People from the Potter-Bennett Block Fire– A Shocking Find



Almonte Fire Brigade–

January 25, 1890–Almonte Gazette

Almonte suffered the worst fire in years when the Potter-Bennett block was destroyed. *Mr. Noble Bennett lost his residence and part of its contents;  Jas. Robb, shop and portion of contents; *Duncan Campbell, studio. The tailor’s loss was estimated at over $2,000. The fire was caused by someone upsetting a coal oil lamp from the upstairs of Mr. Noble Bennett’s home.


So I did some research and tried to find out some history on these 3 people mentioned. I found two– and one find was shocking when I searched through my archives.

*Noble Bennett-lost his residence in the fire

Noble Bennett was born in 1831 in Lanark, Lanark Ontario and died in Carleton Place on July 26, 1896.  Jane Graham was his first wife (1830-1869) and they 6 children.

George Edward Bennett – Born …1858

R David Bennett – Born …1862

Noble William Bennett – Born …1864
Emmeline A Bennett – Born …1854

Mary Jane Bennett – Born …1856

Sarah Selina Bennett – Born …1860

Alberta Ruth Bennett – Born …1865


Matilda Johnston was Noble’s 2nd wife and they married May 11, 1870. Matilda Johnston, a daughter of Robert and Mary Ann Johnston, was born in Huntley 5 August, 1841 and died in Ottawa 15 Sep 1910. He had 2 children by Matilda, Lilly May, born 1 May 1876, married 1900 in Carleton county, Abraham Baker; and Harry Wood Griffith, born 18 June 1879.


Noble W. BENNETT son of William Noble and Jane Graham
St. Paul’s Anglican+, Almonte Cemetery
Lanark Co./Reg./Dist., Ontario
Noble W. Bennett

Here is what shocked me. I remembered a “Noble William Bennett” drowned near *Black Point in the lower Mississippi Lake along with Dick Willis in October 16, 1889. The son of Jane Graham Noble was born in 1864 and he died at a young 25 years of age. The double drownings took place off the same shore where *Alex Gillies and Peter Peden drowned in 1878.  All the drownings were from their boats capsizing in the rice beds.

A year later in 1890 his family lost their home when the Potter-Bennett block was destroyed in Almonte.



*Duncan Campbell-Tailor- lost his business in the fire

Perth Courier, January 5, 1894

A well known and highly respected resident of Almonte in the person of Duncan Campbell, tailor, passed away Friday afternoon after a short illness from pleurisy aged 59 years.  He was born in Perthshire , Scotland and came to Canada first settling in the town of Perth where he lived several years.  From there he moved to Kingston then to Pembroke then to McDonald’s Corners, Dalhousie Township where he remained a number of years and finally to Almonte.  He never married.

He was of a quiet and unassuming disposition but was possessed of a very keen sense of humour and was well read on all general subjects.  His illness as we have stated was of a short duration but he retained consciousness to the last, settled up all his worldly affairs and passed away with a firm hope that he would enter the realms of endless days to be forever with the blessed.  The funeral took place on Christmas Day to the 8th Line Cemetery which was largely attended by all classes of citizens



Black Point is a point in Mississippi Lake and is nearby to Rathwell’s Shore and Allans Point.

How Black Point got its name does not seem to be known.  It could well be that it was named Black Point from the early deaths by drowning here.  The first recorded drowning in the lake was that of a pioneer settler, John Code who was drowned near here in 1849.  The double drownings took place off this shore, Alex Gillies and Peter Peden in 1878, and Dick Willis and Noble W. Bennett in 1889.  All the drownings were from boats capsized in the rice beds.-Howard Morton Brown

Dick Willis and his brother George played the fiddles at the steamboat picnics held on Pretty’s Island. The date was fixed to correspond with the ripening of John McCann’s corn – his contribution to the feast, as that was a big item on the bill of fare.

The steamer Enterprise was donated free by Senator McLaren.  He also gave a substantial cash donation to purchase groceries and the said groceries to be purchased at Sibbitt’s.

Related reading:

The Sad Tale of Alexander Gillies and Peter Peden


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 and now in The Townships Sun

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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