I Will Take Some Opium to Go Please —The “Drug Dispensary” at the Chatterton House Hotel

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More stories from the Desk Books of The Chatterton House Hotel (Queen’s Hotel) Carleton Place from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Part 1- Tales of the Chatteron House Corset — Queen’s Hotel in Carleton Place- can be found here.

Part 2- Hell on Wheels at Lady Chatterton’s Hotel in Carleton Place– can be found here.

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Today it’s hard to believe, but in early and mid to late 1800’s it was possible to walk into a drugstore or a hotel and buy, without prescription, laudanum, cocaine, and even arsenic. Opium preparations were also sold freely in town, halls, and in the countryside by travelling hawkers. The travelling salesmen, which were many that frequented the Chatterton House Hotel in Carleton Place, often sold their wares through the front desk help for those who needed it.

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Drugs were brought to town from every corner of the country and the amount of opium sales were particularly staggering. Dangerous drugs were commonly used for making home remedies, and less frequently as a recreation for the bored and alienated people. The recreational use of opiates was popular particularly with pre-Victorian and Victorian artists and writers.

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There was no moral condemnation of the use of opiates, and their use was not regarded as addiction but rather as a habit in the Victorian period. Until the end of the nineteenth century few doctors and scientists warned about the dangers of drug addiction.

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The most popular opium derivative was laudanum, a tincture of opium mixed with wine or water. Laudanum, called the ‘aspirin of the nineteenth century,’ was widely used in Victorian households as a painkiller, recommended for a broad range of ailments including cough, diarrhea, rheumatism, ‘women’s troubles’, cardiac disease and even delirium.

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The first photo has a prescription for Milton Teskey. Here is a little background on him below.

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Teskeyville At Apple Tree Falls

On the strength of attractive natural assets and the initial enterprise of three Teskey brothers, a small community developed in the next thirty years, known for a time as Teskeyville and as Appleton Falls.  With a population of about seventy five persons by the mid-fifties, it contained Joseph Teskey’s grist mill, Robert Teskey’s sawmill equipped with two upright saws and a public timber slide, Albert Teskey’s general store and post office, Peter and John F. Cram’s tannery, and two blacksmith shops, William Young’s tailor shop and a wagon shop.  A foundry and machine shop was added before 1860, when the village grew to have a population of three hundred.  Albert Teskey, a younger brother who lived to 1887, also engaged in lumbering and became reeve of Ramsay township.  A flour mill in a stone building erected in 1853 by Joseph Teskey below the east side of the Appleton Falls was operated after his death in 1865 by his son Milton.  It was sold in 1900 to H. Brown & Sons, Carleton Place flour millers and suppliers of electric power, and resold several years later to Thomas Boyd Caldwell (1856-1932) of Lanark, then Liberal member of Parliament for North Lanark, a son of the first Boyd Caldwell who had owned a large sawmill at Carleton Place.

Photos by Linda Seccaspina

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.

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