The Napoleon of Carleton Place





There have  been few stories told of the man called Napoleon Lavallee that once owned the Carleton House in Carleton Place and then the Mississippi Hotel, and I have often wondered why. The only picture of him we know of hangs on the wall of the Mississippi Hotel. I have a  copy of it somewhere but cannot find it. Yesterday I found a story about him and want to document it.

March 7th 1890- Almonte Gazette



A Resident of Carleton Place for Sixty Y ears—Sketch of His Life.

Few men in this county are better known than was the late Napoleon Lavallee, who passed away from earth on Tuesday morning last at four o’clock, aged 88. The Ottawa Citizen says: “At the moment of his death no one was present in his chamber, death not being then expected, but that the old man passed away all alone, his light going slowly out.”

Mr. Lavallee was born in the Province of Quebec on the 20th day of February, 1802. Very little is known of his early life. At fourteen years of age he left his home and began to paddle his own canoe. He had a strong and active -constitution, and from the very start of his independent career forged ahead in the face of obstacles which would have terrified and turned back a less indomitable spirit.

We first hear distinctly of him in the Canadian North-West about the year 1816, where he worked for the North-West Fur Company that subsequently was swallowed up by the Hudson’s Bay Company, for whom Mr. Lavallee continued to operate. At that time the most rapid of transits was accomplished by dog trains, and these the young adventurer handled with pride and skill. His intimacy with the country was so accurate that he could in recent years readily recall places and distances, astonishing railroad travellers by the mass of the geographical knowledge he possessed.

Leaving that country, he made his way to Toronto, where he worked at his trade as a cooper, and then pushed on down the Mississippi as far as New Orleans. At last he arrived in Ogdensburg, and seemed to settle down. A gentleman there, who was a friend of Mr. Bellows, then a merchant of many departments in Carleton Place, and our first postmaster, was asked if he knew of a good cooper, and recommended the young Paul and as the result was that Mr. Lavallee came to this spot, in the year 1830.


He worked with fidelity for Mr. Bellows a great many years, and then set up for himself, doing a tremendous business all over this country, making tens of thousands of flour and pork barrels, butter tubs and like articles, chiefly with his own strong skilled hands, during a portion of this period occupying the office of Government Inspector of Pork. His place of business then was in the shop now occupied by -Mr. Miner, which he built. He owned half of a lot there, and sold half of his half to Mr. Robert Bell.

Giving up his business, he bought the Carleton House, built by James Bell, and ran it until his old love for roving broke out furiously, and he made plans for a trip to California. He had married the Widow Paris (Sarah Coates), an amiable and athletic young woman. She had come to this country with her husband, Mungo Park Paris, whose father was a friend of the famous African explorer, and along with them were his brothers John and James Paris, David Pattie and Adam Beck. It was the cholera year that they landed in Montreal, and young Paris died. The widow came onto Carleton Place with the others of the group, and in the fall of 1833 married Mr. Lavallee.

When he resolved to go to California, she and her son Hugh Paris accompanied him, as well as a young man who had been clerking for Mr. McArthur. He took with him £200. They did not tarry long in California, but pushed on through South America, and finally wound up in Australia. Here they stayed number of years. One day a mine caved in, and Hugh and the clerk were smothered. Mrs. Lavallee could not endure to stay longer in that place of sorrow, and they came back home much poorer and the hotel business was resumed. Mr. Lavallee prospered all the time until the Carleton House became too small, and he had to find relief for the pressure by erecting a larger hotel, the Mississippi as it was when Mr. Mjcllquham bought it in 1883.


Lavallee joined Rev. Mr. Fairbairn’s church, 6th line Ramsay, in 1830, largely through his respect for his friend Mr. Robert Bell, who from the start was his guide, philosopher and friend, and managed for him for a period of sixty years his financial operations. The personality of no citizen has been so marked as that of Mr. Lavallee. He had no claims to any educational advantage.

He was simply a “plodder”—a plain, simple, honest man, who lived within a comparatively limited circle, but whose mind grasped the wide and varied questions of the day as conveyed to him by the lips of readers or narrators. He saw a great deal of the world—its glitter, pomp and show, as well as its dark trappings of misery and misfortune. Calm and cool as he was, he was beyond the reach of- temptation, and even as a youth, when thrown in the way of tempters he never allowed himself to find out whether there were within him the seeds of abnormal desires. He had the means to gratify any taste, however luxurious’ it might have been, but he avoided experiments calculated to develop unhealthy’ characteristics with a philosophical contemplation of the worth of the results to be achieved. He measured every thing and founded his decisions on merit always.

There were no children of the union, but through the years a number were adopted and well educated. Many incidents of the busy life now no more might be mentioned, and the popularity of the deceased with commercial travellers, particularly with respect to his powers of entertainment in the line of narratives from his own affluent experience. The history of his life is a useful lesson of inspiration to all young men, in that he showed how, without an education, equipped only with the qualities of honesty, industry and perseverance, he commanded success in an ‘adverse world’ and secured a considerable fortune.

Mr. Bell was present at his marriage sixty years ago , when Napoleon was in the full bloom of  youth. He saw him yesterday as he lay in his coffin, and to him he seemed more attractive in death than on that day of joy so many years ago. Mrs. Lavallee is very feeble. She was just able to go to the room Tuesday to look upon the face of the dead.

Read the Almonte Gazette here

Related reading:

The Mystery Streets of Carleton Place– Where was the First Train Station?



Perth Courier, March 28, 1890

The late Napoleon Lavalee of Carleton Place left an estate worth $30,000 to $40,000 which he left to an adopted son Burgess “Johnnie” Lavaelle  now nine years old.

Linda, do you not have a copy of “Lanark County Legends”? 
Terry Skillen wrote an extensive history of Napolean in it last year. There is a whole story about his will.
Of John Alexander Burgess on p. 194 he says:
“John Alex Burgess, born at Carleton Place, died of tuberculosis at age 21 on 30 May 1902. John Burgess was employed as a clerk and residing at the Mississippi Hotel in Carleton Place at the time of his death. The attending physician was Dr. Preston. George. E. Leslie provided the information recorded in the death register. “Dr. Preston (was) the sole executor and beneficiary of the will of the late J. A. Burgess. The estate was valued at about $20,000.”  Almonte Gazette, June 6, 1902 p. 6
Rose Mary Sarsfield
Name: Mrs. Napolean Lavaelle
Marital Status: Widowed
Age: 87
Birth Year: abt 1804
Birth Place: England
Residence Date: 1891
Residence Place: Carleton Place, Lanark South, Ontario, Canada
Relation to Head: Head
Religion: engl church
Can Read: Yes
Can Write: Yes
French Canadian: No
Father’s Birth Place: England
Mother’s Birth Place: England
Neighbours: View others on page
Household Members Age Relationship
Napolean Lavaelle 87 Head (deceased)
Burgess J Lavaelle 10 Son
Christian Garland 16 Domestic
Name: Burgess J Lavaelle
Gender: Male
Marital Status: Single
Age: 10
Birth Year: abt 1881
Birth Place: Ontario
Residence Date: 1891
Residence Place: Carleton Place, Lanark South, Ontario, Canada
Relation to Head: Son
Religion: engl church
Can Read: Yes
Can Write: Yes
French Canadian: No
Father’s Birth Place: England
Mother’s Birth Place: England

Napoleon Lavallee

Ontario Deaths and Overseas Deaths, 1939-1947
Name Napoleon Lavallee
Event Type Death
Event Date 04 Mar 1890
Event Place Carleton Place, Lanark, Ontario
Gender Male
Age 88
Birthplace Quebec
Birth Year (Estimated) 1802

Perth Courier, Jan. 15, 1892

*LaVallee—Died, at Carleton Place on the 8th Jan., Sarah Coates LaVallee, relict (widow) of the late Mr. Napoleon LaVallee, aged 82.


 1851 Carleton Place Business Directory

Alphabetical List Of Professions, Trades, &C.
Pattie, David, carpenter and builder.
Bell, R., & Co., tannery.
BELL, ROBERT, & CO., dealers in dry goods, groceries, crockery, hardware, &c.
Bell, Robert, M.P.P., agent for marriage licenses, town reeve, and postmaster.
Bells & Rosemond, grist, saw, and oat mills.
CARLETON PLACE HERALD, weekly, James C. Poole, publisher.
Constable, Rev. T. W. Wesleyan Methodist. County Agricultural Society, Robert Bell, secretary and treasurer.
Duncan, James, blacksmith and axe factory. Equitable Fire Assurance Company R. Bell & Co., agents.
DUNNET, GEORGE, dealer in dry goods, groceries, hardware, crockery, drugs, &c.
Fuller, Samuel, foundry.
Galvin, Patrick, tailor.
Graham, John, wagon and sleigh maker.
Gray, Rev. Peter, Free Church.
Halcroft, Rev. L., Baptist.
James, Cameronian.
Johnston, Robert, general store.
Lavallee, Napoleon, hotelkeeper and inspector of beef and pork.
M’ARTHUR, A., & CO., general store, dry goods, groceries, hardware, crockery, &c.
M’Gregor, Duncan, blacksmith and axe factory.
M’Laren, Robert, Robert Burns tavern
M ‘Donald, Allen, wool-carding and cloth-dressing mills.
Moffat, William, carpenter and builder.
Murphy, Michael, tavern keeper.
National Loan Fund Life Assurance Company,
Nelson, Hugh, saddler and harness maker.
Nelson, Johnson, classical and commercial school.
Peden, William, general store.
Pittard, Joseph, wagon and sleigh maker.
Poole, James C., clerk of division court.
POOLE, JAMES C., printing office.
Pyne, Rev. A., Church of England.
R. Bell & Co., agents.
ROSEMOND, JAMES, woolen manufactory.
Wilson, Rev. Richard, Wesleyan Methodist.
Wilson, William, M. D.


Mungo Park Paris

Scotland Births and Baptisms
Name Mungo Park Paris
Gender Male
Christening Date 31 Mar 1800
Birth Date 28 Feb 1800
Father’s Name James Paris
Mother’s Name Mary Pringle

Hugh Parris

Canada Census, 1851
Name Hugh Parris
Gender Male
Age 19
Birth Year (Estimated) 1832
Birthplace Canada
Province Canada West (Ontario)
District Lanark County
District Number 19
Sub-District Beckwith
Sub-District Number 175
Page Number 93
Affiliate Film Number C_11731
Photos property of Gary Box
Photo Gary Box

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.

3 responses »

  1. So I am assuming that is how the street names of Napoleon st and Sarah st came into fruition. They are both side to side of each other. Regards, Tim.


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