Tag Archives: charcoal

The Old Charcoal BBQ Pits in Carleton Place

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Photo of a campfire at Mississippi Lake in Carleton Place. Photo from the Shane Wm. Edwards collection or as he says: The current trustee of the James Howard Edwards Photograph Collection since most of the photographs were taken by him (my grandfather); and then preserved and shared by my father, William Howard Edwards, and aunt, Constance Joy Edwards.

I would like to think this gentleman had charcoal burning in his stove, but most likely it was wood.

Alex Hunter use to take all the slabs from the Village of Carleton Place and pile them up on the banks of the Mississippi until he had enough for charcoal pits.  These pits were formed by cutting long elm saplings, eight inches at the butt, three inches at the top and eighteen feet long.  With these they built a frame in tent formation, leaving a door opening at earth end so the watchers could see if there was any daylight showing through them.

When the pits were completed the fire was started from many places on the undersides of the pits.  Great care was exercised in watching the fires so they would burn simultaneously and not get out of hand..

The folks of Carleton Place were on hand every night to watch.  Many potato roasts and roasted ears of corn were enjoyed by the young set, night after night, until the pits were ready to be drawn and the charcoal cooled off.  Old time dances with Dick Willis performing on the fiddle gave the young folk much merriment.

 Paul Lavallee, the proprietor of the Mississippi Hotel, often amused himself with other old cronies – Pat Gavin, Tom Nagle, Jim Nolan, Tom Buckeye Lynch, Pat Tucker, Bill Patterson, Alex Wilson, and Howard Morton’s Brown’s father. They listened to the Little Napoleon tell his stories while they watched the men climb up and down, plugging the air holes as the fire burst through the sod.

Thousands of bushels of the shining black blocks and logs were ready to be sold.  Blacksmiths from the surrounding towns – Smiths Falls, Perth, Almonte and Ottawa – were on hand to purchase the salt bags holding two bushels each, which were sold for fifty cents each only on cash and carry basis.

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Sandy Hunter, took in the cash as long as there were customers in sight.  The balance of the pit products was stored in the old barn where his son Alex Hunter had his livery stable, at the rear of the old Metcafe property (between Bridge and Water Streets).

In a modern note Home Depot is offering free delivery on BBQ’s until next Wednesday. Oh how far we have come!

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