There are in Ottawa at the present time two ladies, in their eighties and nineties, who are able to tell interesting stories of Ramsay township which is just outside of Almonte, and of Almonte itself. These sisters are Mrs. Daniel Ledgerwood (Arnprior) and Mrs. A, A. Gilmour (late of Almonte), wno since the death of her husband some 13 years ago has resided with her daughter. Mrs. J. A. McLachlin, 380 Cooper street.
Mr. A. A. Gilmour was for many years a contractor in Almonte, and Mr. Ledgerwood was for long school teacher who taught in Ramsay and many townships in the Ottawa Valley. Both ladies, by the way, are daughters of the late James Templeton Sr..who at the time of his death in 1899 was one of the grand old men of Almonte town and Ramsay township. He was approaching his 96th year when he died.
James Templeton came to Ramsay township in the year 1842. He was a member of the well known carpet manufacturing firm of Glasgow. The Templeton mills of Glasgow, by the way, are still in operation (1931). Prior to coming to Canada, James Templeton had served in the famous Black Watch regiment. When James Templeton reached these parts in 1842, he came to Ramsay by way of the Rideau river and wagon to Ramsay he served for about a year in the Wylie general store at Burnside. It was just outside of what is now Almonte, of which in the early days was Shipman’s Falls.
Then James Templeton, though knowing practically nothing farming, took up a bush farm just outside of Almonte on the 8th line of Ramsay. There he farmed for 40 years and by his Scottish frugality amassed a fortune. In 1882 he moved into Almonte, where he lived till 1899, when his death occurred. At the time of his death, the Almonte newspapers referred to Mr. Templeton as Almonte’s “oldest citizen and “grand old man.”
James Templeton was a curler of note. He was a curler for 75 years (learning the roarin’ game in Auld Scotia), and was a member of the Almonte Curling Club for over 50 years. Doubtless Ottawa curlers have played against him.
It may be of interest to know was the second (frame) house which James Templeton erected to replace the log home was still standing in 1931. It was occupied by Mr. Alexander Metcalfe. In 1842, when James Templeton arrived in Ramsay, there were only six houses in Almonte and a log school house which stood at what is now the corner of Bridge and Country streets.
There is a sad note to the history of James Templeton. When he arrived with his little family at Smiths Falls in 1842 after a two months journey from Scotland, his wife had an infant in arms. The child was not well when Smiths Falls was reached. While Mr. Templeton was in Ramsay trying to find a place to locate, the child grew worse. Later the wagon trip over the crude bush roads to Ramsay proved too much for the little one, and within half an hour of the arrival of the family at Shipman’s Falls it passed away. The child’s death made a sad arrival in the new “land”.
When the Templetons arrived In Ramsay there were numerous natives still about. Mrs. Leadgerwood tells of a small band which used to winter in Baird’s Bush on the 8th line of Ramsay near the Templeton home. This band was in charge of an old chief who had the English name of Joe Mitchell. In the summer the Mitchell band used to travel the country as far east as Cornwall, making baskets, etc., and selling them. The natives never interfered with any white settlers. Baird’s bush still stands but the natives are gone.
Mrs. Ledgerwood tells that the first school erected in Ramsay was put up at Leckie’s Corners on the 8th line in 1848. Mrs. Ledgerwood attended this school and the first teacher was a young man named James Mackenzie. She thinks he was from the old land. The pupils used Mavor’s readers and Mavor’s spellers. The next teacher was a man named Minions. She recalls this teacher clearly because he was a lame man and used crutches. But despite his handicap he had full control of the school and got good results.
Leckie’s Corners, as Mrs. Ledgerwood recalls it, consisted of Robert Leckie’s general store, Slattery’s blacksmith shop and Robert Yuill’s tailor shop, school stood on the corner 8th line and a side road. The Leckie store (building and all) is gone, but the old stone blacksmith shop still stands to remind one of the former importance of Leckie’s Corners. In the year 1856 a new stone school was erected about three city blocks distant from the first school. It was this school which Mrs. Gilmour attended.
At the outset this new school was taught by William Lindsay, a young man, son of a local farmer. Two years later came Daniel Ledgerwood, also a young man. Mr. Ledgerwood hailed from Drummond, a few miles from Perth. Young Drummond had not been too long in Ramsay before he met and fell in love with the elder Templeton girl, and the following year they were married. Soon afterwards Mr. Ledgerwood secured a better school in Pembroke and the young couple moved there.
Mr. Ledgerwood was followed for a short time by a young student. Mrs. Gilmour (Margaret Templeton) was then 7 years of age. During the stay of this student an incident occurred which shows how much good judgement a teacher should have. One day little Margaret Templeton was a bit careless in her studies. The teacher by way of getting her attention left his seat and going to the child led her to the door of a dark cupboard. Throwing open the door he asked her how she would like to be put in there with the rats and the dark.”
The child had never seen the in side of the cupboard and did not know what terrors it contained. She started to cry vigorously. Her cries roused the chivalrous spirit of a lame boy named Jack McMorran, a son of Rev. Dr. McMorran, the Presbyterian minister. The lad crept up behind the teacher and the girl, grabbed little Margaret by the hand and had her out of the door before the teacher was aware of his intentions.
The boy took the girl home and Mr. Templeton was a trustee at the time. The boy told his father, Dr. McMorran. The result was an inquiry and the riot act was read to the teacher, who explained of course that he was only trying to frighten the child and really had no thought of actually putting her in the cupboard. As the young man was soon to leave, no more was said. But the point is that though well over 70 years have elapsed since the incident occurred it is still remembered by Mrs. Gilmour.
Both Mrs. Ledgerwood and Mrs. Gilmour tell of the early days of the Auld Kirk, St. Andrew’s, in Ramsay, when Rev. Fairbairn and Rev. Dr. McMorran were the ministers. They have recollections of the long services, which lasted from 11 o’clock till one. They recall the red velvet bag attached to a long handle in which the collection was taken in. Both ladies had recollections of the long services, lengthy sermons and the general severity of the service.
Instead of going home with their parents used to eat their lunch in the church yard and wait till Sabbath school opened about 3 o’clock. The Sabbath school, like the church services, was severe. Each child had to learn during the week and repeat on Sunday, 4 to 5 verses of Scripture. For special occasions they were asked to learn a whole chapter. After school the children walked home. Religion was very severe in those days and the children “couldn’t do anything.”
When James Templeton, Jr., died 9 years ago (1931), it was stated that there were at that time over 200 direct and indirect descendants of the pioneer James Templeton. Mr. and Mrs. James Templeton, Sr . brought up a family of right. Three are itill alive: Mrs. Daniel ledgerwood, Arnprior; Wm. Templeton, Emerson. Man., and Mrs. A. A. Gilmour, Ottawa.