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Almonte’s Outlaw Horse — A Horse of a Tale


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This is the story of two race horses- a fast one from Almonte and a slow one from Renfrew that were expertly  retouched to look exactly alike. From that succesaful “operation”  they went on to make history in Canada and the United States and became the object of search in the two countries until they vanished completely after making their owner a fortune.


For this amazing episode in ‘the history of horse racing’ in the Ottawa Valley the writer has drawn on the records of Bob Boal, dean of Lanark County, politically and municipally on whose father’s farm at Pakenham these two famous horses were kept when not racing. The man who owned both was D. G. Macdonell popularily known as “DG” brilliant Almonte lawyer who rose to prominence in the Canadian political arena.


In the reckless nineties, horse racing and politics were absorbing preoccupations in the Ottawa Valley. “D.G.” excelled In both. He had his private paddock in Almonte alongside the CPR tracks and spent time “cleaning up” at all the fall fairs in the Valley. Macdonell, in partnership with John Kelley, decided to enter his horses in the “big” circuits In the United States.  While competing on the United States tracks, “D.G.” bought 5 branded horse which had been outlawed as a “ringer.”


He brought this horse, which had three horse shoes branded on its side, to skilled Almonte veterinary. Dr. Young.  After several months of expert work. Dr. Young succesfully removed the brands on MacDonald’s imported horse. There was no secret about it and all the racing fraternity In the district followed the ‘experiment’ with keen interest.  Thus disguised with the brands removed Macdonell took It across the border where it resumed its spectacular win on all tracks. However, the American Judge became suspicious and threatened to disqualify the horse if it was ever entered again.


So Macdonell and Kelley returned to Almonte with the horse. That year at the Renfrew Fair they were impressed by another horse that closely resembled their once branded winner except for its legs. The Renfrew horse was ‘ considerably slower but it would do. So they bought the Renfrew horse and painted its legs to match their racing marvel.


Then they returned to the race tracks of the United States with the two horses looking identical to each other. When they wanted to lose a race they ran the slow Renfrew horse, and when they wanted to win they entered the ex-branded horse. Finally the big sweepstakes race came up in Kentucky. Macdonell, after a succession of losses with his slow horse (to build up long-odds) entered his fast horse. Going all for broke, be bet his shirt on It and cleaned up $50,000.


But the jig was up, the American Judge with a long memory somehow identified identified the outlawed horse, seized it and put a guard over it. That night Macdonell bought off the guard and escaped with the horse. An American detective  followed hot on his trail across the border to the home pasture on the Boal farm outside of Pakenham. But they, or anybody else, never saw the famous horse again. They just disappeared.


Not only did D. G. Macdonell outsmart the American horse racing “sharpers” “D.G.” decided to enter the lists as North Lanark as a brash Liberal candidate in 1898. He was not the favored political son of Lanark –then and since – consistently Tory. But Macdonell had other potent assets. He was a native son of Glengarry and to the Scots of Beckwith, Ramsay and Dalhousie township that outweighed every other consideration.


Accordingly to the story “D C.” turned up unsupported at the nomination convention, wearing a Glengarry bonnet to thethe dismay of party line Liberals and Tories. His fiery election speech and “the Glengarry” captured the Scottish delegates from the concession. He won the nomination but not the election.




Unexpected Almonte
September 14, 2019  · 

Almonte was featured in the Saturday, 4 January 1879 issue of the Canadian illustrated News.
The Canadian Illustrated News was a weekly Canadian illustrated magazine published in Montreal from 1869 to 1883. It was published by George Desbarats.
The magazine was notable for being the first in the world to consistently produce photographs at a successful rate. This was possible with the financial backing of Desbarats, as well as the invention of half-tone photo-engraving by William Leggo (Wikipedia)
Depicted above are:
St. Andrew’s Church, St. Paul’s Church & Parsonage, Daniel Galbraith Esq MP, The residence of Major Gemmill, The High School, St. John’s Church, The R.C. Church, School & Parsonage, The Rosamond Woollen Company’s Mill, Elm Glen (Residence of A. Elliott Esq), D.G. Macdonnell Esq, Reeve, Riley’s Hotel, Messrs, Elliott & Sheard’s Woollen Mill, Dr. Mostyn MPP, Residence of D.G. Macdonnell, Esq., Reeve.

Early Life

Donald Greenfield Macdonell was born in Morrisburg, Ontario, on July 2, 1849. His parents were Alexander Greenfield Macdonell (1817-1889) and Helen Sophia (“Ellen”) Doran (1826-1871). Alexander Macdonell was a lawyer.

Donald became a lawyer in 1874. He lived for a time in Almonte, Ontario, a town of textile mills on Canada’s Mississippi River, about 20 kilometres southwest of Ottawa.

Marriage to Margaret Rosamond

On June 30, 1875, in Almonte, he married Margaret Rosamond. She was born about 1858 in Carleton Place, Ontario. Her parents were Bennett Rosamond (1833-1910) and Adair Mary Roy. Bennett Rosamond was a prominent manufacturer and politician in Almonte.

Margaret died in Almonte on August 28, 1877. Read more here CLICK

An organization in Carleton Place with these newer ideas for the conservation of practically all main forms of wild life was formed in 1884.  Under the title of the Carleton Place Game, Fish and Insectivorous Birds Protective Society it continued to operate for some years.  Original officers of the group were William Pattie, president ; Jim Bothwell, vice president ; Walter Kibbee, secretary-treasurer, and committee members John Cavers, Tom Glover, John Moore, Jim Morphy and Jim Presley ; elected at a May meeting in the old fire hall on Bridge Street, when a constitution drawn up by Robert Bell was adopted.  Other members pledged to support the rules of this pioneering wild life protective society were William Beck, Peter Cram, Jim Dunlop, John Flett, David Gillies, Charlie Glover, Tom Hilliard, Archie Knox and Tom Leaver ; Hugh McCormick, William McDiarmid, Hiram McFadden, Jim McFadden, Jim McGregor, George McPherson, William Neelin, Robert Patterson and William Patterson ; Dr. Robert F. Preston, Alex Sibbitt, William Taylor, William Whalen, Will R. Williamson, Alex Wilson and Joe Wilson.  Out of town sportsmen among the first members were Duncan Campbell, John Gemmill, D. G. MacDonnell and Tom Mitcheson, all of Almonte ; Jim Rogers of Montreal and R. W. Stevens of Ottawa.

At this time fishing on Sundays was illegal here as well as hunting on Sundays.  Only about five of these men were said to be still living in 1928 when a story recalling the formation of the Carleton Place wild life protective society of 1884 was published.

Related Reading

War Horses — Between 500 and 1,000 Horses Were Shipped to Europe Everyday

The Ghost Horse of Tatlock — A Faerie Tale???

You’ve Got Trouble in Franktown-Dead Horses and Wives

A Horse is a Horse of Course– Of Course—Angus McFarlane

Buggies Horses and Accidents

Did you Know Old Burnside has a Ghostly Horse?

Let’s go Racing Boys — J. A. Brunton –Where was This Sign?

Let’s Go Racing Boys with Nellie Sharper and Alex Hunter from Carleton Place

Uncle Johnnie Erskine and Stewart Ferguson by Tom Edwards

More Notes about the Mysterious Arklan Farm

Ride a Horse Save a Cowboy

The Tragic Tale of Harvey Boal

The Tragic Tale of Harvey Boal


March 1912

Sometimes working for the railroad was not a good thing. The shocking accident that had happened in March of 1912 had greater interest for those who lived in Almonte than those who lived in the Ottawa area. Harvey Boal, son of William Boal (or Boale) ( mother Mary Jane Stanley of Almonte was held responsible for the train accident in Hull. The loss of life and injuries could never be minimized but, had Harvey been habitually careless or inattentive the citizens of Almonte would have understood, but he wasn’t.

In 1915 he had completed a telegraphy course with Mr. W. S. MacDowell and he was noted as being above average in ability. The rapidity in which he achieved promotions from Almonte to the CPR head office and then  sent out west was incredible for someone who was barely 21. He had not been married very long, and did not drink and attended church regularly. He was taking classes so he could rise to a position of  divisional superintendent rather than pound a key.

 - OOOOOO oooooo oooooo ooooo WARRANT ISSUED O O...

Sympathy was expressed for the consequences that this young lad was now going to face after working a 19 hour shift. Fear took over Harvey Boal and instead of waiting to be questioned, he ran way and a warrant was issued for his arrest. In the end he was not the only guilty one, and operator John Francis Cole was also dismissed for issuing the wrong orders. I tried to find out what happened to poor Harvey Boal but the trail went coal. There was another Havey Boal that died at age 41 in an elevator accident in the 1950s, but it was not the same chap.

Jiana Daren
The elder Harvey Boal was the brother of Stanley Boal who was the father of the younger’s Harvey Boal. The elder Boal died in Vancouver in 1967 :

 - "That the collision was caused through...


Jiana Daren

The elder Harvey Boal was the brother of Stanley Boal who was the father of the younger’s Harvey Boal. The elder Boal died in Vancouver in 1967 :

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From the Chesterville Record –– Colin Churcher’s page

Five killed. Fifteeen Injured.
Work train let go ahead of time and crashed into local passenger train.
Ottawa March 8.  A train was let go this morning five minutes before it should have moved. The result was a splintering of wood, binding of iron and five people gave up their lives amid the cries of fifteen others injured.
The accident occurred on the Pontiac branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway within three miles of the Parliament buildings.
The Dead.
John Moyles, Undertaker, Quyon.
John Anderson, CPR Conductor, Ottawa.
John Darby, Duke Street, Hull.
Miss Kehoe, Quyon.
E.J. Taber, Contractor, Hull.
Details of injured not taken except Fred Cole, Engineer.
The morning train from Waltham, a little late, had reversed as usual on the Y near Hull, and was backing to reach the Union Station in Ottawa.  This is the way in which it enters the station each day.  A work train was being held at Hull until the passenger train had safely passed. In some incomprehensible way the work train was let go. At Tetraultville it met with a crash the rear of the backing passenger train.
The trains were moving in opposite directions at a fair speed.  The locomotive of the work train came into contact with the first class car.  It was new of strong construction and resisted the shock. The second class car just beyond it was not so strongly built and collapsed like a berry box between the squeeze of the two locomotives.  It was the weak spot and gave.
The result was terrible for those within and the car was half full.  Men and women were jammed with smashed seats. broken glass, fractured woodwork and twisted steel in a mass of dead and injured.  Rescue work was promptly started.  Ottawa was communicated with, doctors and nurses rushed to the spot and the injured quickly conveyed to Ottawa.
The passenger train was in the charge of Conductor John Anderson who was instantly killed apparently from a blow to the head.  The engineer was Joseph Murphy and his fireman Camille Lemieux.
The freight engine was in charge of engineer Cole and William Short, fireman, all of Ottawa.  Anderson was one of the best known conductors on the road.  The accident happened where is a sharp curve and deep cut and it was impossible for the crew of one train to see the other till too late.
Harvey Boal, operator at Hull, whose mistake in issuing an order for a clear track is said to be the direct cause of the disaster, has disappeared and detectives are searching for him.  He is a young man with a good record on the line.
Chesterville Record 3/21/1912  William Kennedy the sixth victim of the railway wreck on the Pontiac line near Hull died at the Water Street hospital at 4 o’clock this morning.
Chesterville Record  3/28/1912  The jury conducting the inquest on the victims of the fatal wreck on the CPR at Hull on March 8, returned a verdict Monday night practically exonerating Harvey Boal, the CPR telegrapher, for whose arrest a warrant has been issued and placing the blame on the CPR.

The official report gave two killed and 15 injured.

This accident was responsible for the installation of the Electric Token Block system between Ottawa West, Hull and Ottawa Union.  The Ottawa Citizen of 24 April 1912 explains:

Since the wreck of the Pontiac train at Hull last month, whereby five(sic) persons were killed and several injured, the C.P.R. has introduced a new block system between Hull and Ottawa which if it is strictly observed, will prevent a recurrence of the accident.
According to the rules of the present system a train cannot leave Hull or Ottawa before the conductor has obtained a staff which is locked and unlocked by an electrical arrangement.  Only by deliberately ignoring the system could another collision of two trains occur between Hull and Ottawa.  The Pontiac train still continues to back in from Hull to Broad Street station, but, by the new arrangement there is little or no danger of an accident.

 - BOAL HAS GOT AWAY TO STATES Drove to Russell...

 - , I He-then LETTER OF BOAL GOT v BY POLICE Hull...

 - ACKNOWLEDGES HIS GUILT. Operator Says He Was...

 - Said Boat Is Arrested. Toronto, March 19. A...



( no date ) In the afternoon and evening of May 21st more than two hundred friends gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. R. M. Boal to honor them, on the occasion of their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Messages were received from the Prime Minister of Canada, the Hon. John Diefenbaker, the Premier of Ontario, the Hon. John F. Robarts, Mr. George Doucett, MP for Lanark and Mr. G. Gomme, MPP for Lanark. Mr. Boal the oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. William Boal was born near Pakenham. (Cedar Hill)

When a young man he, went West and homesteaded at Davidson, Sask. After a few years he returned and married Miss Letitia Foster of Ramsay. Their love for Lanark County proved to be strong, for after eight years at Deux Rivieres they returned to reside at Cedar Hill and later in Pakenham. During this time Mr. and Mrs. Boal took an active interest in Community affairs. Mrs. Boal has been a keen worker in her church and in the Women’s Institute. Mr. Boal served as Reeve of Pakenham Township for thirteen years and also as Warden of Lanark County. Among the remembrances received was a table with a vase containing fifty golden roses. The tea table was decorated with yellow roses, yellow tapers and centered with a three-tiered wedding cake. All arrangements for the celebration was by the courtesy of the Cedar Hill and Pakenham Branches of the Women’s Institute.

Another Harvey Boal in Almonte–

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Almonte Man Fatally Crushed by Heavy Door – (1958)–ALMONTE, August 28. – (Special) – Harvey Boal, 41, of Brae street, Almonte, was crushed to death Wednesday when a 6,000-pound door he was helping install in a bank vault, tipped and pinned him by the stomach against a wall. An employee of Howard Davey, local building contractor, Mr. Boal died in Ottawa Civic Hospital two hours, after the accident. Carman Denny and Alex Spinks were on one side of the seven-foot door and Mr. Boal was on the other side when it I slipped off the roller and pinned the victim against the wall. Twenty men were unable to move the door. He was freed half an hour later by jacks obtained at nearby service stations. Mr. Boal was conscious while pinned against the wall. Attended by Dr. 0. Schulte, he was removed to the Rosamond Memorial Hospital by Kerry-Scott Ambulance where he was given first aid and then taken to hospital in Ottawa. OPP Constable Ross McMartin investigated the accident. Born and educated in Ramsay Township, he was a son of Stanley Boal and the late Mabel Miller. He attended Almonte Presbyterian Church. Mr. Boalserved overseas with the Canadian Army during World War II. He was a member of the Almonte Legion. He is survived by his wife, the former Ellen Green whom he married in 1942. Also surviving are a son, Bill, 15; three sisters, Mrs. 0rville Abbott (Luella), of Brockville; Mrs. Clare Syme (Ione), of Ramsay township, and Mrs. Clarence McInerney (Jean) of Minden. Ont. The body is at the Kerry-Scott Funeral Home, Almonte.

ome 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 and The Tales of Almonte