Threads of Morals on Lake Ave West




Photo from Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum— 24 Lake Avenue West was built in 1895 for the Dunham family, and is now The Pickle Dish.


Margaret Ann Rochester Dunham came from the wealthy Rochester family of Ottawa, Ontario. Her father was a brewer – her uncle John Rochesterwas Mayor of Ottawa in 1870 and 1871 and a member of the Canadian House of Commons representing Carleton from 1872 to 1882.


Mayor of Carleton Place – 1900 – Dry Goods Merchant


The Rochesters were a pioneer family in early Bytown that branched out into timber and mining enterprise across the Canadian shield. Many of the Rochesters had distinguished military careers but sadly Margaret Ann did not choose well when she married. She purchased a lot at 24 Lake Ave. W. from William McArthur in 1890 and the house was built in 1895 the year after her uncle died. She and her husband William Matthie Dunham and their three children resided in the home until 1911.


William Dunham was a dry good merchant and served as mayor of Carleton Place in 1900. He was known as a bit of a drinker and not terribly successful at supporting his family. Instead, he chose to depend on his wife’s inheritance. The social gentry of the Victorian era were ostentatious and displayed their wealth for all to see and the Dunhams were no different.


Even though sickness and disease ran rampant, and lives were lost daily to the ravishes of chickenpox, smallpox, diphtheria, scarlet fever, meningitis, tuberculosis and cholera, the family surrounded themselves with the ornaments and chattels of the rich. The interior of their home was often dark as sunlight was purposely kept at bay. Heavy furniture filled the rooms and family oil portraits hung on the walls. The Rochester-Dunham home was overflowing with vases, figurines, needlework and lace.


Margaret’s Uncle John had been a staunch Wesleyan Methodist and helped establish a local order of the Orange Lodge and was also a Freemason. But for the first time religion started to lose its grip on broad groups of people, and no matter how many Biblical texts were written on the wall of their lavatory for moral uplift William Dunham became an issue for the rest of the Rochester family.

At some point he was asked to leave the family home and moved across Lake Avenue into the Mississippi Hotel and took a room. Stories have circulated that he would sit on the upper balcony nursing his sorrows with ale and gaze across at his former home. Dunham died at the Hotel in 1913 at the age of 65. I have no doubt his dance with the bottle grew heavier after his daughter Annie Rose died in the family home in February 1897 of meningitis at the age of 14. Ancestry. com said Annie died Sunday, April 18, 1897 It is said her spirit still lives on, haunting the third floor.


The home at 74 Lake Ave West was purchased in 1911 from Mrs. Rochester Dunham for use as a manse by St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. At the time of Union in 1925 it became the property of Memorial Park United Church. Used for a time by Barker’s Funeral Home, the house is said not only to contain the ghost of Annie Rose Dunham, but also many lost souls who have found their way into the old manse to protect young Annie’s morals from being influenced by her late father– the unscrupulous William Matthie Dunham. ( see clipping below)



1881 Census for Annie Rose Dunham–

Name Annie R Dunham
Gender Female
Age 8
Birth Year (Estimated) 1883
Birthplace Ontario
Marital Status Single
Religion Engl Church
Province Ontario
District Lanark South
District Number 84
Sub-District Carleton Place
Affiliate Film Number 30953_148151








The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
24 Mar 1897, Wed  •  Page 1

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.

4 responses »

  1. When Memorial Park church burned in 1954, the minister of the time Rev. Harold Giffin and his wife opened their home to host a variety of church groups. I remember attending Mission Band in the dining room here.

    Liked by 1 person

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