SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK EIGHTEEN

8 H.P. Ford Was Bought By Findlays – First Local Car

The Carleton Place Canadian, 15 September, 1960

By Howard Morton Brown

 

Some of the local events of fifty to sixty years ago in the Carleton Place area are recalled in the present section of a continued story summarizing the history of this town’s early days.

This was the time which saw both the heyday of the Empire on which the sun never set and the end of the Victorian era.  It opened to the martial air of The British Grenadiers, with Canadian soldiers on active service in South Africa, and closed on a modern theme with such developments as the motor car and electricity on their way towards changing the ways of life of half the world.

In the first year of the present century Canadian soldiers, including several volunteers from Carleton Place, were in South Africa serving in the Boer War.  Some of the present century’s great changes in living conditions had their start in these years.  Electricity began to be used as a growing source of power instead of mainly for lighting and communication equipment.  While annual local horse shows were being held the first automobiles appeared on the town’s streets.  Business and social life began to have a greater resemblance to conditions of the present.

Among the towns of the Ottawa Valley, Carleton Place, with its population reduced to 4,000 at the opening of the century, had been outdistanced in size by the growth of Smiths Falls and Pembroke, each of which had attained a population of about 5,000.  The brief views of local scenes and events which follow are based on news reports of the two Carleton Place weekly newspapers in the years from 1900 to 1909.

South African War

1900 – To supply serge for British army uniforms the Canada Woollen Mills expanded its operations here at the Gillies and Hawthorne mills. 

Local talent presented the Temple of Fame, an historical pageant.  The town had a day of enthusiastic celebrations when news of the Relief of Ladysmith came from South Africa.

Abner Nichols & Son brought their season’s log drive down the lake to their newly opened sawmill at the riverside on Flora Street; while two drives of logs, ties and telegraph poles were reaching the mill operated by Williams, Edwards & Company at the dam.  A new branch of the Union Bank of Canada was in operation in Carleton Place, in addition to the longer established branch of the Bank of Ottawa.

The Carleton Place Canoe Club was reorganized as a racing association and joined the new international canoe association.  A district grouping to include Ottawa, Brockville, Aylmer, Britannia and Carleton Place clubs was planned.  This town’s club ordered its first war canoe.

Peter Salter bought and reopened the Carleton House, the oldest two storey stone building in the town.  He renamed it the Leland Hotel.

Findlay’s Foundry Rebuilt

1901 – Findlay Brothers large new stove foundry of brick construction was built on land sold by the Canada Lumber Company.

The McDonald & Brown woolen mill at Mill and Judson Streets was continued in operation by John Brown on the retirement of John McDonald.

In the first local celebration of Labour Day the moulders and machinists unions held a sports day in Gillies Grove near the lower woollen mill, with football, baseball and lacrosse games and track and field events.

William H. Hooper, who had returned to Ottawa from the South African War, bought Charles C. Pelton’s Carleton Place photographic business.

A Carleton Place firemen’s demonstration was attended by the fire companies from Renfrew, Arnprior, Lanark, Perth and Smiths Falls, the Ottawa Nationals baseball team and the Perth Crescents lacrosse team.  Among its other sports events in Gillies Grove were hose reel races, tug of war contests, a hub and hub race and tossing the caber.  A parade included the fire brigades, decorated floats, and the Town Council and citizens in carriages.  A massed band uniting the citizens’ brass and silver bands of Pembroke, Smiths Falls and Carleton Place marched through the town in an evening parade, playing The British Grenadiers.  Officers of  the Carleton Place band included leader Joseph McFadden and secretary James Edwards.

About sixty neighbours helped in the raising of a barn of forty feet height at the farm of John McArton in the sixth concession of Ramsay near Carleton Place.

With Robert C. Patterson, barrister, as mayor, the town bought a twelve ton $3,000 steam road roller.

Queen Victoria’s long and illustrious reign ended early in 1901 and Edward VII became King.  At Ottawa the Duke and Duchess of York – the future King George V and Queen Mary – witnessed a war canoe race of Ontario and Quebec canoe clubs including Carleton Place.  South African War service medals were presented and a statue of the late Queen was unveiled on Parliament Hill.

Shanty Horses

1902 – The closed Carleton Place sawmills and upper Mississippi reserve dams of the Canada Lumber Company were bought by H. Brown & Sons for water conservation and power development uses.

The Canadian Canoe Association held its annual regatta at Lake Park during two days of high winds, with over two hundred visiting paddlers present from clubs of Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Smiths Falls and Brockville.  The mile course, from Nagle’s Shore to about the Lake Park steamer dock, was measured in the previous winter on the ice.

A railway bridge of steel construction on stone piers replaced the former railway bridge across the Mississippi at Carleton Place.

At the Queens and Leland hotel yards, agents were hiring teams of horses in December for winter work at Ottawa Valley lumber shanties.

 

Two Mills Closed

1903 – The Gillies and Hawthorne woollen mills – recently working on overtime hours with 192 employees, after six years of improvements under the ownership of Canada Woollen Mills Limited – were closed.  The reason was stated to be loss of Canadian markets to British exporters of tweeds and worsteds.  The company went into bankruptcy.

Twenty miles of toll roads were bought by Lanark County and freed of tolls.

For the killing of a foundry employee by stabbing during a week-end drunken quarrel, an elderly resident of Carleton Place was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a three year term of imprisonment in the Kingston penitentiary.

Carleton Place curlers, with William Baird and Dr. D. A. Muirhead as skips, won the Lanark County Curling League cup.

Town Park

1904 – The Caldwell sawmill property between Lake Avenue and the river was bought by the town and, after consideration for industrial uses, was reserved for a town park.

Sir Wilfred Laurier addressed a Carleton Place meeting on behalf of T. B. Caldwell, successful North Lanark candidate for Parliament.

An eight horsepower Ford was bought by Findlay Brothers as the first automobile owned in Carleton Place.  It was the local harbinger of great changes in transportation and in ways of life, comparable to the results of railway construction of fifty years earlier.

Street Lighting

1905 – Carleton Place street lighting was improved under a ten year contract, with introduction of a year-round all night service and erection of 150 street lights to supplement the arc lamp system.

Use of the Town Park was opened by the visit of a three ring circus with a thirty cage menagerie, a twelfth of July celebration attended by 5,000 out of town visitors, and a lacrosse game between Renfrew and Carleton Place teams at the newly built grandstand and fenced athletic grounds. 

Car Casualty

1906 – A fire at Gillies Engine Foundry and Boat Works destroyed the stone building’s two top storeys and a number of completed motor launches.  Work was resumed by some twenty employees. 

A mica-splitting industry of the General Electric Company was being carried on in J. R. McDiarmid’s Newman Hall at the corner of Bridge and William Streets.  Gardiner’s Creamery was built on Mill Street.  Concrete sidewalks were being laid on many town streets. 

Thousands of European immigrants were passing through Carleton Place weekly on their way to western Canada.  An exhibition of moving pictures was held in the Town Hall by the Salvation Army in aid of its work for assistance of immigrants.

For causing the death of his brother in a drunken quarrel in a motor boat near Lake Park, a local resident pleaded guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

The first car fatality in Carleton Place occurred when Samuel A. Torrance’s automobile collided with a locomotive at the railway station crossing.  One of his passengers was killed. 

The first of a series of annual horse shows was held at the Town Park.

Bates & Innes Mill

1907 – Bates and Innes Co. Limited bought and equipped the former Gillies Woollen Mill as a knitting mill.  A Quebec company, the Waterloo Knitting Co. Ltd., similarly re-opened the Hawthorne Woollen Mill.

The Carleton Place Canoe Club won the Canadian war canoe championship and other races at the year’s Canadian Canoe Association meet, held at Montreal.

Mississippi lumbering continued on a reduced scale.  A Lanark Era spring report said:  – The Nichols drive on the Clyde parted company here with Charlie Hollinger’s logs at the Caldwell booms, and swept its way over the dam to await the coming of the Mississippi sawlogs.  The gang folded their tents and rolled away up to Dalhousie Lake where the rear of the drive floats.  It will take about two weeks to wash the mouth of the Clyde, and then the whole bunch will nose away over the Red Rock and on to Carleton Place.  While going through Lanark some of the expert drivers did a few stunts for Lanark sightseers.  Joe Griffiths ran the rapids on a cedar pole just big enough to make a streak on the water.  The Hollinger logs were retained at the Caldwell mill, where they are now being rapidly manufactured into lumber.

Street Traffic Rides

1908 – A Bridge Street runaway accident took the life of Archibald McDonnell, aged 77, son of one of Beckwith township’s original few settlers of 1816.

Spring floods burst the old lumber company millpond dam and two flumes at Carleton Place.  Users of Mississippi River water power united to plan the building of retaining dams at headwater locations.

George H. Findlay was mayor, W. E. Rand, M.A. was High School principal and principal of the public schools was Reg. Blaisdell.

Roller Skating

1909 – Bates & Innes knitting mill, after making waterpower improvements, began running night and day with about 150 employees.  The Hawthorne knitting mill was closed by reason of financial difficulties, and its operating company was reorganized as the Carleton Knitting Co. Ltd.

Construction of a hydro electric power plant was begun by H. Brown & Sons at the former site of the Canada Lumber Company mills, after several years of preparation of the riverbed including tailrace excavation and building of a concrete millpond dam.

A roller skating rink with a new skating floor was re-opened at the militia drill hall on the market square.

J. W. Bengough, noted Canadian cartoonist, entertained a Town Hall audience with his skill, making such sketches of local celebrities as Reeve William Pattie at his desk, Dr. J. J. McGregor extracting a horses’ tooth, Arthur Burgess in his automobile, William Miller in a horse deal, and Tom Bolger with his hotel bus at the railway depot.

 

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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.

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