Tag Archives: Kerry

Shoulders We Stand Upon John Hawley Kerry- Karen Hirst

Shoulders We Stand Upon  John Hawley Kerry- Karen Hirst

From my recently completed biography of John Hawley Kerry titled Shoulders We Stand Upon, I submit this excerpt for The Tales of Almonte collection.

Always grateful to the community for the support and encouragement provided to him and his family throughout the years, my father made a commitment to serve his community whenever able to do so.

” Over the years John gave back to his community by serving on the Boards of various organizations and participating in Club activity. He served in the Lions club for over sixty years and was renowned for the successful sales and organization of the 50/50 annual draw.

As a member of the Almonte General Hospital Board for eight years and taking his turn as Board Chair for two years, he was on the site committee with George Gomme, Art Stewart and George Dunfield for the building of a new hospital on its current site.

John was a Trustee for the East Lanark School Board for Almonte and Carleton Place High Schools for ten years and Chair of the Board for two years. He participated as a Board member during the additions being made to both the Almonte High School and the Carleton Place High School.

Taking his turn as Chair following Raymond Jamieson, he also has continued as a Trustee for the United Church Board of Trustees for over fifty years.

John was actively involved in the downtown BIA Association and as a member of the Almonte Legion drove the White Cross Mothers on November 11th for several years.
Always a willing contributor and source of assistance whenever it was required to help grow the Friendly Town of Almonte and assist its citizens—John did his part.
Supporting his son Paul’s passion for hockey and a good way to announce his brand, John outfitted a hockey team and named them Kerry Komets.


A part of the Furniture Store history included John’s willing participation in the annual Almonte Fair. Many items of furniture and appliances were hauled to the Agricultural Hall at the fair grounds for commercial show and display along side of the many other local businesses who participated. Hauled by truck to the fair grounds and then returned to the Furniture Store—one was never sure as to whether or not the limited sales that resulted warranted the back breaking effort but it was a great meet and greet opportunity for all concerned.

Annual participation in celebratory Town parades required some creative effort and team spirit by staff and family as well.

A great honor for John was to be named Citizen of the Year for the Town of Almonte sometime in the 1960s following the previous recipient, Evelyn Jamieson.”
As a side note: As shared with me by recipients, John has been a supporter and source of encouragement for other individuals who have sought and been successful in establishing their own business endeavors.

I am proud of my father’s service and continued contributions to his community. I will share further excerpts of his journey in future posts. Karen Hirst

On this rainy October morning while leafing thru old photos, I came across a group photo of members of the East Lanark School Board for Almonte and Carleton Place. My father, John Kerry, 4th from the left, sat on this board for ten years and took the role of Chair for two years. Dad participated as a board member during the building of new additions to both the Almonte High School and the Carleton Place High School. Today as I view the yellow bricked addition at the side of the Almonte and District High School, It pleases me to know that my father played his part in the evolution of our Almonte and District High School. I can’t put names to all the other faces so I am hoping others can do so. I salute their commitment to the growth and improvement of our community services. Wherever this finds you this morning we each, in our own way, play a part in building the community we find ourselves privileged to live in each and every day. Take care, keep safe and stay well. Yes we can and yes we will, together. Karen Hirst
Bygone days—-the ladies in the photo are believed to be members of Hospital Auxillary of Almonte General Hospital

Mrs. Winslow-Spragge next to John Kerry
Mrs. Isobel Jamieson ( wife of Bill Jamieson)
Unknown lady? Karen Hirstphoto

Photos: Dad sitting beside his Mother; Upper Rt. –Dad’s first funeral in Almonte 1954, Lower Rt.—Dad with his calf on farm Lake Scugog Island Bottom Rt. 2011

John Kerry—high school years

Karen, Grandma Kerry, father John Kerry and great grandfather Holmes

karen, grandma Colley, mother Marion Kerry, great grandmother Lee

A glimpse into Ambulance Service in Almonte in 1954….

Having purchased the Scott Funeral Home from Mrs. Loretta Scott in 1954, one of two local ambulance services was operated under the new ownership by John Kerry.

Taking a trip back in time, the photo below shows the ambulance vehicle used by the Kerry Funeral Home. The service would be provided by the two local Funeral Homes in Almonte until 1961 when the province assumed full responsibility for the service.

Ambulance service was booked and called upon like you would a taxi service …. family members were phone bound 24/7.

It was an individual’s choice as to who you called and the service fee was approximately $5.00. Training was that of a First Aid Course and the service could result in every imaginable scenario that one might find themselves traveling on an ambulance cot.

A glimpse into Almonte’s Retail in 1954 ….

Having purchased the Scott Furniture Store from Mrs. Loretta Scott in 1954, the store’s name change represents new ownership by John Kerry .

Take a trip back in time and from this 1954 newspaper advertisement get a glimpse as to what was being sold on December 2nd, 1954 for $402.00

Thought I would share these Almonte photos from Karen Hirst–Good Morning to the Lanark County Genealogical Society Members–If you remember I made reference in my presentation to you of the board sided duplex of barn beam contruction that was located on Edward St. Almonte ( now called McCallum St.) across from the McCallum Soap factory. There are two pictures of this showing. The duplex was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Warren and upon ownership of the building, my father John Kerry had the building lifted and turned to front Water St. It has undergone many renovations, modernizations but continues today as a four unit apartment building the family refers to as The Water Street Apartments. The two pictures with the black shutters are taken from one of its earlier dressings, currently the building is taupe in colour. Karen Hirst

Reads as long as it takes to glimpse the passing of the torch……. The premises of Kerry’s Furniture & Appliances / Pharma Save Pharmacy, was owned by my father John Kerry from 1954 to 2019. It was purchased from Mr. W.E. Scott in 1954. Ed Scott had rebuilt the furniture store in 1904 following a major fire. At that time he had two storefronts constructed, which has continued to exist thru these current times. Mr. Wilf Snedden, Pharmacist and prominent resident of Almonte, rented the smaller portion of the divided building. Many will recall that he had a wonderful old fashioned soda fountain bar and stools to compliment the drug store and pharmacy services … it would be lovely to have that service reinstated somewhere for today’s lover of everything ice cream ! In my father’s era of ownership, there has been four pharmacy businesses, to be followed by the current Quilt Supply Store. What for many years housed the Furniture & Appliances side of the store, is currently an Antique Store. Prior to being sold, my father saw the building thru an outer face lift and some internal upgrades leaving the premises with its best foot forward for the next generation of users. With its sale completed in 2019, the history of the bricks and mortar, along with the businesses carried out within its walls by its proprietors, becomes another chapter in the continuing story of daily commercial life carried out on Mill Street

Remembering John Kerry from Almonte—By Karen Hirst

Remembering John Kerry from Almonte—By Karen Hirst



unnamed (28).jpg

 John Kerry

Message from Linda—I love when people  submit me their memories, and if you have any of your town or ancestors– please send them to me and I will print them. sav_77@yahoo.com

Today’s guest author is Karen Hirst whose father is the iconic John Kerry from Almonte.


The ‘Undertaking’ of Local History by Karen Hirst

They seemed to go hand in hand, the furniture business with that of Undertaking or as it is more modernly referred to as the Funeral Service business.

It is believed that this combination may have evolved because the trade of the furniture merchant was cabinet making. My father, John Kerry recalls this as being a fairly common combination of businesses especially in small town rural communities. Who better to request a wood coffin from than the skilled craftsman who also made furniture— from coffins to conducting funerals seemed a natural fit.

What is historically interesting and may not be known by many is that very often the ‘undertaking’ was conducted under the same roof as you would purchase your living room furniture.

In the small town of Almonte, in the year 1954, my father purchased  from the estate of W.E. Scott, both the furniture store and the funeral business. Mr. W.E. Scott ( Ed) was a Funeral Director, Merchant for Home Furnishings and a former Mayor of Almonte. He had rebuilt the furniture store in 1904 following a major fire. At this time he made two storefronts which has continued to the current day. Mr. Scott rented one half to Mr. Wilf Snedden, Pharmacist. In my father’s time there have been four pharmacy businesses conducted from the same premises and currently one quilt store. The half of the store that was devoted to new home furnishings is now rented for the sale of antique items.


unnamed (30).jpg

Upon purchase in 1954, fronting Mill Street,  there was the main building which as noted above was divided into two stores. As well, behind the store, was a large two bay brick barn and set further back running along Farm Street was a tin shed that would have housed the horses that pulled the horse drawn hearse. Eventually Mr. Jim Flynn took the old tin shed and put it out to pasture.

In 1953 a Pontiac Sedan Delivery was converted into a hearse and stored in the brick barn with its green painted wooden doors, one closed on hinges and one a sliding door. The barn was also used as a warehouse for unpacking furniture and upstairs on the second floor was the storage site of baby caskets in their wooden rough boxes. The hinged door of the barn would later be closed in with cement blocks leaving only the sliding door  until the barn’s eventual demise and the conversion to off street customer parking.

Through the back door of the furniture store with its overhead goose necked, green tin light fixture, one entered the domain of the blending of the two businesses. Directly inside behind sliding doors was the embalming table with its white porceline sink and bottles of coloured fluids that emitted unique odors soon recognized as specific to the profession.

Down the short narrow hallway one entered into the locale of the business office where funeral arrangements or the bill of sale for furniture purchases were completed. A massive old iron safe built under a bookcase, lettered with W.E.Scott suggested some importance to the transactions of the space. Possession of the safe following modernization of the office and store remains lost from memory at this time.

unnamed (29).jpg

The lower floor of the furniture store  during Mr. Scott’s era could on occasion become the public visitation space for a funeral. With some relocation of furniture along the walls of the furniture store or carried and stored upstairs, the addition of a few folding chairs and the furniture store  would serve the needs of a grieving family. This was the substitute location for those not ‘waking’ in the family home or having the funeral service within a church.

A room on the upstairs level of the store during Mr. Scott’s time and the early years of my father’s ownership served as the casket display and selection room. Many a sore back was felt following the movement of caskets up and down the oak, spindle- railed staircase that continues to act as the means of access to the second floor.

Mr. Scott eventually built his personal family home at 99 Elgin Street opposite the United Church. The embalming room continued to be located at the furniture store but wakes and funerals could be accommodated from the Scott’s home thus freeing the furniture store from its dual purpose. When employed  into service, personal family furniture was moved to the upstairs level to make room for this to occur.

The purchase of the Stafford family home in 1959 by John Kerry for what would become the new premises of the Kerry -Scott Funeral Home and later the Kerry Funeral Home to be followed by the Kerry Funeral Home and Chapel brought welcome relief from the need to relocate furnishings from one level to another.  As well, a stand alone funeral home meant that the embalming room no longer occupied any space at the furniture store.

The furniture store continued until 2010 as two floors of home furnishings housed within a solid brick building with large plate glass windows on both the upper and lower levels. Copying the asthetics of a men’s clothing store in Renfrew my father chose the beauty of a mahogony wood face to proudly sign his name upon the storefront—Kerry Furniture.

For several years Death Notices were posted in a wooden framed bulletin board hung inside the front window of the entry alcove to the furniture store . These notices served as the  public announcement of a death and the particulars for visitation and funeral service.

Furniture and Funerals—a shared history in the town of Almonte.

Karen Hirst

October 7, 2016

Author’s BioKaren Hirst is the eldest child of John and Marion Kerry, sibling to Glenn, John, Paul, Mark and Lisa.  She is married to Ken Hirst,  her life connection since grade 8, Church Street Public School.  Her son Matthew, lives in Toronto with wife Janette. She is a registered nurse recently retired, but remaining in casual capacity–not ready to call it quits yet!!!  She enjoys writing, reading, photography, coffee at the Equator and meeting new people through social media.




Other related readings to Mr. Kerry of Almonte-

Return to the beginningby L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

Family funeral business sold to another family-Ottawa Business Journal


Related reading to the Stafford Family..

Outside Looking in at The Eccentric Family of Henry Stafford — Our Haunted Heritage

More About the Eccentric Stafford Family in Almonte


Other guest authors-if you have a story- then send it to me..

Glory Days of Carleton Place-The Olde Barracks-Canada’s Forgotten “Little Bunkers”-Leigh Gibson




Karen Hirst family photo I just loved.. Karen Hirst
Almonte 1955 (came to Almonte 1954)—Clarence Colley, Marion & John Kerry, Karen, Baby John Jr.’s christening and today’s birthday boy—Glenn Kerry — Have you read any of the Kerry history?