SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTY-EIGHT: Canada’s Centennial (5) Part Two

Carleton Place Canadian

12 May, 1966

By Howard Morton Brown

 

The companies of the 42nd Battalion from Perth, Smiths Falls, Almonte, Fitzroy and Landsdowne all were at Brockville within twenty-four hours.  No. 4 Company of Fitzroy, under Captain Allan Fraser, with the greatest distance to travel, mustered at Kinburn, moving from there by wagon to Pakenham and by rail to Brockville.  Captain John A. Macdonald’s history of the Fenian Raids states:

“The Forty Second did very great service in protecting the railway docks and other points of landing at Brockville, besides patrolling the river banks as far east as Maitland, thus keeping up a chain of communication with the garrison at Prescott.  Several ‘scares’ occurred during the time they were on service, which caused sleepless nights, but by their vigilance the Fenians were deterred from making an attack.”

At Prescott, opposite which a large body of Fenians had gathered at Ogdensburg, seven hundred and fifty officers and men were placed under Lieut. Colonel Jackson, Brigade Major of the 8th Brigade Division.  The greatest probability of attack from Fenians assembled at Malone was deemed to be on Cornwall.  The Cornwall command was placed with Lieut. Colonel Atcherly, Deputy Adjutant General of Military District No. 4.  Here the 59th Battalion was mustered, joined by the 41st Battalion by steamboat from Brockville with its Pakenham, Carleton Place, Perth, Merrickville, Brockville and Gananoque companies and accompanied by its Carleton Place battalion band.  A valuable corps of about sixty mounted scouts was gathered, and an armed steamer patrolled the river.  Here as at other Ontario points the Fenians failed to venture across the water in the face of the defences mounted for their reception.  Fenians at Buffalo who had gathered from several states, intending to cross the river after a successful outcome of the Quebec frontier operations, soon returned to their homes and the Fenian Raids of 1870 were at an end.

 

On Guard Against The Fenians

The 41st Battalion’s Carleton Place No. 5 Company and Band serving at Cornwall totalled fifty-three officers and men, under Captain John Brown and Ensign David McPherson.  Its lieutenant, J. Jones Bell, had left earlier in the month to become an officer of the Ontario Battalion in the expedition to quell the Red River Rebellion.  No. 5 Company non-commissioned officers were Sergeants Robert W. Bell, Ephriam Kilpatrick and Robert Metcalf; Corporals James Moore, A. Hume, William Patterson and William Rattray, and Bandmaster J. C. Bonner.  Of the forty-three privates in the Carleton Place Company and Band on active service at Cornwall no more than three had been with the company in its Brockville service in 1866.  They were George McPherson, George Willis and Richard Willis, all of the regimental band.

Among other No. 5 Company privates from the Carleton Place area serving at Cornwall during the 1870 raids were Samuel Crampton, Frank Boyle, Alex and John Drynan, David Henry, James Irvine, Henry Metcalf, William Moffatt, David Moffatt, blacksmith, and David Moffatt, carpenter, William Munro, George Morphy, William Murray, Daniel McDougall, Brice McNeely, Jerome McNeely and Thomas McNeely, Charles Patterson, William Pittard, William Poole, John Rattray, Duncan Stewart, W. S. Watson, and Alex Wilson.

David Moffatt (1848-1926), carpenter, a private of age 22 during the 1870 raids, became a building contractor and planning mill operator with his brother Samuel, later of Renfrew, and was the father of William, Howard and Lloyd Moffatt.  His father James (1819-1901) lived then in the stone house remaining on the riverside beyond the end of High Street, where David Moffatt senior in 1820 had become one of the early farm settlers of the vicinity of Carleton Place.  Daniel McDougall and later his son Norman were farmers on Glen Isle.  Charles Patterson was then age 19 and a cabinetmaker with William Patterson.  William W. Pittard (1850-1938), who was a printer with the Carleton Place Herald, founded in 1882 the Almonte Times, which he published until his retirement.  Unmarried, he died at age 88 in a fire in his Almonte home.  During the First World War he was mayor of Almonte.  William Poole, age 21, was the eldest son of the Herald publisher.  John Rattray, 21, and Corporal William Rattray, 25, were sons of William Rattray (1812-1898), Beckwith 11th Line farmer who came there with his parents in 1822.

Bandmaster J. C. Bonner recently had opened a shop selling musical instruments and stationery on Bridge Street near Bell Street, and advertised his services as “Band Master, Teacher of Piano, Melodeon, Organ, Voice, Thorough Bass and Harmony, Violin, etcetera.”  Sergeant Robert Metcalf, hotel-keeper, and Corporal William Patterson, cabinetmaker, were the other non-commissioned officers of the battalion’s Carleton Place band at Cornwall.  Other band members included Privates Joseph H. Bond, 30, tinsmith; William Glover, 33, blacksmith; James Morphy, 27, butcher; and James Munro, 39, carpenter; also Alex. McLean, 19, carpenter; John McLean, 25, store clerk; George McPherson, 30, later hotelkeeper; and Franklin Teskey, 29, later a town councillor, son of Appleton miller Joseph Teskey.  Privates George E. Willis, 26, photographer, Richard Willis, 29, and William Willis, 22, sons of Lake Avenue West farmer George Willis; and Joseph Wilson, 27, later hotelkeeper and Alex. Wilson, 20, sons of Dr. William Wilson, completed the 1870 roll of band musicians of the 41st Battalion in its short period of active service at Cornwall.

At the collapse of the Fenian campaign the Canadian militia forces were released from duty, in most cases within ten days of their last service postings, receiving an official statement of the “gratitude and admiration of their Queen and country”.  Reporting on the repulses of the “cut throats in green”, Major Poole wrote:  “The military officers who had an opportunity of observing the conduct of the volunteers speak in enthusiastic terms of their endurance, courage and discipline”.  In Carleton Place a victory ball and supper “in a style not to be surpassed” was held for the volunteers in the stone building on the corner of Bridge and High Streets which was then William Kelly’s British Hotel.

Veterans who had seen active service in Ontario in 1866 or 1870 became entitled eventually to provincial grants of 160 acres of Crown lands.  Service medals, some of which survive as family heirlooms, bear the receiver’s name and rank, a portrait of the queen and a design representing Canada, with a clasp carrying the words Fenian Raid 1866, or 1870.  Eighteen veterans of the Fenian Raids marched at Carleton Place thirty years later, together with Andrew Dunlop, Crimean War medallist, in an impressive parade and reception held in November, 1900, on the return of Alex. C. Cram from the South African War.  Some twenty-five veterans of the Raids who had served with the Carleton Place company and still were residents of the town included Maurice Burke, John Burke, William Beck, John Cavers, William Glover, David Moffatt, James Munro, David McPherson, Patrick Tucker, William Pattie and William Patterson.

Militia appointments of commissioned officers of No. 5 Company, Carleton Place, 41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles, made three years after the 1870 Fenian Raids, were Lieutenant Robert W. Bell as Captain, replacing David McPherson, resigned; Joseph Cram as Lieutenant, and George Gillies as Ensign replacing William Poole, deceased.  Joseph McKay, son of James McKay, Bell Street baker, rose in his long militia service here from lieutenant of No. 5 Company in the late 1870’s  to lieutenant colonel of his regiment at the turn of the century.  Rifle Ranges at Carleton Place were constructed during Lieut. Colonel McKay’s command.  Carleton Place No. 5 Company in the 1890’s had become No. 2 Company of the 42nd Lanark and Renfrew Regiment, which it remained in the years up to the opening of the First World War.  In August 1914, its first twelve volunteers for overseas active service left Carleton Place, commanded by Captain William H. Hooper.  They were sergeants Horace Brown, James McGill and George New; privates Robert Borland, Lochart Campbell, Leonard Halsey, Joseph Hamilton, Harry McLaren, Neil McPhee, Ernest Reynolds and Arthur Simons; and their captain, Will Hooper.

When Canada’s accomplishments of the past and promise of the future are being recognized in the Centennial of Confederation, and honours paid to its defenders and servants of peace and war, the military volunteers who were ready to offer their lives in the confederation decade will have a secure place among those worthy of remembrance.

 Officer in the 41st Brockville Rifle Battalion.  Likely Capt. James Condie Poole, first Company Commander of No. 5 Company (Carleton Place)

Officer in the 41st Brockville Rifle Battalion. Likely Capt. James Condie Poole, first Company Commander of No. 5 Company (Carleton Place)

No. 5 Company (Carleton Place) 41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles:  From left to right: James Storey, William Dack, Donald Stewart, William Duff, Patrick Tucker.

No. 5 Company (Carleton Place) 41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles:
From left to right: James Storey, William Dack, Donald Stewart, William Duff, Patrick Tucker.

These Photos are courtesy of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.  Thanks Jennifer!

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTY-SIX: CANADA’S CENTENNIAL (4)-Part Three of Three

Confederation’s Armed Defenders Recalled : Third Part

Carleton Place Canadian, 28 April, 1966

By Howard M. Brown

 

Defence routine at Brockville was reported “From the Frontier” on June 13, 1866 by Captain Poole:

“We parade three times a day, at six o’clock in the morning, at ten and four.  The men are drilled from one to two hours each time.  Guard is mounted at 11 o’clock, and in addition to the regular sentries the town is patrolled during the night.  One party goes east, the other west of the guard room, which is the new market building near the Wilson House.  There is also a gun boat which cruises up and down the river, so that you see the Fenians can hardly take us unawares.

The men are all cheerful and contented.  As there are only six companies in town they are pretty well accommodated, in fact much better than their brethren in arms at Prescott, some of whom are quartered in an old brewery with one blanket apiece to sleep on.  Though many have left home at great personal loss they all seem willing to remain away so long as it may be necessary for the defence of their country.

I imagine the Fenian bubble is about burst, but it will of course be necessary to keep a considerable force on active service for some time, for should our volunteers be sent home the Fenians might annoy us by making raids for the mere sake of plunder, especially since the United States government is giving them every encouragement, though pretending to frown upon the movement.”

The homecoming of the Carleton Place and Almonte troops, at the start of what proved to be a four year suspension of American Fenian border activity, was recorded a week later: 

“The Fenians, warned by their defeat at Fort Erie and the chase of the Royal Guides at Pigeon Hill in Missiquoi County, have quieted down and apparently given up the idea of taking Canada at present.  The Canadian Government, having a due regard to economy and considering the immediate danger past, have ordered home a portion of the Volunteer force who have been on duty on the frontier for the past fortnight.

On Saturday evening last, Lieut. Colonel Crawford, who was in command of the force stationed at Brockville, received an order to relieve from further service the Almonte and Carleton Place companies which formed a portion of the Battalion under his command.  Arrangements were made with the B. & O. R.R. to have a special train in readiness on Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock to convey them to their homes.  The Battalion mustered in the Court House Square and, having wheeled into line, formed fours and marched to the station. 

The Almonte and Carleton Place men having got on board, the train moved off amid the cheers of the Brockville and Perth companies which were drawn up in line on the platform.  The run was made to Carleton Place in a little over two hours, and in a few minutes the brave fellows were surrounded by their friends.  It is a matter of congratulation that they were not required to place themselves in immediate danger, as also that they did not require the services of the young ladies who kindly volunteered to do service if necessary.

In the meantime it will be a question for our authorities to decide what they shall do with their Fenian prisoners.  A more criminal raid was never heard of in the history of modern nations, and the idea of asserting Irish independence by a murderous onslaught on the residents of a remote British province is absurd.  Let us however exhibit moderation in the punishment we shall award to our captives.”

Another four years of danger lay ahead.  The second overt challenge came when forces under the Fenian Brotherhood president and military firebrand, John O”Neill, rallied again in 1870 by grace of insufficient United States government restraint, to attack the new Dominion of Canada, and Canadian militia units were placed on duty at points of possible invasion on our Quebec and Ontario international borders.

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Sharing Memories, Week Thirty-Four: Canada’s Centennial (4)-Part One of Three

 

Confederation’s Armed Defenders Recalled : First Part

Carleton Place Canadian, 28 April, 1966

By Howard M. Brown

 

When agreement was being reached for the attainment of Canada’s Confederation, the borders of the present provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick were manned with Canadian and British forces prepared to repel invasion.  The strange enemy was the private army of the Fenian Brotherhood and its so-called Irish Republic of North America.  It was based in a northern United States flushed but worn by its Civil War success and lacking to this extreme degree in an attitude of friendship for Great Britain and Canada.

The Fenians and their followers quickly formed a misguided but large and reckless organization.  Their preparations had been carried out with the tolerance of the United States government during the term of office of one of that nation’s worst presidents.  Canada, by the Fenian plan, was to become Irish Fenian territory from which, with the aid of other nations, Ireland would be freed from England’s rule.  Then Canada might possibly be handed over to the United States. 

The Fenian Raids against Canada in 1866, renewed in 1870, came from a fertile soil for this mad scheme.  Calling their organization an Irish Republic, the American Fenian leaders and their delegates from most of the then existing states of the union met in Cincinnati in September, 1865, and adopted a paper constitution modeled on that of the United States.  Its active parts were its War Department and its Treasury.  Foot-loose soldiers trained in the Civil War were available by the thousand and not averse to conquest and plunder.  The tools and the spirit of war were in abundant supply.  With more able Fenian direction Canada might have paid dearly.

The main encounters of the 1866 Raids were in Welland County and in the Eastern Townships in the first week of June.  They were recalled in the first installment of this story of invasion dangers accompanying our Confederation, for which local and national Centennial celebrations now are being prepared.  The Eastern Ontario points considered most threatened were Cornwall, Prescott, Brockville and Kingston.  Some two thousand troops hastily placed at Cornwall included parts of two British regiments and militia of Cornwall, Argenteuil County, Kingston and Ottawa.

At Prescott a force of similar size included several companies of British troops and militia units of Hawkesbury, Belleville, Gananoque and the Ottawa area.  Two of the latter companies were those of Fitzroy and Pakenham.  Prescott’s Fort Wellington was strengthened and supplied with artillery reinforcements.  Kingston’s fortifications remained garrisoned by British troops.  Its district district militia units of rifles, infantry, artillery and cavalry went on active service standing.  With lighter forces of the Ottawa area the capital city of Ottawa also was garrisoned.

Brockville’s defences were provided by the rifle companies of Brockville, Carleton Place and Perth and the infantry companies of Almonte, Perth, Brockville and Gananoque, under Lieut. Colonel James Crawford.  A principal historical account of the Fenian Raids published in 1910 states:  “These companies were exceedingly efficient, and did great service in guarding the riverfront and railway communications at Brockville.  Col. Crawford and his troops received great praise from the Major-General for the very satisfactory manner in which they did their duty on these trying occasions.”  (John A. Macdonald, writer of the 1910 history of the Fenian Raids, served on the Niagara frontier in 1866 and 1870, founded and edited the Arnprior Chronicle, and was a captain of the 43rd Battalion, Ottawa and Carleton Rifles.)

Captain James Poole’s newspaper’s report of the departure of June 3 of the Carleton Place company for the front said in part:

“After having been on the alert for about twenty-four hours awaiting an order to proceed to the frontier, a hurried dispatch was received about midnight on Sunday that the volunteer companies of Carleton Place and Almonte should be ready in about an hour to repair to Brockville by a special train.  At 2:30 a.m. on Sunday the train arrived bringing the Almonte Company of Infantry under the command of Captain Gemmill.  The Carleton Place Rifle Company commanded by Captain Poole and Lieutenant Brown were in waiting, having been accompanied to the station by over a hundred of our citizens.  At the request of Captain Poole the Rev. J. A. Preston addressed the men.

It was a solemn and moving sight, the moonlight giving a dim view of the outline of the ranks and the friends and relatives moving to and fro as they took leave of those near and dear to them, discharging their duty to defend out hearths and homes against the invasion of a lawless band of marauders.  As the train left the station three hearty cheers from the citizens rang the air, lustily re-echoed by the true men whom we hope to welcome soon again.”

To be continued……

 

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTY-THREE : Canada’s Centennial (3)

 

 War Clouds Menaced Confederation—Canada

By Howard M. Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 14 April, 1966

 

In the last year of the founding of the Dominion of Canada, storm clouds surrounded the disturbed Canadian springtime of 1866.  To our forefathers of the towns and farms of the present provinces of Ontario and Quebec, rallying to the defence of their southern border, these storm signals gave new practical weight to the merits of forming a federal union with the provinces of their Atlantic neighbours.

Preserved among the remaining vivid Eastern Ontario pictures of Canada’s spirit of 1866 are the news and editorial columns of the Carleton Place weekly newspaper of that day.  They reflect the indignation and confidence of a province bracing itself to meet the threat of guerrilla attacks which might be made with the tolerance or tacit consent of United States authorities.  The generally similar view shown in newspapers and public attitudes in the future first Dominion of Canada in that troubled time is illustrated by such statements as these, made in this district’s widely circulated Carleton Place Herald:

“It appears almost incredible that the Fenian operations should have been allowed to be carried on in the States to so great a length as they have been.  But at latest reports the Washington authorities seem very little inclined to check their operations, and seem rather amused at the trouble, danger and expense to which the British provinces are subjected.  Mr. Seward (United States Secretary of State), may have to laugh on the other side of his mouth before the American government is done with Fenianism, its consequences and its responsibilities.”

“Prejudiced, although unfairly so, as the Americans are against us, we have but little to hope for or expect from their goodwill to us.  Indeed, without their countenance and support the present state of things could not have existed.  But in their own circumstances we have a reasonable guarantee that they will, if they have not already gone too far, stop the movement.  They know well too that the very first effect of a war with John Bull would be the total and irreparable loss of the fruits of their four years’ struggle with the South, with national bankruptcy and a long train of other evils.  We must not shut our eyes to the fact that if unhappily a war should take place with the United States, Britain and her colonies would suffer severely in the struggle.”

“At Ottawa during the past week guards have been placed at night on the armoury, the banks and the Railway Depot.  The city has a martial appearance.  Bugles are sounding, and the tramp of armed men is becoming familiar to our ears.  The number of volunteers in the city must now be over five hundred men.  There may be no actual necessity for this but it is better to be sure than sorry.

Large reinforcements from England are expected here shortly.  At present we have about ten thousand regulars in Canada, besides eleven thousand volunteers on duty.  Then there are at least fifteen thousand fully armed and ready at a moment’s notice, another eight thousand militia could soon be made available.  The Government has had an immense number of offers of veterans and others who are well drilled.”

A visitor’s impressions of the Carleton Place Rifle Company during its March, 1866 first call to arms were given in the Brockville Recorder, whose writer said:

“We learn from a gentleman who was travelling on the Brockville & Ottawa Railway that on Friday last a company of volunteers, fine looking men under Captain Poole, made their appearance at the Carleton Place railway station in full uniform, guns and bayonets in first best style.  Indeed a gentleman present said he never saw a better looking company of men, or arms better kept.  The company was led by the good old Scotch bag pipes and drum, well played.  The Captain and officers may be proud of their men.  If the interests of the country require it, this company will give a good account of themselves.  When the train started three cheers were given for the Queen, and three more for the Carleton Place volunteers.”

A brigade and divisional muster and review was held at this time (March 23 and 24) at Montreal.  Its proceedings, as reported by Captain Poole in the Carleton Place Herald, included imposition of a severe sentence of a court martial, later greatly reduced, for an unfortunate corporal of the Carleton Place Rifle Company:

“On Friday last, the Militia Brigade mustered at the City Hall in Montreal.  The sentence of the Court Martial on two of the volunteers belonging to the Shefford Light Infantry Company was read by the Assistant Adjutant General, George Smith.  The charge against the men was simply one of gross insubordination, and they were sentenced to sixty days imprisonment without hard labor.”

“On Saturday there was a ‘Grand Divisional Field Day’ of the whole garrison, regulars and volunteers.  The First Brigade, on the left, consisted of H. R. Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade, the 25th.  King’s Own Borderers and the 30th Regiment.  The Second Brigade was composed of the Volunteer Militia, under command of Colonel Dyde, Brigadier.  The inspecting officer was Lieut. General Sir John Michel (then commanding Her Majesty’s forces in North America).”

“In Colonel Dyde’s staff we noticed Lieut. Colonel George Smith, A.A.G.  After the inspection the route of march was then taken up.  Each regiment was preceded by its band.  On completing a lengthy march by way of the following streets…., the regulars proceeded to the barracks and the volunteers turned into Craig Street at the French Square.”

“The volunteers then marched up to the Victoria Square, where the Brigade was drawn up in square of close column and the proceedings and sentence of a Court Martial on Corporal Patrick Tucker of the Carleton Place (C.W.) Rifles were read by Assistant Adjutant General George Smith.  The offence proved in this case was gross insubordination.  The sentence of the Court was ninety days imprisonment, the first and last seven days with hard labour.  At the conclusion of this unpleasant part of the day’s proceedings, the several corps marched off to their armories and dispersed.”

The thanks of Carleton Place to its volunteers at the end of their March service was offered at an oyster supper for the Rifle Company, held within the stone walls of William Kelly’s British Hotel at the corner of Bridge and High Streets, in an evening of songs and speeches.  One erring member of the Company, found after this event to have ‘persisted in wearing his uniform clothes for days together and even sleeping in them’, was fined five dollars with an alternative of ten days in jail.

Expectations of further dangers, which soon were to come, called for continued preparation and frontier watchfulness in the interval between March and June.  In their local prediction in the Carleton Place Herald three months before the June abortive invasion our chronicle Captain Poole wrote, in part:

“By recent orders from Headquarters the several companies relieved from active duty are required to assemble for drill twice a week, for which the non-commissioned officers and men are to receive each the sum of fifty cents for each drill:  the commissioned officers, nothing.  Until further orders the Carleton Place Rifle Company will assemble on Wednesdays and Saturdays at four o’clock.”

“The country is threatened with invasion by a reckless horde of robbers and scoundrels.  The danger may possibly be postponed but there is little doubt  that before many weeks it will come to the hard pinch, and we trust every volunteer will show himself to be A Man And A Soldier, and ‘rally round the flag’ in defence of his country and his home.”

The strains created by an aggressive United States and the threats from irregular forces within its borders were giving their unintended impetus to the union of the Province of Canada with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, then in its final stages of negotiation.  This was the Herald forecast:

“The idea of Confederation is making rapid strides in the Lower Provinces.  The prospect of ultimate success now amounts to almost a certainty.  The ‘blue noses’ are beginning to regard Canadians as friends and neighbours and are almost inclined to cultivate a closer relationship.  Canadian capital and enterprise would, it is believed, give a powerful stimulus to the progress of New Brunswick and the other colonies.  Again, the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty showed, too clearly to be misunderstood, the necessity of commercial union between the Provinces.  The feeling was made stronger by the avowed annexationist doctrines of some American politicians, and their supposed sympathy with the Fenian movement.  The demonstrations of the latter Order on the frontier, with their statements that they were determined to frustrate the Confederation scheme, sever the Colonies from Britain and erect them into a Republic, also have had their effect.”

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!

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTY-ONE : Canada History Week, July 1-7, 2013 : Canada’s Centennial (1)

Border Raids Promoted Confederation in Canada

By Howard Morton Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 17 March, 1966

 

Community preparations for Confederation Centennial Celebrations are on the way throughout Canada.  They have begun already to reflect a new degree of the energy and self-respect gained by every nation which honours its great men and their deeds, and by every district and community which shows a sense of pride in its past accomplishments and a confidence in its future.

The uniting of Canada from the Atlantic to the West, and then to the Pacific and the Arctic Oceans, was not heralded only by the wise plans of our elected representatives, bewhiskered and top-hatted, meeting a century ago in sessions of hard bargaining and minor ceremony.  It came first from urgent needs of the town and country people of Ontario and Quebec, and those of the Atlantic provinces.  Their most pressing needs had become those of sheer self-preservation in a time of increasing difficulty.  The way out was seen at last to be a joining of British North American colonies into a confederation having the strength and will to survive and grow.  The amazing transformation which was to appear across much of the northern half of North America in the short space of one hundred years remained undreamed in the land which was to become second in geographical size to only the present union of Russia and second in material standards of living to only its United States southern neighbour.

The most dramatic of the pressures which rallied public unity and led to the forming of the infant federal union was one which came particularly close to home in this part of Canada.  It was a threat of long standing which reached its final stage in the last attacks to be made on our borders by armed forces of an enemy.  Canadian preparations and United States vaccilation reduced these last American-based assaults upon Canada to the proportions of guerrilla raids, made in the year before Confederation and renewed four years later.  They were met and repelled by our own volunteer soldiers, backed and aided by British troops.  These exploratory tests, launched with the ill-concealed encouragement of United States advocates of northern expansion, hastened and strengthened the Confederation which molded Canada into a nation united from its outset by fires of adversity.

The attempted Canadian invasions of 1866 and 1870 remain well remembered in local traditions in Ontario and Quebec as the now remote Fenian Raids.  Their backgrounds lay in the destructive horrors of the United States Civil War, which in 1861 introduced a decade of crisis in Canada.  Northern United States attitudes and conduct on the high seas, coupled with the needs of trade, brought immediate critical relations between Great Britain and the United States and the first large scale organization of a trained Canadian volunteer militia.

Apprehension remained at the end of the American Civil War in 1865 that restless Northern elements might turn to the harassment of their Canadian and other British colonial neighbours.  The move from the United States soon came.  It centered in an organization calling itself the Fenian Brotherhood, formed to promote by force the separation of Ireland from Great Britain.  Members of this Irish separatist group in the United States were joined at the end of the Civil War by thousands of demobilized Irish Americans and other unsettled adventurers ready for further military action.

Their leaders late in 1865 put in motion ambitious plans for raising a private army of sufficient strength to conquer and subvert at least a part of the adjoining British colonies.  They arrogantly claimed that, after conversion of these supposedly downtrodden colonies into a free Irish republic, their Irish Canada with the aid of other nations would drive the British eventually by force of arms from the motherland of Ireland.

The president of the United States was the deplorable and later impeached Andrew Johnson of Tennessee.  United States government authorities appeared to ignore and failed to stop the arming and drilling of thousands of American Fenian recruits at points extending from New Brunswick’s borders to the Niagara and western river frontiers of Canada.  Our Canadian government late in 1865 assigned volunteer militia units to several months of winter guard duty at Prescott, Niagara, Windsor and Sarnia.  The Brockville Rifle Company also served on night guard at Brockville from December until the first general call to the frontier in the following March.  A year earlier it had been one of the units of the forces guarding western points from Amherstburg to Sarnia, to prevent any repetition of a secretly planned Confederate raid from the Canadian side such as had been made on St. Albans, Vermont.

The Fenian forces gathered and were armed in the spring of 1866 at border mustering centres including Calais and Eastport in Maine, St. Albans and other places in northern Vermont, and in upper New York State at Malone, Potsdam and Ogdensburg and Cape Vincent, Oswego and Rochester.  Western and southern Fenian contingents arrived at Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo, Erie and Buffalo.  When a New Brunswick Fenian foray was blocked by both British and United States naval and military intervention, a three-pronged campaign against Canada was prepared.  One force was to enter at Fort Erie and cut canal and railway communications.  One was to cross at Prescott with Ottawa as its objective.  The third hoped to advance through the Eastern Townships on Montreal.

The Canadian government of the united present provinces of Ontario and Quebec had introduced an urgent militia bill when the early border stresses of the Civil War appeared.  It was designed to provide for a trained force of 50,000 men, raised by selective service if necessary, as compared to a number of not more than five thousand volunteers covered by the initial Canadian military training law of 1855.  The government was defeated on this conscription issue of 1862 but militia expansion began.  A similar act was passed at a later stage of the American war.  Voluntary enlistments and Fenian defeats made it unnecessary to invoke its provisions of compulsion for the balloted enrolments, which were initiated but not enforced.

Defence action in 1866 began against threatened March attacks which failed to materialize.  Ten thousand volunteers were called up at militia centres throughout the area of Ontario and Quebec, then in its last year as the Province of Canada.  The greater part of this number was dispatched to guard the united province’s long and vulnerable southern approaches.  Fourteen thousand men had responded to the call.  Among those alerted for action were seven Lanark and Leeds companies forming a provisional battalion under Major James Crawford of Brockville.  It was composed of the rifle and infantry companies of both Perth and Brockville, the Carleton Place Rifle Company under Captain James C. Poole, the Almonte Infantry Company under Captain James D. Gemmill, and the Gananoque Rifle Company.  Severe cold and several weeks of frosty Canadian guard and drilling duties postponed the Fenian invasion.

The Main Attack

The main attack came three months later when an advance contingent of more than one thousand Fenians, led by their general John O’Neill, crossed the Niagara River by boat from Buffalo and entered Canada at the first of June near Fort Erie.  They were met the next day by a slightly larger force of Canadian militiamen.  In the Battle of Ridgeway and in a Fort Erie engagement, Canadian casualties were about ten killed and forty wounded.  Among those of the ranks of the Queen’s Own Rifles killed in the action at Ridgeway was John H. Mewburn, university student, age 21, only son of Harrison C. Mewburn who at this time was headmaster of the Carleton Place grammar school.  With losses close to twice the Canadian number and with laggard American military prevention of their reinforcement, the Fenians withdrew across the river.

From Vermont about one thousand of the Fenians who had gathered at St. Albans entered the Eastern Townships on June 4.  Until effective Canadian forces reached the area, they plundered the neighbourhood of Frelighsburg, Pigeon Hill, and St. Armand for several days.  With slight losses they withdrew due to lack of reinforcements.  After the launching of these unsuccessful Canadian raids, American authorities tardily disarmed and dispersed the main border forces of these invaders, and charged and released on bail a number of their leaders. 

The thrust of the third prong of Fenian attack, intended along the St. Lawrence front between Kingston and Cornwall, failed to develop when all troops available in the area of Eastern Ontario were placed on active service to oppose it.  Militia companies and units of British regiments joined in the defence of Kingston, Prescott and Cornwall, in all about three thousand at Kingston, two thousand at Prescott and two thousand at Cornwall.  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.  Most of the Canadian militia at the end of the 1866 Fenian Raids was released after about three weeks’ active service.  The remainder continued on guard duty for periods up to six months.

United States authorities provided railway transportation for some thousands of the Fenian forces to their home towns from points including Buffalo, Malone and St. Albans.  A July resolution passed by the House of Representatives reflected United States attitudes by recommending suspension of proceedings in the United States courts on all charges against Fenians wherever possible and sought release of Canada’s Fenian prisoners who had been captured in their unprovoked armed assaults upon this province. 

The prisoners captured at Fort Erie were removed to Toronto where on preliminary inquiry about forty were discharged and deported.  Trials of forty remanded prisoners opened in Toronto in October before Mr. Justice John Wilson and a jury, and continued until January.  The judge, a native of Lanark County, had himself in his youth been tried as a principal in the fatal Wilson-Lyons duel at Perth.  Half of these accused were acquitted.  The remainder, convicted of high treason in the case of British subjects and the rest under a law passed for such cases during the Canadian Rebellion period, were sentenced to be hanged.  After several of the convictions were appealed unsuccessfully, the sentences all were commuted to varying terms of imprisonment in Portsmouth Penitentiary at Kingston, and within a few years the last had been released.  Three of six convicted Missiquoi County Fenian prisoners also had been sentenced to be hanged, when  fourteen had been tried at Sweetsburg.

One of the Canadian estimates of this time of stress was that of Captain James Poole in his Carleton Place Herald.  While advocating moderation in punishment of the captured “dastard Fenian foes”, he declared in retrospect:

“Brother Jonathan has had his eye on Canada for a long time past, and though we read much about ‘friendly relations’ they exist only on paper.  Both the American government and Press have done all they could, with safety to themselves, to encourage the Fenians in an attack on Canada.  Had they not been afraid of a growl from the British Lion they would have done more.”

Royal Visit to Carleton Place 1860

Historian Recalls Visit of Royal Party 100 Years Ago

Carleton Place Canadian, 14 November 1957

By Howard M. Brown

 

The route of the state tour of Ottawa’s first royal visitor, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, included Lanark, Renfrew and Leeds counties.  Proceeding in 1860 by boat from the new capital, the royal party received an elaborate lumbermen’s reception at Arnprior.  Its progress continued by road from Arnprior to Almonte, the royal carriage passing through many triumphal arches erected at various points along the way.

Lanark County Royal Visit

After an Almonte reception the future Edward VII boarded his waiting train at that temporary terminus of the new railway, continuing by rail through Carleton Place and Smiths Falls to Brockville.  A report of the royal progress through these Eastern Ontario counties, given by James Poole in the Carleton Place Herald, tells of a minor amusing adventure of the future king in Almonte as seen by the Carleton Place editor.

He writes in September, 1860:

“The laying of the corner stone of the Government Buildings in Ottawa is, to the people of this section of Canada, one of the most interesting events of the visit of the Prince of Wales, particulars of which we publish today.  His trip on Monday last to the Chatt’s Lake, escorted by the canoes, reception at Arnprior and carriage drive to Almonte were, we are informed, very pleasant and highly gratifying to the young Prince and Royal Party.  We have heard scores of people say that it is mainly owing to the liberality and exertions of Mr. Daniel McLachlan of Arnprior that we were indebted for the visit of the Prince along this route.

For the size of the place, Almonte was second to no other village on the whole route in the taste and enthusiasm of the reception for their Royal visitor.  During the few minutes we had to spare we could not see one half of what had been done in the village, and nothing in the country, where we understand great triumphal arches were also erected.

We noticed any number of constables armed with staves of office and mounted with badges of their rank.  A rather amusing incident occurred which drew a hearty laugh from the Prince.  Just as the royal party ascended the platform the crowd, anxious to see the Prince, rushed together from all directions in spite of the best efforts of the constables, whose painted sticks might be seen flourishing at all points.  One of them undertook to push back the royal party, with cries of “Ye canna get up here!”  The Prince nimbly eluded his vigilance and having succeeded in getting on the platform of his own car, laughed heartily at the mistake.

The Prince remained outside for some time and received several hearty cheers which he duly acknowledged.  The day being far spent, his train hurried off to Brockville, stopped a few minutes at Smiths Falls Station and received an address from the village corporation.  With our other reports of the Royal Tour we publish the Address and Reply.

The town of Brockville was lit up to perfection and contained arches and decorations too numerous to mention.  The excursion train was left far behind and did not get to Brockville until far after the excitement of the evening was nearly over.  The excursionists had barely time for supper when the hour was announced to return.”

Canadian patriotic spirit was further increased in the early 1860’s by perils and alarms from the south, accompanying and following the United States Civil War.  Defence preparations included locally the authorized formation in 1862 of a relatively large and active rifle company at Carleton Place replacing, with popular acclaim, Beckwith township’s former 5th Battalion of Lanark Militia.  This new unit, with James Poole as its senior local officer, like units similarly formed in neighbouring towns, was active in frontier guard duty in the Fenian Raids of 1866 and 1870.  Uniforms of the new volunteer forces of the ‘60s were green for the rifle companies and scarlet for other infantry units, the headgear being a high shako bearing a brass plate ornamented with a beaver, the words ‘Canadian Militia’ and a wreath of maple leaves.

A brief press account of the Carleton Place May 24th celebration of 1865 shows the local rifle company on display and engaged in a target shooting competition:

“Wednesday last, the 46th birthday of our Queen, was a general holiday all over the Province.  The members of the Carleton Place Rifle Company met at the armoury at 10 o’clock and, after going through sundry evolutions, marched around the principal streets of the village to music of the Appleton Brass Band.  At 12 o’clock noon they halted on the bridge, took open order and fired a feu-de-joie.  The national anthem was played by the band, one part intervening each round of firing.

Through the liberality of the Beckwith Council $30 was divided into six prizes for the best target shooting, competed for in the afternoon by firing five rounds at 300 yards and five at 400 yards.  The following are the successful competitors – W. B. Gray, $8; Absolem McCaffrey, $7; Robert Metcalf, $6; John Ellis, $4; Albert Patterson, $3; James McFadden, $2.  Particular praise is due to the Appleton Brass Band and the Carleton Place pipers for their services.”

District militia activities of the 1860’s renewed the Lanark County military tradition which was begun here by the large element of disbanded members of the armed forces of the Napoleonic Wars period among the original settlers of 1816-1819.  This tradition and service continued through the times of the Rebellion of 1837-38, the Fenian Raids and the Red River and Northwest Rebellions of 1870 and 1885 to the Boer War and this district’s records in the victorious tragedies of the last two World Wars.

First Local Militia

Representing earliest local militiamen, pledged to serve the interests of the Province and King George IV, are the officers of the unit based at the newly settled Morphy’s Falls area in 1822.  The three senior officers are of Perth, the others following include names of Beckwith township families now well known and a few of Ramsay township origin:

     Colonel Josias Taylor, Lieut. Colonel Ulysses Fitzmaurice, Major Donald Fraser.

     Captains T. Glendenning, John Robertson, Wm. Pitt, John Ferguson, James      

     O’Hara, Julius Lelievre.

     Lieutenants, Wellesley Richey, Thomas Wickham, Wm. Moore, George Nesbitt

     M.D., Duncan Fisher, Robert Ferguson, Wm. Toshack, Israel Webster, James

     McFarlane, John Cram.

     Ensigns, John Fulton, Peter McDougall, Wm. Baird, Peter McGregor, James

     Smart, John Nesbitt, Alex Dewar, John Dewar, Manny Nowlan, David Ferguson.

One of the annual musters of these militia units of long ago is vividly pictured in an 1841 letter from “A Militia Man” of Carleton Place, published in the Bathurst Courier at Perth:

“Beckwith, Friday June 4, 1841. 

Sir —- I send you for publication a statement of the proceedings at Carleton Place today.

Col. The Hon. H. Graham, commanding the 3rd Regiment of Lanark Militia, in common with all other Colonels of Militia, received some time last winter a Militia General Order directing him to form two flank companies in his regiment, and that those companies should be formed of volunteers if possible, but that if such could not be obtained the number should be drafted.

As the Regiment was deficient in officers and the promotions recommended had not been Gazetted, the above order had not been complied with up to this date.  However this being the day appointed by law for a general muster of the Milita, Co. Graham, to give as little trouble as possible to the farmers at this busy season, determined to call for volunteers for the flank companies on the present occasion.

Never having attended a militia training before, I felt some curiosity to meet my Brother Soldiers.  At an early hour this morning I was awakened by the sound of a Pibroch.  In an instant I was out of bed and from the window perceived a body of most respectable looking young men marching into the village to the tune of ‘Patrick’s Day’, played by one of Scotia’s sons in Scotia’s garb on Scotia’s national instrument.  Until about 11 o’clock the men were arriving in parties equestrian and pedestrian.

At this hour the Companies were ordered to ‘Fall In’, and soon after we were all on the parade ground in open column.  Then the Major, Alexander Frazer, formerly of the 49th, the Green Tigers, General Brock’s regiment – made his appearance in uniform, mounted on a white charger.  Having inspected the companies and formed us into close column, he addressed the Regiment in a short but pithy speech, stating the object for which the flank companies were to be formed and his hope that there would be sufficient volunteers and that it would be unnecessary to have to resource to drafting.

This was received with enthusiasm, and ‘I’ll volunteer’ was responded from all directions.  We were again formed into open columns, wheeled into line, the ranks opened, and three deafening cheers for Her Majesty made the forests re-echo to the joyful chorus.  Immediately after, the Captains of the respective companies enrolled the names of the volunteers.  To the honor of the Regiment be it spoken, the flank companies were soon filled up, the full number having volunteered with the exception of some fifteen or twenty.  Had the officers recommended by the Colonel last fall been Gazetted I firmly believe there would have been more volunteers than required.

The 3rd Battalion of Lanark Militia is formed of the yeomen of the townships of Beckwith and Ramsay, the sons of English, Scotch and Irish emigrants.  Four-fifths of the regiment are under forty years of age, and a finer or more orderly set of young men I never saw in a body.”

Victoria Proclaimed Queen

The Queen cheered at Carleton Place in 1841, like her successor here in the Royal Visit of 1957, was a young monarch and in the early years of her reign.  Four years earlier on the death of William IV proclamations of her accession to the throne had been made throughout British lands.  The proclamation for the judicial district of Lanark, Renfrew and Carleton counties, made at Perth, was concisely described in a Bathurst Courier report:

“On Saturday last Queen Alexandrina Victoria was proclaimed here by the Deputy Sheriff, in the absence of the Sheriff.  The ceremony was but meagerly attended in consequence, we suppose, of the short space of time which intervened between the notice and the day selected for proclaiming.

The order in which the procession moved was as follows – The Deputy Sheriff on horseback, the Clergy, Members of the Medical Profession, Members of the Bar, Officers of Militia, Clerk of the Peace, and the Magistrates, with the Perth Volunteer Artillery in the rear, in uniform.

When Her Majesty had been proclaimed in four different parts of the Town, the Artillery fired a Royal salute of twenty-three guns from the island to conclude young Queen by those assembled, and then they dispersed.”

 

Victoria School Was First Town Hall in 1872, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 11 Aug, 1960

The Carleton Place scene of the Eighteen Seventies is reviewed in the present section of a continued account. 

The larger industrial plants opened here in the Eighteen Seventies were the McArthur and Hawthorne Woollen Mills and the Gillies Machine Works.  Others included a lime kiln, which still remains in operation, and two planning mills.  As a village of 1,200 persons the municipality of Carleton Place was first incorporated in 1870.  A town hall was built and was converted within a few years to help meet the public school needs of an enlarged population.  A new high school remained unused during several years of municipal dispute.  A great fire destroyed a lumber yard stock valued at over $125,000.  A lengthy business depression placed severe limits on the country’s prosperity.  Western migration of the district’s sons continued, and began to reach the new province of Manitoba.

Building Boom

1870 – Carleton Place was first incorporated as a separate municipality by a county bylaw effective in November 1870.  Its future growth was assured when at the same time the Canada Central Railway line was opened for use between Ottawa and Carleton Place, connecting here with the Brockville and Ottawa Railway Company’s tracks which extended from Brockville to Arnprior and Sand Point.

Building of the first stone structure of the present Bates and Innes Woollen Mill was begun by Archibald McArthur and was completed a year later.  The central building was five stories in height.  Other building construction included the present Central Public School on Bridge Street, later enlarged ; the present Queen’s Hotel, also later enlarged, built for Duncan McIntosh of Perth, father of the late Dr. Duncan H. McIntosh of Carleton Place ; and about fifty residences.  The Carleton Place grist and oatmeal mills were taken over from William Bredin by Horace Brown (1829-1891), in partnership with W. C. Caldwell of Lanark, and were further equipped to manufacture wheat flour.

In the Fenian Raids of 1870 the Carleton Place Rifle Company, which had become No. 5 Company, 41st Regiment, served on duty at Cornwall under Captain John Brown of Carleton Place, and numbered fifty-three of all ranks.  It included the regimental band under Bandmaster J. C. Bonner, proprietor of a local music store.  Lieut J. Jones Bell (1845-1931) of the Carleton Place Company was serving at this time in the Red River Rebellion expedition.

Local Elections

1871 – Elected officials of this newly incorporated community were chosen in January 1871.  Those elected were Reeve Robert Crampton, general merchant, and Councillors Patrick Galvin, tailor ; John Graham, wagon maker ; Dr. William Wilson, surgeon ; and William Kelly, innkeeper.  School trustees elected were James Gillies, lumber manufacturer ; William Taylor, hardware merchant ; William Bredin, mill owner ; Patrick Struthers, general merchant and postmaster ; and Allan McDonald, woollen manufacturer.  Other officers were James Poole, clerk ; James Gillies, treasurer ; James McDiarmid, assessor ; William Patterson, tax collector ; Joseph McDiarmid, assessor ; William Patterson, tax collector ; Joseph Bond, constable and road commissioner ; William Morphy and Brice McNeely Jr., pound keepers ; and Finlay McEwen and John Brown, auditors.

Town Hall

1872 – The first Carleton Place Town Hall was built on Edmund Street and opened in 1872.  On the ground floor of the two storey stone building was the council chamber, a jail and caretaker’s living quarters.  The second storey served as a hall for public gatherings.

James Docherty built the Moffatt planing mill on the former Fuller foundry property at the south shore of the river.  In the McArthur cloth factory (now Bates & Innes) ten new looms were added.  Napoleon Lavallee removed his hotel business to his large new stone building at the corner of Lake Avenue and Bridge Streets.

John G. Haggart (1836-1913), Perth miller, was elected member of Parliament for South Lanark.  He continued to hold that seat for a record period of forty-one years and was a member of several conservative cabinets.

 

 

Lumbering

1873 – A lumber industry change in 1873 was the sale by John Gillies to Peter McLaren of control of the Carleton Place sawmill and Mississippi timber limits of the Gillies and McLaren firm.  The Gillies interests of Carleton Place bought sawmills at Braeside, together with some 250 square miles of timber limits at a price reported as $195,000.

Gambling

1874 – Members of the Carleton Place Council were John Graham, reeve, and William Taylor, John F. Cram, Dr. William Wilson and James Morphy.  Public billiard and pool tables were prohibited.  The next year’s Council permitted their operation under municipal licence.  A press report stated the Council of Carleton Place have passed a by-law prohibiting the keeping of billiard, bagatelle and pigeon-hole tables for public resort in that village, under a penalty of not less than $25.  The reasons for this stringent step as set forth in the preamble to the bylaw are contained in the following paragraph :  As gambling is a vice of a very aggravated nature, which encourages drunkenness, profane swearing and frequently causes the ruin of both body and soul of those addicted to it, and not infrequently murder, it should therefore be discountenanced and suppressed within the Corporation of Carleton Place.

The famous P. T. Barnum’s Circus was billed to appear here.  Claiming such attractions as the only giraffes and captive sea lions in America, Fiji cannibals, a talking machine and over a thousand men and horses, its announcement said :

P. T. Barnum’s Great Travelling World Fair, Museum, Menagerie, Caravan Circus and Colossal Exposition of all Nations will pitch its Mighty Metropolis of twenty Centre Pole Pavilions at Carleton Place on Wednesday, July 15 and at Perth on Thursday, July 16.

New Growth

1874 – A volunteer fire brigade, the Ocean Wave Fire Company, was organized at Carleton Place.  The municipality bought a hand operated pumper fire engine for $1,000 and a $200 hose reel cart.  Members of the committee appointed by Council to organize the brigade were William Patterson, William Kelly, A. H. Tait, James Shilson and Abner Nichols.  The new brigade’s initiation to fire fighting was the McLachlan lumber mills fire at Arnprior.

In the first stages of a five year business depression two new industries were started here.  They came with the building of the three storey stone structure of the Gillies Machine Works on the north side of the river at the lower falls, and the opening of the four storey stone woollen factory of Abraham Code, M.P.P., later known as the Hawthorne Woollen Mill.  Mr. Code was a member of the Ontario Legislature for South Lanark from 1869 to 1879.

Famous Struggle

1875 – A ten year losing battle was begun by Peter McLaren (1831-1919), owner of the largest lumber mill at Carleton Place, for monopoly controls over the navigation of logs on the Mississippi River.  It was fought between the government of Ontario and the Dominion, by physical force between opposing gangs of men on the river, and in the courts of Canada and England.

In the opening rounds of 1875, men of the Stewart and Buck firm brought their drive down the river to the Ottawa after cutting a passage through a McLaren boom at the Ragged Chute in Palmerston, and a twenty foot gap through a closed McLaren dam at High Falls in North Sherbrooke.  Boyd Caldwell & Son, which later carried this famous struggle for public navigation rights to a successful conclusion, was then employing seventy-five men on a ten hour day at its Carleton Place mill managed by William Caldwell.

Our Volume One

1876 – This newspaper was founded in January 1876, under the sponsorship of William Bredin of Carleton Place, with William W. Cliff of Napanee as editor and publisher.  There were 1,800 persons living in Carleton Place.

When adverse winds delayed timber drives for several days in the lower Mississippi, some 24,000 sticks of square timber lay in the river between Appleton and Almonte at the end of June.  Owners were the Caldwell, McLaren, Mackie, Campbell and Buck & Stewart firms. 

A Saturday vacation starting date for the province’s public schools was advanced from July 15 to July 7.  The Minister of Education addressed a meeting of the county’s school teachers here.  Carleton Place had five public and two high school teachers.

 

Local Taxes

1877 – The McArthur woollen mill, equipped to operate by waterpower of the lower falls, was leased and reopened by William H. Wylie when the country’s business depression became less severe.

The six largest assessments for local taxes were those of the railway company, Peter McLaren, lumber manufactuer ; Archibald McArthur, woollen mill owner ; Boyd Caldwell, lumber manufacturer ; Abraham Code, M.P.P., woollen manufacturer ; and Horace Brown, grain miller.  A tax exemption for the machine works of Gillies, Beyer & Company continued in effect.  The tax rate was 14 ½ mills.

O’Brien’s Circus visited Carleton Place, Perth and Smiths Falls, with its transportation provided by horses and two hundred mules.  Barnum’s Circus showed at Brockville and Ottawa.

High School

1878 – A separate High School of stone construction was built on High Street.  During the course of bitter and widespread disputes and litigation, based on a division of business and real estate interests between the north and south halves of the town, the new school, though much needed remained unused for nearly five years. 

A local option temperance statute of 1864 was brought into force in this area and retained for one year, prohibiting all sales of liquor in quantities of less than five gallons.

Alexander M. Gillies and Peter Peden, aged 21 and 24, were drowned in September while duck hunting at night near Black Point in the lower Mississippi Lake.

Great Fire

1879 – In continuance of prolonged controversy over the sites of the High School and Town Hall, the Town Hall on Edmund Street was converted in part into a public school, a step which brought a brief stage of physical violence followed by allegations of riot, assault and libel and a number of related court actions.

A planing mill was opened by Abner Nichols (1835-1905) on the riverside at Rosamond Street adjoining the Gillies Machine Works.  A lime kiln which continues in operation was built by Napoleon Lavallee, hotelkeeper, on his farm at the present site of Napoleon Street.  William Cameron acquired the business ten years later and operated it for many years.  With two local woollen mills remaining in operation, the closed Hawthorne Woollen Mill was offered for sale by Abraham Code.

A great fire destroyed over thirteen million feet of sawn lumber in the northern part of the Peter McLaren piling yards, together with a section of ties and rails of the Canada Central Railway.  The yards extended about three quarters of a mile along the railway line.  The lumber firm’s loss was recovered from $50,000 in insurance and $100,000 in damages paid when court decisions holding the railway company responsible were upheld five years later in England.  Fire engines and men came to Carleton Place from Almonte, Arnprior, Brockville, Smiths Falls and Ottawa, and hundreds of local helpers aided in saving lumber and checking the spread of the conflagration.

 

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1860’s Saw Considerable Building in Carleton Place, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 04 August, 1960

Life in the Eighteen Sixties in Carleton Place is recalled in the present fifth installment of a series of annals reviewing events in the first hundred years of this community and its surrounding district.

The location of Carleton Place at a waterfall on one of the larger tributaries of the Ottawa River and on one of Eastern Ontario’s first railways proved in the Eighteen Sixties to place this community in a position of some advantage in the lumber economy of the Ottawa Valley.  A number of new industrial firms were established here.  Among them were two sawmills and a foundry each of which grew to become a substantial employer of capital and labour and a leading industry of the town.

Prince of Wales

1860 – Archibald McArthur (1816-1884), reeve and prominent wholesale and retail merchant, enlarged his business premises here by building a store of stone construction in 1860 near the corner of Bridge and Mill Streets.

The young Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, viewed Carleton Place while travelling by coach and railway through Lanark and Leeds Counties in the course of a tour of Canada.

Patrick Struthers (1830-1907), merchant and later magistrate, became postmaster of Carleton Place.  He continued in charge of the local post office for over forty-five years.

New Saw Mill

1861 – A steam-powered sawmill was built in the area of the present Riverside Park on the south bank of the river.  The old Muirhead sawmill, which was located near the present electric power plant, was leased and reopened by Robert Gray.

Brice McNeely Jr. (1831-1920) began a forty year period of operating the long established tannery.  The town bridge across the Mississippi was rebuilt.

Findlays Foundry

1862 – In the infancy of the town’s present leading industry, a new foundry was opened on the Perth Road, now High Street, by David Findlay (1835-1890) for the manufacture of stoves, ploughs and other castings.

Canadian military preparations were begun in view of risks of the United States Civil War leading to war between Britain and the United States.  At Carleton Place a volunteer rifle company, with newspaper editor James Poole as its captain, was equipped to take the place of the townships former militia regiment.  A new infantry company was formed at Almonte. 

In a match at the Almonte exhibition grounds between the Carleton Place and Almonte cricket clubs, the Almonte club’s resplendent uniforms featured white caps, pink shirts and white pantaloons.

Militia Training

1863 – The Ramsay lead mine at Carleton Place resumed operation.  A woollen mill at Appleton built by Robert Teskey (1803-1892) was opened under the management of his son John Adam Teskey (1837-1908) and son-in-law William Bredin.

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.

Railway Extension

1864 – The Brockville & Ottawa Railway Company’s line was extended and opened from Almonte to Arnprior, providing rail transportation between the St. Lawrence River and Grand Trunk Railway at Brockville and the Ottawa River at Sand Point.  George Lowe became the station master at Carleton Place.

Temperance Movement

1865 – A temperance society known as Temple No. 122 of the Independent Order of Good Templars, was formed at Carleton Place to oppose the sale of alcoholic beverages.  A proposal to apply a local option Temperance Act to Beckwith township including Carleton Place was rejected by a majority of thirty votes.

The Beckwith municipal council elected for 1865 was Patrick Struthers, reeve, and Archibald McArthur, Donald Carmichael, George Kidd and Alexander Ferguson.

Gillies & McLaren

1866 – This town’s first large scale business had its start in 1866 with the opening of the Gillies & McLaren lumber mill with thirty employees.  James Gillies (1840-1909) came as its manager.  Five years later John Gillies (1811-1888), who had founded the firm in Lanark township, removed to Carleton Place.  Both remained here for life and were leaders in the town’s industrial growth.  James Gillies for over thirty five years was head of the later widespread lumbering operations of Gillies Brothers, a position occupied from 1914 to 1926 by his brother David Gillies (1849-1926) of Carleton Place.

A shingle mill also began business here in 1866, managed by John Craigie.  He was the builder of the town’s first two steamboats, the Mississippi and the Enterprise.  The local grist and oatmeal mills were bought by Henry Bredin from Hugh Boulton Jr.  They continued to be operated by James Greig (1806-1884), who ran these mills from 1862 to 1868 after the death of Hugh Boulton Sr., founder of this first industry of the community.

The union of Lanark and Renfrew Counties was ended in 1866 by the establishment of a separate Renfrew County council and administration.

Fenian Raids

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.

 

Confederation

1867 – Canadian confederation was hailed in Carleton Place by a day of celebration which extended from a sunrise cannon salute to an evening of torchlight processions and fireworks.  There were speeches by the clergy,  a military parade with rifles firing, a costume carnival and sports events featuring novelty races.

A new sawmill was built by the Gillies & McLaren firm to employ up to a hundred men.  At Arklan Island a smaller sawmill was built by William Bredin.  Erection of a large frame building on Mill Street for use as a woollen cloth factory was begun by Allan McDonald.  The Allan McDonald foundry was reopened by John Grant and operated for four years, producing stoves, ploughs, ploughpoints and other castings.  A local house construction boom was under way.  Daniel Galbraith (1813-1879) of Ramsay township was elected to the Ontario Legislature of North Lanark.  He represented this constituency in the House of Commons from the following election until his death in 1879.

Another Railway

1868 – Building of the Canada Central Railway between Ottawa and Carleton Place was begun and was completed two years later.  In ceremonies marking the start of construction, held at the Carleton Place end of the line and attended by Richard W. Scott, Q.C., M.P.P., of Ottawa, the sod turning ritual was performed by the Rev. J. H. Preston of St. James Church, Carleton Place.

Caldwell Sawmill

1869 – This towns second large sawmill business was started by Boyd Caldwell (1818-1888) and managed by his son William Caldwell.  It operated for twenty-two years on the site of the present Riverside Park.

An enlarged stone grist mill building was erected by William Bredin on Mill Street, together with buildings occupied in the following year by Joseph Cram as a planing mill and by John F. Cram as a tannery.  A stone church building for the Zion Presbyterian congregation was built at the church’s present Albert and Beckwith Street location.

The Mississippi Navigation Company was incorporated to build locks at Innisville and Ferguson’s Falls and open navigation from Lanark and Playfairville to Carleton Place.  Its directors were James H. Dixon of Peterborough, Abraham Code, M.P.P. (then owning mills at Ferguson’s Falls) and Robert Bell, John Craigie and Robert Crampton of Carleton Place.  The company’s brief existence ended with the building of a steamboat, The Enterprise.  Bought by the Gillies & McLaren firm , The Enterprise plied the Mississippi Lakes for about twenty-five years in the service of the lumber industry and provided transportation for many of the town’s public events of bygone summer days.

Published in: on July 13, 2009 at 2:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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