Tag Archives: chatterton house hotel

To Be Manic Depressive in a Rural Town — Kingston Insane Asylum



Photo of the Chatterton House Hotel /Queen’s Hotel Desk book 1887 from the  Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Warning- this essay is disturbing in nature.

This piece has taken me hours to write as I had to step away from it many times. My Mother was put in an “asylum” after I was born in 1951 for years with what we would now diagnose as postpartum depression. The Royal Victoria Hospital did not know what to do with her after she lost all her memory immediately after giving birth to me. I am not going to go into details, but she was given shock treatment etc. trying to bring her back to the present life. It took over 4 years–she was one of the lucky ones. read-My Name is Bernice — A Letter to a Daughter

Yesterday, I saw a notation in the Chatterton House Hotel from Carleton Place registrar that made my stomach do a flip. It was signed January 1886–which I think should have been 1887 after seeing the next entry. (Not only I have issues writing years in January)

The name read:

W. Wilson- Kingston Asylum.

I figured it wasn’t a patient out on a work program, but rather staff. After searching the Kingston Whig-Standard archives there was a W. Wilson who was part of the Ladies Benevolent Society that prevailed in the Kingston Asylum. That would make sense, as in those days to be poor or sick in a small town like Carleton Place was hard, as the nature of available assistance did vary considerably.

The Maritimes had the British Poor Laws, and in Quebec one could receive assistance from church-run welfare institutions. Ontario had voluntary charitable organizations which sprung up in the absence of a Poor Law framework. So Mrs. W. Wilson had been sent to evaluate the mental condition of some poor Carleton Place resident by the Ladies Benevolent Society who attended to the Kingston Insane Asylum. If you were lucky your family looked after you if you were considered mad–but if not– some were kept in closets, basements, sheds, or thrown out into the street to fend for yourself. In those days they thought those in mental anguish were impervious to outdoor temperature. Most, however, were put in asylums for moral treatment.

In my book Tilting the Kilt- Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place I wrote that 1909 was a banner year in Carleton Place with Robert Marten, John A McDonald, Edith Boyle, and Robert Turner charged with insanity and housed in our local town hall jail until they could be transferred to the Brockville Insane Asylum. In the year of 1887 when Mrs. Wilson visited there were 6 people from Carleton Place in the Kingston Insane Asylum. I would say that 75% of all patients were under the age of 30 with one being only 16 years old. Imagine being driven to an insane asylum in a carriage and dropped off with a satchel knowing this was going to be your permanent home. There you would be handed a distinctive canvas uniform bearing the word LUNATIC.


The Rockwood Insane Asylum in Kingston— which sits on the grounds of the Providence Continuing Care Centre, at 752 King Street West— became home from 1859 until 1959, to those with mental disabilities. It was built by the prisoners of the Kingston Penitentiary, and patients were moved in gradually from 1859 until 1870. The horse stables on the land were used to house 50 female patients until a new wing was added onto the facility in 1868. This population included patients up and down the spectrum of mental health disorders as we know them today, as well as lepers and charged promiscuous women.

In 1894, Mrs. James Williams of Carleton Place, Ontario became “violent” in her room at the Asylum which measured 3 by 3 metres- and any furniture in her room had to be removed. Seeing the room was so small, one wonders what kind of furniture was in there. It was said in The Quebec Saturday Night Budget Newspaper that nothing could be done for her so they left her alone in her room. When they came back they found her dead. She had hung herself with the end of a sheet to the bars in the window.

Anna Williams had been dropped off there only two days previous. The newspaper said that the 28-year-old-woman left a young husband and two children. She had become of a mental condition unknown to the local doctor and no treatment was known. The physician assumed her condition was due to the fact that she was soon to become a mother again. Anna probably never got over her postpartum depression from her last child.

“It is a terrible disease, none more terrible, and the medical care should be given to them. Country Doctors cannot understand the treatment of insane persons as well as those who have made a lie study of the subject.”

J.V. Henry Nott– ‘Chairman of the General Committee on Asylums and Poor Houses.’


Data Base for the Rockwood Insane Asylum in Kingston, Ontario

Although the building was closed in 1959,  I had read in a few places that it  was opened up to the public in 1998 as housing during the 1998 ice storm. Thankfully, those rumours proved to be false.

Quebec readers– Please read:



REALTED READING—Great Social Evils —The Contagious Diseases Act of Canada

More stories from the Desk Books of The Chatterton House Hotel (Queen’s Hotel) Carleton Place from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

My Name is Bernice — A Letter to a Daughter

Part 2- Hell on Wheels at Lady Chatterton’s Hotel in Carleton Place– can be found here.

Part 3- I Will Take Some Opium to Go Please —The “Drug Dispensary” at the Chatterton House Hotel

Part 4- Chatterton House Hotel Registrar- George Hurdis -1884

Part 5-What the Heck was Electric Soap? Chatterton House Hotel Registrar

Part 6-The First Mosh Pits in Carleton Place — The Opera House of the Chatterton House Hotel

Part 7- All the President’s Men — Backroom Dealings in Carleton Place?

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

All the President’s Men — Backroom Dealings in Carleton Place?



Before you read this:

I googled their signatures before I wrote this. The Claus one is down pat so is Gould and Vanderbilt. Although Roosevelt’s does not match exactly—after going through about 50 of them I found some characteristics LOL… But this is one for the books. All four were thick as thieves in those days.

In 1870, the Brockville and Ottawa railway had reached Carleton Place. After both railways were bought out by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, Carleton Place became a hub. Because of its huge lumber business, it became an important mark on the map. Our local hotels were full in those days of travelers from in and out of town. In looking through the Chatteron House Hotel (Queen’s Hotel) guest registrar I spotted the name Vanderbilt. Wondering if  that individual was related to the US Vanderbilts I began to research the other names also from New York.


All of the four names signed on that registrar were four men who built America.Was this a hoax? Or did some back room deal happen in Carleton Place? Did they figure they would not be noticed in a small rural town? You tell me.

Here are the cast of characters whose names all appear on the Chatterton House Hotel registrar above.


William Vanderbilt: (1849-1920)

William Vanderbilt was for a time active in the management of the family railroads, though not much after 1903. What was most important about the Vanderbilts was they owned the only rail bridge into New York City, and it was both the gateway to country’s largest and busiest port. In their hands. They used it as a weapon in all matters trying to accumulate power in the transportation business. The Canada Southern always contained much Vanderbilt and Gould money.

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Theodore Roosevelt-(1858-1919)

Theodore Roosevelt, former US president was born into a wealthy and influential family in New York City and knew all these gentleman very well. You see the Roosevelts, Goulds and Vanderbilts and a host of other’s influential families homes were just three miles apart in New York state. Rich people lived by each other in those days in their opulent mansions. All the families entertained here, at picnics by the pool and simple dinners at which the cocktail “hour” was limited to a mere five minutes at the Vanderbilts. But, when it all came down to the wash, what they all had in common was money and power.

Teddy was an avid traveler and had come to Canada before as he was friends with Cecil Spring Rice (1859-1918) a British Diplomat living in Canada.  Spring Rice was posted to Washington, D.C. in 1887 as the British Ambassador and returned to Canada as second secretary in 1889.  His friendship with Roosevelt, who was now working at the United States Civil Service Commission, continued to grow.  Their close relationship undoubtedly added to the Ambassador’s diplomatic clout in the USA. Roosevelt was soon put forth as the Republican party’s candidate for the District’s House seat in Albany. He was a member of the New York State Assembly (New York Co., 21st D.) in 1882, 1883 and 1884. He immediately began making his mark, specifically in corporate corruption issues and became the 26th President of the Unites States in 1901 after the assassination of President McKinley. One of his earliest campaigns was blocking a corrupt effort by financier Jay Gould to lower his taxes. Was Roosevelt’s endeavours all a smoke screen?


Jason “Jay” Gould (May 27, 1836 – December 2, 1892) was a leading American railroad developer and speculator. He was publicly known as what was called a robber baron whose success at business made him the ninth richest U.S. citizen in history. Gould, owner of the Union Pacific railroad company was the Wolf of Wall Street long before anyone else. In an effort to take full control of the Erie, Gould was trying to gather up investors and money.  One such investor was a man going by the name Lord Gordon-Gordon. This “lord” was able to swindle Gould out of $1 million in stock and then flee on a night train to Montreal, Canada in 1872, and then on to Manitoba.

When Gordon was found to be a fraud, the stock dropped and Gould, who had been swindled out of quite a bit of money, was in very dire straits. In an effort to get Gordon back to the United States, Gould and several associates: who included two future Governors of Minnesota and three future members of Congress (Loren Fletcher, John Gilfillan, and Eugene McLanahan Wilson), attempted to kidnap him. The group was successful, but were stopped and arrested by the North-West Mounted Police before they could return to the United States. The kidnappers were put in prison and refused bail.

This led to an international incident between the United States and Canada. Upon learning that the kidnappers were not given bail, Governor Horace Austin of Minnesota demanded their return and put the local militia on a state of full readiness. Thousands of Minnesotans volunteered for a full military invasion of Canada. However, after negotiations, the Canadian authorities released the kidnappers on bail

In the end, Gould was forced out of the Erie Railroad altogether in 1879.Gould also owned the New York World newspaper from 1879 to 1883, and by 1886 he had acquired the Manhattan Elevated Railroad, which held a monopoly over New York City’s elevated railways.  Gould also gained control of several railroads, including Union Pacific. That is where he met Claus Spreckels.


Claus Spreckels- (1828-1908)

Spreckels used money from his sugar company Western Sugar Refinery in 1874 to purchase a large tract of ranch and timber land in Aptos, California. He built a large resort hotel and, not far away, an extensive ranch complex. Spreckels was one of the original investors in the Santa Cruz Railroad, which began operation in 1875 and passed through his land on its run between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. The narrow-gauge line was later acquired and standard-gauged by the Southern Pacific Railroad, now part of the Union Pacific Railroad was the President of the San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley Railway from 1895 until it was sold to the Santa Fe Railway in 1901. The railroad built a line that competed with the Southern Pacific through the San Joaquin Valley between Richmond and Bakersfield. The railroad was welcome competition for shippers who were strangled by Southern Pacific’s monopoly on shipping rates in the valley. On July 9, 1893 Spreckels found a death threat graffitied on his house. He went into self-exile from Hawaii July 19


There were many sides to Theodore Roosevelt-and let’s face it money and power were important to all these men. So the fact remains- what on earth were all these Republican men doing at The Chatterton House Hotel in Carleton Place? If you think about it– they were doing what politicians do best. In a small local hotel rural they were not going to be bothered by anyone. If  Roosevelt showed such public detest to Gould in later years, why did he have lunch with his son years later as a President of the United States? George Jay Gould was a financier and a railroad executive like his father, leading both the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad and the Western Pacific Railroad.


Was this a hoax? Were names written down for the fun of it? I can see Roosevelt and Vanderbilt, but the names of Gould and Sprekels would not be on the tips of everyone’s list. So what was really going on? Well after hours of looking I found an article about the Gould family visiting the Ottawa area the year before. Seems that Gould had his own train car much like celebrities have private jets today.

The Daily Local News, Ottawa, Canada, October 15, 1886, page 2
Jay Gould, Railroad Tycoon, Visits the City of Ottawa. A Millionaires Appearance. “The Boy” George and His Bonny Bride *Edith Kingdon.


At twenty minutes past one in the afternoon, a special train consisting of the locomotive, a baggage car, a sleeper, a dining car and a regally decorated boudoir car arrived at the First street depot. The boudoir coach was the “Convoy,” Jay Gould’s personal car, and it brought to the city the railroad magnate, his son, George J. Gould, the latter’s wife, pretty Edith Kingdon that was; H.S. Hopkins, second vice president of the Gould system; Capt. Shackford, commander of Gould’s steam yatch the Atalanta, and officials of the M.P. system.

This story is going to keep me researching for a very long time– I keep saying –there is way more history to Carleton Place than Roy Brown.


*Edith Kingdon


She was born in 1864 and educated in England. She was the daughter of Charles Dennis Kingdon and Mary Carter of Toronto, Ontario. She worked as a stage actress until her marriage—George Jay Gould son of Jay Gould

More stories from the Desk Books of The Chatterton House Hotel (Queen’s Hotel) Carleton Place from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

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

Part 2- Hell on Wheels at Lady Chatterton’s Hotel in Carleton Place– can be found here.

Part 3- I Will Take Some Opium to Go Please —The “Drug Dispensary” at the Chatterton House Hotel

Part 4- Chatterton House Hotel Registrar- George Hurdis -1884

Part 5-What the Heck was Electric Soap? Chatterton House Hotel Registrar

Part 6-The First Mosh Pits in Carleton Place — The Opera House of the Chatterton House Hotel

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

Chatterton House Hotel Registrar- George Hurdis -1884



Carleton Place resident George Hurdis signed the Chaterton House Hotel Registrar in 1884 and signed for room number 254.


Ted Hurdis of Carleton Place sent this photo and said:

George was my grandfathers brother. He would be the lad on the right standing in the back row. My grandfather Ned is the young boy in the middle holding the flag.

Michelle said: The George Hurdis who signed the hotel register is not the same George Hurdis shown in the family photo. It is possible that it would have been George’s grandfather George Hurdis or perhaps his uncle George Hurdis. #toomanyGeorges

More stories from the Desk Books of The Chatterton House Hotel (Queen’s Hotel) Carleton Place from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

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

Part 2- Hell on Wheels at Lady Chatterton’s Hotel in Carleton Place– can be found here.

Part 3- I Will Take Some Opium to Go Please —The “Drug Dispensary” at the Chatterton House Hotel

What Happened the Day the Circus Left Carleton Place



Page from the Chatterton House Hotel (Queens Hotel) in Carleton Place. Not sure if it was the popular Hargreaves Circus that came through town many times, but the signature belonged to one of the travelling shows. –  Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.

banks post office cdn tire FINAL ECtif

The Ottawa Free Press published a story the first week of August in 1907 about a mysterious disappearance of R. F. Blair the former manager of the Union Bank of Carleton Place. They reported that his body was found in a field near Perth on Tuesday the 16th. The Central Canadian says the Carleton Place papers knew about him all the time. Blair left Carleton Place the day the Hargreaves Circus was leaving town.


Officials of the Union Bank were in Carleton Place and intended to counsel him and remove him to a Quebec town. Blair suspected his dismal future and fled. His bicycle was found later at the Perth station unclaimed, and it was recognized as belonging to Blair. Mr. Blair is believed to be alive, and his wife and friends are waiting to hear from him.

Mr. Blair was never heard from after that day. Did he ride his bicycle along side the Hargreaves circus, leave it in Perth, and continue on with the circus?

A new branch of the Union Bank of Canada was in operation in Carleton Place in 1900, in addition to the longer established branch of the Bank of Ottawa. The current Royal Bank of Canada, originally the Union Bank of Canada, is constructed of concrete blocks fabricated to resemble stone. Traces of two styles of former lettering remain about the columns.

harThe Hargreaves Circus led by Thomas Hargreaves with his mud and Railroad Circus was out of Chester, Pa. until 1910. Circuses were the norm in those days causing great excitement in town when they came. Missing husbands were also the norm also in those days, as I found many classified ads of wives looking for their husbands and lamenting “since you’ve been gone”.


John Sparrow’s Royal Parilion – Chatterton House Hotel Carleton Place


In July 8th of 1886 John Sparrow’s troupe arrived at the Chatterton House Hotel (Queen’s Hotel) in Carleton Place and performed at the Opera House inside the Chatterton House Hotel. So who was John Sparrow of John Sparrow’s Pavilion?


SPARROW, JOHN BOLINGBROKE (baptized John), merchant, theatre manager, and impresario; b. 12 April 1852 in St Catharines, Upper Canada, son of George Sparrow, a businessman, and Catharine Edwards; m. 6 Aug. 1877 in Montreal. Elizabeth Cater, the under-age daughter of James Cater, a hotel-keeper, and Philomene Scott, and they had one daughter and three sons; d. 26 Feb. 1914 in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., and was buried the following day in Mount Royal Cemetery, Montreal.

John Bolingbroke Sparrow left his home town around 1876 for Montreal, where he opened a fruit store at the corner of Rue de Bleury and Rue de La Gauchetière, beside a bill-posting business that belonged to James Cater, his future father-in-law. He went into partnership with Cater the following year but kept his store until 1880. His career in the sign business brought him into contact with many English, American, and Canadian theatre people, and thus led him to go into show business himself. In the 1879–80 season he succeeded Kate M. Buckland  as manager of the Theatre Royal on Rue Côté.


A Page from the Chatterton House Hotel (Queens Hotel) Register in Carleton Place. –  Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.

Sparrow rose rapidly in the world of show business, especially after entering into partnership with the American impresario Henry R. Jacobs in 1884. The firm of Sparrow and Jacobs made the Theatre Royal a Mecca for low-priced melodrama and vaudeville where the likes of Tony Pastor, Maggie Cline, Joe Weber, and Lew Fields performed. After a brief experiment with the Royal Museum Pavilion from 1883 to 1885, the two partners operated, in addition to the Theatre Royal, the Queen’s Theatre from 1891, and the Academy of Music from 1896.


In 1897, however, this profitable association came to an end. Sparrow gained ownership of the firm’s Canadian interests. He then joined a famous American theatre trust known as the Syndicate, which gradually extended its hold over the majority of American and Canadian theatres. Taking his cue from this powerful organization, Sparrow soon had a monopoly of the most important halls in Montreal. By 1904 he controlled not only the Theatre Royal and the Academy of Music, but also the Théâtre Français and His Majesty’s Theatre. His empire extended to Toronto, Ottawa, Boston, and even New York. He reorganized his firm that year under the corporate name of J. B. Sparrow Theatrical and Amusement Company and left the managership of the Montreal Bill Posting Company, which he had held since 1881.

Sparrow’s affiliation with the Syndicate was not without problems. In 1908 he was accused of competing with the Eastern Circuit Association in Boston, and his manager, William A. Edwards, was expelled from that organization, while a number of American companies cancelled their appearances at his Montreal theatres in reprisal. Sparrow sued the Eastern Circuit under the American antitrust law in the New York City district of the state’s Supreme Court and was awarded damages. These difficulties seemed to have no negative effect on his prosperity, since his company declared a capital of $339,000 in 1910.

Fond of hunting and fishing, Sparrow forgot his worries at his second residence in Sainte-Agathe-desMonts, where he spent most of the year after his health began to fail in 1913. There in February 1914 he succumbed to dropsy complicated by a heart attack. The simple funeral ceremony he had wanted was held there as well.


                                                                           Bolingbroke House in Montreal

Although he was formidable in business, Sparrow showed his charm in social life, keeping open house in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts or entertaining theatre people and journalists at the Hôte1 Péloquin in the Montreal suburb of Sault-au-Récollet (Montreal North), where he was always “the life of the gathering.” The monopoly held by Sparrow’s enterprises and their connections with the New York Syndicate were instrumental in making Montreal a showcase for Broadway. Indeed, the city served as a locale for trial runs of productions that were later staged in the American metropolis. The widest diversity of genres was performed in his theatres and most of the American stars of the day played there. Of particular note was Sparrow’s role in bringing American musical comedy to Montreal. His unerring instinct, keen marketing sense, and great adaptability made him one of the most influential figures of his generation in the entertainment business.

John Sparrow represented a lot of theatre people and one of them was Blind Tom. More about him soon.

More stories from the Desk Books of The Chatterton House Hotel (Queen’s Hotel) Carleton Place from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

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

Part 2- Hell on Wheels at Lady Chatterton’s Hotel in Carleton Place– can be found here.

Part 3- I Will Take Some Opium to Go Please —The “Drug Dispensary” at the Chatterton House Hotel

I Will Take Some Opium to Go Please —The “Drug Dispensary” at the Chatterton House Hotel



More stories from the Desk Books of The Chatterton House Hotel (Queen’s Hotel) Carleton Place from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

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

Part 2- Hell on Wheels at Lady Chatterton’s Hotel in Carleton Place– can be found here.


Today it’s hard to believe, but in early and mid to late 1800’s it was possible to walk into a drugstore or a hotel and buy, without prescription, laudanum, cocaine, and even arsenic. Opium preparations were also sold freely in town, halls, and in the countryside by travelling hawkers. The travelling salesmen, which were many that frequented the Chatterton House Hotel in Carleton Place, often sold their wares through the front desk help for those who needed it.


Drugs were brought to town from every corner of the country and the amount of opium sales were particularly staggering. Dangerous drugs were commonly used for making home remedies, and less frequently as a recreation for the bored and alienated people. The recreational use of opiates was popular particularly with pre-Victorian and Victorian artists and writers.


There was no moral condemnation of the use of opiates, and their use was not regarded as addiction but rather as a habit in the Victorian period. Until the end of the nineteenth century few doctors and scientists warned about the dangers of drug addiction.


The most popular opium derivative was laudanum, a tincture of opium mixed with wine or water. Laudanum, called the ‘aspirin of the nineteenth century,’ was widely used in Victorian households as a painkiller, recommended for a broad range of ailments including cough, diarrhea, rheumatism, ‘women’s troubles’, cardiac disease and even delirium.


The first photo has a prescription for Milton Teskey. Here is a little background on him below.


Teskeyville At Apple Tree Falls

On the strength of attractive natural assets and the initial enterprise of three Teskey brothers, a small community developed in the next thirty years, known for a time as Teskeyville and as Appleton Falls.  With a population of about seventy five persons by the mid-fifties, it contained Joseph Teskey’s grist mill, Robert Teskey’s sawmill equipped with two upright saws and a public timber slide, Albert Teskey’s general store and post office, Peter and John F. Cram’s tannery, and two blacksmith shops, William Young’s tailor shop and a wagon shop.  A foundry and machine shop was added before 1860, when the village grew to have a population of three hundred.  Albert Teskey, a younger brother who lived to 1887, also engaged in lumbering and became reeve of Ramsay township.  A flour mill in a stone building erected in 1853 by Joseph Teskey below the east side of the Appleton Falls was operated after his death in 1865 by his son Milton.  It was sold in 1900 to H. Brown & Sons, Carleton Place flour millers and suppliers of electric power, and resold several years later to Thomas Boyd Caldwell (1856-1932) of Lanark, then Liberal member of Parliament for North Lanark, a son of the first Boyd Caldwell who had owned a large sawmill at Carleton Place.

Photos by Linda Seccaspina