January, 1929. The lot on which the building stands had been vacant since the great fire of May 1910, which swept this section of the town, destroying in its path the McNab home which is said to have stood at the precise site of the present building. There were some eight hundred town and rural telephones in direct connection with the exchange in 1928 when it was moved to its present location, and six operators.
8 H.P. Ford Was Bought By Findlays – First Local Car
The Carleton Place Canadian, 15 September, 1960
By Howard Morton Brown
Some of the local events of fifty to sixty years ago in the Carleton Place area are recalled in the present section of a continued story summarizing the history of this town’s early days.
This was the time which saw both the heyday of the Empire on which the sun never set and the end of the Victorian era. It opened to the martial air of The British Grenadiers, with Canadian soldiers on active service in South Africa, and closed on a modern theme with such developments as the motor car and electricity on their way towards changing the ways of life of half the world.
In the first year of the present century Canadian soldiers, including several volunteers from Carleton Place, were in South Africa serving in the Boer War. Some of the present century’s great changes in living conditions had their start in these years. Electricity began to be used as a growing source of power instead of mainly for lighting and communication equipment. While annual local horse shows were being held the first automobiles appeared on the town’s streets. Business and social life began to have a greater resemblance to conditions of the present.
Among the towns of the Ottawa Valley, Carleton Place, with its population reduced to 4,000 at the opening of the century, had been outdistanced in size by the growth of Smiths Falls and Pembroke, each of which had attained a population of about 5,000. The brief views of local scenes and events which follow are based on news reports of the two Carleton Place weekly newspapers in the years from 1900 to 1909.
South African War
1900 – To supply serge for British army uniforms the Canada Woollen Mills expanded its operations here at the Gillies and Hawthorne mills.
Local talent presented the Temple of Fame, an historical pageant. The town had a day of enthusiastic celebrations when news of the Relief of Ladysmith came from South Africa.
Abner Nichols & Son brought their season’s log drive down the lake to their newly opened sawmill at the riverside on Flora Street; while two drives of logs, ties and telegraph poles were reaching the mill operated by Williams, Edwards & Company at the dam. A new branch of the Union Bank of Canada was in operation in Carleton Place, in addition to the longer established branch of the Bank of Ottawa.
The Carleton Place Canoe Club was reorganized as a racing association and joined the new international canoe association. A district grouping to include Ottawa, Brockville, Aylmer, Britannia and Carleton Place clubs was planned. This town’s club ordered its first war canoe.
Peter Salter bought and reopened the Carleton House, the oldest two storey stone building in the town. He renamed it the Leland Hotel.
Findlay’s Foundry Rebuilt
1901 – Findlay Brothers large new stove foundry of brick construction was built on land sold by the Canada Lumber Company.
The McDonald & Brown woolen mill at Mill and Judson Streets was continued in operation by John Brown on the retirement of John McDonald.
In the first local celebration of Labour Day the moulders and machinists unions held a sports day in Gillies Grove near the lower woollen mill, with football, baseball and lacrosse games and track and field events.
William H. Hooper, who had returned to Ottawa from the South African War, bought Charles C. Pelton’s Carleton Place photographic business.
A Carleton Place firemen’s demonstration was attended by the fire companies from Renfrew, Arnprior, Lanark, Perth and Smiths Falls, the Ottawa Nationals baseball team and the Perth Crescents lacrosse team. Among its other sports events in Gillies Grove were hose reel races, tug of war contests, a hub and hub race and tossing the caber. A parade included the fire brigades, decorated floats, and the Town Council and citizens in carriages. A massed band uniting the citizens’ brass and silver bands of Pembroke, Smiths Falls and Carleton Place marched through the town in an evening parade, playing The British Grenadiers. Officers of the Carleton Place band included leader Joseph McFadden and secretary James Edwards.
About sixty neighbours helped in the raising of a barn of forty feet height at the farm of John McArton in the sixth concession of Ramsay near Carleton Place.
With Robert C. Patterson, barrister, as mayor, the town bought a twelve ton $3,000 steam road roller.
Queen Victoria’s long and illustrious reign ended early in 1901 and Edward VII became King. At Ottawa the Duke and Duchess of York – the future King George V and Queen Mary – witnessed a war canoe race of Ontario and Quebec canoe clubs including Carleton Place. South African War service medals were presented and a statue of the late Queen was unveiled on Parliament Hill.
1902 – The closed Carleton Place sawmills and upper Mississippi reserve dams of the Canada Lumber Company were bought by H. Brown & Sons for water conservation and power development uses.
The Canadian Canoe Association held its annual regatta at Lake Park during two days of high winds, with over two hundred visiting paddlers present from clubs of Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Smiths Falls and Brockville. The mile course, from Nagle’s Shore to about the Lake Park steamer dock, was measured in the previous winter on the ice.
A railway bridge of steel construction on stone piers replaced the former railway bridge across the Mississippi at Carleton Place.
At the Queens and Leland hotel yards, agents were hiring teams of horses in December for winter work at Ottawa Valley lumber shanties.
Two Mills Closed
1903 – The Gillies and Hawthorne woollen mills – recently working on overtime hours with 192 employees, after six years of improvements under the ownership of Canada Woollen Mills Limited – were closed. The reason was stated to be loss of Canadian markets to British exporters of tweeds and worsteds. The company went into bankruptcy.
Twenty miles of toll roads were bought by Lanark County and freed of tolls.
For the killing of a foundry employee by stabbing during a week-end drunken quarrel, an elderly resident of Carleton Place was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a three year term of imprisonment in the Kingston penitentiary.
Carleton Place curlers, with William Baird and Dr. D. A. Muirhead as skips, won the Lanark County Curling League cup.
1904 – The Caldwell sawmill property between Lake Avenue and the river was bought by the town and, after consideration for industrial uses, was reserved for a town park.
Sir Wilfred Laurier addressed a Carleton Place meeting on behalf of T. B. Caldwell, successful North Lanark candidate for Parliament.
An eight horsepower Ford was bought by Findlay Brothers as the first automobile owned in Carleton Place. It was the local harbinger of great changes in transportation and in ways of life, comparable to the results of railway construction of fifty years earlier.
1905 – Carleton Place street lighting was improved under a ten year contract, with introduction of a year-round all night service and erection of 150 street lights to supplement the arc lamp system.
Use of the Town Park was opened by the visit of a three ring circus with a thirty cage menagerie, a twelfth of July celebration attended by 5,000 out of town visitors, and a lacrosse game between Renfrew and Carleton Place teams at the newly built grandstand and fenced athletic grounds.
1906 – A fire at Gillies Engine Foundry and Boat Works destroyed the stone building’s two top storeys and a number of completed motor launches. Work was resumed by some twenty employees.
A mica-splitting industry of the General Electric Company was being carried on in J. R. McDiarmid’s Newman Hall at the corner of Bridge and William Streets. Gardiner’s Creamery was built on Mill Street. Concrete sidewalks were being laid on many town streets.
Thousands of European immigrants were passing through Carleton Place weekly on their way to western Canada. An exhibition of moving pictures was held in the Town Hall by the Salvation Army in aid of its work for assistance of immigrants.
For causing the death of his brother in a drunken quarrel in a motor boat near Lake Park, a local resident pleaded guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to four years imprisonment.
The first car fatality in Carleton Place occurred when Samuel A. Torrance’s automobile collided with a locomotive at the railway station crossing. One of his passengers was killed.
The first of a series of annual horse shows was held at the Town Park.
Bates & Innes Mill
1907 – Bates and Innes Co. Limited bought and equipped the former Gillies Woollen Mill as a knitting mill. A Quebec company, the Waterloo Knitting Co. Ltd., similarly re-opened the Hawthorne Woollen Mill.
The Carleton Place Canoe Club won the Canadian war canoe championship and other races at the year’s Canadian Canoe Association meet, held at Montreal.
Mississippi lumbering continued on a reduced scale. A Lanark Era spring report said: – The Nichols drive on the Clyde parted company here with Charlie Hollinger’s logs at the Caldwell booms, and swept its way over the dam to await the coming of the Mississippi sawlogs. The gang folded their tents and rolled away up to Dalhousie Lake where the rear of the drive floats. It will take about two weeks to wash the mouth of the Clyde, and then the whole bunch will nose away over the Red Rock and on to Carleton Place. While going through Lanark some of the expert drivers did a few stunts for Lanark sightseers. Joe Griffiths ran the rapids on a cedar pole just big enough to make a streak on the water. The Hollinger logs were retained at the Caldwell mill, where they are now being rapidly manufactured into lumber.
Street Traffic Rides
1908 – A Bridge Street runaway accident took the life of Archibald McDonnell, aged 77, son of one of Beckwith township’s original few settlers of 1816.
Spring floods burst the old lumber company millpond dam and two flumes at Carleton Place. Users of Mississippi River water power united to plan the building of retaining dams at headwater locations.
George H. Findlay was mayor, W. E. Rand, M.A. was High School principal and principal of the public schools was Reg. Blaisdell.
1909 – Bates & Innes knitting mill, after making waterpower improvements, began running night and day with about 150 employees. The Hawthorne knitting mill was closed by reason of financial difficulties, and its operating company was reorganized as the Carleton Knitting Co. Ltd.
Construction of a hydro electric power plant was begun by H. Brown & Sons at the former site of the Canada Lumber Company mills, after several years of preparation of the riverbed including tailrace excavation and building of a concrete millpond dam.
A roller skating rink with a new skating floor was re-opened at the militia drill hall on the market square.
J. W. Bengough, noted Canadian cartoonist, entertained a Town Hall audience with his skill, making such sketches of local celebrities as Reeve William Pattie at his desk, Dr. J. J. McGregor extracting a horses’ tooth, Arthur Burgess in his automobile, William Miller in a horse deal, and Tom Bolger with his hotel bus at the railway depot.
Christmas ‘Snapshots’ From The Carleton Place Herald, 1878-1880
LAKE FROZEN – 1878
Although late in the season, it is only about a week ago that Jack Frost succeeded in laying a coating of ice over the Mississippi Lake. We have not heard of any teams attempting to cross on the ice yet.
JUMPING ON SLEIGHS – 1878
We observe that the youth of this place, since the commencement of sleighing, are indulging in the dangerous practice of jumping on sleighs while going at a rapid pace. We would offer a word of advice to them to cease this habit, before it becomes our unpleasant duty to chronicle the occurrence of a serious accident to some of them by it.
CHRISTMAS DAY – 1880
Christmas Day was observed here by everyone, all the places of business were closed and service was held in St. James’ Church at 11 a.m. A shooting match for turkeys, deer etc., was held in the afternoon, a good number participating, but very poor shooting was made.
CHRISTMAS TREE – 1880
On Thursday evening last an entertainment was held in Zion Church under the auspices of the Sunday School Scholars. The programme consisted solely of songs, after which – the many prizes which bedecked the Christmas Tree were distributed among the Sunday School children.
FIREMAN’S BALL – 1880
On Wednesday evening last the members of the Ocean Wave Fire Co., held a grand ball in Newman’s Hall. We believe a large number were present, who indulged in dancing to an unlimited extent. An excellent supper was served at the Wilson House.
The following ads are all from the December 1880 edition of the Carleton Place Herald:
80 Buildings Once Erected Here Within A Year’s Time, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 25 August, 1960
About seventy-five years ago, Carleton Place reached the speediest single period of its growth. The present instalment of a summary of events in the town’s youthful years tells briefly of some of the developments that were in the foreground seventy to eighty years ago. It reaches the period of the first childhood recollections of this district’s present elder citizens.
The selection of Carleton Place at his time by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company as a divisional and repair shop point added a third main industry to growing textile and lumber businesses. Other principal manufacturing industries here, notably the making of stoves and machinery and grain milling, were all expanding. Revolutionary discoveries in telephone communication and electric lighting and in new types of industrial machines were being put into use in this area.
Building construction and the number of the community’s residents doubled within about five years. At the end of the decade, Carleton Place, with a population approaching only 4,500, was second in size to Ottawa alone in the Ottawa Valley. On the main line of the new railway to the west coast Carleton Place was the largest community between Montreal and Vancouver with the exception of Winnipeg. While the Carleton Place of later years may be found to have increased in wisdom and prosperity as measured by its way of life, its stature as rated by the conventional yardsticks of population and of total commercial activity has remained with relatively little change.
1880 – The idle Hawthorne woollen factory was bought by James Gillies of Carleton Place from its original owner Abraham Code at a reported price of $16,400.
A one hour strike fro a shorter working day by about fifty men at Peter McLaren’s sawmill was unsuccessful. Working hours continued at thirteen hours a day, from 6 a.m to 7 p.m., and twelve hours on Saturdays.
Lawsuits were under way between the rival sawmill owners here, Boyd Caldwell and Peter McLaren, based on McLaren’s efforts to exclusively control the passage of logs down the Mississippi at High Falls and other points.
The first annual regatta and sports day of the Carleton Place Boating Club was held at Carleton Park (Lake Park), featuring sailing, rowing and canoe races, the Perth band and baseball team, and oarsmen from Brockville and Ottawa. Its evening events on the river in Carleton Place were a promenade concert, an illuminated boat dispaly contest, fireworks and a balloon ascension. The Carleton Place brass band wearing new uniforms rode in a large carriage drawn by four horses to a concert and ball in Newman’s Hall which lasted until morning.
1881 – St. James Anglican Church was rebuilt, the present stone structure replacing a former frame building. The building contractors were William Moffatt and William Pattie. Chairman and secretary of the building committee were Colonel John Sumner and Dr. R. F. Preston. The Rev. G. J. Low succeeded the Rev. G. W. G. Grout before the building was completed.
John Gillies of Carleton Place bought the McArthur woollen mill at the present Bates & Innes site from its first owner Archibald McArthur. The reported price was 40,000. W. H. Wylie, lessee of the McArthur mill, bought the Hawthorne woollen mill from its new owner James Gillies at a price reported as $19,000.
Several parties of Indians were encamped late in the year at the east side of the town and frequented the streets daily. An Indian war dance was held at a local residence.
1882- A new railway station was built at the junction of the two lines here. Exemption from municipal taxation was granted for the C.P.R. workshops being moved to Carleton Place from Brockville and Prescott. Major James C. Poole (1826-1882), Herald editor, predicted the town was “about to enter upon an era of advancement and unparalleled prosperity.”
Boyd Caldwell & Sons river-men, when their log drive was blocked by Peter McLaren’s dam at the foot of Long Lake, cut a passage through the dam under claimed authority of the Ontario Legislature’s Rivers and Streams Act, which had been reenacted after its disallowance by the Dominion Government. The ten thousand logs reached the Carleton Place mill in good condition after having been delayed three years en route. Peter McLaren’s assertions of exclusive river rights which had been rejected by the Ontario Supreme Court were sustained by the Supreme Court of Canada. The Caldwell firm appealed to the Privy Council.
Sawdust had become a local furnace fuel, according to Mr. W. W. Cliff, Central Canadian publisher, who reported : Messrs. Wylie & Co. use about fifteen cartloads per day, the machine shop about four, and Mr. Findlay about one. The sawmills of course regard it as their staff of steam life.
1883 – The Bank of Ottawa opened a branch at Carleton Place, located on Bridge St. near Lake Avenue, opposite the Mississippi Hotel, with John A. Bangs as managaer.
The town’s leading hotel, the Mississippi, was sold to Walter McIlquham, formerly of Lanark, by Napoleon Lavallee at a price reported at $9,400.
In the Mississippi River strife between the two lumbermen whose principal mills were at Carleton Place, the Ontario Rivers and Streams Act was once more disallowed by the Dominion Government under Sir John A. MacDonald and was again introduced by the Ontario Government under Sir Oliver Mowat. The last disallowance held fifty thousand Caldwell logs in the upper Mississippi near Buckshot Lake and forced the Caldwell mill here to remain idle.
The James Poole estate sold the Carleton Place Herald, founded in 1850, to William H. Allen and Samual J. Allen ; and sold the family’s large stone residence at Bridge Street and the Town Line Road to David Gillies, son-in-law of James Poole. William H. Allen continued publication of the Herald for sixty years. David Gillies, original partner and later president of Gillies Brothers Limited of Braeside and member of the Quebec Legislature, maintained his home here until his death in 1926. Its site was the place of residence of six generations of the Poole family.
1884 – Carleton Place became a railway divisional point. A result was an expansion of the town’s population and of its commercial activities. A large railway station addition was undertaken.
The McLaren-Caldwell lumber litigation ended with a Privy Council judgement upholding the Caldwell claims for public rights for navigation of logs throughout the length of the Mississippi River.
To make way for the building of a new flour mill the John F. Cram tannery and wool plant was removed to Campbell Street after fourteen years of operation on Mill Street. Other building operations in addition to house construction included erection of the town’s Roman Catholic Church and a bridge by the Gillies Company at the lower falls. The Council Chamber of the Town Hall was vacated to provide additional classroom accommodation for the Town Hall School. A bylaw authorized the raising of $6,000 to buy a new fire engine for the Ocean Wave Fire Company.
Electric Lights and Telephones
1885 – A telephone system connecting eastern Ontario centres including Carleton Place was established by the Bell Telephone Company. Twenty telephones were installed in this town in the first year, all for business purposes.
A direct current electric lighting system was installed here by the Ball Electric Light Company of Toronto, including five street lights on Bridge Street. The generator was placed by the Gillies firm at the Central Machine Works. It was moved in the following year to a new waterpower installation opposite the west side of the Gillies woollen mill.
On Mill Street a four storey stone mill was built by Horace Brown, joined by a grain elevator to his former flour mill, and was equipped for the new roller process of flour milling.
Working hours for the winter season at the woollen mill of Gillies & Son & Company were from 7 a.m. to 6.15 p.m. with closing time one hour earlier on Saturdays.
1886 – The railway junction and divisional town of Carleton Place was a stopping point for the first through train of the C.P.R. to reach the west coast from Montreal.
The new tannery of John F. Cram and Donald Munroe was destroyed in a fire loss of over $10,000.
Abner Nichols’ planing mill was built at the corner of Lake Avenue and Bridge Street.
Indians who had camped for the winter at Franktown, selling baskets through the district, struck their tents and returned to the St. Regis Reserve.
The May 24th holiday was celebrated by a sports day at Allan’s Point (Lake Park). Its baseball score was Carleton Place Athletics 16, Renfrew 5 ; and a no score lacrosse game was played between Ottawa Metropolitans and Carleton Place. The practice field for the lacrosse and cricket clubs at this time was the picnic grounds of Gillies Grove below the woollen mill.
Canada Lumber Company
1887 – Peter McLaren sold his lumber mill properties at Carleton Place and upper Mississippi timber limits at a price reported as $900,000. The buyers, the McLarens of Buckingham and Edwards of Rockland, formed the Canada Lumber Company. It doubled the mills capacity, with Alexander H. Edwards (1848-1933) as manager here. Peter McLaren three years later was appointed to the Senate, and died at age 88 at Perth in 1919.
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was built on its present Bridge Street site donated by James Gillies, the congregation vacating its previous location in the old stone church building still standing at the corner of William and St. Paul Streets.
A bridge of ironwork on stone piers replaced the wooden bridge across the Mississippi at Bridge Street. A brick and tile manufacturing yard, which operated for about fifteen years, was opened by William Taylor, hardware merchant. A large brick manufacturing business of William Willoughby, building contractor, continued in operation. The Herald office and plant moved to a new brick building at the south side of the site of the present Post Office. A Masonic Temple was built, and a considerable number of residential and other buildings.
Reduced railway fares were granted for the fifth annual musical convention and choral festival of the Carleton Place Mechanics Institute, held in the drill hall at the market square, with guest performers from Boston, Toronto and other points. The Institute’s officers included William Pattie, Dr. R. F. Robertson, Alex C. McLean and John A. Goth.