Life in The House of Industry

Life in The House of Industry





In the late 1800s Lanark County’s population was booming as railways and industries brought prosperity. But along with it came poverty, people had no place to go, and it was one thing after another, whether it was cholera, influenza, or diphtheria.

On February 2, 1903 the new House of Industry was erected by the county of Lanark on a seventy-eight-acre lot, immediately outside the limits of the town of Perth. It was opened by Rev. A. H. Scott, M.A., of St. Andrew’s Church, Perth, and Rev. Canon Mickelson, of St. James Church,  who were entrusted by the County Council with the dedication of the building.

The members of the Lanark Council, the clergy of Perth, and the mayors of adjoining municipalities dined together at noon, and after dinner the building was dedicated. After the dedication an examination was made of the different parts of the new structure. The general public was supplied with substantial refreshments during the afternoon and evening.

The upper storey of the building was converted into an auditorium from the platform of which addresses were delivered appropriate to the occasion. J. A. Stewart, LL.B., mayor of Perth, gave the first address, Hon. John Haggart, M.P., and Col Matheson M.L.A., both of Perth, followed. Mayor McKim, of Smiths Fallls  W. C. Caldwell, M.L.A., of Lanark; and Dr. Preston, of Carleton Place, were the other speakers. Judge Senkler presented Councillor Pattie the chairman of the building committee, with a souvenir chain of gold. The ceremony in connection was impressive and over two thousand people were present at the opening of the building.

The founders of the House of Industry were later criticized for a judgmental attitude that distinguished between the “deserving poor” (elderly people and invalids who were unable to work) and the “undeserving poor” (able-bodied people who couldn’t find a job because of such problems as alcoholism). But after researching the institution’s history they do deserve credit for helping people who were falling through the cracks. They really did make a difference.

The men slept separately and there was a dormitory upstairs for the women. In the morning they got some oatmeal and tea and then they were asked to contribute some labour. The women did some sewing and the men spent an hour or two chopping kindling, or working on their farm. Then they were expected to go and look for a job.

As a rule they tried to get the children out of the House at the age of about 14. They apprenticed some of the boys, and got places of service for the girls. It was not often boys and girts were put into the House of Industry who were of  a desirable class; when they were bright some relative generally took them. They kept no registry of what became of the children after they left the House, neither did they keep up correspondence with them.

The House of Industry was not known for gourmet fare. Staff were instructed that the soup should be nutritious, but not so tasty that people would be tempted to comeback for more. While some residents stayed just a few days, it soon became clear that others needed a permanent home.  Before the construction of this House of Industry in Perth the only alternative place to house indigent residents was in the county jail, so this was much better for the 90-100 people that lived there.


Historical Notes-


The Corporation of the County of Lanark has had a long history in the provision of residential care for seniors and other people requiring residential services. It began in February 1903 when the doors to the House of Industry opened in the stone part of the building next door, now called Perth Community Care Centre. In 1966, the County sold this building (at that time it was called Tayview Home), and proceeded to build a brand new 110-bed home and named it Lanark Lodge. The doors opened in September 1967, and all the residents from Tayview were moved to the adjacent, newly built Lanark Lodge. There have been two major building and renovation projects since at Lanark Lodge. In 1974, an additional 66 beds were added. Immediately thereafter, Fairview Manor was built by the County of Lanark in Almonte, opening its doors in 1977 to keep pace with the growing waiting lists of seniors needing a home. Lanark Lodge was again renovated in 1988 with the addition of a new wing, and the old part of the building was subsequently renovated in 1990 to improve the standard of physical space. Subsequent to the latest renovation in 1990, Lanark Lodge reduced its capacity from 176 to 163 residents.


Fairview Manor was divested to the Almonte General Hospital in the fall of 2004, leaving Lanark Lodge the sole long-term care home operated by the County of Lanark.

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  2.  House of Industry Kingston


  3. Did You Know About the House of Industry?

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    Farmersville 1859 County Directory (Athens)

    House of Industry Athens Farmersville

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
28 Jun 1899, Wed  •  Page 1
Clipped from
The Ottawa Journal,
07 Feb 1907, Thu,

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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