Walking With Ghosts — The Accidental Addiction


In 1895 Jacob Leslie built what is known as the Leslie Block on Bridge Street in Carleton Place, ON. to house his furniture and undertaking business. The ground floor was strictly a showroom for furniture, but samples of coffins were on the second floor with a preparation room at the back. The deceased were embalmed and made ready for presentation in the building and the funerals took place at private homes or inside the white frame house on Beckwith Street. In 1915, the business was run by W.H. Matthews, and was taken over later by Alan R. Barker.


Emma Myers had been a very young nurse on various Civil War battlefields, and after the war she emmigrated to Canada with what was left of her family. Emma had survived the hardships of war and had become addicted to morphine, as it was given as a pain killer to the officers. Almost all addictions at the turn of the century were accidental. People became involved with drugs they had no idea what they were taking and ignorant of the impact associated with them.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln requested the Army physicians to develop a method of embalming soldiers who had died so their bodies could be returned to their families. Dr. Thomas Holmes was notable for perfecting embalming during this time and Emma was chosen to work with him.

When preparing deceased soldiers, physicians first buried the soldier, then notified family, then disinterred and embalmed the soldier with a hand pump, and then shipped him home. It was soon discovered that relatives would pay well for the return of officers, so the procurement of officers’ bodies became an issue of conflict between the good doctors.

Most people would not know how to get access to this substance, let alone fully understand the embalming process. We know that embalming fluid is very popular among the dead; I am just having a hard time understanding why the living insist on smoking it– because that is what Emma was doing while she worked there. Smoking a cigarette with a touch of embalming fluid is similar to an egg exploding in a microwave and can cause a person to become extremely high for up to 3 days, depending on the amount smoked. Emma did not last long working in the Leslie Block building, as exactly 30 days after she began work, she fell into a coma on the second floor and died later that day.


For 10 years a used furniture shop in that same building was run by Joyce Murray and she sensed a lot of odd noises and motions. Murray often felt cold pockets of air on the second floor, and doors would slam shut for no reason. Many times some would complain of feeling uneasy and seeing shadows out of the corner of their eyes. Many a person would get “locked” in the bathroom on the 2nd. level so Murray decided to stop using it.  Murray’s dogs, who spent their days at the store, absolutely refused to go up the stairs. The furniture dealer’s son-in-law set up a surveillance camera  to monitor activity, and one day the camera showed a long-skirted figure quite prominently. When someone went up to check, there was no one there.

The entire back (east) side of the building suddenly collapsed in 1953 and an overpowering smell of formaldehyde wafted through the town. Buildings all along Beckwith Street were evacuated, including the Bell Telephone exchange at the corner of Albert Street – the only time in their history they stopped work! It seems that the embalming fluid had been slowly leaking down the back wall, eating away the mortar and stone, until the entire wall collapsed. Could it have been young Emma who was still  a ‘wet-user’  even in death? Was she still siphoning off the embalming fluid and forgetting to shut off the valve? After all, invincibility and forgetfulness are also common side effects of smoking the fluid — or was she just one overly happy phantom that was tub-thumping and no one was ever going to keep her down.

Dr. Watson: [as he watches Sherlock drinking Formaldehyde] You’re drinking embalming fluid?
Sherlock Holmes: [exhales] Yes. Care for a drop?
Dr. John Watson: You do seem…
Sherlock Holmes: Excited?
Dr. John Watson: Manic.
Sherlock Holmes: I am.
Dr. John Watson: Verging on…
Sherlock Holmes: Ecstatic?
Dr. John Watson: Psychotic. [Pauses] I should’ve brought you a sedative.

Photos-Linda Seccaspina– Colour photo- Murray Family


Emma Meyers would have been age 14 at the time of the Civil War and in her 50’s when she died.

Dr. Thomas Homes– The Embalming King

The back wall of the Leslie Block building did indeed fall down due to rotting walls from leaking embalming fluid.


Carleton Place fact–The Alan R. Barker Funeral Home is part of a Carleton Place and area tradition with roots dating back to 1875. In 1875 Jacob Leslie started a funeral business on Bridge Street beside the present day St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. The Leslie business was continued by Jacob’s son George Leslie in 1892 until its sale to W.H. Matthews in 1919. 


Howls in the Night in Carleton Place — Our Haunted Heritage

The Devil You Say in Carleton Place? Our Haunted Heritage

Outside Looking in at The Eccentric Family of Henry Stafford — Our Haunted Heritage

The Funeral Train That Went Through Carleton Place — Our Haunted Heritage

Stairway to Heaven in a Cemetery? Our Haunted Heritage

Old Wives Tales of Death — Our Haunted Heritage

Funerals With Dignity in Carleton Place – Just a Surrey with a Fringe on Top —- Our Haunted Heritage

Death by Corset? Bring Out Your Dead and Other Notions! Our Haunted Heritage

Things You Just Don’t say at a Funeral— Even if you Are a Professional Mourner

The Non Kosher Grave — Our Haunted Heritage

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage

 Could the Giant Pike of Carleton Place Have Turned Into the Lake Memphremagog Monster?

Carleton Place Was Once Featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Our Haunted Heritage

Young Hearts Run Free — Warning– Story Could be Upsetting to Some

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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