ARCHIVES OF ONTARIO VITAL STATISTICS RELEASE INFORMATION

 

According to the Archives of Ontario:

“As of November 15, the Archives of Ontario’s latest release of historical Vital Statistics will be available on microfilm in our reading room at 134 Ian Macdonald Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario, and through our Microfilm Interloan Service.”

While the Carleton Place Library has always purchased the latest indexes, and some death registrations, for genealogical researchers, this is the very first time that the latest microfilm releases are not being made available for purchase.  There is talk of digitizing these statistics from now on.

No need to panic though, as we can still interloan the indexes and registrations on microfilm for our public to use.  The latest release covers indexes and registrations for Ontario births up to 1916, marriages up to 1931, and deaths up to 1941.

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A HISTORY OF THE CARLETON PLACE PUBLIC LIBRARY

A History of the Carleton Place Public Library

In honour of Janet Baril’s Retirement, Head Librarian 1984-2013

Starting in 1829, the Ramsay and Lanark Circulation Library originally served the townspeople of Carleton Place.  It had over 500 volumes, and was located in the Anglican Church which stood at Lot 16, 1st Con. Ramsay, opposite the Union Hall and schoolhouse.

Our present library began on March 14, 1846, as a Subscription Library with 65 original members.  The entry fee was 2 shillings and the yearly fee was 5 shillings.  The subscription list continued until 1850.  By 1851, the Carleton Place library was operating out of the school house on Bridge Street, later Central School, which became the site of the post office.  Some pages are missing until a partial list appears in 1864 when the record ends.

The officers and directors of the Carleton Place Library and Mechanics’ Institute for 1851 were:

President:  James Duncan (blacksmith); Vice President:  William Peden (merchant); Treasurer:  Robert Bell, M.P.P. ; Secretary:  David Lawson (store clerk, postmaster) ; Librarian:  Johnston Neilson (schoolmaster) ; Directors:  George Dunnet (merchant), Duncan McGregor, James C. Poole (newspaper publisher), Thomas Patterson (Ramsay farmer), John McCarton (Ramsay farmer).

April 5, 1865:  “The Carleton Place Library will be open on Monday next, and on the first Monday of every month hereafter.  Person wishing to read can on payment of .25 cent per quarter of a year.”

Interest in the library seemed to have dwindled until 1883 with the formation of the Carleton Place Mechanics Institute.  The object of this Association was to:  “establish a reading room and library, procure suitable apartments (sic) and deliver courses or lectures on useful and interesting subjects, as well as supply its members with the means of instruction in Arts, Sciences, Literature and General knowledge.”  They housed the library wherever there was an empty building, or an individual would take it to their home.  The Mechanics Institute looked after the library until 1895, when legislation was passed in Ontario whereby the Mechanics Institute became the Public Library, free of subscription dues.  The Town by-law taking over the Library was not passed in its’ complete form until January, 1897.  Upon completion of the Town Hall in that year, the Public Library began its’ long stay there.  At this time the book collection was 2,458 volumes, and the number of books taken out during the year was 4,418. 

In 1897, the Art Loan Exhibit, an exhibit of Lanark and Renfrew’s social and natural history was put together by the library at the Opera Hall in the new Town Hall.

Information from 1956 shows that “At present there are about 1,000 borrowers, approximately 8,000 volumes to choose from, and a yearly and growing circulation of over 20,000…on the library tables there is an excellent range of daily papers as well as periodicals of Canadian, English and U.S. origin, which can be read in the quiet and well-lighted main room…the library is housed in the town hall main floor, a central and convenient place for its users…”

In 1966 the Eastern Ontario Regional Library System was set up.  This allowed for a pooling of book resources and interests of all Public Libraries in the ten counties of Eastern Ontario. 

In 1970 the new library was built on land donated by the Town and funded by private individuals.  It measured 3200 sq. ft., four times the size of the Town Hall library.  Once again, in 1979, the Library needed more space and was expanded to double its’ size.

Then in September, 1986, the Library was vandalized and set on fire, destroying the adult fiction collection and causing water and smoke damage to the rest of the collection.  The library was moved to temporary quarters in the Mews Professional Building on Lansdowne Avenue, until the library was rebuilt and the fire damage cleaned up.  The Library returned to its’ home in February, 1987, with an official opening on May 23, 1987.

In 1994, the Library held 35,569 volumes and 93,040 volumes circulated during the year.  Also, 910 volumes were loaned to other libraries in Ontario and 966 volumes were borrowed from them.

Computerization came to the library in 1992 in the form of an automated system.  No more card catalogues, or hand-written patron library cards.  The future had arrived!

As a millennium project, the library underwent a massive renovation starting in

June 1999, and ending in February 2000.  At that time, the large Barbara Walsh meeting room on the east side of the building was turned into a much needed larger children’s area, with a new and smaller Barbara Walsh room added to the front of the building.  Glass fronted offices were added close to the new circulation desk, along with public internet access terminals and storage areas.  A local history/microfilm room was located near the Beckwith Street side of the building.

In December 2010, the library began to provide access to e-books through  Southern Ontario Library Service, for all Carleton Place and area patrons.  Ancestry Library Edition also became available early in 2011 for local family history buffs.

Statistics from 2011 show the Library holding approximately 63,000 items, with 108,280 circulating throughout the year.  As well, patrons borrowed approximately 2,440 e-books, and Ancestry Library Edition saw approximately 11,691 research hits.  Also, 1,273 volumes were loaned to other libraries in Ontario and 1,245 volumes were borrowed from them.

Librarians:

 David Lawson          1846-1851

Johnston Neilson    1851-1887

Peter McRostie       1887-1909

Emma McRostie     1909-1941

Louise Elliott           1941-1960

Barbara Walsh        1960-1984

Janet Baril                1984-2013

 

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTY-TWO : Canada’s Centennial (2)

 

Invasion Threatened When Local Units Trained

By Howard M. Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 31 March, 1966

 

Fifty years before Canadian volunteer soldiers began to leave their home towns in 1914 for overseas service, men equally prepared to risk their lives for Canada were forming the first active service military units of many Canadian towns.  Their fortunately brief defence service was in the years of the Fenian Raids of the 1860’s, when the last armed invasions of Canada came to challenge our national Confederation.

Among these defenders were more than fifty men of the Carleton Place Rifle Company.  The Carleton Place Rifle Company was formed at the start of the first expansion of a trained and permanent volunteer militia of the old Province of Canada, made to meet the risk of possible war between the United States and Great Britain at the outset of the American Civil War.  Like those of neighbouring localities and others throughout the province, it replaced a venerable succession of local but normally untrained and unarmed companies of the original sedentary militia.  A view of the participation of this community, then an unincorporated village, in Canada’s first major development of its own military forces is given in the pages of the locally published weekly newspapers of that day.

When war threats and consequent militia expansion came in 1862, local demand led to the formation of the first trained and equipped militia company to be based at Carleton Place.  In January of that year, in the words of the local Herald editor:

“At a meeting of some of the inhabitants of Carleton Place and vicinity, held at Lavallee’s Hotel on Saturday evening last, it was unanimously resolved that: – ‘In view of the unsettled state of affairs between the British and American governments and the possibility of war, it is expedient that a rifle company should be formed in this village and neighbourhood, to aid in the defence of their country.’

A muster roll was then opened and signed by those present at the meeting.  Several others have since added their names, making in all upwards of sixty.”

This number, including some young men of nearby farms, appears to equal nearly half of the total number of men of ages 18 to 40 living then in Carleton Place.

The gazetting of the Carleton Place Volunteer Militia Rifle Company came in December, 1862, with James Poole as captain and John Brown as lieutenant.  Within a month it was equipped and undertaking military training.  The Perth Courier in December stated:

“Volunteer Rifle Companies are organizing in all parts of the country.  In Carleton Place a Company has been Gazetted under Capt. Poole.  The volunteer movement if properly encouraged will soon result in twenty or thirty thousand well disciplined men.  Let it be made imperative on every Militia officer to be well drilled, and Canada would soon have her militia on a footing that would be ready for all emergencies.  At present the supply of Drill Instructors is sadly inadequate.”

The newly authorized company was first paraded in greatcoat uniforms on New Year’s Day, when its captain, news editor James Poole, wrote:

“According to notice given, the members of this company assembled in front of the ‘Herald’ office on the morning of New Year’s Day.  After being dressed in the coats and accoutrements forwarded by the Government from Quebec, they were drilled by Robert Bell, Jr., nephew of Robert Bell, Esq., M.P.P. for the North Riding.  They paraded the streets several times, and from the manner of performing the drill, dictated by their youthful teacher for the time, have given great promise of future utility, should any unfortunate occasion arise.”

By mid-July it was announced:

“In a few days the new clothing will be ready for distribution, and Carleton Place will be able to turn out one of the best looking Rifle Companies in Canada.  The Company will continue to drill as usual every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening.”

Another summer notice stressed the need for target practice, as judged by the captain of the Carleton Place Company, who published the names and scores of marksmanship of each of some sixty militiamen:

“A rifle shooting match was held near this village on Saturday last, the 15th instant, between the Carleton Place Rifle Company and the Infantry Company from Almonte.  The Riflemen were requested to be in uniform at the armoury at six o’clock in readiness to march to the station to meet the Almonters. 

The Riflemen were uniformed in the regular Rifle dress – dark green tunics and grey pants, with red facings, dark belts and shakos to match.  The Infantry wore the scarlet tunics, gray pants, white belts and shakos trimmed to suit.  The shooting was conducted under the able management of Sergt. Cantlin.  The shooting on both sides was bad, and much below the average, there being but a few men in either company sufficiently practiced with the rifle.  The following is the score of points…”

(Totalling Almonte 107, Carleton Place 106).

A mid-winter inspection of these two companies in February, 1864, as reported by Captain Poole, showed the required drilling which lay ahead:

“The Almonte Infantry and Carleton Place Rifle Companies were inspected on Saturday last by Lt. Col. Earle of the Grenadier Guards, accompanied by Brigade Major Montgomery.  The attendance of both companies was much below what it should have been – The Almonte Company mustering only 27 including officers, and the Carleton Place Company 43.  The Colonel was well pleased with the condition of the arms and accoutrements of the men; but did not compliment them very highly on their proficiency in drill, which was owing to their very irregular attendance during the fall and winter.”

The American Civil War ended in the spring of the following year.  Within six months the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States was building its resources for its expected conquest of Canada, and in November, Canadian troops were posted for several months duty at border points from Prescott to Sarnia.

In Lanark County, contracts for erecting drill halls were let early in 1866 at Carleton Place and Almonte.  Construction of the Carleton Place armoury was aided by the promise of a £50 grant by the municipality.  It was built by William Pattie on the Beckwith Street site of the recently demolished skating rink bordering the park which then was the village market square.  Supported by its hand hewn beams, it remained a useful memorial of the perils of the 1860’s until destroyed in the town’s great fire of 1910.  Its use was granted at times for other community purposes ranging from the Beckwith Agricultural Society’s exhibitions of the 1860’s and the ambitious annual choral and musical festivals of the 1880’s to a series of Bishop R. C. Horner’s Hornerite revival meetings.  Almonte’s armoury was built for the combined purposes of the militia and the exhibitions of the North Lanark Agricultural Society.

When Fenian preparations in March had indicated they then might be about to attack, and ten thousand Canadian volunteers had been called for duty, no invasion occurred, although two minor ones were attempted.  Captain Poole’s Carleton Place newspaper reports of this time said:

“The rumors of a Fenian invasion have created a great stir through the country.  The volunteers are called for service and have responded nobly.  In our own village the company is filled up and is drilling three times a day.  The men are billeted on the inhabitants and have orders to be ready at a moments notice.”

Postponement came in two weeks, when it was reported (March 28) that:

“The prospect of a Fenian invasion of Canada is so far distant that the government feels justified in disbanding a portion of the volunteer force.  An order for the disbanding of the Carleton Place Rifle Company was received on Monday evening.  The bugle was sounded, and in a few minutes the whole company were at their posts.  They naturally thought that marching orders had been received, and were rather disappointed.

The new drill shed is to be completed by the first of September.  We would again express our gratification at the manner in which the company have conducted themselves while under arms.”

Forces on each side of the international boundary continued to prepare for a coming encounter.  Other views of the Canadian preparations will follow in the next section of this story of the times of Confederation.

Carleton Place Connection To The Battle of Ridgeway

Some Further Investigation of Carleton Place’s Connection to the Battle of Ridgeway

 

Howard Brown’s article in the Carleton Place Canadian, 17 March, 1966, titled “Border Raids Promoted Confederation in Canada,” makes reference to a man with a connection to Carleton Place being among those of the ranks of the Queen’s Own Rifles killed in the Fenian Raid at Ridgeway, June 2, 1866.  His name was John H. Mewburn.  “He was a university student, age 21, only son of Harrison C. Mewburn who at this time was headmaster of the Carleton Place grammar school.”  I thought it would be interesting to discover a little bit more about John H. Mewburn, and his role in the ‘forgotten’ Battle of Ridgeway.

A search on Ancestry.com for J. H. Mewburn, born circa 1845 shows him in the 1851 census living in Stamford, Welland Co. with his parents, Harrison C. Mewburn (farmer )and Ann Mewburn, and with his grandparents John Mewburn (Surgeon) and grandmother Henrietta Mewburn.  He was born in England.

A search of the 1861 census only locates his mother, Ann, living with her in-laws, and she is listed as single.  There’s no sign of John or his father in this census.

At some point, his father, Harrison C. Mewburn moved to Carleton Place.  His son was at the University of Toronto in 1866, writing his final exams on the morning of June 2nd, when he was called to battle.

It was not difficult to find more information online, and in books, about J. H. Mewburn and this historically significant battle. Most scholars feel the Battle of Ridgeway led directly to Confederation in 1867.  Most Canadians know very little about the importance of this politically charged battle.

Feeling curious about all of this?  Google searches of ‘Fenian Raids’ elicits the following worthwhile sites to visit:

A picture of soldiers at the Battle of Ridgeway on Our Ontario site:

 http://images.ourontario.ca/whitby/44414/data

A list of casualties at Ridgeway as well as everything else about Ridgeway, can be found on Peter Vronsky’s site.  The list of casualties includes J. H. Mewburn’s name:  http://www.ridgewaybattle.ca/

At the library we have a copy of Peter Vronsky’s book, “Ridgeway: the American Fenian invasion and the 1866 battle that made Canada.”  This is a must-read for anyone looking for a comprehensive account of this battle, and why he believes it has received so little attention. According to Peter Vronsky:

“On June 1, 1866 Canada was invaded by Irish-American Fenian insurgents from their bases in the United States. The Fenian Brotherhood planned to take Canada hostage in an attempt to free Ireland from the British Crown and establish an independent republic. The invasion culminated on June 2, with the Battle of Ridgeway near Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada’s first modern battle and the first fought exclusively by Canadian soldiers and led entirely by Canadian officers.

Nine militia volunteers from Toronto’s Queen’s Own Rifles Regiment were killed in the battle, including three student soldiers from a University of Toronto rifle company called out while writing their final exams and who took the brunt of a Fenian charge at Limestone Ridge.  While Canadians had not fought a major war in Canada since the War of 1812, the Fenians were all battle-hardened veterans of the American Civil War, many having served in crack Irish brigades.

The “Ridgeway Nine” were Canada’s first soldiers killed in action and Ridgeway was the last battle fought in Ontario against a foreign invader, but after the disastrous conclusion the Macdonald government covered-up what happened so thoroughly that most Canadians today have never heard of this battle.”

 

Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada site:  – Has a picture and a biography of John H. Mewburn. Here we discover that his middle name is Harriman, and we learn the graphic details of how he died:

http://qormuseum.org/2012/04/19/rifleman-john-harriman-mewburn/

The band, Fenian Raid, has a site with battle songs (‘Tramp, tramp, tramp’), more history and pictures of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, & talks about ‘The Maple Leaf Forever’ :  http://fenianraid.ca/fr_fenianraids.cfm

Howard Brown’s article in the Carleton Place Canadian of 04 August, 1960, describes the uniforms, and gives us an abbreviated list of the men of the local Rifle Company who defended their country at Brockville, Ontario in 1866.  J. H. Mewburn’s name is not among them, so it seems that his only connection to Carleton Place was that his father lived here:

“In a target shooting competition at Carleton Place between the local Rifle Company and the Almonte Infantry Company, the rifle company appeared in its new uniforms with green tunics, grey pants with red facings, and dark belts.  The infantry uniforms had scarlet tunics, grey pants and white belts.  The impressive headpiece of both companies’ uniforms was an ornamented cap known as a shako.”

Brockville river front and railway communications were protected by the provisional battalion which already had been called up in March, formed of the Brockville, Perth, Carleton Place, Almonte and Gananoque companies. 

Raids from the United States upon border points were made in 1866 by groups known as Fenians, whose professed objective was political independence for Ireland.  The Carleton Place and Almonte volunteer companies were dispatched to Brockville in June.  Captain of the Almonte company was James D. Gemmill.  Total of all ranks serving from Carleton Place numbered fifty-seven.  Under local officers Captain James C. Poole, Lieut. John Brown and Ensign J. Jones Bell, they included such Carleton Place and township family names as Burke, Coleman, Cram, Dack, Docherty, Duff, Enright, Ferguson, Fleming, Hamilton, Kilpatrick, Leslie, Lavallee, Moffatt, Moore, Morphy, and McArthur, McCaffrey, McCallum, McEwen, McFadden, McNab, McNeely and McPherson, Neelin, Patterson, Pattie, Rattray, Sinclair, Stewart, Sumner, Williams, Willis and Wilson.

Volunteers from these and other Lanark County areas served also in the Fenian Raids of 1870.  Drill halls built in 1866 at county centres including Perth, Carleton Place and Almonte were used for many years.  The Carleton Place drill shed was at the market square between Beckwith and Judson Streets, at the present site of the skating rink.  Almonte’s military quarters were combined with the North Lanark Agricultural Society’s main exhibition building then being erected.”

It is doubtful that any of the Carleton Place men saw active duty during the Fenian Raid of 1866, as after June 2nd the Fenians’ supplies of men and munitions had been curtailed. 

If, as all of the above evidence suggests, the Battle of Ridgeway precipitated Confederation a year later, why has it been forgotten, or has it been deliberately covered up?

Maybe it’s time to breathe some new life into the Battle of Ridgeway, and give it the recognition it deserves in 2017, when Canada celebrates its 150th birthday.

Stay tuned for more Confederation Series articles by Howard M. Brown!