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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.