Some Memories of Irishtown

Some Memories of Irishtown

July 1976

At 8 a.m. one day early in July of 1975, on Teskey Street in the section they call “Irishtown,” Mrs. Annie Spinks who was into her ’70s, and Mrs. Tina Napier who was into her ’60s, picked up a pick and shovel and dug a small hole to start a $70,000 water and sewage project. Mrs. Spinks and Mrs. Napier had waited 40 years for those water and sewer pipes. To celebrate, they and a crowd of about 100 locals filled the bottoms of paper cups with Canadian champagne. Then the bull-dozers moved in.

“We could never have done it without Algonquin College,” said Stan Mills, a communications engineer and leader though everyone’s title is vague – of Almonte Community Builders, the citizens’ group that is bringing water and sewers to Irishtown. This is the part of Almonte that visitors seldom visit; the roads are unpaved. The small wooden houses are dilapidated and Algonquin College decided to something about it. The connecting link between government and Irishtown was made up of people like Marion MacAdam, freshly graduated from Algonquin in those days. but it wasn’t like that all the time.

In January of 1902–  it was reported that a man named Leach, living in Irishtown section, had smallpox. It seems that he had returned from the shanty and was slightly ill. It was thought, he had an attack of chicken-pox, and having had a relapse a physician was called in, when he pronounced it smallpox. It was determined to close it some of the schools for two weeks to await developments.

Strict measures were taken to quarantine the afflicted family and many devout wishes were expressed that the physicians may be mistaken in their diagnosis. Measures were being taken to have all the children in the schools vaccinated who have not yet undergone the operation– as the children in Carleton Place had been in the past few weeks. photo

In Almonte Doctor Kelly would “make his rounds” every day, stopping in the homes, and visiting the sick person and the family. It was then only natural that the doctor should fulfill the three concurrent roles of physician, friend and counsellor.

Mrs. Kelly would frequently go along with the doctor on his rounds “to hold the horse”, little knowing that the hazard of the horse was, in those days, almost as great as the hazard of fire. One day in Irishtown the horse balked at her restraint, and John Gilpin’s famous ride through Islington was repeated with Mrs. Kelly being taken on a wild ride through the streets, across the bridge, and through the subway until the horse came smack up against the door of the foundry where two moulders seized the bridle and rescued the terrified Mrs. Kelly.

In the 1890’s St. Mary’s purchased the house for use as a separate school. Paddy and his family moved to another house at the top of the hill in Irishtown, exchanging one hill for another.

A kind of afternoon drowsiness had crept over Irishtown. We passed Barney Lunney’s store with the blind down over the front window, crossed the bridge over Jimmy Moreau’s creek, and soon after went by Bob Scissons’ store. After that came the houses of the people who lived in Irishtown, the McGraths, the O’Mearas, the Gormans, until we came to Fanny Dolan’s house, the last on that side of the street until you reached Sadler’s on the edge of town.

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  13 May 1965, Thu,  Page 21

Page Fifty-Two

The Practical Scrapbook

Compiled by Evelyn (Bole) Storey, of Pakenham.


Now Howard Sadler, as everyone knows,

Is a man who walks on his heels and his toes;

He lives on a farm right forninst Irishtown,

Growing beans and potatoes most all the year round.

He’s lived on this farm some hundreds of years,

Growing spinach and squash and corn in the ears,

And carrots and beets and peas in the pod;

Sure, all come up smiling when Howard turns sod.

In summer he’ll fill up the back of the truck

With produce of garden and field and the muck,

And off into town he’ll drive with the stuff,

And everyone wonders “Has be brought us enough?”

He’ll stop at the houses and talk till noon bell

With gossip and stories, all news fit to tell,

Of things agricultural, local, historical,

And nary a word of it merely rhetorical.

One day I asked Howard, in spite of his fame,

“Do you mind all the Irish? Remember their names?

All of your neighbours, their houses, and, well,

If Irishtown talked, what do you think it would tell?”

Well, Howard, he stopped and he wrinkled his brow

He stared past the hedges, the pond and the plough

He pushed at his chin with a three-fingered hand

Took a deep breath, and thus he began.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
29 Mar 1963, Fri  •  Page 3

Irish Immigrant Girls Were in Demand Despite Hard Times

A Cross for the Irish who Perished on the St. Lawrence Shores

Union Almonte and Ramsay Contagious Hospital — “The Pest House”

Dark Moments in Ottawa History- Porter Island

Great Social Evils —The Contagious Diseases Act of Canada

When Low Income was Really Low Income– Tragedy in Lanark County– the 60s

Tragedy of the 60s — Cole Family Fire

Relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland — Names Names Names

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.

4 responses »

  1. Lived in Irish town. …you mentiobed Jimmy Moreau’s creek . many times come spring, we used to pole vault over the creek going to school ” going past Ernie littles place. Vy the way… Jimmie Moreau was my uncle, his brorher Leo was my Dad…. Vince Anthony. Moreau


  2. Tina Napier and Annie (Napier) Spinks were sisters-in-law–Tina was married to Annie’s younger brother, Jim Napier. Annie and Jim were younger siblings of my grandmother, Agnes (Napier) Morrow, making the two ladies my grand-aunts.


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