SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTY-EIGHT: Canada’s Centennial (5) Part Two

Carleton Place Canadian

12 May, 1966

By Howard Morton Brown

 

The companies of the 42nd Battalion from Perth, Smiths Falls, Almonte, Fitzroy and Landsdowne all were at Brockville within twenty-four hours.  No. 4 Company of Fitzroy, under Captain Allan Fraser, with the greatest distance to travel, mustered at Kinburn, moving from there by wagon to Pakenham and by rail to Brockville.  Captain John A. Macdonald’s history of the Fenian Raids states:

“The Forty Second did very great service in protecting the railway docks and other points of landing at Brockville, besides patrolling the river banks as far east as Maitland, thus keeping up a chain of communication with the garrison at Prescott.  Several ‘scares’ occurred during the time they were on service, which caused sleepless nights, but by their vigilance the Fenians were deterred from making an attack.”

At Prescott, opposite which a large body of Fenians had gathered at Ogdensburg, seven hundred and fifty officers and men were placed under Lieut. Colonel Jackson, Brigade Major of the 8th Brigade Division.  The greatest probability of attack from Fenians assembled at Malone was deemed to be on Cornwall.  The Cornwall command was placed with Lieut. Colonel Atcherly, Deputy Adjutant General of Military District No. 4.  Here the 59th Battalion was mustered, joined by the 41st Battalion by steamboat from Brockville with its Pakenham, Carleton Place, Perth, Merrickville, Brockville and Gananoque companies and accompanied by its Carleton Place battalion band.  A valuable corps of about sixty mounted scouts was gathered, and an armed steamer patrolled the river.  Here as at other Ontario points the Fenians failed to venture across the water in the face of the defences mounted for their reception.  Fenians at Buffalo who had gathered from several states, intending to cross the river after a successful outcome of the Quebec frontier operations, soon returned to their homes and the Fenian Raids of 1870 were at an end.

 

On Guard Against The Fenians

The 41st Battalion’s Carleton Place No. 5 Company and Band serving at Cornwall totalled fifty-three officers and men, under Captain John Brown and Ensign David McPherson.  Its lieutenant, J. Jones Bell, had left earlier in the month to become an officer of the Ontario Battalion in the expedition to quell the Red River Rebellion.  No. 5 Company non-commissioned officers were Sergeants Robert W. Bell, Ephriam Kilpatrick and Robert Metcalf; Corporals James Moore, A. Hume, William Patterson and William Rattray, and Bandmaster J. C. Bonner.  Of the forty-three privates in the Carleton Place Company and Band on active service at Cornwall no more than three had been with the company in its Brockville service in 1866.  They were George McPherson, George Willis and Richard Willis, all of the regimental band.

Among other No. 5 Company privates from the Carleton Place area serving at Cornwall during the 1870 raids were Samuel Crampton, Frank Boyle, Alex and John Drynan, David Henry, James Irvine, Henry Metcalf, William Moffatt, David Moffatt, blacksmith, and David Moffatt, carpenter, William Munro, George Morphy, William Murray, Daniel McDougall, Brice McNeely, Jerome McNeely and Thomas McNeely, Charles Patterson, William Pittard, William Poole, John Rattray, Duncan Stewart, W. S. Watson, and Alex Wilson.

David Moffatt (1848-1926), carpenter, a private of age 22 during the 1870 raids, became a building contractor and planning mill operator with his brother Samuel, later of Renfrew, and was the father of William, Howard and Lloyd Moffatt.  His father James (1819-1901) lived then in the stone house remaining on the riverside beyond the end of High Street, where David Moffatt senior in 1820 had become one of the early farm settlers of the vicinity of Carleton Place.  Daniel McDougall and later his son Norman were farmers on Glen Isle.  Charles Patterson was then age 19 and a cabinetmaker with William Patterson.  William W. Pittard (1850-1938), who was a printer with the Carleton Place Herald, founded in 1882 the Almonte Times, which he published until his retirement.  Unmarried, he died at age 88 in a fire in his Almonte home.  During the First World War he was mayor of Almonte.  William Poole, age 21, was the eldest son of the Herald publisher.  John Rattray, 21, and Corporal William Rattray, 25, were sons of William Rattray (1812-1898), Beckwith 11th Line farmer who came there with his parents in 1822.

Bandmaster J. C. Bonner recently had opened a shop selling musical instruments and stationery on Bridge Street near Bell Street, and advertised his services as “Band Master, Teacher of Piano, Melodeon, Organ, Voice, Thorough Bass and Harmony, Violin, etcetera.”  Sergeant Robert Metcalf, hotel-keeper, and Corporal William Patterson, cabinetmaker, were the other non-commissioned officers of the battalion’s Carleton Place band at Cornwall.  Other band members included Privates Joseph H. Bond, 30, tinsmith; William Glover, 33, blacksmith; James Morphy, 27, butcher; and James Munro, 39, carpenter; also Alex. McLean, 19, carpenter; John McLean, 25, store clerk; George McPherson, 30, later hotelkeeper; and Franklin Teskey, 29, later a town councillor, son of Appleton miller Joseph Teskey.  Privates George E. Willis, 26, photographer, Richard Willis, 29, and William Willis, 22, sons of Lake Avenue West farmer George Willis; and Joseph Wilson, 27, later hotelkeeper and Alex. Wilson, 20, sons of Dr. William Wilson, completed the 1870 roll of band musicians of the 41st Battalion in its short period of active service at Cornwall.

At the collapse of the Fenian campaign the Canadian militia forces were released from duty, in most cases within ten days of their last service postings, receiving an official statement of the “gratitude and admiration of their Queen and country”.  Reporting on the repulses of the “cut throats in green”, Major Poole wrote:  “The military officers who had an opportunity of observing the conduct of the volunteers speak in enthusiastic terms of their endurance, courage and discipline”.  In Carleton Place a victory ball and supper “in a style not to be surpassed” was held for the volunteers in the stone building on the corner of Bridge and High Streets which was then William Kelly’s British Hotel.

Veterans who had seen active service in Ontario in 1866 or 1870 became entitled eventually to provincial grants of 160 acres of Crown lands.  Service medals, some of which survive as family heirlooms, bear the receiver’s name and rank, a portrait of the queen and a design representing Canada, with a clasp carrying the words Fenian Raid 1866, or 1870.  Eighteen veterans of the Fenian Raids marched at Carleton Place thirty years later, together with Andrew Dunlop, Crimean War medallist, in an impressive parade and reception held in November, 1900, on the return of Alex. C. Cram from the South African War.  Some twenty-five veterans of the Raids who had served with the Carleton Place company and still were residents of the town included Maurice Burke, John Burke, William Beck, John Cavers, William Glover, David Moffatt, James Munro, David McPherson, Patrick Tucker, William Pattie and William Patterson.

Militia appointments of commissioned officers of No. 5 Company, Carleton Place, 41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles, made three years after the 1870 Fenian Raids, were Lieutenant Robert W. Bell as Captain, replacing David McPherson, resigned; Joseph Cram as Lieutenant, and George Gillies as Ensign replacing William Poole, deceased.  Joseph McKay, son of James McKay, Bell Street baker, rose in his long militia service here from lieutenant of No. 5 Company in the late 1870’s  to lieutenant colonel of his regiment at the turn of the century.  Rifle Ranges at Carleton Place were constructed during Lieut. Colonel McKay’s command.  Carleton Place No. 5 Company in the 1890’s had become No. 2 Company of the 42nd Lanark and Renfrew Regiment, which it remained in the years up to the opening of the First World War.  In August 1914, its first twelve volunteers for overseas active service left Carleton Place, commanded by Captain William H. Hooper.  They were sergeants Horace Brown, James McGill and George New; privates Robert Borland, Lochart Campbell, Leonard Halsey, Joseph Hamilton, Harry McLaren, Neil McPhee, Ernest Reynolds and Arthur Simons; and their captain, Will Hooper.

When Canada’s accomplishments of the past and promise of the future are being recognized in the Centennial of Confederation, and honours paid to its defenders and servants of peace and war, the military volunteers who were ready to offer their lives in the confederation decade will have a secure place among those worthy of remembrance.

 Officer in the 41st Brockville Rifle Battalion.  Likely Capt. James Condie Poole, first Company Commander of No. 5 Company (Carleton Place)

Officer in the 41st Brockville Rifle Battalion. Likely Capt. James Condie Poole, first Company Commander of No. 5 Company (Carleton Place)

No. 5 Company (Carleton Place) 41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles:  From left to right: James Storey, William Dack, Donald Stewart, William Duff, Patrick Tucker.

No. 5 Company (Carleton Place) 41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles:
From left to right: James Storey, William Dack, Donald Stewart, William Duff, Patrick Tucker.

These Photos are courtesy of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.  Thanks Jennifer!

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Sharing Memories, Week Thirty-Four: Canada’s Centennial (4)-Part One of Three

 

Confederation’s Armed Defenders Recalled : First Part

Carleton Place Canadian, 28 April, 1966

By Howard M. Brown

 

When agreement was being reached for the attainment of Canada’s Confederation, the borders of the present provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick were manned with Canadian and British forces prepared to repel invasion.  The strange enemy was the private army of the Fenian Brotherhood and its so-called Irish Republic of North America.  It was based in a northern United States flushed but worn by its Civil War success and lacking to this extreme degree in an attitude of friendship for Great Britain and Canada.

The Fenians and their followers quickly formed a misguided but large and reckless organization.  Their preparations had been carried out with the tolerance of the United States government during the term of office of one of that nation’s worst presidents.  Canada, by the Fenian plan, was to become Irish Fenian territory from which, with the aid of other nations, Ireland would be freed from England’s rule.  Then Canada might possibly be handed over to the United States. 

The Fenian Raids against Canada in 1866, renewed in 1870, came from a fertile soil for this mad scheme.  Calling their organization an Irish Republic, the American Fenian leaders and their delegates from most of the then existing states of the union met in Cincinnati in September, 1865, and adopted a paper constitution modeled on that of the United States.  Its active parts were its War Department and its Treasury.  Foot-loose soldiers trained in the Civil War were available by the thousand and not averse to conquest and plunder.  The tools and the spirit of war were in abundant supply.  With more able Fenian direction Canada might have paid dearly.

The main encounters of the 1866 Raids were in Welland County and in the Eastern Townships in the first week of June.  They were recalled in the first installment of this story of invasion dangers accompanying our Confederation, for which local and national Centennial celebrations now are being prepared.  The Eastern Ontario points considered most threatened were Cornwall, Prescott, Brockville and Kingston.  Some two thousand troops hastily placed at Cornwall included parts of two British regiments and militia of Cornwall, Argenteuil County, Kingston and Ottawa.

At Prescott a force of similar size included several companies of British troops and militia units of Hawkesbury, Belleville, Gananoque and the Ottawa area.  Two of the latter companies were those of Fitzroy and Pakenham.  Prescott’s Fort Wellington was strengthened and supplied with artillery reinforcements.  Kingston’s fortifications remained garrisoned by British troops.  Its district district militia units of rifles, infantry, artillery and cavalry went on active service standing.  With lighter forces of the Ottawa area the capital city of Ottawa also was garrisoned.

Brockville’s defences were provided by the rifle companies of Brockville, Carleton Place and Perth and the infantry companies of Almonte, Perth, Brockville and Gananoque, under Lieut. Colonel James Crawford.  A principal historical account of the Fenian Raids published in 1910 states:  “These companies were exceedingly efficient, and did great service in guarding the riverfront and railway communications at Brockville.  Col. Crawford and his troops received great praise from the Major-General for the very satisfactory manner in which they did their duty on these trying occasions.”  (John A. Macdonald, writer of the 1910 history of the Fenian Raids, served on the Niagara frontier in 1866 and 1870, founded and edited the Arnprior Chronicle, and was a captain of the 43rd Battalion, Ottawa and Carleton Rifles.)

Captain James Poole’s newspaper’s report of the departure of June 3 of the Carleton Place company for the front said in part:

“After having been on the alert for about twenty-four hours awaiting an order to proceed to the frontier, a hurried dispatch was received about midnight on Sunday that the volunteer companies of Carleton Place and Almonte should be ready in about an hour to repair to Brockville by a special train.  At 2:30 a.m. on Sunday the train arrived bringing the Almonte Company of Infantry under the command of Captain Gemmill.  The Carleton Place Rifle Company commanded by Captain Poole and Lieutenant Brown were in waiting, having been accompanied to the station by over a hundred of our citizens.  At the request of Captain Poole the Rev. J. A. Preston addressed the men.

It was a solemn and moving sight, the moonlight giving a dim view of the outline of the ranks and the friends and relatives moving to and fro as they took leave of those near and dear to them, discharging their duty to defend out hearths and homes against the invasion of a lawless band of marauders.  As the train left the station three hearty cheers from the citizens rang the air, lustily re-echoed by the true men whom we hope to welcome soon again.”

To be continued……

 

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTY-THREE : Canada’s Centennial (3)

 

 War Clouds Menaced Confederation—Canada

By Howard M. Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 14 April, 1966

 

In the last year of the founding of the Dominion of Canada, storm clouds surrounded the disturbed Canadian springtime of 1866.  To our forefathers of the towns and farms of the present provinces of Ontario and Quebec, rallying to the defence of their southern border, these storm signals gave new practical weight to the merits of forming a federal union with the provinces of their Atlantic neighbours.

Preserved among the remaining vivid Eastern Ontario pictures of Canada’s spirit of 1866 are the news and editorial columns of the Carleton Place weekly newspaper of that day.  They reflect the indignation and confidence of a province bracing itself to meet the threat of guerrilla attacks which might be made with the tolerance or tacit consent of United States authorities.  The generally similar view shown in newspapers and public attitudes in the future first Dominion of Canada in that troubled time is illustrated by such statements as these, made in this district’s widely circulated Carleton Place Herald:

“It appears almost incredible that the Fenian operations should have been allowed to be carried on in the States to so great a length as they have been.  But at latest reports the Washington authorities seem very little inclined to check their operations, and seem rather amused at the trouble, danger and expense to which the British provinces are subjected.  Mr. Seward (United States Secretary of State), may have to laugh on the other side of his mouth before the American government is done with Fenianism, its consequences and its responsibilities.”

“Prejudiced, although unfairly so, as the Americans are against us, we have but little to hope for or expect from their goodwill to us.  Indeed, without their countenance and support the present state of things could not have existed.  But in their own circumstances we have a reasonable guarantee that they will, if they have not already gone too far, stop the movement.  They know well too that the very first effect of a war with John Bull would be the total and irreparable loss of the fruits of their four years’ struggle with the South, with national bankruptcy and a long train of other evils.  We must not shut our eyes to the fact that if unhappily a war should take place with the United States, Britain and her colonies would suffer severely in the struggle.”

“At Ottawa during the past week guards have been placed at night on the armoury, the banks and the Railway Depot.  The city has a martial appearance.  Bugles are sounding, and the tramp of armed men is becoming familiar to our ears.  The number of volunteers in the city must now be over five hundred men.  There may be no actual necessity for this but it is better to be sure than sorry.

Large reinforcements from England are expected here shortly.  At present we have about ten thousand regulars in Canada, besides eleven thousand volunteers on duty.  Then there are at least fifteen thousand fully armed and ready at a moment’s notice, another eight thousand militia could soon be made available.  The Government has had an immense number of offers of veterans and others who are well drilled.”

A visitor’s impressions of the Carleton Place Rifle Company during its March, 1866 first call to arms were given in the Brockville Recorder, whose writer said:

“We learn from a gentleman who was travelling on the Brockville & Ottawa Railway that on Friday last a company of volunteers, fine looking men under Captain Poole, made their appearance at the Carleton Place railway station in full uniform, guns and bayonets in first best style.  Indeed a gentleman present said he never saw a better looking company of men, or arms better kept.  The company was led by the good old Scotch bag pipes and drum, well played.  The Captain and officers may be proud of their men.  If the interests of the country require it, this company will give a good account of themselves.  When the train started three cheers were given for the Queen, and three more for the Carleton Place volunteers.”

A brigade and divisional muster and review was held at this time (March 23 and 24) at Montreal.  Its proceedings, as reported by Captain Poole in the Carleton Place Herald, included imposition of a severe sentence of a court martial, later greatly reduced, for an unfortunate corporal of the Carleton Place Rifle Company:

“On Friday last, the Militia Brigade mustered at the City Hall in Montreal.  The sentence of the Court Martial on two of the volunteers belonging to the Shefford Light Infantry Company was read by the Assistant Adjutant General, George Smith.  The charge against the men was simply one of gross insubordination, and they were sentenced to sixty days imprisonment without hard labor.”

“On Saturday there was a ‘Grand Divisional Field Day’ of the whole garrison, regulars and volunteers.  The First Brigade, on the left, consisted of H. R. Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade, the 25th.  King’s Own Borderers and the 30th Regiment.  The Second Brigade was composed of the Volunteer Militia, under command of Colonel Dyde, Brigadier.  The inspecting officer was Lieut. General Sir John Michel (then commanding Her Majesty’s forces in North America).”

“In Colonel Dyde’s staff we noticed Lieut. Colonel George Smith, A.A.G.  After the inspection the route of march was then taken up.  Each regiment was preceded by its band.  On completing a lengthy march by way of the following streets…., the regulars proceeded to the barracks and the volunteers turned into Craig Street at the French Square.”

“The volunteers then marched up to the Victoria Square, where the Brigade was drawn up in square of close column and the proceedings and sentence of a Court Martial on Corporal Patrick Tucker of the Carleton Place (C.W.) Rifles were read by Assistant Adjutant General George Smith.  The offence proved in this case was gross insubordination.  The sentence of the Court was ninety days imprisonment, the first and last seven days with hard labour.  At the conclusion of this unpleasant part of the day’s proceedings, the several corps marched off to their armories and dispersed.”

The thanks of Carleton Place to its volunteers at the end of their March service was offered at an oyster supper for the Rifle Company, held within the stone walls of William Kelly’s British Hotel at the corner of Bridge and High Streets, in an evening of songs and speeches.  One erring member of the Company, found after this event to have ‘persisted in wearing his uniform clothes for days together and even sleeping in them’, was fined five dollars with an alternative of ten days in jail.

Expectations of further dangers, which soon were to come, called for continued preparation and frontier watchfulness in the interval between March and June.  In their local prediction in the Carleton Place Herald three months before the June abortive invasion our chronicle Captain Poole wrote, in part:

“By recent orders from Headquarters the several companies relieved from active duty are required to assemble for drill twice a week, for which the non-commissioned officers and men are to receive each the sum of fifty cents for each drill:  the commissioned officers, nothing.  Until further orders the Carleton Place Rifle Company will assemble on Wednesdays and Saturdays at four o’clock.”

“The country is threatened with invasion by a reckless horde of robbers and scoundrels.  The danger may possibly be postponed but there is little doubt  that before many weeks it will come to the hard pinch, and we trust every volunteer will show himself to be A Man And A Soldier, and ‘rally round the flag’ in defence of his country and his home.”

The strains created by an aggressive United States and the threats from irregular forces within its borders were giving their unintended impetus to the union of the Province of Canada with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, then in its final stages of negotiation.  This was the Herald forecast:

“The idea of Confederation is making rapid strides in the Lower Provinces.  The prospect of ultimate success now amounts to almost a certainty.  The ‘blue noses’ are beginning to regard Canadians as friends and neighbours and are almost inclined to cultivate a closer relationship.  Canadian capital and enterprise would, it is believed, give a powerful stimulus to the progress of New Brunswick and the other colonies.  Again, the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty showed, too clearly to be misunderstood, the necessity of commercial union between the Provinces.  The feeling was made stronger by the avowed annexationist doctrines of some American politicians, and their supposed sympathy with the Fenian movement.  The demonstrations of the latter Order on the frontier, with their statements that they were determined to frustrate the Confederation scheme, sever the Colonies from Britain and erect them into a Republic, also have had their effect.”

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTY-TWO : Canada’s Centennial (2)

 

Invasion Threatened When Local Units Trained

By Howard M. Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 31 March, 1966

 

Fifty years before Canadian volunteer soldiers began to leave their home towns in 1914 for overseas service, men equally prepared to risk their lives for Canada were forming the first active service military units of many Canadian towns.  Their fortunately brief defence service was in the years of the Fenian Raids of the 1860’s, when the last armed invasions of Canada came to challenge our national Confederation.

Among these defenders were more than fifty men of the Carleton Place Rifle Company.  The Carleton Place Rifle Company was formed at the start of the first expansion of a trained and permanent volunteer militia of the old Province of Canada, made to meet the risk of possible war between the United States and Great Britain at the outset of the American Civil War.  Like those of neighbouring localities and others throughout the province, it replaced a venerable succession of local but normally untrained and unarmed companies of the original sedentary militia.  A view of the participation of this community, then an unincorporated village, in Canada’s first major development of its own military forces is given in the pages of the locally published weekly newspapers of that day.

When war threats and consequent militia expansion came in 1862, local demand led to the formation of the first trained and equipped militia company to be based at Carleton Place.  In January of that year, in the words of the local Herald editor:

“At a meeting of some of the inhabitants of Carleton Place and vicinity, held at Lavallee’s Hotel on Saturday evening last, it was unanimously resolved that: – ‘In view of the unsettled state of affairs between the British and American governments and the possibility of war, it is expedient that a rifle company should be formed in this village and neighbourhood, to aid in the defence of their country.’

A muster roll was then opened and signed by those present at the meeting.  Several others have since added their names, making in all upwards of sixty.”

This number, including some young men of nearby farms, appears to equal nearly half of the total number of men of ages 18 to 40 living then in Carleton Place.

The gazetting of the Carleton Place Volunteer Militia Rifle Company came in December, 1862, with James Poole as captain and John Brown as lieutenant.  Within a month it was equipped and undertaking military training.  The Perth Courier in December stated:

“Volunteer Rifle Companies are organizing in all parts of the country.  In Carleton Place a Company has been Gazetted under Capt. Poole.  The volunteer movement if properly encouraged will soon result in twenty or thirty thousand well disciplined men.  Let it be made imperative on every Militia officer to be well drilled, and Canada would soon have her militia on a footing that would be ready for all emergencies.  At present the supply of Drill Instructors is sadly inadequate.”

The newly authorized company was first paraded in greatcoat uniforms on New Year’s Day, when its captain, news editor James Poole, wrote:

“According to notice given, the members of this company assembled in front of the ‘Herald’ office on the morning of New Year’s Day.  After being dressed in the coats and accoutrements forwarded by the Government from Quebec, they were drilled by Robert Bell, Jr., nephew of Robert Bell, Esq., M.P.P. for the North Riding.  They paraded the streets several times, and from the manner of performing the drill, dictated by their youthful teacher for the time, have given great promise of future utility, should any unfortunate occasion arise.”

By mid-July it was announced:

“In a few days the new clothing will be ready for distribution, and Carleton Place will be able to turn out one of the best looking Rifle Companies in Canada.  The Company will continue to drill as usual every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening.”

Another summer notice stressed the need for target practice, as judged by the captain of the Carleton Place Company, who published the names and scores of marksmanship of each of some sixty militiamen:

“A rifle shooting match was held near this village on Saturday last, the 15th instant, between the Carleton Place Rifle Company and the Infantry Company from Almonte.  The Riflemen were requested to be in uniform at the armoury at six o’clock in readiness to march to the station to meet the Almonters. 

The Riflemen were uniformed in the regular Rifle dress – dark green tunics and grey pants, with red facings, dark belts and shakos to match.  The Infantry wore the scarlet tunics, gray pants, white belts and shakos trimmed to suit.  The shooting was conducted under the able management of Sergt. Cantlin.  The shooting on both sides was bad, and much below the average, there being but a few men in either company sufficiently practiced with the rifle.  The following is the score of points…”

(Totalling Almonte 107, Carleton Place 106).

A mid-winter inspection of these two companies in February, 1864, as reported by Captain Poole, showed the required drilling which lay ahead:

“The Almonte Infantry and Carleton Place Rifle Companies were inspected on Saturday last by Lt. Col. Earle of the Grenadier Guards, accompanied by Brigade Major Montgomery.  The attendance of both companies was much below what it should have been – The Almonte Company mustering only 27 including officers, and the Carleton Place Company 43.  The Colonel was well pleased with the condition of the arms and accoutrements of the men; but did not compliment them very highly on their proficiency in drill, which was owing to their very irregular attendance during the fall and winter.”

The American Civil War ended in the spring of the following year.  Within six months the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States was building its resources for its expected conquest of Canada, and in November, Canadian troops were posted for several months duty at border points from Prescott to Sarnia.

In Lanark County, contracts for erecting drill halls were let early in 1866 at Carleton Place and Almonte.  Construction of the Carleton Place armoury was aided by the promise of a £50 grant by the municipality.  It was built by William Pattie on the Beckwith Street site of the recently demolished skating rink bordering the park which then was the village market square.  Supported by its hand hewn beams, it remained a useful memorial of the perils of the 1860’s until destroyed in the town’s great fire of 1910.  Its use was granted at times for other community purposes ranging from the Beckwith Agricultural Society’s exhibitions of the 1860’s and the ambitious annual choral and musical festivals of the 1880’s to a series of Bishop R. C. Horner’s Hornerite revival meetings.  Almonte’s armoury was built for the combined purposes of the militia and the exhibitions of the North Lanark Agricultural Society.

When Fenian preparations in March had indicated they then might be about to attack, and ten thousand Canadian volunteers had been called for duty, no invasion occurred, although two minor ones were attempted.  Captain Poole’s Carleton Place newspaper reports of this time said:

“The rumors of a Fenian invasion have created a great stir through the country.  The volunteers are called for service and have responded nobly.  In our own village the company is filled up and is drilling three times a day.  The men are billeted on the inhabitants and have orders to be ready at a moments notice.”

Postponement came in two weeks, when it was reported (March 28) that:

“The prospect of a Fenian invasion of Canada is so far distant that the government feels justified in disbanding a portion of the volunteer force.  An order for the disbanding of the Carleton Place Rifle Company was received on Monday evening.  The bugle was sounded, and in a few minutes the whole company were at their posts.  They naturally thought that marching orders had been received, and were rather disappointed.

The new drill shed is to be completed by the first of September.  We would again express our gratification at the manner in which the company have conducted themselves while under arms.”

Forces on each side of the international boundary continued to prepare for a coming encounter.  Other views of the Canadian preparations will follow in the next section of this story of the times of Confederation.

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTY-ONE : Canada History Week, July 1-7, 2013 : Canada’s Centennial (1)

Border Raids Promoted Confederation in Canada

By Howard Morton Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 17 March, 1966

 

Community preparations for Confederation Centennial Celebrations are on the way throughout Canada.  They have begun already to reflect a new degree of the energy and self-respect gained by every nation which honours its great men and their deeds, and by every district and community which shows a sense of pride in its past accomplishments and a confidence in its future.

The uniting of Canada from the Atlantic to the West, and then to the Pacific and the Arctic Oceans, was not heralded only by the wise plans of our elected representatives, bewhiskered and top-hatted, meeting a century ago in sessions of hard bargaining and minor ceremony.  It came first from urgent needs of the town and country people of Ontario and Quebec, and those of the Atlantic provinces.  Their most pressing needs had become those of sheer self-preservation in a time of increasing difficulty.  The way out was seen at last to be a joining of British North American colonies into a confederation having the strength and will to survive and grow.  The amazing transformation which was to appear across much of the northern half of North America in the short space of one hundred years remained undreamed in the land which was to become second in geographical size to only the present union of Russia and second in material standards of living to only its United States southern neighbour.

The most dramatic of the pressures which rallied public unity and led to the forming of the infant federal union was one which came particularly close to home in this part of Canada.  It was a threat of long standing which reached its final stage in the last attacks to be made on our borders by armed forces of an enemy.  Canadian preparations and United States vaccilation reduced these last American-based assaults upon Canada to the proportions of guerrilla raids, made in the year before Confederation and renewed four years later.  They were met and repelled by our own volunteer soldiers, backed and aided by British troops.  These exploratory tests, launched with the ill-concealed encouragement of United States advocates of northern expansion, hastened and strengthened the Confederation which molded Canada into a nation united from its outset by fires of adversity.

The attempted Canadian invasions of 1866 and 1870 remain well remembered in local traditions in Ontario and Quebec as the now remote Fenian Raids.  Their backgrounds lay in the destructive horrors of the United States Civil War, which in 1861 introduced a decade of crisis in Canada.  Northern United States attitudes and conduct on the high seas, coupled with the needs of trade, brought immediate critical relations between Great Britain and the United States and the first large scale organization of a trained Canadian volunteer militia.

Apprehension remained at the end of the American Civil War in 1865 that restless Northern elements might turn to the harassment of their Canadian and other British colonial neighbours.  The move from the United States soon came.  It centered in an organization calling itself the Fenian Brotherhood, formed to promote by force the separation of Ireland from Great Britain.  Members of this Irish separatist group in the United States were joined at the end of the Civil War by thousands of demobilized Irish Americans and other unsettled adventurers ready for further military action.

Their leaders late in 1865 put in motion ambitious plans for raising a private army of sufficient strength to conquer and subvert at least a part of the adjoining British colonies.  They arrogantly claimed that, after conversion of these supposedly downtrodden colonies into a free Irish republic, their Irish Canada with the aid of other nations would drive the British eventually by force of arms from the motherland of Ireland.

The president of the United States was the deplorable and later impeached Andrew Johnson of Tennessee.  United States government authorities appeared to ignore and failed to stop the arming and drilling of thousands of American Fenian recruits at points extending from New Brunswick’s borders to the Niagara and western river frontiers of Canada.  Our Canadian government late in 1865 assigned volunteer militia units to several months of winter guard duty at Prescott, Niagara, Windsor and Sarnia.  The Brockville Rifle Company also served on night guard at Brockville from December until the first general call to the frontier in the following March.  A year earlier it had been one of the units of the forces guarding western points from Amherstburg to Sarnia, to prevent any repetition of a secretly planned Confederate raid from the Canadian side such as had been made on St. Albans, Vermont.

The Fenian forces gathered and were armed in the spring of 1866 at border mustering centres including Calais and Eastport in Maine, St. Albans and other places in northern Vermont, and in upper New York State at Malone, Potsdam and Ogdensburg and Cape Vincent, Oswego and Rochester.  Western and southern Fenian contingents arrived at Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo, Erie and Buffalo.  When a New Brunswick Fenian foray was blocked by both British and United States naval and military intervention, a three-pronged campaign against Canada was prepared.  One force was to enter at Fort Erie and cut canal and railway communications.  One was to cross at Prescott with Ottawa as its objective.  The third hoped to advance through the Eastern Townships on Montreal.

The Canadian government of the united present provinces of Ontario and Quebec had introduced an urgent militia bill when the early border stresses of the Civil War appeared.  It was designed to provide for a trained force of 50,000 men, raised by selective service if necessary, as compared to a number of not more than five thousand volunteers covered by the initial Canadian military training law of 1855.  The government was defeated on this conscription issue of 1862 but militia expansion began.  A similar act was passed at a later stage of the American war.  Voluntary enlistments and Fenian defeats made it unnecessary to invoke its provisions of compulsion for the balloted enrolments, which were initiated but not enforced.

Defence action in 1866 began against threatened March attacks which failed to materialize.  Ten thousand volunteers were called up at militia centres throughout the area of Ontario and Quebec, then in its last year as the Province of Canada.  The greater part of this number was dispatched to guard the united province’s long and vulnerable southern approaches.  Fourteen thousand men had responded to the call.  Among those alerted for action were seven Lanark and Leeds companies forming a provisional battalion under Major James Crawford of Brockville.  It was composed of the rifle and infantry companies of both Perth and Brockville, the Carleton Place Rifle Company under Captain James C. Poole, the Almonte Infantry Company under Captain James D. Gemmill, and the Gananoque Rifle Company.  Severe cold and several weeks of frosty Canadian guard and drilling duties postponed the Fenian invasion.

The Main Attack

The main attack came three months later when an advance contingent of more than one thousand Fenians, led by their general John O’Neill, crossed the Niagara River by boat from Buffalo and entered Canada at the first of June near Fort Erie.  They were met the next day by a slightly larger force of Canadian militiamen.  In the Battle of Ridgeway and in a Fort Erie engagement, Canadian casualties were about ten killed and forty wounded.  Among those of the ranks of the Queen’s Own Rifles killed in the action at Ridgeway was John H. Mewburn, university student, age 21, only son of Harrison C. Mewburn who at this time was headmaster of the Carleton Place grammar school.  With losses close to twice the Canadian number and with laggard American military prevention of their reinforcement, the Fenians withdrew across the river.

From Vermont about one thousand of the Fenians who had gathered at St. Albans entered the Eastern Townships on June 4.  Until effective Canadian forces reached the area, they plundered the neighbourhood of Frelighsburg, Pigeon Hill, and St. Armand for several days.  With slight losses they withdrew due to lack of reinforcements.  After the launching of these unsuccessful Canadian raids, American authorities tardily disarmed and dispersed the main border forces of these invaders, and charged and released on bail a number of their leaders. 

The thrust of the third prong of Fenian attack, intended along the St. Lawrence front between Kingston and Cornwall, failed to develop when all troops available in the area of Eastern Ontario were placed on active service to oppose it.  Militia companies and units of British regiments joined in the defence of Kingston, Prescott and Cornwall, in all about three thousand at Kingston, two thousand at Prescott and two thousand at Cornwall.  Brockville river front and railway communications were protected by the provisional battalion which already had been called up in March, formed of the Brockville, Perth, Carleton Place, Almonte and Gananoque companies.  Most of the Canadian militia at the end of the 1866 Fenian Raids was released after about three weeks’ active service.  The remainder continued on guard duty for periods up to six months.

United States authorities provided railway transportation for some thousands of the Fenian forces to their home towns from points including Buffalo, Malone and St. Albans.  A July resolution passed by the House of Representatives reflected United States attitudes by recommending suspension of proceedings in the United States courts on all charges against Fenians wherever possible and sought release of Canada’s Fenian prisoners who had been captured in their unprovoked armed assaults upon this province. 

The prisoners captured at Fort Erie were removed to Toronto where on preliminary inquiry about forty were discharged and deported.  Trials of forty remanded prisoners opened in Toronto in October before Mr. Justice John Wilson and a jury, and continued until January.  The judge, a native of Lanark County, had himself in his youth been tried as a principal in the fatal Wilson-Lyons duel at Perth.  Half of these accused were acquitted.  The remainder, convicted of high treason in the case of British subjects and the rest under a law passed for such cases during the Canadian Rebellion period, were sentenced to be hanged.  After several of the convictions were appealed unsuccessfully, the sentences all were commuted to varying terms of imprisonment in Portsmouth Penitentiary at Kingston, and within a few years the last had been released.  Three of six convicted Missiquoi County Fenian prisoners also had been sentenced to be hanged, when  fourteen had been tried at Sweetsburg.

One of the Canadian estimates of this time of stress was that of Captain James Poole in his Carleton Place Herald.  While advocating moderation in punishment of the captured “dastard Fenian foes”, he declared in retrospect:

“Brother Jonathan has had his eye on Canada for a long time past, and though we read much about ‘friendly relations’ they exist only on paper.  Both the American government and Press have done all they could, with safety to themselves, to encourage the Fenians in an attack on Canada.  Had they not been afraid of a growl from the British Lion they would have done more.”

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTY

Late W. J. Welsh Recalls Story of Fire Department

By Howard Morton Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 04 July, 1963

 

Some fire department recollections from the early days of Carleton Place are concluded in this installment.  It recounts the late W. J. Welsh’s memories of some locally famed firemen, of firemen’s annual picnics and balls of more than half a century ago, and of the origins of the town’s present fire company and its predecessor during his childhood.

The Ocean Wave Fire Company was established under its present name by the Carleton Place municipal council in 1875.  Jack Welsh, widely known as “Baldy”, the grand old man of Canadian competitive paddling, died in Carleton Place in 1957 at the age of 96.  His story which follows was written by him in 1917 and was first published in this newspaper:

“What a flood of pleasant memories the name of this fine fire fighting force revives.  To those who know it in its splendor today a short sketch of its origin and early days might be of interest.  While I will not try to confine myself strictly to data, the nearness of it will suffice.

About the years 1868 or ’69, the need of some better means of fire protection than the bucket brigade was apparent and with that end in view a meeting of the village was called to discuss the matter.  The meeting was called to order by the late James Poole, editor of the Herald and captain of the volunteer company at that time.

It was held on the street near Glover’s carriage shop, and the chairman’s rostrum was the corner of the log fence where now stands the English church rectory.  A fire company was formed with Mr. Poole as captain, but they had no engine.  At that time, Robert Bell, who was a great lover of flowers, had a small hand engine or more properly a pump which he used for watering his garden.

He offered them this.  While it was a first class article for its purpose and there is no record of it being a failure at a fire, we will judge that it was a success.

Old Members

Among the members of the company at the time were:  W. Patterson, Alex. Wilson, William Glover, J. S. Nolan, William Rogers, William Pattie, J. R. Galvin, Nathaniel McNeely and others.

A larger engine was purchased as the brigade became more efficient and the need grew greater.  This was the ‘Defiance,” the first engine purchased by the village.  It was a hand engine, commonly called a man-killer.  Next was purchased the original Ocean Wave, also a hand engine but the most powerful of its kind at that time.

It required 40 men to work it, but when it was going it was a fire fighter.  It would throw a stream of water over Zion church spire, a feat our streamers are not capable of today.  In order to give the engine a fair trial and initiate the firemen into the proper working of it the Renfrew fire brigade were invited down.

They were a large fine-looking body of men.  The trial took place on the bridge and as the husky firemen forced the breaks to the cry of “Heave Her Down,” the stream rose towards the sky and the dam at the same time which caused the late James L. Murphy to exclaim with rapture, “The Ocean Wave.”  From that day so well remembered the Ocean Wave was christened.

The late William Patterson was the next captain, followed by the late T. L. Nagle, D. Moffatt, Thomas Lever, James Warren, Alex. McLaren and Wm. McIlquham.  The hand engine gave way to the steamer and the “Sir John” was purchased and still another steamer was added.  Now with a first class waterworks system, Mort. Brown’s and the Hawthorn factory auxiliary power, we stand as second to none as a well equipped town.

A chief engineer was attached to the brigade in the person of the late James Shilson whose mechanical ability was a wonder.  The company made a wise selection.  He was followed by the late James Doherty.  The next chief, Mr. McIlquham, brought the company up to a high state of efficiency and what Billy can’t accomplish in the way of fire-fighting with the Ocean Waves would be a shame to tell.  As a mechanic of man-power he had no superior.

Steamboat Picnics

While firemen have built up a company they did not forget the social side of life.  Years ago the firemen’s picnic was the event of the season.  It was held on Pretty’s Island, and the date was fixed to correspond with the ripening of John McCann’s corn – his contribution to the feast, as that was a big item on the bill of fare.

The steamer Enterprise was donated free by Senator McLaren.  He also gave a substantial cash donation to purchase groceries and the said groceries to be purchased at Sibbitt’s.

One fireman was hiding a basket containing a bottle of ‘milk,’ under a clump of bushes at the water’s edge when smash came a rock over the bush and when he got the water out of his eyes the bottle was gone.

While the women spread the table cloths on the ground and were emptying the well-filled baskets, the corn and tea were bubbling in the boilers sending forth an appetizing odor that could be felt over at Shail’s Settlement.

A glance at the names of the committee in charge of the picnic is enough to convince the most skeptical that a better day’s outing could not be held – such names as the late Sid Anable, Bill Whalen, Bill Patterson, Joe Wilson, Alex. Wilson, Oliver Virtue.  Wylie’s barge was towed along for a dancing platform for the home trip and with the late George and Dick Willis playing the fiddles – it was not called an orchestra in those days – such foot-inspiring music was produced by these two musicians as has never been equaled.

Annual Ball

The annual ball was another event that was looked forward to as the ball of the season.  Started years ago in Newman’s hall, it outgrew that.  The first record I can find is 1882.  Then the old town hall and Pattie’s hall were each used until the present town hall was built.  Supper was served in the different hotels until they secured their present quarters and with their own outfit have served as many as 600 visitors from all over the country.

McGillicuddy’s orchestra, of Ottawa, – some class in those days – furnished the music.  A comparison of the program in those days is worthy of notice.  It consisted of a Grand March, Cotillion Quadrille and Varsuvienne.  And to see them hit the floor, yea, couldn’t they dance.

I have lately seen three generations of the same family dancing at one time, the grandmother having attended the first annual ball.  Of late years Valentine’s orchestra, of Ottawa, and the Hulme Family, of Prescott, have furnished music.  While the profits have varied from a small sum to hundreds of dollars, with their usual generosity, they were able last year to give $50 to the Red Cross.  The athletic and gladitorial side of the brigade was not neglected during these years as the numerous victories of fleet footed hose reel and giant tug-of-war teams testify competing in every town from Pembroke to Brockville.

They proved their mettle.  When you think of a team of such men as Chief McIlquham, Adam Pretty, John Morris, Chief Wilson, James Loftus, William Hurdis, Tom Johnston, Jim Rogers, Alex. Wilson, John D. Taylor, John Willis, John Dolan and the late James Warren, it was easy to understand why they were victors.

Time has laid its hand heavily in the ranks of the company and very few remain in 1917.  The old spirit created years ago and which has made a single success of this valuable asset to our town, still remains and when the last trumpet calls and each man has received his reward we will find them not sitting “around the fire” but basking in that celestial light – the reward of all who have been good and faithful firemen.”

Baldy

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-NINE

Carleton Place’s Great Fire Occurred in 1910

By Howard M. Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 27 June, 1963

 

Stories of former days in the long and distinguished record of the Ocean Wave Fire Company of Carleton Place, founded in 1875, are continued in this instalment.

It recalls the years of the eighteen eighties, and this town’s perilous fire of 1910, in the times when steam fire engines and equipment were raced to the scene of action by galloping fire horses.

Officers of the Ocean Wave Fire Company in the early eighteen eighties were William Patterson, captain; George Warren, first lieutenant; George Crawford, second lieutenant; John R. Galvin, secretary; William Rogers, treasurer; and John Flett, company engineer.  The grants of the Carleton Place Council to the fire company at that time were $200 a year.  The company usually had about 25 or 30 members; 35 was the membership attending its annual meeting in 1882.  Leaders of the ld days subsequently included Tom Nagle, Dave Moffatt, Tom Lever, Jim Warren, Alex McLaren and the great Billy McIlquham.

After the years of the hand pumpers, the purchase of a steam fire engine finally was authorized by an 1884 bylaw to raise $6,000 for this purpose.  A brick fire hall, still standing, had been built on Bridge Street at the end of William Street.  Several large tanks were situated at points distant from the river to serve as fire engine water reservoirs.

The new fire engine was unable to save the inflammable new tannery and wool pulling plant of John F. Cram and Donald Munro, burned in 1886 with a fire loss of $10,000.  Spectacular fire in the town of the nineties included the destruction of the  Moffatt & Cavers shingle mill and most of the firm’s planning mill, and two losses of groups of Bridge Street retail shops.  The plant and office of this newspaper, then named the Central Canadian and located at the corner of Bridge and Elgin Streets, were consumed by fire forty years ago.

Keen public interest and pride was taken not only in the speed and skill of the Ocean Wave firemen but also in the horses which drew the fire fighting equipment of a generation ago.  A glimpse of one of many similar races to smaller fires is given in a Carleton Place Herald report of a 1910 fire which threatened to destroy St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Appleton several weeks before the great Carleton Place fire disaster of that year:

“The town team, driven by James Walters, took the big fire engine to Appleton – four miles – on Saturday night in the dark in thirty-five minutes, and there were four men on the engine.  Mr. J. M. Brown, with one horse, took a load of firemen and a hose cart down in half an hour, and signaled for water thirty-seven minutes after leaving the hall here.”

As in the country’s other larger towns and cities of fifty years ago, the pounding gallop to a Carleton Place fire by great teams of horses, drawing heavy brass-stacked fire engines belching their smoke and fire, and clanging and rattling hook and ladder wagons manned with firemen, brought a never to be forgotten wave of excitement to young and old alike.  To youthful onlookers it was a latter-day Roman chariot race, in a vital and perhaps desperate cause.

Battle Against Disaster

This town’s greatest fire came in mid May of 1910, and rode to its crescendo on the peak of a heavy gale.  It came about the time predicted for the reappearance of Halley’s Comet.  Some when half-awakening to its glare, thought they were viewing the light of the comet.  Within four hours after midnight about thirty buildings were destroyed, most of them residences.  Property losses in 1910 values were estimated at over $150,000.  Through heroic work by the town fire department, the Canadian Pacific Railway fire force and Almonte firemen with their fire engine, aided by the courageous and frantic efforts of householders and others, a greater part of the south and east sides of the town was saved from equal devastation. 

The fire started on Bridge Street in a pair of retail stores at Albert Street, from a cause not known.  Fanned by a high southwest wind it swept an area equaling about two blocks, centred  in the Albert, Beckwith, Judson and Franklin Streets section.  The block bounded by these four streets was reduced completely to ashes and ruin.

Zion Presbyterian Church, valued at over $35,000 with its additions and renovations of the previous two years was wholly destroyed.  Other public and church buildings bunred down, in addition to retail stores, were the curling rink, the militia drill shed, the Masonic Temple and St. Andrew’s and Zion church manses.

A total loss at the residence of Mrs. James Gillies, on the site at Franklin and Judson Streets where fire had struck over thirty years earlier, was set at $18.000.  For some time the fire illuminated the windswept night sky to an extent at which in Almonte and more distant points a newspaper could be read in its light.

The Action

These were some of the tactical incidents and sidelights of this fire of over fifty years ago, as told by William H. Allen in the Carleton Place Herald:

“The first water supply came from the new engine, which played two good streams from the bridge.  The old fire engine also played two streams from the bridge but gave out early in the fight, the lift being too much for her.  Two streams were laid from Brown’s, one from the pump at the light station and one from the grist mill.  Another stream came from Mr. Nichols planning mill and still another from the Bates & Innes mill, to which the C.P.R. brigade attached their hose and held the fire from spreading across the tracks.

Early in the night Mayor Albert Cram telephoned Almonte for aid.  Our neighbour at great risk sent over their fire engine and a squad of men, the run being made over at a mile a minute rate by a locomotive and a flat car with Howard Moffatt at the throttle.  The Almonte engine, was placed on Judson Street.  As all the own hose were in service one of Brown’s pumps had to be cut off to give sufficient hose to the Almonte engine, which was placed below Brown’s mill.  It did excellent service for some hours.

Away over the track the tower of Bates & Innes mill took fire and was saved after a hard fight.  Many houses on William Street were covered with embers, but the careful work of the owners prevented any outbreak.  Half a mile further the granary and driveshed of Mr. Herbert Morphy took fire and was swept, the barns nearby being saved with difficulty.

The firemen had a desperate fight with Zion Church manse.  Here there would have been no hope for the wooden houses adjoining, and the Methodist parsonage and church and the Brown mills with dwellings would all have been in line.

The uniforms and arms of the volunteers were removed from the drill shed, but some blank ammunition kept up a mournful fusillade when the fire reached it.  The only thing standing in the block bounded by Beckwith, Albert, Judson and Franklin streets is a lattice-work in the rear of Mrs. Gillies home.

Norman McNabb got caught in the bellrope when sounding the alarm from Zion Church.  He had a narrow escape from strangling and has a sore neck.  We regret to observe that there were thieves among the crowd, and many articles were afterwards lost that had been saved from the flames.”

Reminiscences of former generations of the men of the Ocean Wave Fire Company at work and in their lighter moments at play, as written about 50 years ago by the great, old sportsman W. J. ‘Baldy’ Welsh, will conclude the present group of stories of that memorable era of the town’s fire fighters.

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-SEVEN

 

 Story of the Telephone in Carleton Place District

Carleton Place Herald, 18 October, 1962

By Howard M. Brown

 

Within the lifetimes of our present elder citizens, telephones first came into public use in Carleton Place and nearby Ontario communities in 1885.

Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone in this province in 1874 at Brantford was followed by convincing proofs of its commercial usefulness within two years in Ontario and Massachusetts.  In Lanark County, only one year later, “one of Prof. Bell’s telephones” appeared in 1877.  It was obtained by Mr. F. A. Kennedy, Perth dentist.  With the sensational new devise he talked between his office and his house in Perth.

At Ottawa the possibilities of the telephone were demonstrated by electrical pioneer Thomas Ahearn (1855-1938) in a talk in 18778 over telegraph wires with the Montreal Telegraph Company’s agent at Pembroke.  The Bell Telephone Company of Canada, of which Mr. Ahearn was a director until his death, was formed in 1880.

Musical Overture

The company’s lines spread rapidly through southern Ontario and Quebec.  The Carleton Place Herald early in 1885 reported that Mr. S. S. Merrick of Carleton Place was “obtaining 3,300 first class poles for the 106 mile contract” awarded to him for the Ottawa Valley telephone line then being built, that would connect Ottawa and Brockville, Perth, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place and points northward.  The new telephone service in this district was proposed to be placed in operation with a musical programme by telephone, according to Mr. W. W. Cliff of the Carleton Place Central Canadian.  Listing the subscribers and intending subscribers of Perth, Smiths Falls and Carleton Place, he wrote in June:

“Mr.  Marshall has been pushing the business of the Bell Telephone Company in this County with much success.  When all connections have been made Mr. Marshall intends to carry out a musical programme in Almonte and have the Hall connected with the system, so that subscribers in any of the places mentioned may sit in their offices and houses and be a part of the audience as enjoyably as if present in body.”

An Instant Success

With or without the musical overture, the district lines went into use in November, 1885.  The revolutionary convenience and speed of communicating by telephone conversation was an instant popular success for business purposes.  William H. Allen in his Carleton Place Herald nine months later reported:

“When first introduced here last November there were only ten names on the local exchange.  Towards spring the ten line switch was replaced by a twenty.  Now, as all these lines have been taken and more are in demand, a fifty line switch is to be placed in the central as soon as it can be manufactured.”

The company’s first published telephone directory for Lanark County subscribers was that for “Ottawa and Connections, June 1886.” Local and long distance calls were made by name instead of by telephone number.  It listed seventeen Carleton Place telephones, all at business premises excepting the residence of the McLaren sawmill manager, and similar numbers of telephones at Almonte, Perth and Smiths Falls.  Pakenham had ten telephones.

Trunk Line Business

The first Carleton Place exchange was located in the McDiarmid block, Bridge Street, in the jewelry store of Mr. R. J. E. Scott.  This office was said in 1887 to be “owing to its central location, transacting next to the largest trunk line business in the Ottawa Valley.”  The Canadian company at the beginning of that year had a total of twelve thousand telephone subscribers.

Mr. W. J. Warwick, a year or so later succeeded Mr. Scott in the same location as a jeweler and as holder of the Bell Telephone Company’s local agency.  An early private exchange in the town was that installed in 1890 by the H. Brown & Sons firm between its flour, feed and cereal mills and the offices and residences of its two senior partners (with the modern colour feature provided by receivers which were solidly ringed in gay colours).

After six years of daytime public service a Carleton Place day and night telephone service appears to have been started early in 1892.  An effort was put forth then “to add a few more subscribers to the telephone exchange to make fitty, when the company have promised us a night operator, giving us continuous service night and day.”  Within a few weeks it was reported that Mr. Warwick had succeeded so admirably in impressing the usefulness of the telephone upon our citizens that nearly sixty will be in operation this week.  A feature of the increase is the number of private dwellings that have secured it.”

Trial By Fire

When fire in 1897 destroyed a Carleton Place business section from the old frame McDiarmid block at the corner of Bridge and Franklin Streets south to and including the Keyes building, the Bell Telepone Company with a loss reported at $2,000 was one of the lesser victims of the destruction.  Editor W. W. Cliff’s rhetorical news report in December 1897 said in part:

“Mr. Moss of the Central Telephone was brought into instantaneous action, and his first thought was to wing a message to Mr. McFadden at the Fire Hall, who was up and at the engine in a few minutes and, all alone, pushed the monster out upon the platform and applied the torch.  The Chief and several others were aroused by Mr. Ross and the electrical alarm, which worked well.  In a little while two streams were playing.

As the Chief saw the fire was in a nest of wooden buildings, he had Mr. Brown’s splendid equipment brought out into the action, with five hundred feet of hose from the Gillies factory, hitherto unsoiled.  While all this was proceeding, the occupants of the doomed buildings were getting out what they and the crowds could lay violent hands on.

The firemen fought the flames with undying vigour.  The hook and ladder was on the spot in five minutes, thanks to the speed of Mr. McGonigle, whose alarm went off early and who had a team hitched up and away in the twinkling of an eye.  This apparatus was of inestimable value and one of the most agile and fearless in the contest was Mr. Mort. Brown, ‘the best fireman in Canada’, says Mr. Graham, who risked his life in climbing ladders and hurling the hooks.

The firemen were soon coated with ice, and in this awkward condition worked with tireless energy, the branchmen especially doing brave and effective service.  Towards daylight all danger of further inroads was over, but streams were poured steadily into the debris until noon.  The engineer and Mr. Virtue stood steadily at their freezing posts on the river from three o’clock until noon, the noble engine old Sir John, not once stopped his powerful motion all that time.

There were several narrow escapes.  The most thrilling was that of Mr. Galloway, a Presbyterian clergyman who had preached the night before in the Methodist church and who was sleeping at Mr. McGregor’s.  He is a cripple, and helpless in such a crisis.  Mr. Howe, jeweler, and Mr. Hartley, book-keeper at the Shops, heard of his condition and rushed up after him.  They grabbed him and carried him out, the roof falling in just as they left his room.

The Bell Telephone showed their quick resource.  Burned out at three, everything swept but the books and a box with two new switchboards, at ten in the evening they were going almost as usual.  General Manager McFarlane, of Montreal, and Mr. Winters, Superintendant of Construction, arrived within a few hours.  The present abode is temporary.  The old Mechanics’ Institute flat has been rented, and the plant will be installed there in two weeks.”

Continuous Service On Sundays

Telephones had been in use in Carleton Place for some thirteen years before continuous service including Sundays became available.  This newspaper in March of 1899 reported:

“The Bell Telephone Company announces in this issue a continuous service on Sundays the same as on week days.  This is due to the very rapid growth of their business and its persistent success.  Carleton Place is the central point between Pembroke, Ottawa and Brockville, and stoppage here means the holding up of this entire system.”

The Bell Telephone Company’s present Carleton Place office, when twenty-nine years of ‘continuous service on Sundays’ had passed, was opened in its new building at the corner of Beckwith and Albert streets in January, 1929.  The lot on which the building stands had been vacant since the great fire of May 1910, which swept this section of the town, destroying in its path the McNab home which is said to have stood at the precise site of the present building.  There were some eight hundred town and rural telephones in direct connection with the exchange in 1928 when it was moved to its present location, and six operators.

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-SIX

Daylight Savings Time

 

Here at the library, Daylight Savings Time meets March Break this week.  So what you have is sleep-deprived staff interacting with super charged little people, and sometimes with big people too.  Usually we are short staffed this week as well.  

I guess no one in Ontario thought about this particular scenario when deciding to synchronize watches with the United States in 2007, and really, why would anyone care?  Although, can you even imagine what Disney World must be like this week???

According to the article below, all we have to do is get through the first couple of days without having a heart attack, and everything will be fine.  Apparently, more people have heart attacks when the time springs ahead, as well as more car accidents, but by the end of the week, all should be back to normal.

I guess the only way to avoid daylight savings time is to move to Saskatchewan. They must be very strong-willed there.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2008/10/31/f-timechange.html

Since daylight savings time began in 1915, I can’t imagine there are too many people in Canada alive today who remember a world without it.  It must have been heaven!

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWENTY-FIVE

Life in Lumbermen’s Shanty on the Mississippi

Carleton Place Canadian, 14 March, 1963

By James Sidney Annable

 

(Contributed by H. Morton Brown)

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

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

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

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

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

Building the Bush Camp

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

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

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

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

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

Days Work Done

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

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

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

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

Spring Drive Starts

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