Tag Archives: Louis Riel

Stuck in Carleton Place April 8 1885

Stuck in Carleton Place April 8 1885




The story  on the experiences of J. Sid. Annable, formerly of Carleton Place, as a cook’s  flunkey in a lumber camp on the Upper Mississippi river in the early 1880s, made mighty interesting reading. This week Mr. Annable; tells an equally absorbing story about his exploits in Carleton Place  at the time of the Northwest Rebellion in 1885, a story which should prove memory-provoking to the dozens of volunteers who were snowbound at the Junction Town for several days on their way to do battle against Riel and his Indian cohorts.


Prefacing his story with a few facts leading up to the beginning of the long treck to the Western battlefield, Mr. Annable writes: “Colonel Otter mustered 500 of his soldiers and, with full field artillery and guns they were put aboard the train in Toronto bound for Winnipeg by way of Carleton Place, over the Canadian Pacific railroad. They left Toronto March 1, 1885, and arrived at Carleton Junction on March 3, In one of the worst blizzards Ontario has ever known. “The first section was snow-bound immediately on Its arrival,” said Mr. Annable. “Tom Bagley, yardmaster, got lost in the snow trvine to find sidings to store the (sufficient heat to warm the wooden coaches, a consequence of which was that the volunteers suffered greatly from the intense cold. “The snow was six feet deep on the level over the village and all trains were held up at this point for five days. Every foot of siding was utilized for the coaches.



This photograph was taken in Carleton Place during the 7th Fusiliers’ trip from London to Clark’s Crossing, N.W.T. in 1885.
Left of photograph – 1 Capt. Frank Peters 2 Major Wm. M. Gartshore 3 Capn Geo. M. Reid 4 Capt Frank Butler 5 Lieut. J.K.H. Pope 6 Lieut. Alfred Jones 7 Lieut. A.G. Chisholm

Left bottom – This Photo was taken April 8th, 1885 at Carleton Place while waiting for the train to take us to First Gap. Wm D. Mills Secty. 7th Fusiliers K.W.F.F. 1885.




The only Pullman car in the service was that which served as headquarters for Major Fred Middleton of the Queen’s Own Rifles, Colonel Otter and their officers. This was placed on a siding opposite the old C.P.R. station, two hundred yards from the railroad gates.

“After Yardmaster Bagley and his crew, composed of Andy Armour, Bill Carr, Tom Carter and Jack Annable. had maneuvered the snow plows around to clean the sidings, they put the coaches on the north bound sidings from the station to the railroad bridge which crosses the Mississippi below the rapids.

There were only two streets for crossing purposes in the lower part of the village commonly called Chiselville. McLaughlin’s crossing on Lake avenue and Annable’s. Our crossing was not used much as the traffic was light. Later they placed fifty coaches on these sidings. Regulars were stationed along the sides of the train to prevent volunteers leaving without passes. These privileges were few and hard to obtain. The writer’s home was only a hundred feet away, and as the men were calling for someone to run their errands. I decided to make myself useful. The snow was set and soft and I was the proud possessor of a toboggan and a team of dogs, the only ones in the village.

As the boys were calling for postcards, my first investment was one hundred penny postcards.- Before I had finished one coach I had sold my stock. Before night one was over all were in the village post office upwards of a thousand. I then bought writing paper, envelopes and stamps and sold them for ten cents a set. By this time I had realized fifty dollars on my original investment of one dollar.

After the second day I loaded my toboggan with pies, doughnuts, oranges and apples and drove them up and down between the snow-bound trains. As the food in the baggage cars was getting low I found ready buyers for my cargo. I worked from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and by the time the trains were ready to move on I had cleared over three hundred dollars.

The last day of his sojourn in Carleton Place Colonel Otter sent for me and asked me to go to the Bank of Ottawa for him. He gave me a large envelope covered with sealing wax, which I was to deliver to the. manager, John A. Bangs, and return immediately with an answer. Mr. Bangs told me afterwards that the envelope contained two thousand dollars.

When I returned Col. Otter invited me to Join the Queen’s Own Rifles. Owing to the fact, however, that my mother was sick in bed at the time, my father refused to give his consent. Later I went to Col. W. W. Wylie and Capt. Joe McKay of the 43rd Regiment of volunteers of our village and told them I wanted to get out to the West if I had to run away to do it. McKay refused to heed my plea; he sent for my oldest brother to take me home.

Mr. Annable then tells of preparations made by a companion whom he chooses to call Peck and himself to “make a break for it” in the spring. They had been outfitting for weeks. Early in April 1885 they hired Jim Simpson, who was buying turkeys for the New York market. For their trouble they received a pair of fine chickens, which Bob Raines rooked for them and which they put into their lunch basket the next day “within a stone’s throw of my home.” “

We put our food and all our possessions into a boxcar–chartered by a farmer going from Winchester to Brandon, Manitoba which was loaded with lumber, a team of horses and a milk cow. On the top of the lumber he had two beds and a small stove gave us all the heat we needed.

Our food lasted until we reached Winnipeg, where we left our friend. On the day of our arrival I obtained a job as clerk in the Clifton Hotel. The manager, Mr. Carter, allowed my chum to share my room with me for a week until he sot work in one of the elevators. When May came I was playing lacrosse with the old Winnipeg team, managed by Mr. Carter Jr. and I played under the assumed name of Green, from Ottawa, and got by under this alias until our first game of the season, when Pete McGregor of Carleton Place spotted me.

After the Ninetieth’s beat us I was given the air and also lost my job for impersonating Pete Green of the old Capitals. My pal and I parted and I went west to Regina where I met up again with Colonel Otter and the Queen’s Own Rifles. By this time they had captured Louis Riel and his Indian band; the trial was over and the rebellion was at an end. I continued west to Victoria and again played lacrosse with the old Victorias under my own name.

After the season was over I returned to Ontario and located in Oshawa. There I made the acquaintance of the late Ed. Baker, former sports editor of The Ottawa Citizen. We became fast friends. That friendship lasted until his death. I was responsible for getting Baker his first newspaper Job on the Toronto World.

There Eddie made a new friend in Tom Robinette, the great criminal lawyer of that period. After the Burchnell trial was over we returned to Toronto, Baker making his connection. I left them in 1908 and returned to Carleton Plare for a vacation. After the the summer was over and the fishing for bass was at an end. I went to Buffalo where I made good as a salesman.


From Gemmil’s Creek to the Riel Rebellion

From Gemmil’s Creek to the Riel Rebellion


Born 1838 September 21–Lanark, Upper Canada–In 1937 he was designated a Person of National Historic Significance

There is an old well documented story of two lads from Lanark Village that instead of attending school one day decided to play hooky and enjoy their swimming hole in Gemmil’s Creek. A coin was placed under a rock for safe keeping one day and the secret about their pact was kept between them for years.

Even though lives change it was always understood that the one who returned first should keep the coin. One of those boys became *Reverend Joshua Fraser and was a renowned Presbyterian man of the cloth and a friend of all the local shanty men until he died in a hotel fire in Sharbot Lake. Charley Mair, the other lad returned years later from living out west but he never did find the stone he and Josh hid.


Reverend Joshua Fraser and dog 1866- Public Archives-

Charley’s Dad James Mair emigrated to  to Upper Canada in 1830 and opened stores in Lanark Perth and Renfrew. With his growing sons he also profited in the timber trade in the Ottawa Valley. *Robert Mason was the stern Lanark schoolteacher that Mair and Fraser disliked but Mair flourished under Mason’s direction and decided to become a writer. The stern Lanark school teacher was described as a tall gaunt “beetle-browed” Scotsman. Unfortunately he thought that it was no use teaching arithmetic to girls but after some insistence he allowed them to learn for a few years.



Charles Mair (white hair) visiting family in the Benvoulin area–Circa 1921
Benvoulin, British Columbia-Credits: Kelowna Public Archives #3393

With his friend Josh off to learn the matter of holiness Mair’s parents insisted he become a doctor and the young man was one of the lucky ones sent to Queen’s University during Confederation. He stuck it out for one year but during that year instead of studying he composed a poem called *Dreamland and had it published in the Ottawa Herald in 1868. For Mair that was enough to convince him to leave university much to his parents dismay.

He and his words did not go unnoticed, and Honourable William MacDougal Minister of Public Works assigned him to gather information on the Hudson’s Bay Company and Mair wrote a series of articles for the Toronto Globe.  He immediately got caught up in the Riel rebellion, went west, and wrote stories for the Montreal Gazette surviving the hazards of prairie fires and buffalo stampedes.

Mair joined a small company of 70 Loyalists to resist the Riel followers and unfortunately he was caught with two others (Sir John Schultz and Thomas Scott). He was treated very badly but they allowed his wife of one year (Elizabeth MacKenney) to go home to friends.

One night the threesome escaped, but Scott was captured and brutally murdered. Mair assumed a disguise and escaped to Portage La Prairie. After the collapse of the rebellion the Lanark born man took his wife to Windsor but during the escape he had lost a manuscript with a  years work. His memory never recovered the writings and he became distraught.


Charles Mair’s Benvoulin store, later used as the Rutland Methodist Church
Circa 1910-1920–Rutland, British Columbia–Credits:Okanagan Historical Report #34, p.113–“Chas. Mair, Poet and Pioneer” by Art Gray

Disillusioned and disappointed he actually ended up producing one of his greatest poems Tecumseh regarded as one of the finest pieces of literature of Canada. In 1885 the rebellion rose up once more and Charlie Mair went west again and became a confident of the Indian warriors and plainsmen.

*Mair’s Mountain in the Madawaska range of Renfrew county was named after Charlie Mair journalist and poet. Charlie and Joshua never found the secret place of their boyhood, but I would like to think they return sometimes when the moonlight floods the valley and wonder where that coin went.



Read about Charles Mair- Wikipedia


Advertisement of lots for sale in the Benvoulin townsite & rooms for rent at the Benvoulin Hotel–June 1892–Benvoulin, British Columbia–Kelowna Public Archives
Vernon News, June 1892-There was a post office and a store, stocked with general merchandise, owned by noted Canadian poet, Charles Mair. Mair’s first store in the area was built in Kelowna in 1892, followed by the second store located at Benvoulin. Built in 1893, the Benvoulin store was operated by his son, Cecil Mairs.

*Joshua Fraser who was also part of the Lumbermen’s Mission was pleased to hear on his first Sunday at a local shanty to see 100 men turn out to sing *”The Old Hundred”. It was the most peaceful service he had ever preached at he said. -The Lumberjacks–By Donald MacKay

 - Riel Rebellion Veteran Dies in Winnipeg . I 1-...

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  10 Apr 1941, Thu,  Page 6

Shanty, forest and river life in the backwoods of Canada Paperback by Joshua Fraser


*Dreamland by Charles Mair–click here

Tececumseh: A Drama– click here


related reading

Ya call that a Snowstorm? Linda’s Mailbag

From Carleton Place to Fish Creek –North West Rebellion

*Robert Mason-school teacher-Lanark-– Robert was sent out to the In sue course stone school in Lanark $1 per pupil with the first immigrants in 1821. The first school was a log shanty (Paisley weavers) also began one of the earliest libraies in Upper Canada and those who used from 1824-1825 it paid six quarts of wheat each. He was also an elder in the auld kirk and kept it kirck free from the intruders of the new movement. The secessionists did not gain any ground in Lanark County at the time Mason was around

Charles Mair and Prince Albert--“The town of Prince Albert then was built on what was called the Porter property. Dr. Porter came in the year before from Nova Scotia and he started the town. St. Mary’s Church was there, and Bishop Mc- Lean erected the Emanuel College that year. There was a little town then, part of which had been built that summer. Jimmy Ashdown of Winni- peg and Tom Agnew had started a hardware store and a man named Smith had a tailor shop. We opened a store there too. There was a blacksmith named Plaxton, whose brother was afterwards a member of the Legislature. We also had a firm of contractors called Bishop & Coombs. Every- body cooked for himself. We were all bachelors. Down on the fiat was Charles Mair who had a store, and a little further was a man named Bill Delworth. Charles Mair was the poet and author of Tecumseh. The next house down close to the bank of the river was a log store kept by Stobbart & Eden. It was a store or trading post. The next building to that down the river was a shack with a thatched roof belonging to Sandy McBeth. It was about where Gilmore’s furniture store is now (1910). It was out on the line of the river where River Street now is. There was nothing back of the river front; the buildings were strung out along the river. Charley Mair was also the post master at Prince Albert. –THE PIONEER TOWN OF PRINCE ALBERT

Ya call that a Snowstorm? Linda’s Mailbag



Ottawa Citizen photo–

Workers attempt to clear a road near what is now Ottawa International Airport after a snowstorm

I got an email from Tim Findlay yesterday, and because I was so busy on Sunday I didn’t open my mail until this morning. Of course Monday was the day after the snowstorm. As the snow still falls I began to research his question about what year the train carrying the Riel rebellion troops were “marooned” by a big snow storm in Carleton Place.  Tim thought it might be sometime around 1885.


The Ottawa Sharpshooters returning from the North West Rebellion, July 1885. Photo taken at Smith’s Falls, ON. Source: LAC, Topley Series E, MIKAN No.


So I sent out a historical 911 to the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum and by the time I had finished typing out the note– I thought had found it. Feb. 26-27, 1887, when 56 cm of snow fell. It was considered such a piddling amount at the time — really — that the newspaper headline barely murmured the fact that: it was the worst storm in the history of railroading.

But Tim did have some basis to the year 1885 as I found another entry: in April of 1885  they received a squall that fully entombed Ottawa in 71 cm of snow. Okay all well and good but– did they have to deal with a plow leaving 3 ft mounds in front of our driveways?

Thank you Tim Findlay for inspiring yet another blog:)

Tim’s comment? 


please do not take this photo seriously.. this is just a parody


Special: Louis Riel Day 2013 Blizzard

Louis Riel Day was marked this year by a significant blizzard that brought much of the Red River Valley to a standstill. While snowfall was relatively light, with only 5–10cm reported in most localities (although a few pockets of 10–15cm did exist through the Southern portion of the Red River Valley), strong northerly winds that gusted as high as 70–80km/h produced blowing snow that gave whiteout conditions through most of the Valley.

Charles Mair and members of the Canadian Party (including fugitive Thomas Scott) at Portage la Prairie, enlist Major  Charles Arkoll Boulton to lead an attack against Upper Fort Garry. They march as far as Headingly, where they are stalled “3 or 4 days” by a blizzard that breaks out on the 11th of February 1901.

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 Hometown News

Related reading:

From Carleton Place to Fish Creek –North West Rebellion

Here’s to You Mrs. Robinson– A Snapshot Back in Time

Debbie Dixon and The CPR Bridge Incident in Carleton Place–Linda’s Mailbag

Linda’s Mailbag- Blasts from the Past

So Who Got Shot? Linda’s Mailbag

So Who Got Shot? Linda’s Mailbag

Click to read.. Clipped from The Ottawa Citizen, 24 Dec 1926, Fri, Page 2 ‘A Bloodless Head on Collision in Snowstorm at Franktown 1880

From Carleton Place to Fish Creek –North West Rebellion


Yesterday I wrote about the Fenian and Ballygiblin raids and I was upset how badly the soldiers were treated, not that anyone had a choice. Call me stupid- or I missed something in school, but I had no idea about the North West Rebellion in Saskatchewan until today when I read an article in the The London Advertiser  Newspaper Archives. Time to study up as I feel my brain must have been full of cat food and sadness to miss something like that.



Troops on the march, North West Rebellion, Qu’Appelle Valley, 1885

In April of 1885, Fred McCarthy of the No. 3 Company Seventh Fusiliers wrote in a letter to his Mother that he had endured more hardship than he ever did before in his life on the trip to Red Rock, Ontario. It was a miracle he said, that most of them did not perish from exposure while they travelled from Carleton Place to Red Rock on their way to battle in Saskatchewan. McCarthy wrote they received good meals until they reached the first gap at Dog Lake and then they had to live on *hardtack and tea that resembled dry leaves.


The Northwest Rebellion marked the first time Canada’s new army was used, and the first time Canada’s new trans-continental railway was used to transport some soldiers to the prairies. At a few of the CPR camps they were fed tainted pork beans and black bread.

The marching on the north shore of Lake Superior was in some of the wildest storms they could imagine. In some cases the wind was so fierce it picked up knapsacks out of the sleighs and whisked them clean out of sight over the lake.


Illustration of troops marching over the ice at Nepigon Bay, Lake Superior

The night Fred McCarthy’s regiment reached Superior Lake they marched out for almost a mile around midnight and were put inside the wrecked hold of a schooner. The ice on the floor of the hold was over a foot thick. There they laid themselves down in wringing wet clothing for a few hours sleep, but were constantly awakened  by the freezing air that seemed to cut through them like pins and needles.


When they awoke in the morning some of their clothing was frozen to the ice on the floor of the ship. Their particular regiment did not have the luxury of boarding a CPR passenger train, but instead filled flat cars the next morning. Those cars were roughly boarded around the sides and contained about a foot of snow on the floor of the car.There they endured the cold until they reached Saskatchewan which took 9 days. I can’t even begin to imagine.


Karen (whose own ancestor John Snow fought too) from the Lanark County Genealogical Society added:

Kippen, a surveyor from Perth was killed in one of those battles. Might have been the Louis Riel Rebellion though…don’t have my notes open at this moment. He has a huge – probably 20 foot tall monument in the Elmwood Cemetery in Perth, Ontario. I have started to write about him for the LCGS upcoming book Prominent People (title not confirmed)

  1. 2003-W. Kippen Monument —The monument to A. W. Kippen was finally put up in its place last week and is the most conspicuous object in Elmwood Cemetery. It consists of a plain massive pillar with sloping sides on a base which in turn is placed on a terraced platform. Both pillars and base are of Canadian grey granite.  Standing upon the monument proper is a sculptured figure of a Canadian volunteer in a white marble, a little under life size, keenly gazing toward a possible enemy.  The rifle is upright at his side and a field glass is grasped in his left hand.  On the granite podium appears the following inscription under the engraved coat of arms of Canada:

Lieut. Alexander W. Kippen                                      Intelligence Corp                                                            Born at Perth Aug. 1, 1857                                            Killed in action at Botoche, N.W.T. May 12, 1885

Erected in his memory by his fellow citizens, Masonic brethren and comrades in arms.


Battle of Fish Creek, North West Rebellion


The North-West Rebellion (or the North-West Resistance, Saskatchewan Rebellion, Northwest Uprising, or Second Riel Rebellion) of 1885 was a brief and unsuccessful uprising by the Métis people under Louis Riel, and an associated uprising by First Nations Cree and Assiniboine, of the District of Saskatchewan against the government of Canada. The Métis believed that Canada had failed to protect their rights, their land and their survival as a distinct people. Riel had been invited to lead the movement but he turned it into a military action with a heavily religious tone, thereby alienating the Catholic clergy, the whites, nearly all of the Indians and most of the Métis. He had a force of a couple hundred Métis and a smaller number of Indians at Batoche in May 1885, confronting 900 government troops.

Despite some notable early victories at Duck Lake, Fish Creek and Cut Knife, the rebellion ended when the Métis were defeated at the siege of Batoche. The remaining Indian allies scattered. Riel was captured and put on trial. He was convicted of treason and despite many pleas across Canada for amnesty, he was hanged. Riel became the heroic martyr to Francophone Canada and ethnic tensions escalated into a major national division that was never resolved.

Thanks to the key role that the Canadian Pacific Railway played in transporting troops, Conservative political support for it increased and Parliament authorized funds to complete the country’s first transcontinental railway. Although only a few hundred people were directly affected in Saskatchewan, the long-term result was that the Prairie Provinces would be controlled by the Anglophones, not the Francophones. A much more important long-term impact was the bitter alienation Francophones across Canada showed, and anger against the repression of their countrymen.–Wikipedia

Battle of Fish Creek

On April 24, 1885, at Fish Creek, Saskatchewan, 200 Métis achieved a remarkable victory over a superior government force numbering 900 soldiers who were sent to quell the rebellion. The reversal, though not decisive enough to alter the outcome of the war, temporarily halted Major General Frederick Middleton’s column’s advance on Batoche. That was where the Métis would later make their final stand. Fish Creek today lies abandoned.







Hardtack (or hard tack) is a simple type of cracker or biscuit, made from flour, water, and sometimes salt. Inexpensive and long-lasting, it was and is used for sustenance in the absence of perishable foods, commonly during long sea voyages and military campaigns. They were also called Molar Breakers.




This photograph was taken in Carleton Place during the 7th Fusiliers’ trip from London to Clark’s Crossing, N.W.T. in 1885.
Left of photograph – 1 Capt. Frank Peters 2 Major Wm. M. Gartshore 3 Capn Geo. M. Reid 4 Capt Frank Butler 5 Lieut. J.K.H. Pope 6 Lieut. Alfred Jones 7 Lieut. A.G. Chisholm

Left bottom – This Photo was taken April 8th, 1885 at Carleton Place while waiting for the train to take us to First Gap. Wm D. Mills Secty. 7th Fusiliers K.W.F.F. 1885.