Chimneys and Black Boxes —Leigh Instruments




Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

In the summer of 1969 the chimney came down as Leigh Instruments stepped up its efforts in the field of pollution. The chimney, which was once a Carleton Place landmark, became a pile a rubble on the bank of the Mississippi River and was no longer a symbol of industry activity.


Photo from the Carleton Place Canadian files– from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Even though the once factory chimney was a sign of good and evil-it once was a producer of dirt and grime in towns all around the world. It was said during the first flush of the Industrial Revolution, the smoke from the factory chimneys was so dense that people had to grope their way through the streets in the middle of the afternoon in the British midlands.




Finance Department in 1968.. Thanks Nancy!- Photo-Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum






Photo and files from-Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


Did you know that the first “black box”, or Crash Position Indicator was developed right here in Carleton Place? A unique system for locating a downed plane, its passengers and the flight recorder, this brainchild of Harry Stevinson, an engineer with NAE’s Flight Research Laboratory, was first manufactured and marketed by the Avionics Division of Leigh Instruments Ltd., in the early 1960’s. They were made of fibre glass and foam but tough.

There was a story that one time the Air Force showed up as one accidentally went “off” at Leigh Instruments and there was concern a plane had crashed in CP. The  helicopter swirled over homes and  used the river as a guiding landing strip. It landed in the parking lot and the tailwinds blew lawn chairs every where.


Ray Paquette This is not a black box-if they called it that, it was misnamed. This is a “crash position indicator or CPI” which simply broadcasts a homing signal for SAR aircraft. A “black box”, which is actually day glo orange in colour, monitors and records various readings from the aircraft operating systems, e.g., the engines. Actually the “black box” has two components: the monitoring component; and the “cockpit voice recorder”…

Susan Mary Risk I did soldering, prepping for Conap and stamping on those, made by Leigh Instruments for the Navy, and they were called black boxes back in the day!


Jeff Dezell Back in high school there was a search and rescue helicopter landed on the west lawn of CPHS. Apparently the door of the testing lab for the crash indicator was left open…caused quite a stir during typing class I recall…otherwise dull day got hectic!!

Ray Paquette As a follow on to this post, I wonder how many CPI’s were deployed from downed aircraft that actually led to a rescue of crew or passengers?🤔

In 1975 Leigh Instruments laid off 27 workers in Carleton Place and assured creditors they were solvent.



Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 15 Oct 1975, Wed,
  3. Main Edition,
  4. Page 9

Remembering Industry in Carleton Place- Digital and Leigh Instruments

Bomb Scare 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.

4 responses »

  1. Ottawa Online Tuesday 4 April 2000 “The Scope of the Problem” Dave Brown Ottawa Citizen

    Bright Black Day

    In Carleton Place, Black Thursday will be on a Wednesday this year. The “black” day was April 12, 1990, when the town’s major employer, Leigh Instruments, collapsed under financial pressure. Some 500 people in the town were suddenly without work, as well as 200 in Toronto and the same number in Ottawa.

    “The idea was to hold a little reunion marking the 10th anniversary of the closing,” says Mary Arscott. “We were going to have it at the Legion Hall, but the reaction was surprising. There are almost 400 in now and the number keeps growing. We’ve had to book larger facilities at the town arena.”

    It seems survivors of Black Thursday are happy, upbeat, and want to party. The party starts Saturday, April 15, at 1 p.m. at the arena and runs to 6 p.m. There’s a charge of $5 for snacks. Call 253-3623.

    Dave Brown is the Citizen’s senior editor. His e-mail address is . Read previous Dave Brown columns at


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