The man standing at the fence is Dinos Antonakous. He was my Mom’s boss at the Olympia. Norma Jackson
January 31, 1969 was one of the saddest days in Carleton Place history when a fire on Lake Ave East took the lives of a grandmother and her granddaughter. No one will ever know if the road blocked by traffic would have changed the outcome, but 50 years ago a public fire bell rang instead of pagers and citizens followed the fire truck to each fire.
That day it was impossible to thread through oncoming cars and and parked cars which stretched along Lake Ave East according to February 5th, 1969 edition of the Canadian. In fact they were so concerned that the newspaper had a special column about it on the front page. Yet, every time an alarm sounded in Carleton Place all too many motorists rushed to follow the first truck out never considering more help would be behind them and need immediate access. But, as Norma Jackson said,“ lessons hopefully learned, but as a family we can not dwell on that possibility. It is just too painful to think that”.
I really do not like writing about tragedy, and keep a buffer zone of about 50 years, but this tragic story was part of our community history. That day Mrs. Norman (Evelyn) Clark and two-year- old Darlene Warren lost their lives and we should always keep them in our hearts and memory.
Evelyn Clark was nothing but a heroine that day tossing Gilbert and David (two foster children age 4 and 2) out of the window of the frame house beyond Arklan farm on Lake Ave East into the snow. Sadly, as she was returning to rescue Darlene they were both overcome by smoke and flames. Some say it was the oil furnace, and others said the fire began in a storage shed adjacent to the kitchen– whatever it was, fire blew through the heating registers.
Mr. Clark working in a nearby barn was unable to rescue his wife and granddaughter due to the intense heat and smoke and his brother, Theodore, awoke to see the kitchen ceiling on fire and got out just in time. Alan Barker carried one of the children, David, who had burns on his body, down an exceptionally icy road for nearly half a mile before he could reach a car and take him to the hospital and it was quite a task. Norma Jackson said that there had been a freezing rain storm the day before and the roads were in very bad shape.
Beckwith Fire Dept. came to the aid but by the time they arrived nothing could be done and rescue was not made easy because of the still gathering cars clogging Lake Ave East and beyond the limits to the scene. When passage to the home was eventually available there was only room for one vehicle in most places because of the icy conditions. A portable pump was set up beside the home to ensure a supply of water to cool off the ruins.
Caroleann Lowry McRae said: “50 years ago I lost my Nana and my 20 month old cousin in this fire. I have heard many wonderful stories of my Nana, but I think the one I remember the best, is my Dad saying he had the finest mother in law one could ever ask for”❤️
Deeds done in the past will not be less valiant because they are unpraised or not written about. However, in my mind an ordinary person facing extraordinary circumstances and acting with courage, honour, and self-sacrifice should never be forgotten. So today, tomorrow and for the rest of time Evelyn Clark will be remembered as well as her granddaughter Darlene Warren because it will be forever documented. May they rest in peace.
where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome 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. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.