SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-FIVE

Life in Lumbermen’s Shanty on the Mississippi

Carleton Place Canadian, 14 March, 1963

By James Sidney Annable

 

(Contributed by H. Morton Brown)

Some scenes of the Ottawa Valley’s great square timber era have been preserved in a group of boyhood recollections of a native of Carleton Place, James Sidney Annable, continued here.

As a young boy Sid Annable left his home in Carleton Place to spend a winter in the early eighteen eighties as a cook’s helper at a Boyd Caldwell lumber camp in the forests of the upper Mississippi River district.  Over fifty years later he presented his version of his experiences, which follows here in a shortened form.  Allowance may need to be made in some respects for the long interval between the time of his youthful employment and his time in writing of it.

“I left home to go to the head waters of the Mississippi River as a cook’s flunkey in the shanty of Boyd Caldwell, Sr., pioneer lumberman with timber limits near Ompah.  We outfitted in Lanark village and travelled by wagons.  There were about thirty teams of horses.  The wagons were loaded with bob-sleighs and tools, along with provisions to feed seventy men that winter.  The foreman in charge, we shall call him Bob Price, was six feet tall and weighed about 200 pounds.

Wagons were loaded to capacity with flour, beans, black molasses, salt pork, sugar, tea etc.  The cook wagon was equipped with utensils and food already cooked to feed the crew of teamsters, axemen, roadmen, sawyers and river drivers.

At Lavant Station near Ompah our camp site was already staked out.  On our arrival at Snow Road the ice was on the inland lakes and creeks.  We arrived with a number of men sick with colds and sore feet.  Many of them had to cut brush roads.  At last the wagons arrived.

Building the Bush Camp

We lived in tents while the shanty was being built out of hemlock logs.  Trees were felled and axemen notched the ends and locked them on the corners, boring an augur hole through each tier and driving dowel pins of ash and hickory to hold the corners intact.  When the walls of the shanty were up and the plates were hewn out, rough timbers were placed on top of them.  Rafters were made out of tamarack and spruce tapered from eight inches at the butt to four inches on the top.  The pitch of the roof was about thirty degrees.

The roof was made by hewing out the centre of eight inch split logs with an adze.  They were placed alternately, first concave and the next convex, allowing the edges to lie down snug in the concave side.  This made the roof watertight and almost air tight when completed.  Ventilation was provided at the eaves, and by the big open chimney which carried off the smoke.

Around the south end of the shanty, bunks were constructed three tiers high and five feet wide, each to hold two men.  The beds were made soft by cutting cedar boughs and filling the bunks with them.  Each man had to make his own bed, the blankets being furnished.  Pillows were ‘out’ until flour sacks were empty.  They were filled with straw and in time everyone had his pillow.

The cookery was a log box about six feet wide and eighteen feet long, filled two-thirds full of sand.  Tamarack wood in six foot lengths would burn and crackle at both ends of this fireplace.  A post was set in the centre with iron bands, with loops for the large iron pipe that supported the cooking utensils over the fire.  When we were boiling spuds, beans and ‘sow belly’, the beans when boiled soft were placed in a two foot cast iron kettle with a cover which projected out over its edge.  These were buried in the hot sand and ashes overnight.  They were ready to serve for breakfast piping hot, flavored with blackstrap molasses, and with plenty of salt pork browned to a golden hue.

The bread was baked in the same way, the huge loaves coming out of the Dutch oven with crust on all sides.  They were cut in wedges.  At meal time each man took his tin plate and tea basin and knife and fork, and stood in line until the cook or the cook’s devil would help him with his food.  After each meal each man took care of his dishes and utensils and put them on the rack ready for the next chow time.

Days Work Done

When the day’s work was done and supper over, the boys, seated on the long benches that ran in front of the bunks, would enjoy themselves by playing euchre, pitch or old sledge for tobacco or any of the goods that were in the company’s van.  The men could have all the supplies they wanted as their credit was o.k. until spring.  There was always music galore, flutes, fiddles, mouth organs and jews harps.  Old shanty songs prevailed.  The old timers took delight in hanging it onto the tenderfoot, but it did not take long for the first-timer to learn his way about.  Wrangling and fighting were taboo.

Washing was usually the Sunday pastime.  This day was my hardest task.  It was up to me to see that plenty of hot water was in the big cauldron kettles and that the soap, which the cook made, was not wasted.

Fresh meat was seldom served in those days but there was plenty of wild game to be had.  With no shooting allowed we used to snare rabbits, and trap deer.

Partridge were plentiful and many a brace would come to camp, killed by the boys on the trail.  Venison was packed in snow and on Sundays we usually would have a feast.

Spring Drive Starts

Now spring was coming and the square timber that had been hewn by the broadaxe men on the banks of the river was slid down on the skidways, greased with pork rind, into the water.  Each stick would be sixteen inches square and thirty to forty feet long.  They were floated alongside each other and held together with swifters and rope sometimes made of the inner bark of the ash or elm.  They were formed into cribs of twelve sticks each.  If the streams were narrow the cribs were made narrower so they would float and not break apart.  When the drive was ready the cribs were polled by hand down to the big waters or lakes.  Then they were fastened together to cross the lake.  In the centre the cookery was located, and tents for the river drivers.

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SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-FOUR

ECHOES OF THE PAST

Phantom Light on Lakes Once Talk of the Town

Carleton Place Canadian, 07 March, 1963

By James Sidney Annable

 

A mysterious red light was seen for a week one summer moving high over the lower Mississippi Lake at night near Carleton Place.  Evidently it was a windy week.  This phenomenon was recalled in a series of old time yarns, some possibly including stray “Believe-it-or-not” incidents, written twenty five years ago by J. Sid Annable, then of Ottawa.

Two incidents on the Mississippi here in that year, as remembered by him, were the introduction of sailing catamarans and also the excitement created by the phantom light.  He was a young Carleton Place boy at the time and had a leading part in promoting the flurry of excitement, recounted here as he described it.

“In the summer of 1883 when catamarans became numerous on the Mississippi River and Lower Lake, the elite of Carleton Place were all agog over the appearance of the first pontoon craft called the ‘Kattermeran’.  It was constructed on two cigar shaped floats with a platform and a fancy railing two feet high.  In the center was a mast sail and a jib.  A rudder was built at the rear with an arm attached for steering.

CAUSED ENVY

This new pleasure craft was designed to carry ten or twelve people.  It was equipped with comfortable rattan chairs.  The proud owners of the strange craft were William Pattie and Alex Sibbitt.  It became the envy of all the poor lads in the neighbourhood who had to be content with flat-bottomed monitors or log canoes made out of ash and basswood by the well known Indian brothers, Johnny and Joe Bay, on their reserve at Indian Landing.  They were the noted basket makers of that period.  Their colored hampers and clothes baskets were sold on Main Street by Eli Hutchings, Jimmy Weeks and Jim Sumner.  Usually the Indians traded their wares to the merchants for food.

Just a mile away was Allen’s Point, now Lake Park, with one lone shack erected by the writer as a bunk house when pike fishing through the ice was his favorite pastime.  This shack was a two room affair equipped with bunks for beds and an old fashioned ‘Forest Beauty’ stove for warmth and cooking, made by David Findlay of Carleton Place.

My chum ‘Peck” Wilkie and I used this shack as the base of operation in constructing a huge box kite.  We had little difficulty in building the frame of old cedar rail material from the line fence of Bill Duff’s farm.  Our kite was three feet wide and six feet long, covered with cheesecloth with glue sizing brushed on.  The tail was six feet long.  A wire was fastened to the nose to attach our twine and to make a perfect balance.  To fly the kite as high as possible we bought five pounds of binder twine.

We then made a windlass with a crank on each side, placing a leather brake on to control it.  Then we made a rack on the seat of our rowboat, fastened the twine, rowed out on the lake and hoisted our kite in a successful test.

TALK OF THE TOWN

That night we attached a railroad lantern to the tail of the kite and sent her up.  The red light showing brightly in the sky caused quite a sensation.  After people were all in their beds we brought our kite down and tucked it away for another night’s fun.  Next day everyone in Carleton Place was talking about the mysterious light in the sky over the lake.  The Carleton papers had a front page story, and the next night people came from Almonte and nearby villages in horse and buggy to investigate the strange phenomenon.

After a week of this, old Charlie Glover, crack rifle shot of the village, rowed up to Nagle’s Bay to take a pot shot at our mysterious light.  We kept the kite moving and he wasted many shots before he made a lucky hit.  Down came our kite in the lake, but the boatmen who set out in search of it failed to locate it.  The next morning we retrieved it ourselves in the rice bed, some distance in from the edge.  Our fun was at an end, someone spoke out of turn and let the cat out of the bag.

The frame of this kite was in the attic of William Wilkie’s home for a long time.  W. W. Cliff, editor of the Central Canadian, published the story in 1884, picturing ‘Peck’ Wilkie as the Peck’s bad boy of the village.  Some years later Peck Wilkie was drowned in the pond on the Boston Common.

Other owners of Catamarans on the Mississippi were Ad. Peden, James Gillies and Adam Dunlop.  The fad was short lived, however, owing to the hard work of rowing home after the wind went down.”

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK NINETEEN

 

 “Beards” of Bygone Days

Recalled by M. J. Shields

Carleton Place Canadian, 29 December, 1960

By Howard M. Brown

 

Random recollections of Myles J. Shields of Ottawa as supplied to H.M.B.

“Extemporaneously I am sending you a few items on local affairs that I recall and hope will be readable:

Long ago twilight brought out Harry Tetlock to light the switch and semaphore lamps on the CPR yard tracks.  He was always smiling and walked fast.  Jim Moore with brown beard and big clock in leather case went out to watch the lumber yard.  Mr. Cram with white beard went to watch Gillies Woollen Mill.

In the day time Ned Carr, old tall and gaunt, was crossing guard at the foot of Bell street where the sawmill tracks crossed the CPR.  In his prime he was, according to my father, a famous axeman. 

George Tait had a market garden on Lake Avenue.  He did not believe in trimming fruit trees.  He said they had a hard enough time surviving in our climate.  This theory has since been upheld by many fruit growers.

Maurice Burke, a cooper, made barrels across the street from where the post office now stands.  His sister Julia taught school in the Public School for many years.  We often heard the youngsters rhyming c-a-t  CAT, r-a-t RAT, etc.  She was burned to death in a fire as was Levi Brian’s wife.

Sam McLaren with a red beard was captain on the steamer, Carleton, which plied the Mississippi lakes and river in those days.

Alvin Livingston had a long, almost white beard and was town constable in the 1870’s.

Patrick (Peter) Struthers, post master, and his assistant Finlay McEwen, had rather thin light coloured beards.  Peter had a farm on the 5th Line of Ramsay, operated by Jim Boyd.

William Goth, of Beckwith, from the breastbone up was entirely hidden in white whiskers, hair and eyebrows.  All one could see was a purple nose and two twinkling blue eyes.  He kept good horses and many a time passed the C.P.R. station, homeward bound, at a full gallop.  Mr. Goth had a sense of humour and my mother, nee Margaret Holland, who was telegrapher in the post office, situated at that time, in the building across Bell Street from the Arcade, recalled a remark he made to her one time.  It appears that Mr. Goth and David Findlay Sr. had a tussle in the post office and Mr. Findlay apparently got the worst of it.  When Messrs Struthers and McEwen remonstrated with Mr. Goth, he threatened the whole staff, at which my mother burst out laughing.  Mr. Goth turned and said to her; “Young lady, when I was young I used to laugh too, but, now that I am in an office of public trust I am above laughing.”  John Goth, a son, was principal in the Town Hall school and his daughter, Miss Goth, taught in first grade.

Mr. Aitken, from Appleton way, used to leave town in the same style as Mr. Goth, his horses on the gallop down William Street, but they arrived at a more sedate pace on entering the town.

Dr. Howard, who claimed to have been descended from one of the original 13 Barons of England, was a big man, soft spoken, and used to relate to me about his turkey hunting trips in the U.S.A.  He had a law suit with the Montreal Daily Star and lost.  The Star published a pamphlet about him and distributed it to the householders of Carleton Place.

Andrew and Robert Bell were descendents of the famous clergyman William Bell; Andrew lived near Taylor’s big house and Robert lived at the end of main street bridge, where Dr. McFarlanes old residence stands.  There is, or was, a stained window in St. James Anglican Church inscribed “To the Glory of God and the memory of Jane A. Bell”.

Peter Lake and his wife Susanna lived in the big stone house at the river at the end of the Town Line.  He also had a beard and was Choir Master in Zion Church.

Abe Morphy Sr. was tall and blackbearded, he lived in the white house at the Town Line and 8th line.  He was born in the yellow house that stood between the Gillies Mill flume canal and the C.P.R. subway.

Mr. Griegson, a stout husky type operated a farm on the 5th line of Ramsay.  He always carried his buggy whip while in town and walked about 4 or 5 feet ahead of his wife.  They would have a beer at Wilson’s hotel and then do their business.  Mr. Griegson worked on the railway that was built across the Isthmus of Panama to prepare for the building of the great canal.  I remember when he told my Grandfather Holland that he had worked there and what a surprise, because my grandfather had taken the first stationary steam engine down there.  They had a terrible time, heat, flies, filthy water, fever and the late arrival of the relief ship.  Every man in my grandfathers group of labourers died one after the other.  He buried the last man just before the relief ship arrived.  He said he paid a native two cents a day to follow him around swishing a bunch of palm leaves to chase flies and create a little breeze.

Mr. Hamilton, a painter, father of John R., a C.P.R. conductor was a veteran of the Crimean war as was my grand uncle who was a V.S. (Farrier Sgt. In army parlance); he was at the Charge of the Light Brigade, although not actually in the charge, took care of the horses.  I have a tin-type of him in full uniform taken about 1850 in Dublin.

William Street, as I recall it, had its list of tragedies, perhaps, more so than any other street.  A young Glover child was killed by being crushed under a lumber yard wagon; Billy Glover fatally injured sliding down the Spring Street hill; Bob Illingsworth shot in a bar room squabble; Miss Reynolds drowned; Mr. Summers had legs crushed in lumber yard; amputated twice but gangrene set in and he died.  Mr. Quackenbush was run over by a lorrie the first day he worked in the lumber yard; he said he always had a premonition that he should not take a job there; around the turn of the century Abe Morphy Jr. drowned; Neil McDonald died from an overdose of sedative (I believe); Harry Clark fell down cellar; Proctor Moore fell in a C.P.R. culvert.

And I could go on, and on, but enough is enough.”

Carleton Place Paddlers Create Enviable Records, by Howard M. Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 09 August, 1962

Some recollections of regattas and racing accomplishments of former generations of paddlers of the Carleton Place Canoe Club are concluded in this number.  A previous installment told of the starting of the town’s long flourishing club and of the first Canadian Canoe Association contests at Brockville and Carleton Place.  The publishing of these stories coincides with an appeal for support and cash donations needed to assist this institution in continuing its record of athletic and recreational service for large numbers of the younger residents of the town.

Club Regatta

The Carleton Place Canoe Club in 1905 held what was said to be its first regatta for local competitors only.  Paddling honors were shared were shared with those of motor boating and other water sports.  The paddling events in addition to the green and the open singles, tandems and fours, were boys tandem, ladies tandem and mixed tandem races and two war canoe races, one a straightaway half mile, the other a half mile with turn.  Added with the great novelty of a motorboat race were a tub race, a crab race, a hurry-scurry, a swimming race and a gunwale race.

In the war canoe events the crew in the old canoe under captain Ab Keyworth won the straightaway half mile, and the new crew under Captain Jack Welsh the quarter mile and return.  First and second in the open single blade race were Archie McPhee and Archie Knox.  The judges were Walter McIlquham, George H. Findlay, Mr. Daniel A. Muirhead and W. M. Dunham.  Other officials included timekeepers Andrew Neilson and William J. Muirhead, clerk of course John Bennett, starter Walter H. Dummert and referee Robert Patterson.

Motorboat Race of 1905

The gasoline-powered motorboat was coming into its own.  Durably built, as by the Carleton Place boat works, on rounded seaworthy lines, later superseded in popularity by an elongated torpedo style , the inboard motorboat started its reign in a generation before the outboard marine engine had helped to lay the foundations of the present North American boating boom.

The Herald’s description of the scene at the Town Park and the motorboat race included:

“The club house and the old mill were decorated with flags and bunting.  A temporary platform was arranged on one of the old piers for the judges, whilst the Town Band furnished music from one of the galleries of the sawmill.  The river was covered with boats of all descriptions from steamers and launches to canoes.

In the race for gasoline launches seven were entered.  There are some ten or twelve of these handsome boats on the river, nearly all built at the Gillies launch works of this town.  Competitors in the race were the Alice, 5 h.p. – J. H. Gardiner ; the Ariel, 4 h.p. – R. Patterson ; the Marjorie, 4 h.p. – F. McDiarmid ; the Iolanthe, 4 h.p. – A. H. Edwards ; the Rose, 5 h.p. – W. J. Hammond ; the Zephyr, 3 h.p. – Cram and Burgess ; the Wawanessa, 3.5 h.p. – McAllister Brothers.

Within seconds from the gun fire all were under way.  The Ariel, Marjoire and Alice very soon forged ahead.  Mr. Cram in the Zephyr undertook to cut off a corner in the river channel and became entangled in the weeds and was out of it before reaching the lake.  The turning buoy was placed beyond Rocky Point, some three miles up the lake, and the Ariel was the first to show her nose around the flag.  In rounding the sunken rock at Lookout Point a foul was claimed against the Alice but was later withdrawn as her pilot was a little inexperienced with the channel and the foul was unintentional.

The silk trophy flag, donated by James Gillies, Esq., goes to Mr. Gardiner.  The time taken for the round trip was forty minutes.  Robert Patterson’s Ariel came in second.  Third place went to Fred McDiarmid in the Marjorie.  Much enthusiasm was shown by the spectators.  Each boat as she crossed the line was greeted with hearty cheers and waving handkerchiefs, and much whistle blowing from the excursion steamers and horn blasts from the smaller boats.

Commodore Harry Hicken and the officers of the club are to be congratulated on the success of their efforts.”

Great War Canoe Crews

A cheering crowd, a civic reception and a torchlight procession welcomed the Carleton Place paddlers two years later on their return from Montreal.  Competing successfully against larger clubs in the annual Canadian Canoe Association meet, they had won first positions in three events including the coveted half mile war canoe championship.  Photographs of the memorable half mile finish of 1907 made by Carleton Place photographer W. J. Hammond remain in existence.

The members of the winning crew were Carl Lamb, stroke, William Knox, Howard Morphy, Archie McCaw, John Hockenhull, M. Ryan, Wilfred Hunter, Fred Milliken, Andrew Dunlop, Gilbert Gordon, Mark Lamb, T. Winthrop, Neil McGregor, Andrew Robertson, and Ab. Keyworth, captain.

Canadian war canoe championships were won again by Carleton Place in 1920 and 1938.  The town club officials were hosts for the 1920 national regatta, held on the Lake Park course.  In the Northern Division eliminations a strong Carleton Place club had won the senior events including both war canoe races and the senior fours, on the Ottawa New Edinburgh Canoe Club’s home waters, when seven crews had contended for the half mile war canoe win and six for the mile.

Without the annual weed cutting which has been carried on for many years through the Mississippi Lakes Association of Carleton Place, weedy areas on the course hampered paddlers despite the best efforts of Mr. Willis, who had sought to clear it by dragging with the steamboat the Commodore.  The attendance at Lake Park was said to be the largest ever assembled for a regatta here.  On hand to furnish musical entertainment between races was the Regimental Band from Perth.

Race starts were standing starts from a row of logging booms extended at Lookout Point, lower extremity of the Lake Park peninsula and downstream end of the half mile course.  The senior fours winners were the Carleton Place crew of Ernie Halpenny, Allan Call, Gib Gordon and Herb Bennett.  Ottawa New Edinburgh and Toronto Balmy Beach were tied to lead in aggregate regatta points.

The Carleton Place half mile war canoe win was at a time of 3:17  Lake weeds robbed the outstanding Carleton Place paddlers of an additional war canoe trophy when in the mile race after a late start at the Nagle shore they ran into a mass of weeds on the favoured inside course, still ending a close second to Toronto Parkdale’s time of 6:41.  The paddlers of the great Carleton Place crew of 1920 were E. Halpenny, P. Dunlop, R. Munshaw, D. Findlay, A. Ashfield, E. Bennett, W. Phillips, L. Hockenhull, A. Call, H. Bennett, R. Waugh, W. Bush, C. Carr, H. Sinclair, and G. Gordon, Captain.

Now for over sixty years succeeding generations of Carleton Place paddlers have pursued the historic sport which in this country originated with North America’s first native citizens and is one of Canada’s few thriving exclusively amateur sports of today.  The town’s canoe club – like the Lakes Association’s recently suspended maintenance of the Mississippi waterways which the club uses – is a distinctive community asset which appears to merit, in the interests of the town and its residents, a wide measure of public backing, recognition and support.

Carleton Place Canoe Club Dates Back To 1893, by Howard M. Brown, 02 August, 1962

Among the many Carleton Place organizations of the past and present in the field of athletics, sports and recreation, the award for longest active life appears to go to the Carleton Place Canoe Club.  Through times of enthusiastic public backing and financial support as well as in leaner years, the canoe club has served its community well.  In many years it has spread this town’s name and paddling fame throughout Canada.  For sixty-two years it has offered a wholesome outlet for the social and athletic energies of the youth and younger adults of the town.

Carleton Place, with the waters of the Mississippi as its attractive setting, has an aquatic sports tradition which goes back to its village days of the past century.  In the decade of the Carleton Boating Club, the first local venture of its kind, competitive rowing in long light racing shells had its days of glory in the eighteen eighties for this district.

Professional and amateur Ontario oarsmen including world champion Ned Hanlan attended the local club’s big annual regattas.  Then the first Carleton Place canoe club was formed in 1893, under the name of the Ottawa Valley Canoe Association.  With a membership of owners of canoes and other pleasure craft, its original officers were elected at a midsummer meeting of some twenty persons, held in the cabin of the Lake Park Company’s eighty foot side-wheeler steamboat, The Carleton. 

They were honorary president A. H. Edwards, president S. J. Mclaren, vice-president W. J. Welsh, secretary Colin McIntosh and advisory committee members Robert Sibbett, Albert E. Cram and Robert Patterson.  For several years the association’s races and regattas were held at Lake Park and on the river near the town bridge.

The present Carleton Place Canoe Club was organized in April, 1900, when at a meeting in Colin McIntosh’s law office it was decided to affiliate with the proposed international canoe association and to unite in forming a league expected to be composed of Ottawa, Brockville, Aylmer, Britannia and Carleton Place clubs and others.  Equipment was to be secured for the town club including a war canoe, “a vessel that takes fifteen paddles to propel it.”  Accounts of several of the regattas of the club’s first twenty years may serve to illustrate the earlier part of the long and notable record of this town’s canoe club.

Brockville Canoe Regatta

The town’s new club sent several winning entrants to Britannia and Ottawa club regattas in 1901, including Archie McPhee, Fred McRostie, Cornell and Jack Welsh.  The eight clubs listed to enter the Canadian Canoe Association’s meet at Brockville in that pioneer year of competitive paddling of the present kind, and the colours assigned to each, were Brockville Bomemians, red ; Brockville Rowing Club, blue ; Montreal Grand Trunk Railway Club, white ; Carleton Place, green ; Ottawa, black ; Britannia, purple ; Smiths Falls, orange ; and Brockville Y.M.C.A., yellow.  The judges appointed were James Powell of Montreal, Dr. Ewen McEwen of Carleton Place and George P. Graham of Brockville.

The Carleton Place Herald’s report of the August, 1901, Canadian canoe meet at Brockville said:

“The river was very rough and there were many accidents from swamping.  Carleton Place was the only club that entered all the contests, although they had but their war canoe crew.  In doing so they certainly handicapped themselves in competing with fresh men in the different events.  As it was they captured some seconds and made a good showing in the war canoe.

In this race there was a foul between the Britannias and the Y.M.C.A. of Brockville, the Otta- was also being mixed up in it.  At the finish the Bohemians were first, Britannia second and Brockville, Carleton Place and Smiths Falls all bunched within a length for third place.  The race was declared null on account of the fouls and called again.  The Bohemians refused to paddle, and at an evening meeting it was decided to call the race off and have it paddled again within a month, probably at Carleton Place.

“In the senior four, won by the Grand Trunk club, the second place Carleton Place crew was that of Welsh, McRostie, Cumbers and McPhee.  Jack Welsh placed second in the double blade.  The second place in the green four was taken by the Carleton Place crew of Donald, Moffatt, Cumbers, and Penny.  Our war canoe crew included J. Penny, F. McRostie, W. Moffatt, Gibson, McCallum, Leslie, Cumbers, Boucher, Howe, Donald, Sibbett, McPhee, Cornell, and Welsh captain.  Our boys deserve some recognition for the very gamey way in which they have upheld the sport the last two seasons.”

National Meet at Lake Park

Decision to hold the Canadian regatta for 1902 at Carleton Place was reached at a November meeting here reported by Will Allen in the Herald:

“A meeting of the executive of the Northern Division of the American Canoe Association, which covers all of Canada, was held here last week.  It was decided to hold the next annual race meet at Carleton Place, probably the last week of June.  Mr. Herbert Begg, Commodore, Mr. Harry J. Page, secretary treasurer, of Toronto, and Mr. E. R. McNeill, Ottawa, of the executive, met with the local canoeists here Friday evening and finally decided upon Carleton Place.

“The American Canoe Association is divided into divisions, Atlantic, Central, Eastern, Northern and Western.  Canada is in the Northern Division, but the contests are open to members of the American Canoe Association of all divisions, and none but members can compete, so the meetings are usually very large gatherings.  The Association is kept up by membership fees – annual fee $2.00,   which admits members free to all association contests and gives a year’s subscription to The National Sportsman.

On Friday evening the local canoeists entertained the visitors of the Leland, where a fine spread was laid by Mine Host Salter.  After the tables were cleared Mayor Patterson took the chair……The meet here should prove a big advertisement for the town.  Now that the log has been started a-rolling we hope to see it kept agoing until June, when our townspeople will realize what we have tried to picture feebly with our fingers stiff with the pinches of Jack Frost.”

Carleton Place Canoe Club officers for the big year of 1902 were patrons Mayor Robert Patterson, William McDiarmid and Dr. George McDonald, commodore Colin McIntosh, vice-commodore R. A. Sibbett, captain W. J. Welsh, secretary treasurer J. N. Gibson, executive Frank Donald, Dr. K. C. Campbell, George Cornell, J. F. Moffatt and Fred McRostie, and auditors M. G. Howe and C. A. Roberts.  Chairmen of committees were, Racing, Fred McRostie ; Sailing, Dr. K. C. Campbell ; Entertainment, Frank Donald ; Property J. F. Moffatt.  The course from Nagles Shore to above the Lake Park steamboat dock was measured on the ice in March.  Mounting interest in June was noted in this newspaper by W. W. Cliff, who said :

“There are some thousands of persons who regard the coming Canoe Meet as considerably more important than the new fast trans Atlantic service, or even perhaps the end of the war in Africa.  Doubtless they are mistaken, but the world would lose a good deal if a temporary bias due to the ardor of youth did not exist.”

Northwesters in Terrible Fury

Winds higher than those on the St. Lawrence of the year before played havoc with the schedule of the 1902 national regatta, held in the last week of June at Lake Park.  The ten crews in the mile war canoe race, started at 7 p.m. when the “northwesters in terrible fury” had lessened, were two Toronto crews, the Bohemians of Brockville, two Brockville Y.M.C.A. crews, and Britania, Lachine, Smiths Falls, Grand Trunks of Montreal and Carleton Place.  In the mile the Grand Trunks were first with time 5:57 2/5, and Smiths Falls was second.  Several including Carleton Place who were grouped for third place protested successfully that the race had been started before all boats were in position. 

The visiting canoeists, numbering over two hundred, were said to be probably the largest aggregation of paddlers ever yet gathered at one meet in Canada.  They had their tents pitched on the Lake Park grounds and remained a second day for the completion of the regatta.  Though the wind was very high on the second day the principle events were completed before nightfall.

In the protested mile war canoe race, repeated without the formerly winning Grand Trunks, Smiths Falls was first, Britannia too second and Carleton Place third.  Grand Trunks took the half mile and quarter mile war canoe events, followed in the half mile by Smiths Falls and Carleton Place and in the quarter mile by Carleton Place and Britannia.  The Carleton Place crew of W. Wilson, F. McRostie, A. Powell and J. Welsh won the senior fours, a half mile straightway race, and local paddlers Welsh and McRostie came third after Ottawa and Toronto in the tandem half mile with turn.

A ball was tendered the visitors at the Lake Park Queen’s Royal Hotel, combined with a huge bonfire and a fireworks display. 

A second installment in conclusion will recall the first annual club regatta of the Carleton Place Canoe Club, a motorboat race of the same time, and the Canadian regatta held here in 1920 at Lake Park.

90 Black Bass In Less Than 2 Hours Once Caught, by Howard M. Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 14 June, 1962

In the early days of Carleton Place’s Vacationland of the Mississippi, most of the tenting lakeside vacation dwellers seem to have taken only a casual interest of the frying pan in the excellent fishing that was available.  Their numbers included few duck hunters, though the duck hunting season then started in mid-August.

Very large catches of fish and bags of ducks by other town and district fishermen and hunters were reported, and earlier the similar wholesale shooting of now extinct passenger pigeons.  The harvests of fish and ducks by some went to the town’s food markets and restaurants, then a legal selling operation.  Occasional notes in the local newspapers told of catches of fish in what were considered newsworthy quantities and sizes.

Fish Stories

Of the larger game fish, black bass were prominent in reported catches, before an apparent increase or dominance in numbers of pike and the later introduction of pickerel.  Introductions of whitefish and lake trout in the Mississippi Lakes in the eighteen eighties were unsuccessful.  The whitefish experiment was made in 1884, year of the formation of the “Carleton Place Game, Fish and Insectivorous Birds Protective Society.”  On May 1st this newspaper reported:

“Through the active agency of Mr. Joseph Jamieson, M.P., about 300,000 fry of the white fish species were deposited in the lakes here last Saturday.  The fry came in three large tin cans from Ottawa and in charge of an expert.  The Morning Star was chosen, and accompanying the expert were Deputy Reeve William Pattie, Thomas L. Nagle, Joseph Wilson, and William Bell.  The first can was emptied into a quiet cove near Squaw Point, the second off the Landing at Prettie’s Island, and the third in the channel reaching into the Big Lake.  In three years maturity will be reached and propagation set in ; and the fish grow and increase to between eight and twelve pounds.”

According to our fishing news note of early September of the same year, “Mr. Sid Anable and son Hiram went off in a skiff Friday morning last at 3 a.m., reached the mouth of the Innisville river at 6, and fished from 6 to 9 a.m., catching 37 black bass, five pike, and sixty rock bass.  On one side of the boat they caught minnows for bait.  On the other side the rods had not a moment’s rest.”  Several weeks earlier in a record catch, as reported in the Carleton Place Herald, “The Messrs. Anable last Friday caught ninety five black bass in the Innisville branch in less than two hours.  Among them were some very heavy black bass.”

Fish from large catches sampled by local newsmen were fairly sure of receiving public mention.  A corrected report of an August 1890 outing, previously misprinted in this column, said in part: “One morning last week a party composed of Rev. Father O’Rourke, Maurice Burke and the old standby Sid Anable in five hours landed sixty of the finest black bass we have ever had the opportunity of tasting.  The fish weighed on an average three pounds each.”

A similar news note of the following July stated:  “Mr. S. J. McLaren caught thrity-two fine black bass up near the Big Lake lasts Thursday.  The previous Friday he made a haul of forty-two.”

The Perth Courier a decade later reported in July, 1903:

“There has been some excellent fishing in the Mississippi waters at Carleton Place this season.  Many good catches of black bass and pike have been reported.  Among them, John Butts and James Umpherson frequently bring down from fifty to sixty fine fish in a morning’s catch.”

Duck Shooting in the Eighties

Down from the eighteen eighties came samples of similar news stories of the abundance of ducks on the Mississippi Lakes.

An October 1883 account said:

“A party of Ottawa gentlemen were out duck shooting on the Mississippi last week and succeeded in bagging no less than one hundred and forty of them.  Mr. Hugh Moore of Carleton Place, who was one of the party, shot a fine deer at Squaw Point near Wylie & Company’s shanty, for which the Ottawa men gave him eight dollars.”

According to a late August report of the following year, “Messrs. Glover had a very successful duck hunt last week.  One day they killed forty-six.  The C.P.R. restaurant took four dozen of the luscious fowl.”

Present Lake Problems

This last series of brief glimpses of activities on the Mississippi of over fifty years ago in recent numbers of The Canadian has been designed to recall a few more of the many ways in which these waters continued to serve from the first years of settlement as one of the leading natural assets of the Carleton Place area.  The decades of large scale lumbering and of industries based on local waterpower were followed by the rise of hydro-electric power and a decline in industrial uses of the lakes and river here.  Now the Mississippi from Carleton Place to Innisville serves in the role of a recreational area which is attracting growing numbers of some thousands of seasonal residents and visitors yearly.

The future quality of this latest phase of development of the lakes, and the trend of its value to Carleton Place and to the adjoining townships, can be expected to depend in part on whether land and water use in this recreational region receives the community guidance and assistance needed.  Such needs, as seen by some observers, include improvements in lot and building restrictions, and the promotion and application of policies to prevent unsanitary or offensive conditions, game law and traffic misconduct, and water pollution, among others.

Improvements and precautions of varying degrees of adequacy have been provided in some such respects in recent years under township, provincial and national government auspices, and at the instance of several lake community associations and by the Mississippi Lakes Association of Carleton Place.

Lakes A Town Asset

The Mississippi Lakes Association is a pioneering illustration of how our water recreational resources may be maintained and improved in the interests of the town.

In an earlier age, an incidental effect of the towing of great rafts of logs down the Mississippi Lakes to Carleton Place appears to have been the prevention of excessive waterweed growths over wide areas.  After the ending of nearly a century of rafting on these waters, rank growths of underwater weeds gradually spread, choking navigation and speeding the growth of mud shoals by slowing the normal flow.  In this way a large part of the lakes and river here was being progressively ruined for boating, swimming and the most popular types of fishing.

Now for nearly 20 years weed cutting machines have been operated by the Mississippi Lakes Association of Carleton Place.  Initiated by public-spirited citizens including the founding president, Mr. E. H. Ritchie, and bought and maintained by voluntary public support, these machines, together with other activities of the association, have been instrumental in keeping a large lake and river area in good usable condition.

The erection of additional scores of summer cottages of lengthening seasonal use and the occupation of an increasing number of year-round residences on the lake shores has followed this checking of the lakes’ deterioration.  Among the yearly products of this continued lake maintenance and development are additions to the volume of business of local merchandising and service trades, with the prospect of a continuing contribution of useful proportions to the population and general business and tax revenues of this area.

These gains can remain only if the lakes remain a desirable summer resort region.  The principal attraction inducing most of the lakeside summer visitors and residents of today to come here and to buy and continue to occupy property here is a readily accessible lake with water which has been kept fit for swimming and fishing and boating, activities of newly soaring national popularity.  A lake shrunken in usefulness and attraction by wide spreading weed beds, and with future boating by newcomers and others endangered by unmarked rocks, submerged piers and shoals, would not meet this modern test.  In that case many summer residents, both owners and tenants, soon would go elsewhere.  Such business benefits, instead of increasing, would decline accordingly.

It would be a greater loss to the town than appears to be generally recognized if insufficient assistance for this Lakes Association work were to lead to the eventual abandoning of our waterways near and in the town to their approaching weedy stagnation of fifteen or twenty years ago.

The Association’s prime mover and president since its founding, Mr. E. H. Ritchie, indicated a year ago his intention of asking to be replaced, after his many years of vigorous and successful direction of this Association’s activities.  The Mississippi Lakes Association at present is in urgent need of more Carleton Place members who are willing to give some of their time and ability in the spring and summer seasons to its particular community services, by helping in the management of the association’s work and annual membership fund collection campaigns on the lakeshore roads and in the town.

An enthusiastic response to this need and opportunity will ensure against a decline and ultimate loss of a large part of the water vacationland for which Carleton Place now serves as the headquarters.

Story of First Steam Boats On The Mississippi, by Howard M. Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 31 May 1962

One of the newer features of the Carleton Place area is the growth of its Vacationland of the Mississippi during the past few years.

It is a growth recorded in increases in numbers of summer homes bordering the Mississippi Lakes, and in the larger numbers of summer visitors seen each year on the township roads to lakeside sections and on the streets and in the stores of Carleton Place.

The multiplying numbers of boats on the lakes and the river tell the same story.  There now are probably larger numbers of motor-propelled craft afloat here in an average summer day than could be seen in the course of a year a generation ago.  Between this recent change in the face of the lakes and the countless years of the birch bark canoes of the Indians, there lies a time of little more than a hundred and twenty five years during which these local waterways have been used for transportation, for supplying food and water and water power, and for recreation.

The record of this intervening time since the beginning of agricultural settlement and commerce shows that the use of steam powered engines on these waters began with the development of the region’s lumbering industries.  It may be surprising to recall that the days of the steamboat lasted as long on our Mississippi as has the period of boats with gasoline engines.  Throughout the same times sailboats, canoes and rowing skiffs have been used in varying numbers and types.  Other water craft of such contrasting kinds as commercial barges and rowing shells for racing are now locally things of the past, as are the odd sailing catamarans at one time in limited vogue.

Steamboats of Romantic Names

Steamboats of romantic names and impressive size, most of them locally built, operated between Carleton Place and Innisville from the eighteen sixties to the nineteen twenties.  While serving mainly for industrial towing and incidentally for pleasure excursions, several of the larger ones were designed for paying their way by the carrying of passengers and goods.  That aim was attained only briefly, if at all, even in a time when summer roads remained bad and automobiles and trucks did not exist.

The first steamboat on the Canadian Mississippi was launched in the year of national confederation.  It was built here by John Craigie, who had opened a riverside shingle mill producing for the United States market with machinery of his own invention.  His boat, like the last steamer to be built and used here, was given the name of the river.  An announcement of August, 1867, said, “The little steamer Mississippi is now making regular trips between Carleton Place and Innisville, carrying freight and passengers.  Excursion parties desirous of seeing the lakes, or fishing, shooting ducks, gathering berries, etcetera, can have the use of the boat at reasonable charges.”

A larger steamboat was wanted for the ambitious plans of the Mississippi Navigation Company, incorporated two years later with an authorized capitalization of $100,000 to build locks at Innisville and Fergusons Falls and transport commodities expected to include sawn lumber and iron ore for rail shipment at Carleton Place.  Headed by James H. Dixon of Peterborough, the company’s local directors included Abraham Code, M.P.P., then of Innisville, John Craigie, Robert Bell and Robert Crampton.  The new steamer, the Enterprise, built here by John Craigie for the short lived navigation company, was launched in October, 1869.  James Poole, secretary treasurer of the company, said in May, 1870, in his Carleton Place Herald:

“The steamer Enterprise has now made several successful trips between Carleton Place and Ennisville.  We have not had time or opportunity, owing to the demolition of our old building and the erection of new premises, to avail ourselves of the pleasure.  We notice also several packages of freight leaving the steamer.  We believe that our spirited member, Mr. Code, is sending his manufactured cloth to Montreal by steamer via Carleton Place.  Soon also picnics and other social gatherings will be the order of the day.  When the locks at Ennisville and Fergusons Falls are built the property of our beautiful village will be a fixed fact.” 

The navigation scheme collapsed and in the spring of 1872 the Enterprise, in a neglected state of repair, was sold by auction.  The Enterprise operated on the lakes and river in the service of the lumber industry under the ownership of Peter McLaren and the Canada Lumber Company for about twenty-five years.  It was made available throughout those growing years of the town as an excursion steamer for many summer and social activities.

Other towing and excursion steamers were added on the lakes in the eighteen seventies and eighties.  Among them were the Witch Of The Wave, The Morning Star, the 43 foot Ripple, and the 30 foot Mayflower.  In the eighteen nineties there were added the Commodore, which was to see many years of service, the big 80 foot shallow draft paddle wheeler the Carleton, and the Lake Park hotel’s 40 foot Lillian B.  Smaller private steamboats included the Nellie, the Four Macs, the Lizzie, the Reta and the Carmelita.  After 1900, with several of the oldest steamboats no longer in use, the Nichols’ 26 foot tug, the Belle, was launched in 1903 and Mr. S. Cooke’s larger Mississippi in 1905.  The hulls and engines of both were built in Carleton Place by the John Gillies Estate Company, as were those of the lake’s largest steamboat, the Carleton.

Carleton Place Boat Builders

The leading Carleton Place builders of skiffs and other small boats of superior quality, starting in the eighteen seventies and continuing his individual craftsmanship for fifty years, was Adam Dunlop.  The John Gillies Boat Works, which began operating here in the eighteen eighties as a branch of the Gillies machine and engine manufacturing plant, produced boat engines and marine craft for national distribution for about twenty-five years.  The company’s master boat builder, J. S. Ferguson, before coming here already had taken exhibition prizes awarded at Quebec City and London, England, for boats of such variety as a thirty foot racing shell weighing only thirty four pounds and a Gaspe fishing boat.

For the Gillies firm Mr. J. S. Ferguson directed the making of vessels ranging from paddle wheeled steamboats to standard types of gasoline launches, and large and luxurious cabin boats finished in fine woods for shipment to such places as the St. Lawrence’s Thousand Islands, Montreal and western Canada.  At the time of the company’s plant fire of 1906 it had some twenty or more employees.  When this Gillies business was closed after the death of James Gillies, Frank Walton, former Gillies boat builder for many years, continued to build hulls for gasoline launches and other boats at Carleton Place.

MANY RAMSAY FAMILIES TOOK MISSISSIPPI ROUTE, By Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 04 May, 1961

A pioneer navigation of the Ottawa Valley’s Mississippi River was an expedition by a group of Scottish emigrants one hundred and forty years ago. In the traditions of some district families the Mississippi adventure of long ago seems to have been elevated to first place over the transatlantic sailing from Greenock as being the Mayflower voyage of the settlement of the township of Ramsay. That there were capable and daring river navigators among the settlers of Ramsay township in its first year is suggested by an October 1822 report of Colonel William Marshall, the North Lanark settlement superintendent, on a trip of exploration of the Mississippi River made then by him from the Clyde to the Ottawa. Listing the main falls and rapids encountered in Drummond, Beckwith and Ramsay townships and in the new surveys from there to the Ottawa River, he wrote, at a time when the building of the Rideau Canal was proposed and its route unsettled: “Notwithstanding these difficulties, a boat twenty-four feet long built by the settlers at Shepherds falls in Ramsay went from that place to Lachine in five days and returned in seven. The people in that quarter are in high spirits at the idea of the navigation passing that way to Montreal.”

Mississippi River Route

The first bold venture of Scottish settlers of Ramsay upon little-known local waterways was made in 1821 down the Clyde and Mississippi rivers from Lanark village to the falls at the site of Almonte. The boats, made of boards sawn at Lanark, proved fit to survive the rocks of the numerous rapids and the difficult portages of the excursion. The water borne explorers appear to have included Walter Black, James and Thomas Craig, John Downie, James Hart, Arthur Lang, John Lockhart, William Moir, John Neilson, William Paul, John Smith, John Steele, John Toshack and others. It seems that those undertaking boat building at Lanark probably also brought their families to Ramsay in the expedition by lake and river. As recalled by Arthur Lang’s eldest son, William Lang (1811-1902), their craft were “rough boats build by the men. A good many portages had to be made and it took some days to complete the trip. When coming down Mississippi Lake they stopped at an island, and while preparing a meal a big Indian hove into sight. Fear filled every heart. The late John Steele was equal to the occasion. He seized a huge loaf of bread and presented it to the Indian as an evidence of their friendly intentions. The peace offering was not accepted and the Indian passed by on his way to his camp on another part of the island, paying no attention to them. A night was spent on the north shore of the river above the falls at Carleton Place, beds being spread on the ground.” At the present location of the Almonte town hall shelters were made in wigwam style for use as a headquarters until all had completed the building of cabins on their lands.

Indians of the Mississippi

Five years earlier the native Indians had been in undisputed possession of the whole region of the unknown Mississippi. In the beginning of the surveys of the district, the first superintendent of locations in the Rideau Military Settlements had written in May, 1816, to the Lieutenant Governor’s secretary at York : “Having been informed by Indians and others that in the rear of the River Tay there was a much larger River which emptied into the Ottawa, I directed Mr. Groves about ten days since to follow the line between Townships No. 1 and 2 (Bathurst and Drummond) until he struck this river, which he did in front of the 11th concession. He reports it to be a fine river, and the land between this and it of an excellent quality.” The Indians of the Mississippi area are seen in a description of them by the Rev. William Bell, recorded within two months of his 1817 arrival at Perth : “In the afternoon two families of Indians in three canoes came down the river and pitched their tent upon the island in the middle of the village. They were the first I had seen since I came to the place. They had deer, muskrats and various kinds of fowls which they exposed for sale. The deer was small but they sold it at a dollar a quarter – the head with the horns at the same price. Their canoes were all of birch bark about eighteen feet long and three feet wide at the middle. They had in each canoe a capital fowling-piece and several spring traps for taking game and all the men were armed with the tomahawk. They had all black hair, brown complexions and active well-formed bodies. All of them even the children had silver ornaments in their ears.” (Five days later:) “While we were at breakfast the whole band of Indians with their baggage passed our house on their way to the Mississippi River ten miles distant. Each of the men carried a canoe on his head. The squaws were loaded with blankets, skins, kettles, tents etc., like as many asses.” Over the five year period before the pioneers of Ramsay had arrived settlers had located at points along the Mississippi from Morphys Falls and Mississippi Lake up to Dalhousie Lake. Sections still occupied by Indians included those at Mississippi Lake where as then noted by the Rev. William Bell, “some of the islands in the lake are still inhabited by Indians, whose hunting grounds are on the north side and who are far being pleased with the encroachments our settlers are making on their territories.”

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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Mississippi River Main Factor in Industrial Growth, by Howard M. Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 21 March, 1957

The water power of the Mississippi at this point is excellent, and ever since the first utilization of a small portion of it by Boulton’s grist mill, various manufactories have been added along the banks of the stream. After the inception of the Brockville railway in 1853, and its completion as far as Carleton Place and Almonte six years later, the advantages of these water privileges became still more manifest.

It was not long before the interests already established here was widened. Those engaged in agriculture in this neighbourhood were also stimulated to greater things and began to reap better results. Almonte for a few years possessed an appreciable advantage in being the terminus of the railway system of the Ottawa Valley. From the north and to each side a larger tract of county contributed to its trade. James Rosamond who came to Carleton Place as a chair-maker and began a wool carding and cloth dressing business here with a partner about 1830, built a four-storey woollen mill in Almonte, moving his machinery and business there from Carleton Place in 1857 ahead of the railway’s arrival.

When the Brockville and Ottawa Railway (later the Canada Central Ry.) with the line opened in 1870 between Carleton Place and Ottawa passed into the hands of the Canadian Pacific syndicate, the importance of Carleton Place as a railway point became apparent. The extensive repair shops of the railway, established here in 1882 and employing at different times from 100 to over 200 men, with accessions to the town’s trade by reason of the railway traffic and the many railway employees outside the shops, were a large element in the town’s progress. In the five years to 1887, not yet incorporated as a town, the population has doubled to an estimated 3,780.

Municipal Affairs, 1887

The incorporation of Carleton Place as a village took place in October, 1870, with a population of 1,226. We now have about a thousand more people than most towns in the Dominion had when they designated themselves as towns by acts of incorporation. Our civic affairs are entrusted to a reeve, deputy reeve and three councillors. These at present are Reeve William Pattie (building contractor) Deputy Reeve, William Kelly, (retired hotel keeper), and Councillors James Warren (blacksmith), Alex Steele, (tinsmith and stove merchant) and Abner Nichols (planing mill owner). The clerk of the Council is A. R. G. Peden.

The following gentlemen comprise the School Board : Robert Bell, chairman, Rev. Duncan McDonald (of St. Andrew’s Church), Abner Nichols, William Taylor, (hardware dealer), Peter Cram (retired tanner), S. S. Merrick, (grain dealer), A. R. G. Peden (grocer), J. Dougherty, Colin Sinclair, (merchant tailor), David Findlay (stove foundry owner), and D. Breckenridge (superintendent, Gillies woollen mill).

One constable is employed – bur rarely required. We have an efficient fire department, a first class Ronald fire engine, a good fire station and good equipment. An ample supply of water for fire purposes is kept in reservoirs in those parts of the town not contiguous to the river. There are twenty-five regular members of the fire brigade.

Mills and Foundries

As a manufacturing centre, every years’ seen big improvements. Amongst our manufacturers we might mention first the lumbermen. In 1842 John Gillies entered into lumbering on the Clyde River and later on the Mississippi and formed a partnership in 1853 with Peter McLaren. An extensive business was conducted on the Mississippi River, with mills at Carleton Place from 1866.

The business was sold in 1874 to Peter McLaren, later senator. After another twelve years of expanding operations Peter McLaren sold it to James McLaren of Buckingham, lumberman and president of the Bank of Ottawa, and W. C. Edwards, M.P. Principals of the then formed Canada Lumber Company for a reported $900,000. Mr. A. H. Edwards became the resident director and manager at Carleton Place.

Boyd Caldwell and Son’s large sawmill, manufacturing lumber, shingles, and lath, has been an important industry. The senior member of the firm is one of the pioneer lumbermen of this country. He has been engaged in lumbering operations since boyhood, after he came from Scotland with his parents about 1821 and settled in Lanark County. The firm has large and valuable limits, the timber from which on the Mississippi has been manufactured at Carleton Place for nearly twenty years. Boyd Caldwell & Son have saw mills elsewhere in Eastern Ontario but their largest are here. Both reside in Lanark village, but have done much to assist the progress of Carleton Place. The two saw mills here cut about thirty-five million feet each season.

Moffatt Company

Moffatt & Company embarked here some thirteen years ago in the manufacture of sash, doors, blinds, shingles, a general planing mill business, and as builders and contractors. The parners, David and Samuel Moffatt and James Cavers, are practical men and the firm has done a large business, enlarging its capacity several times. Abner Nichols, for many years uperintendent for Peter McLaren, has a model planing mill and turns out sash, blinds, doors and shingles. He has a large experience as a practical builder and contractor.

Brown & Son

Horace Brown & Son, the latter, Morton, lately admitted as a partner, have one of the finest roller process flouring mills in the province. Their stone process mill also is operated to its fullest capacity, and for many years it was regarded as one of the best grist mills in this district. With the junior partner, who is a practical miller in every branch and a young gentleman of first class business qualities, there will doubtless be still greater things done by the Carleton Place Mills.

After John Gillies had retired in 1874 from lumbering, he built and equipped one of the most complete machine shops and foundries in Eastern Ontario. It is operated by John Gillies & Company and employs a large staff in the manufacture and principally of mill machinery and engines of every description. The company has the sole right for Canada of the Acme Coal Oil Engine.

Findlay Company

Mr. D. Findlay & Sons manufactures all classes of stoves, hollow ware, etc. Their foundry is one of the industries that has grown up with the place and with the requirements of Eastern Ontario. Now with tripled energy they are pushing their excellent productions into distant territory, the demand having arisen from the good name their stoves have earned.

Mr. W. H. Wylie & Company’s Hawthorn woollen mill is a f sett enterprise, built about 1872 fro Abraham Code, and operated to its full capacity. A variety of tweeds, worsteds and a speciality of shawls are turned out. The demand distributes a large amount of earnings to the operatives.

John Gillies, Son & Company’s large 4 ½ storied woollen mill, four broad sett, sends out some of the finest tweeds, silken mixes and worsteds on the market. The mill was built in 1870 by the late Archibald McArthur and was bought in 1881 by the present owners, who have increased the output and improved the quality.

Brice McNeely’s tannery is one of the oldest in this part of the country. The proprietor manufactures leather of various kinds and is one of our substantial steady and increasingly prosperous men, with considerable real estate. John F. Cram, whose large wool-pulling establishment is well known in this section, manipulates a vast amount of sheep pelts in a year, his premises being one of the most extensive in Eastern Ontario. He also manufactures russet leather. Donald Munro, having severed connection with the other large wool-pulling establishment in which he was a partner and started in the same business on his own account, has by untiring perseverance and good equipment worked up a remunerative business.

William Willoughby, contractor who came to our town from Almonte a couple of years ago, at once proceeded to the manufacture of brick on a large scale here. Mr. Willoughby and his two sons George W. and Richard, associated with him, are practical men in masonry of every kind. Their contracts in stonework fulfilled during the past two years include the masonry for the new St. Andrews Church and for the iron bridge across the Mississippi here. William Taylor, whose business experience here extends over more than a quarter century, during the past season started a brickyard that is likely to be a most successful enterprise. Mr. Taylor, who does nothing by halves, will first make enough brick to build his own solid brick block on the valuable McArthur lots, Bridge St.

McDonald & Brown, woollen manufacturers, have a large trade in their special line of tweeds, etc. Their mill is run by water power, one of the best sites on the river. With a continuation of their prosperity for a short time they will likely increase their capacity. They do a large custom business.”