The McCarten House of Carleton Place




The McCarten House on Bridge Street now owned by Barbara Couch–Google Image

If you read my story about The Witch of Plum Hollow you know that one of the most unusual homes in Carleton Place sits on Bridge Street near the corner of William Street and faces High Street. The Chinese Ginkgo tree still sits in the front yard on the right but the home built in the 1830s is a strange mixture of French and Scottish architecture.

The deed of the property first went to William Morphy and then to Robert Bell who began the general store on the north shore of the Mississippi River. The property remained in the Bell family until 1870 when Mary Bell sold it to William Pattie. Pattie in grand fashion way before his time flipped the house a year later to A. S. Newman. What is strange is that on an old Wallings map from 1863 the house is marked as belonging to James Bell.

A succession of owners are registered from 1884-1919 until the Bank of Commerce bought it. A host of Bank of Commerce managers resided in that house until George Buchanan formerly of Maberly, Ontario bought it. Buchanan was in the insurance business and his daughter Mrs. Vernon McCarten eventually owned the property. Not only was Buchanan somewhat of a historical man recording events and items, but so was she.


McCarten House 1960s

Mrs. McCarten said the house originally had three stories and similar to the Cameron Ellis building a fire destroyed the upper floor and the mansard roof is probably not the first one. She also thought the doors on either side of the porch led onto a verandah across the front of the house.

Now each time I look at that house I remember that Mrs. McCarten was the great granddaughter of Mother Barnes- the Witch of Plum Hollow. What history we have in our town.


Did you know there once a truck accident at the McCarten house? Before the bridge over the Mississippi river was built on Highway 7 that lessened traffic through the centre of town a truck ran into the Ginkgo tree in front of the McCarten house. That tree saved the house.

Doug McCarten commented: I remember the accident, we were all asleep, it sounded like a gunshot!!!! I only know of the one ginkgo tree on the property which is shown on the right in the picture. About halfway across the yard (to the left) was a HUGE silver maple which had to be cut down while we lived there! It would probably have taken 4 people to stretch their arms around the circumference! The remaining stump was still there for many years after and it may have been the present owner who removed it, I’m not sure.
The ginkgo tree we always knew was a rare tree in the area which makes me glad it’s still there!! We all loved that tree most of the year except when it dropped it’s fruit!! If stepped on or run over with a car tire it gave off an overpowering fragrance very close to intense dog poop ! When shedding it’s leaves in fall, they all came down within 24 hours together.
If you look closely at the ginkgo tree you will be able to see the remains of the scar left by the transport truck. I would look up given the time span but it’s on the right centre of the trunk!


Doug B. McCarten–This grouping of 5 Hackberry trees still survive in our old side yard….I can’t believe how healthy and how tall they have grown! This group was always in our yard and I suspect that they would be at least as old as our house which is in the same age group as the one you are trying to save!! The simple answer is to route the road around the tree and protect the tree!! It can and should be done!

Did you know that a Gingko or a Maiden Hair Tree also grew on the lawn of J. R.McDiarmid on Bridge Street. This was a very rare tree in Eastern Ontario.




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OMG I had no idea that anyone cared about this stuff but me for sentimental reasons!! It prompted me to think back…… My Mom was never without note paper and for as long as I can remember she always had a little red booklet in her purse, in Dads car, etc! When Jan McCarten Sansom and I were clearing out the house in 1994 we came across a supply of these booklets that Mom never seemed to be without. Now, this is only an interesting story because of the dates on the booklet lol!! Enclosed are pics of the front outside and inside and the outside and inside of the back! I still have a stack and Jan may very well have some too….. I can’t imagine how many boxes of these were delivered in the first place BAHAHAHA!–Doug McCarten





The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

Cameron Ellis Building — What Happened to the Rest of it?

What Happened to Bill Brunton’s Roof in Carleton Place?


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.

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