Last Service At Beckwith Old Kirk Held 35 Years Ago, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 23 March, 1961

This is the third and final part of a story which has recalled some of the events in the memorable background of the Old Kirk Ruins of Beckwith township.  The first Presbyterian Church of the eastern half of Lanark County was built near Carleton Place in 1832, replacing a primitive log structure in a vicinity where services had been held since about 1818 and continuously since 1822.  The church remained in use until about 1870.

On the township’s Seventh Line road, two miles south of Black’s Corners and a mile east, its foundations may be seen.  In a recent pictorial map issued by the National Capital Commission its location is shown as one of the district’s historic sites.  Church services here were carried on for two pioneer generations by the first colony of Scottish Highlanders to be established north of the Glengarry settlement in Ontario.

One of the last commemoration services to be held within the walls of the Beckwith Old Kirk was conducted thirty-five years ago by a native son who still “had the Gaelic,” the Rev. Dr. James Carmichael, returning at the age of eighty-eight for the occasion.

A service of commemoration had been observed at the Old Kirk in the previous year.  It had opened with a procession in which the beadle, William Young, followed by the precentor, D. R. Ferguson and the minister, the Rev. J. W. S. Lowry, in black gowns, accompanied by a large number of the ruling elders of the neighbouring congregations, had made their way out from one of the doorways of the hallowed ruins to a raised platform.  A concluding service of prayer within the Old Kirk walls was attended by those present who in their youth had had their church upbringing there.  Among them were Margaret Anderson, Alan Cameron and Mrs. Cameron, Mrs. Donald Carmichael, William Drummond and James C. Elliott, John H. Ferguson, Mrs. Robert Ferguson (The Derry), Mrs. T. Ferguson, Mr. and Mrs. John McArthur and Mary McArthur ; also Duncan McEwen, Mrs. Finlay McEwen (Jock), Mr. and Mrs. Hugh McEwen, John McFarlane (11th line) and Mrs. Peter McLaren.

 

Gaelic Commemoration of Highland Scots

Reports of the commemoration services of 1916, conducted in English and Gaelic at the honoured meeting place, said in part:

Sunday last was a red letter day in Beckwith township, when the Presbyterian Church people observed the anniversary of the first public services held there by their forefathers.  The renowned highway, the Seventh Line, was all a-going with automobiles, rigs and pedestrians for the Presbyterian rally at the Old Kirk.  They came from all over Beckwith, from Montague and Elmsley, from Almonte and Carleton Place and from Ottawa, to pay their reverential respect to the days of the fathers and to that scriptural and reformation faith in which they lived and died.

After a largely attended and impressive sacramental service in Knox church in the morning, at which Rev. Mr. Lowry presided and Rev. Dr. Carmichael of King preached, the people assembled in large numbers in the afternoon beside the ruins of the Old Kirk on the seventh line of Beckwith, where for a generation the worship was conducted according to the principles and usages of the Church of Scotland.  A pulpit and precentor’s desk were erected and comfortable seating accommodation provided.  Following the opening exercises of prayer and scripture reading, and the singing of the 100th, 90th, and 103rd Psalms led by Mr. D. R. Ferguson as precentor, Rev. James Carmichael, D. D., was introduced by the pastor, Rev. Mr. Lowry, as a son of Beckwith welcomed back to his native heath.  Dr. Carmichael preached the commemoration sermon, the theme of his discourse being “The Cloud of Witnesses,” and was a most pathetic exhortation to those present to walk in the ways of their fathers.

With the singing of “O God of Bethel,” the benediction and the singing of “God Save the King,” the people crowded inside the stately old walls of the church ruin and listened to devotional exercises and a short address in the Gaelic language by Dr. Carmichael.  At its conclusion the cheerful tones of “When the Roll is called up Yonder” rang through the old gray walls.

Many visitors from outside points spent the day “on the line” and some, following the old-time custom, “walked to meeting.”  They took part in a bilingual service on the Sabbath and all seemed to enjoy the variations, whether they understood the ancient Gaelic or not.  It is the mother tongue of many of them, and they still dearly love its soft toned accents.  Those who know the Gaelic sincerely sympathize with those who have only the Saxon tongue.  It is the language of paradise, “which the devil does not understand, and in which the angels praise God.”

Beckwith Twp. Church Had Turbulent History, By Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 09 March, 1961

This is the second part of a story of the pioneer past of the Old Kirk of Beckwith township. The remains of the recently demolished Old Kirk Ruins may be seen near Carleton Place on the Seventh Line road of Beckwith township, two miles south and a mile east of Blacks Corners. The stone church was built in 1832, replacing a log church building. It served the first two Canadian generations of the first large settlement of Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highlanders in the district of Upper Canada north of the Rideau River.

 

Within the historic church walls recently torn down after standing for over 125 years on the old Beckwith Cross Keys road, the Rev. John Smith from Edinburgh preached and ministered for eighteen years to the township’s Perthshire Highlanders as the second minister of the Beckwith Kirk. The church’s six trustees in 1834 were Alexander Stewart (1792-1892, Blacks Corners, from Blair Atholl), John Scott (The Derry, from Kinardchie, Parish of Dull), Finlay McEwen (The Derry, from Arveuh, Balquhidder Parish), Donald McLaren (1774-1847, conc. 4, from Achra, Balquhidder Parish), Colin McLaren (The Derry, from St. Fillans, Comrie Parish), and James McArthur (1767-1836, conc. 7 at Kirk, from Ross, Comrie Parish). The two elders were Peter Campbell and John Campbell.

 

The Great Disruption

In the spread of the Scottish Disruption of 1843 to Presbyterian congregations in Canada the Beckwith Kirk, like those of neighbouring townships and many others, divided into Church of Scotland and dissenting Free Church followers. The Beckwith Free Church body withdrew from the Seventh Line Church during the Rev. Mr. Smith’s pastorate. They formed a separate congregation with the Rev. Mr. Blair as first minister, building Knox Presbyterian Church at Blacks Corners in 1845, the building for which funds now are being collected for its conversion to serve as a United Cemeteries vault. This was the first Presbyterian Free Church of stone construction in the district. Its congregation included the Free Church Presbyterians of Carleton Place until 1868, when it became the mother church of Zion Church of Carleton Place.

 

When the Rev. John Smith died in 1851 in his fiftieth year, leaving a wife and six children, James Poole noted in his Carleton Place Herald : “Mr. Smith had been in the habit of officiating both in English and Gaelic, an accomplishment particularly grateful to our Highland friends.” His large monument in the United Cemeteries, Carleton Place, was erected by his congregation. In the six concession near the Church was his stone house and his farm which in part had been that of his predecessor the Rev. Dr. George Buchanan. It was offered for sale at Lavallee’s Hotel in Carleton Place on the fall fair day of 1864 by the Rev. Mr. Smiths’s heirs and was long the Drummond farm. Succeeding him as the ministers of the Beckwith Auld Kirk were the Rev. Duncan Morrison and the Rev. William McHutchinson, with pastorates of five years each. The manse then was in the seventh concession (NE ½ lot 12) nearer the intersection with the Mill Road now Highway 29.

 

Moved to Carleton Place and Franktown

After nearly fifty years of regular services at the Seventh Line site, since 1833 in the stone church and before that in more primitive buildings, the increase in the populations of Carleton Place and Franktown led to the congregation’s decision in 1869 (perhaps hastened by the formation of the Zion Free Church congregation in Carleton Place) to hold its services in the two villages and to close the Old Kirk building. In Franktown a frame church was built in 1871.

 

In Carleton Place there were two Presbyterian Church buildings, both on William Street. That of the Cameronian Reformed Presbyterians had been built in the 1840’s. Construction of the stone church building which remains at the corner of St. Paul Street, facing the park of the old Commons, had been started in the 1840’s after the Disruption. It had been completed but lack of agreement had prevented it from being occupied. It was being used by Robert Bell for the lowly purpose of storing hay. Now it was renovated and fitted as the first St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Carleton Place, for the part of the Seventh Line Church of Scotland congregation living at and near the village.

 

It served that congregation for nearly twenty years, until the present St. Andrew’s Church building on Bridge Street, with its corner stone laid by the Rev. George M. Grant, Principal of Queen’s University, was dedicated and occupied in 1888. The connection between St. Paul’s Church of Franktown and St. Andrew’s of Carleton Place as one congregation under one minister and one session severed in the following year. The Rev. A. H. Macfarlane, father of J. Calvin Macfarlane, moved from Ashton to Franktown and continued to minister to the congregations at Franktown and Blacks Corners from 1889 until his retirement in 1913.

 

Last Days Of Beckwith Auld Kirk

The last of the five ministers of the Seventh Line Kirk congregation was the Rev. Walter Ross, M.A. He was inducted there in 1862. For nineteen years he contined to serve his congregation, both at the Old Kirk building and after the move to Carleton Place and Franktown. In 1875 he changed his place of residence to Carleton Place, where he died in 1881. He was the father of A. H. D. Ross, M.A., M.F., whose history of “Ottawa Past and Present” was published in 1927. His successor for nine years was the Rev. Duncan McDonald, M.A., a graduate of Queen’s University, inducted at Carleton Place in 1882, who was followed by the Rev. Robert McNair and in 1897 by the Rev. G. A. Woodside, M.A., later of Winnipeg.

 

Upon the opening of the new St. Andrew’s Church in January of 1888, the fixtures which still furnished the Seventh Line Old Kirk were advertised for sale and it was announced the building would be sold. The contents went to buyers in five lots for $78. The stone building of the first St. Andrew’s Church on William Street was sold for $500 for conversion into a double dwelling.

 

Kirk Pulpit At Gallery Height

The interior structure and arrangement of the old Seventh Line house of worship were recalled from vivid boyhood memories of Peter Drummond in the history of a part of Beckwith township published in 1943 by the late Dr. George E. Kidd, M.C., “The Story of the Derry” :

The most unique feature of the building was the pulpit. It was placed high in the centre of the north side. This recalls how in the reign of Charles I, Archbishop Laud had, among other things in an attempt to force the return of Episcopacy on the Covenanters, insisted on the return of the pulpits to the east ends of the churches, whereas they then stood in the middle. The Beckwith church pulpit was so high as to be on a level with the gallery opposite ; and its canopy, made of finely carved native wood, reached to the top of the wall behind it. The precentor’s stand was placed directly in front of and below the pulpit. It was reached by ascending three steps.”

There was a doorway in each end wall of the church. These doors were connected by a wide aisle which divided the floor in halves. The pews in the south half all faced north, while those in the other half were placed at right angles to the aisle, and faced the pulpit from the east and west respectively. The gallery was reached by two flights of steps, one at each end of the church. An impassable partition cut across its centre. A long table, at which communicants sat while they partook of the Sacrament, stood in front of the pulpit.”

 

The Old Kirk’s last years before its stand of more than half a century as an historic ruins are viewed in an early story of the Auld Kirk on the Cross Keys by J. T. Kirkland, Almonte barrister, the years when “John D. Taylor with his schoolboy companions, hunting wild pigeons through the Beckwith woods, could peep in through the dismantled windows and see the sagging roof, the rotting floor and the faded plush and tassels of the old pulpit.”

Origin Of Villages Around Carleton Place Go Back 100 Years, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 07 March, 1957

Here is an unusually informative and interesting story of well known places such as Black’s Corners, Arklan, The Derry, Coocoo’s Nest, Dewar’s Cemetery, Gillies Corners, Glen Isle, Scotch Corners, Tennyson, etc ; written for the Canadian by Howard M. Brown, historian.

Origin of some place names in Beckwith

Beckwith Township, surveyed for settlement in 1816, was given at that time its present name. It is named in honour of Major General Sir Sidney Beckwith (1772-1831), Quartermaster General of the British forces in Canada, under whose direction the settlement of this district was conducted.

Sir Sidney Beckwith came to Canada in 1812 as Assistant Quartermaster General and took part in the War of 1812-14, after serving in India and under Sir John Moore in the Peninsular Wars. Origins of some of the place names in the township are locally well known. Origins of others seem to be unrecorded and possibly unknown. The township’s largest geographical feature, its principal river, has its first known Indian name Mishi-sippi, great or large river, revised to Mississippi.

 Carleton Place

The town of Carleton Place was formerly Carlton Place, the name provided by the first village postmaster in 1830 to replace Morphy’s Falls. It has a Scottish origin, being taken from the location of the same name in Glasgow. Carleton was a more familiar word in Canada, as the name of British Canada’s governor and defender, Sir Guy Carleton, and in the early 1850’s the recognized name of the community became changed gradually from Carlton Place to Carleton Place.

 Villages

The township’s present villages bear the names of Franktown, Ashton, (divided between Goulbourn and Beckwith), Prospect and Black’s Corners. Franktown, the oldest of these, appears in all likelihood to have been named for the christian name of Colonel Francis Cockburn, the senior administrative officer who worked enthusiastically in promoting the district settlement.

The name of Cockburn creek, between Franktown and Perth, also recalls his service to the district.

Ashton with Mount Pleasant and Summer’s Corners as earlier names, had its present name designated about 1840 when it received a post office with Colonel John Sumner, later a Carleton Place merchant, as postmaster. The name is said to have been proposed by him in recollection of the town of Ashton-under-Lyne near Manchester.

Prospect, which once had a population of about one hundred, seems probably a descriptive name given when a post office was established there.

Black’s Corners

At Black’s Corners the township’s municipal affairs, which included those of Carleton Place, were transacted in 1858 for the first time in a building constructed and owned by the municipality. The Township hall that was built in the previous year, one hundred years ago, was the first municipal hall of Beckwith and Carleton Place.

The council previously had held its meeting in the principal hotels of Carleton Place and Franktown. Across the road from the township hall, Knox church had been built twelve years earlier as the first church in this immediate district of the Presbyterian church of Canada or Free Church.

In about this period the name Black’s Corners came into general use for this crossroads point near the centre of the township. Adjoining the new township hall was a piece of land which had been owned by John Black, after whom the little hamlet was named. Whether this was the J. Black who came in 1929 as one of the district’s first Methodist ministers has not been ascertained.

Arklan

Taking a few of the township’s place names as they come alphabetically, the location of Arklan, including an island with a small formerly utilized water power site near Carleton Place, was called successively Bailey’s Mills, Bredins Mills and Arklan Mills.

The former two names were those of its owners. The present name is derived from that of the county. George Bailey’s mill was established almost as early as Hugh Boulton’s at Carleton Place. Both mills are named on a district map of 1833. George Bailey Sr., an 1820 settler lived there for forty-five years, dying in 1865 at the age of 90.

The Bredin family then bought properties, within a few years turning their use over to others. The Bailey site served as a sawmill, and a times as a shingle mill and a planing mill, for lessees of the departed Bredins. It was bought by A. C. Burgess in 1887 and after improvements, was leased again as a sawmill. The name Arklan was provided by Mr. Burgess, who a little earlier had begun developing his model stock farm on the adjoining farm land. His brother, G. Arthur Burgess, mayor of Carleton Place in 1903 and 1921, and at times a stormy petrel in municipal affairs, installed a small hydro electric plant at Arklan in 1909 and for about a year supplied a part of the town’s power for electric lighting purposes, leasing his installations in 1912 to the town’s other supplier of electric power.

The Derry and The Coocoo’s Nest

The Derry, the name long held by school section number 6 in the middle eastern part of the township, is found to mean “the place of oaks”, the word “doire” of ancient inhabitants of the north of the British Isles. Its first settlers of 1818 were from Perthshire. In the late Dr. George E. Kidd’s book which tells in detail its subject “The Story of the Derry”, there is said to be a place in Perthshire of the same name. With the same meaning, it also was the first name of Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The Coocoo’s Nest, long the name of the area in school section number 3 east of Franktown, while named after the cuckoo, a bird of note in literature and legend, does not seem to have its local origin recorded.

Dewar’s Cemetery

Dewar’s and Kennedy’s cemeteries, located together on the eighth concession road near Ashton, were named for the Kennedy and Dewar families who came there from Pershire in 1818, the Kennedys from the parish of Dull, and the Dewars from the parish of Comrie.

Kennedy’s cemetery, the older one, is on land located in 1818 by John Kennedy and later owned by Robert Kennedy, long noted in the distsrict for his skill with the bagpipes. Robert, who came there with his parents at the age of eight, moved to Ashton and died in 1900 at Carleton Place.

The site of Dewar’s Cemetery originally was one of the clergy reserve lots, with the farms of Archibald and Peter Dewar beside it, and on the opposite side those of Finley McEwen and Malcolm Dewar. Archibald Dewar jr. son of Peter, was reeve of Beckwith for many years and died in 1916.

The Dewar families for centuries had been the recognized hereditary guardians of the staff or crozier of St. Fillan. Traditions of St. Fillan who was venerated as early as the eighth or ninth century in Glen Dochart and Strathfillan in the present Perthshire, have an important place in ancient Christianity in Scotland.

The head of the saint’s crozier, of silver gilt with a smaller crozier head of bronze enclosed in it, is reported to have been brought by Archibald Dewar to Beckwith, where its powers remained highly regarded, and to have been transferred by his eldest son to its present location at the National Museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Gillies Corners – Glen Isle

Gillies Corners, west of Franktown on the settlers first road between Perth and Beckwith, was the location of the inn of Archibald Gillis, who settled there in 1819 and maintained a licenced inn for a period including from the 1830’s to the 1850’s. Glen Isle, on the Mississippi near Carleton Place and about a square mile in area, is named for Captain Thomas Glendenning who in 1821 located on a grant of land including most of the part of the island lying in Beckwith Township.

A lieutenant retired on half pay from the 60th Regiment, he became a captain in the first local militia and is credited with an unenviable part in promoting the Ballygiblin fights of 1824. He also featured in a dispute with Daniel Shipman of Shipman’s Mills, now Almonte, regarding methods of raising a levy of the local militia in 1838 for possible service against the border raids which already had culminated near Prescott in the Battle of the Windmill. Captain Glendenning moved some time later to Chatham, where he continued to live in the 1850’s. The island has borne its present name for over 125 years.

 Smaller Streams

The Jock River, rising in Beckwith and flowing across the township through an extensive low-lying wooded area toward the outlet near Ottawa, was in 1818 named the Goodwood. This was the name of the Essex County estate owned in England by the Duke of Richmond, Governor General at the time. The name is preserved locally in that of the Goodwood Rural Telephone Company. The river’s early alternative name of Jacques prevailed and underwent a change of nationality to the present Jock.

King’s Creek, in the south-east side of the township near Prospect, was named for the family of John King who came there from Blair Atholl with the 1818 Perthshire emigrants. Lavallee’s Creek, now smaller than in the past, and extending from Highway 15 near Carleton Place to the Mississippi at Glen Isle, was named for Napoleon Lavellee, hotel keeper and colourful local figure from 1830 to 1890 at Carleton Place.

When the Rideau Canal was being planned one course for the canal given passing consideration included Cockburn Creek, McGibbon’s Creek and the lower Mississippi. McGibbon’s Creek, a small stream in the west side of the township passing through a considerable amount of flooded land, obtained its name from the McGibbon family which bought land nearby on the the 8th concession and lived there for several generations. Along the upper course several settlers took up land in the 7th concession in late 1816 as first permanent residents of the township.

 United Cemeteries,  Scotch Corners – Tennyson

St. Fillans, Maplewood and Pine Grove or Cram’s United cemeteries include land obtained by John Cram in 1818 on his arrival from Comrie in Perthshire. From St. Fillans in Perthshire came a large number of the settler’s arriving in that year. Scotch Corners, separated from the main part of the township by the Mississippi Lakes and containing the Scotch Corners cemetery, was named as being a predominantly Scottish farm settlement. It was occupied in 1822.

Tennyson, a crossroads point on the west border of the township, now consisting of two churches, a school and a cheese factory building, probably can be taken to have been named for the poet Lord Tennyson. The land at that point was first located in 1816 to two demobilized half-pay military officers who established their residences at Perth.

The part north of the 7th concession road was granted to Roderick Matheson and the opposite part to Ensign J. H. O’Brien formerly of the Newfoundland Fencibles. Lieutenant Roderick Matheson had been paymaster of the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles. He established himself as a successful merchant at Perth and became the Hon. Roderick Matheson, member of the appointed Legislative Council of Canada.