The signature of ‘Baldy’ was none other than Carleton Place’s iconic Jack ‘Baldy’ Welsh. The back of the postcard wished a Horace Merrill a Merry Christmas. So who was Horace Merrill?
Horace Jefferson Merrill (deceased) was a Canadian senior single-blade canoe champion in 1904 and 1908-09. He was coach and captain champion of the Mile War Canoe from 1909 to 1911 and silver medalist ½ mile War Canoe from 1908 to 1911.
He was a member of the Cliffsides, first Allan Cup champions 1909. He Captained the Ottawa Senators hockey team. He was a defence man with the Ottawa Senators in the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) for eight seasons. Stanley Cup champs, 1919-20.
Merrill was an outstanding paddler in the decade 1902-1912. He was a member of the Rideau Canoe Club’s first war canoe crew in 1902.[3 Paddling for Ottawa Canoe Club(OCC) in 1904 he won the senior singles in the Canadian Canoe Association (CCA) competition. By 1906 he had switched to the New Edinburgh Canoe Club (NECC) and took second place in the senior singles at the CCA championship. In 1908 and 1909 he took the title as Canadian senior singles champion. In 1908, 1909 and 1910 he led the NECC war canoe crew to second place finishes in the half-mile Canadian championships. The crew came second in the mile race in 1908 and finished first in 1909, 1910, and 1911. In 1912 he served as rear commodore of the CCA.
Merrill retired to live and marry in Ottawa. He became the president of the Dadson-Merrill Press Company until his retirement from that business in 1945. He also served as a school trustee. In 1958, he suffered a stroke on an automobile trip to Florida with his wife, while driving through Cortland,New York, and was returned to Ottawa on December 19, 1958. He died a week later and is buried in Ottawa at Beechwood cemetery along with numerous other Senators players.
No story of Carleton Place would be complete without more than a passing reference to W. J. “Baldy” Welsh, famous Carleton Place paddler. In 1952 he was a young 89, “Baldy”, as even the school children called him was spry and extremely active for his age. Baldy Welsh used to stand in front of the Post Office where he once lived with one of his sons who was the caretaker of the building. He used to wear a silver Maltese cross, dangling from a silver chain fastened in his coat lapel. It was something that meant a great deal to him when he won the double-blade single canoe race in Brockville on August 6,1900. The man he beat was Billy Dier, Brockville’s strong man.
Baldy Welsh was also on a four-man canoe crew that won a cup given by Barbara Ann Scott’s maternal grandfather, Mr. Derbyshire, in 1898. In 1952 the canoe he bought 50 years ago was still in a shed not 50 yards from the Post Office. Baldy Welsh was proud of the fact that his three sons, Jim, Frank and Emmet , served the First World War and his four grandsons, Jack, J. D., Tom and William, all served overseas in the Second World War.
Besides being a great paddler in his day, Baldy Welsh also found time for baseball, hockey and lacrosse. He retired from the CPR shop in Carleton Place in 1929 after 22 years spent painting locomotives and tenders. About all he had to show for it was his long service pass but he made good use of it. He never missed a regatta and after some big sporting event in Ottawa, the sports writers usually included a line that said:
“Among those heard and seen cheering loudly at the game was Baldy Welsh of Carleton Place.”
The former paddler was born of Irish stock and his father came from Tipperary, his mother from Cork so Baldy Welsh was Irish and make no mistake about it. He was a natural to play a leading role in “My Wild Irish Rose,” staged by the local Carleton Place dramatists in 1920. Baldy’s eyes lighted up when he recalled how he played the part of Colum McCormack, a prosperous farmer of County Kildare, and how he led a male chorus in a bonafied show-stopper.
Baldy Welsh was modestly proud of a story written about him in the Ottawa Citizen by Austin Cross, back in 1945. He discussed the old stone schoolhouse (Central School) on Bridge Street, and recalled the day in 1870 when it was opened.
Before that, he said, he went to the old frame school across the “school lane.” Half of the old school was moved to a corner a block away on Victoria Street where it is now a terrace dwelling. Baldy, of course, liked best to tell of his paddling- prowess of years ago.
The basic facts from Parts 1-5 (see links below) are from the flyer that I added on too which were passed out on January 1: Carleton Place-A Valley Town at Confederation 1867 by the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.
From Parts 6 on– are facts I am personally researching and doing as a 150 challenge…I am going to do mostly community– as community past and present is what makes up the history of our town.
So today I thought we would pull a year number out of our Carleton Place hat and it is– 1957. Here are your Carleton Place headlines and memories: