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……
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.”
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.
The Carleton Place Herald, January 8, 1879
Article by James Poole, owner & editor
Scientific Progress, Year 1878
The past year has been, in many respects, the most remarkable of modern times. The historic tableau may be described in post Raphaelitic parlance as a “nocturne in black and gold,” charged with a brighter tint of hope and deeper gloom of utter darkness than the combined genius of Turner and Whistler ever painted, or the erratic pen of Ruskin ever characterized. How many brilliant promises belied at the critical moment, how many confident anticipations swept away, by the remorseless logic of history. Saluted at its birth by a volcanic roar of artillery from the passes of Etropole Balkans, where Muscovite and Muslem were ringing down the curtain upon the lurid drama of the “Indpendence and Integrity of the Ottoman Empire:, the year closes amid the deepest intricacies of the “Great Asian Mystery” now being enacted amid the everlasting snows of the Hindu-Kush, the pathless wastes of the “Roof of the World” and the shifting sands of the Kixil Kum (Kyzyl Kum). The interpreters of prophetic visions still have
Ample room and verge enough
The characters of hell to trace
Upon their premillennial canvas, and they would do well to keep their lamps trimmed and burning, for the dawn of peace is not yet come.
But while the political annals of the year are writ large with battle, murder and sudden death, the scientific record stands written in letters of living light. No future chance or change in human event can rob this passing year of the glory of being one of the greatest epoch-making crises in man’s knowledge of nature – a Promethean moment richly fraught with “the wonders that shall be,” the marvels of the present, the axioms of the coming hour. In no other seas of human activity is it truer than in the deepest gulfs of physical speculation that “there is a tide in the affairs of men.” Every really great discovery is reached almost simultaneously by isolated workers separated by thousands of miles. These earnest searchers are like so many athletes swiftly speeding toward a common goal, which the most fortunate gains but a moment before the slowest of his competitors.
At the very outset of the past year the world of science was assembled on the judges’ stand, counting seconds in the race between Pictet and Cailletet for liquefying the last of the gases, and thus experimentally proving the unity of nature and the continuity between the solid, liquid and gaseous domains. Cailletet had scored the first round by liquefying oxyen and carbonic oxide as early as December 2, 1877, but being then a candidate for election to a seat in the Academy of Science he magnamiously refrained from announcing his success and consigned the account of his discovery to a sealed packet, which was opened at the academic session of December 24. Strange to relate, M. Raoul Pictet, of Geneva, announced by letter at that meeting the same result achieved by entirely different processes. Scarcely had the wandering savans found time to announce to the public this double triumph when M. Cailletet, on the last day of the year, accomplished the liquefaction of hydrogen, nitrogen and atmospheric air, and, pressing closely upon him M. Pictet swept to the goal January 11, definitely establishing the sequence of the “constants of nature” by the solidification of hydrogen. It was found to be a metal, thereby brilliantly justifying the conclusion first reached forty years ago by the veteran chemist, J. B. Dumas, who had the honor, as president of a leading scientific society, to receive the first telegraphic announcement from M. Pictet, and to make known to his associates at Paris this grand discovery on the very day it was made at Geneva.
Results such as these would suffice to make the year 1878 forever memorable in the annals of science, but only the first page had yet been written. In the same month of December, 1877, when Cailletet and Pictet were winning their first laurels in Paris and Geneva, Thomas Alva Edison rode into New York one morning from Menlo Park with a queer brass cylinder under his arm, and astonished the ‘Scientific American’ with the brazen-faced assertion that “Mary had a little lamb.” The phonograph had sprung, unheralded upon the world, and so incredible was the scientific fact thus revealed that several weeks elapsed before it was generally credited. Although the full-fledged discovery of the phonograph pertains to 1877, the whole of its development, and world-wide renown belong to 1878 and it is assuredly not the least of its many titles to perpetual remembrance that “the Wizard of Menlo Park” then first assumed a recognized position as a factor to civilization. Of Edison’s manifold other and curious inventions – the megaphone, the phonomotor, and the aerophone – we have no need now to speak, though in other times they would rank high among the curiosities of science. But there are three other achievements of his genius which distinctly call for mention among the wonders of the year – the improved carbon telephone, the tasimeter, and the electric lamp. Other workers have inscribed their names upon Fame’s eternal bead-roll with similar titles, and it would be unjust not to recognize the great merit of Professor Hughes in the discovery of the microphone, of Professor Graham Bell in perfecting his telephone, of Mr. Sterns in “duplexing” the Atlantic cable, of Professor Alfred M. Mayer in his illustrations of the atomic theory by floating magnets, of Sir J. D. Hooker and Paul Bert in their discoveries in vegetable chemistry, of Count Du Moncel in his ingenious development of the phonograph into a condensateur chantant, of Lewis Swift and Professor Watson in their discovery of intra-Mercurial planets, of Professor Wilde Newlands and others in their ingenious classifications of the elements by periodic laws, and of Loutin, Repiaff, Jablochkoff, Werdermann, Sawyer, Hommer and Gary in their important, but not yet fully realized, applications of electric forces.
The crowning discovery of the year, however, if the half that has been claimed should prove true; will belong neither to Pictet, Cailletet, Edison, Hughes, Watson nor Swift, but to the eminent English astronomer and spectroscopist, Mr. J. Norman Lockyer, who visited America in July last for the observation of the great solar eclipse. His discovery is nothing less than that all the sixty-four so-called ‘elements’ are condensations or modifications by the interaction of the cosmic forces upon a single primitive matter, which, so far as this earth is concerned, seems to be hydrogen, but which, in the solar ? is found to be four times lighter than hydrogen. Of course men are already speaking of this discovery as if it were synonymous with alchemy or the transmutation of metals.
In one sense they are right, but not in the most important meanings connected with those expressions. It may be found possible to reduce gold and other precious metals and ? to their primitive calcium or hydrogen, but it may be positively stated that it will never be possible to make gold from hydrogen or calcium. The reason is the same as in the parallel case of reducing fuel to ashes. To destroy is easy; to reconstruct from the same or similar materials is impossible. Above all, one of the factors in the formation of metals is unlimited duration of time for the play of the cosmic forces, and until the new alchemists can control that factor their efforts will be useless. It is too early to predict the range of Mr. Lockyer’s discovery; but granting all the facts which he claims, he has but demonstrated experimentally an idea which is perfectly familiar to modern chemists. It is highly probable that Mr. Lockyer’s conclusions are well founded and that they will revolutionize the formal teaching of chemistry, but they cannot change the facts as they have always existed. Meanwile the scientific world is becoming impatient for the record of Mr. Lockyer’s experiments – not for his conclusions, for those they can draw as well as he.
The Carleton Place Herald, December 25, 1878
Article by the editor, James Poole
This newspaper belonged to Robert Bell, Esq.
Christmas Day again! And with it comes to all the welcome wish, “A Merry Christmas.” And merry it will be, for with each succeeding year it grows more genial, and with every anniversary it reaches a wider range. The cheer of Christmas covers every creed; the holiday breathes the all-embracing religion of humanity that hallows home and makes the fireside happy. There is no heart so hard, no home so humble that does not feel something of the sweet and softening influence of the person. The chimes ring now with a more silvery sound, and the cricket chirps more cheerily on the hearth. The lively streets, the shop windows all aglow with gifts, the markets and stalls teeming with good cheer and green wreaths everywhere, have presaged the pleasures of the festival. The brief bright holiday period beginning with Christmas, always seems not only to condense an immense amount of pleasure in the present but to invest a large fund of happiness for the future. The whole world starts fresh again from a new standpoint. The miseries and misfortunes of the past year seem smaller. Great griefs are lessened. Braver feelings surmount surmount broken fortunes. Youth expands with hope. Age is young again with brought-back memories.
This is indeed, the season of green wreaths and greener memories, of ind words and kindlier deeds. Centuries before the actual day which Christians of all creeds now celebrate, the prophet and the poet sang of the future when the twined box and pine should “beautify the sanctuary,” as is fulfilled, and will be in all coming time. And he whom the day especially commemorates came as a little child, and so Christmas ever since comes for children. But not alone for the little ones of our own households, or for our families or immediate friends, should the genial time teem with gifts, good words and hearty cheer – something of these should reach out now to the helpless and the homeless, the sick and suffering, the naked and needy children of our common father. If we open our door, and churches and close our hearts we shall fail to hear and to heed the good words of the season.
No influence should be allowed to stand between us and the opportunity which Christmas affords of shaking off for a time our everyday selfishness, and for a brief space thinking and acting for others. Our daily lives are quite sufficiently crowded with our individual interests to make us thankful to be forced out of ourselves and into a region of a broader human thought, feeling and activity. Do not forget Christmas then; do now set aside its claims; do not think of it as merely the representative of a religious event or pious dogma. To all it means the celebration of the festival of a sacrificial love, a lessening of the bonds of self, a cementing of the bonds that bind us to the larger family.
Let the plum-pudding and the roast turkey flourish, then, not because of themselves they are better now than at any other time, but because they represent the peace and good will, the hospitality and fraternity, which at this season should be cherished towards all men and women. Fill the children’s stockings or decorate the beautiful Christmas tree with liberal hands, for Christmas may come to you no more, and you would not miss the golden opportunity afforded you for adding your mite to the sum of human happiness before the present has gone into the past to return no more.
Ducks Nearly Unlimited, Indian Relics Plentiful, by Howard Horton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 17 August, 1961
This is the second of three articles recalling hunting and fishing activities of many years ago in the Carleton Place area.
A century ago in the Eastern Ontario paradise for hunters and fishermen which extended throughout the then united counties of Lanark and Renfrew, locally organized action already was under way to protect wild animals from wasteful destruction. Its first supporters, as mentioned in the preceding instalment of these stories, were a few foresighted hunters and other leading citizens of Carleton Place, Pakenham and Almonte.
Later, with a spreading realization of the economic and esthetic benefits to be gained by men from his protection of wild birds and animals, there came a gradual revulsion against wanton slaughter in the forests, fields and lakes. Among the victims, the long-extinct passenger pigeon still was shot here in numbers in the early 1880’s, as shown by reports of partridge and pigeon hunting in the townships bordering the Mississippi Lake.
First Finds of Indian Relics
Of the native Indians who a hundred and fifty years ago had been almost the sole inhabitants of the Lanark and Renfrew area, only a few stragglers still remained seventy-five years ago in Lanark County. One of district’s first residents to record his interest in the excavated relics of the reign of the Indian hunter was Andrew Bell, a son of the Rev. William Bell of Perth. In the early settlement days here he wrote in a letter:
“All the country hereabouts has evidently been once inhabited by the Indians, and for a vast number of years too. The remains of fires, with the bones and horns of deers round them, have often been found several inches under the black mound. .. A large pot made of burnt clay and highly ornamented was lately found near the banks of the Mississippi, under a large maple tree, probably two or three hundred years old. Stone axes have been found in different parts of the settlement. Skeletons of Indians have been several times found, where they had died suddenly or had been killed by accident in the woods. One was found in a reclining posture with its back against a hillock, and a rough-made stone tobacco pipe lying beside it.”
Another Pioneer Conservation Society
The wild life conservation movement in this district had expanded by the 1880’s to the arousing of organized local support for a wiser harvesting of most of the usual products of rod, gun, spear, trap and net, and for protection of other obviously harmless or beneficial wild creatures. Carleton Place Herald editor James Poole in an editorial of nearly a hundred years ago already had claimed any man who would shoot a robin or other songbird would be capable of robbing his grandmother or of committing any other crime or rascality.
An organization in Carleton Place with these newer ideas for the conservation of practically all main forms of wild life was formed in 1884. Under the title of the Carleton Place Game, Fish and Insectivorous Birds Protective Society it continued to operate for some years. Original officers of the group were William Pattie, president ; Jim Bothwell, vice president ; Walter Kibbee, secretary-treasurer, and committee members John Cavers, Tom Glover, John Moore, Jim Morphy and Jim Presley ; elected at a May meeting in the old fire hall on Bridge Street, when a constitution drawn up by Robert Bell was adopted. Other members pledged to support the rules of this pioneering wild life protective society were William Beck, Peter Cram, Jim Dunlop, John Flett, David Gillies, Charlie Glover, Tom Hilliard, Archie Knox and Tom Leaver ; Hugh McCormick, William McDiarmid, Hiram McFadden, Jim McFadden, Jim McGregor, George McPherson, William Neelin, Robert Patterson and William Patterson ; Dr. Robert F. Preston, Alex Sibbitt, William Taylor, William Whalen, Will R. Williamson, Alex Wilson and Joe Wilson. Out of town sportsmen among the first members were Duncan Campbell, John Gemmill, D. G. MacDonnell and Tom Mitcheson, all of Almonte ; Jim Rogers of Montreal and R. W. Stevens of Ottawa.
At this time fishing on Sundays was illegal here as well as hunting on Sundays. Only about five of these men were said to be still living in 1928 when a story recalling the formation of the Carleton Place wild life protective society of 1884 was published.
A social event sponsored by the Society in its first year was a steamboat excursion to the present Lake Park, then noted as “the old Regatta Grounds.” The “Morning Star” and her two barges, with a number of skiffs in tow, carried three hundred people to the picnic ; which featured a rifle shooting competition, a baseball game, tug of war and track events, croquet, boating, and dancing to the exhilarating airs of the Willis bagpipes.
Game Law Enforcement
Two unfortunate Indians were among those who felt the first punitive effects of the new society’s protective activity. This local story was published in October of 1884:
“Last Wednesday two Indians from St. Regis were about to pack up and leave their camp between Appleton and Almonte, on the Mississippi River, when a representative of the Carleton Place Game, Fish and Insectivorous Birds Protective Society appeared on the spot and confiscated a number of muskrat skins.
The fellows had been warned by the Society to desist trapping the animals until November. The two offenders were brought to Carleton Place. They had in their possession 126 muskrat skins, one mink skin and one raccoon skin. The taking of the latter is not an offence. The poor fellows were in most destitute circumstances.
The magistrate inflicted a fine of $10 and costs and the skins were confiscated. They doubtless intended to do the river above Carleton Place at once, as has been their annual custom. The Protective Society is extending its influence very rapidly in all directions from Carleton Place, having a good representative membership in many points at a distance.”
Duck Shooting Toll
Ducks in the 1890’s remained abundant and were shot by the hundreds by the most experienced hunters. An 1890 published report of two Carleton Place duck hunters’ successes gave totals early in the season of 200 birds for one and 272 for the other, with one shooting 154 ducks in three days in a northerly expedition. Heavy tolls by the relatively small numbers of hunters seemed to make little impression on the duck population.
Beckwith Twp. Church Had Turbulent History, By Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 09 March, 1961
This is the second part of a story of the pioneer past of the Old Kirk of Beckwith township. The remains of the recently demolished Old Kirk Ruins may be seen near Carleton Place on the Seventh Line road of Beckwith township, two miles south and a mile east of Blacks Corners. The stone church was built in 1832, replacing a log church building. It served the first two Canadian generations of the first large settlement of Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highlanders in the district of Upper Canada north of the Rideau River.
Within the historic church walls recently torn down after standing for over 125 years on the old Beckwith Cross Keys road, the Rev. John Smith from Edinburgh preached and ministered for eighteen years to the township’s Perthshire Highlanders as the second minister of the Beckwith Kirk. The church’s six trustees in 1834 were Alexander Stewart (1792-1892, Blacks Corners, from Blair Atholl), John Scott (The Derry, from Kinardchie, Parish of Dull), Finlay McEwen (The Derry, from Arveuh, Balquhidder Parish), Donald McLaren (1774-1847, conc. 4, from Achra, Balquhidder Parish), Colin McLaren (The Derry, from St. Fillans, Comrie Parish), and James McArthur (1767-1836, conc. 7 at Kirk, from Ross, Comrie Parish). The two elders were Peter Campbell and John Campbell.
The Great Disruption
In the spread of the Scottish Disruption of 1843 to Presbyterian congregations in Canada the Beckwith Kirk, like those of neighbouring townships and many others, divided into Church of Scotland and dissenting Free Church followers. The Beckwith Free Church body withdrew from the Seventh Line Church during the Rev. Mr. Smith’s pastorate. They formed a separate congregation with the Rev. Mr. Blair as first minister, building Knox Presbyterian Church at Blacks Corners in 1845, the building for which funds now are being collected for its conversion to serve as a United Cemeteries vault. This was the first Presbyterian Free Church of stone construction in the district. Its congregation included the Free Church Presbyterians of Carleton Place until 1868, when it became the mother church of Zion Church of Carleton Place.
When the Rev. John Smith died in 1851 in his fiftieth year, leaving a wife and six children, James Poole noted in his Carleton Place Herald : “Mr. Smith had been in the habit of officiating both in English and Gaelic, an accomplishment particularly grateful to our Highland friends.” His large monument in the United Cemeteries, Carleton Place, was erected by his congregation. In the six concession near the Church was his stone house and his farm which in part had been that of his predecessor the Rev. Dr. George Buchanan. It was offered for sale at Lavallee’s Hotel in Carleton Place on the fall fair day of 1864 by the Rev. Mr. Smiths’s heirs and was long the Drummond farm. Succeeding him as the ministers of the Beckwith Auld Kirk were the Rev. Duncan Morrison and the Rev. William McHutchinson, with pastorates of five years each. The manse then was in the seventh concession (NE ½ lot 12) nearer the intersection with the Mill Road now Highway 29.
Moved to Carleton Place and Franktown
After nearly fifty years of regular services at the Seventh Line site, since 1833 in the stone church and before that in more primitive buildings, the increase in the populations of Carleton Place and Franktown led to the congregation’s decision in 1869 (perhaps hastened by the formation of the Zion Free Church congregation in Carleton Place) to hold its services in the two villages and to close the Old Kirk building. In Franktown a frame church was built in 1871.
In Carleton Place there were two Presbyterian Church buildings, both on William Street. That of the Cameronian Reformed Presbyterians had been built in the 1840’s. Construction of the stone church building which remains at the corner of St. Paul Street, facing the park of the old Commons, had been started in the 1840’s after the Disruption. It had been completed but lack of agreement had prevented it from being occupied. It was being used by Robert Bell for the lowly purpose of storing hay. Now it was renovated and fitted as the first St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Carleton Place, for the part of the Seventh Line Church of Scotland congregation living at and near the village.
It served that congregation for nearly twenty years, until the present St. Andrew’s Church building on Bridge Street, with its corner stone laid by the Rev. George M. Grant, Principal of Queen’s University, was dedicated and occupied in 1888. The connection between St. Paul’s Church of Franktown and St. Andrew’s of Carleton Place as one congregation under one minister and one session severed in the following year. The Rev. A. H. Macfarlane, father of J. Calvin Macfarlane, moved from Ashton to Franktown and continued to minister to the congregations at Franktown and Blacks Corners from 1889 until his retirement in 1913.
Last Days Of Beckwith Auld Kirk
The last of the five ministers of the Seventh Line Kirk congregation was the Rev. Walter Ross, M.A. He was inducted there in 1862. For nineteen years he contined to serve his congregation, both at the Old Kirk building and after the move to Carleton Place and Franktown. In 1875 he changed his place of residence to Carleton Place, where he died in 1881. He was the father of A. H. D. Ross, M.A., M.F., whose history of “Ottawa Past and Present” was published in 1927. His successor for nine years was the Rev. Duncan McDonald, M.A., a graduate of Queen’s University, inducted at Carleton Place in 1882, who was followed by the Rev. Robert McNair and in 1897 by the Rev. G. A. Woodside, M.A., later of Winnipeg.
Upon the opening of the new St. Andrew’s Church in January of 1888, the fixtures which still furnished the Seventh Line Old Kirk were advertised for sale and it was announced the building would be sold. The contents went to buyers in five lots for $78. The stone building of the first St. Andrew’s Church on William Street was sold for $500 for conversion into a double dwelling.
Kirk Pulpit At Gallery Height
The interior structure and arrangement of the old Seventh Line house of worship were recalled from vivid boyhood memories of Peter Drummond in the history of a part of Beckwith township published in 1943 by the late Dr. George E. Kidd, M.C., “The Story of the Derry” :
“The most unique feature of the building was the pulpit. It was placed high in the centre of the north side. This recalls how in the reign of Charles I, Archbishop Laud had, among other things in an attempt to force the return of Episcopacy on the Covenanters, insisted on the return of the pulpits to the east ends of the churches, whereas they then stood in the middle. The Beckwith church pulpit was so high as to be on a level with the gallery opposite ; and its canopy, made of finely carved native wood, reached to the top of the wall behind it. The precentor’s stand was placed directly in front of and below the pulpit. It was reached by ascending three steps.”
“There was a doorway in each end wall of the church. These doors were connected by a wide aisle which divided the floor in halves. The pews in the south half all faced north, while those in the other half were placed at right angles to the aisle, and faced the pulpit from the east and west respectively. The gallery was reached by two flights of steps, one at each end of the church. An impassable partition cut across its centre. A long table, at which communicants sat while they partook of the Sacrament, stood in front of the pulpit.”
The Old Kirk’s last years before its stand of more than half a century as an historic ruins are viewed in an early story of the Auld Kirk on the Cross Keys by J. T. Kirkland, Almonte barrister, the years when “John D. Taylor with his schoolboy companions, hunting wild pigeons through the Beckwith woods, could peep in through the dismantled windows and see the sagging roof, the rotting floor and the faded plush and tassels of the old pulpit.”
80 Buildings Once Erected Here Within A Year’s Time, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 25 August, 1960
About seventy-five years ago, Carleton Place reached the speediest single period of its growth. The present instalment of a summary of events in the town’s youthful years tells briefly of some of the developments that were in the foreground seventy to eighty years ago. It reaches the period of the first childhood recollections of this district’s present elder citizens.
The selection of Carleton Place at his time by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company as a divisional and repair shop point added a third main industry to growing textile and lumber businesses. Other principal manufacturing industries here, notably the making of stoves and machinery and grain milling, were all expanding. Revolutionary discoveries in telephone communication and electric lighting and in new types of industrial machines were being put into use in this area.
Building construction and the number of the community’s residents doubled within about five years. At the end of the decade, Carleton Place, with a population approaching only 4,500, was second in size to Ottawa alone in the Ottawa Valley. On the main line of the new railway to the west coast Carleton Place was the largest community between Montreal and Vancouver with the exception of Winnipeg. While the Carleton Place of later years may be found to have increased in wisdom and prosperity as measured by its way of life, its stature as rated by the conventional yardsticks of population and of total commercial activity has remained with relatively little change.
1880 – The idle Hawthorne woollen factory was bought by James Gillies of Carleton Place from its original owner Abraham Code at a reported price of $16,400.
A one hour strike fro a shorter working day by about fifty men at Peter McLaren’s sawmill was unsuccessful. Working hours continued at thirteen hours a day, from 6 a.m to 7 p.m., and twelve hours on Saturdays.
Lawsuits were under way between the rival sawmill owners here, Boyd Caldwell and Peter McLaren, based on McLaren’s efforts to exclusively control the passage of logs down the Mississippi at High Falls and other points.
The first annual regatta and sports day of the Carleton Place Boating Club was held at Carleton Park (Lake Park), featuring sailing, rowing and canoe races, the Perth band and baseball team, and oarsmen from Brockville and Ottawa. Its evening events on the river in Carleton Place were a promenade concert, an illuminated boat dispaly contest, fireworks and a balloon ascension. The Carleton Place brass band wearing new uniforms rode in a large carriage drawn by four horses to a concert and ball in Newman’s Hall which lasted until morning.
1881 – St. James Anglican Church was rebuilt, the present stone structure replacing a former frame building. The building contractors were William Moffatt and William Pattie. Chairman and secretary of the building committee were Colonel John Sumner and Dr. R. F. Preston. The Rev. G. J. Low succeeded the Rev. G. W. G. Grout before the building was completed.
John Gillies of Carleton Place bought the McArthur woollen mill at the present Bates & Innes site from its first owner Archibald McArthur. The reported price was 40,000. W. H. Wylie, lessee of the McArthur mill, bought the Hawthorne woollen mill from its new owner James Gillies at a price reported as $19,000.
Several parties of Indians were encamped late in the year at the east side of the town and frequented the streets daily. An Indian war dance was held at a local residence.
1882- A new railway station was built at the junction of the two lines here. Exemption from municipal taxation was granted for the C.P.R. workshops being moved to Carleton Place from Brockville and Prescott. Major James C. Poole (1826-1882), Herald editor, predicted the town was “about to enter upon an era of advancement and unparalleled prosperity.”
Boyd Caldwell & Sons river-men, when their log drive was blocked by Peter McLaren’s dam at the foot of Long Lake, cut a passage through the dam under claimed authority of the Ontario Legislature’s Rivers and Streams Act, which had been reenacted after its disallowance by the Dominion Government. The ten thousand logs reached the Carleton Place mill in good condition after having been delayed three years en route. Peter McLaren’s assertions of exclusive river rights which had been rejected by the Ontario Supreme Court were sustained by the Supreme Court of Canada. The Caldwell firm appealed to the Privy Council.
Sawdust had become a local furnace fuel, according to Mr. W. W. Cliff, Central Canadian publisher, who reported : Messrs. Wylie & Co. use about fifteen cartloads per day, the machine shop about four, and Mr. Findlay about one. The sawmills of course regard it as their staff of steam life.
1883 – The Bank of Ottawa opened a branch at Carleton Place, located on Bridge St. near Lake Avenue, opposite the Mississippi Hotel, with John A. Bangs as managaer.
The town’s leading hotel, the Mississippi, was sold to Walter McIlquham, formerly of Lanark, by Napoleon Lavallee at a price reported at $9,400.
In the Mississippi River strife between the two lumbermen whose principal mills were at Carleton Place, the Ontario Rivers and Streams Act was once more disallowed by the Dominion Government under Sir John A. MacDonald and was again introduced by the Ontario Government under Sir Oliver Mowat. The last disallowance held fifty thousand Caldwell logs in the upper Mississippi near Buckshot Lake and forced the Caldwell mill here to remain idle.
The James Poole estate sold the Carleton Place Herald, founded in 1850, to William H. Allen and Samual J. Allen ; and sold the family’s large stone residence at Bridge Street and the Town Line Road to David Gillies, son-in-law of James Poole. William H. Allen continued publication of the Herald for sixty years. David Gillies, original partner and later president of Gillies Brothers Limited of Braeside and member of the Quebec Legislature, maintained his home here until his death in 1926. Its site was the place of residence of six generations of the Poole family.
1884 – Carleton Place became a railway divisional point. A result was an expansion of the town’s population and of its commercial activities. A large railway station addition was undertaken.
The McLaren-Caldwell lumber litigation ended with a Privy Council judgement upholding the Caldwell claims for public rights for navigation of logs throughout the length of the Mississippi River.
To make way for the building of a new flour mill the John F. Cram tannery and wool plant was removed to Campbell Street after fourteen years of operation on Mill Street. Other building operations in addition to house construction included erection of the town’s Roman Catholic Church and a bridge by the Gillies Company at the lower falls. The Council Chamber of the Town Hall was vacated to provide additional classroom accommodation for the Town Hall School. A bylaw authorized the raising of $6,000 to buy a new fire engine for the Ocean Wave Fire Company.
Electric Lights and Telephones
1885 – A telephone system connecting eastern Ontario centres including Carleton Place was established by the Bell Telephone Company. Twenty telephones were installed in this town in the first year, all for business purposes.
A direct current electric lighting system was installed here by the Ball Electric Light Company of Toronto, including five street lights on Bridge Street. The generator was placed by the Gillies firm at the Central Machine Works. It was moved in the following year to a new waterpower installation opposite the west side of the Gillies woollen mill.
On Mill Street a four storey stone mill was built by Horace Brown, joined by a grain elevator to his former flour mill, and was equipped for the new roller process of flour milling.
Working hours for the winter season at the woollen mill of Gillies & Son & Company were from 7 a.m. to 6.15 p.m. with closing time one hour earlier on Saturdays.
1886 – The railway junction and divisional town of Carleton Place was a stopping point for the first through train of the C.P.R. to reach the west coast from Montreal.
The new tannery of John F. Cram and Donald Munroe was destroyed in a fire loss of over $10,000.
Abner Nichols’ planing mill was built at the corner of Lake Avenue and Bridge Street.
Indians who had camped for the winter at Franktown, selling baskets through the district, struck their tents and returned to the St. Regis Reserve.
The May 24th holiday was celebrated by a sports day at Allan’s Point (Lake Park). Its baseball score was Carleton Place Athletics 16, Renfrew 5 ; and a no score lacrosse game was played between Ottawa Metropolitans and Carleton Place. The practice field for the lacrosse and cricket clubs at this time was the picnic grounds of Gillies Grove below the woollen mill.
Canada Lumber Company
1887 – Peter McLaren sold his lumber mill properties at Carleton Place and upper Mississippi timber limits at a price reported as $900,000. The buyers, the McLarens of Buckingham and Edwards of Rockland, formed the Canada Lumber Company. It doubled the mills capacity, with Alexander H. Edwards (1848-1933) as manager here. Peter McLaren three years later was appointed to the Senate, and died at age 88 at Perth in 1919.
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was built on its present Bridge Street site donated by James Gillies, the congregation vacating its previous location in the old stone church building still standing at the corner of William and St. Paul Streets.
A bridge of ironwork on stone piers replaced the wooden bridge across the Mississippi at Bridge Street. A brick and tile manufacturing yard, which operated for about fifteen years, was opened by William Taylor, hardware merchant. A large brick manufacturing business of William Willoughby, building contractor, continued in operation. The Herald office and plant moved to a new brick building at the south side of the site of the present Post Office. A Masonic Temple was built, and a considerable number of residential and other buildings.
Reduced railway fares were granted for the fifth annual musical convention and choral festival of the Carleton Place Mechanics Institute, held in the drill hall at the market square, with guest performers from Boston, Toronto and other points. The Institute’s officers included William Pattie, Dr. R. F. Robertson, Alex C. McLean and John A. Goth.