Stuck in Carleton Place April 8 1885

Stuck in Carleton Place April 8 1885




The story  on the experiences of J. Sid. Annable, formerly of Carleton Place, as a cook’s  flunkey in a lumber camp on the Upper Mississippi river in the early 1880s, made mighty interesting reading. This week Mr. Annable; tells an equally absorbing story about his exploits in Carleton Place  at the time of the Northwest Rebellion in 1885, a story which should prove memory-provoking to the dozens of volunteers who were snowbound at the Junction Town for several days on their way to do battle against Riel and his Indian cohorts.


Prefacing his story with a few facts leading up to the beginning of the long treck to the Western battlefield, Mr. Annable writes: “Colonel Otter mustered 500 of his soldiers and, with full field artillery and guns they were put aboard the train in Toronto bound for Winnipeg by way of Carleton Place, over the Canadian Pacific railroad. They left Toronto March 1, 1885, and arrived at Carleton Junction on March 3, In one of the worst blizzards Ontario has ever known. “The first section was snow-bound immediately on Its arrival,” said Mr. Annable. “Tom Bagley, yardmaster, got lost in the snow trvine to find sidings to store the (sufficient heat to warm the wooden coaches, a consequence of which was that the volunteers suffered greatly from the intense cold. “The snow was six feet deep on the level over the village and all trains were held up at this point for five days. Every foot of siding was utilized for the coaches.



This photograph was taken in Carleton Place during the 7th Fusiliers’ trip from London to Clark’s Crossing, N.W.T. in 1885.
Left of photograph – 1 Capt. Frank Peters 2 Major Wm. M. Gartshore 3 Capn Geo. M. Reid 4 Capt Frank Butler 5 Lieut. J.K.H. Pope 6 Lieut. Alfred Jones 7 Lieut. A.G. Chisholm

Left bottom – This Photo was taken April 8th, 1885 at Carleton Place while waiting for the train to take us to First Gap. Wm D. Mills Secty. 7th Fusiliers K.W.F.F. 1885.




The only Pullman car in the service was that which served as headquarters for Major Fred Middleton of the Queen’s Own Rifles, Colonel Otter and their officers. This was placed on a siding opposite the old C.P.R. station, two hundred yards from the railroad gates.

“After Yardmaster Bagley and his crew, composed of Andy Armour, Bill Carr, Tom Carter and Jack Annable. had maneuvered the snow plows around to clean the sidings, they put the coaches on the north bound sidings from the station to the railroad bridge which crosses the Mississippi below the rapids.

There were only two streets for crossing purposes in the lower part of the village commonly called Chiselville. McLaughlin’s crossing on Lake avenue and Annable’s. Our crossing was not used much as the traffic was light. Later they placed fifty coaches on these sidings. Regulars were stationed along the sides of the train to prevent volunteers leaving without passes. These privileges were few and hard to obtain. The writer’s home was only a hundred feet away, and as the men were calling for someone to run their errands. I decided to make myself useful. The snow was set and soft and I was the proud possessor of a toboggan and a team of dogs, the only ones in the village.

As the boys were calling for postcards, my first investment was one hundred penny postcards.- Before I had finished one coach I had sold my stock. Before night one was over all were in the village post office upwards of a thousand. I then bought writing paper, envelopes and stamps and sold them for ten cents a set. By this time I had realized fifty dollars on my original investment of one dollar.

After the second day I loaded my toboggan with pies, doughnuts, oranges and apples and drove them up and down between the snow-bound trains. As the food in the baggage cars was getting low I found ready buyers for my cargo. I worked from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and by the time the trains were ready to move on I had cleared over three hundred dollars.

The last day of his sojourn in Carleton Place Colonel Otter sent for me and asked me to go to the Bank of Ottawa for him. He gave me a large envelope covered with sealing wax, which I was to deliver to the. manager, John A. Bangs, and return immediately with an answer. Mr. Bangs told me afterwards that the envelope contained two thousand dollars.

When I returned Col. Otter invited me to Join the Queen’s Own Rifles. Owing to the fact, however, that my mother was sick in bed at the time, my father refused to give his consent. Later I went to Col. W. W. Wylie and Capt. Joe McKay of the 43rd Regiment of volunteers of our village and told them I wanted to get out to the West if I had to run away to do it. McKay refused to heed my plea; he sent for my oldest brother to take me home.

Mr. Annable then tells of preparations made by a companion whom he chooses to call Peck and himself to “make a break for it” in the spring. They had been outfitting for weeks. Early in April 1885 they hired Jim Simpson, who was buying turkeys for the New York market. For their trouble they received a pair of fine chickens, which Bob Raines rooked for them and which they put into their lunch basket the next day “within a stone’s throw of my home.” “

We put our food and all our possessions into a boxcar–chartered by a farmer going from Winchester to Brandon, Manitoba which was loaded with lumber, a team of horses and a milk cow. On the top of the lumber he had two beds and a small stove gave us all the heat we needed.

Our food lasted until we reached Winnipeg, where we left our friend. On the day of our arrival I obtained a job as clerk in the Clifton Hotel. The manager, Mr. Carter, allowed my chum to share my room with me for a week until he sot work in one of the elevators. When May came I was playing lacrosse with the old Winnipeg team, managed by Mr. Carter Jr. and I played under the assumed name of Green, from Ottawa, and got by under this alias until our first game of the season, when Pete McGregor of Carleton Place spotted me.

After the Ninetieth’s beat us I was given the air and also lost my job for impersonating Pete Green of the old Capitals. My pal and I parted and I went west to Regina where I met up again with Colonel Otter and the Queen’s Own Rifles. By this time they had captured Louis Riel and his Indian band; the trial was over and the rebellion was at an end. I continued west to Victoria and again played lacrosse with the old Victorias under my own name.

After the season was over I returned to Ontario and located in Oshawa. There I made the acquaintance of the late Ed. Baker, former sports editor of The Ottawa Citizen. We became fast friends. That friendship lasted until his death. I was responsible for getting Baker his first newspaper Job on the Toronto World.

There Eddie made a new friend in Tom Robinette, the great criminal lawyer of that period. After the Burchnell trial was over we returned to Toronto, Baker making his connection. I left them in 1908 and returned to Carleton Plare for a vacation. After the the summer was over and the fishing for bass was at an end. I went to Buffalo where I made good as a salesman.


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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