Tag Archives: Cholera

Stories of Skeletons Found in Cornwall

Stories of Skeletons Found in Cornwall

Photo Cornwall Community Museum-Petite Pointe Maligne

Twenty Skeletons Found 1936

There is some doubt as to the burial place of the Irish immigrants who died at Cornwall during the great Asiatic cholera epidemics of 1832 and 1834. Some records are to the effect that they were buried at Petite Pointe Maligne and that the grave have long since been obscured. Others state that the dead were properly burled in local cemeteries. It is a fact, however, that many of the immigrants who died aboard ship were buried at various points along the river, and with buc little ceremony. Only a few years ago, a shallow grave was uncovered near Woodlands during road-building operations. This was found to contain about twenty skeletons and It is highly probable that they were those of Irish folk who died on ships passing up the St. Lawrence.


At the beginning of June in 1832, the Carrick, a ship that had come over from Ireland, reached Quebec with a few feverish immigrants on board.

Three days later, cholera took its first victim.

The illness spread like wildfire all the way to Montreal and then to Upper Canada. It quickly became an epidemic that moved through the shanty neighbourhoods of the urban poor, which were breeding grounds for contagion. The lack of sewers and garbage collection contributed to water contamination. Soon the epidemic was out of control and hundreds died each day, mostly in the large towns.

On June 14, 1832, La Minerve newspaper verified the spread of cholera.

“14 June, 1832: Since Monday morning Montreal is in turmoil and the alarm is growing every minute. There is no longer doubt that cholera is present. We recommend that the public observe strictly the Regulations of the Board of Health.”

La Minerve tried to prevent panic from spreading, advising that:

“There is no use in becoming alarmed.
When the illness appears, one must see a doctor and follow his instructions. The apothecaries have the necessary remedies in stock and their prices are affordable to all pocketbooks.”

In reality, doctors were overwhelmed and powerless. They thought cholera was transmitted by fumes carried through the atmosphere. To purify the air, English officers tried firing off cannons and the Sanitary Office burned tar.

Alexander Hart, a Jewish merchant from Montreal, saw death all around him:

“None of us go into town anymore.
Many are moving into the country. Yesterday 34 corpses passed our house. Today, 23… not counting those in the old burial Ground and in the Catholic ground. 12 carts are employed by the Board of Health to carry away the dead who are interred without prayers.”

By the end of 1832, the epidemic had claimed 9,000 lives, more than half of them in Lower Canada. Some Canadians held England responsible for this misfortune, citing its emigration policy for negligence, if not malevolence.

In a letter to his cousin, Jean-Jacques Lartigue, the Bishop of Montreal, spoke of the Place d’Armes by-election and the cholera epidemic:

“The other subjects that seem to me most worthy of your attention at the present time are: the murder of our “Canadiens” on May 21st, which the governor has since officially condoned; and the invasion of our uncultivated land by British immigrants who threaten to drive us out of our country and reduce our “Canadien” population, year after year, by the spread of disease.”

This climate of death, fear and loathing helped kindle a political firestorm in Lower Canada. CBC- CLICK

Also read-ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847

The Cholera Epidemic of 1832

Mystery Skeleton Found in Cellar 1946

Digging a cellar in downtown Cornwall Lucien Mercier drove his pick into a hard object. Examination showed he had struck a skull, and further digging brought up the long-interred remains of a human body. Police were puzzled. There was no record of the location ever having been a cemetery and police records show no record of missing persons in the area for the last 50 years. Deputy Police Chief Wilfred Massom suggested the skeleton might be that of a soldier killed during the War of 1812-14.


Cornwall was one of the largest settlements in Upper Canada at the time that war was declared. It would emerge as an important garrison town, communications and supply post during the War of 1812. The population of Cornwall was several hundred at the time.

More Skeleton Stories from Cornwall

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
24 Aug 1935, Sat  •  Page 2

You Give me a Fever— Settler Swamp Fever

You Give me a Fever— Settler Swamp Fever

Image result for swamps lanark county

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists


The settlers thought the worst of their journey was over when they reached Prescott and the only documented of this nightmare journey into the Lanark County bush is solely in an archived pamphlet #854 written by John McDonald.  He described the hardships of that weary road as the settlers had already been weakened by the long trip across “the pond”.

When they reached Prescott their future travelling arrangements broke down and instead of staying together but, all the four ships arrived together causing considerable congestion and confusion.  (Earl of Buckinghamshire, George Canning, Commerce, and David of London) Their bodies were beginning to feel the effects of their rough journey so some laid out in the fields upon arrival. Many were afflicted with the bloody flux and some had fevers and died after a few days illness.

They quickly got sick from the intense summer heat and having to drink river water. The nights in the open often in wet blankets also contributed to their sicknesses. Cholera and malaria developed quickly with the aid of the swarms of mosquitoes they  encountered through the many swamps they trudged through.

They stayed in Prescott another three weeks, and at that point half of the passengers  of the David of London (about 500) took its turn to gather all their  luggage and make the 74 mile trek to New Lanark. Each society had to wait its turn to leave and the sickness made things worse and delayed the treks.

McDonald’s party only travelled 6 miles the first day before stopping at an inn and sleeping on the floor. At daybreak they were on their way to Brockville where they had breakfast. After a short break they made their way north on what is now Highway 29 and struck back through the country. As  our Lanark County settlers travelled on the Old Perth Road were stretches of swamps and marshes. It was the only way out for the 1800 emigrants for them travelling from Prescott in 1821.What now takes an hour to journey took 3 days as the wagons full of women and children overturned and got stuck in the mire. Many were injured and one boy was killed. In the evening they stopped and slept in barns as the settlers were afraid of the snakes having seen many on the road.


MIKAN 3472998 Caldwell Miss (Lanark) June 1881 [96 KB, 1000 X 1394]

Miss Caldwell of Lanark June 1881


As they approached New Lanark they heard disturbing news of sickness and McDonald blamed the thick forests never hit by rays of the sun. In fact he wrote that he was basically appalled by the forests and its silence that he compared to a death like stillness only to change when they were agitated by storms. He was angry about the exertions required by the settlers in selecting their 100 acres, their distance from the markets and the impending fear of the dreaded Canadian Winter. Their was strangeness sensed and homesickness but eagerness to erect a shelter and clear land where the sun might shine.

William Caldwell and  James McIlrath and their families forged ahead even though neither of them had wielded an axe. They both settled on either side of the third concession of Lanark and Caldwell named his new home “The Clachan” and they toiled over small fields of wheat and potatoes among the stumps.



Lower Ottawa Valley Chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association


Ship Arrivals at the Port of Quebec, 1821

The following arrivals were extracted from the Montreal Gazette 1821. In 1821 the Montreal Gazette was a weekly publication. Additional information from the Quebec Mercurynote: if ships’ rigging or name of Master unpublished, it is indicated by — (The newspapers were filmed within their binding, making one side of some entries, unreadable, or only partly legible. This can lead to errors in the interpretation of the entry or missed entries. ) Be aware that there may be two or more ships of the same name, from the same, or different ports, during the same year. A few ships also made two trips in 1821.




Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.


Sad Memories of the Waifs and Strays Society

Lanark County 101 — It Began with Rocks, Trees, and Swamps

Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2

Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

Rolling down the Rapids –Journey to Lanark Part 5

What Did British Immigrants Spend When They First Came to Canada?

Just a Field of Stones Now? “The Old Perth Burying Ground” Now on Ontario Abandoned Places?


download (3).jpg

Friday October the 13th– 6:30.. meet in front of the old Leland Hotel on Bridge Street (Scott Reid’s office) and enjoy a one hour Bridge Street walk with stories of murder mayhem and Believe it or Not!!. Some tales might not be appropriate for young ears. FREE!–


unnamed (1)

The Cholera Epidemic of 1911

The Cholera Epidemic of 1911


Life before bottled water???? 
This ad for bottled water from the pure spring water at Hunt Club was in the Ottawa Journal in May of 1911.Now known as the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, this is the golf course by the airport at Hunt Club and Riverside. (Linda Seccaspina on Lost Ottawa)

Did you know there was also a spring near the Borthwick Ridge (South of Hawthorne).The water was collected and pumped from a bricked well located on land belonging to the Borthwick family, north of the ridge, on lot 20 in the fourth concession. William, son of settler Thomas Borthwick, bottled the water and sold it in Ottawa in his own grocery store, and other locations, in the 1870s and subsequent years. The waters had a salty taste.

It seems people were always prepared for a zombie apocalypse all through local history. Bottled water, strong abs and plenty of canned food.

Thanks to my favourite Ottawa historian Jaan Kolk, information about a cholera outbreak in 1911 in the Ottawa area was posted on Lost Ottawa as this was a reason why bottled water was being advertised to heavily in the newspapers.


Jaan Kolk– 1911 saw a serious typhoid outbreak in Ottawa that was blamed (correctly) on the city water supply – so lots of ads for spring water could be found that year. The major selling point for artificially-made ice in Ottawa was that it was made with guaranteed pure water. Here is a Journal ad from Dec. 27, 1912


The gap was capable of closing sharply. In the typhoid year of 1911, the Ottawa death rate was reported as 20 per 1,000 (about the same as a good year in the 1880s) and the birth rate as 23.6 per 1,000.

Registrar General, “Annual Report, 1911,” Sessional Papers, 1912, p. 18.
Figures vary from those of the MHO of Ottawa because of a different reporting
period. In 1911, Ottawa had the second highest death rate among Ontario
cities; Carleton County (at 21.1/1,000) had the highest county rate .


Jeff Legault–I seem to remember we had an old water bottle (carboy) in a wooden cradle like holder at our old cottage near Low, Quebec that we used to fill and bring with us on weekends. We had no running water or electricity back in the early 60s up there. It may have had Tally Ho written on it somewhere. Looked something like this.


Perth Courier, June 6, 1966

History of the Rideau Ferry Road

Empire strategists gave the village an unsuspected boast in 1826 when the government dug a canal linking Kingston to Bytown (now Ottawa), the purpose being to protect supply lines from a possible “Yankee” invasion.

This event brought 1,300 workers to the village front door.  More than 500 men died of malaria.  Upon completion in 1832, Archie Campbell erected a wharf and warehouse to handle canal produce.  Side wheelers plowed the river and wagon trains brought goods to the Campbell wharf.  In 1834 Campbell died of cholera.–Tales from Oliver’s Ferry

Cave Creek: the “scourge” of early Kitchissippi


ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847

The Cholera Epidemic of 1832

Think the Smallpox issue on Outlander was far fetched?

Tales from Oliver’s Ferry

Smallpox in Carleton Place — Did You Know?

The Great White Plague

Screenshot 2017-08-15 at 18.jpg

I have been writing about downtown Carleton Place Bridge Street for months and this is something I really want to do. Come join me in the Domino’s Parking lot- corner Lake Ave and Bridge, Carleton Place at 11 am Saturday September 16 (rain date September 17) for a free walkabout of Bridge Street. It’s history is way more than just stores. This walkabout is FREE BUT I will be carrying a pouch for donations to the Carleton Place Hospital as they have been so good to me. I don’t know if I will ever do another walking tour so come join me on something that has been on my bucket list since I began writing about Bridge Street. It’s always a good time–trust me.

Are You Ready to Visit the Open Doors?

unnamed (1)

1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847

1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847


download (8).jpg

School of Medicine, Queen’s University



When I was doing research Bertha and Gilbert Cardwell I cam across this. I had no idea– so I thought it should be documented.


The Kingston Whig Standard, January 8, 1949, by Edwin E. Horsey:


It was the 1847 famine in Ireland that was indirectly responsible for the founding of two of Kingston’s charitable institutions — the Home for the Aged and Sunnyside Children’s Home. Both establishments were organized primarily to take care of the widows and orphans left following the scourge of emigrant or ship-fever which claimed 1,200 lives here 101 years ago.

The deadly effects of the dire visitation were felt for years, for, while the progress of the epidemic had been stayed, there remained the problem of caring adequately for the many destitute persons and orphans. It is difficult for us fully to realize today the magnitude of the misery caused by the ravages of the disease, without doubt the greatest in the city’s history.

The plague of ship-fever was brought to Canada when thousands of Irish emigrants, fleeing from famine and pestilence, died during the ocean voyage or on reaching our shores. The United States, sensing danger, closed its ports to the refugees, but almost 100,000 were brought to Canada. While a quarantine was established at Grosse Isle in the lower St. Lawrence, those considered healthy or seeming well were allowed to continue on to Quebec and Montreal. Outbreaks of the plague quickly followed in both cities. It is estimated 20,000 died at lower St. Lawrence River ports.

At Montreal, those with a presumably clean bill of health, and desiring to do so, were permitted to continue further west. Passage was provided on barges and steamboats to Kingston, and so on by vessel to Toronto. But the trail of pestilence and death followed. At Kingston, the bodies of those who died on the last stretch of the river journey were unloaded on to the wharves for hasty removal and burial, while the sick were segregated in an effort to prevent further infection.



KGH BE16-9_CROP.jpg

Kingston Hospital 1890-Credit: Henry Henderson – KGH Archives


Old people never ceased telling of the harrowing experiences of those days; how the rumbling death-cart passed through the streets laden with bodies. These were taken to the field south of the present site of the General Hospital, placed side by side in trenches, sprinkled plentifully with quicklime and covered up. A great mound stood there unmarked for many years — the common grave of over 1,200 victims. During the term of the late Archbishop Cleary he had erected, in 1894, the monument now marking this burial place.

However, in face of all precautions taken, the fever spread through the city. Many homes became infected. A council report states: The expenditures of that year (1847) in the city, on account of the indigent emigrants, exceeded £13,000, and had that expenditure been charged upon the city, a special tax exceeding nine shillings in the pound would have been necessary.



School of Rehabilitation Therapy – Queen’s University
With all the moderen facilities for combating contagion at our disposal today, the appearance of a few cases of typhoid or other infectious disease causes a near-panic. But try and picture what conditions must have been in 1847, without any of these aids, when up to 2,500 infected persons and contacts were dumped weekly on the city’s doorstep.

When the epidemic was finally checked in 1848, the destitution following in its wake was of an acute nature. However, having been relieved of the hospital work they had carried on for some 25 years, the members of the Female Benevolent Society turned their attention to making provision for the care of the indigent and friendless.

In a report the secretary of the society, Mrs. Cartwright, outlined the object of the venture, to quote: The crowded state of the hospital and the general prevalence of fever throughout the town prevented the operations of the society from being carried on in the usual manner, but it was at lenghth agreed that efforts should be made for the establishment of a House of Industry, as the most effectual means of affording relief to the many destitute beings left among us by the recent calamitous season of sickness and destitution arising from the awful visitation of famine in Ireland.

As a result of their efforts a stone building then at the head of Princess Street was secured for the reception of widows and orphans. At that time Division Street was generally spoken of as the head of Princess Street, and as far as the present writer could determine the building secured was located at or near the site of the telephone offices.

Having inaugurated this charity, the society took steps to provide for the permanence of the institution as a place of refuge, as they, to further quote the secretary, depreciated the idea of casting out so many helpless beings to cling to a miserable and precarious mode of living about town in worthlessness, begging and vice, or to wander through the country. The members of the society were assisted by a committee of gentlemen, and undertook to devise means of employment for the inmates and promote the sale of articles made.

* * *
In the course of a few years the Female Benevolent Society collected funds, under Mayor Counter’s authority, for a House of Industry. This brought about the acquisition by the city of a stone building on the north side of Earl Street (present Nos. 303-305) with extensive grounds for garden cultivation. A superintendent was engaged to supervise the activities of the inmates, and at the same time a regular board of directors created to carry the responsibilities of management.

The institution remained at the Earl Street location for some 20 years, when it was removed to more suitable premises purchased by the city on Montreal Street. The building has been enlarged and improved as need required; and in 1887 a wing added as a Home for the Aged, the generous gift of the late Dr. Henry Skinner and members of his family.



House of Industry Kingston


The Female Benevolent Society, under a branch of their organization known as the Widows and Orphans Friend Society, also undertook the task of doing something definite for widows and orphans, apart from their interest in the House of Industry. Realizing that children should be segregated if good was to be accomplished, the ladies secured a small house as an orphans’ home, and placed a competent matron in charge.

In this manner the Home came into existence, with 12 children as inmates. A school, to which non-resident children were admitted, was conducted at the Home, the classes coming under the supervision of the Common School Board, in 1857, with a qualified teacher in charge. From board records extant, the school made as good a showing as any of the regular elementary public schools.

The small quarters soon became inadequate, so a block of land was purchased at the intersection of Union Street and University Avenue. Through the liberality of the citizens a more commodious institution was erected in the early 1860’s, where, as Miss Machar records, so many destitute children were succored, taught and cared for.

All the children were not a charge of the society. Many were paid for by mothers and fathers, who through necessity could not give them proper care, and consequently placed them in the Home where the best of supervision was provided.

In more recent years the Union Street property was sold to Queen’s University, to be converted into the Students’ Union. At that time Sunnyside was purchased and made use of.

The activities and accomplishments of the devoted members of the Female Benevolent Society are among the outstanding heroic achievements of Kingston’s history, deserving some form of permanent recognition even at this late date.






Clipped from The Brandon Sun13 Aug 1975, WedPage 2



Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)




ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

The Story of Jane Russell Gibson of Lanark County

The Caterpillar Plague of 1898

The Great White Plague

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4 “The Great Stink”


Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2

Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3


The Watt family was not the only one suffering great hardships trying to establish a home in Ontario, and for Part 4 I am going to discuss what the Crozier family went through. I found this by accident as I was doing research for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum’s Cemetery walk October 28th(rain date 29th). It began with the discovery of the Crozier headstones at St. James Cemetery, and I now find myself knee deep in that family’s history. I have even had contact with genealogist Fern Dyck in Alberta who has sent me some added information about the family.

I am going to repost this amazing excerpt from The Williams-Rafter Family History, by Ethel Rafter Williams (Rochester, N.Y., 1962) and add a few links and pictures to the story. Of anything I have read– this short piece from a genealogy site hits you in the heart. We need to be so grateful to the early settlers– so very grateful.

The Crozier Family Arrival in the New World

The Croziers were Scotch Irish emigrants to America, families which had left Scotland for religious or political reasons and moved to Northern Ireland, whence after varying periods of time they made their way to the New World. Generally, they came in search of economic opportunity that they could not find in Ireland.

There is reason to believe that John Crozier, the ancestor of the Crozier family in America, lived in Ballinamore, County Leitrim, Northern Ireland. There is no known record of his birth or death, but it is known that he died before 1832. The family had originally come over from the Border Country between Scotland and England with a group of religious dissenters. John Crozier had two wives: Ellen Knight, who had four children, and Anna Coffle, who had eight.


During the years from 1820 to 1832 an epidemic of cholera, starting in Russia, swept through northern Europe. It attacked countries and cities along the highways of travel. The nature of the disease was not understood: there was no known, effective means of combating it. Accordingly, wherever it went, it spread despair and death. The terror-stricken peasantry of Europe abandoned their homes and fled to other provinces or countries, hoping to escape the dreadful scourge. Not uncommon was it for whole villages to band themselves into a little colony, charter a ship and set out to find new homes across the sea.

Quite frequently, in their unwillingness to be separated from their loved ones, they would take with them individuals known to be infected with the disease, with the result that whole parties were destroyed, and all records of them were completely lost.

In one such party Robert Crozier, with members of his family, came to North America in the year 1832. They were part of a large group which had chartered a small sailing vessel, with the intention of forming a colony in the State of Ohio. They sailed up the St. Lawrence River as far as the draught of their vessel would permit, disembarked, and abandoned the ship near the rapids beyond Montreal. They portaged around the rapids and then constructed some crude flat-bottomed boats and rafts. On these they loaded their meager possessions. By means of poles and sails, they resumed the journey, following the Ontario shoreline up the St. Lawrence, hoping eventually to reach their destination — Ohio.


Long before the arrival of this party, the colonists on both sides of the river had heard of the terrible scourge which was devastating Europe. Fearful of the plague, they took measures to protect themselves from the disease which the fleeing Europeans were certain to bring with them. Guards were organized, and practically the whole Canadian shore from Montreal to Kingston was patrolled by armed men to prevent any landing by immigrants.

Along this unfriendly and inhospitable shore, the party of which Robert Crozier and his family were members worked their way. A number of times they tried to land to get fresh food and shelter from the cold, raw winds and rain. Each time, however, they were driven back by hostile farmers. Finally, sickness broke out, probably the dreaded cholera and hunger drove the terrified travelers to desperation.

Under the cover of darkness, they effected a landing near Brockville, Ontario, and took possession of an old barn on the Cryler farm for the night. By this time the guards had heard of the landing, and began to attack them. A fight ensued which lasted all night. The poor immigrants had no weapons to match the shotguns of the Canadian farmers, so that by morning they beat a retreat. Many of them died during the night from sickness and exposure. The living scattered in all directions.

Elizabethtown Township 1891 (click here for 1891 map of eastern Ontario [634K])Some were driven back to the river. Others, carrying what possessions they could, fled inland. Thus, families and friends became separated, many of them never to see one another again. Those who succeeded in gaining the boats worked their way up the river to the Great Lakes, making settlements along the route. Some went to Upper Canada: others settled in Ohio and Michigan.

New-France_5_4_1_Cholera-Plague-QuebecCholera Plague, Quebec

Among those who escaped inland at Brockville was Robert Crozier with some of his family and friends. This small party first made a settlement at a place now known as Elizabethtown. There they built stone houses and barns, and began life again as farmers. It is doubtful if they could have picked a lonelier, more uninviting and poorer farming country than the one they selected. Only by the hardest kind of toil was it possible to eke out a living. The more progressive members of the little community gradually located elsewhere, and Elizabethtown never developed beyond the crude stages of its beginning.

ONWEN14566-P1974-CanadaGenWeb-Cemetery-Ontario-WentworthSection P of Hamilton, ONtario cemetery contains the mostly unmarked graves of victims of the cholera epidemics 1832-1854

This story of the Crozier family’s arrival in America is based on notes taken by John R. Williams on a trip to Canada in 1896. He had gone to visit his mother’s brother, Uncle Demetrius Crozier. His uncle took him to Elizabethtown to call upon his old aunt, Mrs. Ann Berry, a sister of Robert Crozier. She had been a member of the party which had come to Canada in 1832. Born in Ireland in 1815, she was then an old lady of eighty-one, but had a remarkable memory. She recited an almost complete record of her family, both before and after coming to Canada.

The Great Stink they callled it.

n the steaming hot summer of 1858, the hideous stench of human excrement rising from the River Thames and seeping through the hallowed halls of the Houses of Parliament finally got too much for Britain’s politicians – those who had not already fled in fear of their lives to the countryside.

Clutching hankies to their noses and ready to abandon their newly built House for fresher air upstream, the lawmakers agreed urgent action was needed to purify London of the “evil odour” that was commonly believed to be the cause of disease and death.

The outcome of the “Great Stink”, as that summer’s crisis was coined, was one of history’s most life-enhancing advancements in urban planning. It was a monumental construction project that, despite being driven by dodgy science and political self-interest, dramatically improved the public’s health and laid the foundation to better health.

Next installment- The Dreaded Lachine Rapids–https://lindaseccaspina.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/rolling-down-the-rapids-journey-to-lanark-part-5/