When Low Income was Really Low Income– Tragedy in Lanark County– the 60s

When Low Income was Really Low Income– Tragedy in Lanark County– the 60s


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal13 May 1965, ThuPage 21

No one likes sad or controversial times of the past but they did occur and we should not forget them ever. This is a reminder of things we should not allow to happen again.

The inflationary pressure of the post-war years subsided during the 1950s. Perhaps the pent-up demand of the war years had been satisfied by the end of the 1940s. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by only about 6 points between 1950 and 1960.
Consequently, of the decades studied, the 1950s saw the largest gains in real wages. The overall average annual wage increased by 43% to $16,000 in 1960. The average annual wage of men rose by 44%, from $12,800 in 1950 to nearly $18,500 in 1960, and that of women by 36% from $7,400 to $10,000.

Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all. As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.




Clipped from The Ottawa Journal13 May 1965, ThuPage 21


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal13 May 1965, ThuPage 21


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal13 May 1965, ThuPage 21


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal13 May 1965, ThuPage 21


Tragedy of the 60s — Cole Family Fire



This week we had Emily Hollington, Director of Social Services; Housing etc for Lanark County at our council meeting give us the details of a job that looks impossible at times.


This was a question for Emily I had on housing..


I received this note from Sheila McCallum and the senior residents of Elizabeth Court here in Carleton Place and would like to share this edited note from them as I feel it is important. This is what Sheila wrote:

Last night a discussion was held regarding the swearing in of new Council and promises made by most of them during their campaign regarding housing for low income seniors. I don’t recall, but I am sure these same promises were made by the previous mayor and council for the last 8 years.

The dire need is another Elizabeth Court residence that is strictly for seniors and incorporates both market and rent geared to income units.  There is such a waiting list here that applications are no longer being made available to prospective tenants.

We, the residents of Elizabeth Court are so fortunate to live in an affordable, well maintained, secure home. We all  have many acquaintances yearning for that same peace of mind and wondering what can be done. Thank you for taking the time to read this epistle and giving consideration to the contents.

Sheila McCallum Elizabeth Court

So, I asked-

Each one of us newly elected to council spoke about the urgency of senior and low income housing.  The reality is and I have been learning a lot since I joined council is that: Where you live in Lanark County determines wait time for housing. When it comes to wait times, Carleton Place has the longest waits at 7 years on average in 2017 with one bedrooms being the longest wait.  However in Mississippi Mills, the wait is less and a lot of their clients are coming from Carleton Place as there is nothing available around here for them.

As great as the need is here  few want to do low income housing as there is no profit in it  and there is little support for landlords to get into the business. In some cities there is a mandate that developers have to provide a certain low percentage of low income housing and of course if you talk to them about it here they are not interested in it. If you are young and homeless there are options- if you are over 50 like myself it is a big issue.
I know we can’t pull rabbits out of our hats- but surely something can be done. I see the County’s next step is a 20 unit apt building in Carleton Place– but it’s not enough and surely not geared specifically to seniors. My question is– If we can’t do it alone can we not join up with other communities like Mississippi Mills and see if we can do something together– or should we just stop promising future housing?

Thank you

Linda Seccaspina

Basically her answer was there are some things we can do to help, such as tax breaks and lowered development fees, but there is not much funding as cuts, freezes and omissions in the provincial budget have made local social services and low income folks nervous and it’s getting worse — so we just do the best we can. Is this the answer I want to hear? Is this the answer you want to hear? Of course it isn’t but this serious item is on our agenda-trust me. All of us care and will do what we can.

Why is Almonte ahead?

Rose Mary Sarsfield added:  Mississippi Mills probably started sooner to solve the senior issues problem. Jeff Mill’s father and ACDC  (Almonte Community Development Corporation) and the Hub and were solving the issues of housing for low income and seniors in the 1970s. But the growing community brings in more needs. So many people who come to live here from elsewhere want to have their aging parents nearby. Fortunately Orchard View has taken some of that strain.

Marjorie Gaw–Before the building of Town And Country there was just a board of Community minded volunteers, who had skills and knowledge and a vision…There had been a fire in what was then referred to as Irish Town and a whole family perished, I think they had nine children…there were no town services in that area. People had to get their drinking water from the old water tower… This tragedy led these community minded people to work together to develop what became Town and Country Apartments …They called themselves Almonte Community Builders (I think) they managed to connect with Algonquin College and through that they developed the skills require to access Government Funding… Now this is just a skeleton of how it was done…but those people were brilliant and determined, and successful Marie Seaman,Stan Mills, Herb Pragnell, John Levi, Senior, are names that come to mind…Karen Slater became the first employee. The symbol on the Mills logo represents “out of the ashes” and refers to the fire. As a fairly early employee of the Mills, we were all extremely proud of the history. Someone who has the history can fill in the blanks but this is just what I can remember. I apologize for the names I have missed. This Board of Directors did much more than establish Town and Country Apartments…which you will find in the history books if you are interested in them. This accounting is strictly from my memory as a past employee of ACDC/ The Mills. But this will probably answer you question as to why Almonte got into public housing early.



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

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.


Missing Food- A Real-Life Scary Tale

Tragedy of the 60s — Cole Family Fire

Relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland — Names Names Names

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.

2 responses »

  1. Carleton Place is NOT the only town in Lanark County with a long waiting list for public housing; I am on the list for Smiths Falls (and Perth), and have been advised that it could very well be 7 years or longer to get anything in Smiths Falls (I included Perth in my application to give myself a better chance of getting something sooner). I sold a mobile home just south of Smiths Falls the end of April 2018, moved into my youngest brother’s apartment on Victoria Avenue to house-sit for him over the summer while he was on the road with a midway, and one week after moving in (May 7) one of the other tenants accidentally set off a fire which resulted in his own death and left the other residents homeless. I have been living with my other brother and his wife since June 1, but would definitely lie to get back to Lanark County as soon as possible.

    Unfortunately, the expansion at the Tweed plant (the former Hershey Chocolate factory) is apparently a long-term project and the construction workers seem to be taking up all the available rentals in the area as fast as they become available. I have also heard reports that Tweed is trying to buy up all the properties in the Atironto subdivision which, the last time I checked, was still part of Montague Township unless Smiths Falls has annexed it, with plans to tear down the existing homes and build everything new to house their constuction crews, and seem to be more than willing to drive long-time residents out of town. Part of the report I heard also implied they were looking at buying up some properties from the Lanark County Housing Authority, such as the apartment building at 24 Bourke Street, evicting the residents of those properties, and expanding their facilities.

    Other potential targets for this expansion plan would be the Metroland Media (Record News) building and the new Lanark County Ambulance base which are on opposite corners of Lorne Street and Rideau Avenue. While it is good to see the employment Tweed is providing for the town and surrounding area they appear to think they have a license to run roughshod over the community. Where is all this going to end up in a few years?


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s