SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-EIGHT

Describe Business Places 100 Years Ago

By Howard Morton Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 16 May, 1963

 

Start of High Street

On the Perth road, now High Street, a dozen of the village’s buildings of 1863 extended from Bridge Street along the north side of the road for a distance of about two blocks.  There was only one building on its south side, the large stone house torn down several years ago, at the corner of Water Street.  It was built in 1861 by John Sumner, merchant, who earlier at Ashton had been also a magistrate and Lieutenant Colonel of the 3rd Battalion.  Carleton Militia.  Beyond this short section of High Street was farm land, including the farms of John McRostie, Peter Cram, the Manny Nowlan estate and David Moffatt.  The stone farm houses of John McRostie and David Moffatt are now the J. H. Dack and Chamney Cook residences.

The buildings on the north side of High Street were rented houses owned by John McEwen, William Neelin, William Moore and Henry Wilson; and the homes of Mrs. John Bell, Arthur Moore and James McDiarmid; together with Joseph Pittard’s wagon shop, and two doors west of it near the future Thomas Street corner, the new foundry enterprise of David Findlay.

Bell Street Businesses

Bell Street an even century ago had some twenty five buildings scattered along its present four blocks.  William Street already had a similar number.  The section from Bell Street north to the Town Line Road, as the first subdivision of the future town, had most of its streets laid out as at present, but north of William Street they held in all only five or six houses.

The block of Bell Street next to Bridge Street was the second early business section of the town.  The first business there had been started about thirty-five years before this time by Robert Bell, together with his elder brother John and assisted for some years by his younger brother James, sons of the Rev. William Bell of Perth.

The new Sumner Arcade on its Bridge Street corner was built on the site of the original 1829 store of Robert Bell, in which the post office once had been located for many years.  The Sumner store was adjoined by several frame shops, William Moore’s tavern, later run by Absolem McCaffery, John McEwen’s hand weaving establishment, Mrs. James Morphy’s home, and near James Street, the late “King James” Morphy’s shoemaking shop.

On the south side of this Bell Street block were several shops with living quarters, including buildings owned by Mrs. Morphy and William Muirhead.  Down by the river side was an old tannery, once owned and possibly built by Robert Bell.  It had been owned for some years by William Morphy junior and was bought in 1861 by Brice McNeely, who built the present stone building there where he continued a leather tanning business for forty years or more.  At the other end of the block rose the venerable Hurd’s Hall, a relatively large two storey frame building then newly built, with its upper floor serving as the first public concert and meeting hall of the village other than the churches.  It was built by the young Dr. William Hurd, son-in-law of James Rosamond.  He had his medical offices there and lived in the former James Rosamond stone residence still standing on the corner across the street.

Going east on Bell Street, the second block from Bridge Street was occupied by the homes of Dr. Hurd and William Muirhead and, on the river near the present electric power plant site, by the sawmill owned by William Muirhead and leased then by Robert Gray.  The third block, between Edmond and Baines Streets, had the large frame Church of England on its north side, and on the south side Robert Gray’s house and a building near the river owned by William Muirhead and apparently occupied in connection with the sawmill.  On Bell Street’s last block, the north side had the home of Absolem McCaffrey, grocer and liquor dealer, the Wilson stone house then occupied by its builder, Dr. William Wilson, and a rented house owned by Robert Bell.  On the river side of Bell Street here there were two rented houses and the home and wagon shop of George McPherson, bailiff and carriage maker.

William Street and The Railroad

North of Bell Street, William Street extended east for five blocks from Bridge Street.  It was a route to the railway station, and was occupied by about thirty buildings, almost all on the north side of the street.  Its tradesmen’s shops included two cabinet shops, a blacksmith shop, a wagon shop and two shoemaker’s shops.  Residents owning their homes on William Street included William Peden and Patrick Struthers, general merchants; Joseph Bond and Horatio Nelson Docherty, shoe makers; Richard Gilhuly, blacksmith; Walter Scott, tailor; Mrs. David Pattie and Henry Wilson.

The stone Presbyterian church, later to be occupied by the St. Andrews congregation, and the old Cameronian Presbyterian church stood at either end of the last block which extends to the railway line.  The railway station for the line opened four years earlier from Brockville to Almonte and at this time in course of construction to Arnprior, stood beyond the eastern side of the village at about the site of the present Legion Hall.  A long shed beside it held cordwood used for locomotive engine fuel, and the station master’s residence was nearby toward the Town Line Road.

George Strett, then called Boswell, was open in 1863 from Bridge Street east to the railway station and Morphy Street ran from Bridge to Baines St.  This section to the Town Line Road was not built on, except for three lone houses on George Street.  Homes on the Ramsay Township side of the Town Line Road and east of Bridge Street were those of Mrs. John Tweedie, Frank Lavallee, cooper, and James Dunlop, cabinet maker and millwright.

Residents Of A Century Ago

Among other residents sharing the Carleton Place village scene of a century ago were the families of Jacob Leslie, cabinet maker; George and Robert McLean and Henry Beck, carpenters;  Alexander Dalgety, carpenter, Hugh McLeod, miller; James Duncan and Duncan McGregor, blacksmiths; Joseph Gilhuly, carriage maker; James McFadden, and William Moore, shoemakers; also William Kelly, saloon keeper; William Paisley, carter; John Cameron, John Neil and Robert Knox, labourers; William Bradley, weaver, and William Nowlan, painter; Joseph Thompson, railway switchman; Thomas Hughes, station master and Frederick S. Haight, M.A., school master.

Resident clergymen were the Revs. John McKinnon, Presbyterian; E. H. Masey-Baker, Anglican; and Lawrence Halcroft, Baptist.  Younger tradesmen of Carleton Place who the census year of 1861 were unmarried employees and apprentices included William Taylor, tinsmith; Alex Ferguson, George Griffith and Thomas Garland, blacksmiths; James Munro and William Laidlaw, carpenters; Henry Cram and Thomas Code, carriage makers; also James Moore and William Ferguson, shoemakers; Richard Willis, labourer; Charles Sumner, chemist; and William Metcalf, painter.  David Moffatt, Moses Neilson and James Scott were apprentice printers and John Brown, Finlay McEwen and James Patterson were clerks.

There were about a dozen residences of stone construction within the central area of the Carleton Place of 1863.  They included the homes of Hugh Boulton, Jr. grist mill owner (later Horace Brown); Dr. William Hurd (formerly James  Rosamond’s and later William Muirhead’s), Napoleon Lavallee and Robert Metcalf, hotel keepers; Archibald McArthur, merchant; Allan McDonald, carding mill owner; Duncan McGregor, blacksmith; James Poole, publisher; John Sumner, merchant; Henry Wilson and Dr. William Wilson.

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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.

Working Hours

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.

Indian Camp

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.

Railway Shops

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.

River Rights

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.

Divisional Point

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.

Junction Town

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.

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