Tag Archives: kingston

The Subject of Insanity

The Subject of Insanity

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Photo: Assistant Physician’s Office, Brockville Asylum for the Insane, [ca. 1903

Perth Courier, March 14, 1890

The Smith’s Falls News says:  One of our citizens, Arthur Couch, is suffering from that form of insanity known as melancholia. Six or seven weeks back the symptoms first began to show themselves but no further notice was taken at the time than would be taken of a man who might become somewhat odd or preoccupied.  A couple of weeks ago however, the disease took a more dangerous turn and on Saturday the 1st inst., he made an attempt on his life which would have been successful but for the providential interference of a friend.

An effort has been made to place the unfortunate man in the asylum at Kingston but that institution was over crowded and he could not be admitted.  He is at present at home where he is carefully watched although he is quiet in demeanour.  He appears to take no interest in anything around him except horses, and knows no one except his most intimate friends to whom he will once in a while talk horses. One of the peculiarities of his madness is that of the two horses which are standing in a stable he believes one to be dead and will not feed it.


Perth Courier, October 27, 1876

Almonte:  Insane—One of the workmen employed in Mr. William Wylie’s woolen mill named Thomas Glasgow, became deranged in his mind last week and was taken to the county gaol for safe keeping.  The unfortunate man has always been a quiet, industrious, and temperate man but a short time ago he lost his wife, which misfortune is supposed to have caused his present insanity.

Perth Courier, November 10, 1876

Insane—A few weeks ago a young man named Patrick Bowes, son of Mrs. Bowes of Almonte, showed signs of insanity which last week culminated in an undeniable attack of that dreadful complaint.  He was committed to the gaol at Perth on Monday last on information laid down by his uncle, Mr. John O’Neil of Bathurst, there to await the action of the asylum authorities.  He is about 17 years of age and in his affliction both he and his widowed mother have the entire sympathy of the people of Almonte.

Data Base for the Rockwood Insane Asylum in Kingston, Ontario


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  03 Mar 1948, Wed,  Page 16

Clipped from The Buffalo Commercial,  09 Oct 1902, Thu,  Page 2


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)




The Peculiar Case of Jeanetta Lena McHardy

The Odd Tale of Insane Johnny Long?

Embroidery of the Insane?

To Be Manic Depressive in a Rural Town — Kingston Insane Asylum

The Insane Spinster Ghost of Appleton Ontariounnamed (1)


The Gift of a Gavel– Frank Moon

The Gift of a Gavel– Frank Moon



Donated to the Lanark & District Museum by Dr. Harold Cumming, Kingston August 2002.

This gavel was donated by Dr. Harold Cumming Kingston, Ontario believed to be the Great Great Grandson of the late Granny Cumming of Watson’s Corners. This gavel was given to him by iconic Mr. Frank Moon of Carleton Place who when visiting his daughter in Kingston fell ill with pneumonia and was treated by Mr. Cumming.

By way of returning a kindness Mr.Moon sent him this gavel. A visit by Dr. Cumming to Carleton Place revealed Mr. Moon’s workshop filled with tools which most he had made himself. He would fashion a candlestick from cherry wood until he had it to his satisfaction and then turn it into a replica in brass. He also had a gadget hooked to his dining room table which turned out to be a knitting machine. He would turn  a handle and crank out a pair of socks quickly. Upon Mr. Moon’s death a gentleman from Peterborough purchased everything and moved it there where he operates a small business.



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  21 Jul 1959, Tue,  Page 20



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  19 Jul 1946, Fri,  Page 10


Margaret M. <i>Muir</i> Cumming

Perth Courier, July 17, 1896

Mrs. Cummings, an aged resident of Watson’s Corners who has been ailing for about three years, died on Monday the funeral taking place at 3:00 to Watson’s Corners’ Cemetery.  Era.


Margaret Cumming

Birth: unknown, Scotland
Death: Jul. 13, 1896

age 82 yrs. Wife of Peter Cumming-Native of Kirkfield Bank, Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Family links:
 Peter Cumming (____ – 1865)*
 Elizabeth Anderson Cumming Storie (1841 – 1920)*
 John Cumming (1845 – 1909)*

*Calculated relationship

Saint Andrew’s Cemetery
Watson’s Corners
Lanark County
Ontario, Canada



Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

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.



The Magical World of Mr. Moon by David Robertson

Did You Know? The Oldest Library in Lanark County


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A Bewitched Bed in Odessa

A Bewitched Bed in Odessa

November 1 1897

A rather queer occurrence is reported from Odessa, twelve miles from Kingston. In the house of William H. Smith, fifth concession, Ernestown, there is a bed which on Sunday morning commenced to move about in a singular way, throwing off the bed clothes and turning over on the floor.

As soon as the things were replaced the occurrence was repeated and still continued. A bible was placed upon the bed, but after a few upheavals the bed failed to dislodge it, and did not tumble over that time. Mr. Smith slept on the bed Sunday night, being shifted to and fro but not thrown out. When he arose in the morning the bed again wriggled and tumbled over. A correspondent interviewed Mr. Smith and vouches for’ the truth of the occurrence, regarding which no explanation can be given. 

Author’s Note– After reading some of the classifieds from the Upper Canada Herald, I would assume it might be the ghosts of wives gone bye..:)


June 13 1834

British Whig

A CHILD FOUND – A child about ten years of age, the son of a  Mr. Walker, residing in the 4thconcession of Ernestown, strayed away from his home in the woods surrounding his father’s dwelling was absent 48 hours.  Yesterday the whole neighborhood to a man turned out, and forming regular divisions, had the satisfaction of finding him and restoring him to the arms of his parents.
Nov 7 1834

British Whig

NOTICE – Six Pence Reward

RUNAWAY from the subscriber, Sarah Crage, this is to forbid any person or persons harboring or trusting her on my account, as I will not pay any debts of her contracting.

Any person, who will return her, shall have the above reward, but no charges paid


Bath, 3rd Nov 1834

Aug 15 1834

British Whig


WHEREAS my wife, Polly Harrison, having left me without any just cause, this is to forbid any person or persons harbouring or trusting her on my account, as I shall pay no debts of her contracting.


Wilton, Aug 11 1834

Mar 19 1835

British Whig

Notice –

WHEREAS my Wife Jane, having left my bed and board without any just provocation;  this is to forbid any person or persons trusting or harbouring her on my account, as I will pay no debts of her contracting after this date


Ernestown March 8th 1835

May 6 1829

Upper Canada Herald

The undersigned, having obtained his Licence to keep a House of Entertainment in the Village of Bath, through his friends, to whom he feels grateful, for their recommendation; he pledges himself to give general satisfaction and will faithfully demean himself as an Innkeeper.

Jacob VanCleak

Bath, May 1st, 1828

All persons are hereby forbid trusting Abigail, my wife, on my account, as she has been delirious for several years past, and has certainly forsaken my bed and board, as I am determined not to pay any debts of her contracting after this date

DAVID PURDY  Ernest Town July 19 1819 Upper Canada Herald




Ernestown railroad station was built for the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada. Its cornerstone was laid in 1855

Ernestown station sits on the north side of two sets of still-active tracks, just west of Lennox and Addington County Road #4, near a little sideroad called Link Road.

It has been suggested that political factors were the reason the Ernestown station was preferred over more populated areas like Bath to the east. Unlike Bath, there was no real community in Ernestown.

After the station was built, a community developed. At the same time, Bath, without a station, declined. Today, with the station abandoned, there are only residences left near the station and no real community.



Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

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.


Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight?

The Bed Bugs are Jumpin’ in Carleton Place!

Remember the Hospital Bed Races of Carleton Place?

Updates–What Happened to the Cardwell Orphans?

Updates–What Happened to the Cardwell Orphans?


The sad state of affairs with small children..😦 Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 17 Jan 1894, Wed, Page 1

I posted this on Tuesday. What happened to these children? The next day this was posted…



Clipped from Manitoba Morning Free Press18 Jan 1894, ThuPage 2






It was always believed that some sort of miracle would would take place in the life of an orphan and they would be adopted. Orphans were normally taken in by their immediate relatives, neighbours or couples without children. Laws related to adoption did not prevail in the Victorian era and so most of the instances of adoption were informal. Adoption of a child of the lower class by people of higher class, however, did not permit the child to maintain relations with the higher class and Canada had strict laws. If you suddenly found yourself without family you were put in jail until the courts could deem your story. Canada was worried about the country becoming a dumping ground for child immigrants. Your morals were assessed to see if you could become responsible citizens.

Some of the orphans considered themselves lucky to get placed in educational institutions. The philanthropists of the Victorian era considered it a social responsibility to donate money to schools which were formed to educate the orphans and provide boarding facilities. Food, clothing, shelter and education were given to orphans until they turn seventeen. Once they attained the age of seventeen the orphans were expected to work and earn on their own.

Most of these education centres were not funded properly and Orphans were educated for the purpose of performing lower-middle class occupation such as that of a governess. To make matters worse the nutrition standards were not up to the standards and corporeal punishment excessively. In such poor conditions, diseases spread rapidly in the crowded centres.

As abandonment of children was quite often during the Victorian era a residential institution to take care of the orphans became the need of the hour. Thus orphanages were set up in different parts of United Kingdom as Group home, children home, rehabilitation centre and youth treatment centre.

The establishment of orphanages played a major role in reducing the infant mortality rates. The orphanages offered community-based living and learning to children. Though orphanages acted as a better option when compared to adoption and foster care, in some of the unregulated orphanages, children were subject to abuse and neglect. But there were still some orphans searching for a ray of light in the darkness, living in the streets doing menial work and begging for money for their living.

Gilbert and Bertha Cardwell were pardoned by the Dominion of Canada and who knows what desperate place they were sent. Attempts to find them on genealogy pages, insane asylum lists etc. were fruitless. All that is know is they went to an orphanage in Kingston and the were probably sent to the Sunnyside Children’s Centre in Kingston. From mid-century until 1893, children’s homes like the Kingston Orphans’ Home were the primary providers of care and protection to destitute and neglected children in Ontario. About one-third of the children admitted were returned to family, but more than half were placed in private homes when discharged. Establishing good placement procedures was therefore a priority and a primary motivation for the founding of the Home. One hundred thirty-five children placed by the Home from 1857 to 1876 are tracked in order to assess these placement practices and the Home’s effectiveness as a child protection agency.







Clipped from The Ottawa Journal20 Nov 1905, MonPage 1



Clipped from Vancouver Daily World16 Jul 1896, ThuPage 7



Sunnyside Children’s Centre Kingston 1857-1998

The Orphans’ Home and Widows’ Friend Society was organized in 1857 to provide for the care and education of orphans. Initially these children came from the House of Industry, an institution established by the Female Benevolent Society for the poor of the area. By 1857 the House of Industry was well established and receiving aid so the women who had been involved in organizing that agency now turned their attention to the children. In March, 1857, thirteen children were admitted from the House of Industry into a house on Earl street where they were cared for and taught by a Mrs. Harold. Other destitute children attended the classes.
In 1862 the Orphans’ Home and Widows’ Friend Society was granted a charter. In 1862 the Orphanage and school moved to larger quarters. In 1927 the building housing the Orphanage was bought by Queen’s University and Sunnyside, the home of Mrs. G.Y. Chown, was bought for use as an orphanage. As conditions changed and orphan children were adopted or placed in foster homes the orphanage had fewer and fewer inmates. By 1947 the role of Sunnyside had changed. Since that time it has been a centre for the treatment of emotionally disturbed children


Ottawa– Protestants Orphan’s Home 😦



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal20 Nov 1899, MonPage 4


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 and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)


He Fired the Barn! The Orphans of Carleton Place

1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847

1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847


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School of Medicine, Queen’s University



When I was doing research Bertha and Gilbert Cardwell I cam across this. I had no idea– so I thought it should be documented.


The Kingston Whig Standard, January 8, 1949, by Edwin E. Horsey:


It was the 1847 famine in Ireland that was indirectly responsible for the founding of two of Kingston’s charitable institutions — the Home for the Aged and Sunnyside Children’s Home. Both establishments were organized primarily to take care of the widows and orphans left following the scourge of emigrant or ship-fever which claimed 1,200 lives here 101 years ago.

The deadly effects of the dire visitation were felt for years, for, while the progress of the epidemic had been stayed, there remained the problem of caring adequately for the many destitute persons and orphans. It is difficult for us fully to realize today the magnitude of the misery caused by the ravages of the disease, without doubt the greatest in the city’s history.

The plague of ship-fever was brought to Canada when thousands of Irish emigrants, fleeing from famine and pestilence, died during the ocean voyage or on reaching our shores. The United States, sensing danger, closed its ports to the refugees, but almost 100,000 were brought to Canada. While a quarantine was established at Grosse Isle in the lower St. Lawrence, those considered healthy or seeming well were allowed to continue on to Quebec and Montreal. Outbreaks of the plague quickly followed in both cities. It is estimated 20,000 died at lower St. Lawrence River ports.

At Montreal, those with a presumably clean bill of health, and desiring to do so, were permitted to continue further west. Passage was provided on barges and steamboats to Kingston, and so on by vessel to Toronto. But the trail of pestilence and death followed. At Kingston, the bodies of those who died on the last stretch of the river journey were unloaded on to the wharves for hasty removal and burial, while the sick were segregated in an effort to prevent further infection.



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Kingston Hospital 1890-Credit: Henry Henderson – KGH Archives


Old people never ceased telling of the harrowing experiences of those days; how the rumbling death-cart passed through the streets laden with bodies. These were taken to the field south of the present site of the General Hospital, placed side by side in trenches, sprinkled plentifully with quicklime and covered up. A great mound stood there unmarked for many years — the common grave of over 1,200 victims. During the term of the late Archbishop Cleary he had erected, in 1894, the monument now marking this burial place.

However, in face of all precautions taken, the fever spread through the city. Many homes became infected. A council report states: The expenditures of that year (1847) in the city, on account of the indigent emigrants, exceeded £13,000, and had that expenditure been charged upon the city, a special tax exceeding nine shillings in the pound would have been necessary.



School of Rehabilitation Therapy – Queen’s University
With all the moderen facilities for combating contagion at our disposal today, the appearance of a few cases of typhoid or other infectious disease causes a near-panic. But try and picture what conditions must have been in 1847, without any of these aids, when up to 2,500 infected persons and contacts were dumped weekly on the city’s doorstep.

When the epidemic was finally checked in 1848, the destitution following in its wake was of an acute nature. However, having been relieved of the hospital work they had carried on for some 25 years, the members of the Female Benevolent Society turned their attention to making provision for the care of the indigent and friendless.

In a report the secretary of the society, Mrs. Cartwright, outlined the object of the venture, to quote: The crowded state of the hospital and the general prevalence of fever throughout the town prevented the operations of the society from being carried on in the usual manner, but it was at lenghth agreed that efforts should be made for the establishment of a House of Industry, as the most effectual means of affording relief to the many destitute beings left among us by the recent calamitous season of sickness and destitution arising from the awful visitation of famine in Ireland.

As a result of their efforts a stone building then at the head of Princess Street was secured for the reception of widows and orphans. At that time Division Street was generally spoken of as the head of Princess Street, and as far as the present writer could determine the building secured was located at or near the site of the telephone offices.

Having inaugurated this charity, the society took steps to provide for the permanence of the institution as a place of refuge, as they, to further quote the secretary, depreciated the idea of casting out so many helpless beings to cling to a miserable and precarious mode of living about town in worthlessness, begging and vice, or to wander through the country. The members of the society were assisted by a committee of gentlemen, and undertook to devise means of employment for the inmates and promote the sale of articles made.

* * *
In the course of a few years the Female Benevolent Society collected funds, under Mayor Counter’s authority, for a House of Industry. This brought about the acquisition by the city of a stone building on the north side of Earl Street (present Nos. 303-305) with extensive grounds for garden cultivation. A superintendent was engaged to supervise the activities of the inmates, and at the same time a regular board of directors created to carry the responsibilities of management.

The institution remained at the Earl Street location for some 20 years, when it was removed to more suitable premises purchased by the city on Montreal Street. The building has been enlarged and improved as need required; and in 1887 a wing added as a Home for the Aged, the generous gift of the late Dr. Henry Skinner and members of his family.



House of Industry Kingston


The Female Benevolent Society, under a branch of their organization known as the Widows and Orphans Friend Society, also undertook the task of doing something definite for widows and orphans, apart from their interest in the House of Industry. Realizing that children should be segregated if good was to be accomplished, the ladies secured a small house as an orphans’ home, and placed a competent matron in charge.

In this manner the Home came into existence, with 12 children as inmates. A school, to which non-resident children were admitted, was conducted at the Home, the classes coming under the supervision of the Common School Board, in 1857, with a qualified teacher in charge. From board records extant, the school made as good a showing as any of the regular elementary public schools.

The small quarters soon became inadequate, so a block of land was purchased at the intersection of Union Street and University Avenue. Through the liberality of the citizens a more commodious institution was erected in the early 1860’s, where, as Miss Machar records, so many destitute children were succored, taught and cared for.

All the children were not a charge of the society. Many were paid for by mothers and fathers, who through necessity could not give them proper care, and consequently placed them in the Home where the best of supervision was provided.

In more recent years the Union Street property was sold to Queen’s University, to be converted into the Students’ Union. At that time Sunnyside was purchased and made use of.

The activities and accomplishments of the devoted members of the Female Benevolent Society are among the outstanding heroic achievements of Kingston’s history, deserving some form of permanent recognition even at this late date.






Clipped from The Brandon Sun13 Aug 1975, WedPage 2



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 and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)




ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

The Story of Jane Russell Gibson of Lanark County

The Caterpillar Plague of 1898

The Great White Plague

The Lost Island– Now You See it- Now You Don’t!



Photos by Linda Seccaspina


There are many ‘Lost Island’ stories in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Region. The First Nations people have tales of lost islands. Samuel de Champlain was a great cartographer yet he mapped huge islands where there are none. Do you think they could have sunk in the great earthquake of 1663?

Another ‘Lost Island’ story occurred after the American Civil War. It seems there was once an island near Alexandria Bay which disappeared under 20 feet of water—and no, it was not due to the St Lawrence Seaway but much earlier than that.

One day in the fall of 1823, an old hunter rowed out to an island where he found a dead man. He didn’t want to be accused of murder so he just buried the body and told no one. About four months later he rowed out to the area again but found no island. It had disappeared. That frightened the man so thoroughly that his son kept the story alive long after his death.


Photos by Linda Seccaspina

Story from Frontenac Arch Biosphere

In 1884 a tourist, hearing the story, decided to try to find the island. He saw an old woman paddling a canoe towards him and being the friendly sort, she invited him back to her island for tea. While there she showed him letters and other documents that told this story.

In 1820 she married a young soldier from Ogdensburg and they lived peacefully on one of the Thousand Islands. Later she learned he was a deserter but they were secure and happy on the island for years. Then, when they needed supplies, the man rowed to the mainland and never returned.

Two weeks later a man came to her island and said he was a friend of her husband’s. He promised to take her to see her husband who was ill in Ogdensburg.  She picked up her one year old son and went with him. Just off Alexandria Bay he stopped for water at a spring on the island. He grabbed her and tried to drag her into a hut. He then tried to kill her and said her husband had been shot by the army as a deserter. But she was in a fury over this and she shot him through the head.

She went on to Ogdensburg and found her husband was indeed caught, tried and executed. Friends of her husband helped restock her boat and she returned to her island home. On her return she went by the island where she killed the man and found it had disappeared.  Was it an earthquake? Did a cave fall in and collapse the island? No one knows.


Photos by Linda Seccaspina

The Sea Serpents of Lake Ontario


Monster eels, giant snakes, dragons and huge fish; every kind of scary sea creature has been spotted in the eastern basin of Lake Ontario.

in 1805 four local men were fishing between Kingston and Black Lake, now in New York State, when they saw an overturned rowboat. As they neared the boat it started coming towards them. They realized this was a giant snake and they rowed for their lives to the shallow waters along the shore where the snake patrolled the waters daring them to go out again. The men said the snake was 150 feet long with eyes the size of pint basins and a mouth ‘frightfully large and aspect terrible”, and it’s body as big around as a barrel.

Algonquin and Iroquois people told of a giant race of serpents or dragons in Lake Ontario. French explorers such as Pierre Radisson noted the presence of giant snake-like creatures in his diary.

In 1835 the crew of the Polyphemus reported seeing an eighty-foot snake in the waters off Kingston. In September 1881 a twenty-foot creature was spotted in the Rideau Canal by the crew and passengers of the steamer Gypsy.

The one-eyed “Kingstie” seen numerous times by Indians, early explorers and pioneers, basking off Snake and Wolfe Islands, was last seen in 1935.

So what is the explanation—too much ale? Eels migrating from the Atlantic and growing remarkably? Giant hoaxes? Let’s take a look at the last explanation.

In 1934 near Kingston, a quiet, calm evening on Cartwright Bay was shattered by screams of terrified bathers. A strange creature came out of the depths and was spotted for several weeks. Finally a group of adventurers went to do battle in a small boat. The creature reared its ugly head and one man with a rifle tried to shoot it but he forgot to bring ammunition. So the group rammed the creature with their boat and declared it to be dead. Unfortunately, its demise was miscalculated as it appeared again for most of that summer.

Thirty years later, three men who were at school in Kingston at the time confessed that they had made the monster with barrels filled with sealed empty bottles anchored to the lake bottom. They raised and lowered the head with a smaller rope. Perhaps Frosh Week could learn a thing or two from the past.

Myths & Legends