Tag Archives: Brockville

Two Ring Nozzles and Oil- Almonte Fire Dept 1874

Two Ring Nozzles and Oil- Almonte Fire Dept 1874

photo from almonte.com Almonte Firemen–Old Boys Reunion Volunteer Firemen

A humorous story about a trick pulled off by the Almonte firemen in a contest at Brockville in 1874, is told by Mr. Robert Young, 240 Fifth avenue, who was then a resident of Almonte. In 1874 the town of Almonte having secured a large new fire engine (hand pump), the amateur brigade decided to take part in a pumping contest at Brockville.

The new engine was larger and more up-to-date than any in the Ottawa district and great things were expected of it, particularly with the husky Almonte brigade of sixty men to man the pump. It appears that at that time the Almonters were an unusually husky lot. There was not a man of the sixty who did not tip the beam at over 200 pounds, while several went around the 240 pound mark.

The nozzle used with the new engine was a 2-ring nozzle which was something new then and had not heretofore been used in contests. Capt. J. S. Stephens expected that his use of the 2-ring nozzle might be questioned and prepared himself for the possibility by procuring a second 2-ring nozzle and blackening and scratching it up to look like an old nozzle.

It should be explained that a 2-ring nozzle had an advantage over a 1-ring nozzle, in that it caused a more solid and even stream to be thrown, thus causing the attainment of greater distance. In due time the Almonte brigade arrived at Brockville with their new engine gaily decorated and their men outfitted with fine new uniforms, making an imposing appearance. In front of the engine there was pulled bv the brigade a float decorated with evergreens and flags, setting forth the merit of Almonte as a community center or place to live.

It was the first time a brigade had attempted any propaganda, other than such as their prowess would bring, and the Idea was widely commented on. The engine and the float had been brought down on the St. Lawrence and Ottawa and Grand Trunk railways on a flat car. The people of Brockville took quite a fancy for the Almonte outfit and began to back them both morally and financially. It was Almonte’s first appearance at any contest, but the favorable Impression.

While the brigade were getting ready for the contest an American from “the Burgh” came up and said: “I like your boys and I want to give you a tip, which will help you. Before you start pumping pour a gallon of oil into your hose (rubber hose). It will make the water flow more easily. Keep it quiet though as there is nothing in the rules preventing you using oil, some of the other fellows might think you used oil.

The Almonte brigade gathered tightly around the man who was to pour the oil in. The crowd tried to find out what was going on around the Almonte engine, but did not. As soon as the oil was poured they revved up the old engine. It had so happened that the only sort of oil the Almonte men could get was what is known as engine oil of the black summer variety.

When the water came out it looked black, as though, it had come out of a mud puddle. “What dirty water!” the crowd said, but nobody, strange to say, suggested oil. Whether the oil caused the Almonte stream to go farther or whether the heavyweights of the team pumped more effectively is hard to say, but anyway the big Almonte team with their big new engine won, amid the cheers of the crowd.

Almonte got a great reception when they got home and the story now told was kept in the background for many years. Now you know the rest of the story!

The Almonte Mississippi Fire Dept. 1998

Things About Bill Lowry 1998

The Witch of Plum Hollow — Complete Story File

The Witch of Plum Hollow — Complete Story File

actual photo of Mother Barnes shown to me by a family member

Love this photo of me SeanandMichael Rikley-Lancaster curator of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum and Elaine Farley at the North Lanark Museum. It was a dark day out there today in Appleton today and we were under a tent.. But the picture came out great LOLOL. It has spirit..The Witch of Plum Hollow IS Reenactor Elaine Farley who highlighted her research today about local legend Elizabeth Barnes the Witch of Plum Hollow and debunked some myths about her. It was great…Love her a lot.. Read-The Plum Hollow Witch 101 – Mother Barnes

The homestead property of Elizabeth “Mother” Barnes, “The Witch of Plum Hollow.” Photo: James Morgan
Rural Ontario has always had its mystics. In Ontario’s Leeds County, it was Elizabeth Barnes, better known as Mother Barnes, the Witch of Plum Hollow. Her date of birth is unclear. Some sources say 1794; others say 1800.
The seventh daughter of a seventh daughter
She was from Cork in Ireland. When she fell in love with a young sergeant named Harrison her father, a colonel in the British Army, disapproved. So the couple eloped and moved to what was then Upper Canada. When Harrison died a few years later, Elizabeth married David Barnes, a shoemaker who had moved up from Connecticut. The couple ended up having nine children; six sons and three daughters.
In 1843, the family relocated to Sheldon’s Corners in Kitley Township, north of Brockville, not far from Lake Eloida and the village of Plum Hollow in the amusingly-named Bastard Township.
Barnes eventually left his wife and Elizabeth needed money to support her large family, so she turned to fortune telling, reading tea leaves and charging her customers 25 cents each—a large sum in 19th century Ontario. Her talents earned her the title “The Witch of Plum Hollow,” even though she did not live in Plum Hollow itself. She was the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and was also alleged to be part Spanish gypsy, which was credited as the source of her “sixth sense.”
A sketch of an elderly Mother Barnes. From Leeds and Grenville: Their first two hundred years, 1967.
Mother Barnes tells a famous fortune
Mother Barnes was a diminutive woman, barely five feet tall. She did tell a few tall tales though when it came to fortunes. People traveled from all over Canada and the North Country of New York to consult with her. Her more local cases involved finding lost livestock and solving crimes. A man named Morgan Doxtater disappeared in Charleston Lake. Mother Barnes directed the searchers to the place where his murdered body was found.
Her most famous customer was a lawyer from Kingston and aspiring politician named John A. Macdonald. The Witch of Plum Hollow told him that he would become the leader of a new country and that its capital would be at what was then known as Bytown, in those days a gritty lumber town. In 1867, the Dominion of Canada was formed. Bytown is now Ottawa and the capital city, and Sir John A. Macdonald was the first Prime Minister of the new country. Mother Barnes had earned her quarter.
Elizabeth Barnes died in 1886 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Sheldon’s Corners cemetery.
An historic homestead
In 1892, local writer Thaddeus William Henry Leavitt published his short novel, The Witch of Plum Hollow, featuring Mother Barnes and her “sixth sense.” Today, her little cabin still stands behind a rail fence along Mother Barnes Road, just west of County Road 29. It’s on private property, and is posted with “No Trespassing” signs. Visitors cannot go inside, but they can park beside the road and have a look at this piece of the past along the back roads of Leeds County.

The Plum Hollow Witch 101 – Mother Barnes

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

The Witch Hollow of Lanark County

When Mother Barnes Made a Mistake? Beckwith 6th Line

The Witch of Plum Hollow Files- An Evening in Smiths Falls

Mother Barnes and the Missing Money of South March

Mother Barnes– The Colonel’s Daughter in Plum Hollow

An Interview with the Witch of Plum Hollow–Mother Barnes— The Ottawa Free Press 1891

The Witch of Plum Hollow and the Blacksmith

My Grandmother was Mother Barnes-The Witch of Plum Hollow

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

Plum Hollow Witch and The Mountain Man of Pakenham

Found- Maley’s Medical Knife — Jackknife– So What’s the Story Morning Glory? Jaan Kolk

Found- Maley’s Medical Knife — Jackknife– So  What’s the Story Morning Glory? Jaan Kolk
property of adin wesley daigle

So Adin found this neat jack knife this week and I was so enthralled with it I had to find where it came from. There is a heck of a lot of Maley’s in the Smiths Falls area, and at first I thought their first store was in Oxford Mills, then Kemptville because this is what I found in local directories. There name through genealogy searches is also spelled Maley or Mealey

Oxford Mills
1861 T. Maley Shoes
Maley, T. F.; 3 Russell St. W. Smiths Falls

Any clippings I found I put it in the ‘ historical area”—but I gave up and called in the ‘big guns’ — which is Ottawa historian Jaan Kolk. I sent my “request for a quest” last night and this morning I got up to this. Thanks Jaan!!!

The first thing Jaan said to me was: “Perhaps it’s a medical knife, Linda. It looks like it has… “heeling power”. D’OH—-

Adin Wesley Daigle photo

Jaan Kolk Figuring Out What is What

1-The 1857 Canada Directory has Thomas Maley General Store, Kemptville. The 1869 Province of Ontario Gazetteer has, in Kemptville, Thomas Maley Boots and Shoes. and Maley Bro. & Co., General Merchants. The 1904 Union Publishing Co. Farmers and Business Directory has W.L. Maley Boots & Shoes in both Kemptville and Smith’s Falls, so it appears that T.J. may have taken charge of brother William’s second store in Smith’s Falls while William remained in Kemptville.

2-It looks like the Maleys may not have been in the shoe business in Kemptville continuously through the late 19th century. The 1884 Ontario Gazetteer has W.L Maley Boots & Shoes in Brockville. In Kemptville, it has Thomas Maley as a loan agent, and George T. Maley with a general store. The 1888 edition had the same, with Wm. L. Maley, shoemaker, corner of King and Apple, Brockville. The 1898 Eastern Ontario Gazetteer still has W.L. Maley boots & shoes in Brockville, and the only other Maley business listed was G.T. Maley, banker, in Kemptville.

Mrs. Thomas Maley, mother of T.F. Maley, died in Smiths Falls July 25, 1912, at age 81. She was survived by her husband, son T.F. Maley, and a one daughter. It was written in her obituary that she (and her husband, I presume) had moved to join her son in Smith’s Falls about six years earlier. A social note for Kemptville in the Ottawa Citizen March 15, 1906 said “Mr. Thomas Maley was in Smith’s Falls Monday”, and another Kemptville note July 23, 1907 said “Mr. Thomas Maley of Smith’s Falls spent last week here with his son W.L. Maley.” That would be consistent with Thomas and his wife having from Kemptville to Smith’s Falls 1906-1907. From the Citizen, July 30, 1912:

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
12 Jan 1907, Sat  •  Page 3

3-OK, now I’ve got it. William L. Malley, who established the Smiths Falls store, was the son of shoemaker Thomas Maley, born ca. 1833. Thomas was two years younger than his wife Mary, who was born in Ireland. The 1881 census shows shoemaker Thomas and Mary in Brockville, with son William L., age 20, listed as a clerk. Also listed is daughter Martha, 18, and a son, 12, “Freddie T.” who must be “T.F. Maley.” I believe Brockville shoemaker Thomas Maley was the son of wealthy Kemptville merchant Thomas Maley, born about 1809 in Quebec (although I don’t have confirmation of that.) In the 1861 census he was listed (with wife Mary) as a shoemaker in Oxford Township, Grenville, and it looks like in 1851, young Thomas Maley was with the household of Oxford shoemaker William Dougal, listed as an apprentice. From the 1881 census, Brockville:

In other things Jaan found-In 1863, The Ottawa and Prescott Railway obtained an injunction against the Township of Oxford and several named shareholders to bar them from voting in shareholder meetings. Among them were four Maley, including a Thomas Maley.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
23 Jul 1907, Tue  •  Page 11
 - The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
30 Jul 1912, Tue  •  Page 9
The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
01 Dec 1930, Mon  •  Page 9


Mary McNish — Joseph Coombs Druggist Smiths Falls

A. Huckels & Co. -The Story of a Bottle- Thanks to Jaan Kolk

Interesting People –R. E. Irvine — The Story of a Bottle

Blackhawk’s B & B Tonic Carleton Place — The Great Tonic Laxative

When I Say Whoa–I Mean Whoa–The Dairy Horse

Cold Milk Ice Cream and Butter —- Carleton Place

Red Letter Days of the Lanark Fair 1910

More History on the Murphy Morphy McEwen House — Karen Prytula

The World’s Fair- Lombardy Fair

The Marvellous Jaan Kolk

I’ve Got a Hex on You — Jaan Kolk and Linda Seccaspina –Historic Rabbit Hole Series

Was the Butter Tart Really Invented in Barrie, Ontario? Jaan Kolk Files

Particulars About Pure Spring Ginger Ale — Jaan Kolk and Linda Seccaspina Historic Rabbit Hole Series

Talking Through Your Hat? Jaan Kolk

So Where Was Caldwell Mills? Thanks Jaan Kolk

The Thrift Store Couple – More Information-Jaan Kolk

The House on the Hill — Up the 8th Line of Ramsay — Jaan Kolk Files

Britannia Boat House Doomed— April 1907 Ice Jam –Jaan Kolk Files

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign–Dr. Winters 154-160 Bridge Street Carleton Place –Jaan Kolk Files

Please take the Devil Out of Me? Rev. James Wilson of Lanark

Did You Know we Once Had a Grand Hotel? The Grand Central Hotel

The Cholera Epidemic of 1911

The Ashton Hotel– Questions Questions Flemmings and McFarlanes

Benoit & Richardson Photo– a Mystery

Before there was Baker Bob’s There was The Almonte Bakery

Does Anyone Remember Cohen’s in Lanark Village?

A. Huckels & Co. -The Story of a Bottle- Thanks to Jaan Kolk

When Transients Had Nowhere to Live — Michael Casey

When Transients Had Nowhere to Live — Michael Casey


Old Brockville Photography

In May of 1910 a homeless, penniless, and a cripple, having recently lost his leg in an accident. Michael Casey, aged 73, who for thirty years lived on Waverley Street, Ottawa, was put off the Brockville train on a Saturday night, having been sent by some person against his wish, and promptly sent back by Chief of Police Burke, of Brockville. .

He was found in this condition by Chief Edwards of Smith’s Falls yesterday morning having remained at the station all night. Fortunately the girls at the restaurant had taken a pity on him, and supplied him with food. Chief Edwards was at his wit’s end to know what to do with the old man as he has no friends or relatives. It was decided to put him in the council chamber, where he was asked for an interview by The Journal representative.

When asked who sent him to Brockville, he replied that he had been in the St. Francis Hospital ever since his leg was amputated in October. On Friday night, he said, the authorities at the hospital gave him a choice of Perth, Renfrew or Brockville to be sent to, but as he had no friends in any of these towns he did not know where to go. When pressed, he decided to go to Brockville, but he had no reason whatever for this decision.

Upon arrival at Brockville, Casey said that Chief Burke was sent for, who stated on learning that he had come from Smiths Falls.

“That’s where you got your accident, and there you must go back,” and on the same night, this poor old man, suffering with pain from his leg, was put on the train to Smith’s Falls. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he spoke of his life in Ottawa, where he has a daughter. Asked why he did not return to Ottawa, the old man shook his head. He once owned some property In Ottawa, he said to pay for which he borrowed money from the late ex-Mayor McDougall, but owing to a severe attack of rheumatics he lost everything. That was three of four years ago.

The Journal representative asked Casey what he intended to do. He replied that he would enter an action again at the cabman who caused him to lose his leg last September. He states, he was standing at a railway crossing when a cab came along, the hub of which took in his trouser leg, throwing him violently to the ground, His leg was later amputated at the St.Francis Hospital.


 - CASEY GOT FREE Karl strata nought There was me...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 03 Apr 1897, Sat,
  3. Page 7

The Subject of Insanity

The Subject of Insanity

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Photo: Assistant Physician’s Office, Brockville Asylum for the Insane, [ca. 1903

Perth Courier, March 14, 1890

The Smith’s Falls News says:  One of our citizens, Arthur Couch, is suffering from that form of insanity known as melancholia. Six or seven weeks back the symptoms first began to show themselves but no further notice was taken at the time than would be taken of a man who might become somewhat odd or preoccupied.  A couple of weeks ago however, the disease took a more dangerous turn and on Saturday the 1st inst., he made an attempt on his life which would have been successful but for the providential interference of a friend.

An effort has been made to place the unfortunate man in the asylum at Kingston but that institution was over crowded and he could not be admitted.  He is at present at home where he is carefully watched although he is quiet in demeanour.  He appears to take no interest in anything around him except horses, and knows no one except his most intimate friends to whom he will once in a while talk horses. One of the peculiarities of his madness is that of the two horses which are standing in a stable he believes one to be dead and will not feed it.


Perth Courier, October 27, 1876

Almonte:  Insane—One of the workmen employed in Mr. William Wylie’s woolen mill named Thomas Glasgow, became deranged in his mind last week and was taken to the county gaol for safe keeping.  The unfortunate man has always been a quiet, industrious, and temperate man but a short time ago he lost his wife, which misfortune is supposed to have caused his present insanity.

Perth Courier, November 10, 1876

Insane—A few weeks ago a young man named Patrick Bowes, son of Mrs. Bowes of Almonte, showed signs of insanity which last week culminated in an undeniable attack of that dreadful complaint.  He was committed to the gaol at Perth on Monday last on information laid down by his uncle, Mr. John O’Neil of Bathurst, there to await the action of the asylum authorities.  He is about 17 years of age and in his affliction both he and his widowed mother have the entire sympathy of the people of Almonte.

Data Base for the Rockwood Insane Asylum in Kingston, Ontario


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  03 Mar 1948, Wed,  Page 16

Clipped from The Buffalo Commercial,  09 Oct 1902, Thu,  Page 2


Come 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.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)




The Peculiar Case of Jeanetta Lena McHardy

The Odd Tale of Insane Johnny Long?

Embroidery of the Insane?

To Be Manic Depressive in a Rural Town — Kingston Insane Asylum

The Insane Spinster Ghost of Appleton Ontariounnamed (1)

The First Train to Perth–and I Don’t Know if I’m Ever Coming Home! Seriously!

The First Train to Perth–and I Don’t Know if I’m Ever Coming Home! Seriously!



On January 21, 1869 smoke billowed out of the wide funnel of the wood-burning locomotive engine of the B & O train (Brockville and Ottawa Railway Company) as the temperature roared 40 degrees below zero and a blizzard blew across Brockville. The two little wooden cars were crowded with excited passengers along with a reporter for this maiden journey to the end of the line– which was Perth.

A week previous a train inspector had ‘thumbed up’ the journey and pronounced it safe and ready for business. But, it had snowed the day before, which inspectors had not anticipated, nor the passengers. The trip was reported as uneventful to Smiths Falls-but from Smiths Falls the journey was described as a ‘heap of trouble’. Snow and ice had caked on the rails of the puffing wood burner and the trains could just not gain any traction. The ‘cowcatcher’ caught all the snow in the centre tracks and turned it over on the rails now rendering progress impossible.

Some decided to go home after sitting there for awhile trusting the Perth Stage to get them home. However, the bolder folks decided to stay put on the ‘iron horse’ that had scorned the old planks roads over the swamps. The second engine had not hauled their passengers every far when it balked.  The engine was now dry and the passengers were instructed to scour the frozen ditches and creeks for water. This chore had to be done again a few miles down the road and then stalled once again barely two miles from Perth.


Image result for train cow catcher smiths falls

The last train on the car came to a dead stop as the coupling of the car had given way leaving a car full of passengers all alone until the engine returned from Perth with a rope to hitch to the car. Finally at 7 that evening the engine lurched into Perth with passengers who had been on a train nearly 10 hours to travel 40 miles, and there remained the return journey. The train was supposed to return to Brockville at 8 that night but in the shunting of the train one of the cars had gotten off the track. Three more hours were spent in the cold bleak railway yard before the car was hoisted back on the rails.



Photo by  Smiths Falls Railway History


Finally at 11 pm “all aboard” was called and the weary passengers arrived home at half past three that morning never ever to forget their first journey on the B and O Railway. But soon everyone did forget about that disastrous first journey and wanted to travel by rail. In February of 1859 The Bathurst Courier published its first advertisement featuring the first railroad time table and rates. The fare from Smiths Falls to Perth was 10 cents and from Perth to Brockville was a mere $1.50 return. Of course it wasn’t long before the Perth editor was lamenting in his newspaper that the journey to Brockville was taking business away from Perth.



The line was extended to Carleton Place in 1859 and reached the Ottawa River through Almonte, Arnprior, and Sand Point in 1864. B & O turned over the right to build from Arnprior to Pembroke to Canada Central Railway and the line was extended through Renfrew County in the 1870s. Both companies were united under Canadian Pacific Railway Company and linked with a transcontinental network in 1881. Smiths Falls Railway History


Saturday October 7th & Sunday October 8th (Thanksgiving) (Tickets on sale September 2nd)

Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario

Smiths Falls, Ontario



Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come 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.



James Fanning– Robert Nolan– Train Accident

When Trains Crash —Ashton Train Accident 1950

Clippings of The Old Perth Train Station

The Glen Tay Train Wrecks of Lanark County

Did You Know About These Local Train Wrecks?

Tragedy and Suffering in Lanark County-Trains and Cellar Stairs

I was Born a Boxcar Child- Tales of the Railroad

The Lanark County “Carpetbaggers”–Lanark Electric Railway

The Titanic of a Railway Disaster — Dr. Allan McLellan of Carleton Place

What Happened on the CPR Railway Bridge?

Memories from Carleton Place–Llew Lloyd and Peter Iveson

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage

So Which William Built the Carleton Place Railway Bridge?

The trial of W. H. S. Simpson the Railway Mail Clerk

55 years ago–One of the Most Tragic Accidents in the History of Almonte

The Kick and Push Town of Folger

Train Accident? Five Bucks and a Free Lunch in Carleton Place Should Settle it

The Men That Road the Rails

The Mystery Streets of Carleton Place– Where was the First Train Station?

Memories of When Rail was King- Carleton Place



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Friday October the 13th– 6:30.. meet in front of the old Leland Hotel on Bridge Street (Scott Reid’s office) and enjoy a one hour Bridge Street walk with stories of murder mayhem and Believe it or Not!!. Some tales might not be appropriate for young ears. FREE!–


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Is My Mikado Bride Behind Door Number 1 or 2? Here’s a how-de-do!

Is My Mikado Bride Behind Door Number 1 or 2? Here’s a how-de-do!



WordPress.com Brockville Minstrels 1885– I wonder if they sang The Mikado?


The Brockville Recorder 1887 


A marriage occurred in Brockville lately, connected with which there are some elements of romance. For obvious reasons the names are not given, but the bride is a Brockville girl, and the groom is from below the border.

The groom is a widower with a couple of children, and who some months ago, while visiting friends at Ogdensburg, expressed a desire to marry again. One of his female friends there, with a turn for match-making, told him she was acquainted with a young lady in Brockville who would make him an excellent wife, and advised him to open a correspondence with her. This the party did.

It appears, however, that there were two young women of the same name in Brockville, and the letter was not delivered to the one for whom it was intended, but fell into the hands of the other party, who, believing it for herself, answered it, and a regular correspondence was opened. Although neither of the parties had ever seen the other, the man proposed marriage, and was accepted, and then came to Brockville to make the personal acquaintance of his made.

He met her, and the date for the wedding was fixed. The soon-to-be groom then returned to Ogdensburg. There the lady who had interested herself in his behalf put him through a course of cross-examination as to his opinion of the young woman she had selected for him, and from the description learned that the one that he had proposed to was not the  correct person.

She advised him to take, but a total stranger to her, and, like Ko-Ko in the Mikado, exclaimed: “Here’s a pretty kettle o’ fish ; here’s a howdy-do.” She explained that somehow things were mixed, and that the one he proposed to was not her friend, but an entire stranger. The party then returned post-haste to Brockville, made inquiries, and learned that there were two young ladies in town of the same name. He then ascertained the residence of young lady No 2, and called on her, explained the circumstances, made a proposal of marriage, but was 5 bluntly refused. He immediately concluded that he would stick to No. 1, and the wedding in due course took place.


Author’s note: I don’t know about you– but if my new husband came with 4 children I might have said no too… but alas, that was the way of the world in those days.




Come 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.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)




It Pays to Advertise… Classified Ad Brides

Women in Peril– Betrayed by Heartless Scoundrels 1882

The Home for Friendless Women

Laundry Babies – Black Market Baby BMH 5-7-66

Embroidery of the Insane?

Women in Peril 1868 — Mathilda Routh

Did You Know About the House of Industry?

The Very Sad Tale of Hessie Churchill

All the Single Ladies?

I’m Every Woman?


Bigamists? How About the Much Married Woman? One for the Murdoch Mystery Files



I have written many stories about those dastardly gentleman of Lanark County that loved to dally their toes into bigamy. So I was very shocked when I found out the ladies were too on occasion. But this case was one for the Murdoch Mystery files.

It began innocently with this newspaper article:

January 18 1895 Almonte Gazette

Brockville—Mrs. James Dempster was arrested at Gananoque today on a charge of bigamy, and the circumstances of the case are somewhat romantic. The woman’s name was formerly Annie Graham, and in 1890 she married a man named Sherman Dowsley, a resident of Mallorytown, a village a few miles west of Brockville. She was only 17 at the time and the bliss matrimonial was conspicuously absent in this instance. After a month’s life in double harness the pair separated.

The woman travelled under the name of Dowsley until she recently assumed the name of McDonald and took up her residence in Gananoque. Here she ran across one elderly man named James.  Dempster, a man of comfortable means and had been in search of a life partner for a long period of time. Marriage was the result, and everything went happily along until a few days ago, when the first husband, Dowsley, turned up.

The angry husband, threatened to expose the pair unless given the deed to the Dempster’s farm, and when this was not forthcoming, carried his threat into effect. The arrest of the woman was the result. She was given a preliminary hearing before a magistrate and later the woman was committed to trial.

So what made her jump into such an early marriage only to desert it months later?  In other newspaper articles I found out that on July 4th, 1890, Annie Graham, along with three friends (2 male) were in a boat in Alexandria Bay most likely to catch view of American festivities. One of the gentlemen stood up and rocked the boat in fun and the boat capsized and they were thrown into the river. John Mayer and Annie Graham were rescued, but the other two drowned in 10 feet of water and their bodies never found.

So what happened to dear Annie? One thing is for certain- thankfully she was not sent to the Kingston Insane Asylum where many convicted were sent. On February 18, 1895 Annie, Mrs. Dempster or Dowsley was sentenced by Judge McDonald to two years, 6 months in the Kingston penitentiary.  I was beginning to feel really sorry for her until 4 hours later I pieced it all together. I have posted the following newspaper reports- so I won’t be challenged of making it all up. 🙂

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But there is more to the story …

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January 14 1895 Ottawa Journal

Then this…

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February 12 1895– So who was W.A Williamson? Another one of Annie’s aliases? NO,  not so sweet Annie was in cahoots with yet another man Williamson, a local marble dealer, to try and  get Dempster’s estate.


The End or was it? Willamson received a suspended sentence for his part in the crime  to defraud “old man Dempster”while Annie got 2 years and 6 months. Rev. E. Thomas was furious and it became his sermon on February 25, 1895.



February 25, 1895



Name Sherman Dowsley
Event Type Marriage
Event Date 15 Oct 1890
Event Place Brockville, Leeds, Ontario, Canada
Gender Male
Age 21
Birth Year (Estimated) 1869
Father’s Name George Dowsley
Mother’s Name Susan Giles
Spouse’s Name Annie Graham
Spouse’s Gender Female
Spouse’s Age 17
Spouse’s Birth Year (Estimated) 1873
Spouse’s Father’s Name Wm Graham
Spouse’s Mother’s Name Dannie Ferguson

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Actual certificate –From Ontario Marriages data base:

Sherman Dowsley Marriage 15 Oct 1890 Brockville, Leeds, Ontario, Canada Male 21 1869 George Dowsley Susan Giles Annie Graham Female age 17

7026-1890 (Leeds Co) Sherman DOWSLEY, 21, Farmer, Mallorytown, same, s/o George DOWSLEY & Susan GILES, married Annie GRAHAM, 17, Caintown, same, d/o William. GRAHAM & Dannie FERGUSON, witn: Susan EMSLEY, Emma LONG, Brockville. 15 Oct 1890 Brockville

Here are some punishments I found for bigamists:

15/1: Six weeks hard labour
15/1: One day imprisonment
30/4: One day imprisonment
30/4: One month hard labour
30/4: twelve months hard labour
31/5: Five months penal servitude
25/6: Five months penal servitude

James Watson– Bigamy and Shoes

Bigamy–The Story of Ken and Anne and Debby and Cathy and…

Bigamy–The Story of Ken and Anne and Debby and Cathy and…

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

Was it the Germans Or UFO’s that Invaded the Ottawa Valley in 1915?





In 1915 it was said that some of the folks in Brockville and the surrounding area were returning from church and spotted something lit in the sky on February 15, 1915.  When the mayor of Brockville and three constables also witnessed this incident word quickly spread up and down the valley that the Germans were invading Canada.

Vivid flashes in a minor lightening storm gave credence that German aircraft were possibly passing over the area. To make matters even more interesting the mayor of Gananoque also said that two invisible aircraft were heard flying overhead. Parliament Hill went dark at 11 pm that night and the city of Ottawa and most small towns in the outlying areas followed suit 20 minutes later. I have no doubt that many of our local citizens spent a restless fearful night.

Newspaper headlines of: Machines Crossed Over St. Lawrence River: Seen by Many heading to the Capital–Fireballs Dropped appeared quickly the next day. Explanations from government officials were demanded by the local newspapers. Was it really a few of the Morristown youths playing pranks some asked when a paper balloon was found on the ice of the St. Lawrence River near the town? What about the remains of a few more balloons that were found with fireworks attached to them near the Brockville Asylum? Soon after these items were found; the media that had been so intent on causing hysteria scoffed at their reader’s fear in print.

Opinions differed as to the nature of the mysterious objects.  Of course Ottawa had to chime in to assure everyone that Germans aircraft had not flown their planes over Eastern Ontario as the headlines persisted. The Dominion Observatory agreed, adding information about local wind direction and added that everyone just had  war jitters. But, in all honesty the generic comments from the Observatory  and the government did nothing to quell the fear of the locals. As gossip spread and the story transfer expanded to new highs the German bombers became very real to the public. No matter what the media and the government had said in their morning statements the lights still went out all over the Ottawa Valley and guns were set up on various rooftops that next evening.

If you ask some today they will tell you it wasn’t the Morrisburg kids trying to be funny, but in reality it was UFO’s. This story which has appeared in a number of paranormal books  says that as the Valley was “preparing for the arrival of Germans ” these strange lights were apparently spotted in towns all over Ontario and in provinces as far away as Manitoba.

When I was a kid I used to let balloons go up in the sky and I always hoped that maybe an alien would find it and it would make him or her smile. Maybe the pranks of those Morrisburg kids caught someone else’s attention in the sky– I guess we will never know will we.

Almost out of the X-Files isn’t it?

With files from The Almonte Gazette and the Ottawa Journal February 1915



In May of 1910 during the great fire of Carleton Place three young ladies residing in a house in one end of town were suddenly awakened at 3 am by the cries of fire and the illumination of the sky. They thought that Halley’s Comet had passed that night and had produced the end of the world. The three rushed outdoors in their night clothes waving their arms and crying in despair. They thought it the end of the time was near. It took awhile to get the ladies under control and understand what had really happened. No doubt they had read the newspapers that very day about the coming of Halley’s Comet.Then there was the phantom lights Sid Annable wrote about on Mississippi Lake. Were these all yarns or fact?


Related Stories—

When The Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror!

When The Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror!- Volume 1- Part 2

The Phantom Light on Mississippi Lake

Was it a UFO? A Meteorite or a Fuse Box? A Carleton Place Legend–Photos

Was it a UFO? A Meteorite or a Fuse Box? A Carleton Place Legend

Unsolved Mysteries — The Almonte Woman Abducted by a UFO (Part 2)

More UFO Sightings in Carleton Place!


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

A trip to Montreal in 1841


Perth Courier, April 3, 1891

Fifty Years Ago 1841


Photo- Ville de Montreal On top of Mount Royal


The boy of today scarcely realizes the situation of 50 years ago.  Few had seen a steam boat and as for the railroad they were only known as wonders of foreign lands.  Occasionally one impatient of parental controls would ship on the Jolly Bower” or “British Queen” and after a voyage of from four to six weeks would return and recite with embellishments the wonders of the city.

The steamers of Montreal, the sailors from distant climes, the cathedral of Nelson’s monument were set forth in magic description.  The perils of the early traveler were many.  The Hon. Roderick Matheson thought himself fortunate if he could reach Montreal in 48 hours and then was obliged to ride in eight different conveyances.  It was, therefore, an event of a lifetime of the writer—then a lad of 13—when a trip to the commercial metropolis was suggested.



Photo from Perth & District Historical Society -Tay Canal


The preparations for the journey were by no means meager and was the talk of the school for several weeks previous.  On a fine morning in September as the day was dawning the rude vehicle which conveyed the tri-weekly mail from Brockville to Perth drove up to the door of my parents residence.  The postman’s horn called us from an unfinished breakfast and as speedily as possible I was in the seat with the driver then well known in Perth and whose gilt ear rings will likely be remembered by some of our readers of this article.


After driving around our town our load was completed and consisted of a lawyer going to attend the assizes at Brockville, a merchant making his semi-annual trip to Montreal, an axeman bound to the same place, a young man of Dalhousie 20 years of age on his way to western Canada to look up a future home, a young lady of Scotch descent from Pennsylvania who had been visiting relatives in the neighborhood of Perth and the driver.


After the stage drove up to the post office door the postmaster appeared in “dishabille” and threw the bag into the street.  The driver lobbed it over the seat, blew his horn, and we were cheered on our departure with a bass solo from one of the “Rana Pipers” troupe who gave daily concerts at the old Tay Canal basin.  The stage vehicle was little better than a lumbering wagon and an eight hour ride in it would not be endured by the traveler of the present day.


A quite speedy drive up “Job’s Creek” hill, round by the head of Ottay Lake, winding round hill and over swamp brought us to Oliver’s Ferry. Here the steamer “Beaver” appeared with a load of soldiers and a fine band that treated us to a serenade.  The approach to the old scow that ferried us over were humble and the passengers had to get a ride or run the risk of being thrown out.  It was forest from the ferry to Lombardy.  At Kitley Corners we had a rest of about 30 minutes while the horses were changed.


Photo– Kitley Township 


The last half of the trip was made more speedily, the roads were better. From the Tin Cap school house to Brockville was a good macadamized road probably about 6 miles and the only piece of good road in the two counties.  Some things are always remembered and there was a public house in Kitley that attracted my attention.  It had a rebus on the sign and meant “The Best Liquor Under the Sun” by Septimus Soper the first three words over a picture representing the sun.


We arrived at Brockville in about eight hours from Perth and had to wait until the next morning for the regular steamer.  As we waited in Brockville in the evening a smaller steamer arrived, the “Pioneer”.  Capt. Hilliard and some of the guests of the hotel at which we stopped took passage on her.  We only made Prescott that night and had to stay there so as to have daylight to run the rapids.

097 View of the harbour, Montreal, QC, 1884.jpg

View of the harbour, Montreal, QC, 1884-The photographs from the Notman Photographics Archives .



The next night we laid to at Coteau du Lac and 39 hours from Brockville arrived at Montreal.  Abler pens than mine have described this majestic city.  There are nobler rivers in the world but the St. Lawrence from Kingston surpasses them all for beauty and grandeur.  The wonders of the city, the view from the mountain, the great Quebec steamers, the vessels “Atlantic”, “Tam O Shanter” and “Souter Johnnie”, were a continual feast to my eyes.  After a two week stay in the city we returned to Perth with a feeling that I had seen more of the world than fell to the ordinary mortal.


Township of Elizabethtown-Kitley