You Would Never Find Warm Leatherette at the Local Carleton Place Tannery


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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 27 Oct 1979

McNeely Tannery

Address: 12 Bell Street Carleton Place, Ontario

In 1861, Brice McNeely established a tannery in a simple stone building on the north shore of the Missisippi River. Mr. McNeely continued to run the tannery for 40 years.

Bell Street even century ago had some twenty five buildings scattered along its present four blocks. William Street already had a similar number. The section from Bell Street north to the Town Line Road, as the first subdivision of the future town, had most of its streets laid out as at present, but north of William Street they held in all only five or six houses.

The block of Bell Street next to Bridge Street was the second early business section of the town. The first business there had been started about thirty-five years before this time by Robert Bell, together with his elder brother John and assisted for some years by his younger brother James, sons of the Rev. William Bell of Perth.

On the south side of this Bell Street block were several shops with living quarters, including buildings owned by Mrs. Morphy and William Muirhead. Down by the river side was an old tannery, once owned and possibly built in 1825 by Robert Bell. It had been owned for some years by William Morphy junior and was bought in 1861 by Brice McNeely, who built the present stone building there where he continued a leather tanning business for forty years or more. Local forests were depleted of hemlock to provide bark for the leather tanning industry

Brice McNeely’s tannery was one of the oldest in this part of the country. McNeely manufactured leather of various kinds and he was one of the town’s substantial steady and prosperous men, with considerable real estate. Brice ended up buying the house with the coffin door on High Street. More on that home this week. He was also one of the founding members of the Carleton Place Masonic Lodge when he began correspondence with Johnston Neilson of St. Frances Lodge in Smiths Falls.

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The fonds at the Archives of Ontario still contains the financial records from the Carleton Tannery. Included are ledgers noting financial transactions by client, between 1861-1901 and 1881; and four daybooks noting daily financial transactions, from 1861-1904. The fonds also contains a record of hides tanned from 1863 to 1894, which notes the name of the client who wanted tanning, the items tanned, and the date.

These records were donated to the Archives of Ontario by Henry Stanley of Nepean in 1984.


Brice ‘Tanner’ McNeely b: June 14, 1831 in Beckwith Twp.,
Ontario d: March 09, 1920 in Ramsay Twp., Ontario Burial: St. Fillan’s, United Cemeteries,
His wife, Mary McDowell.
Brice Jr.
Wm. McD. McNeely.
Elizabeth McNeely.

Photo of Bell Street in Carleton Place by The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Bell Street heading towards Bridge Street c.1870. The photograph features some of our first hotels in Carleton Place!
On Bridge Street facing the camera is the “Waterloo Hotel”, which was built in the late 1830s for innkeepers Robert and James Bell. Napoleon Lavellee took over in 1846, later renaming it the “Carleton House Hotel” after building a third floor in 1856. He operated until 1870. It was then renamed the “Leland Hotel” by Peter Salter in 1900. Finally in 1904 Michael Doyle operated the hotel and his son, Leo, took over in 1916.
On the right side of the street is “McCaffrey’s Hotel”, operated by Absolam McCaffrey from 1863 to 1870.



Obit.— Mrs. Brice McNeely, sen. On Wednesday afternoon last Mrs. Brice McNeely, sen., passed peacefully to rest at the family home in Ramsay, at the ripe old age of 82 years. The deceased lady was bora at Raboo, Ireland, July 31, 1837, her maiden name being Mary McDowell, daughter of James and Mary McDowell. She was educated in the national and church schools and when 20 years or age met her future husband in the person of Mr- Brice McNeely, who in. 1857 paid a visit to the home of his fathers in the old land and met his fate. On July 14th of that year -they were married’-and came to America, settling first in the United States, where they lived for four years, coming to Canada in 1861 and settling at Carleton Place, where for many years Mr. MpNeely conducted successfully a tanning’ business, and where most of their children, eleven in all, were born and educated, the family moving out to Ramsay some few years ago after the children were scattered. Eight of the children survive, three sons and five daughters. The sons are James Brice and William : the daughters Mrs. J. B.’ Houston, Mrs. Thos. James, Mrs. John Tait (Portland, Wash.), Mrs. Major Hooper and Miss Elizabeth at home. She was a conscientious member of the Anglican faith and a regular attendant at St. James church, especially at the early services, being of a very retired and reserved disposition. In July, 1907, the aged couple celebrated their golden wedding, and in 1917 their diamond anniversary, and one of the proudest moments of ‘her life was when she marked her first ballot at the last Dominion election, being then 80 years of age. The funeral took place on Friday afternoon last to St. Fillan’s cemetery, and was very largely attended, Rev. Canon Elliott conducted the services.— Herald.

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.

5 responses »

  1. Hello, I have enjoyed reading about my connections to the McNeely family. I live in Auburn, WA USA, very close to the burial of Laura Woodward McNeely (who married Nathaniel Drummond Moore McNeely). One of their children, James McNeely settled in Buckley, and was my great uncle. I would be interested in any connections to decedents in your area. Thanks, Lauren


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