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

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.

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