Gossiping on Bridge Street –“People of 1952”

Gossiping on Bridge Street –“People of 1952”



This historic community of Carleton Place is situated in the heart of Lanark County, a formidable Tory stronghold, as stout as its neighbour, Carleton County. If they don’t have good roads in this area, it won’t be the fault of *George Doucett of Carleton Place, former Ontario’s Minister of Highways.


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*George Doucett held his seat in the Ontario Legislature continuously since he was first elected in 1937. A farmer by occupation, he had two homes besides his quarters in Toronto, a home to Carleton Place, and a farm in Ramsay Township, just outside the town. As a “side line ” he was a manager of an insurance office in Carleton Place, director of the Ontario Good Roads Association, director of the Ontario Agricultural Council and the Lanark County Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

He was also a member of Ramsay Council from 1922 to 1925 and was reeve from 1928 to 1937.  As Ontario Minister of Highways, he sponsored the new popular Unsatisfied – Judgment Fund and was recognized as an expert on highway construction. George Doucett knew exactly how many folks died on his roads during his years, many of them in level crossing accidents. He was in favour of eliminating Ontario’s then 6,054 level crossings.


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Carleton Place is also the native town of  the late *D. C. Coleman, retired chairman and once president of the CPR and a director of the World’s Largest Transportation System. His brother, Dr. E.H. Coleman was once Secretary of State, and then Canada’s ambassador to Brazil.



Another brother, the late George T. Coleman, was the CPR s general superintendent of transportation. They all came from Carleton Place where other members of the family live and still live. The late Hon. R. F. Preston of Carleton Place was member of Parliament for so many years people forgot when he was first elected.


Dr. Preston Carleton Place- Photo- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

The Gillies, Edwards and the MacLarens of lumbering fame all had their connection with the early days of Carleton Place. As to how Morphy’s Falls came to be named Carleton Place, no one here seemed to know in 1952. .

Frank MacDiarmid, who ran a successful men’s clothing store here for 22 years before he became manager of the National Employment Service office, said this:

“Some think it was named for Ontario Carlton Place (spelled without the ‘e) a terrace in Scotland. Others say it was named after Sir Guy Carleton, and some say it was named for Carleton County. Since many of the early settlers came here from Scotland, the best guess seems to be that it was named for Carlton Place in Scotland.


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No story of Carleton Place would be complete without more than a passing reference to W. J. “Baldy” Welsh, famous Carleton Place paddler. In 1952 he was a young 89, “Baldy”, as even the school children called him was spry and extremely active for his age. Baldy Welsh used to stand in front of the Post Office where he once lived with one of his sons who was the caretaker of the building. He used to wear a silver Maltese cross, dangling from a silver chain fastened in his coat lapel. It was something that meant a great deal to him when he won the double-blade single canoe race in Brockville on August 6,1900. The man he beat was Billy Dier, Brockville’s strong man.

Baldy Welsh was also on a four-man canoe crew that won a cup given by Barbara Ann Scott’s maternal grandfather, Mr. Derbyshire, in 1898.  In 1952 the canoe he bought 50 years ago was still in  a shed not 50 yards from the Post Office. Baldy Welsh was proud of the fact that his three sons, Jim, Frank and Emmet , served the First World War and his four grandsons, Jack, J. D., Tom and William, all served overseas in the Second World War.

Besides being a great paddler in his day, Baldy Welsh also found time for baseball, hockey and lacrosse. He retired from the CPR shop in Carleton Place in 1929 after 22 years spent painting locomotives and tenders. About all he had to show for it was his long service pass but he made good use of it. He never missed a regatta and after some big sporting event in Ottawa, the sports writers usually included a line that said:

“Among those heard and seen cheering loudly at the game was Baldy Welsh of Carleton Place.”

The former paddler was born of Irish stock and his father came from Tipperary, his mother from Cork so Baldy Welsh was Irish and make no mistake about it. He was a natural to play a leading role in “My Wild Irish Rose,” staged by the local Carleton Place dramatists in 1920. Baldy’s eyes lighted up when he recalled how he played the part of Colum McCormack, a prosperous farmer of County Kildare, and how he led a male chorus in a bonafied show-stopper.



Baldy Welsh was modestly proud of a story written about him in the Ottawa Citizen by Austin Cross, back in *1945. He discussed the old stone schoolhouse (Central School) on Bridge Street, and recalled the day in 1870 when it was opened.

Before that, he said, he went to the old frame school across the “school lane.” Half of the old school was moved to a corner a block away on Victoria Street where it is now a terrace dwelling. Baldy, of course, liked best to tell of his paddling- prowess of years ago.

“In those days I used to worry about getting old.” “Now,” he said, “I’ve quit worrying about it.”



Baldy Welsh



Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 31 Jul 1945, Tue,
  3. Page 3




 D’Alton Corry Coleman was born on 9 Jul 1879, at Carleton Place, Ontario, the son of James Coleman and Mary Jane Doherty. He was one of a family of seven, one girl and six boys, all of whom have achieved marked success.

Ontario schools provided his formal education, public school in Braeside, high school in Arnprior, and business college in Belleville.

Before joining the Canadian Pacific Railway Company he was tallyman in a Braeside lumber yard during summer vacations and later was full-time stocktaker in the same yard, wrote shorthand for Hon. George A. Cox and E.R. Wood at Central Canada Loan and Savings Company, Toronto, was editor of the Belleville Daily Intelligences, and on the editorial staff of the Port Huron (Michigan) Daily Times.

His first job with the C.P.R. was in Fort William, Ontario (now Thunder Bay), where he began as clerk to an assistant engineer there on 4 Nov 1899. The record of his rise to the top is:  1899 to 1907 chief clerk and accountant in Winnipeg, Cranbrook, and North Bay, 1907 superintendent Kootenay Division Nelson, B.C., 1908 superintendent Vancouver and superintendent of car service Winnipeg, 1912 General Superintendent Winnipeg, 1913 General Superintendent Calgary, 1915 Assistant General Manager Winnipeg, 1918 Vice-President Western Lines Winnipeg, 1934 elected Vice-President of the Company, and, on 9 Oct 1934 Director and Member of the Executive Committee Montreal, 1942 (May) elected President, 1943 (May 5) elected Chairman and President.

During his administration of Western Lines, the Company built and placed in operation in the prairie provinces 2,250 miles of railway. All of the new territory served was traversed and examined by him before construction was undertaken.

A wealth of railway knowledge gained in actual operation, outstanding ability in his chosen field, and infinite devotion to the best interests of the nation and of the Company were the qualifications which fitted him to be chief officer of the Company in the critical period of the greatest war the world has known.

During World War II, Mr. Coleman completed the arrangements with the Canadian Government under which the Company undertook a heavy programme of munitions work at Angus and at Ogden shops, as a result of which the mechanical organization of the Company, headed by H.B. Bowen, was enabled to make a contribution to the war effort, which elicited the commendation of the Canadian Minister of Munitions and Supply, of the Soviet Government, and of the overseas representatives of the Government of the United Kingdom.

It was with him that the Government of Canada negotiated to take over the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City for the historic Quebec Conferences in 1943 and 1944, when this famous hostelry was the work centre for the sixth and eighth wartime meetings between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, with Prime Minister W.L. Mackenzie King as the host. Mr. Coleman’s direction of the taking over of the hotel in its entirety and the way the heavy Conference travel was handled was the most positive proof of the flexibility of the system he headed as chief officer. Something well out of the ordinary transpired in the arrangements for the Chateau Frontenac when it was a brother-to-brother conference, for Mr. Coleman’s dealings with the Government of Canada were through his younger brother, Dr. E.H. Coleman, C.M.G., K.C., Canada’s Under-Secretary of State. Of the preliminary negotiations, Dr. Coleman said in an interview that his brother didn’t wish to be told any state secret about the reason the Government wanted the hotel, but added “he is a pretty shrewd fellow.” The fact is that, without being told any state secret, the hotel was completely ready when the delegates arrived for the momentous conference.


George Doucett
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Lanark
In office
Preceded by William Gourlay Blair
Succeeded by Desmond Code
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded by John Alexander Craig
Succeeded by George Gomme
Constituency Lanark
Personal details
Born May 16, 1897
Ramsay Township, Ontario
Died May 1, 1974 (aged 76)
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Mona Middleton

*George Henry Doucett (May 16, 1897 – May 1, 1974) was a Canadian politician. He was a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1937 to 1957 and a member of the House of Commons of Canada from 1957 to 1965. He represented the provincial and federal ridings of Lanark in eastern Ontario. He was a member of cabinet in the provincial governments of George DrewThomas Kennedy and Leslie Frost. He has the distinction of being the last Canadian federal Member of Parliament to be acclaimed into office.


Haggart vs Dr Preston– The Little Intriguer that Pulled the String….

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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