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

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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