Tag Archives: Carleton-Place-Museum

Calling on the Victorian Neighbours Full of Lustre!



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Paying a visit to Heritage House on Thursday in Smiths Falls.


The pathway to beautiful exhibits– THIS WAS LAST YEARS BUT THE DISPLAYS REMAIN THE SAME.


Lustre Ware you say ? Oh my lustre!


Calling cards were mass-produced in the 1850’s when printers often had calligraphers on their staff to pen the customer’s name on lavishly colored printed cards. But it wasn’t until after the Civil War in 1865 that calling cards became a highly ritualized social grace where both men and women used the cards at all manner of social occasions. Floral designs were used by both men and women and cards were available in rectangle as well as oval.


Obviously the help worked here:)


Laundry or Lustre Ware? Oh that choice is easy.


Ladies pursued their card leaving rounds according to the rules that finally appeared in etiquette books from the 1880’s and on. Featured in most Victorian homes in the entry hall was always a table where parcels could be left and more importantly, where a silver tray or porcelain receptacle sat for receiving calling cards. The height of the card pile might be interpreted as a clue to the social standing of the hostess. Harper’s Bazaar reported in the 1890’s that “cards were dropped by the thousand.”


Men kept their cards usually in their vest pockets, while women carried theirs in elegant cases sometimes made of silk or leather, ivory, tortoise shell or silver.

Suitor flowers? Oh my word!


Etiquette dictated that a married woman would leave her card for the lady of the house along with her husband’s card, even if he wasn’t with her. She also left a card for each of her adult daughters.


A new dress perhaps?


Leaving cards at important homes also served as a means of social advancement. Most afternoon social life was spent making calls, allowing 30 minutes per visit, and leaving a card at each house. The woman of the house, the hostess, was usually in afternoon dress…always choice and delightful. Her guests might find her busy with some elegant lace or wool-work, writing letters, or sketching.


Why thank you- I will have some tea!


A baby or a doll? Which one does not cry?


Lustre Ware from the Collection of Bill Dobson This display is no longer there


Why thank you!

Like the fan, the calling cards carried meaningful messages. If a young man should present a young lady with his card asking if he might escort her home, she could either rest her fan on her right cheek, meaning “yes” or she could return the card with the appropriate corner turned up indicating yes or no. Or she could hand her card to the chap she most wanted to accompany her.

Hand painted and beautiful



Behold my surprise when I find an amazing doll house in one of the rooms of the museum. Every little girl’s dream!

  • A vistor folded down the upper right hand corner if she came in person.
  • A folded upper left corner indicated she stopped to leave her congratulations.
  • A folded lower right corner said goodbye.
  • A folded lower left corner offered condolences.

By the turn of the century the excitement of calling cards had faded. With a little searching one may still find calling cards in antique shops.


A visit worth every penny- bring the family and bring a picnic..Picnic area available

Read about the ghosts of Heritage House

Mr Dobson of Montague

General Information

A visit to Heritage House built by Joshua Bates includes a tour of 8 period rooms furnished to depict the lifestyle of the times. The Museum’s unique mirror-image facades, indoor brick bake oven and one of only two-story privy in eastern Canada (more on that later) preserve an atmosphere of the past in the once derelict house. Enjoy a picnic near our gardens or take a short stroll through parkland to the Rideau Canal and Old Sly’s Lockstation. Presented year round are changing exhibitions and art shows, a variety of special events, workshops and school and children’s programs. Also available are meeting space rentals, gift shop and a Victorian setting for wedding ceremonies and photographs.

11 Old Sly’s Rd,
Smiths Falls

Their Facebook page click here

Phone: 613-283-6311

Email: heritagehouse@smithsfalls.ca

Free Pizza at The Museum — Well Not Really– But A Name Can Still Make Your Day!



Come meet Gaby and Jayne at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum— as well as the curator Jennifer Fenwick Irwin. No pizza for you– but a great exhibit called,”They Left Their Mark”.

Here is a story of a name…

Linda (Darnell) Susan (Hayward) Knight always hated her name, because in class there were at least three girls with the very same name. So, much to her Dad’s opposition, she decided to change the spelling of her name to Lynda. After all, if she was going to be a famous fashion designer, her name had to be slightly cool or have an edgy spelling.


She was so enamored of the way her name looked now that she began sending away for free stuff. Each day after school she would walk across the street, march in to the Post Office, and open up the family’s mail box. Her father would not touch the mail addressed to Lynda because he thought she was being ridiculous.

Most days, the box was full of the many free travel brochures she had requested; all addressed to someone named Lynda not Linda. She decided that once she got out of school, she would travel the world designing for the rich and famous, so she really needed this incoming travel information.


Lynda entered contests daily by the loads, all with her newly made up name. She won a pen on the Canadian TV show, “Razzle Dazzle,” hosted by Alan Hamel and a talking turtle named Howard. She loved Howard and he read her winning story aloud on the air, and then carefully spelled out her name as L y n d a.

One day, while reading Seventeen magazine, she saw that a movie studio was having a contest seeking someone to play a part in the upcoming film, “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”. The movie was to be based on the Carson McCullers novel of the same name, which she absolutely loved and had read many times. Lynda had long blonde hair and was in her anorexic stage, weighing approximately 105 pounds, and of course, she had a great name now. She read the instructions over and over and thought she would be perfect for the movie.


One day, a letter from Seventeen magazine arrived in P.O. Box 35 and Lynda opened it with glee. To her complete misery it said that yes, she could have been a contender, but sadly she was Canadian and the contest was only open to US citizens. Lynda became very upset as she had been denied the chance simply because she lived on the wrong side of the border.  Had they not seen the way her name was spelled? After that fateful day Lynda decided to go back to Linda because as William Shakespeare once said:

“What’s REALLY in a name?”

To begin to make the world a better place you need to start with yourself — no matter how your name is spelled. And she never changed her name again.


Hell on Wheels at Lady Chatterton’s Hotel in Carleton Place


Part 1- Tales of the Chatteron House Corset — Queen’s Hotel in Carleton Place- can be found here.

Sensitive subject read at your own risk


During the Victorian era you had the medical and moral community who actually opposed the use of condoms as STDs were seen as punishment for having sex out of wedlock. On top of that, by the early 1800’s condoms cost $1 to buy. Remember that in that era a dollar was a lot of money, for some folks it could be a quarter of a days pay. Most items were valued in terms of cents, even by the time of the Old West. So a dollar was closer to what fifty dollars or even a hundred dollars is today. How would you like to pay $50 for just one condom? If you were paying a quarter of what you make in a day you weren’t going to just go and buy another each time you used one, you’d go bankrupt fast if you were sleeping around a lot. The rubber condom would drop the cost to six to twelve dollars during the last twenty-five years of the 19th century, making it more affordable but still, you had the moral crusaders of the day to contend with. 


Then there was douching, which had been around since before the 1830’s as newspaper ads from the 1830’s include ads for what was called a female syringe. This was made up of chemicals such as alum or sulfates of zinc or iron. .


Doctors used arsenic and mercury to treat syphilis before the introduction of penicillin in the 1940s.

One company sold heroin tablets to relieve asthma symptoms.

Old medicines and antique urinals? 

Cocaine drops for toothache came on the market after doctors discovered its pain-relieving qualities. One Belgian company even promoted cocaine throat lozenges as “indispensable for singers, teachers and orators.” Dentists and surgeons also used cocaine as an anesthetic.

While doctors of the late 1800’s considered these drugs legitimate, a whole range of shady patent medicines, sometimes called “nostrums,” also flourished during that period.! People bought nostrums from traveling medicine shows, and the cures beckoned boldly from billboards and newspaper and magazine ads. “You couldn’t get away from them,” Whorton says. “They were inescapable.”


Also, as the state of legitimate medicine evolved, new cures replaced the old. When doctors began treating syphilis with penicillin, a grateful generation was spared the toxic effects of arsenic and mercury, including inflammation of the gums, destruction of the teeth and jaws, and organ damage. Opium and other addictive drugs also fell by the wayside once scientists realized their pitfalls. Novocain replaced its predecessor, cocaine, as an anesthetic.WEB MD

The Photos are of actual prescriptions from The Chatterton House (Queen’s Hotel) Carleton Place. The majority are prescription forms or handwritten scraps issued by local physicians Richard F. Preston and Matthew A. McFarlane. Local druggists were: City Dispensary,W.S. Robertson, McEwen’s Drug Store and Muirhead’s Drug Store. When  Peter Prosser Salter was owner of The Chatterton Hotel for a few years and it appears Salter had hired a desk clerk who perhaps also engaged as well in the druggist field.

Photos from the The Chatteron House Register from The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Dr.Preston Was in the House — The Case of the Severed Foot

Name that Boy from Carleton Place! — Video


Okay so there isn’t really a contest, but I got your attention. Don’t you hate people like me?  Please take a few seconds to read about an art auction for a fundraiser for The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.


Remember those that went to school here and help support this project. The whole idea speaks the language of our town. The Show Is On– Window Art at The Museum– click here.

Help support our Museum for those that went there and can no longer wave back.

In Memory Of Those That Can’t Wave Back

Photo–Here’s a sneak peek of one of the murals by Angelique Willard.

In Memory Of Those That Can’t Wave Back



In reality, curators marketing communications of a museum put a great deal of thought into naming their shows, and the process can take a long time. “The title is your initial marketing hook,” says David Rubin, curator of contemporary art at the San Antonio Museum of Art.

Art has become infinitely more “theatrical”, and the elaborate titles of today’s exhibitions are a bit like titles for plays or films. They promise a story, something to relate to. So how do I get your attention to take a few seconds to read about an art auction for a fundraiser for The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum?


Works of art have all been donated and are up for auction to help raise funds to create murals at The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. The Museum is undertaking the “opening up” of 10 sealed up windows on the outside of the building by hiring local artists to create mural panels to fill these spaces. A mix of artists, mediums and subject matter are up for grabs! Funds raised will help the Museum to complete 10 mural panels that will be installed on the building in the summer of 2015. These murals are being produced by members of “Arts Carleton Place”, and will depict the various uses of the building’s history as the Town Hall, a Lock-Up, a School, and now as the local Museum.


Art has shed its wordless purity. Remember those that went to school here and help support this project. The whole idea speaks the language of our town. The Show Is On– Window Art at The Museum– click here.

Help support our Museum for those that went there and can no longer wave back.



                                                                      Carleton Place on the Mississippi
                                                                                    Blaine Cornell

 Photos from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Tea Parties from the Past in Carleton Place


This is a vintage picture of members from the Pattie family having tea on Napoleon Street in Carleton Place from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum files. Hope you choose to dress up at Ladies Who Lunch June 6th in Carleton Place. You don’t have to as we love you all the same, but it would sure be fun to be the ladies of Downton Abbey for just a few hours. Don’t forget the Museum will have tarot card readers and an art display from Beautiful Minds just for the Ladies Who Lunch after the tea as well as vintage fashions.


Maggie Smith, plays the delightfully snobby Lady Grantham, Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey. Smith uses her stare to great effect, especially when discussing electricity and/or Americans — but really, she just gets the best lines. Below, a compilation of Maggie’s zingers, for your enjoyment and personal use– and maybe bring them to the tea.


“What is a weekend?”

“Is this an instrument of communication or torture?”

“Things are different in America, they live in Wig Wams.”

“I was right about my maid. She’s leaving – to get married! How could she be so selfish?”

“First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I’m living in an H.G. Wells novel.”

“Hepworth men don’t go in for loneliness much. I knew his father in the late 60s. Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?” (Where are the snows of yesteryear?)

“Why does everyday involve a fight with an American?”

“Alas, I am beyond impropriety.”

“I will applaud your discretion when you leave.”

“I knew this family was approaching disillusion, I wasn’t aware that illusion was already upon us.”

“Everyone goes down the aisle with half the story hidden.”

“We’ll have to take her abroad, in these moments you can usually find an Italian who’s not too picky.”

“Mary won’t take Matthew Crawley, so we better get her settled before the bloom is quite gone off the rose”

“Give him a date for when Mary’s out of mourning. No one wants to kiss a girl in black.”

Lady Mary: “I was only going to say Sybil that is entitled to her opinions.”
Countess Violet: “No, she isn’t, until she is married. And then her husband will tell her what her opinions are.”

“Twenty four years ago you married Cora against my wishes for her money. Give it away now and what was the point of your peculiar marriage in the first place?”

Cora Crawley: “Are we to be friends then?”
Countess Violet: “We are allies my dear which can be a good deal more effective.”

“I couldn’t have electricity in the house. I couldn’t sleep a wink. All those vapours seeping about.”

Consumerism — Then and Now — Junk and Disorderly Sale Carleton Place Museum Photos


Photos from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Museum Sale June 6th by Linda Seccaspina

Other Photos by  Mail Online



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God Save the Queen– and support our local Museum!

Hawkins Clan Estate Saves The Wedding Day!


I wanted to write a happy wedding story today, and during my research on Google I found a local wedding tale that took place in 2012. Because a local business rose to the occasion it needs to be told again, because we need to be reminded of the great people in Carleton Place.

Michelle Chartrand and her fiancé Trevor Davis were to be married at the West Carleton Meeting Centre in May of 2012. But a fire in that very building destroyed their dreams that week along with many others.

“I freaked out, I had a good hour of packing and crying and we just went right into crisis mode,” admits the bride-to-be.

Her fiancé Trevor Davis said despite the fire, changing the date was not an option. Of course many of the other venues were already booked, but thanks to generous offers from local organizations and the help of the Majic 100 morning show, the wedding happened after all. Our very own Stonefields Heritage Farm, a local historic farm on the 9th line near Carleton Place took care of all the arrangements to make sure the couple could still have their happy day. After all, Stonefield’s believe is that life’s most beautiful moments are meant to be celebrated.


Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum Annie Bella Brunton & Adam Wesley Jones

The farm is a very historic property in our area. It not only boasts an old stone farmhouse, country gardens, log cabins, and rustic barns, there are acres and acres of rolling farmland. One of the Ottawa Valley’s founding families, the Hawkins clan first settled in the area now known as Beckwith-Carleton Place in 1816. Their small one-room log farmhouse still stands on the Stonefields site today and has been lovingly renamed The Settler’s Cabin in honour of the family.

Over the years, the family built barns and sheds to house their animals, equipment and tools. In 1857, they erected the large stone farmhouse. The 120 acre farm changed hands only a few times over the years.Most recently, Phyllis and Brian Byrne lived on the farm for 35 years and raised their children in the old farmhouse. They expanded the stone home by adding a great room. They maintained the old buildings and designed the gorgeous country gardens. Theirs was a home full of love and laughter. They hosted huge family gatherings and card games in the pub with friends.

In 2010, Stephanie Brown and Steve Malenfant purchased the farm with plans to continue that tradition. Entrepreneurs at heart, they set to work to transform this picture perfect location into an exclusive and timeless venue for life’s celebrations. They renamed it Stonefields. Although the story’s still being written, so far, it’s been full of happy endings. Like the wedding that was almost lost in 2012.


Chartrand and Davis said,

“They really made us feel like ‘you know what guys’? We’re going to take care of everything, don’t worry about calling all of the other people, all of the services that need to be changed, we are going to take care of it so you don’t worry”.

And that is what we do in Carleton Place and Beckwith. We take care of each other in our county limits and outside. Remember that.

Related reading–

Annie Bella Brunton & Adam Wesley Jones

Sharing History With Friends – Jennifer Fenwick Irwin


You have met Amanda McNeely, Tiffany Nixon, and Teri White who are part of our working team for your Ladies Who Lunch date on June 6th. Here is another one of our members ready to put this shindig all together.

A few years I wrote a blog about my forever friend Sheila Wallet Needham, and there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t remember the happy times we had. Do you remember your past friends each day? Two weeks ago Marian MacFarlane told me all about her childhood friend in Packenham. Late last week she asked me to add to it as she remembered more of what she enjoyed with her visiting friend.

So today as my person of the day, and also a member of the Ladies Who Lunch organizing group, I proudly introduce to you my friend Jennifer Fenwick Irwin, curator of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.

Jennifer grew up in the city of London, Ontario. She had a life I longed for, with her professor and iconic artist father, and her mother also was a talented artist. She and her older brother Graeme resided in an old rambling house full of art students, easels, rising loaves of bread, spinning wheels, and music.

After graduating from High School she traveled around Europe for 6 months then moved back home and in with a boyfriend who played guitar for a punk rock band. Jennifer spent her days working in bookstores, and evenings were spent next to an amplifier in whatever venue he played. As she said, “after two years, hence the deafness”.

Through the wire in 1988 she heard about a Museum studies program and moved to Ottawa. By the third year she had landed a great job at the Museum of Civilization, and met her future husband Pete Irwin. She actually spent a year living in a log cabin right downtown in the market.

Jennifer spent the next two years working at the Museum of Civilization and then at the Library and Archives Canada for another year until her first daughter Olivia was born. Daughter Bridget soon followed, and she landed as she said, “another great gig” working at home for the Glebe Home Day Care program. Each day was tea time and dress up with 5 little girls, including her own.

Jennifer and Pete wanted to set down roots for their family and chose Carleton Place as their destination. Her brother lived here, and they felt they could get “more home for their money” in this area, and bought an ancient 4 bedroom home. The day they signed the final papers Jennifer found out she was pregnant with baby number 3 and newborn Henry took over the room that had been planned as an office.

The Irwin family has lived in Carleton Place for just over 18 years. Jennifer has done her share of jobs from: working at the IGA, Scotiabank, commuting to the Textile Museum in Almonte, and the Library and Archives in Gatineau. During a sejour of unemployment she began volunteering at our Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. When they received a substantial private donation, Jennifer was hired to catalogue and organize all the artifacts in their collection. Do you know there are over 10,000 and counting?

As she said, somehow they have managed to find the money to keep her employed there for almost 4 years, and she is now officially the Museum Manager/Curator. She takes care of every aspect of running the museum with about 10 regular volunteers and an elected Board of Directors. Between the administration, grant writing, exhibit design, event planning, fundraising, and research, it keeps her busy. If that wasn’t enough, she has recently been tasked with assisting the Roy Brown Museum, the town’s Municipal Heritage Committee, and being the liaison to Council for all three groups. By the way, she still hasn’t finished cataloging all the artifacts!  After all, *”a Museum should never be finished, but boundless and ever in motion” like Jennifer.

Files from Jennifer Fenwick Irwin


Ladies Who Lunch Carleton Place Town Hal June 6th

Mr. Dobson of Montague Builds a Museum


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This is Bill and he has a hobby that some might not understand. You see Bill collects early folk art that some not in the know might just call junk. The word “folk,” according to etymological dictionary, means “of the people”, and one would say Bill is “of the people” more than anyone knows. Not only is he the Reeve of Montague Township he probably owns the cream of the crop in antique farming tools in the province of Ontario.

This is Bill’s home that he and his wife Linda Hynes own that was the site of the Lanark County Plowing Match. I mistakenly drove into his yard last week and was really glad I did. Bill is one of those people that when you start talking to him you feel like you have known him forever.

In 1985 Bill decided that after 30 years of collecting he was going to open a museum so all the world could see the beauty of the primitive items of yesterday. If you look at the things he has collected, you will have to admit the people that originally created these things were artists. After all most were made by rural or small town untrained individuals, whether they be signs or farm tools. All were created by hand with love and without machinery.

In the 80’s when I used to sell depression glass, my main customers were Americans who bought almost everything you had to offer. Some Canadians became concerned they were losing heritage items to south of the border so there seemed to be an immediate rush to hoard these items before they disappeared out of the country. Bill seems to think it was some sort of media hype but I saw the speed in which I sold the stuff as more than a passing interest.

In the 80’s when the full full-fledged contemporary folk art boom emerged with major exhibitions at prestigious museums, Bill started finding old toolboxes in which he picked the cream of the crop and sold the rest. And so began in the same period of time Mr. Dobson’s quest to open a museum of primitives in the summer.


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Sad to say when your name does not contain the words “American Folk Art Museum” it’s pretty hard to get people to come visit a tiny museum on a back road called Mattheson Road in rural Montague Township Ontario. To those that are always afraid to live outside the box, you are missing not only the best in primitives but also missing the best curator I ever met. I know of no museum in the world where you can talk with someone that is so passionate and knowledgeable in what he does.

According to Bill,

“Sixty people came the first day to his museum and then a total of sixty people for the next two years.”

Disappointed with the lack of interest he closed it down after the second summer. And so the museum stayed closed but he never gave up his love of collecting.

This year he decided to open the doors once again to the public. You will see no commercialism, consumption, or exploitation from Bill in this display – just honesty, beauty and knowledge. Sigmund Freud believed that collectors had object fixation related to the anal-retention stage in childhood. I dispute this as someone has to keep history of the ages alive.

Bill told me he had a quilt that came from an auction that was held at my house almost 30 years ago. He asked me if I was interested in buying it. I explained to him that no one would appreciate it and my days of collecting are long gone.

I used to volunteer for a Hospital thrift shop where people would donate their homes to the hospital charity. I went  into went so many homes after the owners had died to appraise things and their children did not even want a token from it.

There were some wonderful things but also useless belongings were piled high to the ceiling. Sometimes it seemed to grow like a monster and even extended into the garages and verandahs. I would appraise as much as I could but was just could not understand how no one cared in the family about bits and pieces of history. That was a huge force along with my house fire to stop collecting.

Thankfully we have people like Bill and others to collect items of history and treat them with respect. Letting him share these personal connections to the past with us allows us to hold pieces of history literally in our hands. That kind of thing is priceless!

So as the sun sets over Montague Township, the iron weather vane knows he is safe in Bills hands and will never be sold to anyone. People with passion like Bill would never allow that. Not allow it indeed!

“It’s the same thing as the antique furniture. I just don’t like old stuff. I’m creeped out by it, and I have no explanation why…I don’t have a phobia about American antiques, it’s mostly French—you know, like the big, old, gold-carved chairs with the velvet cushions. The Louis XIV type. That’s what creep me out. I can spot the imitation antiques a mile off. They have a different vibe. Not as much dust.”

Billy Bob Thorton

Text and Images: Linda Seccaspina 2011

Photo of Bill Dobson from Google/EMC ( I forgot to take one of him:(