The Winter of 1916

The Winter of 1916



Jennifer Fenwick Irwin– Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. This was December of 1916, and the only time I’ve heard of that the ice here was thick enough for skating. This photo of Horace Brown was taken the same day. He was A. Roy Brown’s younger brother and home on leave.

So not thinking with a full deck I assumed that there must have been a heck of a cold snap in the area. As I searched through the archives I found out that the west was hit hard with cold and snow.

Victoria’s Snowstorms of the Century – February 2, 1916 and December 28-29, 1996. Huge snowstorms, 80 years apart, clobbered Canada’s “snow-free” city with more than 55 cm of snow. The December storm dropped 80 cm of snow in 24 hours, 125 cm in five days with cleanup costs exceeding $200 million (including a record insurance payout for BC of $80 million).

But for the east it was just another winter with the usual comings and goings….



Feb 11th 1916 Almonte Gazette

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Feb 11th 1916 Almonte Gazette

Then Darla Fisher Giles solved the mystery. A sweet woman named Mrs. Smith who lived on William St was employed as Mrs Johnston’s companion and told us kids of a time that you could skate on the river outside Dr. Johnston’s house. She claimed it was before the dam was reconfigured and the river froze solid in that area.



Skating at the Central Bridge besides Patterson Funeral Home at Carleton Place 1916.– Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

“My Father finally sent me to skate on the river. I had skates, but he wouldn’t ever let me skate on the river before. There were large kids skating right next to the Central Bridge. That was before the dam was changed.”



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  31 Oct 1916, Tue,  Page 5



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“The coldest winter was 1916-17. The winter was so cold that I felt like crying… I can remember we weren’t allowed to have a brazier because it weren’t far away from the enemy and therefore we couldn’t brew up tea. But we used to have tea sent up to us, up the communication trench. Well a communication trench can be as much as three quarters of a mile long. It used to start off in a huge dixie, two men would carry it with like a stretcher. It would start off boiling hot; by the time it got to us in the front line, there was ice on the top it was so cold.”

The winter of 1916-17 also caused a famine in Germany and is often known as the ‘Turnip Winter’. After an extremely wet autumn had ruined the potato crops and cereal production, the German population was forced to subsist on turnips in order to survive.

Killer Lightning – July 29, 1916. Lightning ignited a forest fire which burned down the towns of Cochrane and Matheson, Ontario, killing 233 people.


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As the need for soldiers overseas led to a shortage of workers in Canada, many of these “Austrian” internees were released on parole to work for private companies.


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 andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)


Moonlight Skating to Greensleeves–Comments Comments Comments

The Almonte Skating Rink on “The Island”

So Where Was the Ice Palace?

The Old Carleton Place Arena

So What Did You Wear Ice Skating?


The Figure Skaters of Carleton Place

Skaters Under Ice? Ring That Bell!

Falling Through the Ice- One Reason Indoor Rinks Were Created

Doug Gibson–Founder of Junior Hockey in Carleton Place


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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