Category Archives: history

What Happened to Bill Brunton’s Roof in Carleton Place?



A month or so ago Bill Brunton had a question about his childhood home at 209 Moffat in Carleton Place. He was 8 years-old when the family moved there in 1972. Bill and his brother were looking around one day in the back of a closet on the second floor and they found a burned stairway leading to nowhere. They wondered if there was a third floor, or an attic, and never did find out the story. I went and took pictures and the first thing I noticed about the area was the majority of homes had Mansard roofs.


The roof of Bill’s family home was flat which was uncharacteristic of the area, the time, and architecture. There was nothing about the house in the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum files, and after a month of searching newspaper archives, I came up with nothing. Bill said the house next door with the grey wood porch was owned by *Winifred McRostie when he lived there. She would pay Bill and his brother in homemade Shortbread cookies for any odd jobs they did for her.

Bill always thought her house was very cool inside. There were stairs right into the kitchen, plus an ornate stairway in the front foyer. Miss McRostie had not changed the decor of the home, and it looked exactly the same until the year 2000 when she passed away.


So what happened to Bill’s roof? I am 99% sure there was a fire in the original Mansard roof. It was a very dangerous style of roof for firefighters responding to fires. Mansard roofs wrap around exterior division walls, allowing fire to spread in the cockloft.(a small loft or attic above the highest finished ceiling of a building)  That would prompt crews to open the ceiling above them prior to entry into units to ensure they are not advancing into a structure with an unknown fire overhead eating away at the chords of a truss supporting overhead weight.


You cannot deny the beauty of a Mansard roof. Everywhere you look in Paris, where it began, the Mansard roof line predominates, heavily contributing to the character of the city. Look around the older parts of Carleton Place– especially around the High Street side streets. See many examples of the once-popular and pervasive French style roofs that began with home owners that wanted the look of their homes to sophisticated and well traveled. Sorry Bill, I could not find the fire, but I am grateful the men of our Ocean Wave Fire Dept. saved the rest of the house.

*Miss Winifred McRostie

S.S. No. 13 Drummond
Flintoff’s School
The first log school, built in 1818, burnt down and a second one was erected 1870 in Drummond Centre with Mr. Stewart as the teacher. It was furnished with one blackboard, a sheepskin for an eraser and five maps on the walls. Twelve students sat in two rows of pine planks. Miss Winifred McRostie was the last teacher in 1929. Next, a modern brick building boasted a library, teacher’s room, two cloakrooms, hot-air furnace, flush toilets, pump room and play area. Start student, Roy Warner won the T. Eaton Co. Cup as Champion Pupil at the Drummond Rural School Fair, the Drummond Centre Women’s Institute prize for highest marks in arithmetic and composition, and the Lawrence James Gold Medal for the highest marks for the Entrance Exams in Lanark West and. In 1952, Mildred Stead Munro taught there for $1700 a year. Mrs. Carmel Fergusson was the last teacher in 1968 when the school closed. She died Nov 14 2000 at 97 years old.



Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

Carleton Place and the Industries of Sin


golden lion

Former business at the corner of Elgin/Emily and Bridge Street

Fort weeks I checked newspaper archives and there was nothing about tattooing in Carleton Place. I even checked the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum and there was nothing in the data base- even under the word “sailor”. So what did people do if they wanted tattoos in Carleton Place? Quite simply they went out of town. I am sure someone was doing them in a back room on some side street- but no one is giving up the information. Carleton Place wanted nothing to do with this industry of sin.

Certain sectors of economic activity are more or less respectable, some more or less acceptable than others. Gambling, drinking, prostitution, and tattoos were the top four in Carleton Place even though were many a crap game being run in the back room of the hotels and businesses on Bridge Street.

Today the industries of sin are: nuclear energy, arms, oil, tobacco and chemicals other less egregiously harmful industries such as the fast-food industries, tourism, pharmaceuticals, insurance, the stock exchange and even banks are also under attack and increasingly branded as “sin” industries.

Body Graphics Tattoo was the first business tattoo business to open up on Carleton Place. Next February 1st 2016 will be exactly 30 years Body Graphics Tattoo has been open in Carleton Place. Believe you me it wasn’t easy. They were not welcome in the town of Carleton Place and had their business on Townline, Charles and then Pete permanently located on Bridge Street.

For those of you body modification novices there is tattoo history in this shop with one of the chairs being formerly owned by Ottawa’s legendary tattoo artist Blue. They even still have some of his old equipment. In the Ottawa Valley Tattoo world that’s like owning Mackenzie’s King’s wardrobe.

Pete’s son now works with him carrying on the family business and has been a local body piercer for over 22 years. Still, it doesn’t matter how times have changed the elder population of Carleton Place still think that devil worshipers work there.

Of course I have  many stories about controversial piercings, but instead of embarrassing anyone to the point of a lawsuit I will tell my own that happened right here in Carleton Place.

The Nose Piercing
I was asked to make and serve Siminel cake one Mothering Sunday after the church service. A Siminel cake is nothing but a glorified light fruit cake covered in Marzipan.  I had just gotten my first nose stud put in that week, and it was becoming loose, and looking a tad infected. After I served the fifth piece of cake, an old man came up to me with a big smile wearing a thick wool allergy ridden sweater. I began to sneeze, and then I let one out that was nothing short of gale force.


Howard McNeely’s Barber Chair that once resided in this location

You can all guess what happened next. That little rhinestone nose stud took one giant leap for mankind, right across the front of the church. I didn’t falter, I did not sway, but I did let out a scream that was heard through out the whole town.
“Don’t anyone move!” I yelled. I have lost my nose stud, and no more cake until it’s found!”
The strange part is no one blinked an eye. Immediately they looked down and tried to find it. One little old lady started picking at something with her cane and said,
“Is this it dear?” and she started to giggle.
She took her cane and launched it across the rug in one fell swoop like she was trying to get a hole in one. I grabbed it, smiled, and resumed the serving of the Siminel Cake.
Would Howard McNeely– whose barber chair once sat in this very building be horrified now that a tattoo parlour sits in his former location? You bet your sweet bippy he would!:)
 Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

Linda’s Books


ALL BOOKS AVAILABLE IN CARLETON PLACE AT: WISTERIA in Carleton Place-Wisteria (62 Bridge St. – Carleton Place) and The Artists Loft in Smiths Falls. All are available at ALL Amazons in paperback and Kindle.

Linda’s recent book “The Tilted Kilt: Vintage Whispers from Carleton Place” (March 2015) , are for sale 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–North Lanark Regional Museum (Appleton)-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books in Almonte and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.


flashbacks of little miss flash cadilac

“Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac”
(May 2015) Available at

Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac (May 2015)

There once was a store on Rideau Street in Ottawa called Flash Cadilac Clothing. After so many years, its history evaporated from my mind, until Webb Dann and Lost Ottawa showed up on Facebook and jogged my memory one too many times. I started to think, and began to remember. That experience was all about the people I loved, the people I annoyed, and the people that prayed for the customers in my store.

Flash Cadilac left an impression on many people, and of all the words written about those times, I have always loved this clip by blogger, chef, and friend, Doff Doppler (aka Devin Goulden): “In the beginning there was Flash Cadilac, a store notoriously known for its apparel: leather, lace, whips, chains, tattoos, and piercings. ”

Yes, that sets the table! Bon appétit!

(March 2015) Available at

“Tilting the Kilt: Vintage Whispers from Carleton Place”
(March 2015) Available at

Tilting the Kilt: Vintage Whispers from Carleton Place (March 2015)

Gossip is the civilized version of grooming each other for fleas. You can stop gossip with a simple, “That’s none of my business,” but why would you? Somewhere in our deep past we remember when cavemen gossiped over a recent kill, memorializing the one who didn’t hold up his end of the hunt. Stories begun by gossip are a significant channel of informal communication with something like 70% accuracy.

The stories gathered here in Tilting the Kilt began life within 10 miles of Carleton Place. Linda guesses that makes them close to 50% accurate. Gossip-born stories, sharing a standard currency of human connection, will make you smile, then you can pass them along, adding your own layers to make them even more spectacular.


“Cancer Always Calls Collect”
(April 2014) Available at

Cancer Always Calls Collect (April 2014)

“It’s cancer,” he said, “and it’s not looking good.” I hung up the phone and cried because I knew there was almost nothing I could do to help — but I would see him to whatever final chapter there was, either good or bad. I would do whatever I could.

There was a pause, and then he said the word. Cancer. Immediately calling his bluff, I told him he was nuts, and probably just had ulcers. I never imagined a man of his strength being caught by vicious cancer cells — or could they penetrate the strong too? There was no way — cancer was my family’s disease, not his.

Over the phone wires, over the weeks that followed, over the thousands of miles of travel to be by his side, he told me what I had heard so many times in my life.


“Naked Yoga, Twinkies, and Celebrities”
(May 2013) Available from

Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities (May 2013)

Find out … Who is building the Titanic ll and why? Are cell phones dangerous on airplanes? Why does Linda train woodpeckers?

Linda tears apart the weird, the wacky, and the outrageous and tells it like it is. Would you expect anything different?


“Cowansville High School Misremembered”
(February 2013) Available at

Cowansville High School Misremembered (February 2013)

When former students of Cowansville High School, plus some of those who went on to école secondaire Massey-Vanier, meet up on Facebook to gossip and reminisce, this is what you get.

Fred Allen once said, “We have to document times and places as we will always have trouble remembering three things: faces, names, and — I can’t remember what the third thing is.”


“Menopausal Woman from the Corn”
(April 2012) Available from

Menopausal Woman from the Corn (April 2012)

Stories Your Mother Was Afraid to Tell You – or Forgot:

Linda attempts to find just the right dressing room to try on her life … preferably one with good lighting!

In Memory of Former Carleton Place Resident Bill Lim



Last week I asked Jennifer Fenwick of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum to provide me with a local restaurant picture. She sent me a photo of The New York Cafe that had been a fixture on Bridge Street from the 1930’s to late 1950’s. Neither of us had any idea that Bill Lim, (the son of Harry Lim, who ran the New York Cafe) had passed away. When I read our local paper The Canadian Gazette last night I was sad to see he had died in British Columbia.

The Lim children all went to the Carleton Place High School and Bill continued to keep in touch with several local residents. Mr. Lim is survived by two sisters, and his legacy is carried on by his three children.

I posted a detailed story about the Lims and the New York Cafe that stood next to the Royal Bank on Bridge Street this week. It was written by Terence Skillen from the Heritage Carleton Place site. Take a minute to remember him, and what their family did for the town of Carleton Place.

New York New York in Carleton Place by Terence Skillen


Shane Wm Edwards–Hi Linda, In your last article on the Lim family’s restaurant, The New York Café, you mention that it was the only place you could get Chinese food but I seem to recall both Terry Skillen and Bob Stacy saying that they did not have Chinese food on the menu. My only recollections of Chinese food being sold was the D&E Take Out (where SRC Music is now) and Mrs. Gee’s Egg Rolls located on Franktown Road where the Tim Horton’s is now. To get Chinese food, before the House of Fong opened we usually went to the Canadian Cafe in Almonte.



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  12 Apr 1940, Fri,  Page 14

Ken Findlay Fatally Shot on High Street



Today I was taking pictures of where the old Findlay home was demolished on High Street. Next week there will be a story about the Newfoundland stone building. It was built in 1910, and demolished way too soon. Jennifer Fenwick Irwin, from The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, said she recalled an incident about the home, and went searching. I was shocked with what she came up with.

Kenneth C Findlay, age 28, who lived in that very home, was fatally shot outside the family residence at 10:30 pm on December 30, 1939. He and his wife were on their way to Almonte, as he conducted his business from there, and also had a residence. As Mrs. Findlay locked the door she heard a shot. Tragically, there on the driveway, lay her husband with an automatic pistol beside him. It seems he was used to carrying around the weapon in his car during his travels as a bond salesman in the Ottawa Valley. As he jumped into the open car, his gun went off in his pocket.

Kenneth, of course, was the son of David Findlay, who operated the well known Findlay Stove Factory also on High Street. More on the stone home that no longer exists next week. This was one of the sadder tales of Carleton Place.

Written with information from The Carleton Place and Beckwith Museum

Read a local crime story that happened just off of Townline in Carleton Place

Tilting the Kilt, Vintage Whispers from Carleton Place by Linda Seccaspina is available at Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street, the Carleton Place Beckwith Museum in Carleton Place, Ontario and The Mississippi Valley Textile Mill in Almonte.  available on all Amazon sites (Canada, US, Europe) and Barnes and Noble

Carleton Place- The Happiest Damn Town in Lanark County

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