Renfrew Street Pakenham 1906 after the storm- Bill Bagg Collection
Aug 21, 1906
This town and vicinity was visited with heavy rains which began falling about noon and continued with brief intervals during the day. The rainfall being the heaviest known for years was accompanied by electric storms with the lightning being particularly sharp.
Although no great damage was known resulted in the immediate neighbourhood word reached here this morning that Mr. W. Bradford, age 65, of the Township of Darling, brother of Mr. George Bradford, of this town and postmaster of White was struck by lightning yesterday and killed. Further particular, however, are wanting except it was known that he was struck by a bolt lightening while sitting reading a newspaper at his home at half-past three yesterday afternoon during the severe electrical storm.
There was a nice rain fall and some lightning here yesterday afternoon in the town and immediate vicinity but there was no unusual downpour, but to the north and west, a few miles distant the fall was exceedingly heavy. No damage has been reported. The parched pasture land will be much benefited.
This photo came from the late historian and antique collector Bill Bagg, but we have some questions and hopefully one day we will find out where it really was.
Adam Armstrong disagrees with the location
I agree. This can’t be Pakenham. I grew up in the house at 37 Margaret Street in Pakenham. The last house. Renfrew Street and Margaret Street would have connected at our house if there wasn’t a ridge. Looking up Renfrew Street from my house to the Hwy29. Then it continued across the highway up a huge hill going up to the Catholic Church. I am not sure where this picture was taken.
Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
In 1875, John Gillies built a machine shop for his 20-year-old son, Alexander, on Rosamond Street in Carleton Place, right on the bank of the Mississippi River. Next door was the Blacksmith shop that was used for the machine shop.
A few years later in September of 1878 a very sad case of drowning which occurred in the Mississippi Lake. Two young men, Alexander Gillies, son of David Gillies and Martha Poole, machinist and Peter Peden, miller, left home about 8:00 in the evening and went up the lake in a small canoe to shoot ducks by moonlight.Their bodies were found embedded in the mud only a few inches under the surface of the water. Read more here-The Sad Tale of Alexander Gillies and Peter Peden
Here is a look at the interior of the Gillies Blacksmith shop along the Mississippi River in Carleton Place. All photos from an MLS listing click here
Here is the old blacksmith shop that the late iconic Bill Bagg owned and is for sale and thanks to the internet we get to see the interior.
The Mississippi River flows around McArthur Island and a man made channel for the Mississippi River was built and re-directed for the McArthur mill. The shocking part was realizing that another channel once lapped the back doors of the old Gillies Mill. Yup–right by the back door and through the late Bill Bagg’s adjacent property that was once the blacksmith shop for the Gillies Mill.
When Bill Bagg bought that house he found an open cistern/well inside his home and it had to be boarded up so no one would get hurt. That made me shiver and think of the film Silence of the Lambs. This is the first time I have seen the cistern– so I wanted to document it for history.
Louise and her Grandmother were in their sitting room gazing at the rushing river outside wondering what they were going to eat for dinner. They silently worried what would become of them, as the cupboard was as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s. Louise told her Grandmother that she would fill up the kettle and make her some tea. In the meantime she would make a wish that the faeries might come and bring them something to eat.
“Make the tea” her Grandmother said, “but do not depend on the faeries to help you as there is no such thing as faeries”. Louise was positive there was such a thing as faeries, but she dared not argue with her Grandmother, and took her pail and went into the woods on the other side of the Mississippi River. As she dropped her pail into the well she heard a voice after she drew up the water.
“Drop it again and see what happens” said the fairy sitting on the side of the well. Louise smiled at the tiny figure, but told her she did not need anymore water.
“But you do need bread,” replied the fairy who insisted she drop the pail into the well once more.
Lousie did as she was told, and when she brought up the pail there was a large loaf of bread and a piece of cheese in the bucket. She thanked the fairy and told her that she knew the faeries would help her. She ran across the bridge, back to the house, and set the table. Louise told her Grandmother that the faeries in the McArthur Island woods helped her but, the Grandmother still did not believe her even when she brought home a strip of bacon and more bread the next morning from the well in the woods.
The next morning the landlord told them that they must leave as he could not afford to have renters that did not pay and Louise and her Grandmother went to sit next to the well on the island. The Grandmother told Louise that if her faeries were real they would give them a comfortable home to live in. Like magic a small cottage appeared and the fairy told Louise that surely the Grandmother must believe in them now.
The Grandmother nodded her head and agreed that no one should ever give up on faeries as she had done. Always remember that through faeries a child’s imagination is stimulated, and sometimes good deeds will come from it if you really believe.
I wrote this small fictional tale because of something Kelly Bagg told me at her father’s wake. She told me how her late father Bill Bagg used to tell his children that there were faeries in the woods of McArthur Island. Sometimes in the afternoon, or after dinner, he would take his children over to the island so they could look for faeries.
Faeries are invisible and inaudible like angels, but their magic sparkles in nature. Bill Bagg remembered the words of Robert Louis Stevenson that: “every child must remember laying his head in the grass staring into the infinitesimal forest and watch it grow populous with faeries”.
Now each time I drive over the back bridge I remember Kelly’s tale and I stop and look for faeries. So to whomever develops this land in the future I beg you, please leave room in the woods so the faeries can dance. And so they linked their hands and danced Round in circles and in rows And so the journey of the night descends When all the shades are gone
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.
Everything that Bill Bagg collected and sold had a story, and chances are if you were fortunate you heard that very same story at least two or three times. I am one of the lucky ones to have one of his pieces in my home, and although not to the extent of Bill’s passion; I sometimes feel I run a rescue for all things Lanark County. They might not be priceless antiques, but like Bill, each one has a local story- and to me that is more important than owning a Faberge egg.
According to Gary Strike, Bill Bagg had a couple of deer heads hanging on the wall at his place,and if you didn’t know where Bill lived, well you missed a real treat. Home for Bill for the past 34 years was the Gillies and Beyer’s Canadian machine shop built in 1875 located right on the Mississippi Gorge. These were not any ordinary mounted deer that Bill had–in fact they would be about 111 years-old right now. He acquired them from Scott and Jennifer Wallace, and after hearing the story Bill realized their importance to the town of Carleton Place.
Edmund and the native quickly settled the matter justly for both and established a rule to govern in like cases. Later the Stagg’s head became the Town of Carleton Place’s logo as it represented fair play and sharing. Ironically, the artist just happened to use those two deer heads as his model for the logo.
So what is the origin of these deer? The story goes that Mr. Muirhead, Rosamond and Gillies went out hunting at Christmas in 1901. Arriving at the “Patterson Bush” where the Beer Store on Townline is located now, the men each shot one deer. Deciding to immortalize their kill, the deer went to the taxidermist and were soon hung in the dining room of the Rosamond House at 37 Bell Street.
Town clerk, Duncan Roger’s late mother purchased the Bell Street property from Ida and Ken Muirhead in October of 1957.The Muirheads had left several items in the house one being the three deer heads. Two hung in the Roger’s dining room, and one hung in the east exterior porch for many years.
Rogers remembers his mother telling him that Ken Muirhead had told her that a Mr. Muirhead ( Ken Muirhead’s father he believed ) and one of his sons had shot the deer and had them mounted and hung in the home. Bill became very good friends with Arnold Muirhead, the son of Ida and Ken Muirhead, (married to a Gillies) and they lived in Arnprior. Gary Strike’s father was the head supervisor of the Gillies Bros. Lumber Company in Braeside and ironically Mr. Muirhead was his boss, so this story was slowly coming 360.
When asked, Duncan didn’t know anything about the story of the Muirhead, Rosamond and Gillies hunting expedition. The deer heads remained at Duncan’s former home until he sold it in 2003 to Mr. and Mrs. Wallace. Like most women, Duncan’s wife did not express any interest in them and he left them as he felt that they were part of the history of the home. After all, they had hung in the house for 102 years.
I don’t think any collector knows his true motivation but Bill had the knack of sniffing out history. Bill called some of his things primitives, some called them junk, but everything he bought and collected was an experience. Good or bad they are priceless to anyone that loves history and hopefully these deer heads will get their proper historical homes.
With files from Gary Strike
Duncan Rogers still has a picture of the deer heads as they were originally hung in the dining room at the Bell Street home.
They are impressive, at least five point bucks and the biggest set of racks that I have seen-Gary Strike
TONIGHT!!—Friends and family are welcome to celebrate Bill in the hall at St. James Anglican Church (225 Edmund Street, Carleton Place) on Monday, May 1st from 5-7pm. A funeral service will be held at 7:00pm.
I never wear any Canadian flags on my being. It’s not that I’m not proud to be a Canadian, but I feel people will understand the second I open my mouth. But tonight at the celebration of Bill Bagg at St. James Anglican I will proudly wear a Canadian flag on my hat. It’s not a fashion statement of any kind– I’m doing it in memory of Bill Bagg.
Bill Bagg told me lots of stories, and when you saw him you knew it just wasn’t going to be a short conversation. After all, everything is a lengthy conversation here in Lanark County; that’s the first thing I warned Steve about when he emigrated here last year. Over a year ago I stood in front of Walmart with Gary Strike and Bill for so long that I was almost gassed to death by the fumes of passing cars.
If it wasn’t local politics with Bill it was history or something else that irritated him and just like me, a lot of things irritated him. But sometimes you wondered if he really listened to you when you were in deep discussion with him — or did he just file it away for future reference.
In 1991, one of Bill’s best friends, Gary Strike, was watching a story about an old sailing boat on Mike Duffy’s show, Sunday Edition. The boat was said to be the oldest registered sailboat named “The Canada”, and was built in 1896, or 1897. It raced and sailed out of St. Johns, New Brunswick for 68 consecutive years, winning many races and when I told Bill The Dorothy was the oldest Canadian ship he argued up and down with me.
The story as it was told: in 1968, The Canada needed extensive repairs and was sold to Major William Gamblin. Well, Gamblin moved it, along with his family, lock stock and barrel to Carleton Place by rail. According to Google Earth The Canada and what was left of it was just on Dixon’s Landing on a private road off highway 7.
According to an article in the Ottawa Journal, Gamblin was an excellent craftsman and had refinished many a piece of maritime furniture. But Gamblin never got around to The Canada and the boat sat exposed to the elements of Lanark County for nearly 20 years.
In 1984 he and his wife retired on another sailboat (one that was intact) in the Caribbean. He gave the “The Canada” to the Lanark branch of the Navy League, they tried to raise $150,000 to restore her but they were unable, so they traded her to a boat builder in Kemptville, Ont. for repairs to their other boat called the “LANARK”. Jeremy Stinson added ‘The Canada” boat kept in half of the former armoury and drill hall John Street basement when he was a child.
When Gary Strike saw it in 1991 it was in a sorry state, badly needing to be rebuilt and the project and story received all kinds of media attention. Well, they all lobbied, worked and they struggled for three long years but sadly another group took over. But after struggling to raise money for ten years the new group too gave up, auctioned off the parts and closed down their organization. And all this time you know that somewhere Bill Bagg has heard Gary talk about The Canada and probably filed it in his “Gary Strike file”. You can be assured we all had files in Bill Bagg’s mind. If we had forgotten about something, he had a file on it and would remind you. So what happened to The Canada with her full sails that was once the pride of Canada?
One day Bill Bagg pulled up in front of the Strike’s house with his old truck. There was always stuff in the back of Bill’s truck, but when Valerie Strike looked out her window she thought Bill was on his way to the dump, because it was really full of junk. Sometimes when you sell antiques you needed a good imagination and a pile of junk and Bill was a triple threat.
Bill Bagg had gone to an auction and bought most of the parts of that sailboat named The Canada. Most of you know Bill specialized in primitives–and the truck was full of what loosely could be called primitives. There was the anchor, port holes, shelves, head, stove, hatch complete with the name The Canada on it. That was the same boat that Gary Strike tried to raise funds to rebuild. Because Bill Bagg had listened to his old friend all these years now that iconic sailboat called The Canada, or what was left of it, was sitting at the end of the Strike driveway.
Bill could have probably bought a toy model of The Canada for Gary as there were 14 inch ones available from Harbor Crafty. But Bill Bagg remembered how much the old sailboat meant to his friend Gary Strike and he brought home the real deal.
I’m going to miss driving over the back bridge this summer and not seeing Gary and Bill in their deep discussions by the side of the Mississippi River. To quote Gordon Lightfoot’s song theS. S Edmund Fitzgerald:
And all that remains today is the faces and the names Of the wives and the sons and the daughters
One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what someone has to say, and may I say I am so honoured to have been able to listen to the stories and discussions of Bill Bagg. It’s hard to forget someone who gave me so much to remember.
As Bill would say–“I am from Lanark County, God bless ya!”
May we raise our glass today to the memory of Bill Bagg.
Author’s disclaimer— There might be a fact or two out of joint a wee bit here and a wee bit there– but like Bill we wouldn’t be storytellers if we didn’t juggle the words around to make it a fine Lanark County tale.Right Bill?
The Dorothy, the oldest still-sailing vessel in Canada, built in victoria in 1897. Dorothy, a 26-foot sloop that was built in a Victoria shipyard in 1897. –
By the way, I talked to Beckwith Councillor Tim Campbell about this story and he said he has a piece of this boat too- so it would seem like a lot of people are sharing what Bill Bagg brought back to Carleton Place.
Today I looked at the lamp I bought from Bill Bagg when he lived in the Brown house on Mill Street and let out a loud sigh. It was very fitting that my late husband’s photo was under it as they shared the same health struggles for their last few years. They might have been as different as night and day but in the end their pain and frustration was the same.
I’m not going to write about his life and family as you can get all that in the newspaper-but, what I am going to write about is how Bill and I walked through the last days of my late husband’s life. You never argued with Bill ever, especially about three things, well maybe 4: local politics, history, his old dog Tick, and most importantly God.
I could understand his frustrations about his dog being picked up, put to sleep, and sent to the dog food company in Smiths Falls in the 80’s. Yes, everyone knows my frustrations with local politics, so I wasn’t going to question that– but it was the God thing that baffled me. How anyone, especially Bill Bagg, could have such a direct line to God made me scratch my head sometimes, but I never doubted it–ever.
My husband Angelo and Bill both discovered they had colon cancer at the same time and today I feel like I am reliving Angelo’s death over again. When Bill was going through something so was Angelo, and I knew how they felt because if one told me then I knew how the other one was.
There were two differences though: Bill had an operation to remove a tumour and Angelo did not because of a fear from a past experience. Angelo died February 8, 2014 and Bill died on Tuesday night– almost a 3 year span. I knew Bill would have better luck not only because of the operation– but because he seemed to have this one on one with God. Was it because of that large pendant he constantly wore– or was it something I just didn’t know? I remember the first time Bill and I discussed cancer like it was yesterday.
Photo of Bill Bagg–Amanda Todd-Peters and Peggy Powell
*”Pushing the large church doors open at St. James I felt rivers of emotions fill my inner soul. I shouldn’t be here I thought to myself, as I knew I was setting myself up. I sat in one of the pews, stared at the stained glass windows, and tried to hold back my tears. People were going to wonder why I was back in town so soon and I had yet to tell anyone what was really going on. For days I had spoken of family emergencies and real estate deals to those that asked, but I kept the truth inside my heart. I knew he didn’t want the whole world to know his deadly secret, and I respected that. I glanced through the hymn book and was thankful it wasn’t Sunday. Organ music would be attempting to pull more tears out of me than what I was presently trying to hide. Not wanting anyone to see the distress I was in I kept to myself and looked at no one. I knew the time was coming when I would have to release the inner sadness, but I just didn’t want it to be today. As people came in they stared at me and I had a feeling some knew my secret but were too kind to ask. Time seemed to move by at a snail’s pace and I kept lowering my head so no one would see my tear-stained face. Taking deep breaths didn’t help and I wanted to sob for a very long time. When I finally pulled myself together it was time to meet and greet. *Bill looked at me point blank and asked why I was back. The world began to spin and I could no longer hold it in and I looked at him and said quietly.
“Ange has stage 4 colon cancer.” He put his arms around me as I cried and said: “You’ve come to the right place I’ve got cancer too!”
For months he tried to get Angelo to talk to someone of a higher power but my husband was having none of it. Bill kept saying if he just talked to God his suffering would be lighter. In Ange’s mind he thought going to church wasn’t going to help him anymore than standing in a garage made you a car. Having been raised with a tough religious Italian Mother kind of muddled his thoughts about God, and anyways you didn’t argue with him, just like you didn’t argue with Bill.
But Bill never gave up on Angelo and he kept telling me God was ready to hear his voice. Angelo never did have that talk with God until the last two days he was alive. A former tenant sent a rosary to him and when he saw it he clasped it like it was a piece of gold. I had never in my whole life seen him do something like that. I knew he was scared and felt lost and by clutching that rosary he felt that God knew where he was. One hour before he died he asked for a priest to come to the house — but it never happened.
Was it a little too late? It wasn’t in Bill’s mind and he said, “In God’s eyes, you are never too far gone in any situation.”
I saw Bill at Walmart a few weeks ago and I knew he didn’t have much time left. I recognized the red jacket, the grey hair, and that voice, but nothing else reminded me of him. Hunched over pushing a shopping cart I felt the pain of his every step. A million memories flashed through my mind of how he used to be and no longer was.
It’s crazy that someone who used to be part of your life is no longer here– and he gave me so much to remember him by. The trouble is you think you have time and you don’t, as Angelo finally realized those last few days. If you look up to the sky today and hear a rumble just smile as you know God now has his hands full. Bill is probably directing heavenly traffic along with Angelo. It has now become one hell of a heaven and as Bill would say:
“God Bless Ya!”
“Bill had a deep love of God but his God was not the one in stained glass windows. He saw God as omnipresent, in everything and everywhere. We argued constantly about theology but when I listened closely I usually found we were saying the same thing. We just loved to argue with each other! He had a heart as big as the moon and I will miss him terribly. Requiem in peace Bill, until we meet again.”—The Rev’d. Canon David Andrew but as we know him our beloved Father D.
*From my book Cancer Calls Collect– Bill was referred to as a woman in the book as I did not want to name names in such a personal recount.
The first time I met Bill Bagg was in the Carleton Place Library at a Carleton Place Historical meeting. Was it 1981 or 1982? Anyways, he recognized me as he was a writer with the Ottawa Journal and was quite familiar with my eclectic Ottawa store.
He came over to me and said,
“You didn’t move here did you?
“You know they are going to run you out of town when they find out right?”
And with that he let out of one of his big “from the belly laughs” and looked at me and said,
“God Love Ya” and proceeded to tell anyone who would listen what “a den of sin” I ran in Ottawa. And so was my first encounter with Bill Bagg
A legend in his own mind, Bill Bagg of Carleton Place died on April 25th, 2017. Born in Barrie, ON on the Ides of March in 1945 while his father was fighting in WWII, Carden William Bagg grew up with his sister Gini in Cornwall. His parents, Alec and Judy fought often and with an intensity that fuelled Bill’s fiery love of family. After settling in Ottawa as a young man, Bill travelled to the Arctic, worked as a surveyor, sold insurance, and was a country manager for the Ottawa Journal. Early on, he developed a love of antiques and Canadiana and was a proud founder of the Bytown Bottle Club. He met Kathleen at a party while on a date with another girl. They married, had four children, built a cottage on Carson Lake and moved to Carleton Place where they began Mill House Antiques. In spite of a divorce and several long-term partners, Kathleen was “the love of his life,” something he never let her forget. Bill remained in Carleton Place and became part of the fabric of the town. He knew its history and would expound upon it at will. He proudly served on town council and was a fixture at St. James Anglican Church. His reputation as an antique dealer reached well beyond Lanark County, in part due to his unforgettably crammed shop Mississippi Gorge Antiques as well as the years he spent Sundays at his booth at the Stittsville Flea Market. More than that, he left an impression on every person he met. He was a story-teller at heart and somehow drew out personal histories from even the most reticent bystanders. Larger than life, charming, quick-witted, quirky, sentimental, loyal, outspoken, Bill was a showman who loved fully and freely and lived to make people smile. His greatest pride were his children Kelly (Martin), Shannon (Jim), Carden (Rachelle), and Victoria (Ryan) and his greatest joy were his grandchildren Alex, Andrew, Simon, Grace, Eve, James, Virginia, Marianne, Gail, Cecilia, Annie, Greta, Nate, and Sammy. He was a friend to many souls over the years and a father figure to Michael and Brian. Bill spent his final days surrounded by his family, exactly where he would want to be, across from the nurses’ station at the Carleton Place Hospital, just a few blocks away from his house. Thank you, in particular, to Dr. Maria, Lindsey, Pam, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Rebecca for the outstanding care of our father. He often talked about what we should do when he got on the spaceship. We’ll do just that. Tha-a-a-nks for the memories, Dad. Thank you very mu-u-u-ch.
Friends and family are welcome to celebrate Bill in the hall at St. James Anglican Church (225 Edmund Street, Carleton Place) on Monday, May 1st from 5-7pm. A funeral service will be held at 7:00pm.
Somewhere along the river… Bill is sitting on his lawnchair and watching the river today. Bill Bagg died last night April 25,2017 at 11:42 pm. May he rest in peace. Please take the time to watch the videos at the end. Much love to his family and to his friends. Gary Strike you were the best friend anyone would want.