Tales About the Travelling Musical Troupes

Tales About the Travelling Musical Troupes


BarrieHotel-644x491 (1).jpg

The Barrie Hotel was constructed in 1843/44. The Hotel later became The Imperial Hotel on Wilson Street. Miss Fidler’s–School was next door.  Photo courtesy the Perth Museum and Perth Remembered


May 21, 1897

At eight o’clock a Perth hotel keeper was awakened by a party of men under the influence of liquor, singing, “You Have Got a Sweetheart, and So Have I” outside his window.  He went downstairs, but on seeing their condition, he would not let them in so he went back to bed.

He fell into sound sleep, leaving one arm hanging over the side of the bed. Awakened suddenly, he became alarmed as something had bitten his wrist in two places. The blood ran freely and and an immediate search was made for the animal that had nipped him. The only trace that he found was a black mark in the bed clothes, and he thought that a rat made it with it his tail, and in passing bit his hand.

Some time ago a troupe of actors and actresses stopped at the hotel, and one of the girls had a live lizard, which she allowed to run around the room. When she went out she took the animal with her. The hotel keeper wanted to keep it as a pet but she said she wouldn’t take the $25 he offered for it. Before going to the doctor to attend to his wound, the hotel-keeper thought that the the actress had forgotten to take the lizard with her and that was what had bitten him. The physician, however, said that the wounds were the work of a rat.




By the Victorian Era it was common knowledge that rats carried diseases and thousands of the nefarious vermin infested sewers, factories, and homes. Rat catchers were in high demand and many children preferred catching rats to cleaning chimneys, working in mills, or hawking wares. One reason rat catching was popular with the youth was because it was lucrative.

Jack Black

The second reason rats were captured alive was to breed and sell as house pets. One famous rat catcher was named Jack Black. Black worked as Queen Victoria’s personal rat catcher. He was the self-described “rat and mole destroyer to Her Majesty”  and started preying on unsuspecting rodents at the age of nine. By the early 1840s, he was the rat-catcher for various government departments in London, including the Royal Palaces occupied by the Queen. He caught all sorts of rats, including unusual coloured ones and bred them and sold them “to well-bred young ladies to keep in squirrel cages.”


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 The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

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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