This photo was copied from the book Whispers From the Past written by Rose Mary Sarsfield. She admitted to not frequenting too many of the dances at this hall so I will accompany this photo with one little account of a dance.
The stovepipes seen in this photo extended to the rear of the hall and then descended from the ceiling area to two box stoves on the floor area. These stoves would be “fired up”’ early on the day of a dance in cooler weather to heat the hall.
Later one evening as the dance was well under way, two fellas, under the obvious influence of their preferred beverage decided to scuffle with each other. They grabbed each other’s lapels and began pushing and shoving resembling a very poor waltz.
It came to an abrupt halt when one pushed the backside of the other onto one of the stoves, dislodging part or the stovepipes. Fortunately the fires had at this point been reduced to a smoulder but a mess ensued anyway. As anyone can deduce, these two “dancers” found themselves enjoying the outdoor elements in short order.
I recall seeing Ron McMunn playing in the old hall, Leslie Ladouceur calling squares and many dances and Christmas concerts.
For those who are not familiar with Clayton the old hall had a fire in 1966, but due to quick work by neighbours and the fire department only the upper story was burned and it was restored so that it looks like this now
I recall Cliff Stanley trying to save old pictures and any important items during the fire as others told him to get out of the hall
I do remember that some older folks were shouting at Clifford to “get outa there” as he went upstairs to carry out old stuff that he wanted saved. There was already a lot of smoke. As to what he saved I only recall he came out with large framed items
It was never painted to my knowledge. It was originally the Presbyterian church, then the Forester’s Hall which was eventually sold to the community for a hall. I guess the community never had the money to paint it outside. The upkeep of the inside was all they could manage. It was run by volunteers for 80 years until the new hall was built in 1978 and it is also run by volunteers.
Clayton Women’s Institute Grandmother’s Day 1957 Front Row: Mrs. Mick Murray, Mrs. Cyril Ladouceur, Mrs. Harold Fligg, Mrs. Adam Stewart Second Row; Mrs. Gordon Drynan, Mrs. Levite Caron, Mrs. Willie Bellamy, Mrs. Dave Caldwell, Mrs. Dave McIntosh Third Row: Mrs. Camille Ladouceur, Mrs. George Pretty, Mrs. Ernie Moulton, 1 unknown, Mrs. Charlie Munro, 2 unknown Fourth Row; 3 unknown, Mrs. Russell Thompson Back Row: Mrs. Charlie virgin, Mrs. Gib Munro, Mrs. John G. Rintoul, Mrs. Sandy Virgin Can you help name the 3 unknown ladies? And yes, I know they all had first names besides that of their husband, and I do know most of them. Also the little girl with glasses is Bonnie McKay beside her grandmother!
and Rose Mary Sarsfield “Whispers from the Past, History and Tales of Clayton”.If you want to purchase a book please email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 613-621-9300, or go to the Clayton Store, or Mill Street Books in Almonte.
It took only three quarters of an hour for fire to destroy the modern egg grading plant of Hugh Duncan, Clayton Road, Ramsay, on Monday afternoon. It is located about two miles from this town. Flames were seen by an employee at 4.45 and by 5.30 the building of cinder blocks, which was only two years old, had been consumed together with machinery, other equipment and 150 cases of eggs—30 doz. to the case. READ- DUNCAN EGG GRADING Fire — 1956
Margaret’s history as a community leader and elected official is well known both in Mississippi Mills and surrounding area—from High School teacher in Carleton Place, to a successful farm business partnership, to Councilor in Ramsay Township, (first woman), to Reeve of Ramsay Township, to Warden of Lanark County. Her many policies and political accomplishments continue to impact Mississippi Mills and she continues to be involved in community groups, including fundraising for the Almonte General Hospital/ Fairview Manor. While on council, she was responsible for securing significant funding for a variety of rural projects such as the Clayton Housing Project, Lyn Bower, and many new paved roads which encouraged tourism in the area.
Margaret met her husband, Hugh Duncan, at Guelph university. Hugh returned to his home in Almonte and Margaret arrived as a new bride in 1951. They worked hard to create a successful farm and egg marketing business. They raised 5 children in their home on Clayton Road and employed many local residents over their 39 years of business.
After the death of Hugh, Margaret met and married Stanley Brunton. After only a short 4 1/2 years, he passed. She was fortunate to have even more family that were a great part of her life. Few know of her roots—her early life in a small, rural farming community in Guelph Township, seven miles from Guelph. Margaret’s father was largely self-educated, given the demands of work on the family farm. The rich land, her father’s hard work and determination throughout his life, made him a successful dairy farmer and active community leader serving as Guelph Township Councilor and Reeve, and as the Clerk of his Township.
Margaret has fond memories of her mother’s sweet temperament, love of flowers, soloist in the church choir and her stylish appearance. The sadness of her early death remains with her today. Margaret’s character was shaped by her parents’ values, personal commitment to community, deep religious beliefs, determination and self-sufficiency. Margaret’s family forged deep values in this rural community of self-sufficient farmers and they managed well throughout the Depression years. As children, Margaret along with her brother and sister, participated in local debates, public speaking, social events, recitals and local dances. Margaret’s five children are all currently living in the Almonte and Ottawa area and she stays close with her in-laws, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her large extended family and friends continue to love to visit her at her new, beautiful home at Orchard View by the Mississippi.
On March 24, 2022, Margaret Duncan concluded her long, prosperous and healthy life. In her 98th year, Margaret was a successful businesswoman, an elected municipal official, a community fundraiser, a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, wife, sister, aunt, cousin and friend.
Predeceased by husbands Raymond Hugh Duncan and Stanley Brunton; sister Penelope Klinck; and brother John M. Gilchrist. She will be missed by her companion, Jack Hayes.
Survived by her children Isabel Metcalfe (Herb Metcalfe), Pennie Eagen (Pat Eagen), Kathy Duncan, Allan Duncan (Tammy Connors), Christine Moses (Darcy Moses); her grandchildren Julie Metcalfe (Tim O’Malley), Dan Metcalfe (Mandy Metcalfe), Dr. Kathleen Metcalfe, Elizabeth Eagen (Trevor McKay), Allison Eagen (Brad Hewton), Charlotte Eagen (Colin MacKenzie), Andrew Eagen (Katie Kelly), Jonas Vaskas (Nicola Swanby), Tessa Vaskas (Tyler Stanton), Chris Duncan (Sidney Morgan), Connor Duncan (Annie Bergeron-Oliver), Taylor Duncan (Brandon Watt), Josh Goodwin, Tom Moses, Jack Moses (Courtney Bradley); and her great grandchildren Grace O’Malley, Maisie O’Malley, Scarlett O’Malley, Maeve Metcalfe, Ryan McKay, Isaac McKay, James Hewton, Norah Hewton and Hazel Hewton.
Margaret graduated from Teachers College in Hamilton and taught in rural Ontario. Her first classroom had 32 students ranging from grades one to eight. In 1951, she married Hugh Duncan and they began Duncan’s Poultry Farm in Almonte, Ontario. Together they built a business that ran for forty years, and secured egg markets throughout Eastern Ontario.
In 1974, she was the first woman to be elected to Ramsay Township Council, and in 1994, she became the first female Warden of Lanark Country. She loved her community, she served it well and never lost a municipal election – usually topping the polls.
When Hugh Duncan died in 1995, Margaret transitioned from municipal politics to become a sought-after community volunteer, including a board member at the Carleton Place Memorial Hospital and the Almonte General Hospital. She became a champion fundraiser for the Almonte General Hospital receiving the Senior of the Year Award in 1997 and the Bert McIntyre Memorial FundraisingAward in 2020.
Her belief in God, her love of music, flowers, people and travel sustained her throughout her active and vibrant life. A life-long member of the Liberal Party of Canada, she followed politics, the stock market, international affairs, public policy, and of course, fashion. She stayed current with technology and embraced online banking when she was 75, using it daily until her mid-90s. Margaret was generous with her experience and her approach. She was an angel investor to local businesses and a mentor to hundreds of men and women, especially people seeking public office.
As a nation builder, Margaret Duncan will be remembered for her kind and tolerant views, her inclusivity and her love of life.
He and his wife, Margaret have four children-three girls and a boy. Mrs. Duncan keep the book. They work as a team and both husband and wife pool their judgment and experience in arriving at important decisions. Mr. Duncan went into the “started pullet” business in 1937
Yesterday’s chicken had to run around in the hay field scratching to get enough to eat She had to be lean and alert to avoid the neighbour’s dog. When she did have time to lay an egg she usually hid it, and the farmer’s wife had to have great ingenuity if she were to find enough eggs to fill the egg box. Today’s hen has found security in an air-conditioned house with food served up on a shiny tray. She never has to walk more than five feet to get something to eat, and has energy saved up to lay more eggs. She eats and drinks in regal style and in her contentment produces more food for man. is spent in the feeding, watering across the road, and the trip to after a chicken, providing he could catch her. Today it needs a man with a special knowledge of poultry science, like Hugh Duncan, of Almonte, Ontario, near Ottawa, who got his specialized knowledge of farming from the OntarioAgricultural College and went into the poultry business soon after he graduated.
To get experience he built up his poultry farm from a small beginning, and now is erecting the chicken palace which chickens know is the ultimate. To keep costs down one must increase efficiency. A total of 10,000 pullets are ready to start work laying egs in the new chicken house as soon as it is completed and everyone has had a chance to see it on open house day. No chicken will have claustrophobia in this 275 foot laying house, 37 feet wide, which was bought in prefabricated form and erected by local men after they had first laid a complete cement foundation.
The 5,000 hens on each side of the long building will have a pleasant day jumping from roost bar to water trough bar to feed bar and then into the nests beside the center corridor. These long wooden bars are continuous, running the length of the building on each side! continuous also are the feed troughs and water troughs. The modern hen adjusts herself rapidly to the idea of the feed juggling along in the shiny galvanized iron feeding trough. Although the fresh pellets or finely ground feed move at ten feet per minute she can select choice pieces with her beak. Any time she feels like it she can hop down to the lower bar and get a drink of water. When the level in the trough falls to a certain height a senstitive device turns on the fresh water and a pump fills up the trough again. No hen need complain about the sanitation.
On the principle that 80 per cent of the hen’s time and roosting area, the four foot wide cement troughs underneath the floor slats are equipped with automatic cleaner scrapers. V- shaped when at rest, the scrapers spread out when the machine is started twice a week, and clean the entire dropping area into central pits “which, in turn, are cleaned mechanically. If a hen thinks she can hide her egg she is mistaken in this modern chicken house, because when she gets up after laying her egg it roils gently down to the back of the nests, out of her reach, where it can be picked up with all the other newly-laid eggs as the operator walks down the long corridor. As he picks up the eggs he places them on a mobile platform suspended from a ceiling track, and he can thus move the eggs down the corridor without having to lift them. In the work room at the front of the building he can lift the 15 dozen egg container intact into a vat of cleaning solution, he leaves them for four minutes before placing them in the adjacent cold storage room.
A hen doesn’t need to worry about her egg getting spoiled. Eggs stored in the cool room for 24 hours immediately after being laid are easier to grade and of course keep much fresher. The grading process, in Hugh Duncan’s egg grading station market in insulated truck are fast enough so the eggs do not warm up again before getting to the ol counter in the grocery store. So that the air in the hen house is always nice and fresh electric fans take care of the air-conditioning, bringing fresh air into the building and taking warm air out. Unlike humans, hens like a fairly cool building and the heat from their bodies warms up the building even in very coid weather. For the operator, electric heaters installed in the work room and one in the cold storage room keep the work room at comfortable temperature and, in cool weather, keep the store room from falling below freez ing. In case anyone thinks that all this is unnecessary coddling of the hen, and by this we do not mean a pun like “coddled eggs”, then one must remember that in the chicken business like any other it is necessary to spend money to make money. Only from those healthy, well-satisfied hens and efficient, fast-working operator will production reach the steady, high level demanded by modern supermarkets, chain stores and costs be controlled to meet the demands of modern business methods. The day of the solitary, independent chicken is over.
Medical practitioner in Toronto, Dr. Ernest Welland Gemmill, died Saturday, February 10th at the home of his son, Rev. Claude D. Gemmill, aged 79 years. The late Dr. Gemmill was born in Horton Township, near Renfrew, a son of the late John Gemmill and his wife, Ann Jane Coulter. When he was an infant the family moved to Clayton where they resided for eleven years and thence to Almonte. Following his graduation from McGill University he practised in Almonte for a short time, coming to Pakenham in 1890, where he practised for 29 years. He then went to Toronto where he carried on in the east end for 25 years until he became ill last August. In his younger years he was an enthusiastic curler and cricketer. He was a devout member of St. Mark’s Anglican Church where he took an active part in all organizations. Surviving are his widow, the former Miss Edfta Gibson of 299 Kingswood Rd“ two sons, Rev. Claude Gemmill and John Gemmill, one daughter, Betty Gemmill, all of Toronto. Of a family of six, he is survived by two brothers, Rev. Wm. Gemmill of Victoria and Edwin M. Gemmill ofj Lindsay, Ont., one sister, Miss Catherine Gemmill ofV ictoria, B. V. Oni son Ted, died in the last Great War. Mr. Wm. Banning of Almonte is cousin. Interment was made at Toronto.
John Gemmill and his wife, Ann Jane Coulter purchased a hotel in Clayton from James CoulterJr. in 1869. In addition to the hotel he had the contract to run the mail from Almonte to Clayton daily which included a stage business where riders paid 50 cents each. In 1876 John took over the Almonte Hotel and sold the Clayton hotel to John McLaren. He also bought the Davis House in Almonte. from Whispers from the Past, History and Tales of Clayton” sold out the first printing of 200 copies during the first week. Today I picked up the second printing, so we are back in business! If you want to purchase a book please email me at email@example.com or call me at 613-621-9300, or go to the Clayton Store, or Mill Street Books in Almonte.
The following letter is from our old friend, Mr. Dugald Campbell of Vancouver. Readers of the Gazette are always pleased to see an article by him and this time he sent several. The journalistic spirit must have moved him after a long silence:
Vancouver, B. C. Nov. 27th; 1958. Editor Gazette:
Much interested in the photo of the late Lt.-Col. J. D. Gemmill. He was gone out of the district when I was a lad but we always remembered the fine picnics we were able to hold, several of them each summer, in Gemmill’s Grove.
One of the fine interesting characters of Almonte in my day was John Gemmill, who was my host of the old Davis House. Not only was he a good hotelman, he kept the place in excellent order, and it was the home of many of the valley travellers who used the local railway during their work.
The eldest son became an Anglican clergyman and went out to Japan, and later on his sister went out there with him. This couple experienced the terrible time of the great uprising and typhoon of Tokyo, and they lost everything. They came back to Canada and for a time lived in Victoria, B. C. Charlie Gemmill was a druggist, learning the business with P. C. Dowdall, and he was the chef of the Davis House and later when the Davis House changed hands, after the demise of their father, Herb went up Toronto way and carried on his calling in fine form.
Perhaps the most interesting of the Gemmill lads was big Ed. He became a husky lad early in life, and he did the driving to the CPR station to pick up the travellers’ grips. Ed. has gone these past few years, but I had several most interesting visits where he was in charge of the Empress Hotel there. The first time I went there I camouflaged my name a little, and he gave me a fine room but Mien he found out who I was, well we stayed up more than half the night chin-wagging about old times in Almonte.
Ed. Gemmill told me yarns about my home town which I had never heard in my youth there, yarns that could only come from night-clerking at the old Davis House. John Gemmill, the owner of the Davis House, was a fine horse fancier, and at the local NLAS fair and there was great competition between Gemmill and A. C. Wylie, and a little later, with your famous Dr. Archie Metcalfe.
Gemmill had a pair of smart bays and Alex. Wylie had a pair of fancy chestnuts, and competition around the old oval was really something. When Archie Metcalfe got into the picture, he also had a pair of very smart steppers, and I think, perhaps, the carriage competition in that direction was the outstanding event of the third day of the fair for a number of years. So the Gemmills have come and gone in the great procession, but they were a fine group of folks just the same.
It took only three quarters of an hour for fire to destroy the modern egg grading plant of Hugh Duncan, Clayton Road, Ramsay, on Monday afternoon. It is located about two miles from this town. Flames were seen by an employee at 4.45 and by 5.30 the building of cinder blocks, which was only two years old, had been consumed together with machinery, other equipment and 150 cases of eggs—30 doz. to the case.
It appears that rubbish had been burned in an outside incinerator located some distance away from all the farm buildings. But a high wind was blowing and after it was thought all life was out of the ashes, sparks must have been wafted to the egg grading building.
The Almonte Fire Brigade was sent for by Mr. Duncan, who was at home at the time and it responded with one of its pumpers and the township pumper which is carried with the large one. The town machine used water in its 300 gal. storage tank to thoroughly wet the wall of the house next to the blazing building and thus protect it from the fire.
The smaller machine was hooked on with its sucker in a creek and it helped protect the house although it was apparent little could be done to stem the flames that were consuming the grading station. Furniture was moved out of the house as it looked as if it was doomed. Windows were cracked by the heat. The loss is partially covered by insurance.
Meanwhile, the North Lanark Co-op has placed its egg grading equipment at the disposal of Mr. Duncan to help him out until he gets re-established. Among his customers are the Ontario Hospital at Smiths Falls, the Chateau Laurier, Ottawa and Perrault’s Gardens, Ottawa.
About 6.30 another alarm was received in town for a grass fire in the Burnt Lands, Huntley Twp., a t the top of what is known as the ‘Big Hill’ on Highway 44. This was not menacing any buildings but it was spreading through the dry grass and the scrub bush. It was fairly well under control when the town firemen arrived but they finished it with water from the storage tank on the pumper.
In the fall of 1927, he arrived at the one-room schoolhouse as a 20-year-old fresh out of teachers’ college. He had no experience and 42 students spread out over Grades 1 to 8 to teach. “Sometimes I have no idea how I got through it,” Lloyd Sutherland, now 91, of Toronto said yesterday while attending the S.S. 4 Ramsay reunion in the Clayton Community Centre. “It was a lot of work, but I got through it.” By the next year, Mr. Sutherland had moved to a better-paying job in Pakenham in these early days of his 44-year career in education across the province, with a gap of four years when he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.
And even though he spent only one year at the school, Mr. Sutherland says the lessons he learned in the village of Clayton, about 60 kilometres west of . Ottawa on the Indian River, were among the most valuable in his career. “You had to be a master at problem-solving, and you had to be good with , your time,” he said. “There were all those kids and just me. It was some of the hardest work I ever did, but some of the most rewarding, too.”
Mr. Sutherland was one of about 100 former students, teachers and administrators who attended the reunion at the village community centre. They couldn’t hold it in the schoolhouse because it’s now a private residence. The village of Clayton is a collection of houses, cottages and businesses clustered around the eastern end of Clayton-Taylor Lake. It is rich in Canadian cultural and social history. Much of that history could be found in the two, one-room schoolhouses that made indelible marks on the memories of teachers and young Clayton residents who passed through their doors in more than a century of learning.
The first schoolhouse was built in1849 and a second, slightly larger one was erected in 1876 to cope with a deluge of new students. Now, 29 years after the village closed its last one-room school in 1969, former teachers and students remembered minute details as if only days had passed since their time at each of the two tiny schools. “In the winter, you always hoped you got a seat close to the stove because the further you got away from it, the colder it got and the building wasn’t insulated,” said Rose Mary Sarsfield, who attended one of the schools from 1952 to 1956 before graduating to the high school in Almonte.
Many of the memories were sparked by a table with old notebooks, textbooks, a small chalkboard and newspaper clippings about the school. There were also a couple of report cards from 1933. One had straight As, the other was not so good. But what drew the eye were several pictures of children sitting cross-legged in front of a schoolhouse. One, from 1898, was particularly interesting.
Although the children were dressed differently some without shoes, some in waistcoats they looked like any group of schoolchildren today. One rapscallion, all but his head hidden in the back row of students, was even sticking out his tongue at the camera. The pictures spoke of a different time that ended in 1969, when rural one-room schools were closed across the province to make way for a new vision of education housed in larger schools in the larger centres of Ontario communities.
In Ramsay Township, 10 small schools were closed and many students including those from Clayton were bused to nearby Almonte to 1 pursue their education in single grades. It was an unceremonious end to a school that was once the pride of the village. Before the first schoolhouse was built, reading, writing and arithmetic were taught out of private homes. Clayton trustees borrowed $450 a overcrowded ‘ at hefty sum in 1849 to build their village’s first school, a debt that had to be paid back within three years. Soon, the one-room was overcrowded with students.
In 1876, a slightly larger school that measured 28 feet by 38 feet (eight metres by 11 metres) was built beside the original. “It had a cloakroom across the back where we could hang our coats,” remembered Ms. Sarsfield. “And bathrooms. There were two bathrooms at the back, one for girls and one for boys. “There was no running water.” At the smaller school, bathroom breaks were even less high-tech. One side of a bush was an outhouse for girls and the other side was for boys.
The next addition to Clayton’s school system was the hallmark of any rural school from that time period: a bell. In 1886, students, teachers and parents hosted concerts at which they charged 10 cents until they raised enough money to buy a bell. The final cost of the bell is unknown, but it hung at the larger school until closing. The bell now hangs at the front of the Dr. James Naismith School in Almonte, about 10 kilometres east of Clayton. During Clayton’s heydays in the late 1880s, there were some 140 pupils shared almost evenly between the two schoolhouses. The smaller building housed the primary grades and the larger one, the senior grades.
Teachers came and went. Their stints generally lasted two or three years. Margaret Bellamy, a longtime resident in the community, figures probably 100 teachers taught in the Clayton schools. “In the start, it was mostly men, but then mostly women by the end,” Mrs. Bellamy said. By the early 1900s, the village population couldn’t sustain a school for primary grades and a second school for senior grades. Down from historic highs, only 60 students attended classes between the two schools. In 1907, the smaller schoolhouse was taken down meticulously piece by piece and moved to Almonte, where it was rebuilt.
Heading into the 1960s, the wave of consolidation began to sweep through the Ottawa Valley as students began moving to larger schools in the region. By 1969 there were perhaps 30 students at Clayton’s remaining school. “Bigger was better, they thought. Truck them all to town and then they’ll all be in single grades. It was a sign of the times, I guess,” *Mrs. Sarsfield said. But for many at the reunion, bigger isn’t better when they reflect on the time they spent at the school. “A lot of people started their education in schools like S.S. 4 Ramsay,” Mr. Sutherland said. “And because they were small, people learned differently. The older students helped teach the younger ones. It gave people more of a sense of community you don’t get in larger schools. “I liked teaching in schools like that, but they’re gone now. Oh well, we’ll just have to remember.” The Fight Over One Room Schools in 1965!
I have a couple of snake stories today found in the Almonte Gazette. Here is one of them.
From the Almonte Gazette July 26th 1934
Two weeks ago it was announced In these columns that Messrs. Fred Blake and Dennis Nolan had gone on a fishing trip to Clayton Lake. It will be recalled that before starting on that famous expedition Mr. Nolan made the dreadful threat he would cut the ends of his moustache unless he broke all fishing records for the season.
Both Mr. Blake and Mr. Nolan are back in town and, as the last mentioned gentleman’s facial adornment is unimpaired his friends have concluded. In notation he caught about all the fish there were to catch. But in jumping at this conclusion people are a trifle hasty. Where these modem Isaak Waltons are concerned it is always well to peer below the surface—to do a little proving as it were. We have done the probing this week and now propose to unfold the results—which are quite interesting— for the benefit of our readers.
In telling a story of this kind it is always well to begin at the beginning. It appears that Mr. George L. Comba kindly agreed to transport Messrs. Blake and Nolan to the scene of their fishing exploits. On their way to the lake they paused for an hour at a convenient creek to stock up with minnows. Plenty of minnows in this junior part of their fishing activities and they were quite successful and soon had their minnow can well filled with bait.
They then proceeded to the foot of the lake where Mr. Comba saw them aboard a motor boat and waved them a tender farewell as they chugged-chugged toward the cottage. As this story hinges largely upon the minnow can —a description of that utensil is in order at this point in the narrative.The can was one of those affairs built with screened sides to allow a free flow of water. Fitted to the top of it was a tin lid such as covers the average kitchen pot but this one had numerous holes punched in it about the size of quarters.
On reaching the fishing grounds the two sportsmen placed the can of minnows in the lake so the bait would be kept alive during the night. Having done that they retired to bed at an early hour with the intention of starting to fish at the crack of dawn. When the first streaks of light appeared on the eastern horizon Messrs. Blake and Nolan leaped out of bed as bright and spry as the crickets that didn’t keep them awake all night.
After taking a preliminary plunge in the lake and vowing that there was nothing like this life in the great open spaces they held a conference on the beach as to whether they should fish first and breakfast afterward or breakfast first, and fish afterward. This weighty problem was finally solved when the anglers came to the logical conclusion it would be foolish to eat bacon for breakfast when the lake was full of fish ready and willing to jump at their hooks. As Mr. Nolan observed on that occasion “Who has a better right to eat the first fish that fall to our rods than those who catch those fish?”
This was unanswerable logic so they straightway seized their trusty gear and headed for the minnow can and the boat. Having shoved the boat into the water and noted that the oars had not disappeared during the night, the anglers reached for the minnow can with that air of calm expectation that is always associated with something dead sure. Like the oars and their hopes the can had not vanished during the night. Up it came in answer to a hefty pull, distributing little streams of water from all its many pores. The anglers then placed It in a larger vessel of water, clambered into the boat and proceeded to the best fishing spot on the lake.
Having reached the desired place they heaved an anchor overboard, lit their pipes and prepared to break all piscatorial records established on Clayton Lake or any other body of water in this section. Leaning over in a leisurely manner Mr. Nolan opened the perforated top of the minnow can and reached into the water for a minnow to bait his hook. As there had been several dozen of these little martyrs to the sportman’s art swimming about in the can the night before he felt he would have no trouble in grabbing one at random. What was his dismay, however, as he felt about in the water to find his fingers clutching nothing but aqua pura. A look of dismay overspread Mr. Nolan’s face and he began to splash about madly with his hand in an effort to capture one of the elusive minnows. Finally his fingers clutched something slimy that slithered away and filled him with an odd feeling of loathing.
Closing the lid he pulled the can out of the water and as it emptied the astounded vision of the two fishermen rested upon the sole denizen of the cage—a large black snake. The dreadful import of the situation rushed upon their minds simultaneously. The snake, they figured had crawled through one of the holes in the lid while the can reposed in the lake, and had devoured all of the minnows. The gluttonous reptile bolted its food in the usual reptilian manner and swelled itself to such proportions that it couldn’t get out of the can.
We will draw a veil over what was said by the disappointed anglers at this stage in their activities. Picking up the broken thread of the story we find them hastening to shore with long, hefty strokes that threatened to break the oars. Having landed on the beach they departed from such a short time before they dumped the snake out of its happy home and killed it. After that they performed an autopsy and recovered the two dozen minnows. The minnows, unlike Jonah, were dead as the proverbial dodo bird but that didn’t hinder the fishermen from trying them out after they had eaten a prosaic breakfast of bacon, and toast washed down with coffee.
Now fish in Clayton Lake are very particular about their food. Dead minnows do not appeal to them at all. The two fishermen soon discovered this fact to their sorrow and though they stuck to the sport with a perseverance worthy of old Walton himself their efforts received but a meagre reward. As they looked at the results of their fishing they bemoaned the fate of the minnows and speculated on how much greater the catch would have been had they used proper bait. Knowing he had not succeeded in breaking the fishing record of the season—-which is probably held by Louis Peterson, W. M. Pimlott cr some other fish-conscious citizen of Almonte—the question of Mr. Nolan’s dreadful resolve arose before his tortured mind like a spectre at the feast.
Tugging thoughtfully at the ends of his moustache, Mr. Nolan paced up and down the beach and resolved that rash bets were the curse of creation He thought of all the expedients fishermen usually think of under such circumstances—buying a bag of fish from some unfortunate but mercenary minded “sportsmen, for instance. At last he reached the manly conclusion that fish stories were out of bounds and that it never pays to deceive anyone.
“We will go back to town and tell the truth,” said he. “By doing that we will shame the devil which is always worth while.” “But how about your bet?” expostulated his companion in misfortune “I am going to disregard that hasty wager,” said Mr. Nolan. “It took me a long time to train up this moustache in the way it should go and I am not going to destroy it because of the hoggish appetite of a snake in Clayton Lake.”
And that is the true story of an eventful fishing expedition that was marred by an unfortunate incident which might never happen again in a hundred years. The lesson for other anglers is this: “If you most punch holes in the top of your minnow can don’t make them large enough for a black snake to crawl through,”
1934 Almonte Gazette page 1
Where Is Clayton Lake?
Clayton Lake is located in Zone 18 (Eastern Ontario) Region, Ontario, Canada. The size of Clayton Lake is 471.2ha (which is equivalent to 1164ac or 4.7sqkm) and the coordinates are 45.1769, -76.3436.
Which Fish Can I Catch At Clayton Lake?
The most popular species caught here are Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, and Smallmouth Bass. Please use your best judgement when determining where you can fish, and make sure you follow local rules and regulations.
What Does Clayton Lake Have?
Our members have marked 5 Hotspots and 1 Boat Launch at Clayton Lake. You can view these markers on the map.
Another Ramsay Pioneer Gone to His Rest – On Monday last Mr. John Drummond, of Clayton, passed away to his final rest, at the very advanced age of 87 years. He was born near Stirling, in Scotland in the year 1794, and emigrated thence to the township of Ramsay in 1822, and was thus one of that band of hardy pioneers of whom but few are now living, whose steady perseverance, unceasing industry and strong common sense raised Ramsay to the position it long held as premier township of the county.
As an illustration of the difficulties met with by those men, and the manner in which they were overcome, it may not be amiss to relate the following anecdote of Mr. Drummond: During the summer of 1822 he unfortunately broke his axe, and set out on foot to Perth – 20 miles distant – to buy another. On arriving there he found that the merchants (or merchant) had none in stock, but expected a supply within a week.
This, however, did not suit Mr. Drummond, who started for Brockville , bought his axe and returned home, walking the whole distance! In 1864 he removed to Clayton bought the Bellamy property and rebuilt the mills, but retired from active life, leaving the management of the business to his son, D. Drummond, Esq. late Reeve of Ramsay.
Before the formation of county councils he took an active part in the management of local affairs, but since that time he has always declined public office and manifested little interest in politics beyond voting for and steadily supporting the Reform party at every election for a member of either House. Mr. Drummond was well known as an honest, industrious and straightforward man, and the esteem in which he was held was fully exemplified by the large number who attended his funeral, which took place on Wednesday to the Clayton cemetery.
From Rose Mary Sarsfield’s book
“Whispers from the Past, History and Tales of Clayton” sold out the first printing of 200 copies during the first week. If you want to purchase a book please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 613-621-9300, or go to the Clayton Store, or Mill Street Books in Almonte.
June 28, 2021 · Writings from the autograph book of Eleanor McIntosh 1934. Thanks to Stuart McIntosh for sharing. Mrs. M. S. Code was Mrs. Matthew S. Code, (Mabel Penman, later married Thos. Price). Mrs. Jimmy Shane was the first Mrs. Shane, Violet Moore. Notice how these ladies signed their names. It was common at the time to go by the husband’s name. Even when I was first married in 1971 my mother used to write to me and address the letters to Mrs. Brian Sarsfield.
Photo from Whispers from the Past, History and Tales of Clayton” If you want to purchase a book please email at email@example.com or call at 613-621-9300, or go to the Clayton Store, or Mill Street Books in Almonte.