The Beckwith Highlanders and “Humpy Billy” Moore





I read another story today about that fateful day when the Ballygiblin riot came to Morphy’s Falls/Carleton Place on April 23 1824. Apparently there are several versions of this riot and according to the Montreal Herald May 4, 1824 the Highlanders of the 4th Carleton Militia  were celebrating at the groggery of Alec Morris which lies just about where the stone fountain is beside the town hall.

The Irish emigrants who had arrived at the settlements the year before continued to carry such enraged attitudes that the local authorities were baffled how to keep them in check. The Irish were sick of tending to barren land and hated spading shale of the rock ridges of Huntley.

They say the Scots did not need any reason to celebrate, and a training assembly was called first. The Irish were also asked to join as the law required them too for the first drill of military training. Those wild Irish had no training in arms and certainly no love for British officers especially  *Captain Glendinning.

At the end of a long rainy day  Glendinning stood the Scots to drink in Morris’s tavern and half a dozen of the Ballygiblins forced their way into the tavern and of course words were exchanged. William Louks a storekeeper, saw Bart Murphy, John Coughlin, John French and William Brown throw stones through the windows. They also banged on the doors with their clubs and attacked three Scotsmen who tried to leave. The Irish said they would fight any Scotsman in the county.

The Scots became angry and streamed out of Morris’s groggery accompanied with loud Gaelic yells. And by the shades of Brian Boru and William Wallace there resulted a terrific encounter and the rest is history.

It must have been a gory fray that was fought in the muddy streets of the tiny hamlet. The Montreal Herald scribe wrote that the floors and walls of one house were covered in blood. Those who managed to get caught were brought to the Perth jail until the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada could investigate the whole matter. It should be known anyone who was arrested was fined almost half a years wages and most of these fighting Irish ended up leaving the area.

Six years later in 1830 *Caleb Bellows the postmaster decided the town needed a new name once and for all and Morphy’s Falls became Carleton Place. So departed the name of Morphy’s Falls after it’s brief encounter with “annihilation’s waste” as the newspaper said. It’s ugly past was only now remembered by a few pioneers who preserved it for posterity.

Education began to gain notice and in 1825 the first school was built on allowance for road between the two townships of Beckwith and Ramsay at the corner of what is now the main street near the corner of Bridge Street and the Town Line Road. It was an unsightly log shanty and superintended by  *James Kent, one of the pioneers of the village.

In their conquest of the wilderness social events marked many days of the calendar with barn dances, agricultural societies, mechanics institutes, fairs and soirees. There came out of this many local celebrities one known as Wally Scott. Scott was a tailor who travelled through the settlement making clothes out of study homespun. The local women employed their spinning wheels and the yarn was sent out to a local weaver named Ephraim Kirkpatrick to be made into cloth.

Another local character was “Humpy Billy” Moore the local shoemaker. He was a brother to Jack Moore who owned a scow and brought wood and sand down from the big lake close to Innisville. “Humpy” had a wit about him and knew Beckwith like the back of his hand and he is especially remembered by some for the comments he made. He declared that the Highlanders of Beckwith had to put a block of wood in their mouth to get the perfect shape to speak “the Gaelic”.



Paul (Napoleon) Lavallee–photo Linda Seccaspina


But of all the great wits none was more impressive than that of Paul (Napoleon) Lavallee who owned a tavern on Bridge Street. Old Paul Lavallee, the proprietor of the Mississippi Hotel, often amused himself with other old cronies – Pat Gavin, Tom Nagle, Jim Nolan, Tom Buckeye Lynch, Pat Tucker, Bill Patterson,  and Alex Wilson. He was a born raconteur and the chief attraction at his bar was Paul himself especially when he related some of his experiences.

It was said that sometimes these stories sometimes had a Baron Munchausen flavour. One great yarn he used to tell was how he once caught 99 pigeons with one shot. He claimed to have fired at a tree full of those birds. Believe it or not, when he shot at the tree he split the limb in which the pigeons were resting and that the feet of these birds were caught in a crack. When asked why he wouldn’t have called it 100 pigeons he answered,

“Confound-would you make me a liar for one pigeon?”


fenian-1 (1).jpg

Officer in the 41st Brockville Rifle Battalion. Likely Capt. James Condie Poole–Photos from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

One of the most prominent citizens was James Poole who was the first editor of The Carleton Place Herald which he had originally established as the Lanark Herald in 1850. He lived fearlessly as an able editor in a time of personal journalism. He ended up printing those first pages for years out of the house which was once called *Ross Dhu, later know as the Gillies home on the corner of Townline and Bridge.


It was the epic time of a birth of a young town and thanks to the 1930s files of Harry J. Walker we are able to record this forever more.



*Caleb Strong Bellows (1806-1863) came to Carleton Place in 1825, opening a general retail store in the former public premises of William Loucks. Its location was on Bridge Street opposite the present Town Hall. His shop also was licenced in 1825 to sell spirituous liquors, as was the nearby Mill Street inn of Alexander Morris.

*In the tenth year of settlement at Carleton Place the teachers of the 120 children attending the Beckwith township’s four schools, including the village schools at Franktown and Carleton Place, were John Griffith, James Kent, Daniel McFarlane and Alexander Miller. In Ramsay township, with four schools and 105 pupils, the teachers of 1829 were David Campbell, Arthur Lang, Finlay Sinclair and John Young.

*Captain GlendinningThe Hidden Hideaway On Glen Isle

6017-83 James BROWN, 36, widower, miner, Ireland, Levant, s/o James & Elizabeth, married Janet Cameron FERGUSON, 42, widow, Dalhousie Ont., Levant, d/o Robert & Harriet CAMERON, witn: Mary & Sarah LAVALLEE of Carleton Place, 29 March 1883 at Carleton Place

*Ross Dhu-The Children of Ross Dhu –Evacuation to Canada



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



Community Facts You Might Not Know About Carleton Place for our 150th Birthday – Part 9– It was 1903!


Snippets of the Illustrious James Poole

The Leland and Rathwell Hotels on Bridge Street

The Loyal Village Guards of Carleton Place

So About that Ballygiblin Sign…. Fourteen Years Later!

Fenians OR Ballygiblins? Fighting Irish 101

The Napoleon of Carleton Place

The Old Charcoal BBQ Pits in Carleton Place

LAVALLEE, NAPOLEON, proprietor Carleton House, Bridge --
From Fuller’s Directory for 1866 and 1867-

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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