Down at the Old Perth Gaol

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Photo and text from Perth Remembered

Perth being the seat of Bathurst District the town was given a courthouse and jail. Opening in 1821, The original building was two storeys high with the courtroom on the second floor and five cells on the main floor along with the jailer’s two room apartment. The cells were often filled with brawling Irish loggers from the Ottawa River. The building was rebuilt in 1841 following a fire. A provincial inspection in 1862 counted 27 inmates including 16 women. Charges ranged from murder and assault, to vagrancy and concealing the birth of a child. The most common offence was found to be “breach of indentureship by leaving one’s master.

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina 2015 during a Perth Classic Theatre event

On may 23, 1851, Francis Beare, who was convicted of killing William Barry was hanged in front of a crowd that was assembled in front of the courthouse. Five executions were carried out  but few inmates in the Perth jail were there for criminal acts. Most were housed there for shelter for vagrancy until the House of Refuge was built in 1903. Of special interest, on the green sward in front of the Court House, are two brass field pieces (three-pounders).

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina 2015 during a Perth Classic Theatre event
The little “barkers” were originally taken from the French by the Duke of York, in Flan
ders, and did service for the British in the American war, when they were retaken from the Americans by the British of Saratoga. They were retaken from the Americans by the British at the battle of Chrysler’s Farm, on the 11th of November, 1813. They were taken to Perth when peace was declared, and presented to the town, and for years were used for saluting purposes on high days and holidays.

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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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