Well, I’m talking about the little log house at the end of Lake Ave West in Carleton Place that everyone has driven by a million times. Did you know it was the oldest house in Carleton Place within the town limits, and it became a historical site in 1980? The owners spent several years trying to return the little house to its original state, and one of the first moves was to remove the siding and expose the original logs. It was built in 1820 by George Willis, an early Beckwith pioneer who was granted 100 acres to establish a farm. The first marriages in Carleton Place were those of Sarah, daughter of George Willis, to William Morphy, and Mary, daughter of Thomas Willis, to John Morphy. There was no choice really. The newspapers reported that they were arranged marriages, as the only other choice was the Moore family.
Photo below after a storm in the 70’s in the Carleton Place Canadian- courtesy Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
The house was to remain in the Willis family until 1871. Across the road from the house was the family cemetery. The little cemetery, about 15 or 20 feet square, is found at the extreme end of the town’s park, near Lake Avenue and close to the Mississippi River. This was a burial ground, where members of one of the first families of settlers of the town were laid in an unmarked graveyard. Discovery of this site in 1946 was reported at a Carleton Place Parks Commission meeting, at which the suggestion was made that the area should be marked as a historical site by erection of a cairn. Later the remains were exhumed and moved to the United Church cemetery. Thanks to our curator Jennifer Fenwick Irwin at our Museum she has sent me this picture.
Did you know the Carleton Place Orangemens Parade used to begin at the Willis house on the 12th of July? It was a marshaling ground and headquarters as the Willis boys were part of a third generation prominent among the performers in the bands. Word is the little house has only had less than five owners. When they renovated the home they found some coins, but Mary Cook wrote that the initials of John Willis were carved on one of the original logs years ago. Now that was an historical find!
And now you know the rest of the story 🙂
From Glenda Mahoney– Text reads the willis were one of the early irish settlers in carleton place. The old log house on lake avenue past the high school is the old willis house