Glory Days in Carleton Place– Linda Seccaspina

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina 1981

1981 — Part 1

In the early 80s I had recurring dreams that I could not shake which featured red shutters and water. My late husband, Angelo, and I were looking for a house, so for weeks I drove up and down the streets of Carleton Place totally missing the old Morphy Cram House on Lake Ave East.

The dreams got worse and they also ended with me fighting for my life immersed in flowing water. Angelo thought I was nuts- but off to the Carleton Place Library I went. There I sat one day in February in 1981 researching homes in Carleton Place. I began to talk to an elderly gentleman next to me and asked him if he knew any houses that had red shutters. He told me the only one he knew was the old  Hi-Diddle-Day House on Lake Avenue East. Because the house is set back so far away from the road it took a couple of “ups and downs” to find it. But once I found it- it was the very same house I had been seeing in my dreams, and it was for sale.

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina 1981

Ange called up the real estate office and they told him to forget even placing an offer as there were currently 5 offers on the house. For the next three consecutive nights I tossed and turned with the same dream. On the 4th day the real estate office called and said all the offers had fallen through and to come and look at the house.

I will remember that day for the rest of my life- there were countless weather warnings and people were advised not to travel on the icy roads. Ange was fearless and we drove those 35 km on slick black ice in a 1976 Corvette. Yes, my friends, brains were lacking that day.

When we walked into the house the poor house had been stripped down by the former owner who had bought it from the Raeburn’s and lost it to the bank just two years later. I am not going to mention his name, but gossip still goes up and down the street that he was the one that allegedly got someone’s Mother (who runs the country) pregnant.

We walked into the silent house and all that was left in the was one lone hanging lightbulb in the front receiving area. Everything that was not nailed down had been taken and some of it sold (by the former owner), right down to the brass push button light plates. There we stood and looked up to the top floor ceiling. There in a ceiling hole was a glimmer of the outdoors and fresh air was definitely coming in.

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina 1981

 

I knew immediately this was my forever home, and in those days as a budding amateur psychic I put my hands on the oak fireplace in the study and tried to contact any spirits that might be afoot. I will repeat what I said above: “yes, my friends, brains were lacking that day”.

Even with all the work that would be ahead of us we knew we wanted this house- so onward and forward we drove back to the real estate office on St. Laurent Blvd. in Ottawa to put in our offer. By that time the roads were worse than the initial trip out to Carleton Place and driving a summer car was treacherous and in our case could have been deadly.

Right in front of the Ottawa Citizen building on the Queensway the car got caught in accumulating ice and did three 360 turns in the middle of the road. In the final spin our car missed the metal hydro pole on the side of the road by three inches. As we sat in the ditch, unhurt, but the front of the car looking like a can opener had opened it Ange turned to me and asked a question. Was it “Are you okay”? No, he looked at me and asked,

“Do you still want the house?”

Without hesitating I said,”Definitely!”

A week later the house was ours.

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina 2016

Immediately the dreams stopped and later I found out that one of the former owner’s 6 year-old daughter had drowned in the creek below the house which now partially sits on Lisgar Street. As for the former owner, he continued to haunt us, offering us pieces of the house he had taken like a use car salesman and had stored in a local warehouse. In my mind he never really did own this special house–after all, old houses never really belong to people ever, people belong to them. In 1981 we became part of the history of the Morphy Cram house known as Springside Hall.

historicalnotes

If you look at the table in the last picture you will notice a picture of the Dunlop House in Carleton Place and one of the Dunlop ancestors on the table in my study.The Dunlop House is also part of my life now. People that owned these homes are part of all our history and should be respected- of course, maybe we can leave the guy that stripped my home out of it.:)

 

RELATED READING

Time Capsule in the ‘Hi Diddle Day’ House?

Sometimes When You Least Expect it– The Dunlop Issue

The Spirits Are Alive and Well

Feeling Groovy by the Lake Ave East Bridge

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

Related reading:

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Glory Days in Carleton Place– Norma Ford

Glory Days in Carleton Place– Lynne Johnson

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.

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