“Beards” of Bygone Days
Recalled by M. J. Shields
Carleton Place Canadian, 29 December, 1960
By Howard M. Brown
Random recollections of Myles J. Shields of Ottawa as supplied to H.M.B.
“Extemporaneously I am sending you a few items on local affairs that I recall and hope will be readable:
Long ago twilight brought out Harry Tetlock to light the switch and semaphore lamps on the CPR yard tracks. He was always smiling and walked fast. Jim Moore with brown beard and big clock in leather case went out to watch the lumber yard. Mr. Cram with white beard went to watch Gillies Woollen Mill.
In the day time Ned Carr, old tall and gaunt, was crossing guard at the foot of Bell street where the sawmill tracks crossed the CPR. In his prime he was, according to my father, a famous axeman.
George Tait had a market garden on Lake Avenue. He did not believe in trimming fruit trees. He said they had a hard enough time surviving in our climate. This theory has since been upheld by many fruit growers.
Maurice Burke, a cooper, made barrels across the street from where the post office now stands. His sister Julia taught school in the Public School for many years. We often heard the youngsters rhyming c-a-t CAT, r-a-t RAT, etc. She was burned to death in a fire as was Levi Brian’s wife.
Sam McLaren with a red beard was captain on the steamer, Carleton, which plied the Mississippi lakes and river in those days.
Alvin Livingston had a long, almost white beard and was town constable in the 1870’s.
Patrick (Peter) Struthers, post master, and his assistant Finlay McEwen, had rather thin light coloured beards. Peter had a farm on the 5th Line of Ramsay, operated by Jim Boyd.
William Goth, of Beckwith, from the breastbone up was entirely hidden in white whiskers, hair and eyebrows. All one could see was a purple nose and two twinkling blue eyes. He kept good horses and many a time passed the C.P.R. station, homeward bound, at a full gallop. Mr. Goth had a sense of humour and my mother, nee Margaret Holland, who was telegrapher in the post office, situated at that time, in the building across Bell Street from the Arcade, recalled a remark he made to her one time. It appears that Mr. Goth and David Findlay Sr. had a tussle in the post office and Mr. Findlay apparently got the worst of it. When Messrs Struthers and McEwen remonstrated with Mr. Goth, he threatened the whole staff, at which my mother burst out laughing. Mr. Goth turned and said to her; “Young lady, when I was young I used to laugh too, but, now that I am in an office of public trust I am above laughing.” John Goth, a son, was principal in the Town Hall school and his daughter, Miss Goth, taught in first grade.
Mr. Aitken, from Appleton way, used to leave town in the same style as Mr. Goth, his horses on the gallop down William Street, but they arrived at a more sedate pace on entering the town.
Dr. Howard, who claimed to have been descended from one of the original 13 Barons of England, was a big man, soft spoken, and used to relate to me about his turkey hunting trips in the U.S.A. He had a law suit with the Montreal Daily Star and lost. The Star published a pamphlet about him and distributed it to the householders of Carleton Place.
Andrew and Robert Bell were descendents of the famous clergyman William Bell; Andrew lived near Taylor’s big house and Robert lived at the end of main street bridge, where Dr. McFarlanes old residence stands. There is, or was, a stained window in St. James Anglican Church inscribed “To the Glory of God and the memory of Jane A. Bell”.
Peter Lake and his wife Susanna lived in the big stone house at the river at the end of the Town Line. He also had a beard and was Choir Master in Zion Church.
Abe Morphy Sr. was tall and blackbearded, he lived in the white house at the Town Line and 8th line. He was born in the yellow house that stood between the Gillies Mill flume canal and the C.P.R. subway.
Mr. Griegson, a stout husky type operated a farm on the 5th line of Ramsay. He always carried his buggy whip while in town and walked about 4 or 5 feet ahead of his wife. They would have a beer at Wilson’s hotel and then do their business. Mr. Griegson worked on the railway that was built across the Isthmus of Panama to prepare for the building of the great canal. I remember when he told my Grandfather Holland that he had worked there and what a surprise, because my grandfather had taken the first stationary steam engine down there. They had a terrible time, heat, flies, filthy water, fever and the late arrival of the relief ship. Every man in my grandfathers group of labourers died one after the other. He buried the last man just before the relief ship arrived. He said he paid a native two cents a day to follow him around swishing a bunch of palm leaves to chase flies and create a little breeze.
Mr. Hamilton, a painter, father of John R., a C.P.R. conductor was a veteran of the Crimean war as was my grand uncle who was a V.S. (Farrier Sgt. In army parlance); he was at the Charge of the Light Brigade, although not actually in the charge, took care of the horses. I have a tin-type of him in full uniform taken about 1850 in Dublin.
William Street, as I recall it, had its list of tragedies, perhaps, more so than any other street. A young Glover child was killed by being crushed under a lumber yard wagon; Billy Glover fatally injured sliding down the Spring Street hill; Bob Illingsworth shot in a bar room squabble; Miss Reynolds drowned; Mr. Summers had legs crushed in lumber yard; amputated twice but gangrene set in and he died. Mr. Quackenbush was run over by a lorrie the first day he worked in the lumber yard; he said he always had a premonition that he should not take a job there; around the turn of the century Abe Morphy Jr. drowned; Neil McDonald died from an overdose of sedative (I believe); Harry Clark fell down cellar; Proctor Moore fell in a C.P.R. culvert.
And I could go on, and on, but enough is enough.”