Tag Archives: folklore

Witches Folklore 101 in Ontario 1800s

Witches Folklore 101 in Ontario 1800s

Ideas concerning witchcraft are rather attenuated at present, although their existence may still be observed.

578. Some people believe that a wish expressed very solemnly or under special circumstances, such as by a dying person, will be effective against supposed wrong-doers. This is somewhat of the nature of a curse. For instance, a man who was dying of consumption wished for a cane belonging to his father. The younger brother, who had possession of it, refused to give it up. The sick man then remarked that the brother might keep the cane, but that he might need it before long.

579. Burning salt will drive witches out of the house. (M.) 579. Burning salt will drive witches out of the house. (M.)

580. A crabbed, sour-dispositioned old woman is still sometimes referred to as an old witch.

581. The seventh son of the seventh son is supposed to be able to tell fortunes and to perform cures of various kinds. This applies equally to the seventh daughter of the seventh son. It is also held that the seventh son or child is supernaturally gifted.

582. Mrs. Richard Hutchison told of a male relative of hers who was said to have been bewitched by an old woman living in the neighborhood. The old woman was supposed to have had a spite against the man, and made him want to kill his wife, who could not escape him, no matter where she might go. Nothing could be done to rid him of his murder mania. At last it became known that the old woman had bewitched him. So she was sent for and ordered to say, “God bless you!” She kept saying, “My God bless you!” but this did the man no good, as the old woman’s god or deity was the Devil. The people finally threatened to string her up to a tree if she did not say, “God bless you!” When she said it at last, the man became as usual.

583. A woman living in the country, a short distance from Toronto, one day saw a cat coming towards the house through the grass. As she noticed that the cat’s face resembled that of a neighbor woman, she tried to catch it, but was unable to do so. Had she cut its paw, or hurt it in any way, her neighbor – so she believed – would have been injured in a similar manner. The cat after a while went into the stable, and walked in and out of the stalls “just like a soldier.” The people tried to hit it with sticks, but it got out of the way every time. (Informant is said to have been of Highland-Scotch descent.)

584. Another item, presumably of Scotch origin, is to the effect that a woman took sweepings from her steps and threw them on those of her mother-in-law to prevent the latter from doing her an injury.

585. Some people always sweep in, never out of the door.

586. A practice attributed to Irish sources is that of pointing the scissors at people, either when they are looking or when not looking; this is done to injure an enemy

The beliefs under Nos. 587-591 (recorded by the Rev. Solomon Snider of Norwich, Oxford County, Ontario, in “The Globe,” Toronto, 1898-1900, were current between 1840and 1850. 587. “Witches were a terror to old and young, and not without reason when it was found what they could do. What quantities of soap-grease were wasted in the vain attempt to make soap! How many hours were spent over the churn, while the butter wouldn’t come! . . . How much bread sponge had to be thrown into the swill- barrel because it wouldn’t rise! . . . Manes of horses would be found in the morning braided up and fastened together as stirrups for the witches or fairies who had ridden them through the night.

588. “A man’s cows got lean and lost relish for their food and would yield no milk; but when an old woman marked crosses on their horns and foreheads, they were themselves again. They were held to have been ‘witched.’

589. “Again, an old man declared he was taken out every night by the witches and bridled and ridden like a horse; and he would show all the signs of being completely exhausted in the morning, and would exhibit the sores at the corners of his mouth where he had been un- mercifully jerked by the bit. He so fully believed all this, that he walked fifty miles to consult a ‘witch doctor,’ who delivered him from his tormentors.

590. “An old soldier, who lived alone in a little log cabin, died very suddenly in the presence of some young men whom he had just been diverting with tales of his former exploits. One of themran to the house of Mrs. S – , who was found with a pot fiercely boiling, in which were three pigs’ livers all stuck full of pins and needles. In reply to the news that ‘old Uncle Simon was dead,’ she said: ‘Served him right. Why didn’t he let my pigs alone?’ It was a case of ‘tit for tat.’ He had bewitched her pigs, and she, with the help of the murdered pigs’ livers, had compassed his death.

591. ” Once more: An old woman said to her husband one day: ‘The butter won’t come.’ He at once cast a silver bullet for his rifle (lead won’t kill a witch), and fired it into the churn. The butter was all right; but not so an old wife of the neighborhood, who had be- witched the butter. She went hobbling around for months, suffering silently from a concealed bullet wound.” The following story, which confirms some of the notions contributed by the Rev. S. Snider, was obtained from John Jamieson, Jr., an Iroquois residing on the Six-Nation reserve, in Brant County, and deals with beliefs –evidently European –current in that locality some thirty or forty years ago:

592. A blacksmith living along the stone road between Brantford and Langford had an apprentice who gradually began to get very ill. One day he told the blacksmith that he was going away. “What’s the matter?” asked his employer. “Nothing,” he replied, “except that you do not use me very well.” ” How’s that?” asked the blacksmith. “Well, I am kept awake every night working,” said he. The blacksmith decided to take the young man to sleep near him, the wife of the latter sleeping in another room. In the middle of the night the blacksmith heard something knocking. He went to the door, and saw there a man with a fine-looking mare. “I’ll give you five dollars if you will shoe my horse,” said his visitor, “as I have to drive twenty miles.” The blacksmith said, “No! I have worked hard all day, and I want to rest.”-“Shoe the front feet, and I’ll give you five dollars for your trouble,” said the man; “I do not want to drive on the gravel without shoes.” The blacksmith at last consented; but the mare was very restless, and kept following him around, while the thought kept occurring to him that he had seen the mare before. The customer paid his bill and departed. In the morn- ing the blacksmith asked his assistant how he had slept. “Oh! all right,” said he. The hired girl got the breakfast, and went to call the blacksmith’s wife; but the latter remained in her apartment weeping, her hands hidden in her clothes, and would give no answer. The blacksmith finally entered, and asked her what was the matter. She showed him her hands with horseshoes nailed on them, and said, “I did not think you would do such a thing.”

593. I have frequently heard of a red-hot horseshoe being put into the churning when the butter would not come. The avowed reason was to remove the spell which a witch had put on the cream. (Boyle.)

594. An old Irish woman of the neighborhood, when she has any bad luck, such as her hens not laying, or any farm stock not prospering, obtains something belonging to the person she suspects of “evil’ and, after sticking it full of pins, burns it. She claims that she always hears of this person’s illness at once.

Also read-Strange Folklore from Ontario –BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD

Need “BLOOD-LETTING’? Head on Down to the Blacksmith!

Witch of Plum Hollow

The Witch of Plum Hollow — Complete Story File


The Trouble With Witches

Witchy Woman — Isabella Mary Rutherford Laidlaw

We Know About the Witch of Plum Hollow — But Have you Heard About Mother Lajeunesse?

A Bewitched Bed in Odessa

The Eardley Witch Doctor

Different Seasons of Witches in Lanark County

Local Miracle Story– Woken From a Ten Week Coma

The White Witch of Lanark County–Having the Sight

Hocus Pocus –Necromancy at Fitch Bay

The Witches Handcuffs

Ancestor of Salem –Rochester Street Witch

The Witches and Spirit Communicators of Montague

The Devil’s Telephone? The Ouija Board

Lanark County Medical Advice 1800s – Wear Earrings for a Sore Throat

Lanark County Medical Advice 1800s – Wear Earrings for a Sore Throat

An old gentleman of Scotch descent, born in Lanark County and living on Manitoulin Island, used the following procedure for the cure of wounds in animals: Three sweet-apple scions of different lengths are procured, and each rubbed three times all over the wound. They are then carried home by the operator of the cure, and subjected to some secret treatment there. It is said that, at any rate, no word- formula is used. At this stage of the treatment the cure can be made to progress either favorably or unfavorably, at will. It is said that the twigs will become pulverized after a while.

An important part of the cure is the diet and treatment of the animal, which must be fed on hot mash, oats, chip, and similar foods. It must be exercised daily and kept moving, especially if the wound is discharging, and must also be kept very clean. The wound must be washed well with warm water before the twigs are applied. The emphasis laid on the treat- ment before and after seems to suggest that the twigs might be dispensed with.

268. The same informant was believed to possess wonderful abilities in the matter of stopping hemorrhages. It was not necessary for him to be present in order to stop these. Some formula or scriptural quotation was employed.

269. The seventh son of the seventh son can stop hemorrhages, as can also the seventh son. (W.)

270. To stop nose-bleed, place a key or a coin on the back of the neck;1 or snuff the smoke from a puff-ball (Lycoperdon).

Also read-Oddities — Lanark County Puffball Mushrooms

271. An old-fashioned first-aid for wounds or bleeding was to apply a bunch of spiderwebs.

272. For bee-stings, apply some clay or mud. The bee is supposed to die after it stings one.

273. For sore eyes, wear earrings. This remedy was formerly frequently used by men.

Also read-Strange Folklore from Ontario –BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD

Two boys had a girl triend who lay dying of consumption. One evening the boys were returning home through the woods near Lanark. Quite suddenly, a little ahead of them, they saw their friend cross their path and disappear among the trees. They called her name, but she did not answer. On reaching home, they rushed into the kitchen, shouting, “Nellie is better! We saw her in the woods.” Great was their surprise to hear that Nellie had died an hour before.

Back in the 19th century, a cutting-edge new “treatment” for rheumatism was introduced on Australia’s southern coast: sitting inside a rotting whale carcass. It was believed that if a person stayed inside of the dead whale for 30 hours, they would be relieved of joint aches for up to 12 months. Clearly, there’s no scientific evidence to support the healing power of sitting inside of a dead whale, but it seems like people were desperate enough to actually try it.
Bloodletting is known as one of the oldest medical practices, dating back 3000 years to ancient Egypt. The procedure was common in medieval Europe to treat diseases such as smallpox, epilepsy, and plague. However, it didn’t end there. Bloodletting was commonly practiced throughout the 19th century, too, and is sometimes even used today. Towards the end of the 19th century, the treatment was discredited when doctors finally admitted that depleting the body’s blood supply can be risky and doesn’t have many valuable health benefits. Bloodletting puts a patient at risk of having a cardiac arrest, losing too much blood, and can cause dangerously low blood pressure, in addition to the possibility of infections and anemia.

Also read-Need “BLOOD-LETTING’? Head on Down to the Blacksmith!

Strange Folklore from Ontario –BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD

Strange Folklore from Ontario –BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD

Canadian Folk-Lore from Ontario. 25 


336. It is popularly believed that a child may be affected prenatally 

in various ways. Hand-like discolorations in infants, for instance, 

are attributed to blows received by the mother. Even the sight of 

unpleasant objects are supposed to produce similar effects. One woman 

was frightened at a mouse, in consequence of which her child exhibited 

a mouse-like excrescence. Another was frightened by a rabbit, upon 

the child was born with a hare-lip. 

337. Children may also be afflicted with various cravings as a result 

of such influences. A certain woman had an abnormal desire for an 

alcoholic beverage, which was denied to her by her husband. As a 

consequence the child had a similar craving. The same idea is held 

with regard to various foods. In such cases, if the woman’s appetites 

or desires be satisfied, the child will not be injuriously affected. 

338. A baby should have a fall before it is six months old if it is to 

have good sense. (An Ottawa informant.) 

339. A gift of some kind should be placed in the hand of a newly- 

born child the first time you see it. This is for luck. Any sort of 

trinket will do. (An Irish woman living in Toronto.) 

340. The first house an infant is taken to will have a birth in it 

within a year. 

341. To kiss a newly-born baby brings good luck. 

342. A baby must not see itself in a glass, or it will be vain.  

343. If a child is born with a tooth, it will be hanged,  

344. If its mother carries it in her arms the first time she walks in 

the open air after its birth, it will never take a serious cold.  

345. The first house its mother enters with it in her arms will be 

sure to receive a similar blessing (i.e., have a baby, too) during the 


346. To take a newly-born babe into the topmost room of the house, 

then into the basement, and then into every room in the house, is 


347. It is unlucky to name a baby after a dead person. The child, 

it is said, will die very young. 

348. If a child has two crowns on its head, it will live in two king- 


349. If it is born with a “veil” covering the face, it will be gifted 

with “second sight.” 

Did You Know About Dr. Barnardo’s Baby’s Castle? British Home Children — Home Boys

Thomas Sloan Inventor Baby-Walker Carleton Place

Does Anyone Want to Adopt a Baby? 1900s

The Reed Baby Carriage

Laundry Babies – Black Market Baby BMH 5-7-66

Babies in the Textile Mills

Updates–What Happened to the Cardwell Orphans?

The Children of Ross Dhu Part 2 Hilda Martin

Who Won the Baby Contest in 1889?

You must have been a Beautiful Baby–Lanark County Family Names

The Children of Ross Dhu –Evacuation to Canada

The War Children that Tried to Come to Canada–SS City of Benares

The Hart Children of Lanark — Laurie Yuill


Don’t Fear The Cow Bell — The Belled Vulture

Don’t Fear The Cow Bell — The Belled Vulture

When I was at the Middleville Museum a few years ago they had a display of cow bells from a few neighbouring farmers. I had no idea that each bell belonged to a different cow and that is how the farmer’s distinguished them.

In Lanark County you could sometimes stop walking along the side of a back road and hear the faint clank of the cow bell. In the summer when the cows were in the pasture finding them and bringing them home for evening milking would have taken hours of searching if it were not for the cow bell. They were crafted by blacksmith or tinsmith and measured eight inches along the four squared sides.

On day as a child there seemed to be cow bells ringing in the sky and I thought it was actually a bell around the neck of a turkey buzzard often called a turkey vulture. We could hear the bell coming and first thought it was the ice cream truck but couldn’t see anybody anywhere on Albert Street. It stayed in the neighbourhood two or three days and we always knew it was around because we could hear the bell tinkling.

The bell was about the size of a small cow bell and the buzzard seemed used to it, or at least he didn’t mind it at all and it didn’t seem to bother him. My father thought it might be somebody who kept the vulture for a pet and attached the bell when he let it out for exercise.

One day my Dad was cutting the grass and the sound of that bell kept getting closer and finally he looked up. The buzzard was about 75 feet up—and he could see the bell clearly around its neck. Every time it would go up or down the bell would ring. The vulture seemed to enjoy the music as it circled around and I think it went to roost in a tree fascinated with everyone watching him. All the neighbours had seen this vulture at this point, and insisted the bird had a cow bell on him.

Adding to the evidence that there was a buzzard with some sort of bell going around one day my Dad spotted him again. He and a couple of his men went on a job in a very rural area. One of his assistants saw a flock of buzzards and finally he spotted a bell on one of them. The buzzard bell sounded more like chimes and his apprentice said, it was way too small for a cow bell. My father laughed and agreed-

“Those town folks may know buzzards” he remarked, “but they don’t know cow bells” he laughed.

Writing this story today I had no idea that “The Belled Buzzards” were a series of strange bell-wearing birds of prey that had been sighted all across the country roughly from the late 1860s and into the 1950s. One legend states that the bell around the buzzard’s neck tolls to signal the upcoming death of a notable person. For half a century, the belled buzzard was the object of headlines throughout the Southeastern United States and the subject of fascination, speculation and doubt. Those that heard its haunting ring fled into the darkness fearing that the end of the world was near.

These creatures were described as resembling normal turkey vultures or buzzards, with the exception of the strange bell they wore around their necks. Occasionally the birds were said to have worn the bells around one of their legs. The most common explanation is that the belled buzzard was part of a poorly-thought out prank wherein someone tied a bell to a buzzard they had captured. I’d like to think that is exactly what it was and leave the lingering chimes of this story now before I tell my grandchildren and scare the feathers out of them.

linda Seccaspina Pakenham Fair 2006

The Wendigo’s of Devil’s Mountain

The Wendigo’s of Devil’s Mountain

The summit of this mountain Mount St. Wilfred, formerly Devil’s Mountain (summit at 783 m) is located at about 15 km northwest of Mont-Laurier and near Lake Windigo. In this sector of the Laurentian Mountains, the relief form an oblong mass of about 8 km by 5 km.

According to a legend, this mountain is haunted by the Windigo, an imaginary character from Algonquin mythology. It would be about an alien and demonic creature whose myth is widespread on the planet. This character represents evil. He is possessed by the evil spirit.

Popularly, this mountain is designated “Montagne du Diable”, a French adaptation of the old term Windigo used in this area to designate the stream and the lake. The toponymic designation Sir-Wilfrid was assigned in 1932; this designation is similar to the toponym Mont-Laurier, which the town is nearby. This toponymic designation evokes the memory of Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919), Prime Minister of Canada, from 1896 to 1911.

The natives of the area were so afraid of Devil’s Mountain that Hugh Evendigo lived there and would not ascend it. It was told by Mr. John O’Connell that when he was in the Baskalong country in the 1890s he saw a mountain which was called Devil’s Mountain. The natives were afraid of it because there was nearly always a fog around its fop. However the fog at the top was there because there were miles of swamp lands around the base or the mountain.

The natives told the white men that the Wendigo was on the mountain and they had no right to go there and they didn’t. Mr. O’Connell says he never ascended the mountain himself, but he knew several who did and they saw no difference between it and any other mountain. Men who got lost in the bush found the Devils Mountain very useful. By climbing a high tree or high hill, they could see the fog-topped mountain and then they knew their whereabouts.

Algonquian tribes called the Wendigo the “spirit of lonely places and it was an evil spirit who takes the form of a skeletal human– something like the White Walkers from Game of Thrones. With thin, sickly skin and a wiry frame made partly of ice, the Wendigo is best known for its insatiable hunger for human flesh. In some variations of the legend, humans who were particularly greedy or gluttonous could become Wendigos themselves; other versions hold that Wendigos grow larger with every human they eat, ensuring that the beast’s hunger is never fully satisfied. They’re said to inhabit the tundras of northern Canada and Alaska, where the air is as chilly as their souls —

Strange Bird Shot Up at Shirley’s Bay Had 8 Feet Wing Spread

A Bird Weighing How Much was Found Near Barry’s Bay?

How a Boy of 16 Escaped From A Pack of Wolves on Richmond Road

The Wolves of Lanark County

Dancing With Wolves in Perth

This Ram was Ten Yards Long Sir and His Horns Reached the Sky

Shades of The Godfather in Dr. Preston’s Office in Carleton Place

Is This Story Just Up a Tree?

Where Was Meyers Cave?


Historical Caves — Pelissier’s Cave

Fresh Fairy Foot Marks Earth On a Charcoal Pit Westport Perth –McNamee

The Banshee of Kingston Mills

Local Sea Serpent Positively Seen This Time!!

Sea Serpent Captured in Chats Lake


More Lake Monsters–Moose or Monster?

Did You Ever See the Monster of Otty Lake?

Could the Giant Pike of Carleton Place Have Turned Into the Lake Memphremagog Monster?

The Ghost Ship of Brown’s Hill

The Sea Serpents of Lake Ontario

The Water Dragon of White Lake? 1936

Banshees and Steamships

Banshees and Steamships
he Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
28 Oct 1933, Sat  •  Page 2

So why was the boat called The Banshee? I think this story might have a lot to do with it.

The Banshee of Kingston Mills

A banshee, or Bean Sidhe, is a fairy from Irish folklore whose scream was an omen of death. Her thin scream is referred to as “caoine,” which translates to “keening.” It is said that a banshee’s cry predicts the death of a member of one of Ireland’s five major families: the O’Grady’s, the O’Neills, the O’Briens, the O’Connors or the Kavanaghs.

Over time as families blended, it was said that most Irish families had their own banshee. It is also said that the banshees followed their families as they emigrated from Ireland to other places across the globe, though some stayed behind to grieve at the original family estate.

It is believed they were based on an old Irish tradition where women would sing a lament to signify one’s passing. This too was referred to as keening. As many keeners accepted alcohol as payment, which the church frowned upon, many have speculated it was these keeners who were punished in the eyes of God and were forced to become banshees. Another factor that likely contributed to the superstitious legend is the cry of the barn owl. In ancient battles, owls would screech and take flight if they noticed an army approaching, which would forewarn the defending army.

In June 1930, on a hot summer day, visitors to Kingston Mills Lock were alarmed when they heard banshees groaning and sobbing in the marsh. A tale spread by the community has grown and spread until some residents fear for the marshes around the Kingston locks. The matter remained hearsay until a local newspaper published a story. Since then calls have poured in reporting sights of the spectre.

These people are convinced they saw something and people claiming sight have fainted immediately. The sounds happen when the sun is high and the marsh is full of water. Many people heard the sounds over the years but no one could find anything that caused them.

An older Carleton Place resident told me they made several fires when they stayed overnight to protect them from the banshees in the woods.There have been several reported banshee sightings, but it is said that if a banshee becomes aware of a human’s presence watching her, she will disappear into a cloud of mist. When she does, it is accompanied by a fluttering sound like a bird flapping its wings.

So are there Banshees? This story is from the Frontenac Arch Biosphere

The legend of the Banshee started when the Rideau Canal was being built and Irish people settled near the lock. They brought with them supernatural beliefs and the ‘Bean-Sidhe’ who mourns over the death of a good or holy person was one of those beliefs.

It is possible the marsh clay dried up around the cattail roots and the air burst out of them causing groaning noises.

read more

Fresh Fairy Foot Marks Earth On a Charcoal Pit Westport Perth –McNamee

Faeries on the Malloch Farm

The Faeries of McArthur Island- Dedicated to the Bagg Children

Oddities — Lanark County Puffball Mushrooms

Beware of the Lanark County Fairy Rings

he Buffalo Commercial
Buffalo, New York
13 Mar 1861, Wed  •  Page 3
The Buffalo Commercial
Buffalo, New York
12 Aug 1864, Fri  •  Page 3
Buffalo Morning Express and Illustrated Buffalo Express
Buffalo, New York
13 Sep 1872, Fri  •  Page 3

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
08 Dec 1914, Tue  •  Page 6

Did You Know About Frozen Charlotte?

Did You Know About Frozen Charlotte?

It is the late 19th century and you are a child. You have faced many hardships in your young life. The American Civil War is still a fresh in the minds of your family members, you yourself may need to work in order to help supply your family with food and clothing, and perhaps you have already had to attend the funerals of some siblings. This is, of course, if you have a family at all. But you do have a family, and today is a day of celebration. A birthday perhaps, or maybe Christmas, and your home is bustling with activity, voices, and delectable food in honor of the occasion. The time has come for dessert and you eagerly take your piece before cutting into it. Smelling the warm sugar you look down and discover something sticking out of your food. A face. A small dead white face attached to a small white naked body staring blankly at you. You exclaim not out of horror, but out of happiness. You found it! How lucky! You are congratulated and reminded about the importance of listening to your parents, you don’t want to end up dead do you? The message is serious but at the moment you are simply happy being the winner of a new Frozen Charlotte doll.


Before 1860 the story of poor Charlotte was being carried all over the country thanks to folk singer William Lorenzo Carter. A blind poet and musician from Vermont, Carter took the original words written by Smith and set them to music creating a cautionary folk ballad that quickly spread throughout the United States and Canada. The song eventually became very well-known but the story of the frozen girl in the sleigh erupted all over 19th century America and England thanks to its attachment to the tiny porcelain children that became known as “Frozen Charlottes”. 

The origin of the figures began innocently enough in Germany where they were manufactured to be bath toys for young children. However, it was in the United States and England where the small figures became intertwined with the story of the poor frozen girl and became highly desired object by both children and their parents. Burnside’s Fort

The Haunting History of ‘Frozen Charlotte’ Dolls

They were baked into cakes and dropped into baths.

The Dolls of Queen Victoria 1899

eBay Bans Love Potions, Magic Spells and Curses – Haunted Dolls Okay!

Dolls We Have Known and Loved- Photos

Who Were These Live Living Dolls From Carleton Place?

My Barbra Ann Scott Doll –Noreen Tyers

Stories of Big Joe Montferrand

Stories of Big Joe Montferrand


Big Joe was a logger and he plied his dangerous trade along the Ottawa Valley as he led the men who conveyed the long trains of logs down the swift rivers to the pulp mills of Montreal and beyond. He was a man of extraordinary strength and courage, attributes matched only by his civility and kindness. During his life he was called upon to teach a lesson to many a quarrelsome braggart or would-be-bully, but unlike the fictitious Paul Bunyan, Big Joe lived and his numerous descendants still reside in Quebec.

In January of 1925 Mr. Derby told a very personal story about Montferrand when he boarded in Aylmer with the Derby family. Mr. Derby Senior and Big Joe were friends and Derby said that the fabled stories of Big Joe Montferrand of being a quarrelsome lad was a myth– except when he was in action.

Joe was generally a good natured man, but when someone started anything he went into action. He instantly became a real wildman and it was said that his kick was deadly. In 1855 however Derby was in Quebec with Montferrand and they were lying off on a raft of wood off Cap Rouge near Quebec. At one point they both decided to get a wee shot of booze and a man asked if he was not indeed Big Joe Montferrand and that he was pleased to meet him.

The man expressed interest in him as the strongest man in the area and said he would like to see if this story was true by fighting him. Big Joe agreed and they both went off to the hotel yard ready to fight. Derby  thought it was best to stay in the bar at this point and have a couple of drinks as really he had no idea they were going to fight.

Before long Joe came in and told the barkeeper he had best come out and take care of what was now a dead man. According to the story the two of them had not been fighting long before the man began to  fight unfairly bunting his head. Joe warned him to fight fairly or he would kick, but the man refused to listen. So Joe did what he did best and that was to kick his opponent, and he kicked hard. One of Joe’s kicks went near the man’s heart and that was the end of the story, and his opponent dropped like a log.

Of course a huge fuss ensued and Joe was not arrested but was detained for a few days until he was able to go back to his logging crew. He had learned a lesson that day and never fought anyone else who challenged him.

Montferrand stood 6’4″ and was lithe and powerful, and one of his biographers, Andre de la Chevrotiere, described him as “prodigiously strong and at the same time generous, charitable, patriotic and with a love for hard work.” Anyway, big Joe was a famous fighting man, and some of his memorable battles took place right here.

He spent a lot of time in Hull and Ottawa between 1825 and 1850. One of his brawls became known in every shanty as “the battle of the beast with seven heads.” Montferrand was a ladies’ man, and he had a date with a fair creature who was coveted also by one of seven MacDonald brothers. The MacDonalds were an unruly lot four of them standing more than six feet, and they knew Joe – would be crossing the Footbridge at the Chaudiere from Hull to the Ottawa side. They decided to confront Joe in the middle of the bridge.

Joe pounded six of them senseless, and came to the youngest, and took mercy, and told him to go home to his mother. Joe continued on his way to keep his rendezvous with the lady fair. ‘ He was a bush foreman, and when the lads were taking off with civilization for the bush, it was Joe’s custom to stand them treats in a tavern, and it was said his generosity usually exceeded his purse.

One time, he was leading his gang into the woods for the winter when they came to The Tavern of the Pretty Widow.  Montferrand wanted to stand the treats but he was broke. He asked The Widow for credit, and she granted his wish, and so Joe decided to leave a calling card. From his “turkey” the bundle the men carried containing all their belongings he got out his “cork boots” (caulked boots), cleared a path, launched himself into the air and planted both feet on the ceiling, leaving his heel marks.

So was born “the legend of the cork boots,” and so many travellers stopped into The Widow’s place to see the marks of the feat that she was well repaid. He had one line of challenge: “No man on the Ottawa can stand up to Jos. Montferrand.” In those days when a “rough and tumble” or “a toute fain” meant using the head, feet, fists and even teeth’, nobody ever did.

Did you know?:- Far more often, though, the appellation ”Mrs.” indicated a widow’s tavern. As the only women to be licensed in their own right were widows. 


The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
09 Nov 1935, Sat  •  Page 32

Canada’s Mythical Mufferaw is a real part of Mattawa


Mattawa and District Historical Society

All About Lorraine Lemay –Mississippi Hotel

Architecture Stories: The Hotel that Stompin’ Tom Connors Saved

When the Teacher Got into Trouble

When the Teacher Got into Trouble




I have heard some queer stories of happenings in the school-rooms of by-gone days, but this one is without precedent, as far as I know. Word was that a fiery, hot-tempered individual, whose particular method of inflicting punishment was hurling sticks at his students in a Lanark County school.

He always kept a pile of sticks on the desk beside him and the moment he discovered a pupil acting up, he would take careful aim and send one of his missiles whizzing across the room. He seldom missed his mark.

One day his accuracy got him into serious trouble. The stick he hurled on this occasion caught a husky youth square on the nose and caused the blood to flow. That was more than the students could stand. With one accord there were about twenty good-sized lads in the room who rushed to the front, climbed all over him and gave him a thrashing he wasn’t likely to forget in a hurry.

Or so they said….. 🙂





Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 28 Dec 1935, Sat,
  3. Page 2Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome 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. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.


    The Blizzard of 1888– Three Heroic Teachers

  4. Lanark East Teachers’ Institute 1930 Names Names Names

  5. The Trouble With Trying to be Normal– The Ottawa Normal School

    Ladies & Gentlemen- Your School Teachers of Lanark County 1898

    “Teachester” Munro and the S.S. No. 9 Beckwith 11th Line East School

Daughter of Minister Was Pinned to Log Wall by Wicked Bull

Daughter of Minister Was Pinned to Log Wall by Wicked Bull




Back in the 1850s there lived near Merrickville an Anglican minister named Morris, who was generally known as “Father” Morris. Mr. Morris, besides preaching, owned and operated a farm. He had some well bred cattle and included in  his stock was a valuable big imported bull with long out-pointing horns.

This bull was nearly the cause of the death of a favourite daughter. It appears that one day the daughter went out to an open log shed where the cattle found shelter in stormy weather. It was said that the bull was a very wicked animal. While the girl was in the shed the bull came along, and seeing her, bellowed and dashed at her. The girl tried to get away and ran close to the back wall in an attempt to escape.

The bull, however, cut her off and pinned her to the log wall. Its charge was so furious that it could not extricate its horns to gore the girl. The bull’s roars of rage attracted the attention of a brother who was in a nearby field. When this brother saw what the situation was ran Into the house, got a butcher knife, and returning, cut the bull’s throat.

As soon as the bull was dead the young man got an axe and released the animal’s horns from the log wall. When the girl was released she was unconscious but not seriously injured. The happening stirred the people of the Merrickville district greatly.


 - the per- of be in i I i to merrickville...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 19 Oct 1896, Mon,
  3. Page 3
  4.  - MERRK KVII.I.K. Merrickville, Sept. 23. Several... - boy. who has been In the United States for some...

    Clipped from

    1. The Ottawa Citizen,
    2. 26 Sep 1898, Mon,
    3. Page 2Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome 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. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.


      It’s the Merrickville News 1880

    4. Mentions of Merrickville: Fire and Folks