Tag Archives: 1800s

Rat–tling Stories of the Russell Hotel

Rat–tling Stories of the Russell Hotel

A striking story of the unique manner in which rats were cornered and slaughtered in wholesale fashion in the servants’ dining room in the Russell Hotel back in the 1880s. It may be explained that the servants’ dining quarters were in an old stone building which had once been the residence of a prominent Bytown family and which served as an annex to the hotel. This annex overlooked the woodyard and stables on the Canal street side of the hotel.

At that time the yard was overrun with huge rodents which made it their business of gnawing their way into the ancient structure and devouring everything in sight. The visits, of course, were by night, and the mode of entrance was through holes gnawed in the baseboards. Weasels and ferrets also failed in catching these rodents.

Two gentleman with two husky dogs were hired to do the job of getting rid of them. With various methods failing of catching them they snapped on the lights and saw stopping the unwelcome visitors had failed. They were racing hither and thither fullfilling their purpose with food from the traps taken in flight. The staff clambered onto the tables, with the rats coming in like they owned the place. The rodents, about sixty of the night prowlers, skilfully wrested the bait in their teeth and looking at ordinary traps like they were infant’s toys.

Blair Stannard

,  · 

Ottawa – 1927 – Russell House Hotel (canal view)
– Credit David Jeanes

The rat-holes were in the wood yard. Above each of these holes Mr. Charbonneau constructed slides, to which were attached cords, these in turn being tied to a strong cord which ran the full length of the wall about three feet from the floor and the end of which was attached to a hook in the baggage room.

They pulled the main cord tight, which automatically raised the six slides and held them in position about an inch above the rat-holes. Two hours later, when the nocturnal visitors had been given plenty of time to rally to the cause, the cord was loosed and down went the slides or prison gates as they might well have been designated. Then the fun began in real earnest. The man hired for the job was lazy and tired of the hunt, so his dogs went todo the work for him. Finally they came upon a unique and successful plan, and used the old fashioned brush-broom. It seems that the rats lasted less than half an hour and their entrance entirely at one side slaughter was at an end.

On one occasion, having let several travellers in on the secret, one being a burly Londoner tipping the scales at 250 pounds they invited them to witness the slaughter. Taking to leave the gruesome sight behind them and anticipating to repeat the stories about the experience back home about the nights at the old Russell House Hotel.

The Russell House Hotel

The original Russell House Hotel, formerly Campbell’s Hotel, c. 1864

Library and Archives Canada, C-002567B

8 June 1863

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the centre of Ottawa’s social life was the Russell House Hotel that stood on the southeast corner of Sparks and Elgin Streets. It was a grand and stately hostelry that dated back to about 1845. Originally, the hotel was a three-storey structure with an attic and tin roof known as Campbell’s House after its first owner. Located in Upper Town close to the Rideau Canal, it was the main stopping point for people vising Bytown, later known as Ottawa. Its food and other supplies came from Montreal by river in the summer and overland by sled in the winter. 

Published in Important Public and Private Buildings in the City

The Russell House hotel was the most high-profile hotel in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for many decades. It was located at the corner of Sparks Street and Elgin Street, where Confederation Square is located today. The original building was built in the 1840s. Additions were made in the 1870s and the original building replaced in 1880.

In 1901 there was a smallpox outbreak in Ottawa. Complaints were made on a daily basis to the Ottawa Journal of anyone that a local citizen deemed should be quarantined. Names and addresses were published in the newspaper, no matter the age of those who were inflicted. Vaccines were available at the Ottawa City Hall and doctors were kept busy.

In 1912, the Château Laurier succeeded the Russell as Ottawa’s premier hotel. Money was spent on renovations in the 1920s, but the hotel had declined due to age and its closure was announced on September 1, 1925. Some of the reasons listed were the high cost of heating the structure, and the higher number of staff to operate the hotel, compared to a newer facility.The Russell House closed permanently on October 1, 1925. Ground-level shops remained open, but the hotel was emptied.

On April 14, 1928, a fire broke out in the hotel, and the hotel was mostly destroyed. The remains of the structure were demolished by November. The Government of Canada had been in the process of buying the property when the fire occurred, and the government used the land to expand Elgin Street to create Confederation Square. Various artifacts of the hotel are on display at the Bytown Museum.

A chasseur de rats, or rat-catcher, was tasked with catching and disposing of the vermin or pests in a city. He was the ancestor to today’s modern exterminator. In medieval Europe, rats and mice were responsible for spreading disease and epidemics, such as the plague. In a time where people had no refrigerators or freezers, vermin would also threaten a home’s food supply. Black rats in particular would live among the city’s inhabitants, getting into wooden houses and hiding in the straw where poorer folks would sleep.

Because of the dangers posed by vermin, the rat-catcher was actually a well-respected, and very important, position in society. It was a difficult occupation, however, with rat-catchers having to go into dirty and unsanitary places, and handling potentially disease-ridden or rabid rats and mice.

Rat-catchers would attempt to catch the vermin themselves, or use animals trained to hunt and kill them. Alternatively, they could use rat traps. In France, rat-catchers would walk the city streets accompanied by cats in cages and a stick on which 2 or 3 dead rats would be hung from, all the while yelling “Mort-aux-rats!” or “death to the rats!”.

In Québec, the first record we have of rat-catchers are from the 19th century. They were known as “acheteurs de rats”, or rat buyers, who offered to rid someone of the vermin in their house or barn, and actually paid the homeowner a few cents to do so (what they actually did with these rats I couldn’t determine). Others would simply sell vermin-poisoning powders or small spring-loaded traps. Some rat-catchers claimed to be gifted in the art of chasing away vermin, while others recited a spell to drive them away

V0020298 A rat-catcher carrying a pole with dead rats suspended from Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A rat-catcher carrying a pole with dead rats suspended from it, a box strapped over his left shoulder and wearing a hat advertising his occupation. Reproduction of an etching by L. Flameng. By: Léopold FlamengPublished: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The Tales of the Klondike Hotel/ Klondike Inn South March Road

Clippings of the Old Albion Hotel

Missanoga Rock? Bon Echo Rock? Mazinaw Rock?–THE CANOE TRIPS TO THE ROCK 1895 and Ontario’s Answer to the Overlook Hotel

Looking for Information —The Reindeer Hotel Watsons Corners -Updates!!!

Clippings from the Lord Elgin Hotel — Babysitting and The Iron Curtain

The Oldest Building on Ottawa and Opeongo Line

The Brunswick Hotel — The “dollar-a-day” Huckell Hotel — (Murphy-Gamble Limited)

From Carleton Place to “the Laff” — The Life and Times of Peter Prosser Salter

Clippings of the Chaudiere Falls- and Signor Farini- Tightrope Walker

Clippings of the Chaudiere Falls- and Signor Farini- Tightrope Walker

Date 1900-06-26

Accession NumberMP-0000.27.185

DivisionPhotography – Documentary collection


CreditGift of Stanley G. Triggs

Lost Ottawa


Michael Davidson shares this picture of the Chaudiere Falls, taken by preeminent Ottawa photographer Topley, circa 1880.

If I have my bearings right, the ring dam would be built not far to the left of this chasm about thirty years later.

I believe you can still see this chasm looking from Chaudiere Island.

(LAC PA-008423)

Lost Ottawa


Dramatic shot of a photographer standing on the rocks below the Chaudiere Falls in the Ottawa River. Date January, 1878, long before the river was dammed. Ready to sacrifice for his art?

Apart from the beauty of the scene, the shot indicates the water power that was there to be harnessed. More power than Niagara, Ottawa pamphlets used to claim.

The shot appears to have been taken by (and of) one of the Stiff Brothers, Thomas or Philander, who were early Ottawa photographers.

(LAC PA-012592)

CLIPPED FROMOttawa Daily CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada01 Jan 1878, Tue  •  Page 2

CLIPPED FROMOttawa Daily CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada28 Jun 1866, Thu  •  Page 2

CLIPPED FROMOttawa Daily CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada06 Sep 1864, Tue  •  Page 3

CLIPPED FROMOttawa Daily CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada06 Sep 1864, Tue  •  Page 3

CLIPPED FROMOttawa Daily CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada09 Sep 1864, Fri  •  Page 2

The funny thing was that the Ottawa Daily Citizen only published once a week, and after all this publicity a formally written account of the event was never published. But word on the street was– he did in fact do his two performances: one at 3PM and the other at 10PM and once blindfolded.

James Powell of the Historical Society of Ottawa shares a story a man, a rope, and the Chaudiere Falls.

Check out the story on Ottawa Ma

The Great Farini Crosses the Chaudière Falls

The Great Farini crossing the Niagara Gorge with an Empire Washing Machine strapped to his back, 15 August 1860.

Earl W. Brydges Public Library, New York.

9 September 1864

Back in the mid-nineteenth century, the world was wowed by Jean François Gravelet, better known as the Great Blondin. In June 1859, in front of a crowd of 25,000 fascinated and horrified onlookers, Blondin crossed the Niagara Gorge from the United States to Canada on a tightrope. On his return trip, he brought a daguerreotype camera with him to take a photo of the spectators.

One of Blondin’s greatest fans was a young man from Port Hope, Ontario named William Leonard Hunt. Hunt was born in June 1838 in Lockport, New York but grew up close to Port Hope where his parents settled after living for a time in the United States. As a child, he was a daredevil and was fascinated with all things related to the circus—much to his parents’ chagrin who view such activities as dishonourable. Hunt gave his first professional performance as a funambulist (tightrope walker) at age twenty-one by crossing the Ganaraska River in Port Hope on a rope stretched eighty feet high between two buildings, just months after Blondin’s conquest of Niagara Falls. Hunt chose the stage name Signor Guillermo (Italian for William) Farini, or the “Great Farini.” Read more here.. CLICK

Another account here click

CLIPPED FROMThe Kingston Whig-StandardKingston, Ontario, Canada03 Dec 1864, Sat  •  Page 2

CLIPPED FROMThe Kingston Whig-StandardKingston, Ontario, Canada03 Dec 1864, Sat  •  Page 2

Read more about his life here..

Stories my Grandfather Told Me– The Circus

Sometimes You Win and Sometimes You Lose –The Great Peters

The Boy that Ran Away to the Circus and Other Stories

Architecture Stories: ‘Once Upon a Time’ -Home of the Kool Aid Acid Test & Other Time Travel Stories

The Human Seal or Polar Bear Comes to Carleton Place and Almonte

Mrs Jarley and her Waxworks Hits Lanark– and they call me strange:)

Mrs. Jarley’s Wax Works -Creepy Entertainment

Went into Torrent at Foot of Chaudiere Falls with Thermometer at 20 Below!!! 1902

Booth’s Mill — Eddy’s Lumber Dock— Near Tragedies

“Ottawa Flashbacks” Photo Collection- Simpson Book Collection

Views of Ottawa— J Hope & Co. 1884 – Simpson Book Collection

Israel Pare– The life of an Ice Chopper 1800s

Israel Pare– The life of an Ice Chopper 1800s

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada23 Jan 1932, Sat  •  Page 2

In the early 1800s, one man saw dollar signs in frozen ponds. Frederic Tudor not only introduced the world to cold glasses of water on hot summer days, he created a thirst people never realized they had. Read-Would You Like Some Ice With that Drink?

Now we call it the “icebox.” But once it really was the icebox, filled with chunks of ice cut out of the Ottawa River, the Rideau, or Dow’s Lake.

Here’s a crew at work near Hurdman on the Rideau in the 1930s.

Two of these gentlemen are identified as Gordon and Tony Adams, The pictures were apparently taken by Bill Adams.

You needed the saw to cut the blocks. Then you loaded the blocks on the wagon. Then it was off to the ice warehouse, where the blocks would be packed in straw, and keep frozen all the way through the summer.

(City of Ottawa Archives CA024727 to 729)–Lost Ottawa

Lost Ottawa


Ice cutters at work at Mooney’s Bay on the Rideau River, just above Hog’s Back. Date is 1933, when an ice box was an ice box!

The men in the background are cutting the blocks. The man in the foreground is towing blocks along the channel they created, to the hoist.

Although many Ottawa homes had refrigerators by this time (Kelvinator, Frigidaire and GE all started production after WW I, it is said that a refrigerator cost more than a Model-T in 1922.

(LAC PA-056739)

Lost Ottawa


Joan Anderson shares a tiny Ottawa building that recently dissappeared at 52 Carruthers in Mechanicsville.

Joan wanted to know what the building was used for and discovered that Andrew King had the answer on his website history of Carruthers Avenue. Talking about businesses on the street, say Andrew:

“The most well-known of these is the Vachon family business opened by Charles Vachon in 1908-09 on the lots of 50-52 Carruthers Avenue. The Vachons wound remain on this location as ice, coal and wood dealers until the early 1950s; their boarded-up small office somehow still stands at 52 Carruthers, a symbol of a way of life in Mechanicsville long since lost.”

Lost Ottawa

Photo is ice cutting on the Clyde River in Lanark.


Before there was electricity, there was a little thing called the “ice box” into which you put an ice block. And that’s how things were refrigerated. Here, workmen cut commercial size ice-blocks from the Ottawa River just below the Prince of Wales railway bridge, circa 1900-1910.

The men in front show off their ice saws. The blocks on the wagon show how thick the ice was. The wagon driver seems determined to freeze his posterior if it meant carrying more ice …

Men like these would cut enough ice to last deep into the summer, and the ice was especially important for Ottawa’s nearby breweries.

(LAC PA-008932)


Lost Ottawa


Saturday Shopping … looking up Dalhousie towards Rideau from Cathcart Street in June of 1910.

Lapointe’s Ice House to the left, at a time when the ice box was just that.

(LAC PA-0423790

Ice Houses/Meat Lockers

The Family Freezer Locker

Cold Storage Plant in Almonte- Meat Locker Trivia

Unexpected Almonte

Ran into Gord Pike (owner of the Heritage Mall, bottom of Mill street, #Almonte) the other day, and heard his description of this spot (pictured), part of the mall’s stone work, parking lot side:

This was the window into the ice house. A wood chute came from the window to the ground – to load the ice blocks in (and/or?) out. There’s an iron ring, bottom right of the picture, to tie up a horse. There’s also a doorway stoned-over on this same wall face (to the left, out of this picture).

Gord said he thought of calling the mall, “Horse Stall Mall”, but didn’t think it was quite right 🙂 Smart man – and hard-working – he’s been renovating two new store spaces to get them ready-to-go for grand openings, this month & next!

Britannia Boat House Doomed— April 1907 Ice Jam –Jaan Kolk Files

Ice Cutting on the Mississippi River in Carleton Place, Ontario

The Ice Pick Cometh — Ottawa Artificial Ice Co.

Would You Like Some Ice With that Drink?

Two Ring Nozzles and Oil- Almonte Fire Dept 1874

Two Ring Nozzles and Oil- Almonte Fire Dept 1874

photo from almonte.com Almonte Firemen–Old Boys Reunion Volunteer Firemen

A humorous story about a trick pulled off by the Almonte firemen in a contest at Brockville in 1874, is told by Mr. Robert Young, 240 Fifth avenue, who was then a resident of Almonte. In 1874 the town of Almonte having secured a large new fire engine (hand pump), the amateur brigade decided to take part in a pumping contest at Brockville.

The new engine was larger and more up-to-date than any in the Ottawa district and great things were expected of it, particularly with the husky Almonte brigade of sixty men to man the pump. It appears that at that time the Almonters were an unusually husky lot. There was not a man of the sixty who did not tip the beam at over 200 pounds, while several went around the 240 pound mark.

The nozzle used with the new engine was a 2-ring nozzle which was something new then and had not heretofore been used in contests. Capt. J. S. Stephens expected that his use of the 2-ring nozzle might be questioned and prepared himself for the possibility by procuring a second 2-ring nozzle and blackening and scratching it up to look like an old nozzle.

It should be explained that a 2-ring nozzle had an advantage over a 1-ring nozzle, in that it caused a more solid and even stream to be thrown, thus causing the attainment of greater distance. In due time the Almonte brigade arrived at Brockville with their new engine gaily decorated and their men outfitted with fine new uniforms, making an imposing appearance. In front of the engine there was pulled bv the brigade a float decorated with evergreens and flags, setting forth the merit of Almonte as a community center or place to live.

It was the first time a brigade had attempted any propaganda, other than such as their prowess would bring, and the Idea was widely commented on. The engine and the float had been brought down on the St. Lawrence and Ottawa and Grand Trunk railways on a flat car. The people of Brockville took quite a fancy for the Almonte outfit and began to back them both morally and financially. It was Almonte’s first appearance at any contest, but the favorable Impression.

While the brigade were getting ready for the contest an American from “the Burgh” came up and said: “I like your boys and I want to give you a tip, which will help you. Before you start pumping pour a gallon of oil into your hose (rubber hose). It will make the water flow more easily. Keep it quiet though as there is nothing in the rules preventing you using oil, some of the other fellows might think you used oil.

The Almonte brigade gathered tightly around the man who was to pour the oil in. The crowd tried to find out what was going on around the Almonte engine, but did not. As soon as the oil was poured they revved up the old engine. It had so happened that the only sort of oil the Almonte men could get was what is known as engine oil of the black summer variety.

When the water came out it looked black, as though, it had come out of a mud puddle. “What dirty water!” the crowd said, but nobody, strange to say, suggested oil. Whether the oil caused the Almonte stream to go farther or whether the heavyweights of the team pumped more effectively is hard to say, but anyway the big Almonte team with their big new engine won, amid the cheers of the crowd.

Almonte got a great reception when they got home and the story now told was kept in the background for many years. Now you know the rest of the story!

The Almonte Mississippi Fire Dept. 1998

Things About Bill Lowry 1998

The Pig Vote of 1873

The Pig Vote of 1873


The Issue Was One of “Pig Pens or No Pig Pens.” There are various kinds of “votes” in the present day to which the astute civic politician lends a listening ear. But the aldermen of the seven ties had an additional “vote” to look after.

That was the “pig” vote.

In those days every third man or so, kept a pig or pigs. Those who did not like the noise or odor of the pigs and did not keep any, naturally raised a row about the keeping of pics within the city limits and filed petitions with the city council. But as such a large number of people kept pigs and had votes at election time, the Aldermen were not in any hurry to order the abolition of the pigs.

The Citizen of May 20, 1873. the following editorial paragraph appeared:

“The city fathers appear to be afraid of the ‘poor man’s pig.’ They would prefer to have a pestilence in the city and endorse the stinking nuisance under their bedroom windows rather than inconvenience the swine or lose the votes of their owners.”

However, in the 1880s the anti-pig citizens prevailed and the council passed a bylaw which provided that “between the 15th of May and the first of November, no hog shall be kept within the limits of the municipality except in pens 70 feet from Bny house, with floors kept free from any standing water and regularly cleansed and disinfected.” This clause automatically put a lot of pig pens out of existence as there were only a few lots sufficiently deep enough to permit of that distance from a dwelling. 

CLIPPED FROMThe British WhigKingston, Ontario, Canada11 Jun 1873, Wed  •  Page 2

The Daily Expositor
Brantford, Ontario, Canada
30 Aug 1873, Sat  •  Page 3

Ottawa Daily Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
05 Jul 1873, Sat  •  Page 1

Lanark County Pigs on the Wing

Carleton Place Board of Health Report — July 1899

Run Pig Run–Shake it Off! Convictions of 1870

When Pigs Fly or Bacon Up is Hard to Do

Tuesday’s Top Lanark County Story- Pigs in Dalhousie Space?

Auctionering Without a License and Pigs on the Loose

“I Like My Chicken Fryin’ Size” said the Pig

Lobster John and Arnold the Pig in Carleton Place

From Allan Ferguson to John Ferguson– Lanark to Montague–1850— thanks to Grant McFarlane and Melanie Johnston Mason

From Allan Ferguson to John Ferguson– Lanark to Montague–1850— thanks to  Grant McFarlane and  Melanie Johnston Mason

Thanks to Melanie Johnston Mason for sending and please note that Grant McFarlane in Lanark is the owner for credit purposes

The letter writer Alan, was writing about his father Thomas’ death which occured in 1846.The letter writer Allan also had a brother named Thomas and  this brother had a son named Alexander……And Alexander had a son named Allen. I am not related to the Ferguson’s but I have studied that lot, lot 26E, Concession III Dalhousie – and those are my findings thus far without delving into the genealogy of the family.

Info provided by: Melanie Mason – 

Dear Brother and Sister:

I received yours on the 17th of March. I was down in Lanark when I received you letter and on the way home, I was taken suddenly bad with pain in the stomach and bowels and in that state it was tight times with me to get the home of Hugh Hunter on the night of the 17th and on the 18th we found it prudent to send for Dr. Murray for we was afraid it was inflammation but on his arrival he dispelled that doubt for he said it was a windy colic and I am getting better. Mother and Mary is in some measure of health when I parted with them on the 19th, for Mother has been with Mary since the death of our Father and for a considerable time before it. Thomas came home from the shanty on the 17th of said month and he has not been very well since for I expect that it is the cold he has caught. You wanted to know if Thomas was at home the time of the storm. No. He was at the shanty, likewise you want to know all the particulars concerning the death of our Father.

He was at Hunters all the time of his illness. He, for 2 days after he arrived at Hugh’s, his throat swelled but the swelling fell immediately after and on the Wednesday before he died he was considerably better for he was reading at Chambers Journal more than the half of the day but on the day following he was much worse for he complained of stitches in his chest and body and on Friday he was still getting weaker and Friday night Hugh left home and came up to inform us that he was making worse and on Saturday morning Hugh and I left home to go down but to our great surprise when we arrived he was gone; a lifeless corpse so there was no person there but mother and Mary and the 2 children when he died., on the night of Friday after Hugh left home, he began to think that death was approaching but had no idea that it was so nigh at hand for he was quite and considerably composed. He would not lie in the bunk nor bed but to have his made at the fire. It was between 12 and 1 o’clock when Mother lay down to take little repose for she was tired out. Mary lay down with the children for they were both badly at the time and she spoke several to her Father but he give all at the times a sharp answer and Mother rose after Mary had spoken to him but he had drawn his last breath and this was about 2 o’clock in the morning and we removed his corpse home on the 1st of March and he was interred on the 2nd on the third line of Lanark beside his son James. We received a letter from Aunt Love on the 28th of February. John Love is in very poor health, likewise Aunt Taylor and there are some more particulars concerning Uncle Williams’ death and widow but I have not time at present to write them down. I wrote a letter——–this time a good way on to Mysena to (Jane) Telling her what has happened likewise I sent one to George (Sheare) and one to John Love and I was going to write to Uncle Nathanial but you informed me that you was going to write to him which will save me the trouble. I now commence to inform you that our Father died without making any will and you will be heir according to law; so I want an immediate settlement for Mr. D that is in Quebec, the creditors are pushing me pretty hard for it but I will keep them at bay till I get things settled so I only hope you will consider the matter and come up and we will make a definite settlement so I add no more at present so I remain your Brother until Death.   Alan Ferguson.

At bottom of letter written with different pen and ink and maybe by a different person, Allan Ferguson of Dalhousie 1850, John Ferguson, Thomas Ferguson, James Ferguson, Sarah Ferguson, Mary Ferguson, Jane Ferguson.

The original letter is in the possession of  Grant Davis McFarlane R.R. #1, Lanark, Ontario.

Mary is in the 1851 Census, age 70, living with her daughter Mary Ann and son-in-law Hugh Hunter. In 1861 she is back on her original homestead, living with her son Allan who has inherited the farm. The homestead has returned to forest and only a small excavation remains to show where the original house stood. Flowers and rhubarb still grow in the overgrown clearing. The St. James Ferguson Cemetery is located in the churchyard of the abandoned St. James Church on Concession Line 2 in Dalhousie.

Gloria Currie13 hours

Thanks, also to Amelia Jean ( Ferguson ) Allen, who transcribed the original letter, and to Lila McFarlane, who brought the original letter to her attention. This letter describes the death of Thomas Ferguson, who arrived ( from Scotland )with his wife, Mary Barr, and their children in 1821. It should be noted that the cemetery beside St. James Church is actually called the Ferguson Cemetery and the cemetery at the original Ferguson Homestead is the Thomas Ferguson Cemetery.

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
13 Dec 1911, Wed  •  Page 1

So Where was this Bridge? Melanie Johnston Mason Photos Ferguson Family

The Heirlooms- Ferguson Violin

Letters from Lanark–Thomas Ferguson and Mary Barr

The Story of Wild Bob Ferguson of Dalhousie Township

Alan Ferguson and Minni Maude McGonegal — Clyde Forks

Lanark County Medical Advice 1800s – Wear Earrings for a Sore Throat

Lanark County Medical Advice 1800s – Wear Earrings for a Sore Throat

An old gentleman of Scotch descent, born in Lanark County and living on Manitoulin Island, used the following procedure for the cure of wounds in animals: Three sweet-apple scions of different lengths are procured, and each rubbed three times all over the wound. They are then carried home by the operator of the cure, and subjected to some secret treatment there. It is said that, at any rate, no word- formula is used. At this stage of the treatment the cure can be made to progress either favorably or unfavorably, at will. It is said that the twigs will become pulverized after a while.

An important part of the cure is the diet and treatment of the animal, which must be fed on hot mash, oats, chip, and similar foods. It must be exercised daily and kept moving, especially if the wound is discharging, and must also be kept very clean. The wound must be washed well with warm water before the twigs are applied. The emphasis laid on the treat- ment before and after seems to suggest that the twigs might be dispensed with.

268. The same informant was believed to possess wonderful abilities in the matter of stopping hemorrhages. It was not necessary for him to be present in order to stop these. Some formula or scriptural quotation was employed.

269. The seventh son of the seventh son can stop hemorrhages, as can also the seventh son. (W.)

270. To stop nose-bleed, place a key or a coin on the back of the neck;1 or snuff the smoke from a puff-ball (Lycoperdon).

Also read-Oddities — Lanark County Puffball Mushrooms

271. An old-fashioned first-aid for wounds or bleeding was to apply a bunch of spiderwebs.

272. For bee-stings, apply some clay or mud. The bee is supposed to die after it stings one.

273. For sore eyes, wear earrings. This remedy was formerly frequently used by men.

Also read-Strange Folklore from Ontario –BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD

Two boys had a girl triend who lay dying of consumption. One evening the boys were returning home through the woods near Lanark. Quite suddenly, a little ahead of them, they saw their friend cross their path and disappear among the trees. They called her name, but she did not answer. On reaching home, they rushed into the kitchen, shouting, “Nellie is better! We saw her in the woods.” Great was their surprise to hear that Nellie had died an hour before.

Back in the 19th century, a cutting-edge new “treatment” for rheumatism was introduced on Australia’s southern coast: sitting inside a rotting whale carcass. It was believed that if a person stayed inside of the dead whale for 30 hours, they would be relieved of joint aches for up to 12 months. Clearly, there’s no scientific evidence to support the healing power of sitting inside of a dead whale, but it seems like people were desperate enough to actually try it.
Bloodletting is known as one of the oldest medical practices, dating back 3000 years to ancient Egypt. The procedure was common in medieval Europe to treat diseases such as smallpox, epilepsy, and plague. However, it didn’t end there. Bloodletting was commonly practiced throughout the 19th century, too, and is sometimes even used today. Towards the end of the 19th century, the treatment was discredited when doctors finally admitted that depleting the body’s blood supply can be risky and doesn’t have many valuable health benefits. Bloodletting puts a patient at risk of having a cardiac arrest, losing too much blood, and can cause dangerously low blood pressure, in addition to the possibility of infections and anemia.

Also read-Need “BLOOD-LETTING’? Head on Down to the Blacksmith!

Views of Ottawa— J Hope & Co. 1884 – Simpson Book Collection


From the Simpson Book Collection-Ed and Shirley’s Simpson –Historic Books — the List

12 panels printed in 1884 19th century leporello souvenir book of views of Ottawa together with its trifold booklet giving short descriptions of the views being of The Parliament Buildings, Library of Parliament, Western Block, Eastern Block, Lumber District, Chaudiere Falls, Suspension Bridge, Post Office, The Sapper’s and Dufferin Bridges, The City Hall, Knox Church, The Grand Union Hotel, Collegiate Institute, Normal School, Rideau Hall, Rideau Falls, The Ottawa Ladies College, The University of Ottawa, The Cathedrale de Notre Dame, The Dominion Methodist Church, and Lumber Slides. 

Can also be seen here CLICK in complete

I selected a few illustrations I had not seen yet.

Ed and Shirley’s Simpson –Historic Books — the List

Remember Lover’s Lane? Lover’s Walk? Les Chats Sauvage? Simpson Books

You Have to Open Up a Business Here!!! 1912 Ottawa Marketing — Simpson Books

Down on Main Street– 1911-Photos- For the Discriminating and the Particular — Simpson Books

The General Hospital 1867-1929 Photos — Simpson Books

Renfrew Fair 1953-1953-Ed and Shirley (Catherine) Simpson

Did You Know? Union School #9 and Goulburn #16

When One Boat Filled the Rideau Lock–Rideau King

Women’s Institute Burritts Rapids 1902-1988

Looking for Photos of ‘The Castle’ in Ashton

A Romantic Story of the Founding Of Burritt’s Rapids

The First Half Century of Ottawa Pictorial McLeod Stewart – Simpson Book Collection


Ottawa, The Capital of the Dominion of Canada 1923 Simpson Book Collection

Views Of Ottawa (Aylmer) Basil Reid 1890-1900 Simpson Book Collection – Photos Photos Photos

The Ottawa City Directory 1897-98 —Simpson Book Collection

George Burke An 1875 “Million Dollar Baby”

George Burke  An 1875 “Million Dollar Baby”

Hilary Swank, was an American actress who won two best actress Academy Awards, both for roles that were considered uncommonly difficult and courageous—a young transgender man in Boys Don’t Cry (1999). Here is an 1875 version of a girl just wanting to be accepted as a man.

This is the rather unusual story of a young girl, who in 1875 went from Ottawa to Osgoode and masqueraded for three months, as a boy, till exposed by an Osgoode girl who bad been working in Ottawa and knew her. It was early in the summer of 1875 that a rather delicate looking boy of about 18 years of age suddenly appeared in the township and asked for work from the farmers. The boy said he was an orphan and had just came to Canada from England. He gave his name as George Burke. Burke had such a nice gentle, winning way that he had no trouble getting work with a well known farmer.

The lad had not been long in the township before he began to “court the girls” and soon earned the name of a flirt. If it had been the present day, young Burke would have been called a “sheik.” As it was all the mothers took a great fancy to Burke and invited him to their homes. To their rough and ready sons they would say: “Why are you not as nice and gentlemanly like George Burke. There is a boy to pattern yourself by.” All of which, of course, did not make Burke popular with the young men. He, however, grew increasingly popular with the girls.

Burke proved himself, a fine dancer and made a practice of taking the girls to dances and of seeing them home. In fact Burke grew so popular that two girls had a physical altercation over him. During the three months he lived in Osgoode Burke held four jobs. He changed his jobs because he was unable to do the heavy work asked of him. When it was found by a farmer that Burke was only fit to drive horses and do light work such as milking he was let go, And when he did the daughters of the house and even the mothers were distraught. Another thing the farmers did not like about young Burke was that he was too fond of his personal appearance, and that he did not like to dirty his hands.

The boys excluded him, and even angered him because he would never go swimming or indulge in any athletic sports that were at all rough.Things went along in this manner for three months and then one night a young Osgoode girl who had been working in Ottawa was coming home for holidays. On the first night of the girl’s return she ran across George Burke. It was noticed that Burke went pale and almost fainted when he saw the girl. The girl did not say anything at the time, but went home and told her mother that Burke wasn’t Burke at all and he surely wasn’t a boy.

The news soon reached the ears of the farmer who had last hired Burke. The farmer told his wife and the wife told Burke quite a few things. Young Burke was soon taken back to his (her) home in Ottawa with her parents who incidently were mourning her as lost. The girl’s parents lived on Sandy Hill and moved in very nice circles. When asked why she had masqueraded as she did, the girl replied that she did it for a lark; that a girl could not have any fun and she wanted to have some. The girl was greatly tickled by the manner in which she had fooled the girls of the township. The George Burke story was the talk of Osgoode for many a day. The boys of the township used to say to their fond mothers, “Wouldn’t you like me to be like George Burke?” And the fond mothers would say: “Well, she was a mighty nice boy at that.”

with files from

The Ottawa Citizen 

 Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Friday, March 23, 1928

Also read-

Women Gave Police Lots of Trouble in the 1800s

Women “Bobbed” for Having a Bob 1923

Women Arrested for Wearing Pants?


Photos of Osgoode Township Historical Society and Museum Please visit your local museums

Documenting Archibald Peden — Carleton Place

Documenting Archibald Peden — Carleton Place

March 30 1883 from Alexander Peden

Archibald Peden from Carleton Place sent a note to A.H Heayes Esq. In Boston, Mass. March 30th, 1883. It was stamped “answered” and from the notation on the envelope it is an inquiry about a lot. In doing some research Albert was a real estate lawyer.

1881 Census

NAME:Archabald Peden
NATIONALITY:Scotch (Scotish)
DISTRICT:Lanark South
SUBDISTRICT:Carleton Place
HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS:NameAgeWm. Mon. Peden50Isabella Peden22Archabald Peden20James Pedem16Willen S. Carlie7

In 1891 he was still single

Name:Archibald Peden
Marital Status:Single
Birth Year:abt 1860
Birth Place:Ontario
Residence Date:1891
Residence Place:Carleton Place, Lanark South, Ontario, Canada
Relation to Head:Son
Religion:Free Church
Can Read:Yes
Can Write:Yes
French Canadian:No
Father’s Birth Place:Scotland
Mother’s Name:Mary Peden
Mother’s Birth Place:Ontario
Division Number:1
Neighbours:View others on page
Household MembersAgeRelationshipMary Peden67HeadArchibald Peden31SonIsabella Peden35DaughterWilliam Peden18Son

Mary Peden 1920s Carleton Place- Photo property Linda Seccaspina– Rosamond House in the background on Bell Street.The Peden Family- Genealogy– Peden Saunders Sadler

The Peden Family- Genealogy– Peden Saunders Sadler

Was the Devil in Peden’s Store? When Matches First Came to Carleton Place

Recollections of the Peden Store