Lanark County Moves West — Sarah Plain and Tall it was Not




For weeks I have been gathering information and compiling names to write a piece on the migration from Lanark County to Manitoba. Twice in the 1880s people made their way west due to drought or crop failure. There was also the fact that many worked on the C.P.R. Lines. Few returned, and that is why I still get a lot of local information from the Winnipeg newspaper archives as so many from our area were living there and still very interested in the Lanark County news. In fact the new settlers out west ordered 800 plows from Messrs Frost & Wood in Smiths Falls to be shipped out to Manitoba.

There was a large migration from the area to the USA beginning in the 1850’s as second-generation pioneers left to acquire farmland in the new frontier of the American mid-west namely North Dakota, USA.

Mr. E. Rice, Carleton Place, has gone west and if he is pleased with the country will make a home in Dakota near Fargo.  Mr. D. McLaren and family, formerly of Carleton Place, also intends settling in the same place on a 400 acre farm.- Perth Courier

Prior to the Irish famine years, 1846-1854, most of the Irish emigrants who came to Canada were persons with some monetary means who were able to acquire new farmland in the Lanark County wilderness. The second generation of these families, however, facing land shortages here, often moved to the United States. Many of the Irish-Canadians who settled in Canada were disappointed with their land in Ontario. The availability of land in western Canada and the local conflicts with their Scottish neighbours was a huge incentive for them to move.

At that time it was easier for west bound travelers in Canada going from Ontario to Manitoba to take a train to St. Paul, Minnesota and then to proceed on toward either Fargo, ND or Fishers Landing, MN. From there they went northward by boat to the Red River to Manitoba.

In addition, James J. Hill, (originally born in southern Ontario) builder of the Great Northern Railroad, recruited farmers to emigrate from Ontario and settle the Red River Valley. Most people at the time said they were going to Grand Forks, North Dakota.


“It was a sorry lot of human beings that arrived here yesterday from
Winnipeg. They constitute the advance guard of the main body of deluded
Dakotans who went to Manitoba in search of land flowing with milk and honey.

They find instead, a barren waste of desert sand, either destitute of all
vegetation or grown up with sage brush, and an inhospitable climate where vegetable growth is impossible. These misguided unfortunates were warmly welcomed here and provided with necessary relief for their wants and will be given employment. They tell sad tales of destitution and suffering.”

As with businesswoman Elizabeth Lindsay from Almonte, women appeared to be a lot tougher out west than east. Here’s an advertisement which appeared in the Ottawa Citizen of October 21, 1882.

Newspaper Advertisement for a Spouse in North Dakota in 1882



Migrants to North Dakota from Eastern Ontario

Files from The Perth Courier and


The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
16 Aug 1911, Wed • Page 1

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.

2 responses »

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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