Tag Archives: Auld Kirk

Mr. Mitchell was not a Hermit– The Rest of the Story


It is denied emphatically by Mrs. Jane Masterman, who is a great grandniece of the gentleman who was described in an article in the Ottawa Citizen as a Ramsay hermit (read-The Story of “Old Mitchell,” Who Lived Outside of Almonte. The story was reproduced in the Gazette of last week. Mr. Mitchell resided on a sixty acre farm near the Auld Kirk, on the 8th line of Ramsay and he was a bachelor.

He had not many friends but those he had came very close to him, for he was fond ot good company. Mr. Mitchell’s real name was Flannigan. His father was an Irish Roman Catholic and his mother was a Scotch woman named Mitchell. After he had grown to manhood Mr. Mitchell became a Protestant and took his mother’s name. He had only one month’s schooling says Masterman, but he caried on his own education with the help of his mother and became a very scholarly man. He seems to have been a good deal of a philosopher and read extensively. He was particularly fond of his Bible and he committed many passages, to memory.

There are many relatives of Mr. Mitchell in this part of the country. The Byrons are related to him. They all resent the imputations cast upon his memory. Mrs. Masterman describes him as “one of the grandest old men in the whole world,” and adds that he was never a hermit. There is an interesting connection with the Auld Kirk and Mr. Mitchell and Mrs. Masterman. Mr. Mitchell attended that church, which congregation later moved to Almonte. It was St. Andrew’s church and was called the “Auld Kirk” because St. Andrew’s suffered the loss of a number of its members after the secession of 1843 from the church of Scotland.

The secessionists— it is needless to go into why they seceded— in Almonte , and the district formed the St. John’s Presbyterian Church, connected with the Free Church of Scotland. However the St. John’s members rejoined with St. Andrew’s a number of years ago. and the name St. Andrew’s was allowed to dron, and the church was called the “Almonte Presbyterian Church.” Mrs. Masterman’s husband, the late Thomas Masterman, was its faithful caretaker in his late years. After the last union of churches in 1925 the name of St. Andrew’s Church was changed to Bethany, by which name the original “Auld Kirk;’” congregation is known today.

St. John’s church was reopened by those who refused to go with the Presbyterian Church into the union, and so the situation today is exactly as it was three quarters of a century ago when Mr. Mitchell was in his prime. Mrs. Masterman says that the sand that went into the building ot a number of Almonte houses, such as P. C. MacGregor’s. Mr. W. ‘West’s, Mr. Harold Jamieson’s, and most of the buildings on Mill street came from Mr. Mitchell’s farm.

The Story of “Old Mitchell,” Who Lived Outside of Almonte

It’s Okay to Date a Student — Ella Deweiller and Charles Bauer– 1930s — Now You Know the Rest of the Story…..

Digging Up the Other Stories… the Rest of the Story

The Faces On the Almonte Steps–the Rest of the Story

Marjorie and Charlie Rintoul–The Rest of the Story– Thanks to Norma Ford

Did You Know This? “The Rest of the Story”

Dissecting a Letter to the Editor — Isabel Aitken Ranney and Auld Kirk

Everything You Wanted to Know About Auld Kirk

Before and After — Auld Kirk

The Very Sad Tale of Cecil Cummings of Carleton Place

More About Churches and Things Part 2

More About Churches and Things Part 2


Ramsay was surveyed in 1820-21, and during 1821 most of it was settled by military settlers from Perth, which were mostly Scottish and Presbyterian. They had no minister until a call was issued in October 1833 to Rev. John Fairbairn.

Ministers had visited Ramsay at times from Perth, Beckwith, and Lanark when baptism and communion services were held in homes, schoolhouses and barns. The following June seventh, elders were chosen. On the 29th the first communion service by their own minister was held in John Gemmill’s house some 158 received communion.

That summer trustees purchased two and a half acres for $12.50 for a church and Cemetery. Begun in 1835, the church was finished in 1836.  By 1845 a split in the congregation the Free Church was built across the road from Auld Kirk.

Soon there were four churches: They were the St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland, completed about 1835 and still maintained in its original structural condition. The Canadian or Free Presbyterian church, built ten years later. Three were Presbyterian on the eighth line of Ramsay and the Methodist church. The Reformed Presbyterians were  in a log church built in 1843.

An Anglican church in Almonte followed, and the parish of Almonte was separated in about 1860 from that of Carleton Place.  A Roman Catholic church built at a Mr. Slattery’s, in Almonte about 1840 was burned down more than twenty-five years later and was replaced by the present stone church building completed in 1876.

The Baptists built a small Almonte church and the township’s Reformed or Cameronian Presbyterians moved their place of services in about 1867 to the former Canadian Presbyterian church on the Eighth Line, later building their present church facing the Mississippi’s Almonte bay.

Then the great move began. In the 1860’s Almonte’s woollen mills were attracting workers, and it became a fast growing community.  All the churches moved to Almonte but one. The Reformed Presbyterians bought the Free Church in 1877, remaining until 1891. Before the move to town, people walked to church from all parts of the township.

Did you know that Auld Kirk had a library of 700 to 800 books? Hymn books and organs were not then in use so psalms and paraphrases were sung, led by the precentor  with his tuning fork: which was used at the annual Decoration Services. While much beloved as an historic monument and original home of two Almonte congregations, it had been long unused.

In 1933 the high pulpit and seats were brought back from the Pakenham church, a stone floor was laid, a door restored, windows repaired, a new fence and gates built. The cemetery at Auld Kirk is owned by the congregation not by the United Church of Canada, and from the beginning burials have been and are from most Protestant denominations.





“Auld Kirk” 1836

This stone church, an attractive example of an early form of Gothic Revival architecture, was constructed in 1835-36 on land obtain from John Mitchell, one of Ramsay Township’s earliest settlers.  Built by the local congregation of the Established Church of Scotland it was also attended by Presbyterians from adjoining townships.  The early settlers of Ramsay were visited by ministers from Drummond and Beckwith  but in 1834 the first resident minister, the Reverend John Fairburn was inducted.  In January 1864, during the ministry of the Reverend John McMorine (1846 – 1867), a new church was opened in nearby Almonte.  Although little used since then, the “Auld Kirk” stands as a memorial to the pioneer Presbyterian Settlers.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Auld Kirk

Before and After — Auld Kirk

The Very Sad Tale of Cecil Cummings of Carleton Place

Almonte and Ramsay Pioneers – Rafted Down to Their Locations

Before and After — Auld Kirk






Another interesting fact that I did not expect was the number of people buried in Auld Kirk cemetery that never managed to have a headstone put on their grave. That percentage is currently running at approximately 12%. Like former Carleton Place resident Cecil Cummings that I wrote about– he too is buried in Auld Kirk without a headstone.

The Kirk is open for only the one Sunday in mid August for Decoration Sunday and even then
the Memorial Service is held outside. Only once in the last while, that I know of, that this service was held inside because it was raining. For as far as I know there has been no regular service in the Kirk for decades beside the inside is quite plain with some old fashion benches. I’ve attached some photos of the inside of the Kirk. —Gary J. Byron (photos and text)



Related Story

The Very Sad Tale of Cecil Cummings of Carleton Place