Law Enforcement in Lanark County

132 Constables Once Patrolled Lanark, Renfrew

Carleton Place Canadian, February 20, 1958

By Howard Morton Brown

 

Some of this district’s law enforcement officers and ways of caring for indigent persons are recalled to view in this installment of a series of records of former local social conditions, which concludes with a brief glimpse of work and leisure in Carleton Place’s distant past.

Law Enforcement

The constables who assisted the sheriffs of the judicial district of Bathurst and of the later counties of Lanark and Renfrew in maintaining the law were once part time officers.  Sheriff of the two united counties from 1852 to 1866 and of Lanark County from 1866 to 1903 was James Thompson.  His predecessor for ten years had been Andrew Dickson of Pakenham.  Sheriff Thompson, first editor and one-time owner of the Perth Courier and county sheriff for over fifty years, lived until 1912 and the age of 100.

Local magistrates of the district at the middle period of Andrew Dickson’s regime numbered forty-three, three at present Renfrew county points and forty in the Lanark area.  Beckwith township’s magistrates in 1846 were Robert Bell, James Conboy, Robert Davis, Peter McGregor, Colin McLaren and James Rosamond.  Prominent names of magistrates in other townships then included John G. Malloch, Alex McMillan, Roderick Matheson, John Haggart and John Bell, all of Perth; John Balderson of Drummond, John Hall of Lanark, James Shaw of Elmsley, John Lorne McDougall of Horton and Alex. McDonell of McNab.  Magistrates of Ramsay township at the same time were Wm. Houston, Wm. Rae, Wm. Wallace, James Wylie and W. G. Wylie.

Part Time Constables

 Constables appointed for Lanark and Renfrew counties for the depression year of 1858 at the spring General Quarter Sessions of the Peace numbered one hundred and thirty-two.  There were twenty-one for Drummond township including Perth, nineteen for Beckwith including

Carleton Place, nine for Montague including Smiths Falls, and numbers from two to nine for twenty-four other townships.  Including some long-lived citizens and sons of district pioneers, the constables appointed for Beckwith township an even one hundred years ago were –

Carleton Place:  Joseph Bond (1805-1902, shoemaker), Hugh Boulton Jr. (1839-1887, miller, farmer), Abraham Morphy (1835-1910, farmer), Absolem McCaffrey (later grocer and liquor dealer), David McNab (1822-1903, saddler, later miller), Nathaniel McNeely (blacksmith), George McPherson Sr., (wagonmaker, later bailiff), Wm. Rorrison (builder) and Walter Scott (tailor).

Franktown: Allan Cameron (farmer), Arch. Campbell (1815-1899, farmer), Wm. Gibson, Robert Lever (cabinet maker), John Morris (blacksmith), and Michael Murray (shoemaker).

Ashton: Arch. Campbell (Con. 9, lot 27) and James Conn (merchant).

8th Concession:  John McEwen

9th Concession:  Alex. Stewart (1792-1892, merchant, Black’s Corners)

Residents of Ramsay township appointed to serve as constables in 1858 were Wm. Coleman (Con. 8, Lot 6), Patrick Corkery (Con. 3, lot 10), Wm. Gilmour, Duncan McGregor (Almonte), James Robertson (Con. 1, lot 15), Norman Shipman (Almonte), and James Toshack (Con. 8, lot 24, Bennie’s Corners).  Among similar appointments for Perth was Anthony H. Wiseman as High Constable.

Town Police

 Joseph Bond and Alvin Livingston were among the longer-term constables of Carleton Place’s village days.  Alvin Livingston became local full-time constable when appointed in 1885 at a salary of $350 a year as “Chief Constable, Street Commissioner, Collector of Young Man’s Statute Labor Tax and Sanitary Inspector.”  He had served in an earlier seven year period as constable and lock-up custodian at a $60 a year salary.  Occupant of the same post of chief constable for the lengthiest period, dating from about 1894, was Hugh MacConachie Wilson, with his once familiar greeting to street-loitering youngsters, “Weel noo, b’ys, ye’d better be movin’ an.”

County Jail

 Some of the kinds of century-old criminal charges which led to jail confinement are seen in a list of the offences alleged against the occupants of the united counties jail at Perth at one time in 1862.  Its prisoners at this time, grouped by kinds of offences charged, were – breach of indenture by leaving his master, 7; theft or larcency, 5; murder, 1; assault with an axe, 1; concealing birth of a child, 1; lack of bail, 3; and vagrancy, 3.  Including an additional six confined as mentally ill, the jails inmates were eleven men and sixteen women.  The united counties jail of 1862, then about to be vacated in favour of a new structure, was a small two storey bastille with stone walls of a thickness of almost three feet.  A barricade of brick, elm and oak composed the second storey floor.

A generation later a similar number of Lanark county occupants of the jail at Perth, mostly “tramps sent in from Smiths Falls and Carleton Place”, included such prisoners as a man charged with stealing a horse and buggy, and “a boy twelve years old, a boot-black and a very cunning youngster, awaiting trial for stealing a gold watch and fourteen dollars.” (July 1898).

Indigents in Jail

Care of Lanark County’s nineteenth century aged indigent residents without family or other private means of support was provided by the available public shelter, the county jail.  There a few respectable elderly citizens without friends or money could be housed and fed and classed as vagrants.  The Grand Jury report of inspection of this institution for imprisonment of alleged criminals related in part in December, 1880:

“The Grand Jurors for our Lady the Queen, have examined the jail and they find it in a very satisfactory state.  There are only two persons committed for crimes and these are of a comparatively trifling character.  We are glad to find there was only one insane person confined in the jail.  The rest are aged persons who have been committed under the Vagrancy Act.  Mr. Kellock who has filled the office of jailer for the last thirty years has resigned.”

The Lanark County House of Refuge was opened formally in 1903 when public figures of the county invited to speak at the ceremony, including Lanark’s members of Parliament, Hon. J. G. Haggart of Perth and Bennett Rosamond of Almonte, provincial members W. C. Caldwell of Lanark and Lt. Col. A. J. Matheson of Perth, Senator F. T. Frost of Smiths Falls and former provincial member Dr. R. F. Preston of Carleton Place.  The disappearing old order is seen in a Carleton Place editorial comment on the death of two residents of the county, one of Beckwith and the other of Drummond, in 1901 in the county jail.  Like others before them, they had been consigned to spend their last years in jail as provision for their maintenance in their helpless old age. 

“What better arguments do our County Councillors want to warrant them in proceeding with the House of Industry than deaths in such circumstances?  Poverty, from whatever cause it comes, is not a crime.  The only crime of these two elderly citizens was their poverty, yet note their obituaries.”

Hospital Proposals

 A revolutionary plea for state support for the building of hospitals had been offered by the Carleton Place Herald in its first year of publication.  Its young editor of over a century ago suggested: (Feb. 7, 1851)

“Public Hospitals – The want of hospitals for the indigent infirm in this part of the Province is beginning to be felt as a serious inconvenience.  It has become a pretty heavy tax on the benevolent part of the community to be obliged to support those who are unable to support themselves.  We would therefore suggest the idea that the Provincial Legislature enact that a sum equal to that raised for the Lunatic Asylum should in like manner be raised for the erection and support of three hospitals, to be situated at the most convenient points in the province.”

Sixty years later the building of a hospital at Carleton Place was proposed and discussed at a Town Hall public meeting held in 1910. William Thoburn outlined the origin and growth of the Rosamond Memorial Hospital at Almonte.  Dr. Bruce Smith of Toronto, Inspector of Hospitals, attended and estimated the 1910 cost of a suitable building and equipment at $1,000 a bed, and the cost of annual maintenance in a town of the size of Carleton Place at $3,500 to $4,500 a year.  With local capital being invested in industrial expansion of value to the town, including a hydro electric plant and foundry and woolen mill enlargements, and with installation of an expensive municipal waterworks system in prospect, it was decided not to duplicate the facilities of available neighbouring hospitals.

Earning a Living

In ordinary ways of earning a living, the nineteenth century’s old days seem by present standards to have been for most people a perennial struggle for subsistence unlike anything known in Canada’s recent decades.  Supported by its farming background, a sturdy race was able to survive independently and commonly to enjoy its life through intervals of moderate prosperity and recurrent times of industrial and trade unemployment, widespread bankruptcy and meager existence; with little organized assistance for its physical and social casualties.  There was another side to the conditions in which some of these generations gained their livelihood.  It is found in a simpler, less hurried and now generally unacceptable way of life.  A glimpse of its ending is seen among recollections written some seventy-five years ago by George Lowe, a seventy year old resident of Carleton Place: (July 1884)

“This day twenty years ago I came to Carleton Place, near the close of the Civil War.  At that time property was of little value.  I took charge of the railway station.  The only industries in the place were the grist mill, run by Mr. Bolton, Allan McDonald’s carding mill, Brice McNeely’s tannery and the saw mill run by Robert Gray, with one circular saw.  David Findlay’s foundry was just starting.  The lead mines were about closing down then.  Twenty years ago it may be said there was no such thing as employment here for anyone and, strange as it seems, no one seemed to wish for work.  Their wants were few, and those wants seemed to be soon supplied.  Smoking around, a good deal of fishing on the river, and a little loafing about the taverns, put in the day.  One day was the history of another.  Living was cheap then, but when those public works started – saw mills, wollen mills, etc. – then the whole place wakened up, and there has been no more industrious race than ours.  From the progress of this place in the last twenty years what shall it be at the end of the next twenty.”

Eagles And Vultures Once Flew Around Mississippi Lake by Howard Brown, from the Carleton Place Canadian, December 22, 1955

“The Canadian is fortunate in receiving a number of articles from Howard Brown of Ottawa concerning early hunting and fishing stories around Carleton Place.  The series includes one on the first game club, deer hunting, bird protection, Mississippi fishing, the beaver, wildcat and lynx, introduction of pickerel to the Mississippi.  The first article follows:

 Hunting and Fishing Stories of our Grandfathers

Lanark and Renfrew counties, well supplied with woods, lakes and marshes, have a record as a favourite fishing and hunting district which antedates their first English speaking settlement.  Referring to the immediate neighbourhood of Carleton Place, William Bell, pioneer Lanark County pastor and an observant man if not an experienced fisher or hunter, wrote soon after his 1817 arrival at Perth:

“The Mississippi Lake, its length about 12 miles and its breadth varying from four miles to half a mile, affords an abundance of fish for the settlers in the neighbourhood, who kill them with spears in great numbers in the spring when ascending the river to spawn.  Some of the islands in the lake are still inhabited by Indians, whose hunting ground is on the north side and who are far from being pleased with the encroachments our settlers are making on their territories.

The animals most troublesome to the farmers are squirrels, brown and grey, equally destructive to crops both in fields and gardens.  They do most mischief in the spring by taking the seed up out of the ground.  I have seen a field of Indian corn entirely ruined by them so that it was necessary to plant it a second and even a third time.  The number killed by some farmers in a year almost exceeds belief.  There is another species called the black squirrel but it seems scarce, being seldom taken.

Of birds there are many kinds.  The principal are eagles, vultures, owls, night hawks, fish hawks, cranes, geese, wild ducks, partridges, snow birds, teal, wild pigeons, blackbirds, thrushes, larks and various other kinds.  The wood pigeons pass to the northward in the spring and return in the fall in immense numbers.  Great numbers of them are taken in nets, but they are more frequently shot, and are generally found to be fat and good eating.  When they happen to alight upon a field they scarcely leave a grain, if not disturbed.”

The story of these famous clouds of passenger pigeons, which usually frequented wooded regions rather than farmers’ fields and which, at 40 cents a pair, were still sold on the Ottawa market in the 1870’s, is well known.  After wanton whole sale killing they were exterminated from the continent to the last bird.  Some larger fur bearing animals, such as the marten and fisher, the lynx and the otter, soon retreated in these counties, like the Indians themselves, before the axe and the plough.

 First Game Protective Club:

 Forty years after the white man had settled in the local scene to dispossess the North American Indian, the second generation in this area, had begun to lessen the seeming abundance of some useful wild animals and birds to a point at which a local Game Protective Club was undertaking enforcement of existing legislation (19-20 Vic. C, 94) for their preservation.  An 1859 Carleton Place announcement gave notice that a sportsmen’s club, composed of persons resident in this and adjoining townships and prepared to prosecute and punish breaches of the game laws “exists in this village as some unseasonable slaughters of game may yet learn to their cost.  The Club has thought proper to offer a reward of $5 to be paid by the Treasurer of the club to any person giving such information as shall ensure the conviction of offenders.  The company have also employed a Lawyer to conduct their business and attend to the prosecution of all parties complained of without respect of persons.”

 The seasons of prohibited hunting still left a six months open deer and moose season from August to January, six months of grouse or partridge hunting from September to February, and gave no protection for waterfowl beyond an eleven week closed season from mid-April to the end of July for “Wild Swan, Goose, Duck of kinds known as Mallard, Grey Duck, Black Duck and all kinds of Teal.”

 An 1862 visitor observed: “There are few villages in the interior, off the main streams the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa, that can rival Carleton Place in scenery and we know of few places where a day or two’s fun can be better appreciated than up on the Mississippi Lake.  In fact fishing and hunting has become almost an institution among the inhabitants and the fame of the Mississippi Pike and Ducks and we may add Deers or Dears, has reached distant sections of the Front.”

 The Game Protective Club, interested chiefly in increasing the deer population, became the Lanark and Renfrew Game Protection Society, as formally constituted at a March 1861 meeting of district deer hunters at Pakenham, home town of the then retired Andrew Dickson, prominent as a deer hunter as well as in Eastern Upper Canada public affairs. 

Cases of convictions for winter killing of deer in the closed season were cited at the Society’s meetings.  “A Law Abiding Hunter” wrote to the deer-hunting editor of the Carleton Place Herald at the end of the 1861-62 season:

 “It is estimated that upwards of 700 deers were butchered on the crust last winter and spring in the Counties of Lanark and Renfrew, and that about 150 deer have been killed in these counties in the past year during the time allowed by law.  In settlements where liquor can be procured the most of the venison that the Indians kill is sold to procure whisky.  It is stated that one Indian, who stopped near Arnprior, killed no less than 90 deers on the crust last winter and spring – a crime.”

Early court records of deer hunting in the two counties were not limited to cases for deterring hunting out of season.  Others concerned appropriation of hounds or of the hunter’s quarry.  In an 1865 trial at Almonte dealing with an October deer hunt at White Lake, magistrates James Rosamond and John Menzies, after hearing many witnesses, dismissed a charge based on the information and complaint of a Pakenham resident to the effect that James Poole, W. Morphy and James Cram of Carleton Place “did with force of arms take and carry away one deer the property of John McManagle.”  The implication of the decision seemed to be that hunters stationed at a lakeshore in shooting and attempting to keep possession of deer which had been run out by another hunting party did so at their peril.

Remarkably large packs of dogs were maintained by some deer hunters.  Andrew Dickson, ex-sheriff of the United Counties and onetime warden of the Provincial penitentiary at Kingston, was once reported to be the owner of over thirty.  In the same period large numbers were kept by James Poole of Carleton Place.  A granddaughter’s account of Andrew Dickson’s last farewell to hunting and to his dogs is given in Senator Andrew Haydon’s Pioneer Sketches in the District of Bathurst.

     The scene is in 1868 at the Dickson home in Pakenham :

“The last time I saw my grandfather was just a week before he died.  The dogs had broken out of their kennels and rushed into the house, Sport, the favourite, on the bed, the place of honor, earned by years of devotion, and the other dogs with noses resting on the quilt, and on the gray old plaid they had so often followed.  The tears ran down his face, but he beckoned to me.  I took the whistle, which I could hardly use for crying, I led the way to the kennel, but Sport would not come.”

     In the early 1880’s the district game supply and the hunting restrictions both continued to be generous to the hunter.  A pair of hunters are reported returning to Carleton Place from a five week deer hunt in which they shot forty deer, followed by an advertisement “Good Venison for Sale,”  James Presley opposite the Methodist Church, Carleton Place.  Moose in the Upper Ottawa were meeting a similar onslaught which they could less readily withstand.  A Carleton Place “Protect the Moose” editorial May 1887 said:

     “Steps are being taken to have the Governments enforce more stringently the laws for the protection of this noble game.  As an instance of the terrible slaughter of moose deer that has gone on in the Upper Ottawa this season, it is mentioned that Montreal man who hunted on the Mississippi River killed 27.  A Pembroke man killed 40.  It is computed that all the carcasses would weight 53,600 pounds.  The Montreal man killed his moose during the legal season, but his companion killed during month of March and is reported to be killing yet.”

     Restrictions following 1887 included in the case of deer a season limit of 3 to 5 per person depending on the size of the hunting party with a season opening November 15th.