Time Capsule in the ‘Hi Diddle Day’ House?

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Ottawa Journal 1971–Photo from the Wanda Morrison- Joan Kehoe Collection

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I have written many stories about my home the Morphy Cram house, called Springside Hall in Carleton Place on several occasions. Jennifer, from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Museum, has often wondered why there is very little information or photos of the house throughout the years. Imagine my surprise when yesterday going through a scrapbook lent to me by Wanda Morrison that there was an article about Springside Hall in 1971.

To some of you that don’t know, the facade of my home was once the opening background picture to famed puppeteer’s Noreen Young’s  CBC children’s television program called ‘Hi Diddle Day. When we bought the home in 1981 the interior of the house had been stripped right down to the brass push button light switches, but the outside still had the red roof shingles and window shutters which we later changed.

I had been told it was William Morphy, son of the founder of Morphy’s Falls (Carleton Place) in 1860 who built the house, while this article says another son, Edmond Morphy built it. The only other records I had is that it was bought in 1905 by former Carleton Place mayor Albert E. Cram and then occupied by the Raeburns.  But now I know the house also was once a residence to the Johnson and Merrick families.

During the fire of 1995 we changed the position of the dining room doorway and the back staircase, but imagine my surprise to find out that somewhere through the years the interior had also been changed.

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Front Staircase- photo by Linda Seccaspina

Most of the main floor woodwork, which I fought to be restored after the fire, is quarter-cut oak, which indicates a turn of the century change from the simple upstairs woodwork. When interviewed, Mr. and Mrs. Raeburn had lived in the house for 32 out of the total 40 years they lived in my home. They recalled that the front staircase had been changed early on. The elaborate gilted curtain rod that once hung in the dining room from Mrs. Raeburn’s family home, the Finlayson House in Clayton, is no longer there, but there still remains one plain but original rod over the french doors that open to the study.

It mentions the ell (0ver the kitchen wing)  having three bedrooms which were part of the servants quarters, as it connected to the back staircase. But in reality when we moved there there were only two, so where was the third bedroom?  We know that the newel post and stair rails on the back staircase are from the 1860s, as when we changed the back staircase we reused the original wood.

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina-Last year Blair White gave me a folk art oil painting that George Raeburn did of his home The Morphy Cram House/ Hi Diddle Day home. He had given it to Blair a good many years ago. When I die I want it to go back to the White family and have Blair’s son Ben look after it until he can pass it on. I met May Raeburn once and also met her son Burt when she passed on.

 

The property that was once a whole city block is now an acre in total, and the raspberry bushes that grew wild all over at the back of the house made way to a residence in the 60s when the Raeburn’s sold part of their property. The old carriage house mentioned in the article is now gone as it was in very bad shape when we bought it.

I was sad nothing was mentioned of the dumb waiter that is blocked in a wall in the previous galley kitchen that went up the old servants quarters. I really wanted to know more about it, but what I learned next was even better. What was shocking is that Mrs. Raeburn told the newspaper that one of the cornerstones of the house contains artifacts the Morphy’s put there, but no records exist of the original contents. She said she wasn’t inquisitive enough to investigate. I most certainly am.

 

Related reading:

The Morphy Cram House — Springside Hall

The Hi- Diddle-Day House of Carleton Place – Puppets on a String

The Ghost Lovers of Springside Hall – A True Love Story

Do You have an Archaeological Find in Your Carleton Place Basement?

Feeling Groovy by the Lake Ave East Bridge

October 13, 1977 George W. Raeburn of Lake Ave East— Artist and C. P. R. Man

What if You Had a Fire and No One Came?

Houseful of Whimsy 1982 Ottawa Journal

 

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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.

4 responses »

  1. Many thanks Linda. I had not read your letter until after today’s meeting ! I think I know the house but did not know the Cram connection. I looked at it once a year or two ago but the gates were closed and I could not see much from the street. Your details are very interesting and I would like to have a talk to you about it some time. We will see each other again at a future event and have a chat..Your help is much appreciated. Best wishes, Ian.

  2. Linda
    I passed that house so many times in my youth and had no knowledge of who lived there -very seldom saw anyone about. I just thought that they must be very rich to have such a house. I enjoyed your article very much and took pleasure in your finally fulfilling my curiosity.
    There was a White family living at the western end of Lake Ave W. (around the corner-if I remember correctly, it was Maynard White). There may also have been “White’s” around George St.

    • ..None of the WHITEs in Carleton Place are related to me, but the CRAMs are distantly related to my late wife ! .

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