Reusing the Past of Carleton Place — The Morphy’s and the McCann’s



One of the biggest remodeling and decorating mistakes people make with older homes is getting stuck in the rut of “everything has to look old or be of that era”. Rules were meant to be broken when it comes to decorating. Just because you have an old home does not mean it needs to be only filled with antiques. But, I watch a lot of DIY shows and it also bothers me they are so sledgehammer happy.


Sometimes using an eclectic mix of old and new has a very appealing and unique aesthetic. When we bought the Morphy- Cram house in 1981, Angelo and I insisted  on reusing as many original building materials as possible whenever we did anything to improve the home. Most of the interior is filled full of eclectic inexpensive thrift shop finds from Lanark county. It was that important to me to give these random items homes.


In 1995 after the house fire, the restoration company had to knock out walls and tear up floors. Had I not thrown a fit, the original wood trim might have been destined for the dumpster or the open dealer market.  Instead of picking through the pile, spotting pieces with potential, then transforming them I insisted they catalogue each and every piece and refinish them. Everything had to be done to keep the house’s historic character intact.


When it came to building the Campbell side addition,  the stone was used from the same quarry as the original house was built from. Retired stone mason, Jack Wilson cut each and every one of those pieces of stone by hand and it took him over two years. What were we going to use for the pillars and wood accents we wondered? The answer was just across the street.

Neighbour Laurel McCann had an auction just before she sold her home on Lake Ave. East. The pillars etc. from their original verandah were stored in her shed after they remodeled the front of the house. I bought each and every pillar and trim that day from her and each piece was applied to new verandah instead of buying new replicas. The last two pillars which had been stored in  one of our sheds were finally used as decor in the new laundry room last year.


Using salvaged materials is a win-win. Your  will get a great look incorporating salvaged heritage pieces. Instead of throwing things out when you renovate– leave them on the curb for someone else,  or put them on Craig’s list or Kijiji and save them from the landfill sites never to be seen again.


There is no comparison between the old and new that that is sold today. I am  proud to say my home was not only built by the Morphys but it has part of the McCann family in it too. I even have the old McCann family piano, and oh yes, a hundred other Lanark county families once owned my knickknacks.


Footnote: Why would anything have that “thing” in their vestibule? Angelo loved Christmas and the movie series Planet of the Apes. One day I went to an auction on Quarry Road and he was there– just as he stands. His original head was gone and there was a monkey head instead. I saw that as a sign. The next day I heard he was probably going to be thrown out and my friends Kevin and Wendy went to pick him up. After a lengthy airing and cleanup he was was happily placed in my home. Angelo would have had a great laugh about this chap. Everyone else does.:)



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  14 Jan 1909, Thu,  Page 7


Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s