Tag Archives: Dack’s Jewellers

Losing an Institution- Dacks Jewellers



Photo-Linda Seccaspina

When the first day of January 2017 popped up I made a resolution. I was done complaining about the town of Carleton Place and the lack of vision due to complete and utter frustration. So today, I write not about town concerns– but more about losing a business that has been an institution in Carleton Place for 119 years– Dacks Jewellers.

Yesterday, January 18 at 10:41am Dacks Jewellers posted on their Facebook page that they  would be permanently closing their doors at the end of this upcoming April. The family wanted to thank their dedicated and loyal customers that have chosen to support their 119 year-old family business. That’s right-119- years in business.

Shocked generations of customers began commenting on their Facebook page. Some offered congratulatory notes on their pending retirement not knowing what the real reason was. If you haven’t been downtown in awhile or visited Dacks you know that things are not all they should or could be on the Carleton Place Main Street. When Dack’s closes in April the town of Carleton Place is losing a historic business that sold Birthday and Christmas gifts for over a century.



Dad Keith and their late son Paul Dack who is greatly missed-Photo-Used with permission from the Dack Family

As daughter Jane Dack McLaughlin said yesterday:

“We didn’t want to close our doors, but sadly there is no traffic whatsoever left on our Main Street. We have been trying for several years to hold on– but– just one more business to go. Our downtown is in poor shape… but our town representatives, council and mayor have chosen not to listen to us.  Believe me this was not our decision to close, but the people stopped coming. We held on as long as we could. The downtown is in a sad state.”


It was no doubt a difficult decision for the Dack family, and the founding family member James Almond Dack  would be scratching his head right now wondering what happened. When James purchased his own watch-making business on Bridge Street in Carleton Place and opened the doors on July the 1st, 1898 business was brisk and less challenging than it is now.

Every day was a celebration and when he married Catherine Agnes Steel on the 7th of February, 1900, in Almonte, Ontario. They chose to enter what was called the family business, as it was the norm, and not the exception. That was always the intention- to carry on the family business, not realizing down the road that brick and mortar stores would face new challenges and struggles. Anyone who has shopped in Dacks this year would know the real reason behind their closing because the family has been quite honest about it.


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Photo- Used with permission from the Dack Family


Dacks has always been the heart and the soul of our community, and not only did they run an upstanding long time business they also had the honour of looking after the old Post Office Clock. Son Howard Dack, and his father James H. Dack  were given custody of keeping the clock running and in good repair in 1913. Unfortunately, after the building went into private hands, this beautiful clock fell into disrepair and no longer runs.

No matter which family member became associated with the Dack Jewellery store, the work ethics remained the same. There is no doubt that their guarantee of quality came with product and service for their customers. In 1898 they advertised that “they had the latest tools and would undertake any repair job in the best possible manner”. They cordially invited the people of Carleton Place and vicinity to share in their patronage. Isn’t it nice that in 119 years something hasn’t changed?


Photo-Linda Seccaspina


Do we really have to lose a business that provided incredible personal customer service and knew your children’s names?  It has become very frustrating to see places like Perth and Almonte have thriving main street businesses while watching Carleton Place’s gradually fading into the sunset.

They say that you don’t realize what you have until you lose it. In all honesty I never thought that Dacks would close– something that was such a big part of Carleton Place’s daily life for 119 years is now going to become history. No matter how much we tell the Dack family that we appreciate them it will never be enough for what they have given this town. Life doesn’t stop after a business closes down- but it will go on a lot differently. Will this loss finally tell us the worth of things, especially what is happening to our town?

Thank you to the Dack family for what you have given us through the years– I know this isn’t an easy decision- but may it give you some sort of peace to know how much we will miss you–and seeing the Dack name on the front door.

Dacks Jewellers

115 Bridge Street, Carleton Place Ontario K7c 2V4

 613 257-1440

Related reading:

The Story Behind the Clock – Dack’s Jewellers




“It’s sad when the longest running business in town is forced to close because the downtown has so little traffic for its retail store fronts. This should make folks angry too and hopefully will serve as a wake up call before we lose even more of the downtown core to “retirement”.”– Steve Yaver

“This is sad Linda. Thank you for informing us. I remember as a kid growing up that Keiths dad and Ross used to always walk past our house, heading to the store. LOL That’s likely 50 years ago now. Betty and Keith are two of the nicest and friendliest people in CP. Not just do you lose the business but you lose 2 more mainstays that have always promoted the town in the best possible way. I think in most cases, times do change. I think in this case, that they have gone through the worst of worst times, and survived after 119 years. It says something when they have reached the point that they have, when you think back, that depression, war, inflation and interest rates, were all something they have had to deal with. Now it has become insurmountable, because of all things, no one shopping on main street. Honestly, Keith and Betty, you are two of the greatest. Not just me, but the whole town of Carleton Place, will miss you.”–Tom Edwards


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

The Story Behind the Clock – Dack’s Jewellers




Photo- Dack Family



Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 10 Feb 1900, Sat,
  3. Page 7


Sometimes we never think what lies behind our local store windows or wonder about the stories they have to tell. Dack’s Jewellers is the oldest business in Carleton Place and to tell you the truth it has always intimidated me as a writer.

I have always took it for granted that I couldn’t add much to the history of an iconic family business that everyone for generations has known and trusted in this community. Behind the success of every small business there lies a family, and in this case it’s one for the history books.



Photo- Dack Family


James Almond Dack had a long and accomplished life and was employed for 15 years with Mr. Thrall, a watchmaker in Almonte. On June 7th, 1898 the Ottawa Journal announced that James had left his position with Mr. Thrall. He had purchased his own watch-making business on Bridge Street in Carleton Place and would open July the 1st, 1898. It was also noted that Mr. George Godden, the former business in ‘the old stand’ was well on his way to Newfoundland to enjoy a long deserved vacation.




Photo- Dack Family


The Carleton Place Herald wrote on the 19th of July in 1898 that Mr. Dack was presented with a jewellers bench and a very kind “personal address” handsomely printed on pink satin by his friends and business acquaintances in Almonte.

But that was not all that James brought back from Almonte. James Almond Dack married Catherine Agnes Steel on the 7th of February, 1900, in Almonte, Ontario and they both entered what was called the family business as it was the norm, and not the exception.




Photo- Dack Family


You have to remember the majority of shops were owned by men, although some were owned by women or the widow of a shop owner. So, there was no mention anywhere if Catherine helped run the business or just looked after the family. But if you can raise a family you can build a business,  and I would like to think Catherine was active in the Dack family business.



Photo- Dack Family

The shops themselves in those days were small and could be dark,  but elaborately decorated and arranged and shops existed for every “social class”. The layouts were similar, however, and typically featured a “glass door or window”, a lighted counter area and racks behind the counter filled with merchandise and a staff to attend to customers. As one of their ads in 1898 said in the Carleton Place Herald:

“We are elegantly equipped and warrant every single job sent out.”





Photo- Dack Family


In 1900, the business was destroyed by fire and James relocated to another building on Bridge Street where the family resided in an apartment above the business.


Photo-Linda Seccaspina

A town clock was added on top of the old Post Office in 1913 with a 150 pound pendulum. The weight driven clock was manufactured by John Smith of The Midland Clockworks in Derby England.  The massive 800 lbs. brass bell located behind the clock tower was manufactured by John Taylor of Longborough. The four stained glass faces of the clock measure 5 feet 6 inches in diameter.
The honour of putting the clock in motion was given to Howard Dack, and his father James H. Dack  was given custody of keeping the clock running and in good repair. Unfortunately, after the building went into private hands, this beautiful clock fell into disrepair and no longer runs.  James Dack died in 1930; and his son Kenneth Steel Dack took over the business.
Photo-Linda Seccaspina



Upon the death of Kenneth S. Dack, his son William Keith Dack inherited the business and is the present owner. 

To this day the store remains on Bridge Street and is still owned by the Dack family. Small businesses are the backbone of our community and Dack’s Jewellers is the oldest continuous family owned business in Carleton Place.  It’s still sells a wide variety of jewellery and giftware, and they continue to offer jewellery and watch repairs. Bottom line is–it’s still the family business, and that’s what makes Dack’s the heart and soul of our Carleton Place main street.

In 1898 they advertised that “they had the latest tools and would undertake any repair job in the best possible manner”. They cordially invited the people of Carleton Place and vicinity to share in their patronage. Isn’t it nice that in 118 years something hasn’t changed– just like the old safe in the photo below.

After all, time is the soul of a business and and the greatest gift you can give someone is your time like the clocks Dack’s still sells. Sales may go up and down throughout the years but good service stays forever and generations will never forget how Dack’s has always gone the extra mile and supported our town. Now that I can personally add as a writer to its history.





Photo-Linda Seccaspina



Dack’s Jewellers

115 Bridge StreetCarleton Place Ontario K7c 2V4

 613 257-1440


Photo-Linda Seccaspina




1919-In a baseball game at Riverside Park between junior teams of Carleton Place and of the Smiths Falls C.P.R. club, local players included Mac Williams, Bill Burnie, Howard Dack, Jim Williamson, George Findlay, Tommy Graham, Gordon Bond and Clyde Emerson.  The umpire was Bill Emerson.  The score was 15 to 14 for Smiths Falls.

McRostie Farm

Thomas Burns held the first crown grand of 80 acres in 1828, but Robert Johnston was shown as the owner in 1829. John McRostie bought the property in 1840, built the house and it remained in the family until 1919. It was then sold to Alec McClean who actually flipped it to Daniel Sullivan. In 1923 Albert Powell took possession with the acreage at this point being drastically reduced and it was bought by Howard Dack.

The stone home didn’t come back into its own until Howard Dack bought it and proceeded to restore and renovate it. When Dack bought the house from Albert Powell in 1946 the stonework had to be completely redone including the stone trim of the front door. Old wooden shutters were attached to the windows, and the sun porch facing the river was an addition. The large fireplace that sits in the living room came from the old Captain Glendinning home on Glen Isle.

Lanark County Genealogical Society Website

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News