Murder in Carleton Place –Peter Cairns



butler st ipn 17th feb 1894 illustration.jpg

Perth Courier, August 26, 1870

We just learn by telegraph that a shocking murder was committed at Carleton Place yesterday morning.  A little boy, son of a widow woman the name of Low, aged about 12 years, was shot dead by a man named Peter Cairns a boarder in the house.  Later we learned the following additional particulars of this melancholy affair from Constable McFadden of Carleton Place who brought the prisoner from there and lodged him in the Perth jail.

Yesterday morning a son of widow Low, aged 12, having hurt his foot sat crying on the door step of his mother’s residence.  Cairns demanded that he should desist but the boy did not heed the order.  When the prisoner renewed the demand and told him he would shoot him if he did not stop, the boy had no idea that the prisoner anticipated putting his threat into execution and he bade him no attention.  Cairns then pointed the gun at the boy, drew the trigger and the gun went off sending the contents—a charge of pigeon shot—into the left side of the poor boy, the whole again going out under the right arm, making a frightful wound, tearing a hole in the abdomen nearly 2 inches in diameter.

The mitigating circumstances are:  Cairns had lent the gun to a person working on the Canadian Central Railway who had returned it unloaded.  This was ascertained to be the case on Friday evening last.  The dead boy’s brother had taken the gun on Saturday to hunt pigeons and had replaced it where he had taken it, loaded.  Cairns was unaware the gun had been used since he hung it up and took it down as he says, to frighten the child, pointing it at him in a threatening manner.

An Englishman standing beside Cairns observing that the gun was (illegible word), hastened to point the fact out to Cairns but the warning came too late for at that instant the gun went off.  It is the opinion of nearly everyone in Carleton Place that the deed was not intentional.  A coroner’s inquest was held on the body of the deceased boy yesterday afternoon when a verdict of manslaughter was returned coupled with the conclusion that the prisoner did not intend to take the life of the child.

Cairns is a young man rather pre-possessing in appearance about 19 years of age, small in stature, light hair and complexion.  He was very much depressed after the awful occurrence.  After his arrest yesterday afternoon by Constable McFadden, he frequently requested that the constable shoot him, so overwhelmed did he feel.  He said that he could scarcely bear to know that his parents should learn the fearful facts.  He was until about three months ago a resident of the city of Quebec.  Since his arrival at Carleton Place he had been working in the new factory of Mr. McArthur’s.


Photo McCord Museum- McArthur Mill

Perth Courier, October 28, 1870

The Queen Versus Peter Cairns—On the 21st day of August last, the prisoner was playing with one Simmons and a young boy named Thomas Lowe, son of Mrs. Lowe who keeps a boarding house at Carleton Place. Thomas Lowe got hurt and began to cry, and the prisoner took down a double barrel shotgun from the wall and said he would shoot the boy if he did not stop crying.  Simmons told him to take care, the gun was loaded. Notwithstanding the warning, the prisoner raised the gun and fired at the child, the charge passing through his chest and he died in a few minutes.  There being no evidence of malice aforethought, but a clear case of criminal negligence, the grave charge of murder was withdrawn and the charge of manslaughter was returned.  Sentenced to 12 months in the common gaol at hard labour.


Credit and Depression

A. McArthur & Son, Carleton Place. –

Believing that too much credit has been one of the main causes of the depression which is now felt throughout the country, we are prepared to sell for Cash or Short Date on approved Credit, at prices to suit the times.

A. McArthur, W. B. McArthur, March 1, 1879.


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

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

Killed by Lightening -or Death by Bear Devouring

The Buck Lake Murderer

The Media Then and Now–Johnny Gillies Had a Gun


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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