What Didn’t You Know? The New Town Hall August 1897

What Didn’t You Know? The New Town Hall August 1897


 Photo- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

In August 30th of 1897 an article was published in the Ottawa Journal about the new Carleton Place town hall and it was said that it was a building of which any town or city would be proud of. Of course in true fashion it was also included in the headlines that this new building might cause a new row at the next election. 

Built on the south side of the Mississippi riverbanks the new town hall was just about to be opened. The building which faced Bridge Street was to house “a joint” town hall, fire and police station, concert hall and new library.

It was advertised as a building that would astonish strangers by its proportions and ornateness. The cost was currently at $25,000 and there were still yet bills to be settled. There was a good many ratepayers that were furious that the cost was above and beyond of the initial quote of $12,000 and they swore that council would be held responsible for such monstrous costs at the next election. In fact the media wrote that the council was said to have run away with their duties to their constituents, and it was built solely as a monument to them.



Robert McDonaldRobert McDonald Photography

The newspaper also flip flopped and said that they had to admit the building was a credit to the town of Carleton Place built of  such fine stone, fancy dressings and a slate roof. The ground floor would house the fire hall where the engine would be kept, along with the police station and the janitor’s quarters. The back of the fire hall opened on to the river by means of a tank under the fire hall. Fires anywhere near the town hall could be simply fought without taking the engine out of position. The suction pipe was simply let down into a hole in the floor and the hose carried out to the scene of the fire. Carleton Place had a Ronald fire engine at that time and Mr. Peden the town clerk has said it had given out every satisfaction and prevented many a serious fire. It was reported that they had the same fire engine for 12 years.


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The Ottawa Journal30 Aug 1897, MonPage 3


On the first floor the council chamber, a really handsome room wainscotted in polished birch with painted metal ceilings and stained glass windows. On the same floor was the mayor’s and town clerks office and a suite of three rooms to be used by the free library. The main entrance on this floor with all its glass doors, brass fixings, the polished steps and detail of finish of luxury was something only a city might have.


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Robert McDonaldRobert McDonald Photography–From the Mississippi Mudds – Aladdin Jr production on February 18, 2017

On the second floor approached by an ornate staircase the grand hall was the full size of the building. This will be where public gatherings are held and the town will rent it out for concerts and to different theatrical companies. The arrangements of this room are fairly modern. There is a large stage 60 by 30 feet and slanting which is in accordance with the latest views on theatrical architecture ,and this hall will hold 1000 people.

Between the floor of the stage and the ceiling of the fire hall is a long hall to be set aside for use for the members of the volunteer fire company. They will use it for their own social gatherings and to store their fire clothes in. At the end of the building next to the fire hall is a fire hose tower where a capital view of the town can be had. The architect that deserves enormous credit is Mr. G. W. King of Toronto. Carleton Place should say proudly,

“Come down and see our new town hall” and then aside, “It comes high but we must have it.”



Painting of town hall by Blaine Cornell





Sept 8 1899


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The Ottawa Journal05 Dec 1898, MonPage 6

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal27 Mar 1900, TuePage 7


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Why is the Town Hall Stage Slanted? Is it Collapsing?

Pardon me Boys — Is That the Carleton Place Choo Choo?


150th Anniversary facts

Community Facts You Might Not Know About Carleton Place for our 150th Birthday – Part 9– It was 1903!

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

Thimbles in Their Nose?

Thimbles in Their Nose?



Cornwall Community Museum – WordPress.com

It seems that the thing to do in the late 1800s was to swallow a thimble. I counted at least 34 news items about swallowing a thimble. Here is a local story.

Almonte Gazette–May 7 1897

*Dr. Birkett, of Montreal, has succeeded in removing a large tailor’s thimble from the nose of Miss Annie McDonell, a teacher in the Lancaster. Miss McDonell swallowed the thimble when she was a little child, eighteen years ago in public school. Evidently it remained lodged in the passage between the nose and the throat where it was found. It caused her , considerable throat trouble for same time past. Surgeons say the case is almost without a parallel. The surgery was done by Dr. Birkett in Cornwall.

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The Indiana Progress05 Feb 1874, ThuPage 6



The Daily News19 Nov 1906, MonPage 1



The dawn of the Victorian era marked the start of thimble collecting. Roads had improved and people began to tour. The Great Exhibition, a kind of world’s fair, was held in Hyde Park, London and attracted large crowds. A commemorative thimble was issued to mark the event. The concept of commemorative thimbles caught on with collectors. It was also at this time that advertising thimbles became popular.

In Victorian times, a silver thimble was regarded as a highly appropriate gift especially for a man to give a woman. Victoria women carried a chain-like device called a chatelaine, to which sewing items such as small scissors and a needle case could be attached. Thimbles were enclosed in a decorative thimble case that could be attached to this device as well. Sometimes the couple would remove the cap from a thimble so it could be used as a ring.

We are all aware that sewing is the primary use of the thimble. But did you know that a slightly larger thimble, usually two ounces, was used to measure spirits? And did you know that 19th century prostitutes used them to tap on their clients’ windows and Victorian schoolmistresses used them to knock recalcitrant students on the head?



*Did you know that Dr. Birkett began the Department of Otolaryngologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital and had no assistant for the first two years but W. H. Jamieson was appointed clinical assistant in 1900 1864-1932 he graduated in honours at the age of 22 from McGill University with Golden Honours


Related reading

The Eaton’s Sewing Girls

Did you Know About the The Venus Family Sewing Machine?

Gypsies Tramps and Thieves

A Story of Sewing Past

Were You the King of King’s Castle in Carleton Place? Linda’s Mailbag

How to Make a Vintage Apron- Aitkenhead Photo Collection

Singer Sewing Machines and Scandals

One Village? One Sewing Needle!


He Said-and– He Said! Oh Let the Song of Words Play!




Almonte Brass Band, Ontario, 1870s –IBEW – The Internet Bandsman’s Everything Within


March 14 1873-Editor Almonte Gazette


Will you be kind enough to permit a resident of the northeast side of the village to call the attention of the ratepayers to the late action of the council granting a license to John Fay. to sell liquor. I have said “ to sell liquor,” which be the only object, as he has no accommodation for travellers or stabling. This John Fay is living with his father-in-law, Dennis Murphy and there are no more rooms than wanted for both families.

For stables and sheds there is but one small cow house. The house is far from the business part of the village and no one will stop there unless for glass of whiskey. The evil results granting licenses for such purposes have already been observed in drunken rows and men staggering home there from a late hour. There is but one opinion of the matter and that is that the Council have done very wrong in granting a license and should be held responsible all the evil which must undoubtedly result from it.

The facilities for drinking were dear knows, already sufficiently numerous without such an increase. The Inspector, S. Tooley, is, I believe, doing his duty, and will, let us hope, be supported by the action of the authorities as well its the voice of public opinion. Mr. Tooley can put and end to it all by doing his duty.

Mr. Peter McArthur, if I am rightly informed, strongly objected to granting the license in question. Mr. Tooley deserves no credit for straining a point to give John Fay a Certificate. Putting up half a dozen boards in a cow house and calling it a stable—saying that has “ four spare bedrooms” when there are only five bedrooms in the whole house, to two families, is too near a lie to be called honest. The owner of the house, Dennis Murphy, a decent laboring man works in the No 2 mill.

The Hotel keeper,” John Fay,’, is his son in law and lives with him, also a laboring man, but not contented with earning an honest living. By the license of a venal Council duty it is to protect the public, takes to pandering to the miserable appetites of the unfortunates who crave after Whiskey. If John Fay has any shame let him close his business down



March 17th, 1873- Editor Almonte Gazette

I noticed in the last issue of your paper, a letter signed “ Resident,” in which he makes a bitter comment on my Hotel, as well as a disgraceful attack on the council, for granting me a license. Now, sir, I ask permission, through the columns of your paper, to prove to the public-that “ Resident’s ” letter is nothing but a gross fabrication of falsehoods. In the first place, Mr. Tooley, the Inspector, came and inspected the premises, and found everything according to the requirement of the law.

I have four spare bedrooms, as well as two sitting rooms, of which are well furnished. I have not as was stated, a cow house, (but a good stable stalled off too hold eight horses) and a good well in the yard, from which Mr.  Resident has been often accommodated. So he ought to blush at his misrepresentations and falsehoods but seems that his mind is nothing but a sink of pollution and that in attacking good and  respectable neighbours, he opens up a sewer, to carry off his daily accumulating filth.

l am sorry to have to make those unpleasant remarks, but in justice to myself I cannot help but shut up the – falsehoods of this worthless character – to the public and would future to mind his own business as I know him well.

John Fay


Information Wanted  Almonte Gazette–6th March, 1873 

Sir,— I understand there exists a bylaw in this village, and very rightly too, making it necessary that proprietors of Minstrel Troops, clog-dancing and other like shows, are obliged to take out a before they are privileged to open such exhibitions.

Since your last issue, two of these parasites have made a drain upon our industrious villagers without adding any quota to our village. It appears to the writer that not only is this by law, but several others are nothing more or less than a dead letter. I would like to know who are the proper parties to put these bylaws in force in the absence of a mayor or enforcer of bylaws. Or would it net be more advisable that the Council should appoint an officer for that purpose, with a reasonable allowance of salary for his trouble, in order that the dignity of the law would be sustained.





Memories of the Olympia & Howard Little Fire-Ray Paquette

Memories of the Olympia & Howard Little Fire-Ray Paquette


The picture above is of Howard Little courtesy of Julia Waugh Guthrie- thank Julia!

The loss of the Olympia Restaurant was a minor tragedy for teenagers in Carleton Place. It was where we gathered to plan our activities for the weekend. On a personal note, the loss of Howard Little’s Barbershop meant I had to find a new “hair stylist” although in truth my crew cut could be duplicated by any of the numerous barbers that plied their trade in town at that time.

The morning after the fire I was on my way to my summer job at 6:00 a.m. and they were still hosing down the remains of the business block. The rebuilding of the Olympia was undertaken quickly so we teenagers were not without a “hangout” for a lengthy period of time.

Thanks Ray for your memories of the: The Howard Little- Olympia Fire on Bridge Street





Glory Days in Carleton Place- Ray Paquette

NEW PICTURES HAVE BEEN ADDED TO:  The Fire That Almost Wiped Out Part of Bridge Street

Food Fit For Olympians in Carleton Place

The Moffat Street Fire in Carleton Place– Archie Hudson

In the Year 1923 —- “BHM”– (Before Howard McNeely)

Scotch Corners Union S.S. #10 School Fire

Who You Gonna Call? The Fire Boxes of Carleton Place

What if You Had a Fire and No One Came?

Fire, Could End All You’ve Become — Photos of those that Protect Carleton Place

Burning Down the House in Carleton Place

When The Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror!- Volume 1- Part 2

Carleton Place Main Street Fire — Okilman’s

The “Chosen Friends” of Carleton Place –The Fire of 1904

Dan Miller of the Queen’s Hotel vs the Town of Carleton Place

Ashes to Ashes and Spins of the Washing Machine

Ashes to Ashes and Spins of the Washing Machine


On the Pyke River about a mile northwest of Frelighsburg in the Eastern Townships lies a small village that was once called LaGrange (Hunter’s Mills). Isaac LaGrange made his way up from the United States in 1790 and bought three lots, built a house north of the bridge, and soon after a sawmill. Colonel Phillip Luke also bought lots in LaGrange and then opened a store and also a popular ashery that was known throughout the area. I had never heard of an ashery before but much of the bread in those days was procured by making ashes and also hardwood ashes were converted into lye, potash, or pearl ash. Lye was produced by soaking ashes in hot water which could then be mixed with fats to produce soft soap.

Many settlers sold their ashes to those engaged in the manufacture of pot and ash and some even supported their families almost entirely in this way.  When I read about the the trials and tribulations of the LeGrange ashery all I could think of was my Grandmother and her giant ashpile.  One could say she never supported anyone with it, but she certainly got her money’s worth from that pile of ashes.

My Grandmother swore by her woodstove and would empty  out the ashes out every few days on her treasured outdoor ashpile. Who knows what went on with that pile of ashes that sat near the top of the garden but she took care of that thing like it was a goldmine. Sometimes she even threw remnants of decaying fruit on it in the summer which resulted in things growing out of it that resembled freaks of nature.

Every Monday morning my Grandmother would crank up that woodstove to a temperature that rivalled Hell to heat up the water to begin her wash. It always had to be on Mondays regardless of the weather with her– and no one  ever argued with Mary Louise Deller Knight. My sister had just made her mark into the world and my mother was back in the hospital so my Grandmother was looking after us and washing cloth diapers. There were no disposable diapers then and it was a huge job to keep the diaper stock current and that woodstove was kept going all day long.

Sometimes she used her wringer washer and then there were days that she could be seen out in the back yard scrubbing with her washboard. Everyone had a clothesline in those days and my Grandmother had my Grandfather string up two lines for her. I always remember her oversized underwear hidden in the middle of the line which were personally scrubbed by her with hopefully no one watching. Sometimes as the laundry dried on the line she would scatter some of her ashpile through the garden as it “pumped up her tomatoes” she said- or, in the winter the ashes would be scattered on the slippery ice on the driveway. Whatever ailed anyone or anything the remedy seemed to be in that ashpile.

When the weather was bad she hung bits and pieces of clothing all over the house with the bulk hung in the shed in between the barrels of apples and stacks of wood for the wood stove. What bothered me was the “freeze drying” of outdoor laundry in the winter- but as soon as it was brought in she would pound her hot iron on those clothes like a construction worker.

The ironing was always done on a wooden board right next to the wood stove.What feared me most was when she used the wringer washer, as gossip was always circulating of those that had lost a limb or two in the wringer. One day she almost got her thin grey hair, caught trying to solve some “machine problem”. I  happened to be there at the time and immediately pulled the plug. It was a no brainer that if anything happened the only solution was to pull the plug fast.

She  got a great kick out of washing clothes, as in those days people didn’t change every day and wore the same outfit a couple of days in a row. I always thought she might have been a bit of a hoarder but Mary definitely needed cleanliness in her life. Later on my Grandfather bought her a washer and installed it in the basement next to where they kept the bottles of Sherry. I never saw her use it but every Saturday night at 8 pm when Lawrence Welk began on TV my Grandfather would go to the basement and fill up two small silver cups that she polished once a week with- you got it- her ashes.

When I grew up scattered ashpiles were everywhere and it was a very common thing. Maybe the Phoenix never rose out of the ashes for the small Quebec town of LeGrange and it ended becoming nothing but shattered dreams, but the memories of Mary Louise Deller Knight  will endure forever in my life when things turn to dust and ashes and most things are forgotten.

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal14 Dec 1907, SatPage 20



Hunter’s Mills Cemetery–click here

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

Related reading

Remember When Everyone Had a Clothesline?

Who is Coming to the Next Lanark County Genealogical Society Meeting April 1?




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About the Speaker


Brenda Krauter grew up in Ottawa hearing her mother and aunts telling stories of early family history in the Ottawa Valley.  That led to an interest in genealogy and, in particular a desire to know more about her Irish ancestors who came to Canada during the Potato Famine.  When Brenda first started attending the Lanark County Genealogical Society meetings, it was more as a means of offering support to a co-worker and two friends rather than due to any real interest in Lanark County.  It soon became apparent though that Archives Lanark was a gold mine of records for her Irish ancestors who had settled in Renfrew County and the search for family records began in earnest.  Brenda now describes her research methods as “Genealogy for Dummies” and has had great success in unearthing family history information in unexpected places.

Her topic is Mystery or Murder-The Applebee’s Murder–Brenda is local historian from Carleton County.  She was shocked to find a murder in her family’s history.  A lack of newspaper coverage led her to believe maybe the event was not all that newsworthy.  Upon further research she was surprised to find that it was recorded in newspapers from afar.

Hosted by Lanark County Genealogical Society

Date: Saturday, 04 February 2017
Time: 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Event page click here-

Brunton Community Hall
1702 9th Line, corner of Hwy 15 and 9th Line, Blacks Corners, Carleton Place ON.


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Here is the link:



The Eaton’s Sewing Girls



Image from Eaton’s – Golden Jubilee (1869-1919) (T. Eaton Co Ltd, 1919).

 On April 30th of 1897 the Almonte Gazette had this small article on their front page:

Eight sewing girls in the mantle department of T. Eaton & Co’s, factory, went on strike because no more than 12 cents was allowed them for making a jacket. They said they could not live on that amount, and who will doubt them ? And yet there are women in Almonte and elsewhere who patronize such a system.

Strikes like this were common in the needle trades in the early twentieth century as men and women sought better wages and working conditions. But, despite some gains, the early labour movement had little sustained success in improving the lot of workers. In the garment industry, conditions remained as deplorable on the eve of the Second World War as when a young and social-minded William Lyon Mackenzie King first investigated sweatshops in 1897.

It wasn’t until ten o’clock in the morning on February 25, 1931, more than five hundred women of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) put down their work, halted their machines, and walked out of garment shops across Toronto.
All my life I will never forget this strike. It was so terrible that the police protected the shops, and they treated the workers like garbage. It was so horrible. I tell you, I remember how they came so close by with the horses. The picketers they treated terrible. They protected the strikebreakers. So you know even [if] you didn’t believe in unions … you believed in unions when you saw what was [happening].



Image from Eaton’s – Golden Jubilee (1869-1919) (T. Eaton Co Ltd., 1919).

The citizens of Toronto interpreted the workers’ wage demands as greedy in the midst of the Depression. After two-and-a-half months, the strike ultimately ended in failure, abandoned at a mass rally attended by a thousand supporters on May 5.

Wages were low and employees were not even allowed to speak to each other while working. Starch filled the air, one worker reporter, making your “throat sore and your nose stuffed up and you felt a wreck.” But if a window was opened, there were serious cold drafts.

Worse than the physical conditions were the “brutal task-masters” who swore at—or sexually harassed—the women, and discriminated in the distribution of piece-work to reward their favourites, or those who did them favours, with additional pay. Slower workers, or those who showed up even five minutes late, might be sent home without pay for indefinite periods. The supervisors used stop-watches and implemented speed-ups when orders increased.

“I would go home nights and I would be so tired I could not eat my supper,” said one woman describing the impact of the speed-ups. “And I would be so tired and stiff going home on the streetcar, I would just dread getting a seat, because if I sat down, I could not get up again, my knees and my legs would be so stiff.”

Files from the Historicist: Sewing the Seeds of Discontent




In 1884 the Eaton’s catalogue had 32 pages. Twelve years later it had grown to 400 pages.

The Eaton’s catalogue was such a valued part of Canadian life that it had a number of nicknames including the “Homesteaders Bible,” the “Family Bible” and the “Wish Book.”

The Eaton’s catalogue seemed to offer all things to Canadians. In the late 1800s an expectant mother could even order supplies for giving birth at home. In the early 1900s the


Eaton’s catalogue offered prefabricated barns and schoolhouses along with various sizes of prefabricated houses

The Eaton’s Christmas catalogue was first published in 1897. The store’s French catalogue first appeared in 1928.

Canadians found practical uses for old Eaton’s catalogues. They were used as shin pads in hockey games; boiled down for their dye to colour Easter eggs; used as readers in classrooms; and rolled up tight and put near the stove to be used as foot warmers in bed.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun


Related reading:

Did you Know About the The Venus Family Sewing Machine?

Gypsies Tramps and Thieves

A Story of Sewing Past

Were You the King of King’s Castle in Carleton Place? Linda’s Mailbag

How to Make a Vintage Apron- Aitkenhead Photo Collection

Singer Sewing Machines and Scandals

One Village? One Sewing Needle!

I Found My Childhood in the Eaton’s Christmas Catalogue

Memories of Eaton’s