Mary Delaney Caught Stealing at The People’s Store

Mary Delaney Caught Stealing at The People’s Store

Screenshot 2017-03-29 at 10.jpg

Photo- Almonte Gazette 1871

November 15 1871

Editor Almonte Gazette:— In your last issue I noticed an item on “Shop Lifting.’

Since then it has been rumoured that the party’s name; who committed the theft was Mary Delaney. I deny knowing anything about the matter whatsoever. By giving this a place in your valuable paper, you will oblige .

Yours, Mary Delaney

November 10 1871-Almonte Gazette

While the proprietors and clerks of The People’s Store were out at *the fire on Monday, a young lady coolly appropriated to herself a parcel of dry goods, put up for a customer, and carried it off. The theft, however, was quickly discovered, and the suspected party was followed and the goods were found in her possession. They were taken back and the woman was allowed to depart in peace.


Photo thanks to Brent Eades of

Within the special world of new stores, women found themselves challenged to resist the enticements of consumption. It was the tiniest of crimes, but it wasn’t innocent- the history of shoplifting  really remains unwritten.  Once tied to the rise of the kleptomania, most shoplifting was done by female customers.  With all the new choices  some women couldn’t help but steal. It’s actually rather interesting to note that with the rise of cheap items and a plethora of choices in shopping, people felt more compelled to take it than buy it.

Did you know that buying something, wearing it to a party, and returning it to the store the next morning was a known occurrence in the nineteenth century? Another crazy aspect was that sometimes women were deemed insane in relation to the crime of shoplifting. So, if I was Mary Delaney from Almonte I would have written to the newspaper too before I was *committed.

It was one of the first areas in which a woman’s crime was seen to be an aspect of mental illness rather than criminality. The concept that a respectable woman, who had been caught stealing something which she did not need, was an anathema to a society who could see no reason for a respectable woman to steal something which she could easily afford.

Screenshot 2017-03-29 at 10

Photo- Almonte Gazette 1871



The decoration of stores and private residences is a proof of the good wishes of the citizens and an evidence of their interest in the undertaking. Many places of business were tastefully adorned with banners and evergreens. The Dominion Block was surrounded by balsams, while the windows of Messrs. Hayes, Gavin and Gardner were tastefully dressed. A rope stretched to the Almonte House bore the words “The People’s Store Welcomes All.”— Grand Balloon Ascension At McFarlane’s Grove In 1879

No photo description available.

Our pushing young merchants, Messrs. Riddell & McAdam,
have purchased the •People’s Store• property from Mrs. J.T~
Brown, and will shortly remove to their new stand. The price
paid was $5,550. At the sale on Saturday afternoon .Mr. Wm.
Curry, blacksmith, bought the Cowie pump factory and the
residence adjoining, paying therefor.$950. Sept 1890 Almonte Gazette-

1889 map — this is almost surely it. Note the 3-story main building with 2-story addition, and the bevelled corner.-Brent Eades (People’s store)

*Fire–On Monday forenoon a defective chimney in Mr. J. L. Reed’s house set fire to the wood-work adjoining, and for a few moments there was every prospect of the long-expected fire that is some day to lay Mill Street in ashes. The fire being discovered before it had gained much headway, it was soon put out with a few buckets of water. The loss was very trifling— about §10. November 1871

Almonte Gazette–April 1 1892-
Four Smith’s Falls boys were lately
fined $2 and costs each for loafing at a
street corner on Sunday evening. This
should be a warning to the crowd that on
Sundays lounge around the People’s
Store corner staring at people going to

*May 6 1892-Wonder where those loafers were when the fire started? On Tuesday last the People’s Store brick block had a narrow escape from being damaged by fire. The chimney leading from Mrs. Greig’s kitchen stove runs up the wall between her residence and Riddell & McAdam’s store. Tuesday noon the chimney took fire, and through an imperfectly protected pipe hole in R. & M’s. the flame was communicated to a curtain stretched across it.

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

related reading

Lanark County “Bad Girls”– Bank Street 1873

“Wenches” in Almonte??

*To Be Manic Depressive in a Rural Town — Kingston Insane Asylum

The Insane Spinster Ghost of Appleton Ontario

Embroidery of the Insane?

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s