1910 Year of Great Fire Town Had 7 Automobiles, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 06 October, 1960

A series of local history notes recalling the first century of community life at Carleton Place is ended with the present recollections of events in this area in the years from 1910 to 1920.

Fifty years ago the town and district began to move out of the old-time horse and buggy days.  Its maturity coincided with the years of the First World War, when this district served its country well.  Among local municipal developments was the forming of a public utilities system, with the installing of waterworks lines in the town’s rock-ribbed streets and the transfer to public ownership of electric generating and distributing facilities.  Total industrial employment in the town continued with little change.

Seven Automobiles

1910 – The greatest Carleton Place fire of living memory destroyed about twenty-five buildings between Bridge Street and Judson Street, including Zion Presbyterian Church, the Masonic Hall, the militia drill hall, the curling rink and many homes.

Following the death of James Gillies, the Bates and Innes Company bought the Gillies Machine Works building and converted it into a felt mill.  The Hawthorne woollen mill was reopened by its new owner, the Carleton Knitting Co., Ltd.

There were seven automobiles owned in Carleton Place, including a Buick, a Packard, a Reo, Fords and a Russell-Knight.

Hospital building proposals were discussed at a town meeting and abandoned.  The cost of erecting and equipping a suitable hospital was estimated by a provincial official at $1,000 a bed, and maintenance costs at under $5,000 a year.

The Starland Theatre here was showing moving pictures of the Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Film Company.

The first Boy Scout troop was formed by William Moore.

George V became king when death ended the ten-year reign of Edward VII.

New Power Plant

1911 – Electric power was supplied to the town from the new 125,000 north shore hydro electric plant of H. Brown and Sons.  The firm’s old south shore generating units were maintained as a supplementary source of power.

Reconstruction of buildings destroyed by fire included Zion Church, the Masonic Building and a number of residences.

David Smythe, of Ferguson and Smythe, harness makers, was elected for the first of seven yearly terms as mayor of Carleton Place.

Waterworks Construction

1912 – Findlay Brothers Company commenced a fifty per cent enlargement of its stove plant. 

A public vote endorsed a waterworks installation bylaw.  Twenty-five thousand feet of steel pipe was ordered from Scotland.  The excavation contractor from Kingston began work with thirty Bulgarians, who were quartered in the old Caldwell sawmill boarding house in the town park, a dozen Italians accommodated in the Leach school house building, and a dozen Roumanians in addition to local excavation workers.

A town landmark adjoining the home of A. R. G. Peden on Allan Street was removed when the ruins of the large log house of Edmond Morphy, a first settler at Carleton Place, were torn down.  It was said to have been built about 1820.

The first rural mail delivery route from Carleton Place was started in Beckwith Township, to be followed by opening of a second mail route on the north side of the town in Ramsay township.

Town Clock

1913 – A town clock was installed on the Post Office.  James A. Dack, jeweler, was given charge of its care, and J. Howard Dack first started its 150 pound pendulum in motion.

Dr. A. E. Hanna of Perth was elected in a South Lanark by-election occasioned by the death of the Hon. John G. Haggart, member for the constituency in the House of Commons for a record continuous period dating from 1872.  North and South Lanark in the following year were combined for future Dominion election purposes.

A steel bridge replaced the wooden bridge across the Mississippi River at Innisville.

High school principal E. J. Wethey and nine high and public school pupils attended a cadet camp of over twelve hundred boys at Barriefield.  Plans were made to form a Carleton Place High School cadet corps.

First Contingent

1914 – The year which saw the start of world-changing events began locally with a mid-January record low temperature of 32 below zero.

The ninth annual spring show of the Carleton Place Horse Association was opened by the Hon. Arthur Meighen (1874-1960), Solicitor General of Canada, who said his grandfather was among the early settlers of Lanark County.

For transportation by gasoline motor power, there were twenty-five automobiles in the town and fifty motor boats on the lake when summer opened.  Ford touring cars were selling for $650 f.o.b. Ford, Ontario.  A resident was awarded damages for injury to a horse frightened by an unattended and unlighted automobile parked on High Street.

F. A. J. Davis (1875-1953), editor and publisher of this newspaper for nearly forty years, bought the Carleton Place Central Canadian.  He changed the name in 1927 to The Canadian.

The Great War began in August.  Within two weeks the town’s first dozen volunteers under Captain William H. Hooper, joined by volunteers from the Pembroke, Renfrew, Arnprior and Almonte areas, left Carleton Place.  Their parade to the railway station was attended by town officials, the Carleton Place brass band, the Renfrew pipe band and hundreds of citizens.  The send off ended in the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Guards were posted on railway bridges.  Local industries started producing war supplies.  Active service enlistments increased.  Food conservation began.  Women’s groups organized sewing services for war hospitals and shipped food parcels to the district’s overseas soldiers.  Belgian and Serbian Relief Fund collections were made.

Another pioneer home dating from about 1820 was removed when the original farmhouse of John Morphy, son of Edmond, was torn down.  It was the birthplace of the first child born to settlers at Carleton Place (Mrs. Richard Dulmage, 1821-1899).  In later years the old building had accommodated the night watchman of the Gillies Woollen Mills.

War Service

1915 – The municipal waterworks system, completed in the previous year, went into operation.  Electric lights were installed in the town’s schools.  The Hawthorne Woollen Mill, bought by Charles W. Bates and Richard Thomson, was re-opened and re-equipped to meet war demands.

War news and war service work dominated the local scene.  There were many district recruits joining the armed forces, reports of heavy casualties, the furnishing of a motor ambulance and the making of Red Cross Society supplies, industrial work on government orders, increase in price levels and some food restrictions.

The Mississippi Golf Club was formed and acquired the old Patterson farm and stone farmhouse on the Appleton road.

The Goodwood Rural Telephone Company was organized.  It let contracts for installing forty-four miles of lines in Beckwith and in the west part of Goulbourn township.

Recruits and Casualties

1916 – A local option vote closed the public bars of Carleton Place.

Patriotic Fund campaign objectives were oversubscribed.  The 130th Battalion, formed from the district, went into training.  Recruiting began for the Lanark and Renfrew 240th Battalion.  Some 125 men of the 240th visited Carleton Place on a training and recruiting tour, accompanied by a bugle and drum band and a thirty-piece brass band.  They were entertained by two nights of concerts and dances in the Town Hall.  Some wounded soldiers came home on leave.

The McDonald and Brown woollen mill, previously leased, was bought by the Bates and Innes company from H. Brown and Sons, and its machines were removed to other local mills.

Road shows performing in Carleton Place included two circuses, one of which disbanded here ; September Morn (a “dancing festival from the Lasalle Opera House, Chicago”) and D. W. Griffith’s great motion picture, The Birth of a Nation, which was travelling with an orchestra of thirty musicians.

Fire destroyed the Houses of Parliament of Canada, in a blaze visible from high observation points of this town.

The War Continues

1917 – The Lanark and Renfrew 240th Battalion under Lieut. Colonel J. R. Watt left for overseas service.  Heavy war casualties continued.  Memorial services were held for men killed in action.

The Hawthorne Mills Limited was incorporated with a capital stock authorization of $200,000.  Electric power was installed in the C.P.R. shops.

Increased horseshoeing charges, to fifty cents per shoe, were quoted in a joint announcement of fourteen blacksmith shops.  They were those of Duncan Cameron, Richard Dowdall, Robert Kenny, McGregor Bros. (Forbes and Neil), and James Warren & Son, all of Carleton Place ; Edward Bradley, William Jackson, Edward Lemaistre and William McCaughan, all of Almonte ; and George Turner of Appleton, George Kemp at Black’s Corners, S. Robertson at Ashton, Robert Evoy at Innisville and Michael Hogan at Clayton.

John F. Cram and Sons bought over eight thousand muskrat pelts in one week from district trappers and collectors.

Highly popular home front war songs ranged from “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, to “Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts for Soldiers.”

The Armistice

Another year of war ended in November.  Armistice celebrations commenced in Carleton Place at 4 a.m. when the news was announced by the sounding of church and fire alarm bells and factory bells and whistles.  Cheering, shouting and singing groups gathered in the streets.  A great bonfire soon was prepared and burning in the market square on Franklin Street.  In a long and noisy morning procession there were decorated automobiles, buggies, wagons, pony carts, drays and floats, one of them with a war canoe full of young club paddlers in action.  The Town Council and Board of Education paraded with the firemen and their equipment and with cheering marchers on foot.  Groups of young people had their own banners, flags, horns and other noise makers.  Celebrations continued until midnight.

Major W. H. Hooper, home after four years’ service including two years as a prisoner in Germany, was welcomed in a reception held outdoors.  Indoor meetings had been banned by reason of deaths from a world influenza epidemic.

The Hawthorne woollen mill, with two hundred employees, was enlarged.  Fire destroyed the Thorburn woollen mills in Almonte.

End of an Era

1919 – Members of the armed forces returned to Canada.  Over fifty from Carleton Place had lost their lives, together with similar numbers from all sections of the surrounding district.  A military funeral was held here for the burial of a young officer who had died overseas.

Roy W. Bates was re-elected for the second of three yearly terms as mayor.  The town’s electric power supply facilities were converted to public ownership under the Ontario Hydro Electric Power Commission system.

Three persons were killed when an automobile collided with a train at the William Street railway crossing.  Another local fatality was caused by a fallen live wire of a municipal distribution line.

In a baseball game at Riverside Park between junior teams of Carleton Place and of the Smiths Falls C.P.R. club, local players included Mac Williams, Bill Burnie, Howard Dack, Jim Williamson, George Findlay, Tommy Graham, Gordon Bond and Clyde Emerson.  The umpire was Bill Emerson.  The score was 15 to 14 for Smiths Falls.

In the Town Hall Captain M. W. Plunkett presented the Dumbells in an original overseas revue, “Biff, Bing, Bang,” with an all-male cast of returned soldiers at the outset of their years of Canadian stage fame.

Centenary Celebrations

One hundred years after the first settlers had come to occupy the site of Carleton Place, a centenary celebration of the settlement of Beckwith Township was held at McNeely’s 10th Line Shore on Dominion Day in 1919.  Among the thousand who attended was a representation of descendants of most of the township’s Scottish, Irish and English emigrants of a century earlier.  A few  elderly first-generation sons and daughters and many grandchildren of the district’s honoured pioneers were on hand to mark the day.  Speeches included a review of the township’s history by the Rev. J. W. S. Lowry.  Fiddlers and a piper provided the music for dancing.  A collection of pioneer household and farm equipment was on display.

At Almonte an Old Home Week was held in 1920.  The Centenary Celebration and Old Home Week of Carleton Place in 1924 was opened by the ringing of church bells and the sounding of the whistles or bells of the railway shops, of Findlay Brothers foundry and of the Bates & Innes and Hawthorne woollen mills.  The week’s programme was the result of months of planning and preparation for the return of the town’s young and old boys and girls from distant and nearby points.

Parades, shows, bands, fireworks, dancing, midway attractions, banquets, concerts, church and cemetery services, an array of athletic events and open house accommodation for renewing old acquaintances were all combined to fill the seven day programme.  The chief sports events were a number of baseball games, a football game, track and field sports, a cricket match, horse racing, an aquatic carnival, trap shooting, a boxing tournament and old timers’ quoit matches.  An historical exhibition of district relics, curios and heirlooms was shown.  The native son chosen to be chief guest of honour was D. C. Coleman (1879-1956), vice president and later president of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

These civic honours opened our area’s second century of settlement by paying tribute to those of the past who had paved its way.  The district’s centenary celebrations may be claimed to have reflected on a small scale something of the enduring viewpoint once recorded by a great English historian in the following thought: – “A people which takes no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants.”

Advertisements
Published in: on July 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,