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

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.

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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