The Not So “Silent Bell” of Lanark County




The slot machines of the 1930s were designed to be quieter and these machines were called the “Silent Bell.” Of the many improvements that were done to slot machines over the years, an important development was removing the noise from the slot machines. Probably due to the fact that they might be found out by local authorities. So the Silent Bell of the 1930’s was the answer to local illegal gambling spots which was just what the name proclaims – silent!

The double jackpot was introduced as the new payout system, which meant that players could hit a jackpot one after the other. Themed cabinet designs were introduced to make the machines look more appealing to players. These themes included the War Eagle, the Lion Head, the Roman Head and the Castle Front.

The gooseneck coin slot which had become the norm was changed to a different system, in which coins could be seen inside the slot machine moving in a row. This allowed the managers to see that real coins were in fact being used while at the same time improving the look of the slot machine. However, I guess that Silent Bell wasn’t so silent after all.

In January of  1935 the Almonte Gazette reported that fines of $40 and $33.40 costs with an alternative of two months in the county jail were penalties handed out, Wednesday, by Dr. J. T. Kirkland, district magistrate. It was a sequel to charges brought against thirteen businessmen of Lanark County who had allowed the operation of slot machines on their premise?, Only two charges were brought against an Almonte businessmen, the remaining eleven being divided between Carleton Place and Smiths Falls.


Perth Courier, October 16, 1896

John Duncan, $20–Gambling


Perth Courier, November 13, 1896–R.J. Illingsworth, once of Carleton Place, was shot through the heart and killed instantly on Oct. 30 by a man named T.S. Gardner at Devil’s Lake, N.D.  The two had an altercation about a gambling transaction.  Both were prominent citizens.

Perth Courier, Feb. 6, 1964–Snow Road–A side light of the big picnic might be mentioned as it reflects credit on the Odd Fellows as guardians of public morals.  A few visitors who were interested in making a less than honest dollar were ordered from the grounds with their gambling devices.  They continued business by the road side near the K & P station but with fewer patrons.

*In Carleton Place in the early 1900s there was a shooting in one of the rear rooms of the Mississippi Hotel. It was said there was a disagreement between two gamblers in the back gambling room


*In 1874 the press reported that the Council of Carleton Place have passed a by-law prohibiting the keeping of billiard, bagatelle and pigeon-hole tables for public resort in that village, under a penalty of not less than $25. The reasons for this stringent step as set forth in the preamble to the bylaw are contained in the following paragraph : As gambling is a vice of a very aggravated nature, which encourages drunkenness, profane swearing and frequently causes the ruin of both body and soul of those addicted to it, and not infrequently murder, it should therefore be discountenanced and suppressed within the Corporation of Carleton Place.


The Schwerdtfegerisms of Tobacco and Gambling

A Warning to Those Gambling Ladies of Carleton Place!

Gambling in Carleton Place — Viva Old Las Carleton Place

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

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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