All Photos from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
A few years ago at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum we did a well-attended hat show in memory of Bertha Schwerdtfeger who once had a hat store where the As Good as New store is on Bridge Street. Bertha Mayhew ended up marrying the tobacconist named Henry Schwerdtfeger next door and after she married she retired from her business and had two daughters Hazel and Gladys. Much has been told about the two odd sisters of Lake Ave West, but I wish I would have met them as they were quite the characters.
Gladys died in 1982 and Hazel died a few years later. There were rumours abound about those two gals and very few had been invited inside their home. It has been said time and time again if you were called to fix something in the house once you went in that house you were locked in until lunch or quitting time. As few ever got inside the front door you can imagine they came in droves to the huge estate sale that was held after Hazel died.
The museum inherited many old millinery trims and feathers from Bertha’s old shop. Some of the visitors to the exhibit said they had never seen anything like it before. A few feathered birds were still even filled with traces of arsenic, as that is how hat accessories were made in those days.
As hundreds sat in that yard that day buying bits and pieces of Carleton Place history tales of those two sisters continued. Truth be told, no one might have come into their home but the two of them did participate in the various senior events around the area. As you can imagine the two two sisters were very close and they used to walk one behind the other on the streets of Carleton Place when they attended church or went shopping.
Hazel became a nurse and only worked a short timeher mother Bertha became ill. After their mother died the two sisters stayed in the home until Gladys died in 1982 and Hazel now found herself alone. A neighbour, the late Joan Kehoe then became Hazel’s closest friend and helped her with what she could.
So that day the contents of the Schwerdtfeger family home was sold in its entirety and one more page was turned forever on another one of Carleton Place’s older families. But, since there were rumours abound about the sisters, it was said that they kept money hidden in the house. Like one of those lucky buyers on Storage Wars word travelled quickly that someone had bought a box of odds and ends containing $2000 of King George’s bills.
Auctioneer Howard McNeely denied it so did Joan Kehoe who had packed every single box. The both of them were probably quite correct, but you still hear the whispers on the streets of Carleton Place about the Schwerdtfeger house on Lake Ave West that was supposedly full of money.
Linda Gallipeau-Johnston– I My Mom knew the sister’s well as they bought garden produce from her every year. I can remember them dickering over price. My Dad used to refinish furniture for them and the same dickering went on. They were just part of the package of living back then.