You Can’t Touch This?…Taking the Vanilla Out of History

You Can’t Touch This?…Taking the Vanilla Out of History

If anyone has not caught on I became obsessed with documenting those that had passed so they could be remembered for future generations a few years ago.

Do we think that serious textual stories are better, more “literary,”  whereas something lighter fare is for the under educated? If so, then we have a problem. Today’s generations are not interested in facts, and to get them or a lot of other folks to read about history it has to be interesting. I don’t know about you but reading traditional text really doesn’t inspire me to want to know more, so I decided to take the ‘vanilla’ out of history. I mean what would you rather read–

“A faintness came over him, and together with the evacuations his bowels protruded, followed by a copious hemorrhage, and the descent of the smaller intestines: moreover portions of his spleen and liver were brought off in the effusion of blood, so that he almost immediately died.”

Well, maybe that is a terrible example–but today, one of the younger generation would ‘text’ that sentence something like this:

“Hey! That man just %^&* out his internal organs and I will never eat Pigs In A Blanket again”.

What about the local lad who was so popular that the crowd at one of our local fairs threw so many various items at him out of adoration that he died of asphyxiation? What will you remember? Pie Winners? I don’t think so. But, interesting tidbits helps you remember the rest of the story.



Of course we all remember Brothel Bertie  (King Edward the VII) who probably exercised his prowess around the local area. When he visited in 1860 he might have ended dying from bow chicka wow wow when he had a drink at Bennie’s Corners if a certain lady from the Metcalfe farm had caught his eye. I don’t know about you, but reading about those “old community spirits” keeps my interests up and makes me want to know more.

Ice Ice Baby, Ice Ice Baby
All right stop, Collaborate and listen

On the 18th of 1897 Carleton Place was advertising for someone to introduce military drills and exercise in the public schools. For $600 a year the individual they hired was to instill serious discipline into the local school child. It was mentioned that 15 minutes a day would increase the brain function from all that sitting sideways and slouching forward that a normal child does during the day.

Really? Really?

As Maestro Fresh Wes once said: “Let my backbone slide!”



The Central Canadian newspaper wanted the school system to hire Joseph McKay, son of James McKay, Carleton Place Bell Street baker for the position. He rose in his long militia service here from lieutenant of No. 5 Company in the late 1870’s  to lieutenant colonel of his regiment at the turn of the century. The Rifle Ranges at Carleton Place were constructed during Lieut. Colonel McKay’s command and the newspaper said it would be hard to find a more efficient man for the position.



Tiffany Nixon in front of the “50 Shades of Grey’ apparatus at Hamsa Yoga in Carleton Place.


So what did I immediately think of when I read this? All I could see was the yoga trainers at Hamsa Yoga  next to the  Ginger Cafe . God only knows that I have embarrassed poor Tiffany Nixon enough calling them her ’50 shades of grey’ section on numerous occasions.

So what else did I remember when I read the newspaper article?

I saw Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Mackay who had risen to Major by that point in time looking something like Black Jack Jonathan Randall from the hit TV show Outlander instructing those Carleton Place children with a snap of his crop.

I don’t think there is a “chance in Inverness” that I will ever forget this story now–nor will you.

Ice Ice Baby, Ice Ice Baby
All right stop, Collaborate and listen


Black Jack Jonathan Randall- Outlander with a little photoshop

Newspapers seemed to control our local towns and it wasn’t hard to sway the townsfolk into some sort of rabble rousing. Take in point some fine fowl, over 325 to be exact, that resided in Appleton belonging to the Herald’s Mr. Sam Allen. The joke was that Mr. Allen’s chickens were so well esteemed they had taken their fair share of prizes at the Almonte Fair. In fact too much so– as there were a few dozen articles about his chickens!

The “opposite side” joked that maybe a visit to “the Appleton hood” by some could relieve him of some of his fair feathered friends. Was this a warning to Mr. Allen that his poultry should enter the KFC Witness Protection Plan? Or, was it to be soon a Winner Winner Chicken Dinner for all in Lanark County? In everything– the rooster, human or fowl made and still makes the most news. It has been proven many times in the Almonte Gazette and the Carleton Place Herald. Trust me!

Anything less than the best is a felony
Love it or leave it, You better gain way
You better hit bull’s eye, The kid don’t play..



February 6 1920, Almonte Gazette

Many cisterns in Almonte are now dry and there is water famine in many country places. Also the long dry cold winter has been serious for those residents of Almonte who depend upon rain water for their domestic supply as many cisterns have gone dry. Others have burst and the water is being teamed from the river to many of our homes.

How do you convey to today’s generation how important these cisterns were to basic human needs in years gone by? Heck, I didn’t even know what one was until a year ago. How do you get someone to remember what they were?


Van you take do you take the vanilla out hard facts to a generation who says: “I’m cleaning out my car today in case someone needs 27 empty water bottles”.

Easy– Without a cistern and water they would have had no coffee. I guarantee you everyone will remember that now. No cisterns= no double double.

I could be wrong, but history argues that taking the vanilla out of writing will always be in fashion. How many of these local stories have you remembered?

Let Me Entertain You!



Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ 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.

Ice Ice Baby, Ice Ice Baby Lyrics- Vanilla Ice



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  15 Nov 1897, Mon,  [First Edition],  Page 2


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  07 Oct 1899, Sat,  Page 6


Cisterns I Have Known

Taking Sexy Back with Brothel Bertie aka Edward the VII

Maybe We Should Film Oak Island in Carleton Place? The Day the Money Disappeared

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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