Looking down Hopetown road… Photo from Laurie Yuill
Life in Lanark County as I have said before was not easy. Their big day was New Years Day and included a “first footin”,–which was a tour of the neighbour’s homesteads on the snow-drifted concession lines. Then they quaffed in almost a competition style drinking home brew liquor, and danced to the mad music of the fiddles. The Carleton Place Herald of 100 years ago wrote about the harshness of the Lanark County frontier. “Life was raw in our villages, but they managed to eat three times a day, but there was little of what we would call “fancy food”.
In the issue of December 1954 the Carleton Place Herald, Editor Jamie Poole ran a column about the old Bytown markets in the 1800s. Our Upper and Lower Town merchants were then offering flour extra superfine, at 2 shillings per cwt. and Editor Poole did not hesitate to state that even this was too high even for a Christmas dinner.
No date– Photo from Laurie Yuill.. Hopetown Road
Oxen were being sold at a price that was around 25 pounds, and these creatures were the much needed farm tractors of one hundred or so years ago. In the same issue George Blyth of Carleton Place, had opened a new store and his advertisement was captioned: “The Golden, Age”. Maybe he was right at that, as he offered the ladies plaids (for the proud beauties of the Scotch Line); and black lace veils (for the coy ones in crinolines) and mysterious chemises and corsets as woman’s figures needed no false build-up in those days.
In Renfrew the Bathurst Courier records: “There was a concert in the Grammar School House of Renfrew, the proceeds going towards the public library”. The Lanark Instrumental Club gave much help and a few got drunk and the whole school auditorium had a general row. Otherwise all was fine that day in the town of Renfrew.
They had their traffic problems as I have written about, as the roads were not “black top” and the vehicles were not high powered automobiles in those days. They just requested that all buggy drivers attach bells to their harnesses and keep right and share the road with all oncoming horse traffic.
In spite of their issues they managed to attend the many lectures of the Mechanics Institutes around the county and attend husking bees, barn raisings and quilting parties. And so– they lived without televisions, telephones and automobile transmissions. But, there were no fears of nuclear war or cold war bunkers, as they used those for root cellars. They were smart.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun Screamin’ Mamas (USA) and The Sherbrooke Record
Thanks to Pearle Williams 1897