The Barrie Hotel was constructed in 1843/44. The Hotel later became The Imperial Hotel on Wilson Street. Miss Fidler’s–School was next door. Photo courtesy the Perth Museum and Perth Remembered
May 21, 1897
At eight o’clock a Perth hotel keeper was awakened by a party of men under the influence of liquor, singing, “You Have Got a Sweetheart, and So Have I” outside his window. He went downstairs, but on seeing their condition, he would not let them in so he went back to bed.
He fell into sound sleep, leaving one arm hanging over the side of the bed. Awakened suddenly, he became alarmed as something had bitten his wrist in two places. The blood ran freely and and an immediate search was made for the animal that had nipped him. The only trace that he found was a black mark in the bed clothes, and he thought that a rat made it with it his tail, and in passing bit his hand.
Some time ago a troupe of actors and actresses stopped at the hotel, and one of the girls had a live lizard, which she allowed to run around the room. When she went out she took the animal with her. The hotel keeper wanted to keep it as a pet but she said she wouldn’t take the $25 he offered for it. Before going to the doctor to attend to his wound, the hotel-keeper thought that the the actress had forgotten to take the lizard with her and that was what had bitten him. The physician, however, said that the wounds were the work of a rat.
By the Victorian Era it was common knowledge that rats carried diseases and thousands of the nefarious vermin infested sewers, factories, and homes. Rat catchers were in high demand and many children preferred catching rats to cleaning chimneys, working in mills, or hawking wares. One reason rat catching was popular with the youth was because it was lucrative.
The second reason rats were captured alive was to breed and sell as house pets. One famous rat catcher was named Jack Black. Black worked as Queen Victoria’s personal rat catcher. He was the self-described “rat and mole destroyer to Her Majesty” and started preying on unsuspecting rodents at the age of nine. By the early 1840s, he was the rat-catcher for various government departments in London, including the Royal Palaces occupied by the Queen. He caught all sorts of rats, including unusual coloured ones and bred them and sold them “to well-bred young ladies to keep in squirrel cages.”
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 and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)