Photo-The Ottawa Journal Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Sat, Dec 22, 1956
There used to be a time when only a horse and buggy brought mail to Appleton via Carleton Place. In the 1950s James Edward Dowdall and his sweet grey mare Daisy (3rd horse) had been doing the 4 mile trip for at least 2 decades and only missed 3 days when one of his sons had to cover for him. Then there was the time a mare before Daisy got rattled at some pasteboard boxes on the side of the road and the cutter was upset and Dairy went trotting off in no obvious direction, but as Dowdall said in typical Lanark fashion: “We got it straightened away”.
Appleton postmaster Mr. Gamble and Harry Menzies from the Carleton Place unit had never known him to be late or lose any of the precious mail. The days of hauling the mail on a cutter in the winter was limited after they began to plow the roads and it usually took 20 minutes to a half an hour for a one way trip. Storms, blizzards you name it, Dowdall never got cold as he was manned to the hilt with warm clothing, a buffalo robe, and felt boots up to the knee and then rubber boots as a topper.
Photo by Linda Seccaspina-Post Office in Appleton Ontario 1871 displayed in the North Lanark Regional Museum, Appleton Ontario.
Each day he would leave Appleton for Carleton Place to pick up the mail. After he dropped off the mail at the post office he would wander over to the post office lobby to swap stories with anyone who would listen. That was his favourite part of the day Dowdall said as they talked his kind of language in that waiting room. At Six o’clock he would head back to Appleton where some were waiting for him to collect their mail.
One would think maybe a truck would have been better for him, but like a lot of us aging folks his eyes were not the best, and night driving would not have been too safe for him. He actually got into the postal business as his doctor told him to find a “light job” as he had health issues and had retired from being a farmer. So along with some plowing and gardening jobs he made out just fine. Life was simple for Mr. Dowdall only having to change his buggy twice in his duration delivering the mail, but in Carleton Place it was another story. Postmaster Harry Menzie’s offices were jammed everywhere storing mail. The staff worked Sundays and late into the evening and no one really complained as you did what you had to do.
Photos–Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
The Carleton Place Post Office used to handle mail for Innisville, Appleton and also sent out three rural route deliveries a day. Not only that, but they handled larger packages and with only two wickets open the lobby was always jammed. Of course Menzies wanted another wicket but there wasn’t an ounce of space to spare in that building with boxes lined up everywhere against the walls.
In December of 1956 the Carleton Place post office sold over 130,000 stamps that month and James Edward Dowdall would have so much mail he would have to tie bags on the back with just a little ‘sittin’ room for himself– but all was good. Unlike some his fellow mail delivery men he wasn’t buying gasoline or paying for repairs–Daisy wouldn’t hear of it. That old gal was never going to stop when she was tired- she was only going to stop when the mail was done. No hour of life was ever wasted between James and his horse Daisy and Appleton and Carleton Place were grateful.
The community was first known as Teskeyville after early settlers Joseph Teskey and his brother Robert who built a saw and grist mill. For a time the place was called Appletree Falls because of a riverside orchard. When the post office opened in 1857, Appleton was chosen as its name
In 1869 the population was 250 and the Appleton Post office was a money order office-The Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory 1869
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