Tag Archives: 1950

William Craig Smithson Barn Fire 1950

William Craig Smithson Barn Fire 1950

Fire destroyed Mr. Wm. C. Smithson’s bank barn, 10th line of Ramsay Township, on Sunday afternoon in a very short time. The barn and farm were leased to Mr. Kenneth Fee, local livestock dealer, and he lost 17 calves ready for market, a Hull valued at $250, four young pigs and about 20 tons of hay and baled straw .

Mr. Smithson lost about 30 tons of hay and all sorts of farming equipment that he had assembled since he moved to the farm on the edge of town from Pakenham 21 years ago. The horse stable, which was an annex of the barn, was burned with a large quantity of work and show harnesses, blankets, etc. The pump house which was separate also went up in the blaze. Five calves and a show horse were saved.

Mr. Smithson’ carried $2,000 insurance with the Lanark County Farmers’ Mutual and Mr. Fee had no insurance. The fire was first noticed about 2 p.m. by Gregory Smithson, 11- year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Smithson, who was in the barn at the time with Donald Reynolds of Carleton Place. At that time the hay on top of the granary was burning and as the barn doors were open, the fire spread in a matter of seconds.

The Almonte Fire Brigade was called and a thousand feet of hose had to be laid from the High School and the pumper connected. It was too late to do much good but the firemen stayed on the job until 6 p.m. and poured water on the ruins. When Gregory gave the alarm, Mr. and Mrs. Smithson and their daughter, Mrs. Millie Stokes, were at home. Mr. Smithson rushed to the cow stable but was unable to enter because of the extreme heat.

Mr. Fee usually visited the farm on Sunday but on this occasion only arrived when the fire was nearly over. In addition to the stock in the barn, he had 24 milk cows which were out on pasture. On Wednesday, the remains of the livestock had been removed and buried but there was still a big job of cleaning up. Mr. Smithson plans to rebuild. It is estimated the total loss will run around $25,000. 

August 1950

1956, Thursday August 23, The Almonte Gazette page 8
William C. Smithson

Following a month’s illness Mr William Craig Smithson passed away in Ottawa Civic Hospital on Wednesday, August 15h in his 70th year. Born at White Lake, he was the son of James Smithson and his wife, Barbara Craig. As a young man he worked at Cochrane for a few years and then settled in Pakenham Township.

Twenty-four years ago he purchased the farm on the outskirts of Almonte on the 10th line of Ramsay Township where the remainder of his life was spent. He was twice married. His first wife was Isabel Raycroft and following her death he married Jessie Ethel Armstrong in 1937. Surviving are his wife, and three sons and two daughters, William of South Porcupine; Dorothy, Mrs Peer Larsen of Kingston; Mildred, Mrs Dick Kitley of Regina; Douglas of Braeside and Gregory at home. There are also three brothers; Tom, Indian Head; Chris, Arnprior and Richard, Pakenham.

The funeral was held from his late residence, Martin Street on Saturday afternoon, August 18 and was largely attended. Rev Wm D. Reid of Carleton Place officiated and interment was in the Auld Kirk Cemetery. Among the tributes to the deceased were flowers from Circle No 2 of Almonte United Church and the employees of the Rosamond Woollen Company. The pallbearers were: Messrs Ted Sonnenburg, Kenneth Fee, William Hanson, Garnet Potter, Orval Peaver and Herman Ziebarth.

Three Years of Barn Swallows– Signs of Spring–Stuart McIntosh

Patrick Doyle Lanark County Barn Raising Ireton

The Lowry Barn on Highway 29

The Bank Barn of William Goth

Did We Find Henry Lang’s Barn?

The Day a Barn Raising Went Wrong- Meredith Family Genealogy

The Barn on Lot 25 Concession 10 Beckwith –Donna Mcfarlane

So What are the Mysterious “diamond cross” cut-outs seen on barns in Lanark County?

Who Won the 1950 Austin Sedan?

Who Won the 1950 Austin Sedan?

Wilfred Garland of Carleton Place was the lucky winner of the new 1950 Austin Sedan at the Almonte Lions Club Monster Games Nite held in the Almonte Arena on Friday evening last. A capacity crowd was in attendance to play for prizes amounting to $2,400.00.

The evening’s program was handled efficiently by Lions President Archie Levitan and Lion W. F. Thom, assisted by the members of the local club.

Prize winners were as follows: James Duncan, Ashton; Mrs. Howard Edwards, Carleton Place; Mrs. Thos. Levere, Smiths Falls; Mrs. Sadie Low, Almonte; Gerald Brown, Almonte; Lois Proctor, Almonte, Wilbert Wallace, Almonte; Mrs. Harvey Andrews, Almonte; Mrs. J. L. Tinsley, Pakenham; Mrs. Mel Lockhart, Almonte; Mrs. Chas. McGregor, Almonte; Mr. James Moncur, Almonte; Mr. Dan McLauchlin, Ashton; Mrs. Chas. Finner, Almonte; Jas. Abram, Almonte; Special game winners: Mrs. Mrs. John O’Keefe, Corkery; Mrs. Gordon Elliott, Almonte; Mrs. J. E. Bisseault, Smiths Falls; Mr. Leo Chabot, Arnprior; Mrs. L. Bucklan, Carleton Place– August 1950

The Gazette
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
15 Apr 1979, Sun  •  Page 58

Carleton Place 1940’s —- The Popularity Contest

Canada Packers’ September Domestic Shortening Contest 1948 — I was DUPED again

Rah Rah Rah 1971– Renfrew-Lanark Elementary Cheerleading Contest PLUS

Who Won the Baby Contest in 1889?

Dueling Shoes and Fiddles and Step Dancing Contest July 15 1974

The Publicity Club Coupon Contest of Smiths Falls 1931

Win a House in Carleton Place!

Irish Sweepstakes 1948 Two Men Stood to Win 100,000!!

Sixteen Tons–Carleton Place Man Wins Big!

The Story of Henry Marshall and his Inheritance

Kay McPhail — Lottery Winner– The Buchanan Scrapbook Clippings

Hal Kirkland –A Machine for Making Money

The Out-Of Luck Mr. Strang of Smiths Falls

The Wintario Bedroom of Lanark County

Fire in Zion Memorial Church January 1950

Fire in Zion Memorial Church January 1950

January 19 1950

Zion United Church, CarletonPlace, was practically destroyed in an early morning fire last Sunday. The loss is estimated at $150,000 according to present day values. Insurance of $35,000 was carried. It is understood the congregation has decided to rebuild the edifice in spite of the fact that there is another United Church in the town as is the case in Almonte. 

The caretaker of the church discovered the fire when he went to stoke the furnace about five o’clock in the morning. As he was about to leave the main body of the building at 6.45 he saw smoke curling up behind the pipe organ and when he went to investigate he found that end of the church in flames. It is thought the fire started in the boiler room because the room from which the flames broke out is located directly over the heating plant.

In the battle to quell the fire which followed one new member of the Ocean Wave brigade, Ken Drummond, was injured by a falling piece of masonry. His back was badly bruised. Another had a nail puncture through his foot. Rev. E. C. Kelloway is pastor of the church which has a membership of some 300. It is understood that an invitation to worship at Memorial Park United Church, temporarily, was passed over in favor of services in the town hall. 

Mr. H. R. Davey, local contractor and planing mill operator, was engaged on Wednesday to take lumber to the scene of the fire and make temporary repairs to the shattered roof. Mr. Davey found that the floor of the church was partly intact under a heavy layer of debris and ashes. The fine basement was not too badly damaged.

City of Ottawa archives

Related reading

Another Example of Local Random Acts of Kindness- Zion Memorial United Church

Chris Redmond

Joann Voyce6 min. ago

Sorry Chris but it was never Zion United .They were Zion ( Presbyterian) and Memorial Park United. Zion was the Free Presbyterian as opposed to St Andrews on Bridge which was Church of Scotland

3 days ago

In that era it was simply Zion United Church — the “Memorial” came only in the 1960s when Zion (on Albert St) merged with Memorial Park United Church (on Franklin Street)

Dan Williams

3 days ago

At that time this was Memorial Park United Church. Zion United Church was where the condo’s now are at the corner of Albert and Beckwith. When they united they became Zion Memorial United Church. The church in the picture was never Zion United Church.

Ray Paquette

3 days ago

A point of correction. When that fire occurred the United Church, Zion and Memorial Park had not amalgamated. The fire occurred on a Saturday afternoon when most of the young boys who chased the fire trucks were occupied at the Roxy Theatre with the Saturday afternoon matinee, yours truly included. After the movie ended, we all left the theatre and tore down to Judson Street to watch the OWFC in action…

Joann Voyce

3 days ago

This was Memorial Park United from the union of the Methodist and Presbyterians It was originally the Methodist Church. Zion was always Zion Presbyterian until the most recent union

Bill Mains59 sec. ago

The church which burned in 1950, was Zion United Church, which was formerly Zion Presbyterian Church until it became Zion United at church Union in 1925. Memorial Park Methodist Church, became Memorial Park United Church in 1925. Memorial Park burned a few years later in the mid 1950’s and was restored. The two churches amalgamated to Zion Memorial about 1965 when the Memorial Park building became the sanctuary and the Zion building became the Christian Education building until it was sold some time after 1970.

When Trains Crash —Ashton Train Accident 1950

When Trains Crash —Ashton Train Accident 1950
Extract from an article by Duncan DuFresne Bytown Railway Society,, Branchline, January 1982, Pages 10-11-12.--Colin Church’s page


But Travie Short is remembered better for another story. Ironically train number 83’s return from Smiths Falls as an extra is involved, as is Fourth Class train number 89 3 another Ottawa West – Smiths Falls via Carleton Place job that also handled much of the CIP production from Gatineau. On the night of March 18, 1950, 83’s extra and 89 were to meet at Ashton, Ont,  The extra had a car to set out at Ashton anyway, on the business siding parallel to the passing track. The extra planned to pull their train into the passing track, cut off head end cars to the one they had to set out, pull out through the east end switch and then back into the business track. It was a bad night, a heavy March snow storm with very high winds was lashing the valley.  The extra pulled slowly into the passing track, 89 was west of Stittsville and eating away the time and distance over to Ashton. The crew of the extra had correctly left their headlight on as they were not “in the clear”. The story goes that the wind was whipping the smoke and exhaust, as well as the snow, around the extra’s front end. As westbound 89 got the extra’s headlight in sight the wind caused the smoke, steam and snow to obscure the light, then clear up, then obscure it again. In the cab of the onrushing 89 this was mistaken for a deliberate “highball” signal indicating (illegally) that the extra was “in the clear”. The hogger on 89 opened, up his throttle and roared past the east passing track switch not knowing that just ahead, obliterated by the flying snow, was the tail end of the Extra, still foul of the main line. Standing on the west switch was a ballast car of rock. The 2624 plowed into it, rolling over in the process, cars piled up in all directions. The little station on the south side of the main was demolished. When all motion had ceased, 89’s engine crew were dead and her head end brakeman, Tom Gilmer, had saved his life by jumping just before the collision. The dead fireman was George Hannam, – the engineer was Travie Short.

From an Ottawa paper 19 March 1950:

Like the Toys of an Angry Giant (with picture)

Smashed and tossed by the tremendous impact of tons of steel, the wreckage of CPR freight No. 83 lies scattered across the main transcontinental line at Ashton, 20 miles southwest of Ottawa.  The broken cars spew their cargo across the snow, the one in the right upper background spreading hundreds of cases of beer about.  Seven cars, the engine and the tender are spread around in much the same confusion as would result if a small boy in temper had upset his toy train.  The early morning collision Saturday of No. 83 with the rear end of an eastbound freight affected train schedules and connections from Montreal to Sudbury, while dispatchers rerouted freight and passenger to by-pass the smash-up in which two crewmen died and two others were injured.  The wreckage was cleared, 250 yards of ripped up track replaced and the line opened for traffic again late Saturday.  At either end of the torn right-of-way, the railway wreck-clearing cranes can be seen beginning the job of working their way to the centre of the pile-up.

From Stittsville/Richmond Region EMC 22 March 2012


Collision of Freight Trains at Ashton on 18 Mar 1950

Ashton Ontario – March 18 was unseasonably warm this year, one day in an extended warm period that has seen most of the snow disappear from the landscape. But March 18 has not always been so lamb-like. Indeed, back in 1950, it was a March lion, with a blinding snow storm hitting the Stittsville and Goulbourn area.

And it was in this blinding snow storm that a fatal and tragic collision between two freight trains happened right at the Ashton train station. Two of the freight cars were thrown into the Ashton station, track was torn up for more than 200 yards, the area was littered with splintered ties and twisted steel rails, and, most tragic of all, two railway employees died.

This all happened about 1:15 a.m. on Saturday, 18 Mar 1950, with a blinding snowstorm taking place.

An extra eastbound freight train from Smiths Falls was pulling into the passing track at Ashton. At the time of the collision, its engine, tender, and several freight cars were already on the siding but the remainder of the freight train, some 15 cars, was still on the main line when a westbound freight train on that main line sliced into these freight cars.

The impact from the westbound engine slamming into these cars threw two of them against the Ashton station, after which the engine toppled end over end, tearing up track.

Two men on this westbound train died in the collision. One was the engineer who was found half buried in the snow while the other was the fireman who was found in the wreckage of the cab. Two others were injured.




Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  07 Dec 1953, Mon,  Page 20

The contents of the damaged freight cars were scattered about the site. One had a cargo of beer while another had a load of ladies’ sample shoes, all for the same foot.

A later coroner’s jury, held in Carleton Place to look into the cause of the collision, did not declare any identifiable cause for the crash. However, confusion in the orders to the crews of these trains and poor visibility due to the snowstorm were both cited as contributing factors.

And the situation could have been even worse, and possibly more tragic, had it not been for quick action taken by Percy Illingsworth, the station agent at Stittsville, that night.

A westbound Montreal-to-Vancouver passenger train had left the Ottawa West station before news of the collision was received there. It was thus racing toward Stittsville and beyond that Ashton, with its operators unaware of the fright cars littering the track there.

Mr. Illingsworth, who had been notified by phone of the situation with regards to this approaching train, pulled some clothes over his pyjamas, grabbed a flashlight, and dashed through the snow drifts to reach the train track. Visibility was poor because of the heavy snow storm but when he saw the glimmer of the headlight of the approaching train through the swirling snow, he started signaling with his flashlight for the train to stop. Fortunately, the engineer on the train saw and understood the signal and the passenger train stopped. Had Mr. Illingsworth not taken his action or if his signal had not been seen, this passenger train would have roared into the Ashton station and its carnage with who knows what kind of disastrous and tragic results.

Percy Illingsworth served as the station agent at Stittsville for about 20 years, succeeding the famous A.G. Appleby who was termed “the governor” for his leadership in the community.

Craig Hobbs was the last station agent to serve at Stittsville, holding the position from 1962 to 1968. After that, the station was closed, the land sold, and the building was removed in 1969.

There were extensive tracking systems for the railway at both the Stittsville and Ashton stations. The station at Ashton was on the south side of the track, just west of the Goulbourn/Beckwith town line road. Indeed, the station platform extended to within a few feet of the townline road.

There were switches and a siding at the Ashton station as well as stock yards used by local farmers for when they shipped their cattle to market. In the early 1900’s, horses were frequently housed in these stock yards as farmers shipped them out west.

The Ashton station at harvest time also witnessed lineups of farmers with their teams of horses and wagons full of grain, waiting to deposit their loads in waiting freight cars.

The Ashton station handled both passenger and freight traffic and was as telegraph office as well.

The train was a vehicle for travel, not only by individuals and by students attending high school in Carleton Place, but also for groups such as Loyal Orange Lodge members travelling to special events. In 1872, for instance, just two years after the rail line was opened, members of the Stapleton Orange Lodge No. 471 west of Richmond travelled to the Ashton station in order to catch the train into Ottawa for a 12th of July celebration.

The 1981 book “Remembering Our Railway” by the late Grace Thompson of Stittsville, which outlines the history of the railroad in Stittsville and also Ashton, features a cover photo of the 1950 Ashton train wreck as published in the former Ottawa Journal on 20 Mar 1950. This book, which can be found in the reference section at the Stittsville branch of the Ottawa Public Library, remains the most authoritative published account not only of Stittsville’s railway history but also this tragic train crash at the Ashton station on 18 Mar 1950.

John Curry






Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  18 Mar 1950, Sat,  Page 1




Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  22 Mar 1950, Wed,  Page 32


Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.



Clippings of The Old Perth Train Station

The Glen Tay Train Wrecks of Lanark County

Did You Know About These Local Train Wrecks?

Tragedy and Suffering in Lanark County-Trains and Cellar Stairs

I was Born a Boxcar Child- Tales of the Railroad

The Lanark County “Carpetbaggers”–Lanark Electric Railway

The Titanic of a Railway Disaster — Dr. Allan McLellan of Carleton Place

What Happened on the CPR Railway Bridge?

Memories from Carleton Place–Llew Lloyd and Peter Iveson

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage

So Which William Built the Carleton Place Railway Bridge?

The trial of W. H. S. Simpson the Railway Mail Clerk

55 years ago–One of the Most Tragic Accidents in the History of Almonte

The Kick and Push Town of Folger

Train Accident? Five Bucks and a Free Lunch in Carleton Place Should Settle it

The Men That Road the Rails

The Mystery Streets of Carleton Place– Where was the First Train Station?

Memories of When Rail was King- Carleton Place


Screenshot 2017-08-15 at 18.jpg

I have been writing about downtown Carleton Place Bridge Street for months and this is something I really want to do. Come join me in the Domino’s Parking lot- corner Lake Ave and Bridge, Carleton Place at 11 am Saturday September 16 (rain date September 17) for a free walkabout of Bridge Street. It’s history is way more than just stores. This walkabout is FREE BUT I will be carrying a pouch for donations to the Carleton Place Hospital as they have been so good to me. I don’t know if I will ever do another walking tour so come join me on something that has been on my bucket list since I began writing about Bridge Street. It’s always a good time–trust me.

Are You Ready to Visit the Open Doors?


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