Do You have an Archaeological Find in Your Carleton Place Basement?


Two days ago I posted the story about the hidden room in my basement. Local resident Nancy Green posted on Facebook she had the same thing and had poked a flashlight to see if she could find anything odd. Well now, It makes total sense what it is. It is located directly under the front verandah, and very common in older homes. It definitely used to be a cistern.

Cisterns were used for the collection of rain water, and were quite common at homes throughout the 19th century.  They can also be found at a few 18th century homes and some were built as late as the early 1940s.  Using the roof as a rain collection surface, gutters and downspouts delivered water to the cistern.



Most of them were a  large rectangular box located under a porch, with the porch floor being the cover.  Before the floor of the porch was replaced we used to have th remains of what was once a trap door. There were many folklore “rules” governing when and how water was to be collected if you wanted it to stay “sweet”. Built to catch rainwater, which was then used for domestic chores. Of course it became doomed by indoor plumbing.
The success of indoor plumbing initiated the demise of cisterns, which became white elephants with the abundant flow of water from kitchen and bathroom faucets. Cisterns were eventually filled with unwanted items, buried and forgotten and walled over like ours. The fact that cisterns have remained virtually undisturbed, in some instances for hundreds of years,  can we consider them archaeological finds?


Apparently some of them (not ours) are steeped in treasures, such as ceramics, coins, tintype photographs and food particles, that can tell archaeologists about what people of the time liked to buy and eat. You have to remember when my home was built in 1867 the local water probably smelled bad and people got sick. The early settlers associated rainwater with freshness and thought cisterns might be the long-term answer. So should we really consider these rooms archaeological finds? That’s hard to answer as I am sure in a few hundred years people will dig up tanning beds and think we used to fry people for punishment.

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

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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