Crime and Punishment? –Tales from the Almonte Post Office


Photo from Google Image– There is an exact replica of this cane/strap at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

The strap was once used on minors for punishment in reformatories and in schools.  It was particularly prevalent in Canada,  and applied to the student’s hand, until abolished in 2004. But in modern times at least, the strap was generally made of canvas/rubber rather than leather and the cane was never used.

Only in Canada eh? Pity!

I remember stories from my days in elementary school, and obviously this man in the story did too. Today in a 1933 Ottawa Citizen archive I found this story of a young boy who remembered the day he got the strap in 1865 when he went to school at Lombard’s Corners. (or Lombar’s Corners)



Lower mill street towards post office –Photo from

John Carnochan’s teacher was  Charles Ferguson, and like most old-time teachers he kept the law in his classroom by not hesitating to use “the leather”, or a cane. One day when young Carnochan was going to his seat another boy grabbed him by the coat tails and pulled him off. Of course the other boy declared  John had caused the mischief and Mr. Ferguson gave John a whaling.

Being innocent, John vowed that when he got older he would would find Mr. Ferguson and thrash him similar to the punishment he had received. Soon after the incident Mr. Ferguson moved away and John lost track of him, but he never forgot.


mvtm post office

mvtm post office- –Photo from

Twenty years later John was now living in Almonte, and when he went to see about his mail whom should he find behind the wicket but old Charles Ferguson his former teacher. John looked hard to make sure this man behind the wicket was indeed the same man, and the anger in his heart rose.

The Post Office employee studied John’s face even though John had grown big and husky. Mr. Ferguson cleared his throat and said,

“I’ve seen you before, aren’t you John Carnochan who lived in Lambard’s Corners about 20 years ago?” John shook his head affirmatively and said,

“Twenty years ago you gave me a licking. I was innocent and I didn’t deserve it. I threatened when I got bigger I would give you the same kind of treatment. I am here now, and can give it to you”.

tarted up post office

Photo from

The deputy postmaster began to look nervous, and then John said quietly,
“Don’t be afraid, I wont hurt you even though I feel like doing it. It just wouldn’t be fair now.”

The teacher looked greatly relieved and said,

“Well John, I did indeed give you a licking alright. Perhaps I was hasty. But, I believed you were guilty, and if I made an error I am sorry.”

John looked at him laughed and said,
“Oh, that’s all right,  now how about my mail?”

After 20 years the hard feelings John had carried in his heart were now but a memory.



Heritage of the Township
The village of Lombardy has boasted a number of names including “Landon’s Corners”, “Landons Mills”, “Lombard’s Corners” and “South Elmsley”. The name Lombardy apparently came from Francis Lombard, a French soldier who arrived in the early 1820’s and settled in the area.

2-John Carnochan and Sarah Jane Campbell married on Tuesday, October 30, 1888 in Almonte, Lanark, Ontario.

3.-Mr. Charles H. Ferguson, deputy postmaster, Almonte, did indeed work for the Almonte Post Office and received a long-service medal.


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.

2 responses »

  1. I am a distant relative of Charles H Ferguson, deputy postmaster. I am wondering if you have other information about him that you could share?


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