Great Falls At Almonte Started Woollen Industry

A group of sketches of origins of the communities of Ramsay township concluded here with notes of scenes and events in the early years of the town of Almonte.

First named Shepperd’s Falls and Shipman’s Mills, the town of Almonte, until its industrial growth which started in the eighteen fifties, was a small village which gained the name of Ramsayville.  Then, with the opening of its first woollen mills and railway transportation, it grew in a period of about thrity years to take a place among the leading centres of the pioneering days of Canadian manufacture of woollen textiles.

Shipman’s Mills on The Great Falls

Rights to lands now forming the greater part of Almonte were granted in 1821 and 1822 to John Gemmill, James Shaw, then of Lanark village, and David Shepherd.  John Gemmill’s land ran from Highway 29 to include the exhibition grounds in the southern part of the present town.  The grant to the absentee owner, James Shaw, was a corresponding downstream section of the ninth concession, extending on both sides of the river as far south as the foot of the bay in Almonte.  It was not until late in 1822 that under the special requirement of building a grist and saw mill at the falls, the central part of the future town was located to David Shepherd, together with another separate hundred acres at the town’s northern or downstream side.  James Wylie, who had emigrated from Paisley in 1820 to begin business as a merchant at Perth, removed to Ramsay where in 1825 he leased and settled on the next northerly two hundred acres (conc. 9, lot 17), a Clergy reserve, which he later bought.

John Gemmill, a Scottish society settler of 1821 from Ayrshire and forbear of Lieut. Colonel James D. Gemmill and of John Alexander Gemmill, Ottawa barrister, was one of Almonte’s first merchants.  James Wylie (1789-1854) was a merchant, Rideau Canal contractor, postmaster, farmer, county agricultural society president and builder of the Almonte residence Burnside.  He was appointed in 1849 to the Legislative Council of Canada in the period of the Baldwin-LaFontaine reform ministry, when riots by opponents of its Rebellion Loses Act led to the burning of the Parliament Buildings of Canada at Montreal.  Daniel Shipman, prominent in the founding days of Almonte and of American Loyalist origin, came in 1823 from the Brockville district and acquired the central properties of David Shepherd.  He completed the building of the future town’s first mills when Shepherd had failed in his undertaking and had fled to escape the imprisonment which awaited defaulting debtors. 

A traveler of 1841 made this brief report of his impressions of the settlement at the falls:

“James Wylie, Esquire, a majistrate and storekeeper, has erected a fine house, his son (William G. Wylie) another.  About half a mile from this, Mr. Shipman’s spacious stone dwelling, his mills and the surrounding buildings, present a bustling scene.  There is one licenced tavern here, and a school.”

Mr. Shipman’s last residence, built in 1837, became the Almonte House hotel.  It was from this house that Daniel Shipman, a sturdy and outspoken reformer in the days of the Upper Canada Family Compact, had escaped from a night search by ten armed men of the Carleton Militia led by over-zealous Captain George Lyon, Richmond mill owner and distiller.  During the alarms following the 1838 Prescott invasion they had ridden from Richmond, at the top speed permitted by bad and devious roads, on hearing false rumors that Shipman was sowing sedition and secreting two men supposed to have escaped in the Prescott battle from the stone windmill fortress of the defeated invaders and rebels.

Pioneer Almonte Industries

The first carding and fulling mill of the community was placed in operation by Mr. Shipman’s father in law, Mr. Boyce; the first planning mill and wagon making shop by John M. Haskin, and the first tanneries by Thomas Mansell and Smith Coleman.  A three storey flour mill built on the east side of the upper falls in the eighteen forties by Edward Mitcheson was bought some few years later by J. B. Wylie, and James H. Wylie.  The Hon. James Wylie’s eldest son, William G. Wylie, a magistrate and township treasurer, had died at Havana in 1851 on his way to the California gold fields.

Industrial growth at Almonte began in larger proportions in the eighteen fifties with the building of the Brockville & Ottawa Railway Company’s line.  Before the railway from Brockville reached the Ottawa River in 1864 at Sand Point, it ran for five years to a temporary northern terminus at Almonte.  The town’s woollen manufacturing had its start with the opening in 1851 of a mill with one set of machinery by the Ramsay Woollen Cloth Manufacturing Company, a company formed under the new Joint Stock Companies Act with capital raised in Ramsay and Beckwith among some forty shareholders.  The village of Ramsayville at this time had a population of little more than two hundred persons.  The next summer a fire destroyed the new woollen mill, gutted Daniel Shipman’s nearby unfinished and uninsured new gristmill and destroyed his old mill.  The loss in this Mill Street fire, one of a number of similar fire losses of following years, was about 2,000 pounds  to the company and 2,000 pounds to Mr. Shipman.  Daniel Shipman at once rebuilt his mill within its standing stone walls.  The building, later owned by John Baird, finally was torn down in 1902.

Start of Woollen Enterprises

James Rosamond of Carleton Place, a shareholder of the short lived Ramsay corporation, then moved his woollen mill operations, the first in Eastern Ontario, from Carleton Place to Almonte as the founding of Almonte’s leading manufacturing enterprise.  He bought the site of the Ramsay Company’s mill and built a four storey stone building, later known as No. 2 Mill, which he opened in 1857.  Before its erection Samuel Reid and John McIntosh opened a small woollen factory in 1854 on the former site of the Boyce fulling mill.  James Rosamond, who lived until 1894, gave the management of his growing business in 1862 to his sons Bennett and William, who doubled its plant capacity and in 1866 admitted George Stephen, Montreal woollen manufacturer, as a partner.  He became Baron Mount Stephen, president of the Bank of Montreal and first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

The new Rosamond firm of 1866 began operations by buying the Island property of some sixteen acres and building its No. 1 Mill, then one of the finest in Canada.  Bennett Rosamond (1833-1910) was elected president of the Canadian Manufacturers  Association in 1890 and was Conservative Member of Parliament for North Lanark from 1892-1904.  He was president of the Almonte Knitting Company and in 1909 donated the Rosamond Memorial Hospital to the town.  He continued as head of the Rosamond Woollen Company until his death, when he was succeeded by Lieutenant Alex Rosamond (1873-1916).

A number of other woollen mills opened soon after the original Rosamond mill in Almonte.  Among the first were those of John McIntosh (1832-1904), a large frame building on the upper falls, and of John Baird (1820-1894) and Gilbert Cannon, all on Mill Street.  Sawmills, machine shops and iron foundries followed, including among the latter the foundry operated for a few years by John Flett (1836-1900).  A local real estate boom and flurry of inflated land speculation developed, only to collapse in a severe depression of the mid-seventies.  A fire loss of over $20,000 in 1877 destroyed the Cannon mill and the machinery of its lessee William H. Wylie, who moved to Carleton Place where he leased the McArthur (now Bates) woollen mill and later bought the Hawthorne woollen mill.  William Thoburn (1847-1928) began to manufacture flannels at Almonte in 1880 and became the head of the Almonte Knitting Company and Member of Parliament from 1908 to 1917.  Five textile mills in Almonte in 1904 were those of the Rosamond Woollen Company, William Thoburn, James H. Wylie Co. Limited, Almonte Knitting Company, and the Anchor Knitting Co. Limited.

Woollen Mill Party

In view of the claim that a people and its times often are best reflected in its songs, a Christmas Eve supper party given by the Rosamonds to their employees of 1863 may be worth recalling.  Its chairman was Thomas Watchorn, formerly of Carleton Place and later of Lanark and Merrickville.  A song by a member of the party was given between each toast after the supper, ending with the glee club’s Christmas carols at midnight.  The offerings of Mr. Hepworth, the principal performer, included The Cottage by the Sea, Dearest Mary, Little Tailor, The Factory Bell, A Merry Ploughboy, A Kish of Black Turf, Young Ramble Away, Stunnin’ Pair o’Legs, and The Sailor’s Grave.  Mr. Lowe offered Hard Times Come Again No More ; Mr. Douglas gave I’ll Marry Both Girls Bye and Bye, and J. Dornegan The Wedding of Ballyporeen.  The Irish wit George Bond contributed I’ll Never Get Drunk Again.  (George Bond, born in Carleton Place in 1837, was still singing in a celebration of his hundredth birthday by relatives and friends at his home in the Clyde Hotel in Lanark in 1937, when he “concluded the happy event by singing, in a fine clear tenor voice, When Billie Brown and I Slid Down Old Cram’s Cellar Door.”)  For the Christmas party of the men of the Almonte woollen mill, in the time of local recruiting and Canadian defense preparations which accompanied the progress of the United States Civil War, a fitting conclusion with the national anthem was guest Dr. William Mostyn’s The Banner of Old England.

Naming The Town

Almonte ended its changes of community names in 1856.  On the east side of the falls a section promoted by grist mill owner Edward Mitcheson had been given the name Victoria.  A bylaw of Lanark and Renfrew’s old district council “to define the limits of the Village of Ramsayville and Victoria, in the Township of Ramsay, and to extend the Act 12 Victoria Chapter 81 for the Regulation and Police of Unincorporated Villages and Hamlets to the Above Named Villages” was enacted in 1853 and renamed these combined limits as the village of Waterford.  The name most probably was taken from the town and county of Waterford in southern Ireland’s province of Munster.  There already was a village of Waterford in the Canadian province, and at the request of postal authorities  the name of the Ramsay centre was changed again.  The village population then was about five hundred.

The choice of a name of Spanish origin had a precedent in those which had been given to some of the townships of southwestern Ontario by Upper Canada’s Lieutenant Governor of the eighteen twenties, Sir Peregrine Maitland.  The Mexican general Juan N. Almonte had become his country’s ambassador at Washington and had gained his first fame in Mexico’s struggles to defend its territories from the encroachments of the United States.  An early source of his name, adopted by our town of almonte, may be found in Almonte, a village in the province of Andalusia in the southwestern corner of Spain.  It is near the Gulf of Cadiz and half way between the city of Seville and the town of Ayamonte.  Seven hundred years ago this part of Spain was raided often by the Moors, from whom it had been taken.  Near Almonte two centuries later a shepherd is said to have found a statue of the Virgin, hidden at the time of a Moorish raid.  The site of the find continues to be the place of a Pentecostal festival of the region.  Miracles ascribed to this statue of the Virgin, known as Our Lady of the Dew, include the escape of the inhabitants of Almonte in 1650 from a plague.

Almonte of Former Days

Lanark County’s Almonte was incorporated as a village of 2,000 persons in 1870 and as a town of 2,700 population in 1881.  It had somewhat more than 3,000 residents at each of the two next decennial censuses.  For record of its earliest township officers before its incorporation, references have been found as near the beginning of settlement as 1830.  Its first commercial bank, a branch of the Merchants Bank of Canada, later joined with the Bank of Montreal, was opened in 1869.  It gained a newspaper, the long-flourishing Almonte Gazette, in 1867, founded by William Templeman (1844-1914) who learned his printing trade with the Carleton Place Herald, went to British Columbia to found the Victoria Times, and became a member of the Senate, Sir Wilfred Laurier’s minister of inland revenue and the first Canadian minister of mines.

Almonte’s first Protestant churches, together with the municipal hall of the township, were located in the vicinity of the present Auld Kirk cemetery, more than a mile distant from the village community.  They were the St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland, completed about 1835 and still maintained in its original structural condition, the Canadian or Free Presbyterian church, built ten years later, and the Methodist church.  An Anglican church in almonte followed, and the parish of Almonte was separated in about 1860 from that of Carleton Place.  A Roman Catholic church built at Almonte in about 1840 was burned down more than twenty-five years later and was replaced by the present stone church building completed in 1876.  The Baptists built a small Almonte church and the township’s Reformed or Cameronian Presbyterians moved their place of services in about 1867 to the former Canadian Presbyterian church on the Eighth Line, later building their present church facing the Mississippi’s Almonte bay.

A number of the men whose names have lent luster to that of the town of Almonte, notably including pupils of Dr. Peter C. McGregor (1842-1916), Almonte high school teacher of distinction, are found to have had their youthful years coinciding with those of the present Almonte newspaper.  Among them were Dr. James A. Naismith (1861-1939) best remembered as inventor of the game of basketball ; Senator Andrew Haydon (1867-1932), politician, lawyer and author of the Lanark County history “Pioneer Sketches in the District of Bathurst” ; Dr. Robert Tait McKenzie (1867-1938), surgeon and sculptor, commemorated by an Ontario historical plaque at the Mill of Kintail near Almonte as well as by his sculptures (one is “The Volunteer,” located beside the Mississippi on the grounds of the Almonte town hall) ; Sir Edward Robert Peacock, born 1871, living 1961, financier, director of companies including the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, former head of the Banking firm of Baring Brothers and director of the Bank of England ; Dr. William Bennett Munro (1875-1957), American educator, historian and political scientist ; and Dr. James Mackintosh Bell (1877-1934), geologist, explorer, soldier and author, one of the noted descendants of the county’s pioneering Rev. William Bell.

Perhaps on a June night an imaginative viewer of the flood-lit beauty of the Almonte falls still might detect glimpses of the shades of Daniel Shipman, miller and loyal reformer, and the stern and affluent magistrate James Wylie – or of Scottish emigrants walking to John Gemmill’s barn for communion service – or of a band of Ballygiblins freed from the agonies of Ireland and gathered to the falls for mass.  The reflections of centuries of campfires and silent Indian portages past the falls probably would be lost.  The shadows below the falls might seem to hold a few of the host of bygone workers and employers of mills and shops ; or a crew of Scottish, Irish and French rivermen bound for Quebec City, pausing after the risks of breaking a great log jam.  And in the roar or rumble of the floodlit falls he might even hear the roll of wheels of farm wagons, mill carts and horse drawn carriages of a former generation crossing its stone arched bridge – or the rattle of a railway train with a high-stacked wood-burning engine as it drew to the northern end of its run from Brockville – or the shouts of crowds at lacrosse games and cricket matches, at the outdoor open polling of electors or in holiday parades and almost certainly a steady echo of the blows of The Builders, shaping the future of a new land.

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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.

Slave Owner Became Wife of Carleton Place Distiller by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 14 March, 1957

Business and industrial activity in Carleton Place, when viewed over the years of the community’s life, may be seen to have traced a normal pattern. Periods of expansion have been followed by times of little change ; years of reduced business activity have been succeeded by years of renewed growth.

The greatest early period of growth took place in the 1870’s and 1880’s beginning in the year of Confederation. A more than threefold increase in population, to 4,200 accompanied it. With the town’s population remaining relatively constant through the early 1950’s at some 4,500, a glance seventy years back to a year of the expansive 1880’s may permit some degree of comparison with life in the same area today.

A description of the town’s business and public institutions of 70 years ago has been found in a special number of the Carleton Place Herald of 1887. A few details of the scantily recorded first years of the community are included as its introduction, probably provided tot he young editor, William H. Allen, by the erudite and elderly Robert Bell.

Mr. Bell, former Member of the Legislative for Lanark and Renfrew and later for North Lanark before Confederation, and Dominion Inspector of Canal Revenues, was a leader in the town’s affairs for most of the period from 1830 until his death here at age 86 in 1894.

He was a son of the pioneering Rev. William Bell of Perth, whose children included Rev. Andrew Bell, William and John Bell, prominent early merchants of Perth and Carleton Place, Robert Bell, M.P.P. ; Isabella, wife of Judge J. G. Malloch of Perth ; James Bell, once of Carleton Place and one time banker and County Registsrar at Perth ; and Rev. George Bell, first Canadian-born graduate of Queen’s University and Registrar and Librarian of that university. In much abridged form the 1887 story follows:

 

A Brief History of Carleton Place – Its Manufacturing Industries, Its Advantages and its Population. December 1887:

About seventy years ago Edmond Morphy, with his wife and two daughters and his six sons, John, William, James, David, Edmond and Thomas, became (in 1819) the first settlers in the forests that then grew upon the site we now occupy. They owned 400 acres of land, lots 14 and 15 in the 12th concession of Beckwith, skirting the banks of the Mississippi River. The river was at that time, in the part that now divides the town, a long stretch of rapids, since changed by the construction of dams to a tolerably placid stream of fair depth in about half our corporation limits, and terminating in a more abrupt and higher succession of falls and shorter stretch of rapids.

Morphy’s Falls and Bolton’s Mills:

A few other settlers shortly afterwards joined those mentioned. Until 1830 the river at this point and the settlement or hamlet shared in common the name of Morphy’s Falls. IN 1830 Caleb Bellows, the postmaster, proposed a change in name, and Carlton Place became the recognized designation, changed about twenty years later to Carleton Place. It is supposed that the village was named after Carlton Place, a location in Glasgow, Scotland.

In 1820 a mill site was purchased by a Mr. Coleman, who in turn disposed of it to Hugh Boulton, who built a grist mill. Its site was where Mr. Horace Brown’s oat mill now stands, (corner of Mill and

Beckwith Streets, since converted as McGregor’s Automobile Body Shop). The first millstone ever used here abouts was made by Hugh Boulton, and the identical millstone now lies down by Miller Brown’s storehouse.

By the terms of his purchase from the Morphy’s of the mill site, Mr. Boulton was to have the mill running by a certain date. He found that he had miscalculated, and that he could not import a stone and have it delivered in time to fulfil his contract. He went up the lake somewhere about ‘Buchanan’s place’ and obtained a large piece of granite and made the stone himself, thus triumphing over difficulties and starting his mill on time. At about the same time a saw mill, on a small scale, was built just on the opposite side by Mr. Boulton.

A few houses were also erected in 1820, the Morphy brothers being among the builders. William Moore opened his blacksmith shop, and Robert Barnst embarked embarked in his trade as a cooper. A general store, an inn and a potash factory were opened at the close of the same year by Alexander Morris. The general store and hotel shared the same roof.

The building stood flush to the river bank on the second lot on Mill Street below Bridge Street. Two years later another store was opened by John (or William) Loucks. The first merchant to open a store really worthy of the name, having a general assortment of merchandise unmixed with offshoot enterprise, was Caleb S. Bellows. His place of business was on the site occupied by James L. Murphy’s Riverside Store, at the southwest corner of the Bridge Street bridge.

Francis Jessop, Distiller:

In the time of Mr. Bellow’s activity there were two distilleries in operation for several years. One of these was owned by Mr. Bellows and was situated where the Canada Lumber Company’s large mill now stands, near the north end of the dam. The other was owned by Francis W. K. Jessop and was nearby, just below the present site of McNeely’s tannery at, Mr. MacKay’s bakery premises on Bell Street. This Mr. Jessop, who also had a brewery in connection with his distillery, was an eccentric individual with strange ideas in many matters of everyday life, and with personal habits radically discordant to the general mind.

He had his abode in a corner of the distillery building. His bed chamber surpassed any ordinary ‘bachelor’s hall,’ strange and fantastic evidence being borne of a dearth of a woman’s care. He was an easy-going genius, and had his good sides. He was the first man in these parts to wear a beard and moustache, and after a length of time others were led to adopt the same habit in those times a novelty.

About Mr. Jessop’s marriage, later on, there was a thread of romance. He had in England a brother who was a captain in the British army. This brother’s wife had a sister who was rather cultured and, moreover, rich. She was a slave-owner, and all her environments were those of ease, independence, affluence.

Somehow a pen and paper courtship sprang up between the distiller at Morphy’s Falls and this lady of wealth. The result was that, although no other means of acquaintance had ever existed between them, the distiller induced the fair writer to break off all her home ties and come to him at Morphy’s Falls. The change in circumstances was a sweeping one after she became Mrs. Jessop ; from ease and luxury in England to a home in these backwoods, in a little log house on the river just about where now stands the blacksmith shop of the Canada Lumber Company.

Battle of the Ballygiblins :

From the Weekly Register, a paper printed in York, the 1823 and 1824 volumes of which are among Mr. Robert Bell’s archives, we extract the following :

Two press reports on the Ballygiblin Riots of 1824 follow, coloured by the Perth correspondent to the disadvantage of the Irish minority faction ; and referring to the opening militia brawl at the Morris tavern on Mill Street here and the ensuing turbulent week of encounters in the neighbourhood of Carleton Place and Almonte ; featured by renewed fighting, marches, counter marches, gunfire, casualties and arrests. The verdict of the government inquiry reflected little credit on the one-sided and inflammatory conduct of military and civil authorities of the local district who were involved.After the first troubles mentioned, a decisive struggle took place just out of town on the clergy reserve in Ramsay, to the right hand side of the road, towards the lead mine. The set-to was spoken of as the Battle of the Ballygiblins.”

 

Writer Tells How Mississippi Lake Shores, Bays Named, by Howard Morton Brown, The Carleton Place Canadian, August 13, 1939 & March 29, 1956

Some few years ago, The Canadian was privileged to publish a story by Howard M. Brown on how the various bays and islands on the chain of Mississippi lakes obtained their names.  The story was published in early spring, so we will repeat it for the benefit of many summer residents along the shores

It happens to be exactly 140 years ago since some of the province’s Indians of the nineteenth century were in sole possession of Lanark County, and all of Eastern Ontario, above a line a few miles north of the Rideau Lake and River.  In the rest of Ontario the white settlements were still further south.  That actually is no longer ago than the time of the grandparents of the last generation ahead of our senior generation of today.  Another thirty-five year before that time the whole of Ottawa except around a few military forts or fur trading posts was in the hands of the Indians.

One of the reasons for the settlement of this new section in Lanark County was to help relieve a post war depression in the British Isles.  The area was opened with a partial survey and first settlement of the three neighboring townships of Bathurst, Drummond and Beckwith in 1816.  Within less than ten years practically the supposedly tillable land in Lanark County and the north half of Carleton County except government reserves, had been occupied by settlers, including more than a few who had been encouraged to clear land which proved worthless for cultivation.  In the first year only about sixteen settlers got established as far north as the Mississippi or into any part of Beckwith Township.  When we get to the east shore of the Big Lake, and near Tennyson, I will mention a few of them,

The Indians dispossessed here were Mississaugas who were a subtribe of the large nation of Ojibways.  They had moved in from farther northwest after the Iroquois raids ended.  They were a tribe which made an unusually wide use of wild plants for food, harvesting and storing large quantities of wild rice for the winter. They knew how to make maple sugar and to prepare dried berries and fruits for winter use.  As hunters and fishermen they moved their camps about, by canoe in summer and by snowshoe and toboggan in winter.  Their main efforts in this area were directed to moose in the winter, beaver small game and fish including suckers, pickerel and pike, in the spring and summer, while after the fall rice harvest they speared the larger fish spawning along the shores of some of the lakes, lake trout, whitefish and sturgeon.  The Indian rights to this district were surrendered in a treaty made with the Mississaugas in 1819 at Kingston.

As the Indians were crowded out from the land on the north side of the Mississippi in the 1820’s, they gradually retreated northward and westward.  Their Mississauga descendants are on reserved lands in the Kawartha Lakes area now.  A few chose to stay near the new settlements in Lanark County, in areas not suitable for farming.  In the 1890’s those still living at points near Carleton Place included groups at McIIquham’s Bridge and at the Floating Bridge.  Big Joe Mitchell and Joe Baye were among the better known of the last local Indians.

John Cram left us the first settlers’ story of the Indians and the river here.

He was one of the nearest settlers to the river in this immediate vicinity.  He came with the emigration in 1818 of about 300 persons from Perthshire to Beckwith Township, and his land included the site of the United Cemeteries.  He left a story of finding the river by hearing the sound of a waterfall on a still day when he and a neighbor were clearing land together.  They agreed on an exploring expedition.  The next day, going along old Indian trails and new surveyors’ line they followed the sound until they reached the head of the falls, first viewing it from the present site of the Carleton Place Town Hall.  On arriving according to his story as last told by him over 75 years ago, they saw a tall Indian woman leave the shore and plunge across in the shallow water to the north side, where there was an Indian camp.  At that time and until the first dams were built, a long rapids extended above the falls here.  At the place between the present Ritchie mill and the powerhouse there still was a rocky tree-covered island less than a hundred years ago, as well as a falls.

The next year the Indian campground became part of the farmland grants of Edmond Morphy and his family, newly arrived from Littleton in Tipperary.  Four members of the family drew two township lots that became the centre of the town, from Lake Park Avenue to the township line.  At the same time (which was September 1819), William Moore and his sons William and John obtained 300 acres extending from the present Lake Avenue to the 11th line road, including the greater part of the present town area south of Lake Avenue.  The village had its start with the building of Hugh Boulton’s grist mill in 1820. Its future as a town was assured when the railway arrived some 40 years later in 1859.  The bigger sawmills began in the 1860’s.  Municipal incorporation as a village separate from Beckwith township, came in 1870 (village population 1,226) and new industries and a railway line to Ottawa.  The railway shops and further growth followed in the 80’s and 90’s with incorporation as a town of over 4,000 in 1890.  Then came the further expansion of the foundry and the textile mills, from the early 1900’s.

Passing over the story of the beginnings of the town and heading up the river, Manny’s Pier, the only restored pier of the lumbering days, is one of the first landmarks for our purpose.  It’s name has a settlers’ story to it.  The land along the north shore, from the Morphy’s to the mouth of the river, and running back to the town line road, was taken up in 1820 by six settlers.  One was David Moffatt, ancestor of the Moffatt’s of Carleton Place.  The next land east of the Moffatt’s was Manny Nowlan’s whose name we have in Manny’s Pier.

Manny Nowlan later owned the Morris Tavern where the long misrepresented Battle of the Ballygiblins of 1824 started.  This first inn of the new village was on Mill Street, next the river and immediately east of the present Public Utilities Commission Office.  At that time the north side of the river was still new farmland and forest.  There was no bridge and the river crossing was by boat.  The first few commercial buildings were on and around Mill Street. The first local road, which ran from the Road at Franktown and including the present Bridge Street, Carleton Place was authorized by the District Magistrate in 1823 and cleared in large part in 1824.  Through the last century this road then a township road retained its original name of the Mill Road.

On the east side of Manny Nowlan’s farm the land was occupied by two settlers who did not stay there long.  One was Thomas Burns.  They  were succeeded within about ten years as farmers on these two properties, by the second Peter Cram and John McRostie.  John McRostie’s original stone home, standing at the river bank at Flora Street on the east side what was his farm was built in about the 1830’s.

At the other end of the row of six farms was Nicholas Dixon whose name we have in Dixon’s Point at the mouth of the river.  Before passing Dixon’s Point we can look across to Indians Landing on the south shore.  Fred Hunter recalls that when he was a small boy, Indians still came there in the spring on their way down the Mississippi with their season’s furs loaded in their long canoes.

On the return trip they camped against Indians Landing, sometimes staying there for most of the summer.  Joe and Johnny Baye made their local headquarters there in the 1880’s and 90’s.  They sold boats including dugouts made of ash and basswood, and many of their axe handles and colored hampers and clothes baskets were sold in the stores of the town.  Joe Baye and his white wife also lived at the Floating Bridge on the Indian River in Ramsay.  He died in the Almonte hospital in 1928.

Below Indians Landing the land at the end of Lake Avenue was the 100 acre farm of George Willis, who came here in 1820 and was the great grandfather of Henry Willis.  His son, also named George, farmed there after him and raised a musically inclined family, including the third George who in his youth seems to have been the best known local musician of his time.  With his bagpipes and his fiddle he gave the Scots and Irish their favorite airs, according to the occasion from the Flowers of Edinburgh to the Reel of Tulloch, and from Rory O’More to the Boys of Kilkenny and Donnybrook Fair.  Around the time of the Fenian Raids he was a bandmaster of an early town band.

Above Indians Landing the farm running from the mouth of the river, to the eleventh line was the Fisher farm ; settled by Duncan Fisher in 1821, and the little point there was Fisher’s Point.  The farm was owned by Brice McNeely in later years and still remains with that family.

Crossing back to Dixon’s Point, Mr. Dixon was an Englishman who came in 1820 with a wife and seven children.  His farm where he lived for over forty years, and his stone house appear to have included part of what is now the Caldwell Lock End Ranch.  He had a potash works on the part facing the river, called Dixon’s Landing, opposite Indians Landing.  The trotting races held on the ice at Dixon’s Landing began as early as 1858.

The next stop in the Lower Lake is Nagle’s Shore now owned by the McDiarmid Estate.  Richard Nagle had lived his latter years at the present Caldwell Summer home until 1891.  His brother Patrick occupied the adjoining farm along the shore.  Nagle’s Shore was bought by William McDiarmid in 1900, including W. P. Nagle’s lakeshore residence.  This north shore, a regatta centre now and 75 years ago, came next to Lake Park for some years as the most popular place for this purpose.  One of a series of several annual regattas of the early 1880’s was held off Nagle’s Shore at a time when rowing races had caught the public fancy almost to the extent of football or World Series baseball now.  Ned Hanlen, famous world champion and world-travelled oarsman, brought the crowds to Carleton Place for two of these regattas, which drew competitors from such district rowing centres as Brockville, Prescott, and Ottawa.  Sponsered by the local Boating Club, these annual events wound up in the evening in the lower river with open air concerts, fireworks, and torchlight parades of decorated boats.  At one of them the added attraction, a balloon ascension, ended with a wind blowing the balloon into the river.

Along the northwest side from the Birch Point cottage shore to the upper corner of Kinch’s Bay the lake is in Ramsay Township.  The Hogsback Shore running from near the former Thackaberry farm towards McCreary’s Creek is of course named for the raised hogs back ridge along the water’s edge.  McCreary’s Creek, navigable for its first half mile takes its name from the well known McCreary family nearby where William McCreary settled in 1823.  His grandson, Hiram, was the local member of the Legislature in Premier Drury’s Farmer Government after the first World War.  The big bay itself with its wild rice and unusual deeper channels, is named for John Kinch, whose farm was between Mcreary’s and the upper side of the bay.  After his death in 1865 his son farmed there and the farm later became Bowland’s.

How Black Point got its name does not seem to be known.  It could well be that it was named Black Point from the early deaths by drowning here.  The first recorded drowning in the lake was that of a pioneer settler, John Code who was drowned near here in 1849.  The double drownings took place off this shore, Alex Gillies and Peter Peden in 1878, and Dick Willis and Noble Bennett in 1893.  All the drownings were from boats capsized in the rice.

Poole’s Point was called McCann’s Point for many years until the early 1900’s both names coming from the owners of the adjoining farmland.

Code’s Bay, the northwest side of the Second Lake, well filled with rice and sometimes with duck hunters, is another of the locations named for the first settlers as is Code’s Creek and Landing, John Code Sr., John Jr. and George Code, each drew farms with the Scotch Corners Settlement of about 12 farms in 1822.  George Code lived to 1890 and the age of 93.  Another long lived Scotch Corners resident was Wm. Henry Poole who died there at the age of 96 in 1928.  He was an enthusiastic hunter and trapper in his day as well as a farmer.

Coming into the third or Middle Lake King’s Bay, extending from above the Two Oaks cottage shore to the cottages of Squaw Point was named for Colin King of the 1822 Scotch Corners settlement.  The official names of the point at the Two Oaks Shore, and the island beside it commonly called Dinky Dooley, are King Point and King Island, according to the government map.

Aberdeen Island was bought and named in 1893 by Colin Sinclair, son of John Sinclair who came to Scotch Corners in 1822.  It was Colin Sinclair who started his Carleton Place tailoring business in the early 1850’s.  He also bought King Island.  The nickname Dinky Dooley was for Bell Saunders and Charlie Morphy who had a camp there.

The high and rocky Laurentian formation of much of the upper lake shores starts here.  (According to the geolist, this was a seashore in some distant age, as shown by the numerous fossils in the limestone on the other side of the lake.)

Squaw Point, one of the best known landmarks on the course, looks like a logical Indian campsite, with a lookout and a sheltered landing and we have it on the authority of Fred Hunter that that is what it was.  The depth of this part of the lake increases greatly and out of it near the middle rise the tops of the Two Crabs, the smallest islands in the lake.

Willis’ Landing is the next old northwest shore, headquarters.  The nearby island, separated from the mainland by a narrow, rock-sided channel was named Sinclair’s Island for the Sinclairs of Scotch Corners whose original farm was near here.  In the middle of the lake here is Green Island, which had that name before it was bought as a cottage site in 1915 by Mr. W. J. Hughes.