The Sad Tale of Alexander Gillies and Peter Peden


A few day ago,  in deep research in the Almonte Gazette I saw  a strange remark about Carleton Place about “those two that need not have left us”. Of course I went on a tangent, and during that time I came up with information about Billy the Kidd’s mistress, but still nothing until yesterday’s informative 4 hour deep sea dive into many of the Almonte Gazettes.


Clipped from Ottawa Daily Citizen, 18 Sep 1878, Wed, Page 4 The Sad Tale of Alexander Gillies and Peter Peden

s-l1600 (6).jpg

December 1878 Almonte Gazette

A few days ago the Gazette was shown a splendidly executed India ink and oil painting of the late Messers Alex Gillies and Peter Peden of Carleton Place who were victims of a drowning accident on Mississippi Lake some time ago. The young artist was Mr. W.S. Taggart of Coleman and Taggart. If you remember Alexander M. Gillies and Peter Peden, aged 21 and 22, were drowned in September while duck hunting at night near Black Point in the lower Mississippi Lake.


September 1878 –Two Young Men Drowned:  Carleton Place Herald:

It is our painful duty to record a very sad case of drowning  which occurred in the Mississippi Lake on Sunday night last.  Two young men, Alexander Gillies, son of David Gillies and Martha Poole, machinist and Peter Peden, miller, left home about 8:00 in the evening and went up the lake in a small canoe to shoot ducks by moonlight.

They intended returning by midnight but not coming home, yesterday a search was initiated and both bodies were found within 40 feet of the shore near McCann’s lower point called Black Point.  No person saw how the sad accident occurred, but it is supposed that the canoe upset and in order to assist his comrade in swimming, Peter threw off his clothes and succeeded in getting all off but one boot.  When found, he had hold of Alex by one hand and he had one arm around Peter’s neck.  Since the above was typeset we learn that the unfortunate young men were good swimmers but became entangled in weeds and rice and mud and were unable to extricate themselves.

The bodies were found embedded in the mud only a few inches under the surface of the water.  They were brought in on Tuesday afternoon to their heartbroken friends and acquaintances.  The parents and friends of these young men have the heartfelt sympathy of the entire community and the fervent prayer to the God of all grace who afflicts, not willingly but for our good, that he may give strength to them to bear up under their sad bereavement.  Mr. Gillies was 21 years, 11 months and Mr. Peden was 24 years, 4 months.  The funeral will take place on Saturday at 1:00

Name Peter Peden
Event Type Death
Event Date 17 Sep 1878
Event Place Carleton Place, Lanark, Ontario
Gender Male
Age 22
Birth Year (Estimated) 1856


Alexander Munroe Gillies

Ontario Deaths and Overseas Deaths
Name Alexander Munroe Gillies
Event Type Death
Event Date 17 Sep 1878
Event Place Carleton Place, Lanark, Ontario
Gender Male
Age 21
Birth Year (Estimated) 1857


Historical Notes:


David Gillies (June 27, 1849 – October 12, 1926) father of Alexander Gillies, was a lumber merchant in Ontario and political figure in Quebec. He represented Pontiac in the Legislative Assembly of Quebec from 1892 to 1908 as a Liberal.

Gillies was born in Herron’s Mills in Lanark County, Ontario, the son of John Gillies and Mary Cullen Bain, both Scottish immigrants, and was educated in Lanark, Carleton Place and at the Brockville Business College. With his brothers, he established a lumber company at Braeside, Ontario on the Ottawa River in 1873, serving as president from 1914 to 1926.[1] Gillies Bros. & Co. Ltd. also manufactured steam engines, mill machinery, textiles and boats. The company did much of their logging in the Pontiac region and Gillies was elected to the Quebec assembly four times even though he was a resident of Ontario.

In 1879, he married Martha Poole. He settled in Carleton Place in 1880. Gillies died in Carleton Place at the age of 77.

Gillies Bros. & Co. Ltd. continued to operate under family ownership until 1963, when it was purchased by Consolidated Paper Corporation who continued operating the company under the same name.-Wikipedia


W. S. Taggart

Thanks to Jennifer Fenwick Irwin the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum we have this picture  of Ewen McEwen, first clerk of Beckwith by W.S. Taggart in 1888 10 years after he painted the portrait of Gilles and Peden after they died. He was listed as an artist in Brockville, Ontario.


light mention at google books:
“In a Canadian attic” (book title)
Gerald Stevens – 1969 – 267 pages
… Artist, Barrie, Ont. WH Sherwood, Artist, Orillia, Ont. WS Taggart, Artist, Brockville, Ont.








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.

One response »

  1. Hello Linda,
    What a wonderful article, thank you for allowing yourself to go on that 4 hour deep see dive into the Almonte Gazette. This was a sad event indeed. I am puzzled that the funeral card lists John Gillies as the father of Alexander Munroe Gillies and the article from the Carleton Place Harold has David Gillies and Martha Poole as the parents. I think his parents were John Gillies and Mary Cullen Bain and I think he was named after Mary Cullen Bain Gillies’ brother in-law Dr. Alexander Munro who married Elizabeth Bain. Alexander and Elizabeth’s son James married Rosalthe Wright and had their first son, Alexander, in 1859. Alexander Munroe Gillies was born in 1856. Alexander Munro’s middle name was ‘Gillies’. Interesting? The Munro name has been spelled a few different ways in Lanark County so this name could be from the Dr. Alexander Munro connection.

    I would love to see the painting by WS Taggart of the two drowned men. Have you seen a copy?

    Also interesting is that the registrar of the death certificates was ARG Peden. I wonder if he was a relative? And the young man William Peden who died just a few days before Peter, I wonder what relationship he was to the family? How sad.

    Thanks for all your great research and stories!


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