Pardon me Boys — Is That the Carleton Place Choo Choo?

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The plaintive whistle of the trains will be forever silenced in Carleton Place.

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A railway bridge at Carleton Place was built more than 100 years ago to span the Mississippi at the location of the town’s present C.P.R. Bridge. Trains from Brockville, drawn by small wood-burning steam locomotives, began in the summer of 1859 to run as far as Carleton Place and Almonte. This was the same oldest railway line of the district that was surmounted last year by the new overpass on the south side of the town opposite the end of Napoleon Street.

The area around the birdge was a popular portage place and the natives had their camps here.Several parties of Indians were encamped late in the year at the east side of the town and frequented the streets daily. An Indian war dance was held at a random local residence weekly. I have no idea if that was by choice or not. I guess you just stayed indoors and let them do their thing.

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If you’ve ever seen the McArthur Woolen Mill, Central School, Prince of Wales High School, St James Church, St Mary’s Church, and of course the Carleton Place and Beckwith Museum, then you are familiar with some of William Willowby’s work.  He was a local stone mason, who along with his brothers, Isaac, Abraham and Jacob, and his sons, built numerous buildings in Carleton Place and the surrounding area, including Almonte and Smiths Falls.

William also built the railroad bridge that spans the Mississippi. In the Brigil Homes subdivision behind Giant Tiger the  newly built playground is named after the Willoughby’s. So when you drive down King Street you can see “Willoughby Park” and know who it’s named after. I had no idea until today.

In August of 1964, three young girls were caught on the Mississippi River narrow railway bridge. Watching in horror, a CPR Ottawa-bound Canadian passenger train was coming towards them quickly. Two sisters were forced to jump from the 25 foot high train-only bridge and they landed in the shallow waters of the rock-bottomed Mississippi River. Read the rest here.

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C.P.R. (Canadian Pacific Railway) Passenger Train crossing Mississippi River Bridge at Carleton Place, Ontario, 1900
National Archives

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Photos: Linda Seccaspina and photos and files from The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

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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