The Story Behind the Clock – Dack’s Jewellers




Photo- Dack Family



Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 10 Feb 1900, Sat,
  3. Page 7


Sometimes we never think what lies behind our local store windows or wonder about the stories they have to tell. Dack’s Jewellers is the oldest business in Carleton Place and to tell you the truth it has always intimidated me as a writer.

I have always took it for granted that I couldn’t add much to the history of an iconic family business that everyone for generations has known and trusted in this community. Behind the success of every small business there lies a family, and in this case it’s one for the history books.



Photo- Dack Family


James Almond Dack had a long and accomplished life and was employed for 15 years with Mr. Thrall, a watchmaker in Almonte. On June 7th, 1898 the Ottawa Journal announced that James had left his position with Mr. Thrall. He had purchased his own watch-making business on Bridge Street in Carleton Place and would open July the 1st, 1898. It was also noted that Mr. George Godden, the former business in ‘the old stand’ was well on his way to Newfoundland to enjoy a long deserved vacation.




Photo- Dack Family


The Carleton Place Herald wrote on the 19th of July in 1898 that Mr. Dack was presented with a jewellers bench and a very kind “personal address” handsomely printed on pink satin by his friends and business acquaintances in Almonte.

But that was not all that James brought back from Almonte. James Almond Dack married Catherine Agnes Steel on the 7th of February, 1900, in Almonte, Ontario and they both entered what was called the family business as it was the norm, and not the exception.




Photo- Dack Family


You have to remember the majority of shops were owned by men, although some were owned by women or the widow of a shop owner. So, there was no mention anywhere if Catherine helped run the business or just looked after the family. But if you can raise a family you can build a business,  and I would like to think Catherine was active in the Dack family business.



Photo- Dack Family

The shops themselves in those days were small and could be dark,  but elaborately decorated and arranged and shops existed for every “social class”. The layouts were similar, however, and typically featured a “glass door or window”, a lighted counter area and racks behind the counter filled with merchandise and a staff to attend to customers. As one of their ads in 1898 said in the Carleton Place Herald:

“We are elegantly equipped and warrant every single job sent out.”





Photo- Dack Family


In 1900, the business was destroyed by fire and James relocated to another building on Bridge Street where the family resided in an apartment above the business.


Photo-Linda Seccaspina

A town clock was added on top of the old Post Office in 1913 with a 150 pound pendulum. The weight driven clock was manufactured by John Smith of The Midland Clockworks in Derby England.  The massive 800 lbs. brass bell located behind the clock tower was manufactured by John Taylor of Longborough. The four stained glass faces of the clock measure 5 feet 6 inches in diameter.
The honour of putting the clock in motion was given to Howard Dack, and his father James H. Dack  was given custody of keeping the clock running and in good repair. Unfortunately, after the building went into private hands, this beautiful clock fell into disrepair and no longer runs.  James Dack died in 1930; and his son Kenneth Steel Dack took over the business.
Photo-Linda Seccaspina



Upon the death of Kenneth S. Dack, his son William Keith Dack inherited the business and is the present owner. 

To this day the store remains on Bridge Street and is still owned by the Dack family. Small businesses are the backbone of our community and Dack’s Jewellers is the oldest continuous family owned business in Carleton Place.  It’s still sells a wide variety of jewellery and giftware, and they continue to offer jewellery and watch repairs. Bottom line is–it’s still the family business, and that’s what makes Dack’s the heart and soul of our Carleton Place main street.

In 1898 they advertised that “they had the latest tools and would undertake any repair job in the best possible manner”. They cordially invited the people of Carleton Place and vicinity to share in their patronage. Isn’t it nice that in 118 years something hasn’t changed– just like the old safe in the photo below.

After all, time is the soul of a business and and the greatest gift you can give someone is your time like the clocks Dack’s still sells. Sales may go up and down throughout the years but good service stays forever and generations will never forget how Dack’s has always gone the extra mile and supported our town. Now that I can personally add as a writer to its history.





Photo-Linda Seccaspina



Dack’s Jewellers

115 Bridge StreetCarleton Place Ontario K7c 2V4

 613 257-1440


Photo-Linda Seccaspina




1919-In a baseball game at Riverside Park between junior teams of Carleton Place and of the Smiths Falls C.P.R. club, local players included Mac Williams, Bill Burnie, Howard Dack, Jim Williamson, George Findlay, Tommy Graham, Gordon Bond and Clyde Emerson.  The umpire was Bill Emerson.  The score was 15 to 14 for Smiths Falls.

McRostie Farm

Thomas Burns held the first crown grand of 80 acres in 1828, but Robert Johnston was shown as the owner in 1829. John McRostie bought the property in 1840, built the house and it remained in the family until 1919. It was then sold to Alec McClean who actually flipped it to Daniel Sullivan. In 1923 Albert Powell took possession with the acreage at this point being drastically reduced and it was bought by Howard Dack.

The stone home didn’t come back into its own until Howard Dack bought it and proceeded to restore and renovate it. When Dack bought the house from Albert Powell in 1946 the stonework had to be completely redone including the stone trim of the front door. Old wooden shutters were attached to the windows, and the sun porch facing the river was an addition. The large fireplace that sits in the living room came from the old Captain Glendinning home on Glen Isle.

Lanark County Genealogical Society Website

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

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