How the Almonte Gazette was for many years the only link between certain pioneer settlers of Manitoba and the outside- world, is told by Mr. James McKelvey, who with his wife has been visiting relatives in this district before leaving on a trip to the old land.
Mr. McKelvey tells how the Gazette was the only newspaper which came into their district in these early days. His father was a faithful subscriber and a warm friend of the late Hon. W William Templeman. When the McKelvey family had faithfully perused the contents of the Gazette’s weekly budget of news it was passed on to the nearest neighbor.
A stream flowed between the two farms, and the neighbour was always on the alert for the first sign that the Gazette had fulfilled its mission on the McKelvey homestead. The creek could not always be forded and there was no boat so the McKelveys used to wrap the newspaper around a stone and fling it across the stream. Neighbor after neighbor read it for miles around and at the end it was so worn that the print was scarcely decipherable.
‘The district correspondence which appealed to the McKelvey family most was the Middleville news written over half a century ago, as it is now, by Mr. Archie Rankin. It was a strong link which bound them to their old home. Mr. McKelvey spoke affectionately of the message of cheer and friendship which the Gazette brought, to those people who in earlier days had gone forth to make a home for themselves in the wilderness.
It is doing the same today, in far places and every little scrap of news about the old home and the old friends and the old associations is eagerly read. Mr. McKelvey is a cousin of Mr. Robert Stead, the novelist, and on his visit here he was accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Stead.
Bobbed hair, says a cable from London, is rapidly passing out in England. In Manchester hospitals all nurses have been ordered to allow their hair to grow. In future one no one will be allowed to look after the patients with a Bob. Many London restaurants and department stores have issued notices to the same effect. In Almonte the Gazette is informed that bobbed hair is still popular with those who have bobbed it, but is just as unpopular with those who refused to conforn with the rage of short hair. The situation seems to be that there will be no increase in the number of the “bobbed” but– there will on the other hand be a gradual decrease until all the ladies are back into the fashionable long hair once again.
Almonte Gazette November 1923
Most people trace the popularity of bobbed hair in Western fashion back to the 1920s, thanks to the haircut’s close association with the image of the flapper. However, the cigarette-smoking, flask-wielding flapper of the 1920s didn’t exactly start this trend. In 1920, the New York Times traced the origins of the bob “epidemic” to 1903, when two female students at Bryn Mawr college appeared with short hair to play basketball. The article also claims that bobbed hair became popular in Greenwich Village between 1908 and 1912, thanks to the influence of “intellectual women” from Russia who used bobbed hair to disguise themselves from police.
Meanwhile, those who wanted women to maintain their traditional roles as well-behaved daughters and wives did whatever they could to discourage the trend for bobbed hair. Preachers conducted sermons against it, schools banned it and pamphlets warned young women that short hair would lead to a variety of undesirable health conditions. A New York Times article from 1920 says that young women with disapproving parents went so far as to go to their doctors’ offices to be diagnosed with falling hair in order to receive a “prescription” for a bob haircut.
News being very scarce this week—as it always is in late August—an editor has to resort to strange ways of filling up a newspaper. Apropos of that: on Wednesday night in front of the Gazette office, which is located on Mill Street, we met a little girl standing beside a tricycle who pointed to the gutter along the sidewalk and said: “frog, frog.” She started to reach, and looking in the direction of her small hand we saw a snake crawling along. We told her not to touch it and it crawled into a tile drain under a ramp leading to an alley entrance.
A couple of middle aged ladies came along right then and we made the fatal mistake of telling them what we had seen. They looked in the gutter, saw no snake, and looked at us as if we were a snake—or as if we had been seeing snakes. After these ladies had gone on their way, looking disgusted, we stood there ruminating. We knew we could not call on the three year-old child for evidence and we felt we had blundered with the ladies just as the Light Brigade did at Baiaklava.
Things generally end that way. But this time we were lucky. Along came Mr. Tom Proctor, Sr. and we told him of our strange experience. He looked at us dubiously but was too polite to express what was passing in his mind. Then came one of our own employees. He was a little bit helpful because he told Tom he had seen a snake in the same spot a couple of weeks ago. With that, Tom looked strangely at both of us. But like the sun bursting through a dark cloud, our friend the snake dissolved all our troubles by sticking its head out of the drain pipe at that very moment.
We were so pleased we yelled: “There it is,” and straightway it withdrew its head. Tom Proctor said with growing doubt; “Where is it: I don’t see anything; of course I’m not as young as I used to be.” Well, to make a silly story short, we all stood still and out came the snake. This time we kept quiet and he came all out—three feet of him. Tom looked at us with an apologetic expression then back at the snake. The reptile was one of those harmless spotted adders (milksnake) we used to see sunning himself on the sandy roads in (the old days— often killed by toy buggy wheels—later by cars.
Finally it crawled up on the sidewalk and made for the alleyway, pausing now and then. Along came two young “bobby-soxers” gabbling pleasantly. Just as they were about to step on the snake we pointed to him. They seized their skirts—they were wearing skirts at the time—and with shrieks that could be heard for miles they dashed down the street going five feet every leap.
Meanwhile the snake escaped into the dark alley and that was the last we saw of him. But we have the proof of Mr. Proctor, our employee, the two girls and a few others realized that there really was a snake. And if anyone in Carleton Place or any other neighboring town wants to make an issue of this situation by saying that the main street in Almonte is so dead that snakes crawl on it we will recall this one.
In the year1929 there was an awful uproar in “The Loop,” Chicago, when a big bull snake invaded that populous section of the city. Women fainted, strong men went into pubs for strong drinks, police grabbed their guns and pandemonium reigned. Finally the reptile was shot. It was said he wandered up from Lake Michigan and didn’t know how to get back. So where did this come from?
When you talk about the Almonte Gazette that once rolled out every week, chances are the name of Joan Dalgity might come up. One would say she was the chief cook and bottle washer that kept that paper going as she was known to be the editor, reporter, photographer and sometimes even the advertising manager. For 18 years she worked there and finally in 1999 she decided to retire.
Would she miss dealing and chatting with the local merchants and figuring out who was who in the photos that rolled on to her desk nameless? As an avid curler and golfer she had no issues handing over her position over to Marjory McBride as advertising manager. McBride was no novice having built up the Arnprior paper’s weekend edition and also did advertising for the Carleton Place Canadian for a year.
One time editor Joe Banks gave June her initial job at the Gazette as he knew she would be great even though she didn’t think so. One incident that stuck out in her mind was when a summer storm drove the paper’s staff down to the basement under the Gazette’s office. One could imagine that the terrors that old basement might have held was far more scary than the tornado that was supposed to be rolling through.
June Dalgity retired December 17, 1999 and sadly passed away in 2005
Corey LoganThere wasn’t a sole in Almonte who didn’t know her and didn’t love her! Amazing how one woman could be loved that much- pretty incredible.-You were definitely blessed with an amazing mom. She sets the bar pretty high
Mariel VaughanYour mom was such a nice person and had a great laugh! Maria has great memories of hanging out with “Nora and June” when she visited Almonte. She is missed by many.
Karen BiscegliaLoved knowing her and working my very first job with her!!! Beautiful person…lots of laughs at the “Supe”!
Jane YoungAs soon as this picture appeared on my screen I smiled…..June was so special.
During the big storm of Wednesday last, considerable damage was done in this neighbourhood by lightning. Mr. Patrick Kelly, Huntley, had a barn, stable, and shed burnt, and along with them a horse, 3 pigs, 100 bushels oats, 25 bushels wheat, 3 tons hay, a plough, some harness and a sleigh. There was no insurance on the premises, and great sympathy is felt for Mr. Kelly in his misfortune. In town a man named Gleason was knocked to the ground by an electric shock, while another, who was standing near to him, was thrown up against a wall close by. We hear that a woman also was , stunned by the same shock. Mr. John Kearny had a horse killed by lightning during the storm last week, while out in the field harrowing. There was also a water spout in the river nearby the town hall to the amazement of many.
The remains of five twisted box cars stall lie scattered about at the scene of the spectacular train wreck which occurred at tile half-way crossing between Almonte and Garleton Place on Tuesday. Clean-up crews of the C.P.R. Mechanical Department estimate it will take another week to clear the area of the remaining debris.
They are now in the process of burning out the wooden interiors of the boxcars, following which they will be cut up with torches and hauled away. Meanwhile, another crew is busy replacing, all the rails on the east side of the track from the halfway crossing all the way back to Almonte. A broken wheel apparently spread the track at about eight foot intervals for the entire distance and trains have been on a go-slow order along that stretch since rail traffic was resumed the day following the accident.
A telegraph pole beside the crossing which had the bottom portion sheared off leaving the top dangling on its wares has yet to be replaced. Traffic on Highway 29 was disrupted for several days while heavy cranes removed most of the 30 cars which left the rails during the pileup and had to be rerouted along the 8th line and the Appleton road. Marks are clearly visible where derailed box cars rolled across the highway adjacent to the crossing gouging deep ruts in the asphalt. Some are even evident several feet back of the white line on the south side of the track where vehicle traffic is required to stop. Occupants of a car and a Bell Telephone truck who witnessed the derailment from that location were fortunate they had stopped well short of the crossing.
Ottawa Citizen 22 January 1969
CARLETON PLACE Attempts to clear the $500,000 wreckage of 34 freight cars piled up at a level crossing near here Tuesday continued this morning under the threat of an explosion from two overturned propane gas tankers.
Provincial police kept guard over the area, about three miles north of here on Highway 29 at the CPR crossing, as about 50 men and two giant cranes hauled twisted box cars from the clogged line. The highway remained closed to traffic today while other trains were rerouted.
The two tankers were not ruptured in the massive 3.30 p.m. derailment, but police kept hundreds of curious spectators well back from the scene in the event leaking gas might explode. Both police and railway officials were astonished that there had been no injuries. One of the first cars to derail left the tracks just before the level crossing and sliced across the highway only a few feet in front of a waiting school bus.
Other cars ripped up sections of the highway, railway lines and wooden ties as they piled up, and in some cases, landed on top of one another. One freight car landed with its steel wheels on top of a tanker. Two hydro poles were sliced through by other cars. The top section of one pole was left dangling over the line supported only by the high-voltage cables. Complete wheel assemblies of many cars were torn off as they piled into one another and lay strewn along the tracks among sections of line, twisted cars and splintered ties.
A crack which caused the leading wheel of either the fourth or fifth car to come off is believed to be to blame for the $500,000 freight train crash near Carleton Place yesterday. It is known that at least eight rails between Almonte and the accident scene were broken.
This could have been caused by the faulty wheel running out of line and pounding against the rail as the east bound train headed for Carleton Place, said one railway employee. The 60-car freight train left Chalk River several hours before. Its speed at the time of the accident was estimated to be about 45 m.p.h. George G. Sayer, assistant superintendent for the Smiths Falls division of CPR, said work crews were concentrating their efforts to pulling cars away from the tracks and repairing breaks so regular traffic, which had been diverted to other lines, could again travel the main line.
Mr. Sayer said he hoped the two cranes, one brought in from Smiths Falls and the other from Sudbury, could pull the two tankers back on to the tracks and pull them away by sometime this afternoon.
“The line should be open again by about 5 p.m. today,” he said, adding that the general freight being carried by the train could then be hauled away and the other cars righted and moved later this week.
Mr. Sayer said there was, as far as he could tell, little damage to the cargo. One eye-witness, Bill Ritchie, 32, a Bell Telephone employee from Almonte, was driving north toward the level crossing when he saw the red signal lights begin flashing.
“I saw the train swaying so I stopped about 500 feet from the tracks,” he said. “The next thing I saw were freight cars flying through the air like cardboard boxes in a high wind. It was terrifying.” He said a couple of cars shot across the highway “while the others piled up on the north side like magazines thrown on the floor.”
“There was a hell of a crash and snow flying in the air. A lot landed on my truck so I jumped out and after a minute or two ran up to the tracks. I thought people would be hurt,” said Mr.Ritchie. He said that by the time he got there, people from the locomotive, that had shot through the crossing pulling three cars and dragging a fourth without wheels, met him.
“One box car just missed the school bus, which luckily didn’t have any children aboard, and another cut into the hydro poles and the warning flashers,” said Mr. Richie. “There was a ball of fire in the sky when one hydro pole was cut off,” said Mr. Ritchie, who added that he and a work-mate then flagged down cars until police arrived.
The new stone bridge was built in 1901-to replace a rickety old wooden structure. The old bridge was so unsafe that it was illegal to cross at a faster pace than a walk.
Editor Almonte Gazette: — April 11, 1873
At last our bridge is covered, and such a covering. It reminds me of the Old Scot’s experience o f Canada’s roads, when he exclaimed, “Roads— ‘McAdam’ fear and tremble, of infernal corduroy.” Of all the coverings ever put on a bridge surely that at Pakenham village is the most villainously rough and rotten. Our Council must surely be demented if they will take the work off the contractor’s hands in present state.
Small, hollow, intricately twisted cedars, a third at least of which are specific to cover the smallest country culvert, are made to do duty on this bridge, over which, on an average, lor six months of the year, 80 or 100 tons of lumber or other traffic may be expected to pass daily.
Any man, who knows anything about such matters must, on examination, pronounce it a most unsafe and faulty covering, and a most expensive one too, as it could have been covered with three inch pine for a little more than half the money.
Our municipal body were so fearful of failing in their re-election that they would not ask for tenders last September when people could have made arrangements to take out the necessary logs for such a purpose. Tenders were asked for in February for either plank or cedar, when it was well known that no such length of plank could be procured on such short notice.
Patties desirous of tendering could not do so, as there were no plans or specifications prepared, and the chosen five could not even tell the length and width of the bridge. One tender was sent in at the time specified, and on being opened was rejected, and a party was urged by the Council to put in a tender after the opening of the other—surely an unwarrantably irregular proceeding, to put it in its mildest shape.
Parties desirous of proving the truth of my assertions had better take a walk over the bridge, if not afraid of breaking through the rotten cedars or dropping through the crevices Pakenham, April 10th, 1873.
The bridge was built in 1901 by O’Toole & Keating, Scottish masons from Ottawa, for a cost of $14,500. The stones, the largest of which weighs 5 tons, came from a local quarry. As a result of local pressure to preserve it, the bridge was never replaced with a newer one and restored in 1984. At that time, the bridge was also strengthened with reinforced concrete to accommodate car and truck traffic.
During the Great Famine (Black ’47), Irish families were sent from Grosse Isle, Quebec to Montreal and then on to local communities in Upper Canada which were either on a canal system or where industrialization was taking place and jobs were opening up.
In Pakenham, Ontario there was an already established Irish community to assist the new arrivals to integrate into life in Canada. Some of the famine emigrants stayed here in Pakenham and others moved westward into Renfrew County. Here are names of two families who came from Montreal to Pakenham between 1845 and 1847:
Years ago a drive was made by the pupils of St. Mary’s School to send food to the needy people in Europe during World War II. The plan was that each boy and girl would bring as many canned goods as the family household could spare. It all was sent over in a general hamper.
One of the students, Miss Mary France Agnes O’Neill wondered where her donation might end up— so she put her name and address on one of the cans. Months later she received a reply from one of the families in France.
Dear Mademoiselle O’Neill,
We have received a box of ‘conserves’ from your town and thank you very much. I have three children, Pierre, Colette and Joel. It is very hard in France to get food. I would be happy to get a letter from you.
When Mary Frances Agnes O’Neill was born on July 13, 1931, in Almonte, Ontario, her father, Daniel, was 29, and her mother, Mary, was 28. She had two brothers and one sister. She died on December 2, 2018, in Carleton Place, Ontario, at the age of 87, and was buried in her hometown.
Did you know?
More than a year after World War II concluded in Europe, the residents of Le Havre, France, continued to struggle for survival. Their homes remained leveled, their stomachs chronically empty.
On May 11, 1946, relief arrived from across the ocean as the cargo ship American Traveler steamed into the war-torn city’s harbor with a shipment of food—and hope. Aboard were 15,000 brown cardboard boxes paid for by the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe (CARE), which had been founded the previous year to bring humanitarian aid to millions starving in post-war Europe. These first “CARE Packages” contained everything from whole-milk powder and liver loaf to margarine and coffee. The contents of CARE Packages soon expanded to include soap, diapers, school supplies and medicine as well as fabric, thread and needles to allow recipients to make and mend clothes.
Story of How Clayton Village Got Its Name Is Copied Out Of Gazette Files Of 25 Years Ago
Place names in Lanark County usually are derived from original settlers in the localities or from points in the Old Country where the pioneers lived before embarking for the wilds of Canada.
Another example of this was I brought to light, recently, by Mr. Abraham Evans of Clayton. He noticed in an article written for The Gazette by Mr. W. H. Black of Toronto, that a question was raised as to how Clayton and Rosetta got their names. He claims that Clayton was called after Colonel Clayton, an original settler in that district, and that Rosetta got its name from a Miss Rosetta McFarlane or Rosetta Craig, who were among the first to live in that part of the County. The Bellamys went to Clayton after the Colonel had been there for some time. It was they who built the grist and saw mills. Up to the time of their coming, pioneer residents like Mr. Evans’ grandfathers, had carried their grist to Perth on their backs, to have it milled. Bellamys offered to build the mills provided the farmers around what is now known as Clayton Lake, agreed to let them dam the stream emptying out it thus raising the level of the water by 12 feet. Anxious for the facilities offered the people came to terms with the Bellamys and as a result of this agreement the lake was first known by the name of Harmony. It appeared that way on old maps but as time passed and the reasons for this rather fancy appellation faded into the distance, the body of water above the Village became known variously as Watchorns Lake, Evans’ Lake, Thompson’s Lake and Clayton Lake. Finally the last label stuck, and today, Clayton Lake is famous for its pike fishing. Mr. Evans, maternal grandfather, Donald Munro, came out from Scotland and settled in the Clayton district 140 years ago. His paternal grandfather, Richards Evans, was a native of Wales, and carved out a home for himself on the shores of the lake about the same time as the Munros.
The Name of the Village From the very early days the settlement seems to have been known as “Bellamy’s Mills”. It was also called “Bellamyville”,1 or “Bellamy’s” by those outside the community. The river was named the Indian River on the map made by the surveyors in 1821.
The difficulty with the name Bellamy’s Mills was there was another community with the same name in Augusta Township, Leeds County. The village now known as North Augusta was settled by Edward Bellamy’s brothers. Imagine the confusion of trying to deliver letters to the correct persons with only the address of Bellamy’s Mills.
In October 1855 advertisements for businesses in Bellamy’s Mills began to appear as “Clifton”.2 This carried on until late 1858 when the name “Clayton” started to appear. But often the names were used interchangeably for a few years. The name Bellamy’s Mills was what people were used to using. It seems that it may have been the Post Office department that changed the names. While the name of “Almonte” was made official by a bylaw passed by the Bathurst District Council, nothing similar can be found for Clayton. The name “Clifton” was probably removed for the same reason as “Bellamy’s Mills” because there was another town called “Clifton” in the western part of the province.
Where did the name Clayton come from? There has been a story that has been repeated in the Almonte Gazette over the years, which now must be corrected. My mother, Mrs. Kate Richards, told the story of an old gentleman coming to visit my father, Harry Richards in 1938. The conversation got around to the subject of how Clayton got its name. My Mother, being young and brash, said, “Oh there was probably some old Colonel Clayton around that they named it after.” The next week, to her horror, the story appeared in the Almonte Gazette that this gentleman had reported that Clayton was named after a Colonel Clayton, a settler in the area.
My Mother, not wanting to cause embarrassment to the old man, said nothing. And so, the myth continued. It was even repeated at the opening of the Clayton dam in 1970. I have done a lot of research to see if there was any possibility of this having even a shred of truth, and there is none. There never was any Colonel Clayton anywhere in Lanark County. The truth is we don’t know where the name Clayton came from. It was most likely chosen by someone in charge of Post Offices at the time.