What Do Sir Wilfred Laurier and Lanark County Women Have in Common?


In 1897 architect George White had a vision of a Richardsonian Romanesque style building for the Town Hall of Carleton Place. For a mere $26,000 he built the breathtaking structure to include a wonderful concert auditorium with a ceiling of pressed metal. Not only was there mosaic encaustic flooring and fancy woodwork, but the Council Chamber was often called the “Red Chamber” because of the fine pine woodwork with a red satin finish.

Sitting on the south shore of the Ontario Mississippi River this building of beauty also held its silent mysteries. There were whispers of a secret window and of course the Carleton Place jail existed in that very building until a new one was built on Coleman Street.

Long before the Town Hall was built, a servant girl at the Leland Hotel, Sarah Marselles, was killed in October of 1873. While attempting to retrieve wood for the stove from a wood box, she inadvertently bumped a loaded rifle which discharged, killing her instantly. Some say a female shadow wanders the Town Hall park at night. Did Sarah find solace in the darkness of this heritage building, or did she just need to hear the peaceful flow of the Mississippi River to calm her soul.

Some visitors have reported the feeling of being watched and there is the odd cold spot and freak gust of wind within the building. There is no doubt the spirits of former prisoners still drift around the corridors of the building seeking some sort of peace. But in reality ‘aren’t ghosts like true love? Everyone talks about them but few have ever seen.’ Maybe they are just running up imaginary stairs for an eternity only to find there will be more to climb to seek what they are looking for.

The auditorium has hosted such notables as Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who spoke in the grand hall during the country’s 1911 election. The town hall was packed that night and ONLY the women that had set up the refreshments and cleaned for the event were allowed to sit in the upper floor and watch the speech– as long as they remained quiet.

M,y how things have changed.


Please note upper hall viewing area is not open to the public!

All Photos Linda Seccaspina


About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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