The Day Carleton Place was Nearly Wiped Out!

The Day Carleton Place was Nearly Wiped Out!



Site of the big lumber mill

May 1879

A fire was discovered in the lumberyard of Mr. Peter McLaren about nine Tuesday night. At that time it was so small that it might easily have been quickly extinguished had the water been convenient.

The fire began in the extensive piles centre of dry lumber and it rapidly spread in all directions along with a section of ties and rails of the Canada Central Railway. There was scarcely anything could be done to stop its progress. Mr. McLaren telegraphed to Almonte, Arnprior, Smith’s Falls, Brockville and Ottawa, for the assistance of fire engines, and these places responded as quickly as they could.

The Almonte engine was drawn up with horses, their men being too anxious to wait the arrival of the train. They also had support  from hundreds of local Carleton Place citizens helping where they could. The quantity of lumber in the yard, before the mills began cutting in the spring was roughly estimated at 13,000,000 feet, worth at the very least $100,000.


Clipped from The Kane Weekly Blade,  05 Jun 1879, Thu,  Page 2


Nearly the entire yard was swept with fire, only a few piles being left standing at one end. Several houses, one owned by a section man were burned. The lumberyard was all but reduced to ashes and the engines remained over night to watch the burning debris, but their services were not required. Mr. McLaren only had insurance of $50,000 on his lumber and the loss was severe. The fire was supposed to have originated from sparks from the express train going north at noon.

The fact the fire broke out on a windless day was a good thing or the entire town of Carleton Place would have been destroyed.  A lengthy business depression placed severe limits on the country’s prosperity.  Western migration of the district’s sons continued, and began to reach the new province of Manitoba. Canadian courts determined that the blaze had been kindled by sparks from a passing railway engine, but the CPR appealed and the matter was not settled until the Privy Council in London held the railway company liable. The lumber firm’s loss was recovered from $50,000 in insurance and $100,000 in damages paid when court decisions holding the railway company responsible were upheld five years later in England.





Clipped from The Daily Review29 May 1879, ThuPage 4




Clipped from Fort Scott Daily Monitor28 May 1879, WedPage 1


Perth Courier, January 29, 1904

The Carleton Place Herald says:  By odds the most destructive fire which has visited Carleton Place was that of Monday afternoon, barring the destruction of the McLaren Lumber Yard in 1879.


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)




Connor Family Lanark Fire- National Media

When The Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror!- Volume 1- Part 2

The “Chosen Friends” of Carleton Place –The Fire of 1904



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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