Tag Archives: dr. wilson

Heh Miss Wilsonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! Carleton Place Heroe


Each time I read about our local coroner, Dr. Wilson, who lived on Bell Street in Carleton Place I think of Mr. Wilson from the syndicated comics Dennis the Menace. Strange– but I guess it’s just a way of brain affiliation to recall things. Wilson came to Carleton Place from Scotland in the early 1840s and was the town doctor and coroner until his death in 1887. Did you know his granddaughter, Major Evelyn Wilson R.N., lived in the home Dr. Wilson built, and is important to the history of Carleton Place?


Evelyn was a decorated veteran nurse from the first world war. The Major R.N. was a matron in charge of a ‘stationary hospital’ at bomb blasted Gallipoli and besieged Alexandria. Not only was she a proud member of our branch 192 in Carleton Place, her name is on our Carleton Place Legion front door. She was instrumental in establishing a Ladies Auxiliary for the Legion Branch, and also the founding President of the Auxiliary.

She was overseas from February 1915 to May 1919, and was awarded the Royal Cross decoration established by Queen Victoria during the Crimea war. Later she received a bar to the cross for further distinguished service. The medal was presented to her by King George V at Buckingham Palace for re-establishing a hospital in Doullen, France after it had been destroyed by the enemy. The list of honours goes on for this brave woman, and at the end of each day in her later years, she and her nurse Mae Gilhuly turned back the five-inch iron key in the coin locks on each door. It was just tradition to mark another day had passed in her life— in the home that Dr. Wilson was in 1841.


The only modern thing Miss Wilson ever had in that home was an electric range, refrigerator and a 21 inch television. In 1965 when the then 89-year-old veteran lived in the home; the kitchen still had the original hearth that once cared for all the family’s needs. The house was full of clocks, beautiful collectible glass, and still had working coal oil lamps. In one of the four bedrooms upstairs still stood an ornate carved master suite set that was the original part of the house decor.


Miss Wilson was an avid reader and had countless newspapers, books and magazines throughout her home. She had a great sense of humour seeing the amusing side of everyday events. Carleton Place always held her attentions with a keen interest in the town’s affairs. She was not only a longtime member of the legion, but also of the Capt. Hooper Chapter of the IODE. Evelyn never married, and was over ninety years old when she died. She was buried in the Auld Kirk Cemetery along with her mother and step-father Robert.


One of her favourite clocks in the Wilson home made by Terry and Son in Connecticut read:

“Warranted only if well used.”

Evelyn Wilson never need a warranty on life. She succeeded— 100% guaranteed


The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
12 Jun 1954, Sat  •  Page 12

Photos by Linda Secaspina- newspaper archives files from The Carleton Place Canadian at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

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

How an Urban Carleton Place Legend Traveled Through Time – 147 Years to be Exact!


For a long time I have been hearing about the body of a child-or bodies of children that were buried in a back yard on High Street. This is a story that has grown though the years, and who knew if it was really true. Each time the story changed it grew an inch or two—even three. It was supposedly one of the top 10 scandals of Carleton Place that had been carried down through the years. Someone heard it from their Grandfather, who in turn heard it from his Father, and well, you know how it goes.

Last night I found an article from April 29th 1868 in the Montreal Daily Witness that can confirm some of the story is true. How this particular story stayed with us through the years is incredible, but the story was titled “Mysterious Circumstance”. In the end really wasn’t a mystery after all –it was just a sign of the times.

There is no official police report, but the newspaper said they had been given the story by “a person of Carleton Place”. No names, address, nor real official response.

We are informed that on the evening of of Tuesday last, the dear body of an infant was found buried under the floor of a barn or stable belonging to a man called Charles Tooley. It is said this man has also been allowed for a long time to keep an unlicensed rum-hole in Carleton Place. Where such a car-case, thither will be a certain class of eagles be gathered, and where there are such fruits as it will follow. The case is in the hands of Dr. Wilson, coroner. We have, as yet, heard no particulars.”


After I poured through some genealogy records it is pretty simple to find out what really happened, as there were no other newspaper reports that follow. Tooley, who was a machinist, was running an illegal business from his home.The police probably found the infant’s body while they were searching for booze.  A rum-hole is– a grog-shop; a gin-mill: so called in opprobrium.

Digging some more digging I also found a few more death notices for the poor Tooley family. They just did not have an easy time keeping a family alive with miscarriages and early deaths.

I found one death notice ( see below) for one of their children that died at just over  a year’s old. In those days with the increase in the living, there came also an increase in the dying. With outbreaks of Measles, Smallpox and Cholera some chose not to be public with the burying of their dead. Plus a lot of infants were just buried in the family’s back yard in those days. Add that to the fact that Dad was running an illegal rum-hole, and you most certainly didn’t want a death to become public.

But, I am sure the Tooley family wasn’t the first nor the last. As with the story of our poor Cecil Cummings, many of our past dead will never be found as their deaths were never recorded.

Perth Courier, December 31, 1869

Tooley—Died, at Carleton Place, on Dec. 28th, William (Tooley), youngest son of Mr. Charles Tooley, aged one year, five (?) months and five days.

A son who lived:

Charles Tooley
mentioned in the record of Tooley
Name: Charles Tooley
Son: Tooley
Other information in the record of Tooley
from Ontario Births
Name: Tooley
Event Type: Birth
Event Date: 26 Mar 1871
Event Place: Carleton Place, Lanark, Ontario, Canada
Registration Year: 1871
Gender: Male
Father’s Name: Charles Tooley


Records about the Wilson family (Dr. Wilson, coroner.) hand recorded at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.

Medical Accounts

Notice – As medical accounts are too exorbitant for many families who live several miles from the village, I have resolved to reduce my charge.  In future I will for half the usual fee visit any person who lives more than one mile from my office.  Henceforward my motto shall be, Sempter Paratus, ever ready.

William Wilson, surgeon, July 12, 1867.

House on Bell Street is that of the Carleton Place coroner in those days: Dr. Wilson.

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