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.

FARM IMPROVEMENTS

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.

STIRRING LITTLE VILLAGE

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.

DISTRICT COUNCIL ELECTED

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.

LOCAL MAGISTRATES

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.

A GENERAL ELECTION

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.

CHURCH DISSENTION

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.

POWER LOOMS

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.

WARDEN ELECTED

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.

STOVE FOUNDRY

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.

POLITICAL VIOLENCE

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.

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Dollar and Cent Currency Adopted 100 Years Ago, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 17 October, 1957

Early days in Carleton Place 100 years ago, prepared by Howard M. Brown

DECIMAL CURRENCY

We publish in our advertising columns a notice from the banks of Canadaviz.

Bank of Montreal, Bank of North America, Bank of Upper Canada, City Bank, Quebec Bank, Gore Bank, La Banque du Peuple, Molson’s Bank, Bank of Toronto, Niagara District Bank. They announce their intention of adopting, after January 1st next, a decimal system of currency or dollars and cents in their accounts. The course is rendered necessary by the Act of the last session which makes it incumbent on the Government to use that currency in their books. The banks require their customers to draw their notes for discount, which are to fall due on and after January 1st, 1858, in dollars and cents and to have their cheque books, etc., for use after that date prepared conformably to the new regulations.

We publish the following letter on the need for this development. Sir: Canada with her 2 ½ or 3 million people presents the curious anomaly of a nation without a currency, the only approach to which are the coppers issued by the banks. One gets a handful of silver and on looking it over presents the appearance of the plunder of numismatic collection. I once found the following assortment in a handful so received – a Prussian Thaler, a Roman Paulo, a French Franc and half Franc, some Spanish, Mexican, Portugese and Sardinian pieces, one Swedish coin, a few English shillings, and various United States fractions of a dollar. The Province stands committed to the decimal system and sooner or later all commercial accounts will be so kept. I would suggest the postage stamps should carry their value marked in cents instead of pence. The banks might also be authorized to issue silver tokens representing 5, 10 and 25 cents. The disintegration of the British empire would not be hastened by granting the Canadians a decimal coinage.

 AGRICULTURAL PICNIC

In consequence of the inclemency of the weather the Pic Nic or Outdoor Soiree in connection with the United Counties of Lanark and Renfrew Agricultural Society is postponed to Tuesday, July 7th, when it will take place in Mrs. Thomas Morphy’s woods, Carleton Place, on the banks of the Mississippi River. Tickets 1s.3d each. Robert Bell, Secretary and Treasurer.

THE ORANGE WALK

So long back as we can remember it has been usual to make a fuss, kick up a dust and drink a little whiskey to wash it down, on the 12th of July, in commemoration of the battle of the Boyne. That memorable day happening on Sunday this year, the 13th was duly ushered in by the discharge of musketry and the roll of the Protestant drum. It was a scorching hot day but the Orange men, Orange women, Orange boys and Orange girls from all parts of the country met in our village and had a general parade. Upwards of 2,000 persons were present. All seemed to enjoy themselves most admirably until evening, when the assembly quietly broke up and several lodges returned to their respective homes.

LATE REV. WM. BELL

Died at Perth, on Sabbath morning, August 16th, 1857, the Rev. William Bell, A.M., the Minister of the first Presbyterian Church, in the 78th year of his age and the 41st of his ministry. He arrived at Perth as the minister of the first Presbyterian settlers in June 1817. He had the honor of being the first to preach the gospel in Lanark, Ramsay, Beckwith, Smiths Falls, and other places, besides Perth, at all of which there are now flourishing congregations.

BUILDING A TOWN HALL

A special meeting of the Municipal Council of the Township of Beckwith was held at Mr. Lavallee’s Hotel, Carleton Place, on Tuesday July 28th at 11 o’clock a.m., for the purpose of receiving tenders for the building of a Town Hall for the said township. Mr. Brice McNeely moved, seconded by John Roberts, that the Council do purchase a site or certain piece of ground for the purpose of erecting a Town Hall for the benefit of the Township of Beckwith said parcel of land being part of the east half of lot 14 in the 8th concession of Beckwith on the Franktown and Carleton Place road. The five tenders were opened as received from Neil Stewart, Robert Metcalfe, Robert McLaren, Peter Campbell and Wm. Rorrison. A contract was then entered into by the Council with the lowest tenderer, Neil Stewart and securities, for the building of a Town Hall for the sum of 119 pounds, 10 shillings, the job to be finished by January 1st, 1858.

INNISVILLE CHURCH

Proposals will be received until October 10th for plastering and shingling the Church of St. John, in the 12th concession of Lanark, and for building a small vestry room thereto. A. Code, James Cooke, George Crampton, church-wardens, committee. Carleton Place September 30th, 1857.

GRAND SQUIRREL HUNT

A grand squirrel hunt will take place at Carleton Place on Monday, October 19th, 1857. Parties wishing to attend the same can do so by leaving their names at the Post Office and paying the fee. Wm. Morphy, Secretary.

SCHOOL ON SATURDAYS

From the (Ottawa) Citizen. That hardly a half of the usual number of pupils attend on Saturdays is a powerful reason why the schools should be closed on that day. All Grammer Schools are closed on Saturdays. The children attending the Common Schools are certainly as much and even more in need of recreation than those attending the former, since they are generally younger. There are some who argue that since the parents toil six days so the child ought.

FINANCIAL CRASH

The financial panic in the States which has increased week after week since the first of September has culminated. It commenced by the breaking down of the Ohio Life Insurance Company in August. Then came the crash in the South and the West, the suspension of all the Pennsylvania, the Baltimore and the Washington Banks. Rhode Island followed next, and all over New England the doors were closed. New York City and State stood out to the last, but the failure of some of the heaviest mercantile houses has been followed by a total suspension of specie payments by the entire fifty-one banks of the City, and a solid column of leading merchants, manufacturers and publishers has been driven to the wall.

BECKWITH TOWN HALL

In going to Franktown yesterday we noticed that the Town Hall which was lately erected for this township is about completed. It is a good sized frame building situated in a fine airy place on the hill opposite the Free Church. We understand Mr. John Roberts was so liberal as to make the township a present of the site for the building.