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.
Many Town Streets Named After Settlers 140 Years Ago, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 23 June, 1960
An asset which the Ontario government and a number of Ontario communities have begun to exploit to greater public advantage in recent years is one which costs relatively little to the taxpayer. It is the publicizing of district history, both as an asset of local value and as a magnet to the tourist.
As one of the longest occupied parts of the province, Eastern Ontario is generously supplied with undeveloped historical attractions for vacationists. The Lanark County area is one which within a few years will pass its one hundred and fiftieth year of settlement. In 1960 this town itself will have completed one hundred and forty years of its life as a community.
The Canadian has arranged to provide for its readers a series of reviews summarizing typical local events of Carleton Place’s first one hundred years. Both for its local interest and as a basis for a possible search of the area’s older sites or events for those most capable of being developed as lures for vacation tourists, the selected annals will seek to recapture some impressions of the town’s earlier public and its people of past generations. This first record of its kind for this area has been prepared by Howard M. Brown of Ottawa, a former resident of Carleton Place who has contributed a number of the Canadian’s local history stories. It will be published in about ten installments.
The present opening installment mentions some of the occurrences of the first decade of settlement in the community founded here and in the two townships which provided its location.
The persons who first built permanent homes at Carleton Place were the families of two emigrants, Edmond Morphy and William Moore. The time was at the half-way mark of an eight year period in which most of the land of Lanark County and of adjoining parts of Carleton County was surveyed and granted for occupation by British emigrants and demobilized soldiers. Three main government settlement offices to serve the area were opened at Perth in 1816, at Richmond in 1818 and at Lanark in1820. For its first fifty years Carleton Place, now extending also into Ramsay township, remained without separate incorporation and was a part of the township of Beckwith for all municipal purposes.
Nomadic native Indians continued to hunt, trap and fish at some of their favoured sites in the neighbourhood of the early settlers. Later generations of Indians camped nearby from time to time as sellers of their furs or handicraft products. The nightly howling of wolves or of an occasional prowling lynx could be heard at times near farm clearings or at the village borders, providing a disturbing serenade for timid persons and owners of unprotected young livestock. These and other reminders of the not far distant wilderness remained during many years of pioneer life here.
The Moore and Morphy land grants of 1819 included the greater part of the present built up area of the town of Carleton Place. The Moore farmsteads (located to William and his sons William and John) extended on both sides of Moore Street and the Franktown Road from Lake Avenue south to Highway 15. In width they ran west from Park Avenue to about Caldwell Street. The Morphy area (granted to Edmond and his sons, William, John and James) occupied the central part of the town from Lake Avenue north to the Town Line Road, and extended along both sides of the river from about the downstream or eastern side of the town’s present limits to Hawthorne Avenue and Moffatt Street. Town streets which appear to be named for members of the Morphy family include William, George, Morphy, James, Edmund, Thomas and Franklin Streets. Other Beckwith settlers of 1819 to 1822 whose 100 acre farm grants extended within the town’s present limits were Robert Johnston, James Nash, Thomas Burns, Philip Bayne, Manny Nowlan and George Willis.
Birth of the Town
1820 – the birth of the town came about a year after the first farm clearings were made upon its site. It came in the year 1820, when the construction of a grist mill and saw mill and the local business activities of several tradesmen began. These forgotten first local business men in addition to Hugh Boulton are recorded as being William Moore, blacksmith ; one Robert Barnett, cooper – said to have begun that once essential local trade carried on later by such pioneer townsmen as Napoleon Lavallee and Edmond and Maurice Burke – ; and Alexander Morris, innkeeper and trader, whose Mill Street tavern was operated by Manny Nowlan after the 1829 death of its first owner.
The new district gained its first member of parliament in 1820. William Morris of Perth was elected by the vote of a majority of the 250 settlers who had been enfranchised by the issue of the patents for their land grants. The numbers of adult male settlers within the principal township of the new district in 1820 were, in round numbers, Bathurst 400, Drummond 350, Beckwith 300 and Goulbourn 300.
Ramsay Township Opened
1821 – Settlement to the north of the infant community of Morphy’s Falls followed when the government in 1821 opened Ramsay township for occupation by part of a large group emigration of Lanarkshire weavers and other Scottish and Irish emigrants. Among them, those taking land near the site of Carleton Place in 1821 included John and Donald McLean, William Hamilton (1794-1882), John McArton, John McQuarrie, Hugh McMillan, John McLaughlin, John Griffith (1749-1852, died age 103), and William and Stuart Houston. Proceeding toward Appleton there were William Wilson, Caton Willis (1795-1869), Thomas Patterson, James Wilkie (1791-1862), Robert and William Baird, Robert Struthers, John Fummerton and others. Among many other Ramsay township settlers of 1821 were those of such family names as Bryson (including the later Hon. George Bryson, then age 6), Bain, Beatie, Black, Carswell, Chapman, Drynan, Duncan, Dunlop, Gemmill and Gilmour ; Kirkpatrick, Lang, Lowrie, Mansell, Moir, McDonald, McFarlane, McGregor, McPherson and Neilson ; Pollock, Robertson, Smith, Snedden, Steele, Stevenson, Stewart, Warren, Wallce, Yuill and Young. The journey to Ramsay township from the North Lanark settlement depot at Lanark village was made by some of the 1821 settlers by boat down the Clyde
Militia and Clergy
1822- A militia regiment of eligible settlers of Beckwith and Ramsay townships was formed in 1822. Its first officers, commissioned under authority of the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, included senior officers of the Perth area and Ramsay township residents William Baird (Appleton), James Smart (9th concession) and William Toshack (Bennie’s Corners). Beckwith township settlers among its captains, lieutenants and ensigns in 1822 were Thomas Glendinning (Glen Isle), John Cram (1795-1881), Robert Ferguson, Duncan Fisher (11th conc.), William Moore (Carleton Place), Dr. George Nesbitt (Franktown), Israel Webster (1st conc.), and junior officers John Dewar. Alex Dewar Jr., Daniel Ferguson Jr., John Fulford, Peter McDougall, Peter McGregor, John Nesbitt and Manny Nowlan.
The Rev. Dr. George Buchanan (1761-1835), Presbyterian minister and medical doctor, came with a large family in 1822 as the first resident clergyman for the township of Beckwith and Carleton Place. A log building centrally located in the 7th concession served as his church. At Franktown occasional Church of England services were conducted by the Rev. Michael Harris of Perth, at first in a tavern and after 1822 in the government warehouse, until a church was built and a resident Anglican missionary, the Rev. Richard Hart, came in 1829.
1823 – a second notable addition to settlement in Ramsay township, including locations near Carleton Place, was made by a southern Ireland group migration in 1823. They came chiefly from the County of Cork. Selection of these settlers in Ireland was superintended by Peter Robinson (1785-1838), Upper Canada government official, who accompanied the emigrants to Ramsay township and remained here for a time to arrange their establishment. Their inland journey from Prescott was by way of Franktown and Carleton Place to their settlement depot set up at the site of Almonte. Among many others were the Thompson, Teskey, Dulmage, Corkery, Foley, O’Brien, Haley, Nagle and Young families. One of the group, Francis W. K. Jessop, later of Perth, was for some time a brewer, distiller and early land owner at Carleton Place.
Casualties among local settlers in 1823 included John Hays, an Irish immigrant carried over the falls here while attempting to cross the river by canoe ; and James Craig and Crawford Gunn, Scottish settlers killed while felling trees at their Ramsay township farmsites.
1824- The Ballygiblin riots of 1824, named for the Cork County place of origin of some of the Irish newcomers of the previous year, were a series of public disturbances given widespread and sensational publicity in Canada and reported in newspapers in the United Kingdom. The riots began at a militia muster at Carleton Place, and were incited in part by objectionable conduct on the part of one of the local officers, Captain Glendinning. In a one-sided shooting episode in the first day of fighting here, several of the Irish settlers were wounded. The affrays ended in a misguided raid on the Irish settlement headquarters at Almonte by a large force of militiamen and others, sponsored by district authorities of Perth. One of the Irish was killed by gunfire of the raiders.
At this time the population of the present province of Ontario had reached a total of only 150,000. This area was its northern fringe of established settlement.
Schools and Stores
1825- A school house at Carleton Place is said to have been established in 1825 near the corner of Bridge Street and the Town Line Road, with James Kent as teacher. Legislative provision for schools for the district was made by the provincial Parliament in 1823.
Caleb Strong Bellows (1806-1863) came to Carleton Place in 1825, opening a general retail store in the former public premises of William Loucks. Its location was on Bridge Street opposite the present Town Hall. His shop also was licenced in 1825 to sell spirituous liquors, as was the nearby Mill Street inn of Alexander Morris.
1826- The building of the Rideau Canal provided a welcome infusion of currency in the local economy, employing contractors and a number of workmen of this district over a six year period. Among the contractors was James Wylie (1789-1854), Almonte merchant, later a member of the Legislative Council of Canada. A village to be called Bytown was established near the mouth of the Rideau River in 1826 to serve the building of the canal.
Churches and Distilleries
1827- In Franktown the building of the stone structure of St. James Anglican Church, still in use as such, was begun with the assistance of government gifts of money and land.
Caleb S. Bellows in 1827 built a distillery at Carleton Place, operated for a few years by Francis Jessop and later by others. James McArthur (1767-1836) also was a licenced distiller in 1827. His Beckwith township distillery was located in the 7th concession at his farm near the Presbyterian church, where the same business was continued through the eighteen thirties and forties by Peter McArthur (1803-1884).
1828- Robert Bell (1807-1894), a resident of Carleton Place for sixty-five years and a leading pioneer figure of the town and district in public and business life, came in 1828 or 1829 to Carleton Place from Perth. He first established a general mercantile business here with the assistance of his younger brother James and in association with the new business of William and John Bell, merchants of Perth. Before Confederation he served for some thirteen years as a member of Parliament. James Bell (1817-1904) continued in business in Carleton Place until becoming County Registrar in 1851.
The district gained its first weekly newspaper in 1828 when the Bathurst Independent Examiner, predecessor of the Perth Courier, began publication. In this year there was a failure of the wheat crop, a serious event for many families.
1829- The name Carleton Place came into use about 1829 as a new name for this community, until then known as Morphy’s Falls and often misnamed Murphy’s Falls. The new name was taken from Carleton Place, a location in the city of Glasgow.
The Ramsay and Lanark Circulating Library, the first community library in this immediate neighbourhood and the second in the county, was formed in 1829 by farmers of the area between Carleton Place and Clayton. It continued in operation for over twenty-five years.
In the tenth year of settlement at Carleton Place the teachers of the 120 children attending the Beckwith township’s four schools, including the village schools at Franktown and Carleton Place, were John Griffith, James Kent, Daniel McFarlane and Alexander Miller. In Ramsay township, with four schools and 105 pupils, the teachers of 1829 were David Campbell, Arthur Lang, Finlay Sinclair and John Young.
Hugh Boat Excursions Once High Life On Lakes, By Howard M. Brown, The Carleton Place Canadian, 12 April, 1956
This is the third and last installment of Howard M. Brown’s story of how various spots on the Mississippi Lakes received their names. This story tells of the return trip from Innisville section.
Starting back to Carleton Place by way of the south and east side and going past Mud Lake, called McEwen’s Bay on the government maps for the McEwen’s who farmed near its south shore, with McCoy Creek as its main outlet, and McIntyre Creek flowing in there from the south, then Grasshopper Point, McCreary’s Landing and McCullough’s Landing, some six farms are passed which were settled on or within a mile of the south side of the Big Lake before 1820.
Reaching Flintoff’s Bay and the east shore, we are at the location of the first settlers here on the Mississippi Lakes. Here in the southeast corner of the Big Lake and along the present road from there towards Tennyson, eight farms were taken up and occupied in the late fall of 1816, in the first year of the Rideau Military Settlement of Lanark County. Three were McNaughtons, two were Robertsons, two were Hunters’ and one was a Flintoff. Ahead of them by three months but farther from the lake was an Irish ex-serviceman, Moses Goodman, a half mile in from the mouth of McIntyre Creek. This little group of Scots, Irish and English, could be said to be then pioneering the northwest fringe of colonization of the province.
Flintoff’s Bay was the terminus of one of the earliest freight routes to the village of Carleton Place. Shipments came from Montreal by way of Brockville and Perth (and probably later by way of the Rideau Canal and Perth) to Flintoff Bay, and from there by barge captained by Mr. Dougherty to a wharf in the river at Bridge Street. John Flintoff was one of the first local lumbermen of some prominence and was drowned by falling off a Quebec steamer in the lower St. Lawrence in 1851.
Another drowning of this group of settlers was that of the pioneer Donald McNaughton in 1860, while going bathing in the lake at age 67 in the middle of June. McCullough’s Landing was another of the Carleton Place steamer excursion destinations. One of its biggest gatherings was a political rally in 1896, just before a hard-fought federal election. The lake’s biggest steamer, the Carleton, provided the transportation in loads of around 200 per trip, at a return fare of 25 cents.
Heading for the Middle Lake and Beckwith Township again, Pine Point and the cottages of McNaughton’s Shore are passed in the Big Lake, and the red-buoyed submerged rocks around Sand, Loon and the Burnt Islands. After the Blacks Bay cottage shore is Hunter’s Bay formerly called Buchanan’s for its nearby farm owners. The west side of Hunter’s Bay is probably the place where Hugh Boulton quarried stone for his first millstone, the town’s first piece of industrial equipment.
The rows of cottages along the east side of the Middle Lake are next – Shail’s, the Coleman High Bank and Petrie’s Shores, served by a good paved road. Here in the 7th Concession, not far from the lake and within a mile or two of Tennyson are three of the first seven farms settled in Beckwith Township. Two were granted in late 1816 to McDonnells and one to an O’Neill. They were joined within a few months by Duncan McNaughton Sr., of the McNaughton connection farther up the lake. Of about twenty-five Beckwith Township farms still in the family name under which they were first occupied before 1820, this McNaughton Farm in the 7th Concession was the first settled. The McDonnells, Roman Catholic Highlanders from Inverness, retained their original location for two or three generations. The son of one of them, at age of 77, was killed in a runaway accident on Bridge Street, Carleton Place in 1908.
Farther down the Middle Lake, Morris’ Island is named for the family of Joseph Morris who settled on the lakeshore there opposite Squaw Point in 1821. The next lakeshore farm, at McGibbon’s Point, was John McGibbon’s home for sixty years, and was owned by three generations of the family.
McGibbon’s Creek is notable as having given the lower Mississippi a passing chance of being part of the Rideau Canal. One of the routes considered for the canal would have carried it from the lower end of the Rideau Lake across the low land drained by Cockburn Creek into the Rideau and by McGibbon’s Creek into the Mississippi. The canal would have continued down the Mississippi and the Ottawa by a series of locks like those built on the route selected. In 1824 the Mississippi route was rejected, and two years later construction started down the Rideau.
The lake’s other canal story is one of nearly fifty years later. It went as far as incorporation by the Legislature of the Mississippi Navigation Company in 1809, with the authorized capital of $100,000, to build locks at Innisville and Ferguson’s Falls and carry on a shipping business. The chief freight was expected to be sawn lumber and iron ore, which was to be towed by barge to Carleton Place, and to go from here by rail to American markets. The steamer, the Enterprise, was built for this purpose, and then the lock-building scheme was abandoned.
The Enterprise, a paddle wheeler which could carry a hundred passengers, travelled the lake for twenty-five years in the service of the McLaren Mill and the Canada Lumber Co. Under the intentions of its builders, its regular run would have been between Lanark Village, Playfairville and Carleton Place. That was the route that gained some historic standing in the story of the Mississippi when a number of the first Ramsay township settlers reached their new homes in 1821 by travelling down the Clyde and Mississippi by water from Lanark Village to the site of Almonte.
Returning to the lakeshore of the Second Lake, below the canal to the Ottawa that was never built, the 10th line cottashore was settled by Peter and Archie McGregor, who farmed there from 1819. After two generations of McGregors it was owned and sold by George Thackaberry in the 1880’s. At that time its sand beaches had already become a favorite campground. After it became McNeely’s, a gathering was held there in 1919, postponed on account of the War, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the settling of the township.
Hay’s Shore at the foot of the Second Lake, was James Duff’s farm from about the 1840’s. His son William (Big Bill Duff), who started the Lakeshore Dairy’s retail business, died ther in 1914, followed in 1916 by his wife, a daughter of one of the original Morphy settlers of Morphy’s Falls. Excluding cottage areas sold, it has remained since 1918 with the Hay Family.
Brown’s Point, the upper end of Lake Park, formerly was called Round Rocky Point, after the long favored duck hunting Rocky Point beside it across the Hotel Bay.
The point at the lower end of Lake Park has had the name of Lookout Point for many years, and alternatively has been called Hammond’s Point and McRostie’s Point after cottage owners of the past fifty years. The bay and mainland shore behind it have been called Duff’s Bay and Duff’s Shore for the other William Duff and his family (Little Bill Duff) who lived there from the 1840’s.
Lake Park itself, which we can make the last port of call on our round trip, has been a summer resort centre of one kind or another for about a hundred years. As Allan’s Point, later sometimes called the Regatta Grounds and Carleton Park, and finally as Lake park, it served for most that time as a community park for many of the town’s bigger lakeside events of the summer season.
It was never owned by an Allan and who the Allan was of Allan’s Point does not seem to be know. As early as 1860, an old news story tells of a Carleton Place Masonic picnic at Allan’s Point, with 150 people taken there from the village in small boats described as canoes, and itemizes an impressive list of the food and beverages.
In another Allan’s Point outing of the same period the expedition of small boats is described as being led by a drum, the bagpipes and a Union Jack. Most of these gatherings seem to have ended with dancing to the bagpipes and the fiddle, said as this early time to be dancing on the green. For a generation or two when bigger sports day picnics were the order of the day, this was one of the favorite places for the annual picnics of the fire brigade, the railwaymen, the other industries, the churches and some of the numerous clubs and societies.
The first regattas with outside competitors seem to have been the Carleton Boating Club races at Allan’s Point in 1880 and 1881. In addition to races for single and double rowing shells, they included canoe races and races for standard sailboats and catamarans. After Allan’s Point had been a family tenting centre for some years the first small two-storey building planned for use as a summer hotel was put up in 1887. The name Lake Park came partly from its purchase as a publicly owned picnic and regatta part for the town being under consideration when it was bought in 1892 by a local syndicate at the start of a period of about fifteen years as a very lively commercial summer resort. The Carleton, the queen of the lakes, an 80 by 16 food side wheeler was build here by the Gillies Boat works for the Lake Park Company and launced in 1893, carrying life preservers for 200 passengers. As part of the opening celebrations that year, the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards rode up from Ottawa with their dress uniforms and dazzling metal helmets, and put on a Dominion Day musical ride with forty horses, before a gathering of two thousand people at the newly christened Lake Park. Pete Salter’s often crowded four storey hotel was built a little later and a race track, band and dance pavilions, new steamboat docks and a picnic dining room to seat several hundred at a time. Team track and water sports, fireworks displays over the water, even circus acts were put on to bring the Ottawa Valley summer crowds in by railway and steamer. A small start had been made earlier on a proposed lakeshore driveway from Lake Avenue to Allan’s Point, but at this time a serious effort was even made to promote an electric railway from the 11th line C.P.R. crossing to Lake Park. Another scheme started was the digging of a waterway behind the Park from the Lower Lake to the Second Lake.
The first canoe club at Carleton Place called the Ottawa Valley Canoe Association was formed in 1893, and its first regatta was held that year at Lake Park. It included single, double, and novelty races in practically all of which W. J. “Baldy” Welsh’s boat came in first.
Within about fifteen years the high life at Lake Park was fairly well finished and soon after it settled down as an ordinary summer cottage community. One of the reasons for the change was claimed to be township local option, which did not arrive in the town itself until 1916. In 1907 as an indication of the change at Lake Park, the steamer ‘Lillian B’ belonging to the Park’s Queen Royal Hotel, was replaced with a bus line as the regular passenger service and later was beached in the Hotel Bay. A view of this abandoned forty foot steam craft about the year 1910 with her ribs lying open to the elements may serve as a picture of the end of one era on the lake, still carrying its earliest Indian name of the Lake of the Big River, and the start of another era a little more like our own.
Writer Tells How Mississippi Lake Shores, Bays Named, by Howard Morton Brown, The Carleton Place Canadian, August 13, 1939 & March 29, 1956
Some few years ago, The Canadian was privileged to publish a story by Howard M. Brown on how the various bays and islands on the chain of Mississippi lakes obtained their names. The story was published in early spring, so we will repeat it for the benefit of many summer residents along the shores
It happens to be exactly 140 years ago since some of the province’s Indians of the nineteenth century were in sole possession of Lanark County, and all of Eastern Ontario, above a line a few miles north of the Rideau Lake and River. In the rest of Ontario the white settlements were still further south. That actually is no longer ago than the time of the grandparents of the last generation ahead of our senior generation of today. Another thirty-five year before that time the whole of Ottawa except around a few military forts or fur trading posts was in the hands of the Indians.
One of the reasons for the settlement of this new section in Lanark County was to help relieve a post war depression in the British Isles. The area was opened with a partial survey and first settlement of the three neighboring townships of Bathurst, Drummond and Beckwith in 1816. Within less than ten years practically the supposedly tillable land in Lanark County and the north half of Carleton County except government reserves, had been occupied by settlers, including more than a few who had been encouraged to clear land which proved worthless for cultivation. In the first year only about sixteen settlers got established as far north as the Mississippi or into any part of Beckwith Township. When we get to the east shore of the Big Lake, and near Tennyson, I will mention a few of them,
The Indians dispossessed here were Mississaugas who were a subtribe of the large nation of Ojibways. They had moved in from farther northwest after the Iroquois raids ended. They were a tribe which made an unusually wide use of wild plants for food, harvesting and storing large quantities of wild rice for the winter. They knew how to make maple sugar and to prepare dried berries and fruits for winter use. As hunters and fishermen they moved their camps about, by canoe in summer and by snowshoe and toboggan in winter. Their main efforts in this area were directed to moose in the winter, beaver small game and fish including suckers, pickerel and pike, in the spring and summer, while after the fall rice harvest they speared the larger fish spawning along the shores of some of the lakes, lake trout, whitefish and sturgeon. The Indian rights to this district were surrendered in a treaty made with the Mississaugas in 1819 at Kingston.
As the Indians were crowded out from the land on the north side of the Mississippi in the 1820’s, they gradually retreated northward and westward. Their Mississauga descendants are on reserved lands in the Kawartha Lakes area now. A few chose to stay near the new settlements in Lanark County, in areas not suitable for farming. In the 1890’s those still living at points near Carleton Place included groups at McIIquham’s Bridge and at the Floating Bridge. Big Joe Mitchell and Joe Baye were among the better known of the last local Indians.
John Cram left us the first settlers’ story of the Indians and the river here.
He was one of the nearest settlers to the river in this immediate vicinity. He came with the emigration in 1818 of about 300 persons from Perthshire to Beckwith Township, and his land included the site of the United Cemeteries. He left a story of finding the river by hearing the sound of a waterfall on a still day when he and a neighbor were clearing land together. They agreed on an exploring expedition. The next day, going along old Indian trails and new surveyors’ line they followed the sound until they reached the head of the falls, first viewing it from the present site of the Carleton Place Town Hall. On arriving according to his story as last told by him over 75 years ago, they saw a tall Indian woman leave the shore and plunge across in the shallow water to the north side, where there was an Indian camp. At that time and until the first dams were built, a long rapids extended above the falls here. At the place between the present Ritchie mill and the powerhouse there still was a rocky tree-covered island less than a hundred years ago, as well as a falls.
The next year the Indian campground became part of the farmland grants of Edmond Morphy and his family, newly arrived from Littleton in Tipperary. Four members of the family drew two township lots that became the centre of the town, from Lake Park Avenue to the township line. At the same time (which was September 1819), William Moore and his sons William and John obtained 300 acres extending from the present Lake Avenue to the 11th line road, including the greater part of the present town area south of Lake Avenue. The village had its start with the building of Hugh Boulton’s grist mill in 1820. Its future as a town was assured when the railway arrived some 40 years later in 1859. The bigger sawmills began in the 1860’s. Municipal incorporation as a village separate from Beckwith township, came in 1870 (village population 1,226) and new industries and a railway line to Ottawa. The railway shops and further growth followed in the 80’s and 90’s with incorporation as a town of over 4,000 in 1890. Then came the further expansion of the foundry and the textile mills, from the early 1900’s.
Passing over the story of the beginnings of the town and heading up the river, Manny’s Pier, the only restored pier of the lumbering days, is one of the first landmarks for our purpose. It’s name has a settlers’ story to it. The land along the north shore, from the Morphy’s to the mouth of the river, and running back to the town line road, was taken up in 1820 by six settlers. One was David Moffatt, ancestor of the Moffatt’s of Carleton Place. The next land east of the Moffatt’s was Manny Nowlan’s whose name we have in Manny’s Pier.
Manny Nowlan later owned the Morris Tavern where the long misrepresented Battle of the Ballygiblins of 1824 started. This first inn of the new village was on Mill Street, next the river and immediately east of the present Public Utilities Commission Office. At that time the north side of the river was still new farmland and forest. There was no bridge and the river crossing was by boat. The first few commercial buildings were on and around Mill Street. The first local road, which ran from the Road at Franktown and including the present Bridge Street, Carleton Place was authorized by the District Magistrate in 1823 and cleared in large part in 1824. Through the last century this road then a township road retained its original name of the Mill Road.
On the east side of Manny Nowlan’s farm the land was occupied by two settlers who did not stay there long. One was Thomas Burns. They were succeeded within about ten years as farmers on these two properties, by the second Peter Cram and John McRostie. John McRostie’s original stone home, standing at the river bank at Flora Street on the east side what was his farm was built in about the 1830’s.
At the other end of the row of six farms was Nicholas Dixon whose name we have in Dixon’s Point at the mouth of the river. Before passing Dixon’s Point we can look across to Indians Landing on the south shore. Fred Hunter recalls that when he was a small boy, Indians still came there in the spring on their way down the Mississippi with their season’s furs loaded in their long canoes.
On the return trip they camped against Indians Landing, sometimes staying there for most of the summer. Joe and Johnny Baye made their local headquarters there in the 1880’s and 90’s. They sold boats including dugouts made of ash and basswood, and many of their axe handles and colored hampers and clothes baskets were sold in the stores of the town. Joe Baye and his white wife also lived at the Floating Bridge on the Indian River in Ramsay. He died in the Almonte hospital in 1928.
Below Indians Landing the land at the end of Lake Avenue was the 100 acre farm of George Willis, who came here in 1820 and was the great grandfather of Henry Willis. His son, also named George, farmed there after him and raised a musically inclined family, including the third George who in his youth seems to have been the best known local musician of his time. With his bagpipes and his fiddle he gave the Scots and Irish their favorite airs, according to the occasion from the Flowers of Edinburgh to the Reel of Tulloch, and from Rory O’More to the Boys of Kilkenny and Donnybrook Fair. Around the time of the Fenian Raids he was a bandmaster of an early town band.
Above Indians Landing the farm running from the mouth of the river, to the eleventh line was the Fisher farm ; settled by Duncan Fisher in 1821, and the little point there was Fisher’s Point. The farm was owned by Brice McNeely in later years and still remains with that family.
Crossing back to Dixon’s Point, Mr. Dixon was an Englishman who came in 1820 with a wife and seven children. His farm where he lived for over forty years, and his stone house appear to have included part of what is now the Caldwell Lock End Ranch. He had a potash works on the part facing the river, called Dixon’s Landing, opposite Indians Landing. The trotting races held on the ice at Dixon’s Landing began as early as 1858.
The next stop in the Lower Lake is Nagle’s Shore now owned by the McDiarmid Estate. Richard Nagle had lived his latter years at the present Caldwell Summer home until 1891. His brother Patrick occupied the adjoining farm along the shore. Nagle’s Shore was bought by William McDiarmid in 1900, including W. P. Nagle’s lakeshore residence. This north shore, a regatta centre now and 75 years ago, came next to Lake Park for some years as the most popular place for this purpose. One of a series of several annual regattas of the early 1880’s was held off Nagle’s Shore at a time when rowing races had caught the public fancy almost to the extent of football or World Series baseball now. Ned Hanlen, famous world champion and world-travelled oarsman, brought the crowds to Carleton Place for two of these regattas, which drew competitors from such district rowing centres as Brockville, Prescott, and Ottawa. Sponsered by the local Boating Club, these annual events wound up in the evening in the lower river with open air concerts, fireworks, and torchlight parades of decorated boats. At one of them the added attraction, a balloon ascension, ended with a wind blowing the balloon into the river.
Along the northwest side from the Birch Point cottage shore to the upper corner of Kinch’s Bay the lake is in Ramsay Township. The Hogsback Shore running from near the former Thackaberry farm towards McCreary’s Creek is of course named for the raised hogs back ridge along the water’s edge. McCreary’s Creek, navigable for its first half mile takes its name from the well known McCreary family nearby where William McCreary settled in 1823. His grandson, Hiram, was the local member of the Legislature in Premier Drury’s Farmer Government after the first World War. The big bay itself with its wild rice and unusual deeper channels, is named for John Kinch, whose farm was between Mcreary’s and the upper side of the bay. After his death in 1865 his son farmed there and the farm later became Bowland’s.
How Black Point got its name does not seem to be known. It could well be that it was named Black Point from the early deaths by drowning here. The first recorded drowning in the lake was that of a pioneer settler, John Code who was drowned near here in 1849. The double drownings took place off this shore, Alex Gillies and Peter Peden in 1878, and Dick Willis and Noble Bennett in 1893. All the drownings were from boats capsized in the rice.
Poole’s Point was called McCann’s Point for many years until the early 1900’s both names coming from the owners of the adjoining farmland.
Code’s Bay, the northwest side of the Second Lake, well filled with rice and sometimes with duck hunters, is another of the locations named for the first settlers as is Code’s Creek and Landing, John Code Sr., John Jr. and George Code, each drew farms with the Scotch Corners Settlement of about 12 farms in 1822. George Code lived to 1890 and the age of 93. Another long lived Scotch Corners resident was Wm. Henry Poole who died there at the age of 96 in 1928. He was an enthusiastic hunter and trapper in his day as well as a farmer.
Coming into the third or Middle Lake King’s Bay, extending from above the Two Oaks cottage shore to the cottages of Squaw Point was named for Colin King of the 1822 Scotch Corners settlement. The official names of the point at the Two Oaks Shore, and the island beside it commonly called Dinky Dooley, are King Point and King Island, according to the government map.
Aberdeen Island was bought and named in 1893 by Colin Sinclair, son of John Sinclair who came to Scotch Corners in 1822. It was Colin Sinclair who started his Carleton Place tailoring business in the early 1850’s. He also bought King Island. The nickname Dinky Dooley was for Bell Saunders and Charlie Morphy who had a camp there.
The high and rocky Laurentian formation of much of the upper lake shores starts here. (According to the geolist, this was a seashore in some distant age, as shown by the numerous fossils in the limestone on the other side of the lake.)
Squaw Point, one of the best known landmarks on the course, looks like a logical Indian campsite, with a lookout and a sheltered landing and we have it on the authority of Fred Hunter that that is what it was. The depth of this part of the lake increases greatly and out of it near the middle rise the tops of the Two Crabs, the smallest islands in the lake.
Willis’ Landing is the next old northwest shore, headquarters. The nearby island, separated from the mainland by a narrow, rock-sided channel was named Sinclair’s Island for the Sinclairs of Scotch Corners whose original farm was near here. In the middle of the lake here is Green Island, which had that name before it was bought as a cottage site in 1915 by Mr. W. J. Hughes.