For the Love of Paris Green –Another Local Murdoch Mystery?


Another mystery-The Strange Disappearance of Bertha Sumner of Carleton Place

Any murder or ill doing in town was always labeled in the newspapers as:

                                                ” Carleton Place Sensation”



July 1898-Perth Courier–Read the Perth Courier at Lanark Archives

The junction town of Carleton Place has once again had another sensation.  It seems that Peter Blair, 75, came home from Stittsville to Carleton Place on the 26th of June 1898, a Saturday, and died on Sunday somewhat suddenly, the spark of life going out as he was endeavoring to get into bed.  A wife and four children survive.

The body was entered in St. James Cemetery on Tuesday.  Now comes the question. On formal information, Dr. Burns, coroner, was summoned to Carleton Place on Wednesday to hold an inquest, it having been alleged that there were suspicious circumstances in connection with the old man’s death.

A jury was empanelled and six witnesses were examined—Mrs. Blair, her son Joseph, William Cameron, D.H. Griffith of Lorain, O., Dr. E. McEwen and John Lamb—and nothing that would indicate unnatural cause of death was developed in the evidence.  The body was exhumed and Dr. McFarlane  of Carleton Place made a post mortem examination of it.  The inquest then adjourned until this (Thursday) forenoon.



This is not Peter nor Millie- but if anyone has a clue, please contact me:) Taken at Willis Studio


August 1898- Perth Courier

The Coroner’s Jury at Carleton Place, in the Blair case, returned a verdict last night that the deceased Peter Blair came to his death on June 26 by being poisoned with Paris Green but by whom administered is unknown.

It will be remembered that Blair died suddenly at his home at Carleton Place the morning after his return from an absence at Stittsville where he was working as a laborer.  An autopsy showed he died of poison in the shape of Paris Green and as there were some suspicious circumstances, an inquest was held.

The principal evidence yesterday was that of Mrs. Blair.  She testified that Blair had come home complaining of having been ill for days, also with a bad cut on his leg from an axe.  He was vomiting all night.  She gave him two times a teaspoon of ginger in hot water but nothing helped.  Paris Green was in the house about three weeks before his death.

The coat and pants had been burned because it was better to do so in case of blood poisoning as Dr. McEwen had pronounced the cause of death to be.  Nelson Kane, the man who had been spoken of, was in there when Mr. Blair died.  He came on the 28th.  Kane had never made any suggestions about the witnesses’ husband.

Kane first came to the Blair’s house to help dig a foundation for the house.  She had always agreed with her husband.  She did not want him to do work away from home, but he insisted upon going to Stittsville as he could more easily get work there than at home.  The coat on which Mrs. Pollard, a daughter of the deceased, found Paris Green, was identified by Mrs. Blair as the one the deceased brought from Stittsville in April last and was hung on a beam in the shed from that time until the discovery was made.  The other evidence taken elicited nothing of special interest and the jury after some deliberation returned the above verdict. Nelson Kane later committed suicide by hanging himself.

What had been going on between Mr. Kane and Mrs. Blair?

What did I dig up about Peter Blair?

Peter was 75 when he died, making his birth year 1823 and that his wife was Millie (which is a nick name of Amelia). He was at least 17 years older than Millie who according to the 1901 census records her as 40 with a birth date of 2 Mar 1860 but in 1891 census records she recorded as being 50. Typical findings from hand written records were kept.

The death registration lists Peter Blair as being of the Church of England. Peter’s death and burial, recorded in the parish registers of the Anglican Church in Carleton Place, and now held by the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa Archives may list the names of his parent(s) and his birth place. No record of a gravestone is found in the St. James database either.

Author’s note–Many notes were made that Peter was a Catholic in 1891, so the death registration may be in error. Peter was a moulder as many men were employed in Carleton Place as moulders.

Name Peter Blair
Event Type Death
Event Date 26 Jun 1898
Event Place Carlton Place, Lanark, Ontario
Gender Male
Age 75
Birthplace Prov., Quebec
Birth Year (Estimated) 1823
Reference ID yr 1898 cn 12692
GS Film number 1854386
Digital Folder Number 4174865
Image Number 1073


Read the Perth Courier at Lanark Archives



Saturday, July 2, 1898 Hamilton Spectator

BLAIR (Carleton Place, Ont.) July 27 – A number of people here believe that Nelson King, who hanged himself yesterday, had something to do with the death of Peter Blair, who died under suspicious circumstances some weeks ago. From an analysis of the contents of Blair’s stomach it would seen that arsenic had been administered in sufficient quantities to cause death, and evidence of an important character may be brought out at the adjourned inquest tomorrow.

Some time after Blair’s death, King borrowed a pick and shovel from William Cameron, and said he was going out to fix up Blair’s grave. While he was at work at the grave, William Watters, who had been ordered to exhume the body, came along and told King he intended removing the body. The latter dropped his shovel and turned deadly pale. When King returned to town, he was in a very nervous state and left for Smith’s Falls after. It is suspected he intended removing the body, so that no examination of it could be made. King had probably brooded over the trouble and in desperation took his own life.


In the 1890s, medical authorities in Italy were concerned about the unexplained deaths of over a thousand children. A chemist, E. Gosio, was consulted. Gosio did not examine the children, but the rooms where the deaths occurred. He discovered the deaths had two common factors: Paris Green wallpaper in the rooms and a presence of mildew. The children, being shorter and playing on the floor, inhaled the heavy arsine, the byproduct of arsenic and dampness. The removal of Paris Green from wallpaper prevented further deaths.

George Willis Photographer– George Willis, Henry’s Uncle operated a photographic studio. When taking pictures of a child, the youngster was told to ‘watch for the bird.’

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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