Tag Archives: Fenian-raids

The Rare Fenian Medal of Private W. Rorison– Carleton Place Rifle Company

The Rare Fenian Medal of Private W. Rorison– Carleton Place Rifle Company


s-l500 (9)


I  don’t sell on EBay but I scour it for historical items that should be saved and brought back to Lanark County. Yesterday I found this Fenian Medal that was originally given to “Private Ronison” in Carleton Place. I could not find him anywhere.


s-l500 (10).jpg

Fifty years before Canadian volunteer soldiers began to leave their home towns in 1914 for overseas service, men equally prepared to risk their lives for Canada were forming the first active service military units of many Canadian towns. Their fortunately brief defence service was in the years of the Fenian Raids of the 1860’s, when the last armed invasions of Canada came to challenge our national Confederation.
Among these defenders were more than fifty men of the Carleton Place Rifle Company. The Carleton Place Rifle Company was formed at the start of the first expansion of a trained and permanent volunteer militia of the old Province of Canada, made to meet the risk of possible war between the United States and Great Britain at the outset of the American Civil War. Like those of neighbouring localities and others throughout the province, it replaced a venerable succession of local but normally untrained and unarmed companies of the original sedentary militia. A view of the participation of this community, then an unincorporated village, in Canada’s first major development of its own military forces is given in the pages of the locally published weekly newspapers of that day.


s-l500 (11).jpg

When war threats and consequent militia expansion came in 1862, local demand led to the formation of the first trained and equipped militia company to be based at Carleton Place. In January of that year, in the words of the local Herald editor:
“At a meeting of some of the inhabitants of Carleton Place and vicinity, held at Lavallee’s Hotel on Saturday evening last, it was unanimously resolved that: – ‘In view of the unsettled state of affairs between the British and American governments and the possibility of war, it is expedient that a rifle company should be formed in this village and neighbourhood, to aid in the defence of their country.’
A muster roll was then opened and signed by those present at the meeting. Several others have since added their names, making in all upwards of sixty.”
So what about Private Ronison?
Robin Hudson said on The Tales of Carleton Place– “As of 1871 William Ronison was working in Carleton Place as a carpenter with four employees”.
Jennifer Fenwick Irwin from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum said: “Scroll down to see a list of all the CP men who fought in the Fenian


Local History
Canada General Service Medals
awarded To Lanark county Soldiers
1866 – 1870


Note: this article appears courtesy The Lanark County Genealogical Society

Click here.

Jim Amy Kirkpatrick There were Rorison’s in CP. could that be the name?

and yes Amy Kirkpatrick was right.. He was a Private Rorison- his full name was William Rorison.

Happily Carleton Place has acquired this medal..

Carleton Place acquires Fenian raid medal belonging to former resident click here.



img - 2019-03-01T105253.226.jpeg

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 18 Jun 1906, Mon,
  3. Page 2





 - bituasry William A. Rorison. William A....

Clipped from

  1. Quad-City Times,
  2. 11 Feb 1932, Thu,
  3. Page 9

 - re-election. re-election. Miss J. I. Borison Is... - ! mnde errpe goirn tnmmd ip crcm . honermooo...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 26 Dec 1933, Tue,
  3. Page 5



Carleton Place acquires Fenian raid medal belonging to former resident — click here

  1. 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 andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)



    Fenian Raid Sale– Get Yer Boots Before You Have to go Fight Again

  2. A Carleton Place Fenian Soldier’s Photo

  3. Fenians OR Ballygiblins? Fighting Irish 101

    Samuel Hawkshaw- Carleton Place–Carleton Blazers of Bells Corners

    Ballygiblin Riots in Carleton Place — Were We Bad to the Bone?

    The Hidden Hideaway On Glen Isle


    So About that Ballygiblin Sign…. Fourteen Years Later!

Samuel Hawkshaw- Carleton Place–Carleton Blazers of Bells Corners

Samuel  Hawkshaw- Carleton Place–Carleton Blazers of Bells Corners


Historical “Droppings” about Pigeon Hill

Historical “Droppings” about Pigeon Hill


At one point in time there were over 3.5 billion passenger pigeons in North America and flocks of giant numbers would blacken the sky– but, did you know the early settlers and their ancestors managed to wipe out most of the birds by 1914? In clearing the forests over the course of the 19th century the loss of natural wilderness paired with increased hunting may have triggered the passenger pigeon’s rapid extinction.

Was this the case in Pigeon Hill, Quebec? George Titemore, from Colombia County, N.Y. was the first person to set up his residence there in 1788,  just a little less than 3/4 of a mile south where the knoll-top community of Pigeon Hill now exists.

Local gossip speaks of a bank teller in Bedford that has said that Pigeon Hill got its name from a French man named Mr. Pigeon. Actually, it was when the early settlers arrived in the area, they supposedly found a ready food supply in the hoardes of passenger pigeons roosting upon the hill. But, according to the history books, it really wasn’t a Hitchcock moment. The original settlers basically only found pasturage and hay for their animals, and in 1792 a famine for the families living in this section of St. Armand threatened their existence. They had no choice but to go into their wheat fields and shell out the unripe grain and boil it for food.

The Titemore family was so desperate that head of household George went to see a gentleman living just over the border in Berkshire, Vermont and purchased 100 pounds of flour for $9.00. George carried it on his back through the woods to his residence which was about 15 miles and also managed to bag a moose, not pigeons, that was grazing with his horses.  He died in 1832 at the age of 76 and had 13 children, yet only two remained in the area.

George’s sister Sophia Titemore was the first white person buried in the Pigeon Hill Cemetery  (Old Methodist Cemetery) on Rue Des Erable. Her brother John is also buried there, and his final resting place is marked by a small slate stone scribed  JT Died July 31 1809 aged 87. There are four slate stones grouped in a square which would probably indicate family members, unfortunately, only JT’s is legible.

Another Pigeon Hill resident Henry Groat had no descendants when he died in 1811, but the stream east of Pigeon Hill where he resided was named Groat Creek after him. The local pigeons have roosted since 1845 on Guthrie Bridge built over Groat Creek, and this is the shortest public covered bridge among the twenty-one authentic covered bridges remaining in the Eastern Townships.

Adam and Eve Sager came to town in 1791 and once again the pigeons proved to be smarter than their human being counterparts after Mrs. Sager was found killed by lightning at the beginning of 1825. Even after that fateful accident, Pigeon Hill was still called Sagerville in honour of the Sagers, but due to the large amount of pigeons that frequented the area the name was soon changed to Pigeon Hill.

The first general store was opened by Pete Yeager about 1810, but he only traded for a couple of years until Adi Vincent and his son took over. Gath Holt was next with a new store by the Episcopal church, but rumour as the pigeon flies was that it was destroyed by gun powder 3 or 4 years later. Fortunately it happened on a Sunday, so few were out and about, and the cause of the explosion was unknown and never talked about.

One Thursday, in June of 1866, the Fenians left their camp in Franklin, Vermont for the sole purpose of stealing horses and plundering dwellings in Canada. One raid found the area around Pigeon Hill overrun with the ragged dirty and half armed Fenians, led by General Samuel Spear. I’m sure the local pigeons in the trees noticed that plundering and burning were more congenial to the Fenian’s tastes than fighting for military fame or taking over Pigeon Hill for their very own. They broke into old Noah Sager’s Hotel and stole and destroyed what they could.  Even Edward Titemore’s home was destroyed in the 1866 Fenian Raid.

Not content with Thursday’s events they returned again on Friday, and 20 more scallywags joined Thursday’s original 40 and spent the day plundering some more. The poor locals were nothing but clay pigeons to these dastardly Fenians while they watched them march to the hotel of F.B. Carpenter and help themselves to a free dinner and then an additional 50 bucks in cash, which would be about $720 in today’s money.

For two days or three days the inhabitants of Pigeon Hill remained mostly unarmed and gossip was abound that there was a 1000 more wild Irishmen hovering nearby awaiting their chance to finish the place off.  In the Detroit Free Press of June of 1866 it was reported that a fight was imminent with the British regulars prepared to fight the Fenians between the boundary lines at Pigeon Hill. Appearances indicated that the British would surround the Fenians, and it was also noted that numbers of discontented invaders were now returning to the States. On June 7, 1866 the Fenian raiders were finally expelled by members of the Canadian Militia after also causing massive chaos at nearby Frelighsburg and St. Armand.

They say that almost every last bird was wiped out in the community where the farmlands of Quebec look to the north and the hills of Vermont to the south. I could find very little mention of Pigeon Hill again except in the newspapers of January of 1896 and August of 1919. Pigeon Hill resident Thomas Hogan never found his Uncle Dandy Hogan after he placed a personal ad in the January St. Louis Dispatch of 1896. The man had been missing for a year and was last seen working at South Atlantic Mills in St. Louis, Mo. In August 1919, a well known open Pigeon Hill liquor joint was busted up at 2:30 am that morning. It was noted that it was the largest seizure made along the border in some time. There was no record of who the stool pigeon was after Deputy Collector L. D. Seward stopped an automobile containing 4 gallons on the Highgate Springs Road originating from Pigeon Hill.

William Shakespeare once said:  “We know what we are, but know not what we may be”. Pigeon Hill may not have become one the great hubs of the Eastern Townships– but it will be remembered in the history books and forever debated why it was named Pigeon Hill.

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 The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)


Fenians OR Ballygiblins? Fighting Irish 101

Angry Mobs, Wolves and Bloodsuckers –Selby Lake

Memories of UFO’s Earthquake Lights and Gale Pond

The Ghost Ship of Brown’s Hill

Hocus Pocus –Necromancy at Fitch Bay

The Execution of Alexander Burns — Capital Punishment in Canada

If You Went Down the Forest Road–Abbott’s Corners

unnamed (1)

A Carleton Place Fenian Soldier’s Photo



Samuel Fisher Photo from Carleton Place’s very own Norma Ford

Norma thinks this is a picture of Samuel Fisher, born July 1848 in Perth and died April 14, 1919 in Almonte. 

“When I was going through my Grandmother’s writings, she said there was a picture of her Great-Grandfather at the museum in Perth.  I went to check with them and this is the only picture they have from that time period.  I have his military records where he served in Prescott at the time of the Fenian Raids although they did not see any action in that area. A great picture whether it is my Great Grandfather or not.”–Norma Ford Carleton Place, Ontario.


Linda, something else interesting about Samuel Fisher. He is buried in the Anglican Cemetery outside of Almonte. His son, James Fisher owned a bronze factory in Burlington and made the headstone, picture attached. I can’t believe how well the headstone has survived the test of time, maybe all headstones should be made of bronze.


Perth Courier, October 29, 1897— *Samuel Fisher* is mentioned here

Upon the recommendation of Sir Richard Cartwright, Minister of Trade and Commerce, the British authorities have consented to order an issue of medals to those Canadian volunteers who took part in the suppression of the Fenian uprising or invasion in 1866 and subsequent years.  Lord Lansdowne, our former Governor General, and now Imperial Secretary, a few days ago cabled the Canadian Minister of Militia that he has recommended such a medal be struck.  To those who participated in two or more engagements they will be awarded a clasp.  Though 31 years have gone there are quite a number yet in town and elsewhere of the members of the two Perth volunteer companies who left “for the front” in March and June of 1866 and we give below the names of as many as we can gather with their present post office addresses.  Many are no longer in the land of the living and many others have after this lapse of years scattered to the four winds and their present abiding place is not known.

Perth Rifle Company

Captain Edmund Spillman in British Columbia

Lt. Thomas Moffat, Perth

Ensign Major J.S. Douglas, Shelburne(?), Ont.

Color Sergeant John Kippen, Los Angeles, California

Sgt. W. M. Kellock, Perth


Still in Perth—Robert Lillie, Peter Lavergne, William Lawson, *Samuel Fisher*, William Watson, Benjamin Warren, James Moore.  George Steele, Smith’s Falls; George Larivee, Sand Point; William Farmer, Arnprior; D.G. Mitchell, Campbelville, Kentucky; Manasses Patterson, Almonte; W.H. Wylie, Michipecotin(?); M. McMartin

Read the Perth Courier here at Archives Lanark

 Related reading:

Fenians OR Ballygiblins? Fighting Irish 101