Rural Schools of Ramsay Township

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SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY

Clearing Bush First Task of Early Settlers

Carleton Place Canadian, 08 June, 1961

By Howard M. Brown

 

One of the many family sagas of emigration to Ramsay township was that of the McDonald family which, after investigating other locations, chose land in the tenth concession of Ramsay north of the falls of Almonte.  Long-lived members of this family included the father, John McDonald of the Isle of Mull, who came in 1821 with his wife, three sons and several daughters, and lived in Ramsay till he reached his hundredth year in 1857.  His son Neil at the age of 100 had the distinction of living in three centuries before his death in 1901 at his Ramsay homestead.

Emigration Adventures

 

Sailing from Oban in the Western Highlands in June 1821 on a ship bearing the later Canadian Pacific Steamships name The Duchess of Richmond, the McDonald family came up the St. Lawrence from Quebec to Montreal by steamship.  From Lachine they travelled by boat up the Ottawa to Point Fortune where they failed to find suitable land.  Going then by Durham boat to Prescott, their intention of reaching York was changed by a meeting with friends which led them to the five year old village of Perth and the new village of Lanark.  After examining and refusing to accept land still available in Lanark and Dalhousie townships, the McDonalds rented a farm site from Duncan McNaughton in Drummond township near Mississippi Lake.  In a winter’s work with primitive tools they cleared the trees from about twelve acres and, with hoes and sickles for the planting and harvest amongst the stumps, gained a first crop of corn and potatoes and a little wheat and oats.

Continuing down along the Mississippi in the next summer, two of the sons selected four hundred acres for the four male members of the family in the tenth and eleventh concessions of Ramsay several miles north of the Ramsay falls.  They cleared their first acre there, put in a crop of potatoes and built a shanty.  That winter Neil with his sister Flora remained at the cabin in Ramsay to cut down trees.  They had to carry hay for two miles on their backs for their cow.

Rugged Pioneer Days

 

At the Mississippi Lake farm in Drummond in the first fall, all of the family except the parents and one son had become ill with a fever.  About two years later two of the three sons, Donald and Lachlan, died of its effects.  Their bodies are reported to have been carried twenty-two miles from the farm in Drummond on the shoulders of friends for burial at the family farm in Ramsay.  The rest of the family moved there from Drummond in the following May, bringing three cows and two pigs.  Within another year a daughter had died in Ramsay and two daughters were married, Flora marrying Duncan McNaughton and remaining on the farm in Drummond.  John McDonald still had funds of almost £200 when he moved to Ramsay.  He bought a barrel of flour in June of 1824 at Boulton’s mill at Morphy’s Falls, which he and his remaining son Neil carried over a twelve mile return journey from Carleton Place to the farm.  Seeking to buy a yoke of oxen and some sheep, the son travelled with “Big Neil McKillop”, for fifteen days in December of 1822 going as far as Cornwall.  A flock of sheep was obtained in 1825 when the supply of clothing brought from Scotland was almost worn out.  Neil McDonald became a great hunter of the game which abounded in the district.

At the age of 34 Neil McDonald married Flora McLean of Ramsay.  Their children included Lachlan, who remained on the homestead and later lived in Almonte, and Mrs. James Cowan and Mrs. Alexander Bayne, both of Carleton Place, who reached the respective ages of 91 and 94.  Grandsons of the centenarian Neil McDonald included Neil McDonald, Carleton Place high school teacher from 1890 to 1913, the Rev. John A. McDonald and R. L. McDonald, Almonte public school principal.

A large section within the area of Ramsay township made rapid progress.  Only twenty years after the first Ramsay settler had cut the first tree on his land, and still in the days before there was a railway in the province, a visitor was able to report that the township was “well-settled, very prosperous, and can boast a goodly number of practical farmers, men of extensive reading and sound knowledge.  Its appearance plainly proves this by the number of schools and churches within its range which are erected and in progress of erection.  The great number of substantial stone houses erected and being put up speaks more favorably than words of its growing prosperity.”

Aided by its villages of Ramsayville, Bennie’s Corners, Snedden’s, Appletree Falls and Bellamy’s Mills and by Carleton Pace on its borders, with their stores, inns, tradesmen’s shops, sawmills and gristmills, Ramsay township had made an early start in sharing the growth of Canada.

 

Riverside Park Site of Carleton Place Graveyard

20-Foot Square Unmarked Grave in Riverside Park

The Carleton Place Canadian, 27 December, 1956

By Howard M. Brown

 

In Riverside Park there lies a little-known site which is of some interest in the town’s history.  It is found at the extreme end of the town’s park, near Lake Avenue and close to the Mississippi River.  This was a burial ground, where members of one of the first families of settlers of the town were laid in a now unmarked graveyard.

Discovery of this site some ten years ago was reported at a Parks Commission meeting, at which the suggestion was made that the area should be marked as a historical site by erection of a cairn.  Pending the receipt of further particulars no action was taken.  The Canadian subsequently found from the late Alex John Duff, Beckwith farmer, that he recalled this burial ground in his youth in the 1880s as being at that time a little cemetery about 15 or 20 feet square, a gravestone in which bore the name Catin Willis. 

With the Morphys and the Moores, the Willises long were among the widely known earliest owners of farm land coming within the present boundaries of the town.  It is well recorded that the whole central section of the present town was first located to the Morphy and the Moore families in 1819 as Crown grants of farm land; the part extending north of Lake Avenue to four of the Morphys, and three hundred acres at the south side of Lake Avenue to three of the Moores.  William Moore is said to have aided in the founding of the town by opening its first blacksmith shop in 1820, the first year of settlement as a community.  About the same time the first marriages here were those of Sarah, daughter of George Willis, to William Morphy, and Mary, daughter of Thomas Willis, to John Morphy.  Well known descendants of these families continue to live in the town and district.

On a farm which reached the western end of Riverside Park George Willis, born about 1778, settled and raised his family.  Other Willises coming from Ireland and settling near Morphy’s  Falls between 1819 and 1821 were Henry, William, Thomas and Catin Willis.  When the present Carleton Place Town Hall was built, the central building on its site, said to be the second dwelling built in the town, was the home of Mrs. William Morphy,  daughter of George Willis, where she had lived to 1888 and the age of 85, a widow for over fifty years.  The Bathurst Courier at Perth, reporting her husband’s death in August, 1837, said in part:

“Fatal Accident.  On Friday afternoon last, William Morphy of Carleton Place, whilst on his way home from this place on horseback, in company with several others, met with an accident from the effect of which he died on Sunday morning last, under the following circumstances.  Between this and Joseph Sharp’s tavern the deceased and another of the party were trying the speed of their horses when, on approaching Sharp’s house at a very rough part of the road, his horse fell and threw him off, by which he was placed under the animal.  Severe wounds causing a contusion of the brain led to his death…….The deceased was a native of Ireland, and has left a wife and family to deplore his sudden death.”

Grandchildren of William Morphy and his wife Sarah Willis included William, Duncan and Robert McDiarmid, prominent Carleton Place merchants, sons of James McDiarmid, Carleton Place merchant, and his wife Jane Morphy.

George Willis Jr. (1820-1892) succeeded his father on the farm at the end of Lake Avenue (Conc. 11, lot 12) and there brought up a family long known in Carleton Place, including Richard, drowned while duck hunting in November 1893, and George E. Willis, photographer, musician and bandmaster, who died in Vancouver in 1940 at age 96 while living with his son Stephen T. Willis of Ottawa business college fame; William and John H. of Carleton Place, and daughters including Jane, wife of James Morphy Jr. the son of “King James” of the pioneer Morphy family.

The George Willis place on the river side during one period was the annual scene of colourful sights and stirring sounds on the 12th of July.  It was a marshalling ground and headquarters for the great Orange parade, with the Willis boys of the third generation prominent among the performers in the bands.  The names of George Willis, Senior and Junior, appear with sixty others on the roll of the Carleton Place Loyal Village Guards which mustered in 1837 and 1838 at the time of the Upper Canada Rebellion and “Patriot War,” and again with that of Catin Willis in the St. James Church monster petition of November 1846 for maintaining tenure of the Church’s clergy reserve land in Ramsay against claims of Hugh Bolton and others.

Catin Willis, born in Ireland in 1795, settled as a young man in Ramsay on the present northern outskirts of Carleton Place (con. 8, lot 2w) when that township was opened for settlement in 1821.  He died there in 1869.  His name appears as contributor to the Carleton Place fund for providing and operating a curfew bell in 1836.  The Church Wardens of St. James Church here in 1845 were Catin Willis and James Rosamond, founder of the Rosamond textile manufacturing firm.

William, another of the first Willises here, took up land in the 4th concession of Beckwith (lot 18W) in 1820, securing his location in the usual way through the district settlement office and performing the settlement duties required for obtaining a patent to his land, which lay east of Franktown.  Franktown, then usually referred to as The King’s Store at Beckwith, and later named possibly for its sponsor, Colonel Francis Cockburn, had already been approved for surveying into town lots, and had the taverns of Patrick Nowlan and Thomas Wickham for the accommodation of travellers, in addition to the government supply depot for the Beckwith settlers.

George Ramsay, Ninth Earl of Dalhousie and Governor General of British North America, made the Nowlan Inn his stopping place, accompanied by Colonel Cockburn, during a one day visit in 1820 in the course of a tour of inspection of the Perth, Beckwith and Richmond settlements.

Henry Willis landed from Ireland in the early summer of 1819 with his young family on the sailing ship Eolus, whose passengers included the families of Beckwith settlers Thomas Pierce, James Wall and William Jones.  He first settled on the 2nd concession of Beckwith (lot 13W) near Franktown, and later moved to Carleton Place where he is found as a contributor to the 1836 curfew bell fund and on the roll of the Loyal Village Guards of 1838.

Henry was an unsuccessful 1838 petitioner with Captain Duncan Fisher for preferential purchase from the Crown of a farm lot extending near Indians Landing (con. 11, lot 11), adjoining the farms of George Willis and Captain Fisher.  Those providing certificates of facts in support of this petition were Catin Willis, John Moore, William Willis, Greenwall Dixon, and Edward J. Boswell, Anglican “Missionary at Carleton Place.”

Thomas Willis is shown by Beldon’s Lanark County Atlas of 1880 to have been an inhabitant of the new village of Morphy’s Falls in its first year, and to have given his daughter in marriage then to John Morphy.  John (b.1794, d.1860), another of the family of six sons and two daughters of Edmond Morphy, built his home for his bride at the east end of Mill Street on the present Bates & Innes lands.  It stood there for over fifty years after his death, and last served as the watchman’s house of the Bates & Innes mill.  The large family of John Morphy and his wife Mary Willis, raised in that pioneer home, included Abraham Morphy of Ramsay, near Carleton Place; and Elizabeth, Mrs. Richard Dulmage of Ramsay, who was born in 1821 as the first child born to the first settlers in Morphy’s Falls.

It is possible that further consideration will be given to providing the added note of interest and distinction to the town, and to its popular Riverside Park, which would be furnished by a cairn and tablet at the Park denoting some of the ancient origins of the town.

Ramsay Objected To Justice Meted in 1830’s, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 19 April, 1962

Resident magistrates and other municipal reforms were among the governmental needs seen by progressive residents of Ramsay township in the ninth year of the settlement of the township.  These views of a Ramsay township gathering were sent to the Perth editor for publication.

Resolutions of a Public Meeting held in the Township of Ramsay on Monday the 4th January, 1830.

Resolved, 1st– That this meeting, viewing with alarm the manner in which they have been treated by his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for this District as far as concerns their Town Meetings, will petition His Excellency Sir John Colborne concerning the same.

2nd – That his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace are obliged by Law to grant a warrant for calling and holding our Town Meetings, and also a Constable to preside at the same.

3rd – That without said Warrant, a lawful intimation and a presiding Constable, our meetings are illegal, and of course our whole procedure at said meetings.

4th – That our present situation is not only unpleasant but disadvantageous, having neither overseers of roads, assessors, nor any office bearer whatever in the township.

5th – That some of our office bearers have been put to blush by those in authority, when applying to be installed in office, by being told they were not legally elected, as this town meeting was illegal.

6th – That the want of resident Magistrates in this township has and still does put us to great disadvantages in many respects, and the more particularly as concerns our office bearers, causing them to travel from home to Perth (no Magistrate being nearer) for the express purpose of being sworn into office, under the penalty inflicted by law, a distance of from twenty to thirty-five miles.

7th – That petitions formed on the basis of these Resolutions be drawn up and transmitted to the Hon. W. Morris Esq., M.P., to be by him presented to His Excellency Sir John Colborne on our behalf.

John Hutchinson, President ; William Wallace, Vice-president ; Committee : John Buchannan, James Bryson, Robert Carswell, Daniel Shipman, John Gemmill, Michael Corkery.

Needs of North Lanark

Public meetings of residents of North Lanark townships were held in January and March to consider the government’s claims for repayments of cash advances made in 1820 and 1821 to many of the settlers, and the civic disabilities of these settlers.  Commenting on the first meeting of the year the Examiner editor wrote :

We understand that a meeting of the delegates from the four Townships, Ramsay, Lanark, Dalhousie and North Sherbrooke, will be held this day, the 22nd January, in the village of Lanark, for the purpose of taking into consideration the condition of the Society settlers, and the profriety of petitioning the House of Assembly to grant them all the civil privileges which our constitution bestows.  Two persons deputed from each of these townships will attend.

We have received a communication from an esteemed friend pointing out some of the difficulties under which those labor who have not yet received their Deeds.

A further six years of struggle for responsible government were to pass before these numerous Scottish Emigrant Society settlers of 1820 and 1821 and the Irish assisted emigrants of 1823 were to receive their deeds and their voting rights.

Postscript of Military Administration

The last vestige of settlement assistance to North Lanark under military auspices and the approaching return to Scotland of the former settlement superintendent Colonel William Marshall were marked by a public dinner at Judson’s Hotel given in May, 1830, by “the Gentlemen of Perth and its environs, in order to express their high sense of Col. Marshall’s honorable character and many amiable qualities, and the regret they felt at his removal from this Colony.”  In April the government’s sale of “The Government store house at Lanark with nearly two acres of ground attached, together with the outbuildings erected by Colonel Marshall” had been made by auction.  It was followed by the purchaser’s advertisement in the Examiner: 

To Let.  The House and Premises in Lanark formerly occupied as a Government Store and lately fitted up as a retail store.  From its central location and bordering on the river Clyde, it possesses advantages either as a private dwelling or for a person in business.  Terms moderate, apply to W. Fraser, Esquire, Lanark, or at Perth at the subscriber. – April 27th, 1830.  W. Fraser.

Perth Pictured in 1829

A parting editorial picture of Perth in the winter of 1829-30 is given in terms of praise and future promise in the Bathurst Independent Examiner.

Our merchants and operatives are all busily employed and seem to be flourishing.  A complexity of rival interests has brought the price of all store goods to their proper level, so that the settlers do not, as many did formerly, travel a great distance to a neighbouring district to sell the surplus produce of their farms and to purchase articles for the use of their families.  The stores are abundantly supplied with goods of the best quality, which several of our merchants import directly from the home market.  The few stores in this town must, at the present time, contain nearly 20,000 pounds worth of goods.

A number of excellent houses have been built in the course of last summer ; some are making rapid progress to completion.  The public buildings are neat and commodious.  The houses of public worship for the different denominations (with the exception of the Methodist chapel, which is partly raised) are decent and comfortable, not to say elegant, considering the age of the place.

Although a large number of Half-Pay-Officers and Pensioners are settled in the town and its environs, whose habits are supposed to be of the most convivial kind, it has not been found necessary to establish….a temperance society.  The industrious and respectable population live in the fullest enjoyment of harmony and sociality, notwithstanding that a few Lawyers have crept in among us.

Explain How Lanark County Townships Named (2), by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 16 Nov 1961

A series of brief sketches of the origins of the names of the townships of Lanark County is concluded in this second installment.  The names of the fourteen townships of this county perpetuate memories of days of hardship and heroism a century and a half ago.  They also honour notable persons who served then in peace and war in British North American Public Affairs.

Beginnings of North Lanark

Settlement in the north half of Lanark County was begun in 1820 by a large group emigration from southern Scotland and was continued by a similar and larger movement in 1821.  For the reception of these families and others the townships of Dalhousie, Lanark and Ramsay were surveyed and named in 1820 and North Sherbrooke  township also was made available.

Lanark on the Clyde

Lanark township, in which the village of Lanark was founded in 1820 as the chief centre and administrative base of the North Lanark settlements, thus gained its name before the County of Lanark was formed.  Most of the first North Lanark farm settlers came from the towns and countryside of Lanark County in the south of Scotland, including Glasgow, largest city of Scotland, and Lanark the county town of Lanarkshire.  The smaller communities which later were formed in the new township include Middleville, Hopetown and Brightside.

Sir George Ramsay The Earl of Dalhousie

The township of Ramsay, containing the town of Almonte and the villages of Appleton, Clayton and Blakeney, and the township of Dalhousie, location of communities including Watson’s Corners, McDonald’s Corners and Poland, both received names of the Governor in Chief of Canada of their time of settlement.  Sir George Ramsay (1770-1838), who became Baron Dalhousie and ninth Earl of the ancient Scottish earldom of Dalhousie, had been one of Wellington’s generals in the Napoleonic Wars.

He was Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia from 1816 to 1819, Governor in Chief of Canada from 1820 to 1828 and Commander in Chief of India from 1829 to 1832.  He died at Dalhousie Castle near Edinburgh.

He visited the chief new settlements of Lanark County in 1820, and later became a patron for the opening of the Dalhousie Library in which some of his books still are preserved at Watson’s Corners.  During his term of office at Halifax he founded Dalhousie College.  At Quebec he established the Quebec Literary and Historical Society.  His son the Marquis and Tenth Earl of Dalhousie (1812-1860), a more distinguished administrator, was the last of several great governors general of India under the East India Company. 

Governor Sir John Coape Sherbrooke

South and North Sherbrooke townships, surveyed in about the year 1819, were named for General Sir John Coape Sherbrooke (1764-1830), whose name was given also to the city and county of Sherbrooke, Quebec.  After service for thirty-five years in the period of wars with France he was Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia from 1811 to 1816.  In the War of 1812-14 he conducted the defence of that province with marked success.  He served as an able Governor in Chief of Canada for two years from 1816 to 1818, when he retired with failing health.  In North Sherbrooke the community of Elphin and the Mississipipi’s High Falls power generating site are located.  South Sherbrooke township, crossed by Canadian Pacific Railway lines and Provincial Highway No. 7, contains the village of Maberly and such summer resort localities as Silver Lake Park and Lake Davern.

The Northern Townships

The county’s northern townships of Pakenham, Darling and Lavant, the last in Lanark County to be surveyed for settlers, were named in or shortly before 1822 when their surveys, continued in the following year, were authorized.  The initial granting of farm land locations in these three townships was superintended by Bathurst District Land Board, of which Colonel James H. Powell of Perth was chairman, and was begun in 1823.

Lavant in Sussex and The Duke

Lavant township, situated in a terrain of hills and lakes in the northwest corner of the county and containing localities including Lavant , Clyde Forks and Flower Station, is one of a number of places in Canada named in honour of the Duke of Richmond.  He was Governor in Chief of Canada in 1818 and 1819.  The township received its name from the Lavant River and the village of Lavant, both near Goodwood House, the country seat in Sussex of the dukes of Richmond.

Charles Lennox, Fourth Duke of Richmond (1764-1819), had been a major general and a member of parliament.  After succeeding to the dukedom he served for six years as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.  A ball given by him and his wife in Brussles almost on the eve of Waterloo gained lasting fame from being recalled in a poem by Lord Byron.  His dueling, noted in Senator Andrew Haydon’s  “Pioneer Sketches in the District of Bathurst”, was marked by an affair of honour with a member of the royal family, the Duke of York.

The death of the Duke of Richmond, of hydrophobia some eight weeks after he had been bitten by a pet fox, occurred near Richmond on the Jock River, then known as the Goodwood River.  The duke and governor was on his return from an official visit to the Perth area, during which he had walked several miles in the course of an inspection of rural settlement on the Scotch Lint in Bathurst and Burgess and in Drummond and Elmsley townships.

Major General Darling

Darling township, in the hills to the east of Pakenham and north of Lanark township and containing localities including Tatlock, White and Marble Bluff, was named in 1822 for a military officer, Major General H. C. Darling.  He then was a colonel serving in a senior post at Quebec City as the military secretary to Canada’s governor general and commander in chief of the forces, the Earl of Dalhousie.

Sir Edward Pakenham and British valour

The township of Pakenham, centered on the village of Pakenham and including an area between White Lake and the Mississippi and Madawaska Rivers, was named for Major General Sir Edward Michael Pakenham (1778-1815), the British army commander of the Battle of New Orleans.  This heroic tragedy proved to be one of the greatest and most useless human slaughters ever to occur on United States soil.

Before news could arrive from Ghent of the signing two weeks earlier of the treaty ending the War of 1812-14, a British force including several thousands of veteran soldiers recently arrived from Europe under Sir Edward Pakenham attacked the prepared defence works of New Orleans held under Andrew Jackson, the later United States president.

Instead of the six hundred men who were sent to their deaths at the storied charge of Balaclava, six thousand men, reaching the swamps of the mouth of the Mississippi without mobile artillery and without even scaling ladders, were sent forward to the town.  When the brief and hopeless attempt was abandoned one out of every three soldiers of this large British force had fallen in the deadly fire which poured from behind the defenders’ barricades.  In this postscript to the war which assured Canada’s survival the brave commander had lost his life, as perhaps he would have wished, while riding on the front line to spur on the attack.

In the strange ways of false nationalistic propaganda the classic bravery of this British force was replaced by a picture of a craven retreat promoted in a “Hit Parade” song which was spread through this country from the United States a year or two ago and called “The Battle of New Orleans”.  This is the page of military valour in our country’s history, though hardly of tactical brilliance, which is commemorated in the name of the township and village of Pakenham.

Some of the stories wrapped in the names and histories of the quiet rural and village areas which form the townships of Lanark County may become better recognized in the county in the course of time.  Perhaps this will come when sufficient consideration is given merely to their more obvious uses for tourist trade promotion.  Their colourful legacy of names will remain in any event to offer to some members of present and future generations the inspiration of glimpses of great men, great deeds and great years in the times of the founding of our now vast and still struggling nation.

 

Great Falls At Almonte Started Woollen Industry

A group of sketches of origins of the communities of Ramsay township concluded here with notes of scenes and events in the early years of the town of Almonte.

First named Shepperd’s Falls and Shipman’s Mills, the town of Almonte, until its industrial growth which started in the eighteen fifties, was a small village which gained the name of Ramsayville.  Then, with the opening of its first woollen mills and railway transportation, it grew in a period of about thrity years to take a place among the leading centres of the pioneering days of Canadian manufacture of woollen textiles.

Shipman’s Mills on The Great Falls

Rights to lands now forming the greater part of Almonte were granted in 1821 and 1822 to John Gemmill, James Shaw, then of Lanark village, and David Shepherd.  John Gemmill’s land ran from Highway 29 to include the exhibition grounds in the southern part of the present town.  The grant to the absentee owner, James Shaw, was a corresponding downstream section of the ninth concession, extending on both sides of the river as far south as the foot of the bay in Almonte.  It was not until late in 1822 that under the special requirement of building a grist and saw mill at the falls, the central part of the future town was located to David Shepherd, together with another separate hundred acres at the town’s northern or downstream side.  James Wylie, who had emigrated from Paisley in 1820 to begin business as a merchant at Perth, removed to Ramsay where in 1825 he leased and settled on the next northerly two hundred acres (conc. 9, lot 17), a Clergy reserve, which he later bought.

John Gemmill, a Scottish society settler of 1821 from Ayrshire and forbear of Lieut. Colonel James D. Gemmill and of John Alexander Gemmill, Ottawa barrister, was one of Almonte’s first merchants.  James Wylie (1789-1854) was a merchant, Rideau Canal contractor, postmaster, farmer, county agricultural society president and builder of the Almonte residence Burnside.  He was appointed in 1849 to the Legislative Council of Canada in the period of the Baldwin-LaFontaine reform ministry, when riots by opponents of its Rebellion Loses Act led to the burning of the Parliament Buildings of Canada at Montreal.  Daniel Shipman, prominent in the founding days of Almonte and of American Loyalist origin, came in 1823 from the Brockville district and acquired the central properties of David Shepherd.  He completed the building of the future town’s first mills when Shepherd had failed in his undertaking and had fled to escape the imprisonment which awaited defaulting debtors. 

A traveler of 1841 made this brief report of his impressions of the settlement at the falls:

“James Wylie, Esquire, a majistrate and storekeeper, has erected a fine house, his son (William G. Wylie) another.  About half a mile from this, Mr. Shipman’s spacious stone dwelling, his mills and the surrounding buildings, present a bustling scene.  There is one licenced tavern here, and a school.”

Mr. Shipman’s last residence, built in 1837, became the Almonte House hotel.  It was from this house that Daniel Shipman, a sturdy and outspoken reformer in the days of the Upper Canada Family Compact, had escaped from a night search by ten armed men of the Carleton Militia led by over-zealous Captain George Lyon, Richmond mill owner and distiller.  During the alarms following the 1838 Prescott invasion they had ridden from Richmond, at the top speed permitted by bad and devious roads, on hearing false rumors that Shipman was sowing sedition and secreting two men supposed to have escaped in the Prescott battle from the stone windmill fortress of the defeated invaders and rebels.

Pioneer Almonte Industries

The first carding and fulling mill of the community was placed in operation by Mr. Shipman’s father in law, Mr. Boyce; the first planning mill and wagon making shop by John M. Haskin, and the first tanneries by Thomas Mansell and Smith Coleman.  A three storey flour mill built on the east side of the upper falls in the eighteen forties by Edward Mitcheson was bought some few years later by J. B. Wylie, and James H. Wylie.  The Hon. James Wylie’s eldest son, William G. Wylie, a magistrate and township treasurer, had died at Havana in 1851 on his way to the California gold fields.

Industrial growth at Almonte began in larger proportions in the eighteen fifties with the building of the Brockville & Ottawa Railway Company’s line.  Before the railway from Brockville reached the Ottawa River in 1864 at Sand Point, it ran for five years to a temporary northern terminus at Almonte.  The town’s woollen manufacturing had its start with the opening in 1851 of a mill with one set of machinery by the Ramsay Woollen Cloth Manufacturing Company, a company formed under the new Joint Stock Companies Act with capital raised in Ramsay and Beckwith among some forty shareholders.  The village of Ramsayville at this time had a population of little more than two hundred persons.  The next summer a fire destroyed the new woollen mill, gutted Daniel Shipman’s nearby unfinished and uninsured new gristmill and destroyed his old mill.  The loss in this Mill Street fire, one of a number of similar fire losses of following years, was about 2,000 pounds  to the company and 2,000 pounds to Mr. Shipman.  Daniel Shipman at once rebuilt his mill within its standing stone walls.  The building, later owned by John Baird, finally was torn down in 1902.

Start of Woollen Enterprises

James Rosamond of Carleton Place, a shareholder of the short lived Ramsay corporation, then moved his woollen mill operations, the first in Eastern Ontario, from Carleton Place to Almonte as the founding of Almonte’s leading manufacturing enterprise.  He bought the site of the Ramsay Company’s mill and built a four storey stone building, later known as No. 2 Mill, which he opened in 1857.  Before its erection Samuel Reid and John McIntosh opened a small woollen factory in 1854 on the former site of the Boyce fulling mill.  James Rosamond, who lived until 1894, gave the management of his growing business in 1862 to his sons Bennett and William, who doubled its plant capacity and in 1866 admitted George Stephen, Montreal woollen manufacturer, as a partner.  He became Baron Mount Stephen, president of the Bank of Montreal and first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

The new Rosamond firm of 1866 began operations by buying the Island property of some sixteen acres and building its No. 1 Mill, then one of the finest in Canada.  Bennett Rosamond (1833-1910) was elected president of the Canadian Manufacturers  Association in 1890 and was Conservative Member of Parliament for North Lanark from 1892-1904.  He was president of the Almonte Knitting Company and in 1909 donated the Rosamond Memorial Hospital to the town.  He continued as head of the Rosamond Woollen Company until his death, when he was succeeded by Lieutenant Alex Rosamond (1873-1916).

A number of other woollen mills opened soon after the original Rosamond mill in Almonte.  Among the first were those of John McIntosh (1832-1904), a large frame building on the upper falls, and of John Baird (1820-1894) and Gilbert Cannon, all on Mill Street.  Sawmills, machine shops and iron foundries followed, including among the latter the foundry operated for a few years by John Flett (1836-1900).  A local real estate boom and flurry of inflated land speculation developed, only to collapse in a severe depression of the mid-seventies.  A fire loss of over $20,000 in 1877 destroyed the Cannon mill and the machinery of its lessee William H. Wylie, who moved to Carleton Place where he leased the McArthur (now Bates) woollen mill and later bought the Hawthorne woollen mill.  William Thoburn (1847-1928) began to manufacture flannels at Almonte in 1880 and became the head of the Almonte Knitting Company and Member of Parliament from 1908 to 1917.  Five textile mills in Almonte in 1904 were those of the Rosamond Woollen Company, William Thoburn, James H. Wylie Co. Limited, Almonte Knitting Company, and the Anchor Knitting Co. Limited.

Woollen Mill Party

In view of the claim that a people and its times often are best reflected in its songs, a Christmas Eve supper party given by the Rosamonds to their employees of 1863 may be worth recalling.  Its chairman was Thomas Watchorn, formerly of Carleton Place and later of Lanark and Merrickville.  A song by a member of the party was given between each toast after the supper, ending with the glee club’s Christmas carols at midnight.  The offerings of Mr. Hepworth, the principal performer, included The Cottage by the Sea, Dearest Mary, Little Tailor, The Factory Bell, A Merry Ploughboy, A Kish of Black Turf, Young Ramble Away, Stunnin’ Pair o’Legs, and The Sailor’s Grave.  Mr. Lowe offered Hard Times Come Again No More ; Mr. Douglas gave I’ll Marry Both Girls Bye and Bye, and J. Dornegan The Wedding of Ballyporeen.  The Irish wit George Bond contributed I’ll Never Get Drunk Again.  (George Bond, born in Carleton Place in 1837, was still singing in a celebration of his hundredth birthday by relatives and friends at his home in the Clyde Hotel in Lanark in 1937, when he “concluded the happy event by singing, in a fine clear tenor voice, When Billie Brown and I Slid Down Old Cram’s Cellar Door.”)  For the Christmas party of the men of the Almonte woollen mill, in the time of local recruiting and Canadian defense preparations which accompanied the progress of the United States Civil War, a fitting conclusion with the national anthem was guest Dr. William Mostyn’s The Banner of Old England.

Naming The Town

Almonte ended its changes of community names in 1856.  On the east side of the falls a section promoted by grist mill owner Edward Mitcheson had been given the name Victoria.  A bylaw of Lanark and Renfrew’s old district council “to define the limits of the Village of Ramsayville and Victoria, in the Township of Ramsay, and to extend the Act 12 Victoria Chapter 81 for the Regulation and Police of Unincorporated Villages and Hamlets to the Above Named Villages” was enacted in 1853 and renamed these combined limits as the village of Waterford.  The name most probably was taken from the town and county of Waterford in southern Ireland’s province of Munster.  There already was a village of Waterford in the Canadian province, and at the request of postal authorities  the name of the Ramsay centre was changed again.  The village population then was about five hundred.

The choice of a name of Spanish origin had a precedent in those which had been given to some of the townships of southwestern Ontario by Upper Canada’s Lieutenant Governor of the eighteen twenties, Sir Peregrine Maitland.  The Mexican general Juan N. Almonte had become his country’s ambassador at Washington and had gained his first fame in Mexico’s struggles to defend its territories from the encroachments of the United States.  An early source of his name, adopted by our town of almonte, may be found in Almonte, a village in the province of Andalusia in the southwestern corner of Spain.  It is near the Gulf of Cadiz and half way between the city of Seville and the town of Ayamonte.  Seven hundred years ago this part of Spain was raided often by the Moors, from whom it had been taken.  Near Almonte two centuries later a shepherd is said to have found a statue of the Virgin, hidden at the time of a Moorish raid.  The site of the find continues to be the place of a Pentecostal festival of the region.  Miracles ascribed to this statue of the Virgin, known as Our Lady of the Dew, include the escape of the inhabitants of Almonte in 1650 from a plague.

Almonte of Former Days

Lanark County’s Almonte was incorporated as a village of 2,000 persons in 1870 and as a town of 2,700 population in 1881.  It had somewhat more than 3,000 residents at each of the two next decennial censuses.  For record of its earliest township officers before its incorporation, references have been found as near the beginning of settlement as 1830.  Its first commercial bank, a branch of the Merchants Bank of Canada, later joined with the Bank of Montreal, was opened in 1869.  It gained a newspaper, the long-flourishing Almonte Gazette, in 1867, founded by William Templeman (1844-1914) who learned his printing trade with the Carleton Place Herald, went to British Columbia to found the Victoria Times, and became a member of the Senate, Sir Wilfred Laurier’s minister of inland revenue and the first Canadian minister of mines.

Almonte’s first Protestant churches, together with the municipal hall of the township, were located in the vicinity of the present Auld Kirk cemetery, more than a mile distant from the village community.  They were the St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland, completed about 1835 and still maintained in its original structural condition, the Canadian or Free Presbyterian church, built ten years later, and the Methodist church.  An Anglican church in almonte followed, and the parish of Almonte was separated in about 1860 from that of Carleton Place.  A Roman Catholic church built at Almonte in about 1840 was burned down more than twenty-five years later and was replaced by the present stone church building completed in 1876.  The Baptists built a small Almonte church and the township’s Reformed or Cameronian Presbyterians moved their place of services in about 1867 to the former Canadian Presbyterian church on the Eighth Line, later building their present church facing the Mississippi’s Almonte bay.

A number of the men whose names have lent luster to that of the town of Almonte, notably including pupils of Dr. Peter C. McGregor (1842-1916), Almonte high school teacher of distinction, are found to have had their youthful years coinciding with those of the present Almonte newspaper.  Among them were Dr. James A. Naismith (1861-1939) best remembered as inventor of the game of basketball ; Senator Andrew Haydon (1867-1932), politician, lawyer and author of the Lanark County history “Pioneer Sketches in the District of Bathurst” ; Dr. Robert Tait McKenzie (1867-1938), surgeon and sculptor, commemorated by an Ontario historical plaque at the Mill of Kintail near Almonte as well as by his sculptures (one is “The Volunteer,” located beside the Mississippi on the grounds of the Almonte town hall) ; Sir Edward Robert Peacock, born 1871, living 1961, financier, director of companies including the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, former head of the Banking firm of Baring Brothers and director of the Bank of England ; Dr. William Bennett Munro (1875-1957), American educator, historian and political scientist ; and Dr. James Mackintosh Bell (1877-1934), geologist, explorer, soldier and author, one of the noted descendants of the county’s pioneering Rev. William Bell.

Perhaps on a June night an imaginative viewer of the flood-lit beauty of the Almonte falls still might detect glimpses of the shades of Daniel Shipman, miller and loyal reformer, and the stern and affluent magistrate James Wylie – or of Scottish emigrants walking to John Gemmill’s barn for communion service – or of a band of Ballygiblins freed from the agonies of Ireland and gathered to the falls for mass.  The reflections of centuries of campfires and silent Indian portages past the falls probably would be lost.  The shadows below the falls might seem to hold a few of the host of bygone workers and employers of mills and shops ; or a crew of Scottish, Irish and French rivermen bound for Quebec City, pausing after the risks of breaking a great log jam.  And in the roar or rumble of the floodlit falls he might even hear the roll of wheels of farm wagons, mill carts and horse drawn carriages of a former generation crossing its stone arched bridge – or the rattle of a railway train with a high-stacked wood-burning engine as it drew to the northern end of its run from Brockville – or the shouts of crowds at lacrosse games and cricket matches, at the outdoor open polling of electors or in holiday parades and almost certainly a steady echo of the blows of The Builders, shaping the future of a new land.

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Early Stories of Hamlets in Township of Ramsay, By Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 29 June, 1961

When the northward push of the first settlements of Lanark County reached the township of Ramsay, the town of Almonte and the village of Clayton soon were founded as little frontier communities based on water power sites of the Mississippi and Indian Rivers.  The grist mill and sawmill of Daniel Shipman of Leeds County, built at Ramsay’s Great Falls of the Mississippi in 1823, was the nucleus of a village which grew to become the town of Almonte.  A story of some of Almonte’s nineteenth century citizens and industries will appear in a following number of the Canadian.

Clayton had its origin little more than a year later than Almonte when Edward Bellamy, who recently had come to Grenville County from Vermont, obtained the water privilege of the falls on the Indian River there and opened a sawmill and grist mill to serve a section of the new townships.  Among the other communities of Ramsay township, Blakeney, once the location of several  manufacturing concerns, came next in time of origin as Snedden’s Mills.  Not far from Snedden’s the small hamlet of Bennie’s Corners appeared on the scene of the eighteen thirties, adjoined on the Indian River by Toshack’s carding mill and Baird’s grist mill.  The Baird mill, now known as the Mill of Kintail, has been preserved by a private owner for public historical uses and as a residence.

At the township’s Apple Tree Falls, where young  Joseph Teskey drew land in 1824, the Teskey brothers later built their saw and grist mills, followed by a succession of woollen mill businesses which began about a century ago at Appleton.

On the Indian River in the north of Ramsay township, in a section where some of the last Indians of the township lived, sawmills have continued to run on a small scale since the eighteen twenties at the community of Clayton.  Edward Bellamy, who in 1824 bought the mill site of its falls, had come from Vergennes in Vermont with his three brothers in 1819 to the Brockville district.  They established the mills and village of North Augusta on the south branch of the Rideau River in Grenville County and mills at other points in Leeds County.

Bellamy’s Mills On The Indian River

At his Ramsay saw and grist mill Edward Bellamy added a distillery and a carding mill.  Around his mills a village grew to have a population of 250 persons.  It continued to be called Bellamy’s Mills until in the eighteen fifties its name was changed to Clifton and again changed in 1858 for postal reasons to Clayton.  It was on what was then the main road from Perth to Pembroke, and soon supported a tannery, a cooperage works, a medical doctor, James Coulter’s hotel, and shops of blacksmiths, wagon makers, shoemakers and general merchants.  When the political riding of North Lanark was separately established in 1854, its nomination meetings which led regularly to the reform party’s reelection of Robert Bell of Carleton Place were held at Clayton.

The village’s semi-annual market or fair days were held in mid-April and mid-November.  In an era when not uncommonly feuds and disputes were arbitrated by physical encounter, J. R. Gemmill, founder of the Sarnia Observer and a son of Lanark’s first minister, gave this report in his Lanark Observer on an exercise of political passions on Clayton’s 1851 spring fair day:

“Riot At Bellamy’s Mills.  We regret to learn that another of those disgraceful party rows, which are a blot on the character of any community wherever they occur, took place at Bellamy’s Mills on the evening of the Fair or Tryst at that place, namely Wednesday, the 16th instant.  It appears that it originated with some of the younger class, in which ultimately the other spectators interfered, and ended finally in a regular party riot, in which stones and other missiles were so freely used that several individuals have got themselves severely injured.

About twenty businesses were in operation at and near the bustling village of Clayton in 1871, including a grist mill, a cooperage plant, Coulter’s and Gemmill’s hotels, McNeil’s tannery, the sawmills of Timothy Foley, Daniel Drummond, and William Smith ; James McClary’s planning mill, Timothy Blair’s carding mill and J. & A. Hunter’s woollen cloth factory.  The Hunter woollen mill, destroyed with a fire loss of $10,000 in 1873, was located on the river near Clayton at the site then known as Hunterville.

The village of Appleton was settled and developed by members of the Teskey family who came to Ramsay township in the emigration of 1823 from southern Ireland.  Among less than a dozen families not of Roman Catholic religious persuasion in this government-sponsored emigration to Ramsay, Huntley and Pakenham townships were John Teskey, his wife and nine children from Rathkeale in Limerick.

Joseph, the eldest son, had obtained his hundred acre lot at the location then known as Apple Tree Falls on the Mississippi.  After the family had lived together for a few years on the father’s farm (conc. 11, lot 7) in Ramsay and the children had begun to marry, the second son Robert joined with Joseph in building a small saw and grist mill at the falls.  The land including the southern half of the present village was a 200 acre Crown reserve and south of it were the farms of Robert Baird and William Baird, Lanark society settlers of 1821.

Teskeyville At Apple Tree Falls

On the strength of attractive natural assets and the initial enterprise of three Teskey brothers, a small community developed in the next thirty years, known for a time as Teskeyville and as Appleton Falls.  With a population of about seventy five persons by the mid-fifties, it contained Joseph Teskey’s grist mill, Robert Teskey’s sawmill equipped with two upright saws and a public timber slide, Albert Teskey’s general store and post office, Peter and John F. Cram’s tannery, and two blacksmith shops, William Young’s tailor shop and a wagon shop.  A foundry and machine shop was added before 1860, when the village grew to have a population of three hundred.  Albert Teskey, a younger brother who lived to 1887, also engaged in lumbering and became reeve of Ramsay township.  A flour mill in a stone building erected in 1853 by Joseph Teskey below the east side of the Appleton Falls was operated after his death in 1865 by his son Milton.  It was sold in 1900 to H. Brown & Sons, Carleton Place flour millers and suppliers of electric power, and resold several years later to Thomas Boyd Caldwell (1856-1932) of Lanark, then Liberal member of Parliament for North Lanark, a son of the first Boyd Caldwell who had owned a large sawmill at Carleton Place.

Appleton Woollen Mills

Robert Teskey, a magistrate for over forty years, built in 1863 a four storey woollen mill of stone construction.  He retired a year later and lived until 1892.  The woollen mill, later doubled in size, was operated by his son John Adam Teskey (1837-1908), with the assistance for a time of his brother in law, William Bredin, later of Carleton Place, and his brother Rufus Teskey.  Before the depression of the eighteen seventies, when the Appleton mills had been leased for a period of years, the village had two firms manufacturing tweeds, flannels and blankets ; Charles T. Drinkwater & Son and Lancelot Routh & Company.  The Teskey woollen mills were owned from 1900 for over thirty years by Boyd Caldwell & Company and Donald Caldwell, who rebuilt the dams in 1903, and for over twenty years since by the Collie family and the present Collie Woollen Mills Limited.  The latest owners built the present mill before the old stone woollen mill buildings, chief landmark of a picturesque setting, were destroyed in the nineteen forties by fire.

At the head of Norway Pine Falls on the lower Mississippi in Ramsay township, James Snedden, one of the Lanark society settlers, received an 1821 location of one hundred acres of land which ran from the present Highway 29 to the village of Blakeney.  Alexander Snedden, who had emigrated two years earlier and had located with David Snedden in the eleventh concession of Beckwith, soon removed to the Pine Falls where he built grist and saw mills and a timber slide.  The family entered the square Timber trade, taking their timber down the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence to the Quebec City market.  James Snedden jr. (1821-1882), known as “Banker Snedden,” also engaged in lumbering and other enterprises.

Rosebank Inn and Norway Pine Falls

On the road to Pakenham and the Ottawa, Alexander Snedden’s Rosebank Inn provided travelers with accommodation of a high standard.  Here the Reform Association conventions of the old District of Bathurst and of the United Counties of Lanark and Renfrew of the eighteen forties and early fifties were held.  A discriminating traveler of 1846 wrote of “Snedden’s Hotel, which is kept in as good style as any country Inn in the Province.”  Another travelling newspaper contributor of fifteen years later added in confirmation: “Who in this portion of Victoria’s domain has not heard of Snedden’s as a stopping place?  Ask any teamster on the upper Ottawa and he will satisfy you as to its capabilities of rendering the traveler oblivious to the comforts of his home.”  Alexander Snedden became a militia officer and in 1855 gained the rank of Lieutenant colonel in command of the Ramsay battalion of Lanark Militia.  His adjutant was Captain J. B. Wylie,  Almonte mill owner.

Around the Snedden establishment a small community grew at Norway Fine Falls, known as Snedden’s Mills until in the eighteen fifties it was named Rosebank.  It was renamed Blakeney when the post office of the area was moved here in 1874 from Bennie’s Corners with Peter McDougall as postmaster.  The nearby railway station continued to be called Snedden, and the name Rosebank also persisted.  Other early industries at Blakeney included a woollen factory, a brewery at the Pine Isles, a second sawmill and a tannery.  A three storey woollen mill of stone construction operated by Peter McDougall, was built in the eighteen seventies.  The flour mill at Blakeney continued to be run for some years after the turn of the century by Robert Merilees.

Bennie’s Corners was a small village less than two miles from Blakeney.  It was at the junction of the eighth line of Ramsay and the road from Clayton north of the Indian River, on land where James Bennie located in the original settlement of the township in 1821.  The buildings of the hamlet were destroyed in the summer of 1851 by fire.  As rebuilt it had little more than a post office and general store, a few residences, a school and such tradesmen as blacksmiths and shoemakers, and claimed a population of about fifty persons.

Bairds Flour Mill Restored

Nearby were William and John Baird’s flour mill, Greville Toshack’s carding mill and Stephen Young’s barley mill, all on the Indian River ; and on the Mississippi the similar industries of Blakeney.  The Baird mill, restored as a century old structure in 1930 by Dr. R. Tait McKenzie, sculptor, surgeon and native son of the manse, is now well known as the Mill of Kintail, repository of examples of his works and local historical exhibits.  It was described by its owners in 1860 as:

“Woodside Mills, consisting of a Flour Mill with two runs of burr stones, a superior Smut Machine and an Oatmeal Mill with two runs of Stones, one of which is a Burr.  The Mill is three and a half stories high and most substantially built.  There are also on the premises a kiln capable of drying from 120 to 200 bushels of oats at a time, a frame House for a Miller, a Blacksmith Shop with tools complete, two Stone Buildings and outbuildings, with Stabling for eleven horses.”

Bennie’s Corners Squirrel Hunt

A Bennie’s Corners story of 1875 may be recalled as telling of a recognized sport in some circles of the Ottawa Valley of those times, known as a squirrel hunt and featuring a reckless slaughter of the birds and animals of the summer woods.  An Almonte newspaper report told of the hunt on this occasion:

On Friday the 25th instant a squirrel hunt took place at Bennie’s Corners.  Eighteen competitors were chosen on each side, with Messrs. John Snedden and Robert McKenzie acting as captains.  In squirrel hunts, squirrels are not the only animals killed, but every furred and feathered denizen of the forest, each having a certain value attached.  The count runs as follows : squirrel 1, chip munk 2, wood pecker 2, ground hog 3, crow 3, blackbird 1, skunk 5, fox 50, etc.  At the conclusion of the contest the game killed by both sides amounted to over 2,500.  Mr. James Cochrane bagged 164 squirrels, being the highest individual score, and Mr. Andrew Cochran came next.  The affair wound up with a dance at the residence of Mr. James Snedden.

Early Settlers Found Good Land in Ramsay Township, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 11 May, 1961

One of the few letters which remain from those written by Ramsay settlers in the township’s first year gives the optimistic impressions of a Glasgow society emigrant, John Toshack.  He already had built his log cabin on land where later the village of Bennie’s Corners waxed and waned, and was back at Lanark preparing to bring his family from the district centre to the new home.  His letter tells of his hopes for his chosen lot and mentions two of the boats which served in the settlers’ use of the “water conveyance.”  Writing to a friend in Glasgow, Alexander Sinclair, on September 11, 1821, he said in part:

“I gladly embrace this opportunity of writing you by Mrs. Graham who has lost her husband and is returning to Scotland.  Our family is all well now, by the mercies of God, they are all recovered.  We had four of them in the fever since we came here, Margaret, Andrew, Helen and Eneas.  Many have died since arriving in Canada, some of the fever, others of the flux and others from the effects of fatigue.

We have got land in the township of Ramsay near the Mississippi River, which runs into the Ottawa about fifteen miles from our land.  We are only half a mile from it.  There are always plenty of good fish to be got in it, but especially in the spring, when I am informed they are caught in very great abundance.

William, John and James Bennie and I have each got 100 acres together, in a square.  It is most beautiful land, and resembles the Dalmarnock haughs (low rich land beside a river).  According to what I have seen of other land, it will produce abundantly of all which is necessary for the support of a family.  The land is by no means generally good, there is much rock and swamp on many lots.  Indeed I would not exchange the land that we have got for any other I see.  But it is a great distance from this (ie., from Lanark), about twenty miles by land and near forty by water.  Had it not been for the water conveyance we would not have attempted to go so far.  We have built two flat boats, of fir boards at one inch thick, which we got from the saw mill at 3s.6d. per 100 feet.

I have got up a house, 22 feet by 16, which will do to begin with.  Our land abounds with beautiful wood, of elm, maple, birch, beech, pine, and bass ; the latter is somewhat like your saugh (sallow or broad-leafed willow).  I often think if you had a few score of the trees that we cut down to burn you would turn them to better account.

Settlers Tools

“I hope to have all my luggage and family on the land in about ten days,….Government has been very honorable.  Besides conveyance from Quebec to Lanark and rations – the rations consist of one pound of bread and one of pork for a man, one half each for a wife, one third for a child above seven and one quarter for those under. – I have got a blanket for myself, one for my wife, one for every two children and one for the odd one ; also an axe, a hand saw, a bill hook, an iron wedge, two pair hinges, a thumb-neck (door latch), two files, a stock-lock, two gimlets, a pick axe, a hammer, a scythe and stone and among us four we have got a pit and cross-cut saw and we will get a grindstone when we want it.  There are also nails and other things still to be got.  (Note: Among other supplies issued were spades, hoes, harrow teeth, sickles, pitchforks, adzes, augers, kettles and frying pans.)

The gentlemen here and all the way from Quebec, who had the charge of forwarding us, seemed to vie with each other in discretion and kindness.  This is the most merciful act that I ever knew the British Government perform.  It affords many poor industrious families the means of obtaining the necessaries of life who had no such prospect before.  You will observe that I am writing only from information and observation, it will require another twelve months to come to enable me to write from experience.  I think the emigration is likely to be carried on at least another year.  There are three townships to be surveyed beyond Dalhousie, Lanark and Ramsay, near the grand river.  I will if spared write you more particularly afterwards and hope to give you more information.”

John Toshack, who came to Ramsay with his wife, seven sons and two daughters, was a man of strong religious tendencies.  He had been a deacon in the Congregational Church under the Rev. Mr. Ewing in Glasgow, and preached in the first shanties of settlers in Ramsay before there was an ordained clergyman in the township.  His younger daughter, eleven years old at the time of the 1821 migration, became the wife of the first Peter Cram of Carleton Place.  Surviving her husband on the Cram farm homestead on High Street which later was acquired in the eighteen eighties by her nephew Peter Cram (1831-1920) of Carleton Place, she died in 1890 at the home of her daughter, Mrs. James Thom in Ramsay.

A final installment of this series of Ramsay settlement stories will tell of the emigration adventures of one family of Ramsay pioneers.

HOWARD M. BROWN TELLS STORY OF RAMSAY TOWNSHIP, CARLETON PLACE CANADIAN, 20 APRIL, 1961

One of the first trails to be laid out as a road when the forests on the north side of Carleton Place were opened for settlement is still in use in Ramsay township.  Called later the old Perth Road, it was opened one hundred and forty years ago by Josias Richey, government deputy surveyor, to give access from Lanark township to “the Grand Falls in the Mississippi in Ramsay” for the original settlers there.  Across the middle of the township it follows the southern edge of the broad Precambrian ridge of Wolves Grove, on a course which possibly for many centuries was an ancient route in the travels of Indian hunters.

On completion of the survey of 60,000 acres which prepared Ramsay township in January of 1821 for settlement, and before the summer arrival in the township of over a hundred families of Glasgow emigrant society settlers and others, the first thirty farm locations in Ramsay were obtained by newcomers from Scotland, England and Ireland.

Choosing their hundred acre lots at places most readily reached by the main trail running easterly across the township, these first thirty men of Ramsay included, in the eighth and ninth concessions, William Foster, William Hawkins, Thomas Lowrie, Edward McManus, Robert and Thomas Mansell, James Metcalfe, Andrew Rae,  Archibald Wilkie and Catin Willis.  Those choosing farmsites at the same time nearer to Lanark township in the first, second and third concessions of Ramsay included William Chapman, Thomas Foster, John Gemmill, Patrick McDermott and James Smith.

In midsummer about four hundred men, numbering with their families over eighteen hundred persons, arrived at the one year old village of Lanark and began to select locations for farms in Ramsay, Lanark, Dalhousie and North Sherbrooke townships, under the supervision of Colonel William Marshall, North Lanark settlement superintendent.  They were emigrant society settlers from the Glasgow district who had reached the port of Quebec in June on four ships.

Most had been hand loom cotton weavers.  Others were tradesmen such as carpenters, blacksmiths, shoemakers, and cotton spinners.  With them came the versatile Rev. John Gemmill, Presbyterian minister of the first church of Lanark village and of the north half of Lanark county, who practiced also his skills as a medical doctor and a printer.  Many of those who located in Ramsay township on some of North Lanark’s best agricultural land were forbears of present well known residents of Ramsay, Almonte and Carleton Place.

Ramsay Emigration Diary

The journal of Arthur Lang is one of the few remaining accounts of this large migration to have been recorded by a Ramsay settler in the first year of the inhabitation of the township.  His concise personal chronicle tells with candor of his experiences as one of the six hundred Glasgow district passengers sailing from Greenock on the Earl of Buckinghamshire.  With his wife, two sons and four daughters, he settled on the east side of the Mississippi River (Conc. 10, lot 14) near Almonte, where he lived until his death in 1849.  He was one of the township’s earliest school teachers at Almonte.  His long-lived eldest son William Lang (1811-1902), a famer in Huntley and in Beckwith and born in Paisley, spent his last days at the home of his daughter Mrs. John Cavers in Carleton Place.

The Arthur Lang record of his seven weeks sailing from Greenock to Quebec and of the inland journey fails to join in the gloom of his fellow diarist John McDonald, who was not the John McDonald of Ramsay township.  McDonald’s Narrative of a Voyage, published in Glasgow in 1822, describes his passage on another of the four emigrant ships, the David of London, and gives a disconsolate view of a pilgrims’ progress to Lanark and of the new settlements there.  The extracts which follow are a selection from the entries in Arthur Lang’s authentic contribution to the story of the last four large organized group emigrations from Scotland to Lanark County in Upper Canada.

An Emigrant Ship of 1821

“April 28 – Having got everything ready we left the Old World and started for the New…..There was a little disturbance at one time about the payment for some butter but that passed over and the day ended peacefully.

The 29th began with the roaring of children and I believe ended in the same way.  I cannot but admire the moderation of the captain in his conduct toward the passengers.  They seemed to be in good spirits…..

May 1 – We lost sight of land today.  It was a beautiful day… (marred) by confusion and noise.  Bed-time came with its usual attendants, darkness and the roaring of children.

May 2 – There was plenty of rum going today, and great laughing at the odd ways of some of the men and women.  Some got drunk and were very troublesome to many of us.  One of them was put in irons for his stupidity.  At 12 o’clock last night we ran aground (off the Wicklow coast).  We kept too close to a large rock, the bowsprit almost touching it.  There was little fear or excitement because we did not know the danger.

Escapement From Shipwreck

May 3 – We got from that perilous situation with hard labor at 11 o’clock….A pilot came along side us – I believe that unless he had got a large sum of money he would have rested on his oars in his boat with little concern and watch the ship go to pieces.  (Natives were gathered in readiness to plunder the possible wreckage).

May 4 – We are just lagging as usual without wind, distributing and disputing about our provisions.

May 5 – Not until today have I been able to look up on deck, but was forced to endure intolerable stenches, and the bocking of poor souls wishing to be back again, though it were to live on water gruel at home.  Aye, and I’ll be off before I come back again if I were once there.

May 9 – I have been tolerably well and most of the passengers also, still the trifling disputes continue.  Such a gang to fight about a bucket of slat water, a matter in which five minutes would have set both parties right.

May 10 – Nothing but the usual bustle occurred today, except one incident where a man got a mark with his own pot, contending for the place where it hung.

May 12 – A fine looking ship from China, last at St. Helena, passed us, all well.

May 15 – A schooner from Baltimore, bound for Liverpool has hailed us, and our captain told them we were in 15 deg. 30 min. west longitude.

A Fair Wind

May 16 – There is……..the fairest wind we have had since we left Craig Isle.  From that Craig till this day we have been sailing against the wind.  We have been sailing so far south that sailing north west is very near our course to Quebec.

May 17 – A very good day and nothing occurred but the usual bustle for food from morning to night.  We had no time but to make ready our victuals.  Our room is so small both above and below that we appear to be in continual confusion.

May 18 – It is curious to me at least to see how our spirits freshened with the breeze.

Sabbath, 20th – We had a sermon about 12 o’clock today.  There was a decent little group of young and old with their faces clean and their expressions serious.

May 24 – The ship went at ten knots for a good part of the day and the sea rose higher than I have ever seen it.

May 25 – A fine day but not much wind.  It was considered on this day that the passengers were not as well used as they ought to be by some of the crew.  The mate had struck a man before this with a handspike, but the little man he kicked resented the blow.  It produced new regulations.”

1860’s Saw Considerable Building in Carleton Place, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 04 August, 1960

Life in the Eighteen Sixties in Carleton Place is recalled in the present fifth installment of a series of annals reviewing events in the first hundred years of this community and its surrounding district.

The location of Carleton Place at a waterfall on one of the larger tributaries of the Ottawa River and on one of Eastern Ontario’s first railways proved in the Eighteen Sixties to place this community in a position of some advantage in the lumber economy of the Ottawa Valley.  A number of new industrial firms were established here.  Among them were two sawmills and a foundry each of which grew to become a substantial employer of capital and labour and a leading industry of the town.

Prince of Wales

1860 – Archibald McArthur (1816-1884), reeve and prominent wholesale and retail merchant, enlarged his business premises here by building a store of stone construction in 1860 near the corner of Bridge and Mill Streets.

The young Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, viewed Carleton Place while travelling by coach and railway through Lanark and Leeds Counties in the course of a tour of Canada.

Patrick Struthers (1830-1907), merchant and later magistrate, became postmaster of Carleton Place.  He continued in charge of the local post office for over forty-five years.

New Saw Mill

1861 – A steam-powered sawmill was built in the area of the present Riverside Park on the south bank of the river.  The old Muirhead sawmill, which was located near the present electric power plant, was leased and reopened by Robert Gray.

Brice McNeely Jr. (1831-1920) began a forty year period of operating the long established tannery.  The town bridge across the Mississippi was rebuilt.

Findlays Foundry

1862 – In the infancy of the town’s present leading industry, a new foundry was opened on the Perth Road, now High Street, by David Findlay (1835-1890) for the manufacture of stoves, ploughs and other castings.

Canadian military preparations were begun in view of risks of the United States Civil War leading to war between Britain and the United States.  At Carleton Place a volunteer rifle company, with newspaper editor James Poole as its captain, was equipped to take the place of the townships former militia regiment.  A new infantry company was formed at Almonte. 

In a match at the Almonte exhibition grounds between the Carleton Place and Almonte cricket clubs, the Almonte club’s resplendent uniforms featured white caps, pink shirts and white pantaloons.

Militia Training

1863 – The Ramsay lead mine at Carleton Place resumed operation.  A woollen mill at Appleton built by Robert Teskey (1803-1892) was opened under the management of his son John Adam Teskey (1837-1908) and son-in-law William Bredin.

In a target shooting competition at Carleton Place between the local Rifle Company and the Almonte Infantry Company, the rifle company appeared in its new uniforms with green tunics, grey pants with red facings, and dark belts.  The infantry uniforms had scarlet tunics, grey pants and white belts.  The impressive headpiece of both companies’ uniforms was an ornamented cap known as a shako.

Railway Extension

1864 – The Brockville & Ottawa Railway Company’s line was extended and opened from Almonte to Arnprior, providing rail transportation between the St. Lawrence River and Grand Trunk Railway at Brockville and the Ottawa River at Sand Point.  George Lowe became the station master at Carleton Place.

Temperance Movement

1865 – A temperance society known as Temple No. 122 of the Independent Order of Good Templars, was formed at Carleton Place to oppose the sale of alcoholic beverages.  A proposal to apply a local option Temperance Act to Beckwith township including Carleton Place was rejected by a majority of thirty votes.

The Beckwith municipal council elected for 1865 was Patrick Struthers, reeve, and Archibald McArthur, Donald Carmichael, George Kidd and Alexander Ferguson.

Gillies & McLaren

1866 – This town’s first large scale business had its start in 1866 with the opening of the Gillies & McLaren lumber mill with thirty employees.  James Gillies (1840-1909) came as its manager.  Five years later John Gillies (1811-1888), who had founded the firm in Lanark township, removed to Carleton Place.  Both remained here for life and were leaders in the town’s industrial growth.  James Gillies for over thirty five years was head of the later widespread lumbering operations of Gillies Brothers, a position occupied from 1914 to 1926 by his brother David Gillies (1849-1926) of Carleton Place.

A shingle mill also began business here in 1866, managed by John Craigie.  He was the builder of the town’s first two steamboats, the Mississippi and the Enterprise.  The local grist and oatmeal mills were bought by Henry Bredin from Hugh Boulton Jr.  They continued to be operated by James Greig (1806-1884), who ran these mills from 1862 to 1868 after the death of Hugh Boulton Sr., founder of this first industry of the community.

The union of Lanark and Renfrew Counties was ended in 1866 by the establishment of a separate Renfrew County council and administration.

Fenian Raids

Raids from the United States upon border points were made in 1866 by groups known as Fenians, whose professed objective was political independence for Ireland.  The Carleton Place and Almonte volunteer companies were dispatched to Brockville in June.  Captain of the Almonte company was James D. Gemmill.  Total of all ranks serving from Carleton Place numbered fifty-seven.  Under local officers Captain James C. Poole, Lieut. John Brown and Ensign J. Jones Bell, they included such Carleton Place and township family names as Burke, Coleman, Cram, Dack, Docherty, Duff, Enright, Ferguson, Fleming, Hamilton, Kilpatrick, Leslie, Lavallee, Moffatt, Moore, Morphy, and McArthur, McCaffrey, McCallum, McEwen, McFadden, McNab, McNeely and McPherson, Neelin, Patterson, Pattie, Rattray, Sinclair, Stewart, Sumner, Williams, Willis and Wilson.

Volunteers from these and other Lanark County areas served also in the Fenian Raids of 1870.  Drill halls built in 1866 at county centres including Perth, Carleton Place and Almonte were used for many years.  The Carleton Place drill shed was at the market square between Beckwith and Judson Streets, at the present site of the skating rink.  Almonte’s military quarters were combined with the North Lanark Agricultural Society’s main exhibition building then being erected.

 

Confederation

1867 – Canadian confederation was hailed in Carleton Place by a day of celebration which extended from a sunrise cannon salute to an evening of torchlight processions and fireworks.  There were speeches by the clergy,  a military parade with rifles firing, a costume carnival and sports events featuring novelty races.

A new sawmill was built by the Gillies & McLaren firm to employ up to a hundred men.  At Arklan Island a smaller sawmill was built by William Bredin.  Erection of a large frame building on Mill Street for use as a woollen cloth factory was begun by Allan McDonald.  The Allan McDonald foundry was reopened by John Grant and operated for four years, producing stoves, ploughs, ploughpoints and other castings.  A local house construction boom was under way.  Daniel Galbraith (1813-1879) of Ramsay township was elected to the Ontario Legislature of North Lanark.  He represented this constituency in the House of Commons from the following election until his death in 1879.

Another Railway

1868 – Building of the Canada Central Railway between Ottawa and Carleton Place was begun and was completed two years later.  In ceremonies marking the start of construction, held at the Carleton Place end of the line and attended by Richard W. Scott, Q.C., M.P.P., of Ottawa, the sod turning ritual was performed by the Rev. J. H. Preston of St. James Church, Carleton Place.

Caldwell Sawmill

1869 – This towns second large sawmill business was started by Boyd Caldwell (1818-1888) and managed by his son William Caldwell.  It operated for twenty-two years on the site of the present Riverside Park.

An enlarged stone grist mill building was erected by William Bredin on Mill Street, together with buildings occupied in the following year by Joseph Cram as a planing mill and by John F. Cram as a tannery.  A stone church building for the Zion Presbyterian congregation was built at the church’s present Albert and Beckwith Street location.

The Mississippi Navigation Company was incorporated to build locks at Innisville and Ferguson’s Falls and open navigation from Lanark and Playfairville to Carleton Place.  Its directors were James H. Dixon of Peterborough, Abraham Code, M.P.P. (then owning mills at Ferguson’s Falls) and Robert Bell, John Craigie and Robert Crampton of Carleton Place.  The company’s brief existence ended with the building of a steamboat, The Enterprise.  Bought by the Gillies & McLaren firm , The Enterprise plied the Mississippi Lakes for about twenty-five years in the service of the lumber industry and provided transportation for many of the town’s public events of bygone summer days.

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