When Merivale Was the End of the Road

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When Merivale Was the End of the Road

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Here’s Construction Season in 1926, described as “Asphaltic Concrete – Merivale Road.”

George Boyce was then a boy of 16 and old enough to have clear recollections about the area and his family far in 1860. According to Mr. Boyce, Merivale Road was “the end of the road.”— literally. At a point about a mile south of the Boyce farm the road tailed off into a trail, and it wasn’t far from that when even the trail ended.

The road to Ottawa at its best points wasn’t much. In fact it was hardly a road at all in the proper sense. Most people who travelled it did so on horseback. Only a few of the dozen settlers owned vehicles of any sort. Although Ottawa was only from eight to ten miles from the Merivale settlers, “going to town” was not a matter of everyday occurrence, as it is now. But if the people did not go to town often, they made up for lack of travelling by visiting. They visited far more than at present– for both sociability and mutual aid. In these days people “borrowed” a lot from each other. They had to. None of the settlers had enough of anything to get along independently.

So they borrowed all sorts of things, from farm implements down to food. But, they always returned them and things were loaned cheerfully. The people who loaned knew that within a few days they themselves might be borrowers. Every borrowing meant a visit. “Borrowing” visits kept the settlers from being lonesome, and therefore it had its good points. Today borrowing is rare, and if a farmer runs short he jumps into into his vehicle as the case may be and whirls into town.

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City View School in Nepean, located at 8 Merivale Road according to an Ottawa City Directory from 1923.

The settlers who were located in the Merivale district when the Boyces were there in 1860, were William Stinson, Joseph Switzer, Wm. Craig, James Craig. Wm. Caldwell, Robert Mowat (brother of the Ottawa tailor of the sixties). Joseph Green. Christopher Green. John Davidson, and the Keenan family to which belonged Mr. Keenan, the veteran pioneer teacher, and Dr. Keenan.

If the farmers of today in Nepean have comfortable homes, they can, in the opinion of Mr. Boyce, thank their ancestors. Both the men and the women of the 1850s and 1860s worked very hard, he says. As showing how the women of that period tried to help make ends meet, Mr. Boyce tells how Mrs. John McSorley, who lived “at the end of the road,” several miles past the Boyce farm, used to frequently walk to Bytown, a matter of 12 miles, and carry a pail of butter to the market.

When the Boyces went to the present Boyce farm in 1860 “bees” were of common occurrence. There were bees for log burning, for barn raising, for crop gathering, and for a dozen other things. As a matter of fact people could not have accomplished anything without “bees.” It was almost impossible to hire help, and if help had been available the the people still had no money to pay for it.

The people were not “afraid to to home in the dark” in those days. Mr. Boyce tells how the people, after dancing half the night after a “bee,” would go home several miles through the bush roads, utterly unafraid, though bears and even wolves still abounded.

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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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