Tag Archives: California

Missing Berkeley Series – Larry Thrasher

Missing Berkeley Series – Larry Thrasher

From my “Missing Berkeley” series– Meeting Larry Thrasher from Psychic TV– 2000

Berkeley California

Every day I passed by a gray building with covered windows that grace pictures of Meher Baba’ and wonder what is inside. You imagine that there might be some secret gathering of mystic people or philosophers inside planning the outcome of the world. Or is there something else going on? One day those same windows become filled with trinkets that beckon you. Little bits of joy that three people have worked hard to collect to brighten your day.

You think you recognize the man’s name that you are talking to as you listen to the magical words filling your brain. Stories of a musical group do not really register as you are too busy carefully writing down notes.You hear tales of journeys, faith and hard work while you feel like you are gazing at every small oddity of the world.

Suddenly tales of the tabla and India are somehow introduced into the conversation and you hang on to every word. Originally you are told, part of the treasured items came from a store on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. The rest found their way by themselves to be loved, cherished and sold. Of course not everything can be perfect in this little store of wonder.

Suddenly stories of the city wanting them to comply with their beige canopy world rules fill your ears. Understanding completely, you nod your head as you have gone through the same thing yourself once upon a time. You know first hand that creativity and passion seldom mix with the straight edge population of the world.

Then you hear his thoughts of turning part of the store into a place where artists might build an art scene from scratch, like in the film Cool School. Life should be nothing but a world full of art and music without rules and regulations.You seem to return back to conversations about India where merchants are not suppressed like they are here and hear that India is all about life, community and culture.

He speaks about poverty being worse than what you have seen in the film Slumdog Millionaire.People in India are far happier than in America but their biggest fear is of globalization. Even with the high poverty level, people are very well educated and there is more brain power there than there is in America.As I am shown a very old Victorian knife taken out from inside the counter, I hear how each time he steps on Indian soil he feels like he is home. The smells of diesel and curry that fill the air are now very comforting to him.As I feel the smooth canvas bags made by the organization Prithvi I am told that the money received for these bags are for the village women that construct them to make their lives better. I hear about non profits I have never heard about like: World Sisters United, Kuya International and other groups that have merchandise in the store or receive support.

You realize that you were right in your assumption that this curio shop was exactly what you had thought it was. In two hours you had been fed visual curiosities and had answers about some of the world that you had no idea about. I walk down the street looking at his name in my notebook. Wading through the files of my aging mind it finally clicks. I have just enjoyed a couple of hours of conversation with Larry Thrasher who used to be in the band Psychic TV.

You start to remember a few of their songs but instantly the strains of the tabla overtake you as you do not want to lose the soundtrack of the last few mystical hours.

This was written early 2000- Life is a mystical and tragic thing. It is a journey often full of fear, when it ought to be full of hope. It’s fascinating to look back on your life and feel as though most of it was a precursor to the rest of it; to what was always supposed to be. Thanks to Sage, Larry and Timigin for their hospitality. Linda SeccaspinaI could have written a lot more about Larry Thrasher but this was about the story of the curio shop and that was not my mission. Psychic TV was a famous video art and music group that performed psychedelic punk, electronic and experimental music.

John Code of Perth and Wild Bill Hickock

John Code of Perth and Wild Bill Hickock




When I was doing some research about John Code from Perth I fell upon this article about he sent money to help fund Wild Bill’s monument after his death. Like a lot of folks in Lanark County he went out West to prospect. He had the chance to meet Wild Bill in Cheyenne and who knew that his cousin T. M Code was laid to rest a few feet from Wild Bill. John Code returned to Deadwood even though he said he should have been at Homestake. The Homestake Mine was a deep underground gold mine located in Lead, South Dakota. Until it closed in 2002 it was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America. The mine produced more than forty million troy ounces of gold during its lifetime.

I wonder if his ancestors still have a piece of stone that he used in jewellery as a keepsake from Little Big Horn.

There is a book about his life….

A Perth Boy in the Wild West: The Journal of John Code 1872-1877



Clipped from

  1. The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times,
  2. 27 Nov 1928, Tue,
  3. Page 4


    Thomas Code was another uncle of Thomas Alfred Code who wrote the journals I am transcribing and also a forty-niner. In company with Absalom McCaffrey of Carleton Place and others, he joined in the gold rush to California. Returning home a few years later he purchased the Innisville store business of Michael Murphy, who left and settled in Carleton Place. He  continued until conditions got very much impaired in the village, and having a large family decided to try his fortune in the West; this was in the middle 1870s. He took up land near a place called Elgin, south of Brandon, Manitoba. He and the family suffered great hardships on the early stages. He told me when I visited him in 1883 that only for the people of Ontario, the country would have never been settled. They were living in a sod house, and the outbuildings were built with sods– one of them an excavation on the side of the knoll. I again paid him a visit in 1902 and found conditions about as we find them at home- good houses and barns. Other facilities had changed the whole situation. Some of the family are farming there yet.


Moses Embree Milner (May 8, 1829 – October 29, 1876) also known as “California Joe” was an American miner and frontier scout. Click here for more info

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)


  1. Billy the Kidd’s Mistress — Roxy Theatre Time

  2. The Truth About Broncho Charlie and the Pony Express

  3. From Carleton Place to Fish Creek –North West Rebellion

    Lanark County Residents involved in the California Gold Rush

    Lanark County Moves West — Sarah Plain and Tall it was Not

What’s the Strangest Thing You Have Found Outside?

What’s the Strangest Thing You Have Found Outside?

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Adam DowdallAdam Dowdall’s Metal Detecting Group

If you follow Adam Dowdall’s Metal Detecting Facebook page you know I have written about some of his finds (see links below)–mostly coins and other bits of paraphernalia. But,  what have people really found outside in Lanark County?

Some have found old abandoned cars standing for what must of been for 20-30 years in the middle of the bush– kilometres into the bush, no roads or forestry roads near by. They look like they might have been dropped from the sky, but no real indent in the ground of possible impact.

How about an old shovel and a grave marking which in reality still exists when they built the railway and it is not unusual to find old grave sites at the rapids from expired loggers during the Spring runoffs.

What is the oddest thing someone found?


Outhouse foundation.jpg

Photo Dualsport


This happened in 2013 and I wrote about it and it was in my book: Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities

Helpful Hints before Burying Your Husband in the Backyard

What happened to 74-year-old Novato, California resident Dale Smith? His wife Evelyn age 55 never mentioned he had left to anyone until two weeks ago. She had told a questioning neighbour Phil Olbranz that her honey was missing and then began speaking about her spouse in the past tense. The concerned good neighbour did what anyone else would do and called the police.  Cadaver dogs were brought to the home and found poor Dale’s body buried in the backyard.

So Evelyn being a tad concerned when the body was discovered hired an attorney after the FBI was called in. Her attorney told the press that Evelyn said that Dale had been very sick. If Dale did simply die of natural causes Evelyn might get off lightly. Burying his remains improperly under the new brick BBQ she had just built over his body would simply be a misdemeanor.

Why on earth would you do such a thing? Did she not think maybe the kids might contact dear old Dad at some point? Father’s Day was barely three months away at that point of discovery. Helpful Hints before Burying Your Husband in the Backyard

What happened to 74-year-old Novato, California resident Dale Smith? His wife Evelyn age 55 never mentioned he had left to anyone until two weeks ago. She had told a questioning neighbour Phil Olbranz that her honey was missing and then started talking about her spouse in the past tense. So the concerned good neighbour did what anyone else would do and called the police.  Cadaver dogs were brought to the home and found poor Dale’s body buried in the backyard.

So Evelyn being a tad concerned when the body was discovered hired an attorney after the FBI was called in. Her attorney told the press that Evelyn said that Dale had been very sick. If Dale did simply die of natural causes Evelyn might get off lightly. Burying his remains improperly under the new brick BBQ she had just built over his body would simply be a misdemeanor.

Why on earth would you do such a thing? Did she not think maybe the kids might contact dear old Dad at some point?  Father’s Day was barely three months away at that point of discovery. An autopsy by the Marin County coroner could not determine the cause of his death. Dale Smith was a Korean War veteran and retired contractor. His wife used to work for the U.S. Postal Service.

There are so many things that Evelyn could have done before it got this far.  I mean she used to work for the postal service and as the USPS’s motto says:

“If it fits it ships” !

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


Related reading

What Did Adam Dowdall find this week?

The Mystery Ruins of Carleton Place- Photos by Adam Dowdall

The Luck of the “Irish”– Coins Found by Adam Dowdall

Adam Dowdall Just Found the Oldest Coin in Beckwith County

What Did Adam Dowdall Find in My Carleton Place Yard?


The Abandoned Appleton Mill

The Abandoned Smiths Falls Hospital 2011

Photographer Finds Money in a Local Abandoned Home

The Abandoned Farm House in Carleton Place — Disappearing Farms

The Church that Died

Inside the Old Honey Pot — The Henderson Apiaries Carleton Place

Burning Down the House — Literally in Lanark County

Investigating the Basement of the Carleton Place Canadian – If These Walls Could Talk

Channeling John Gillies

Memories and Mentions of Names in Maberly

The Forgotten Clayton School House


Oakland Ghost Ship Fire–Personal Thoughts



Oakland California warehouse fire- Fox 61 Photo

Steve and I are mourning our former community, and I don’t think we will ever forget the Oakland, California warehouse fire that occurred Friday night. The Oakland Fire Dept fears that dozens may have died ( 24 now) in the massive fire that swept through the Fruitvale area warehouse. We once lived in a former cardboard factory in Oakland where I can tell you that– you don’t need drug abuse to cause a problem when a lot of caring creative and artistic people gather together to listen to music.

People live in Oakland warehouses because it’s the only way to get reasonable square footage in probably the most expensive real estate market in the country. The Fruitvale district where the fire occurred is not the Pearl of the Adriatic, believe me. Trendy parts of Oakland now boast a medium home value of at least $700,000, and it goes up by double digits every single year. The high cost of living is what causes artists to search for inexpensive lofts- and in this instance- unsafe cheap housing.


Photo- Linda Seccaspina-“Everyone Knows a Hillside Johnny

Clearly this building should have been condemned and not open to the public. Makeshift ladders made out of wooden pallets with no fire alarms, sprinklers, smoke alarms and one exit clearly falls into the buildings that are seldom up to code. But, people need to realize that exorbitantly expensive housing will lead people to invent new methods of survival, such as the houses in San Francisco where people literally rent out a box in someone’s living room for a high price.


Photo- Linda SeccaspinaDedicated to my Weekend Protesting Hippie Generation — Nothing Changes Does it?

I know from personal experience that a fire spreads quickly, and usually people have less than a minute to make decisions that will decide whether they live or die.  Also, there was a second deadly element at play when the fire started on the first floor, near the exit and the rave was happening on the second floor. Smoke rises, and in this instance quickly becomes poisoned from the chemicals released when things burn–like artists supplies and salvage decor. I’ve been trapped in a smoke-filled space and you really do feel like death is closing in on you–and that was with an exit I could easily reach. I sadly think that the rave participants in the Oakland fire simply didn’t know there was a fire until it was too late.

I hate to admit this but– Oakland is the kind of place that if you call authorities to report your car getting broken into –or there is a loud party going on–they will be too busy dealing with one or more violent crimes. Sadly, that is just a fact of living in a high-crime area. Prayers for the families who have lost loved ones and we are mourning the Ghost Ship community.

Owner of Oakland warehouse says no one lived in building, daughter says

This video dedicated to the people I miss and love.. somewhat noisy but best neighbours and friends in the world. 

Architecture Stories: The Other Hotel California





For years I have noticed the sign of this old hotel towering in the Oakland sky. Was this the Hotel California that the band The Eagles sang about? The building on the cover of the album was actually the Beverly Hills Hotel and was not even related to the album. After doing some research I found out a couple of very odd things concerning that song involving Satanism and absolute craziness.


First some thought it had to do with Hotel California in the Baja Peninsula but the Eagles never stayed nor wrote music there.  Rumours have been circulating for years that it had to do with the Camarillo State Mental Hospital which housed many psychiatric patients until 1997. The rumour circulated the most was that people thought the shadowy figure with outstretched arms on the cover was Satan worshipper Anton LaVey who bought an old church in San Francisco in the 70’s. It had been again discussed that the Eagles were heavily involved in the occult and were the disciples of LaVey and everyone had dubbed his church Hotel California.


According to Snopes Don Henley originally said the song was about the “loss of innocence”. On November 25, 2007 Henley appeared on the TV news show 60 Minutes, and he was immediately asked what the song meant.


Henley replied: “It’s a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream, and about excess in America which was something we knew about.”



So what about the Hotel California which sits in a dark underbelly in Oakland? Was there some song written about it also? Oakland’s most visible landmark opened in 1930 and was the hot spot for entertainment and leisure. This hotel was also deeply connected to the construction of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge, which opened in November 1936.


Many of these early stories fail to mention that this was a whites-only hotel, a space where people of color were not welcome. As one resident recalls, “when you walked by, you held your head down and didn’t even look into the window.”





By the 1950s, the California Hotel became what was known as a “cultural institution”. Based on marks left in concrete from the early 1970s, we know that Sly Stone and Big Mama Thorton were regular visitors to these venues, as well as Oakland greats such as Eugene Blacknell, Charles Brown, and Roger Collins.


 “The California Hotel served as one of the premier African-American entertainment spots in the East Bay in the 1950s and 1960s.  Dancer Ruth Beckford performed at the hotel’s Zanzibar Club, as well as such rhythm and blues singers as Little Richard, Sam Cooke and gospel great Mahalia Jackson.”


In the same rooms some of the greats stayed in low income residents of the California Hotel in Oakland received notice in 2008 that they would be required to vacate the building by July 15 of that year. The 250 residents, many disabled, some with families, all low-income, were given three weeks’ notice that they would have to find new affordable housing.

Nearly three years later, the hotel, is being over seen by appointed powers court-appointed trustee Anne Omura, executive director of the Eviction Defense Center in Oakland. As a first step toward improving the hotel, Omura used the money left over from paying the utility bills to hire the Jay-Phares Corporation (JPC), an Oakland-based property management and consulting firm, to run and rehabilitate the hotel. Because the tenants took charge they were not forced out in the street with a little help from people that cared.


As Jay said,

“Make it up; believe in it, do it, as that’s what life is all about.”

Just like the other Hotel California, the Eagles made it up, did it and believed in it as that what was life was about.

“Welcome to the Hotel California!”

Want to see more? 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

Related Reading

Architecture Stories: ‘Once Upon a Time’ -Home of the Kool Aid Acid Test & Other Time Travel Stories

Architecture Stories: Day of the Dead at Ghostly Atherton House

Architecture Stories: The Voodoo Madam – Mary Ellen Pleasant

Architecture Stories: The Hotel that Stompin’ Tom Connors Saved

The Louis on Sarah Street for $43,500 — Before and After– Architecture in Carleton Place

Memories of The Old Church Halls

Should You Ever Stop “Burning Down the House” About Things that Matter?



George Orwell Ponders- Are Knitters Really Felons?






Reposted from a satire story I did in 2010 about Guerrilla Knitters just up the street from me in Berkeley

George Orwell Ponders- Are Knitters Really Felons?

Last year a Breaking News report appeared at approximately 7:38 am on Fox TV. Was it a murder or better yet a drug ring smashed in the East Bay? No, Guerrilla Knitters are being reprimanded for desecrating the letter “T” on the sculpture of “HereThere”. The “words” lie on a deserted piece of grass next to the BART tracks on Adeline Street. Yes, the letter “T” was mugged with hand knitting, and that my friends is now considered a felony.

The 6 foot metal “HereThere” signs are actually in a small green space and were designed by Steven Gillman and Katherine Keefer. Basically ‘Here’ means Berkeley and ‘There’ is North Oakland. Apparently knitters from the Knitting Shop across the street were fed up with the Gertrude Stein reference of Oakland (her hometown) as having “no there there”. So, they knit the night away to cover the letter “T” so both signs would read “Here”.

What angered me was that the city of Berkeley insists that the hand crafted letter “T” – Tea Cozy must be removed because it’s a crime. Seeing I never really see anyone or anything in that small green space except dog poop and it actually gives the whole place some life. Imagine if this was publicized in the Knitting World? Knitters would make pilgrimages to honor the knitting simply called “The Letter T”. The piece covered in colorful squares of hand knitting would inspire Knitting Renaissance Fairs and people would sit at Sweet Adeline’s across the street and enjoy the sites.

Thinking along lines of the 60’s I wonder if there will be more protests of some sort? If the Knitters do not remove said creation will it push the City of Berkeley to consider all public knitting illegal?

Will knitting books be pulled off the shelves and will Grannies be forced to buy their knitting books in the Black Market? Maybe they won’t be so tough and they will allow only the basic and pearl stitch. But if pushed, I can see the headline of The San Francisco Chronicle now.

“All Hand Knitting Banned in Berkeley – Local Knitting Clubs Shut Down”

Signs will be erected behind the neighborhood drug aware signs warning everyone that carrying knitting is grounds for prosecution. Road Speed Bumps will be accessorized with long metal pieces to hopefully unravel knitting hidden in bags. Darkened street corners will encourage territory wars over Mohair Wool. Reflections of silver knitting needles being bought illegally at night will be continuous – gleaming under the city street lights.

Will the Knitting ban spread to San Francisco or to parts of the Peninsula?
Will the State of Arizona now ban the City of Berkeley for placing a halt on Knitting?

I can see women protesting marching in the street with signs of:

“Let the Knitters Knit”
“We will Give up our Lives to Chain Stitch”

The President upon hearing this news will have a live news conference condemning the banning of Knitters. Limbaugh will have countless radio shows blaming the Left and Rand Paul will make more racist comment; only this time about Knitting.

Anderson Cooper from CNN will arrive on the scene and do live broadcasts with his hip waders deep in the muck of City Council tangled in wool.

Unable to control the Knitters, the City of Berkeley will propose building a fence around the city’s perimeter to keep migrating Knitters from coming in. Anyone hiring a Knitter will be jailed and landlords housing Knitters will be fined. Churches will become the only sanctuary for Knitters and they will sit there in the pews quietly knitting slippers. Yes, slippers. Receiving Holiday presents of slippers will become a thing of the past.

So what will become of the Knitters? Will they tell the tales to their grandchildren about escaping to Canada where knitting is legal? Or will they weep as they tell stories of the Underground Knitting tunnels and how they hid in the Oakland Hills? God help us all if Berkeley bans knitting. They might try to enforce substitutions like Macramé and we will have to sit there and listen to Janis Joplin and the Big Brother Holding Co. as we endlessly knot.

Berkeley needs to remember that we need the knitters as no one in the high paying Tech Field will do this job. Have we not had someone in our family tree that came from the origins of knitting making His and Her sweaters?

So I say to you The City of Berkeley. Let them knit! Let the Letter “T” with the Tea Cozy live!

Brought to you ( and you knew this was coming) by the Letter T because honestly Gertrude Stein would have loved it.

“A masterpiece… may be unwelcome but it is never dull.”
Gertrude Stein…



Odes to Steve Sherman


This morning Steve Sherman’s wife Kathleen emailed to say that Steve passed away on Thursday from cancer. Most of you would have known him as Another Steve on Open Salon and Steve S. on Zoomers Canada. Since Open Salon closed, Steve has always been part of an internet foursome which included: Tink, myself and Creekend UK.  It wasn’t really the writing that kept us together; it was our friendship which was always the main course, and we shared our lives on a pretty regular basis.

So, today I celebrate the life and writings of Steve Sherman with all of you. I have posted his favourite blog, and his very last. I am going to miss you sweet friend. To quote Bill T. Jones: ‘Living and dying is not the big issue. The big issue is what you’re going to do with your time while you are here.”  Steve, you spent it well, and I am proud to say you were my friend. The world will miss you, and I miss you already. 




The, ahem, Mature Employee
Open Salon will disappear from cyberspace over then next two weeks, according to Salon Media Corporation. Jason and I published blogs on Open Salon in a time long ago and a place far away when blogs and bloggers were a big deal.
In memory of those times, I am sharing my best post from Open Salon. This was my personal favorite. Other people must have liked it as well; it generated over 58,000 unique views.
With Apologies to Lewis Carroll and Robert Southey
“You are old, My Employee,” the young Boss said,
“And your beard has become very white;
And yet you show up every morning for work—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“Your great age,” The Boss continued in fun,
“I feared it might injure your creativity;
But now that I’m perfectly sure you have none,
I need staff a bit nearer their nativity.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “your potential too flat
For projects beyond the straight line;
Yet you act as a mentor to our most promising staff,
With their respect, which by rights should be mine!”

“In my youth,” said The Employee, “I took to my work,
And each day I increased knowledge deep”;
While in his mind ran the thought, “This is all for naught.
It’s my last day to work for this creep.”

“We have talked for two minutes, and that is enough,”
Said The Boss; “You have wasted our air!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Here’s a bag, pack your things, Now Downstairs!”


Lewis Carroll inserted his “Father William” verse into “Alice in Wonderland” as the caterpillar’s required recitation. Carroll’s nonsense verse was a parody of a moralizing verse by Robert Southey. Today, Southey is remembered for little other than being the object of this parody.
In a sense, my verse is a parody of a parody.

I wish my poem was nothing beyond a nonsense parody. Alas, I have lived through The Employee’s experience. As I am sure have many others





Photo by Steve Sherman on Zoomers: Eschscholzia Californica- April 29, 2014 at 6:57pm


When I’m Feeling Sadly I Find a Song and Play it Badly
Posted by Steve S
on April 10, 2015 at 11:00pm

It’s music that does the best to pick me up when I am down. Irish Whiskey, bourbon and beer are tied for second.

Isaiah was quoted in the bible as saying,”Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Although he always struck me as an old grouch, I always liked that.

When I feel down, I like to play a little music. I try to do that when no one else is around, since I am not a great musician. Most of the music I like to play is old. It varies from old hippie era to Renaissance era.

I have spent most of 2015 dealing with a painful health problem. After a discouraging doctor appointment I stopped at a local music store and bought a ukulele. I’ve played winds for years but I decided it was about time I learned a string instrument.The uke has gotten me through some painful times (for me and anyone within listening distance) and I am starting to figure it out. The uke has also pushed me into singing, which I gave up when an puberty made me a bass voice.


From his wife Kathleen:

After a gracious journey down this last, difficult length of his life’s path, Steve died on Thursday. Thank you all for the many ways you walked that journey with us. I am grateful for the love and support each of you gave, as was Steve.

Steve believed that you live while people remember you. So…

“Say not in grief that he is no more, but say in thankfulness that he was. A death is not the extinguishing of a light, but the putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come” ~Rabindranath Tagore.


Old McRostie Had a Farm in Carleton Place …..



I never really thought much about the little stone house that sits quietly on the end of Flora Street in Carleton Place. It wasn’t until I was doing some research about the old floating bridge that spanned the Mississippi River to the old Hawthorne Mill that I wanted to know more.

The little home that grew into a farm was built in 1840 by John McRostie. The land was first cleared by Thomas Burns, but what few know is that the grounds you see are probably the approximate upper limit of the long rapids which once existed. It has always been known among historians as the place where the Ramsay Settlers of 1821 had their last overnight camping spot before they traveled by water from north Lanark to Almonte. Locals now know it as Centennial Park. As time went on, the McRostie’s prospered and moved into more elaborate homes.


Thomas Burns held the first crown grand of 80 acres in 1828, but Robert Johnston was shown as the owner in 1829. John McRostie bought the property in 1840, built the house and it remained in the family until 1919. It was then sold to Alec McClean who actually flipped it to Daniel Sullivan. In 1923 Albert Powell took possession with the acreage at this point being drastically reduced and it was bought by Howard Dack.


Mrs. D. Findlay, Sr. (Catherine McRostie) – 1837/1933. Oldest Surviving Daughter of Carleton Place.


There is the old McRostie home on Flora Street-Shane Wm Edwards— The house in the background shows a front door with a stone surround but I seem to recall hearing that it may have added later and there are at least two other similar stone surrounds on the front door of houses in town. At one time it seems that decorative embellishments like this were sold by door to door salesmen.

The stone home didn’t come back into its own until Howard Dack bought it and proceeded to restore and renovate it. When Dack bought the house from Albert Powell in 1946 the stonework had to be completely redone including the stone trim of the front door. Old wooden shutters were attached to the windows, and the sun porch facing the river was an addition. The large fireplace that sits in the living room came from the old Captain Glendinning home on Glen Isle.


*Glendinning House in Glen Isle

The original pine floors still exist on the top floor, but all had to be replaced on the first level. Like most older homes, the enormous cedar beams in the basement are as solid as they first day they were installed. Seeing the house today, you have to stand there and remember a time gone by when it was a farm and Centennial Park was abuzz with livestock and then Ab Nichols lumber yard.

B/W Photos- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


The Glenndining  home is said to be the oldest stone house in Beckwith, this home is located on Glen Isle. It was built c. 1820 by Captain Thomas Glendinning, the man who helped incite the Ballygiblin Riots of 1824.

Glendinning, a native of England, served in the British army as a Lieutenant before retiring on half pay in Beckwith Township. According to legend, Glendinning escaped the Irish Settlers on day two of the Riots by hiding in a large chimney recess above the fireplace in this house. Unable to find him, the Irish carried on to the Morris Tavern in Carleton Place, where they broke in and damaged the now vacated tavern.

Photos Through a Car Window of Hangtown California


After the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in nearby Coloma, California by James W. Marshall in 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, the small town now known as Placerville was known as Dry Diggin’s after the manner in which the miners moved cartloads of dry soil to running water to separate the gold from the soil. Later in 1849, the town earned its most common historical name, “Hangtown”, because of the numerous hangings that had occurred there. Many of the Carleton Place folk ended up either here or in Sacramento. I forgot I had these pictures after visiting Lake Tahoe in 2012. Taken out of  car window- and no I was not driving.:)





Street Scene and Square of Old Hangtown Placerville, CA

Street Scene and Square of Old Hangtown Placerville, CA








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Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place


Did Samuel Pittard of Ashton Murder His Wife?


Sequel to The invasion of the Body Snatchers of Lanark County

“In 1861 the Carleton Place Herald reported that Mrs. Samuel Pittard of Ashton was to be exhumed as her husband was suspected of foul play due to idle gossip. After poor Jane, age 34, was dug up it was concluded she had died of natural causes. This had been the second body dug up in two weeks in the same cemetery due to the tongues of scandal. A conclusion was concurred that  of everyone followed Psalm 15:3 none of this would be happening.” But were the townsfolk of Ashton right? I started to dig and found some amazing facts.


1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia
NAME: Samuel Pittard
BIRTH: abt 1826 – location
RESIDENCE: township, Lanark County, Canada West (Ontario)
1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia
NAME: Jane Pittard
BIRTH: abt 1827 – location
RESIDENCE: township, Lanark County, Canada West (Ontario)
The Case Against Samuel Pittard of Ashton, Ontario.

Samuel Pittard, a tanner by trade, of Ashton published a petition in Lanark Herald, April 25, 1851 listing the grievances of passengers of the steamship Brother Jonathan.He was one of the many men from Lanark that joined a small group from Carleton Place called Moffat & Co to seek their wealth in the great  California gold rush.  He was also mentioned in a letter written by Nathaniel McCaffrey, located at Mokelumne Hill , California (letter dated Oct 20, 1851 , published in the Carleton Place Herald Dec 18, 1851 ). Mr. Pittard was said to be in Sacramento, Ca. at the time the letter was written. His name found was listed in the book San Francisco Ships Passenger Lists, Vol 2, Rasmussen, page 180 as arriving in San Francisco July 28, 1851 aboard the Steamer Ohio.

During the California Gold Rush Era, many men from Lanark County joined together with others to make the trip to the gold fields. Some of these groups were more formal than others, some even were financed by people in their own hometowns. A notice published in the Carleton Place Herald on Oct 23, 1851 states that a group of 9 men including Pittard left the Lanark County area as part of Moffatt and Company at the beginning of March, 1851.  Even though the men may have had intentions of staying together as a group, many situations would occur along the way that would cause them to go their separate ways.

One situation, for example was that demand was very high for passage to San Francisco and space on the steamships was not always available to accommodate entire groups either in New York or at the Pacific side of Panama. Once they arrived in California, decisions had to be made as to where to dig for the gold. Men moved frequently according to the latest news of large finds of gold. Some men decided against digging for gold and would pursue whatever their trade was at home. Because most men were out at the diggings, tradesmen were in high demand and could garner high prices for their work.


Samuel Pittard,  in April 25, 1851 lists grievances from the passengers of the steamship Brother Jonathan that they took to California. The Steamship Brother Jonathan left on its maiden voyage from New York City on the 19th of March 1851 headed for Chagres, Panama. The ship was advertised as ready to leave on the 15th of that month, which left the anxious men to wait for four days, probably at or near the docks in New York City . Eight days into the voyage the ship was forced to pull into port at Baltimore for repairs on the 27th of March 1851.

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The passengers were held over in Baltimore until the 3rd of April 1851 . A month or so had passed since they had left Lanark County, and they were only in Baltimore. The trip that was supposed to take 56 days from Lanark County to San Francisco took the group of men almost 150 days. The prices for passage on the Brother Jonathan were $80.00 first class, $70.00 second class, and steerage, $40.00.


Not being successful finding gold Pittard returned to Ashton a few years later. Life was hard in those days. Did Jane nag Samuel about his shortcomings providing for the their children and herself? Was he unhappy how his life had progressed? Did Jane really die of natural causes and were the townsfolk of Ashton right? Only Samuel Pittard knew the truth and he took that to his grave.

More on the gold rush this week.

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place