Reefer Madness at Carleton Place High School


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Mike Gillespie, former reporter for the Ottawa Journal wrote about a desperate drug problem that hit Carleton Place in December of 1969. It was said that at least 50% of the town’s youth population used or trafficked narcotics. Some 70 students and random youth of Carleton Place were interviewed. Citizens were concerned that the percentages might even climb higher if something was not done.

The local police denied there was a problem, but local United Church minister Ken Murray said the town was fighting a losing battle.

“Parents refuse to believe it exists and are ignoring the whole situation,” said Murray.

Constable Herb Cornell said he had heard the rumours, but again denied there was an issue in town. Only 16 out of 70 students admitted they were clueless about drugs. The majority said they not only knew about drugs, but could name pushers that frequented the Valley. According to the article even elementary school children were involved in drugs. A 13-year-old pupil from Caldwell admitted she smoked pot and knew 15 to 20 other youngsters doing the same.

Principal C. J. Dawon of CPHS was ‘aware’ of the issue and was beginning a new program for the students on the impact of drug use. Students insisted there were four hard-core pushers at school. The local minister was organizing a fight to save the drug using youth of Carleton Place. A public meeting to discuss drugs within the community was held a month later. It was noted that an expert on drugs was expected to talk at the proposed meeting.

Principal K. R Sweeny of Almonte High School had heard the rumours of drug use by students but said,

“Almonte students are the best in the word and I doubt there will ever be a real problem here.”

According to the local police force there had been no reports or record of arrests, or convictions, either for possession or the trafficking drugs of ‘day trippers’ in Carleton Place.


This is what I LOVE best about doing this. A real face to words.

M Terry Kirkpatrick author of the “Letter to the Editor commented on The Carleton Place Social Scene:

Here’s a little bit of history from the human mind involved in that event (“drug use” hysteria 1969) I always felt badly that the author of that letter to the editor, local biologist and author Paul Keddy, was NOT credited, and instead it was credited to me (though it was true that I was Head Boy at the time – would be called President or Vice-president of the Student Council today, as my cousin, Mary Wilson, was Head Girl) who only lent my signature, along with several other students, all arranged by Paul in his outstanding effort to speak up for the “good guys”.

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

2 responses »

  1. I started teaching in Carleton Place in 1971, and have to admit that Madawaska Gold was prevalent in those days. Would I say that it was a serious problem? Not likely. It was definitely recreational and I don’t believe there were a lot of pushers hanging out in Riverside Park. There was the odd raucous party at the band stand but no one could ever prove it was related to the smoking of weed. I think CP has a much more serious problem now and all the committees in the world are not going to solve it.

    Liked by 1 person

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