Last Service At Beckwith Old Kirk Held 35 Years Ago, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 23 March, 1961

This is the third and final part of a story which has recalled some of the events in the memorable background of the Old Kirk Ruins of Beckwith township.  The first Presbyterian Church of the eastern half of Lanark County was built near Carleton Place in 1832, replacing a primitive log structure in a vicinity where services had been held since about 1818 and continuously since 1822.  The church remained in use until about 1870.

On the township’s Seventh Line road, two miles south of Black’s Corners and a mile east, its foundations may be seen.  In a recent pictorial map issued by the National Capital Commission its location is shown as one of the district’s historic sites.  Church services here were carried on for two pioneer generations by the first colony of Scottish Highlanders to be established north of the Glengarry settlement in Ontario.

One of the last commemoration services to be held within the walls of the Beckwith Old Kirk was conducted thirty-five years ago by a native son who still “had the Gaelic,” the Rev. Dr. James Carmichael, returning at the age of eighty-eight for the occasion.

A service of commemoration had been observed at the Old Kirk in the previous year.  It had opened with a procession in which the beadle, William Young, followed by the precentor, D. R. Ferguson and the minister, the Rev. J. W. S. Lowry, in black gowns, accompanied by a large number of the ruling elders of the neighbouring congregations, had made their way out from one of the doorways of the hallowed ruins to a raised platform.  A concluding service of prayer within the Old Kirk walls was attended by those present who in their youth had had their church upbringing there.  Among them were Margaret Anderson, Alan Cameron and Mrs. Cameron, Mrs. Donald Carmichael, William Drummond and James C. Elliott, John H. Ferguson, Mrs. Robert Ferguson (The Derry), Mrs. T. Ferguson, Mr. and Mrs. John McArthur and Mary McArthur ; also Duncan McEwen, Mrs. Finlay McEwen (Jock), Mr. and Mrs. Hugh McEwen, John McFarlane (11th line) and Mrs. Peter McLaren.

 

Gaelic Commemoration of Highland Scots

Reports of the commemoration services of 1916, conducted in English and Gaelic at the honoured meeting place, said in part:

Sunday last was a red letter day in Beckwith township, when the Presbyterian Church people observed the anniversary of the first public services held there by their forefathers.  The renowned highway, the Seventh Line, was all a-going with automobiles, rigs and pedestrians for the Presbyterian rally at the Old Kirk.  They came from all over Beckwith, from Montague and Elmsley, from Almonte and Carleton Place and from Ottawa, to pay their reverential respect to the days of the fathers and to that scriptural and reformation faith in which they lived and died.

After a largely attended and impressive sacramental service in Knox church in the morning, at which Rev. Mr. Lowry presided and Rev. Dr. Carmichael of King preached, the people assembled in large numbers in the afternoon beside the ruins of the Old Kirk on the seventh line of Beckwith, where for a generation the worship was conducted according to the principles and usages of the Church of Scotland.  A pulpit and precentor’s desk were erected and comfortable seating accommodation provided.  Following the opening exercises of prayer and scripture reading, and the singing of the 100th, 90th, and 103rd Psalms led by Mr. D. R. Ferguson as precentor, Rev. James Carmichael, D. D., was introduced by the pastor, Rev. Mr. Lowry, as a son of Beckwith welcomed back to his native heath.  Dr. Carmichael preached the commemoration sermon, the theme of his discourse being “The Cloud of Witnesses,” and was a most pathetic exhortation to those present to walk in the ways of their fathers.

With the singing of “O God of Bethel,” the benediction and the singing of “God Save the King,” the people crowded inside the stately old walls of the church ruin and listened to devotional exercises and a short address in the Gaelic language by Dr. Carmichael.  At its conclusion the cheerful tones of “When the Roll is called up Yonder” rang through the old gray walls.

Many visitors from outside points spent the day “on the line” and some, following the old-time custom, “walked to meeting.”  They took part in a bilingual service on the Sabbath and all seemed to enjoy the variations, whether they understood the ancient Gaelic or not.  It is the mother tongue of many of them, and they still dearly love its soft toned accents.  Those who know the Gaelic sincerely sympathize with those who have only the Saxon tongue.  It is the language of paradise, “which the devil does not understand, and in which the angels praise God.”

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

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

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

Building Boom

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

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

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

Local Elections

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

Town Hall

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

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

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

 

 

Lumbering

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

Gambling

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

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

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

New Growth

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

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

Famous Struggle

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

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

Our Volume One

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

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

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

 

Local Taxes

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

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

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

High School

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

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

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

Great Fire

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

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

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

 

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