If you Thought Today’s Rural Political Shenanigans were Something…

If you Thought Today’s Rural Political Shenanigans were Something…

In August of 1937 from the great pen of the editor/publisher, Adelbert Stewart “Stew” Hanna came a ghastly worded editorial against a gentleman from Carleton Place. Anyone who thinks that the rural town shenanigans of this day and age is new could not be farther than the truth.

As Lanark County Geneoligical Vice President John Morrow once told me.

“From what I have heard over the years the Almonte Gazette’s then editor/publisher, Adelbert Stewart “Stew” Hanna was quite a character, especially when he was inebriated (which apparently was not that unusual), and was not above a bit of “yellow” journalism at those times, and this appears to be one of them. My father told me one time it was frequently Mrs. Hanna, not Stew, who oversaw the Gazette’s weekly publication because he was in no condition to do the job.

I also had occasion one time to sit down with Angus Edward “Gus” Dobbie, long-time editor of the Smiths Falls Record-News, who told me he and Stew Hanna maintained quite a running editorial battle in the pages of their respective papers. Gus Dobbie also commented about Norman E. H. Turner, who was editor and publisher of the Perth Courier during that time period, that Norm Turner was a great businessman as publisher, but as an editor “he couldn’t sharpen Stew Hanna’s pencils”.

Without further ado here is the Almonte Gazette editorial:

During the last week a number of anonymous letters have reached The Almonte
Gazette office in which the writers indulge in some rather severe criticism
of the way workmen are hired on the Smiths Falls-Carleton Place highway
which passes through Franktown.

While we do not care to publish an anonymous letter, even though it may
not be libelous, we think some of the assertions, made in these communications
should be brought to the attention of those most concerned.

“Almonte Men Are “Out”

For instance, in one of these letters the statement is made that no Almonte man need apply for a job on this stretch of highway. It appears that Dr. A. Downing is the dispenser
of patronage on this Ontario Government project and, according to one Almonte man who claimed he asked him for employment, the Doctor said:

“When the road was being built beyond Almonte we didn’t get anything in Carleton Place and we are going to see that Almonte gets nothing now.”

Frankly, we don’t believe that a man like Dr. Downing would take such an attitude—at least we are very loath to believe it. In another communication there is some criticism of the experience in road building achieved by some of those who are holding down key jobs.

The Candy Kid

For instance, it is said that one, Mr. “Kid” Bryce is grading construction. It appears that Mr. Bryce’s knowledge of highway construction has been gained from the seat of a taxi-cab. We are not informed whether he studied the engineering problems included in this work, as he’ passed over the highway or whether he parked his limousine under the shade of a tree and observed the work between puffs of smoke from his indispensable cigar as he lolled back on the gorgeous upholstery.

At any rate the “Kid” seems to be the candy kid so far as the highway job is concerned. Those who know him best are tickled to death as they round a curve near Franktown to see that noble figure standing like Napoleon—-with legs wide apart—in the middle of the road directing the labouring minions employed by the Government.

An Exacting Gang Boss

“Show a little, more speed,” Kid will say through the corner of his mouth, as the boys slacken down under the blistering heat of the last few days,

“What do you think us taxpayers are paying you for if it ain’t to work.”

Now no one is impugning the ability of Mr. Bryce as a road construction foreman—provided the job requires no experience. For all we know Mr. Bryce may be a most experienced road builder-engineer. After all it is not up to a newspaperman to demand his credentials. Maybe he carries his testimonials around with him in the taxi-cab in the form of a framed certificate from Dr. Downing or some other master road builder

Be that as it may, Mr. Bryce is a majestic figure as he swaggers up and down the terrain with the cigar stuck out of one corner of his mouth and  the hard shell hat set at a jaunty
angle on that great brow. After October you may get a holiday and life will revert to what it always has been —one grand sweet song.

“As a taxicab driver he was a great road builder. Rest in Peace”


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Photo Linda Seccaspina

The original highway alignment via Ashton Station Road, Flewellyn Road, and Huntley Road was bypassed by a new straighter alignment in the late 1950s. A bypass was completed around Carleton Place in the late 1950s. The old alignment of Highway 15 through downtown became Highway 15B. In 1961, a major highway renumbering took place that saw Highway 43 extended westerly from Smiths Falls to Perth.

 - . 9.-(Spe-clal) $1,-400 Jamie-son's a Wal-...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 06 Jun 1936, Sat,
  3. Page 5


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 and The Tales of Almonte


Rolling Down Highway 15


Stewart Hanna –The “Angry” Journalist of a Rural Town

The Funniest Anti-Dog Letter to the Editor–Almonte Gazette

Social Note Shenanigans from the Almonte Gazette June 1899

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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