Tag Archives: Media

Today’s Child Newspaper Column– Helen Allen

Today’s Child Newspaper Column– Helen Allen

I’m the one with the head down, we were from the Kenora area , taken by a CAS worker to Toronto . We were shortly fostered to south of Sarnia , than CAS decided to split us up and I was adopted and my younger siblings were adopted to another family. 

Photo only— Sent to me and used with permission from Deb

Written in 1974

Four-year-old Mark was born with neither arms nor legs. Doctors could offer no explanation for the overwhelming deformity and handicap. The distraught parents decided they could not provide adequate care and attention in the family set-ting. They felt perhaps an institution offered the best possible future in the circumstances. But Helen Allen drew him to the attention of readers of her newspaper column Today’s Child, and more than 50 couples offered to adopt him. Today Mark, now 6 and attending kindergarten, is happily settled in his new home with his adoptive parents and two older brothers and a. sister.

“The most satisfying experience of my life and the highlight of my career in adoptive work.” says Miss Allen of the adoption of Mark. Helen Allen is not given to extravagant speech, but she adds: “The past years been the most satisfying and exciting years of my life.” She’s referring to the time that she has presided oer the column Today’s Child w hich has been responsible for the adoption of thousands of children. Mark’s case, though remarkable, is only one of a series of miracles in placing children. Seven Ojibwa children from a broken family in the Brantford area will look back with gratitude on Helen. They were featured with the hope that they could be adopted as a unit.

The usually optimistic columnist confessed: “This is an im possible dream.” Impossi. bleor not it happened. Stan and Gwena Morrill, of Brantford, read of the seven children (three of them adopted). They sub-mitted the adoption proposal to their “family hour,” pointing out that the adoption of seven children would mean major readjustments and the cancellation of the planned holiday to Arizona. The unanimous vote was to proceed, Stan Morrill, who is On-tario director of Christian ‘ Education for the Church of Jesus Christ of I alter Day Saints (Mormon Church), simply stales: “We can’t reject a child in need.”

The column originated in response to a suggestion of Dr. James S, Band, then deputy minister of social and family services in Ontario, Andrew MacKarlane, then managing editor of the Toronto Telegram, agreed to a three-week trial run of a column which would acquaint the public with hard-to-place children available for adoption, “We assigned Helen to the job because she was probably the best reporter in the place.” recalls Mad ‘aria ne. The Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario were not enthusiastic with the announced project. Only three of the 55 societies in the province would have anything to do w ith it. Miss Allen managed to line up pictures of 23 children who were to be featured over the trial period. Eighteen of the 23 were soon adopted.

The first column appeared on June 6, 1964. Helen Allen fondly recalls that first child. “She was part Negro, a beautiful child, 15 months old, and perhaps her name Hope was prophetic. We got 40 letters for her within a week.” Hope quickly found a home. When the three weeki trial period ended, there could be no turning back, Today’s Child was to be a permanent newspaper feature, Then 10 ye;irs have witnessed a remarkable record. , Four sets of seven children have been adopted by non-relatives, 208 persons answered one plea for a family to adopt a group of seven sisters. And mentally challenged children have also found homes through the column. In 1972, nine were adopted, Recently the first child with Down’s Syndrome found parents.

Since the inauguration of Today’s Child, there has been a steady increase in the number of older children who have been adopted in Ontario. Of the 5,880 adopted in 1972. for. instance, more than 5 per cent were over a year old. The whole adoption picture in Ontario has been radically altered and improved in those 10 years. Now older children, handicapped children, and those with mixed blood are routinely adopted. Large family groups are adopted intact. Ontario Children’s Aid Societies have come to recognize Helen Allen as a friend. Mrs: Victoria Leach, Ontario Adoptive Coordinator and Miss Allen’s closest collaborator, is candid. ‘Helen Allen has led the way in showing that adoption is the responsibility not only of the social agencies hut of the community at large,” she sas.

No one knows exactly how many children have been placed through Today’s Child. An extensive 17-month survey revealed that one of every three couples who wrote to the column did adopt some child. Using that yardstick, it is conservatively estimated that the column had been responsible for placing 6,500 children by the end of 1973. In addition, of course, other couples were doubtless motivated to consider adoption through reading the daily column but proceeded to apply for a child without reference to it, The Toronto Telegram, for which Helen Allen worked 42 years, and which provided a home for Today’s Child for its first years, ceased publication.

At that time, the column appeared in 20 other papers in the province, The Ontario government recognied that the column must not die. The Ministry of Community and Social Services took over the column and newspaperman Helen Allen became an employee of the provincial government. Today’s Child now appears in 24 daily newspapers and 155 weeklies.

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada21 Apr 1981, Tue  •  Page 58

Helen Allen didn’t get married until last fall, by which time she was in her early 70s. Allen, as Citizen readers and hundreds of thousands of other people know perfectly well, is the woman who finds parents for Today’s Child. One estimate is that as a result of the column more than 12,000 children have been adopted since 1964. This is the second time Helen Allen has been Mother of the Year, but she figures the first one was a joke. “It was in Centennial Year, and Mike Pearson sent me a telegram complete with roses, but I still think some friends of mine put him up to it. He loved a good joke.”

No thought of retiring Both Allen and her husband, historian C. P. Stacey, continue with their work without so much as a nod in the direction of an official retirement age. Every working day finds her out on field work or in her office in the downtown quarters of the Ministry of Community and Social Services (children’s services). Charley Stacey, who will be 75 in July, is just as busy as his wife. He is the author of the popular A Very Double Life, a revelation of the off-beat personal life of former prime minister Mackenzie King, and this spring sees publication of the second volume of Stacey’s The Age of Conflict.

He is working on his memoirs, as well. Stacey was a widower for some years, and since Allen had been independent for most of her life, it seemed reasonable to wonder if there was a lot of adjusting to do when they began sharing the toothpaste. “We’re very lucky we have a place with two bathrooms,” Allen says. “So we have each taken possession of one. “However, last fall we did some travelling, and when we were in hotels, I must say I did think Charley made rather a muck of the toothpaste.” The age of tolerance “I think there’s something to be said for a later marriage,” Allen says. “Certainly you are more tolerant. You overlook things that at 18 or 22 would have had you flying off the handle.”

Does Charley Stacey share the cooking with his working wife? No way. “Charley likes to eat out, and I encourage him in it,” says his bride, The young Charley Stacey and Helen Allen dated occasionally in college, back in the late 1920s. Nothing serious. “Neither of us was left languishing, or anything like that,” she says. “He was ahead of me, and he married, went off to Oxford and Princeton. We lost touch.” Stacey, now a retired colonel, was in the army for 19 years, as official historian, before coming back to University of Toronto in 1959 to become a history professor.

They finally met again, after nearly 50 years, at a Varsity reunion. “I was with a cousin and another friend, and it was raining when we came out. Charley said he’d drive us to our car. “Later, when I called that cousin to tell her Charley and I were going to be married, I reminded her that it was all because of an umbrella. “I had left my umbrella in Charley’s car that day, and when he phoned later to say he had it, he asked me to lunch. . . .”

Today’s Child all began with a request to promote adoptions. It came from the Department of Welfare, which approached the managing editor of the Toronto Telegram, where Helen Allen worked for 42 years from her graduation in 1929 to the collapse of the Tely in 1971. “I was handed the assignment, and this was what we came up with. “There was considerable opposition from social workers at first. They felt it was too much like ‘selling’ children. “We planned to work closely with the Children’s Aid societies, but only three were prepared to take a chance at first: Toronto, Hamilton and Kenora. “We ran one column a day for three weeks 18 days. It was a real scramble to find enough children.

Actually, 23 youngsters were shown in those first three weeks, and 18 were adopted. “We took the summer off, on the assumption that people weren’t likely to undertake anything as critical as adoption in the summer.” There was an election coming up, too, and Allen, who had been a political reporter, was needed back on the beat. Today’s Child resumed in November. “For six weeks, they told me. That was 1 7 years ago.” Helen Allen smiles. “Out of every three letters we get, we figure there is one adoption. Not necessarily of the child inquired about in the letter, but the spark is activated.”

Allen sees and talks with as many of the children as possible, as well as with social workers, foster parents and the potential adoptive parents. “You never know what will trigger the adoption. The couple who have specified ‘a little girl, not over three,’ see a 13-year-old boy and the chemistry is right.” Did she ever consider adopting one of Today’s Children herself? “Certainly if this kind of thing had been going on when I was young, and if single parents were being considered, yes, I would have. “We have a single-parent adoption in the works right now. A single father. We have a boy who has said specifically that he wants a dad, and we’ve got some terrific ones!”

Allen has six godchildren, including two of Today’s, and has sponsored children through the Canadian Save the Children Fund. She sees no end to the need for a service like Today’s Child: “Babies, of course, are scarce, but there will always be children needing parents.” It’s because she has helped so many children and parents find one another that on April 28 the Pioneer Women of Toronto will present her with a plaque that acclaims her Spiritual Mother of the Year

Adoption crusader Helen Allen died in Toronto on Nov. 9, 2006 at the age of 99.

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa JournalOttawa, Ontario, Canada01 Sep 1967, Fri  •  Page 29

Today’s Child — A Look Back

Newspaper Columns of the Past- Today’s Child- Helen Allen

A Day With Children’s Aid in “Squatter’s Paradise” Tunney’s Pasture

Adoption 1960’s Style –MJ Whittaker

 Social Notes and Love for Community Newspapers — Linda Knight Seccaspina

 Social Notes and Love for Community Newspapers — Linda Knight Seccaspina

 Social Notes and Love for Community Newspapers —Linda Knight Seccaspina

Yesterday I was looking for information in newspaper archives about a local cave I will be writing about, and ended up reading years of local social columns. Who knew that after decades some of the old Eastern Townships social columns would be posted for the world to see.

They were all from small local newspapers: The Sherbrooke Daily Record, “The News and Eastern Townships Advocate ” and the “Granby Leader Mail”. These social notes found their way into all the newspapers on small bits of paper – typed or handwritten, and at times with very odd spelling.

Here are some I found about my family:

 “Mr. and Mrs. Arthr Knight with their little girls, Linda and Robin spent a week’s holiday in Montreal.”

Actually, it was just another week in 1961 for my mother to see the specialist, Dr. Gingras at the Darlington Rehabilitation Centre in Montreal. My father decided to bring us along to give her something to smile about. She played the piano one day in the common room and I danced around to the “Waltz of the Flowers”. Several Thalidomide afflicted kids came in to enjoy the music and my bad dancing.

One tried to dance with me, gracefully waving her hands that were somewhere near her armpits. I stopped in shock, and my mother glared at me. I took off my black Mary Jane shoes and gave them to the girl as I knew she had admired them. She was my hero, and so were all the other afflicted kids in the Darlington Rehabilitation Centre. That was the day I learned to respect everyone no matter what — as we are all the same.

“The Brownies closed their season of 1959 with a Doll Exhibition at the Parish of Nelsonville Church Hall.”

The paper said that Judy Clough and Linda Lee Pratt won out of the 30 entries. My beautiful Miss Revlon doll did not even place. Seems the second judge ratted to the others that my mother had sewn the doll dress. I never forgot that lesson. Don’t lie about doing things you never did.

“Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Knight held a party last Saturday night at their lovely home on Albert Street in Cowansville.”

What they did not read is that Linda Knight, their daughter, could not sleep. She joined the party and sat in a circle of adults as they played a sort of musical chairs with a huge bag of women’s underwear. When the music stopped, the one holding the bag had to put on whatever they picked out. Did I mention they were blindfolded?

What was that all about?

There was also no mention of the woman that had way too much to drink and had sat on the open window sill. Somehow she fell out of the window into the bushes below with a paper plate of pineapple squares in her hand.

After all these years I have learned never to divulge a name and am eternally grateful I have never fallen out of a window while eating squares.

“Mr. and Mrs. Murray Wallet and their children Sheila and Gary spent a week at their summer cottage in Iron Hill.”

I used to love going to my best friend’s cottage. It stood in all its glory partially hidden by lilac trees. There isn’t a week that does not go by that I don’t think of it.

There are nothing but wonderful memories of walking along the stream that came down from the mountain top. We also used to make evening gloves on our arms with the mud from the hole in the earth that was called their swimming pool.

We toasted marshmallows and hot dogs in a bonfire, while the fireflies buzzed around us. To get water we had to shake the hose that ran up the hill to the underground water source. We were always unsure if a bear was going to pop out. The best of it all was sitting inside sipping cocoa, and laughing at stories while the rain pounded down on the tin roof.

No amount of descriptive words in any newspaper could do it justice.

To this day I still remember and will never forget. Some memories are meant to never be forgotten.

Professor Beth Garfrerick from the University of Alabama wrote a thesis on how social information was distributed through the ages. I read a lot of small town newspapers from the past on a daily basis to try and get bits of information to piece community history together. Contrary to what some believe, it takes hours, and sometimes days, to get something interesting enough to entice readers.

A lot of my historical information comes from what Ms. Garfrerick calls “Ploggers”. Those were the local “newspaper print loggers” who played an important role in recording births, deaths and everyday happenings. If these were not online I could not write these community stories. But, I was pleased as punch that Professor Beth Garfrerick quoted me on page 12 of her thesis:

Canadian blogger Linda Seccaspina believes that small-town newspapers continue to publish the news that most residents of those communities want to read. She wrote, “Who does not want to know who got arrested at the local watering-hole or whose lawn-ornaments are missing that week? Even though large newspapers are losing money, the local weekly small-town newspapers still manage to survive. Why? Because the local population depends on their weekly words and supports them.”

This year my New Year greetings include the support for the Sherbrooke Record. It’s an honour to write for the same newspaper my family read when I was a child. One of the biggest differences between larger newspapers  and community journalism is that the staff have to face its audience every single day. Feedback is immediate. A community without a small newspaper is nothing more than a local media desert, and sadly there isn’t one that isn’t struggling economically. 

So, in this coming year of 2023, buy a subscription to your community newspaper where you live. Like the Sherbrooke Record I write for– place an advertisement, tell a business you read about them in your community newspaper. Engage with your newspaper and tell the politicians that our local press is a priority. There is no substitute for a local newspaper that has been doing its job for all the Eastern Townships population for generations and generations. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Happy New Year and see you in 2023. Can’t wait!

There is no substitute for a local newspaper that has been doing its job for all the Eastern Townships population for generations and generations. PLEASE support them.

The History of the Sherbrooke Daily Record– click

The Sherbrooke Record

6 MallorySherbrooke, QuebecJ1M 2E2

Record archives pulled from the flood


Let’s face it, most everyone went to High School and somehow it doesn’t matter what you did and where you were, everyone pretty well has similar memories. Thoughts about growing up, music, the clothes, and your fellow classmates in the 50’s to the late 60’s are not just for class reunions. There isn’t a day that does not go by that I don’t have flashbacks like in the film Peggy Sue Got Married.

This book would not have been written had it not been for the former students of Heroes Memorial and Massey Vanier in Cowansville, Quebec, Canada joining together on Facebook to create these memories. It was nothing but joy for me to compile these bits of conversation and add some of my own stories to do some good for the school.

Proceeds from this book will go to either a breakfast or anti-bullying program at Heroes Memorial and this book is dedicated to every single one of you that lived in my era, because you know what? We rocked!

The Day After Halloween in Almonte –1979

The Day After Halloween in Almonte –1979

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada02 Nov 1979, Fri  •  Page 43

1979— Ottawa Citizen

ALMONTE Officials from Arnprior to Pembroke say senseless destruction is fast becoming a new valley sport. Chronic vandalism of the type seen in Almonte Halloween night is reaching epidemic proportions, especially in towns without a local police force. In Pembroke, police Sergeant Versil Young said a report and slide show is being prepared by police on the subject an attempt to graphically illustrate the thousands of dollars damage done in recent months. “We’re investigating one case where vandals broke into a house under construction. We think the damage is about $5,000. They did $1,000 to $1,500 damage to the doors of the house alone. And then they threw paint all over the stained wood exterior.” The report blames parental indifference, citing cases of tire-slashings, rocks through windows, a vehicle pushed into a river and other instances of damage to homes. Smaller towns and villages depending on the Ontario Provincial Police for protection are also experiencing sharp rises in vandalism, and extra constables are being hired on weekends in some communities. Other communities outside the Upper Ottawa Valley, however, say they have vandalism in hand. “We have a problem, but . . it is not of major proportions,” said Kemptville Mayor Harry Coulter. Vankleck Hill Mayor Aurele Fournier and Carleton Place Mayor Ted LeMistre echoed Coulter’s statements.

“Vandalism here is a very minor problem,” said LeMaistre. We have good co-operation between police and teenagers.”

Fournier said there is “really nothing serious” in Vankleek Hill, adding everyone knows everyone else and people work “for the good of the community.”

But in Almonte today the intersection of Mill and Bridge streets bears post-Halloween battlescars of 200 masked teenagers who pitched rocks, paint, bottles, pig manure and eggs at the storefronts. A bulldozer had to be used to remove what one policeman called “one hell of a mess.” “There is really nothing serious here,” saidTom Baker is considering boarding up his store next Halloween or “clobbering the kids responsible.” He has to replace two large windows and the door at his combination jewelry and florist shop.

He shakes his head in wonder at the police and parents who condoned the annual event to the extent that they watched the rampage from cars parked nearby. The conclusion of the kids interviewed in the school yard? “A great time was had by all.” Baker and his business neighbor George Charos who closes his restaurant early every Halloween and flees the neighborhood say they haven’t actually filed a complaint with the local OPP detachment Concedes Charos: “We depend on the town” for business.

According to Almonte High School vice-principal J.L. Bridge, none of the rabblerousers are his students. Bridge didn’t go near the downtown area Wednesday evening. Handing out candy to the children in his subdivision was a “beautiful experience,” he said. Several students milling around high school corridors Thursday openly admitted that although the uproar may have been “a little extravagant at least it was something to do.”

Students say everyone contributed to the event-farmers made their pig manure and chicken heads available and young people poured it into baggies so it could be hurled. For most of the yougsters interviewed, the real problem is boredom. “We don’t have a pool and we don’t have a theatre; and there is a $1 cover charge to eat at the Superior restaurant,” said one student “If we only had a bowling alley, or something …”

Jack Mundcn, who heads the OPP detachment agrees: “The municipality should be providing something else for the youth to do.” He said the best the police officers can hope to do is contain all the activity “if we dispersed the crowd it would move into the suburbs.” “They are all wearing masks. You can’t arrest them, or charge them with disturbing the peace. The law says you can only ask them their names, you can’t ask them questions unless parents or a lawyer are present Mundcn said the appointment of another police officer is imminent “but even if we had 10 cops ‘-would you get out of your car in that crowd?”‘

CLIPPED FROMThe Sun TimesOwen Sound, Ontario, Canada02 Nov 1979, Fri  •  Page 14

Your description of the town of Almonte on Halloween last was one of the examples of irresponsible journalism that leads people to lose all trust in the printed page. It may sell papers in Ottawa, but it does little credit to your paper in this Valley town. There were not 400 masked rowdies on main street! The police tell me there were 73 at most and not masked rowdies. There were no hordes of parents cheering them on to further destruction: in fact the streets were clear by 11 p.m., and the police report one of the quietest Halloweens on record.

There were some of the traditional hijinks of that particular night a bonfire in the middle of the street (carefully watched by members of our fire department), and the throwing of eggs. There was damage to four store windows, and that is certainly not acceptable but I would point out that this was all localized to one part of main street. The rest of the town was quiet, with no reported incidents.

Rev. Harry H. Brown St. Paul’s Anglican Church Almonte, Ont.

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada17 Nov 1979, Sat  •  Page 7

Almonte Gazette November 1,1979

A handful of irresponsible youths managed to give Almonte an enormous black eye in the Ottawa press last week as a result of damage caused on Halloween night. The usual Halloween shenanigans such as egg throwing and the lighting of a bonfire at the corner of Mill and Bridge streets got out of hand about 11:30 Wednesday night when windows were smashed in four Mill Street businesses and paint was splattered on at least two store fronts. 

A crowd of youths, estimated at its peak about 11 o’clock at 50, quickly scattered following the window breaking incidents and the scene was practically deserted when police showed up moments later. And so ended a night of Hallowe’en vandalism that was widely reported by an Ottawa newspaper and a television station. Town Clerk, Bob France even received a telephone call Thursday from a Halifax radio station inquiring about the reports of damage.

Even though the reports were blown way out of proportion, it does not diminish the seriousness of the situation. Property damage was estimated at $2,000. Windows, including plate glass were broken in Baker’s Jewellery and Flowers, the former Milady Beauty Salon next door,Morton’s Variety and the Superior Restaurant. 

Baker’s and the Superior always seem to be in the line of fire and the owners are totally frustrated over the endless stream of vandalism to which they have been subjected. An 18-year-old was charged Monday with willful damage inconnection with one of the incidents, according to Almonte O.P.P. No names have been released as similar charges are pending against other persons. 

All officers of the Almonte O.P.P. detachments were on duty Halloween night, along with members of the Almonte Fire Department who were called out on seven occasions to extinguish fires. 

The most serious of these destroyed a barn at the farm of Clarence Timmons at Lot 27, Concession 12, Ramsay Township. Also lost in the blaze were 1200 bales of hay and disc harrows. The alarm came in about 11:20 Wednesday night. Old tires were set on fire at various points in town and firemen extinguished a blaze that was started in the front seat of an older model car parked at the back of Smithson Motor Sales on Mill Street. A wooden garbage bin, apparently removed from the back of a Mill Street building, added fuel to the tires and other refuse that created the bonfire on Mill Street. 

Youths began gathering at the “pool room corner” about 7:30, as they almost always do on Hallowe’en, in anticipation of the battle of eggs, tomatoes and other missiles that get thrown at almost everything that moves in that area on Halloween. 

Strangely enough, all of the damage and mess was confined to one small area. Most of the other businesses on Mill Street were left untouched. One thoughtful person even brought several bags of hog manure as ammunition this year. Much of it found its way into police cars, fire trucks and store show windows before the night was over. 

The Fire Department vehicles didn’t escape unscathed. An egg striking one of the trucks removed paint and lettering from a door and an auxiliary tanker owned by Drummond Bros, and loaned to the Fire Department was bombarded, resulting in a cracked windshield. Damage was estimated at $400. Town work crews were on the job early Thursday morning cleaning up the mess.

Visitors to the Fairview Manor… 1979

November 28,1979 Almonte Gazette Page 1

A local teenager has been charged in connection with the vandalism that occurred in downtown Almonte last Halloween night. Charged with causing wilful damage is Steven Arthur Maynard, 18, of 132 Queen Street. Police say the charge arises out of an incident Halloween night in which paint was thrown on two Superior Restaurant windows. 

In addition to the usual Halloween hijinks this year, such as egg throwing and the lighting of a bonfire at the corner of Mill and Bridge Streets, windows were smashed in four Mill Street businesses and paint was splattered on at least two store fronts. It was reported at this month’s town council meeting that it cost the town $170 to have the Hallowe’en mess, left behind by the approximately 150 young people who congregated at the pool room corner, cleaned up. 

The 170 dollars does not include the cost of repairing those store fronts damaged during the Halloween madness. The damage was estimated at about $2,000. The Almonte Lion’s Club have set up a committee to look into the possibility of holding a major dance next year on Halloween night to give the teenagers something to do for excitement other than standing on the street corner. The president of the Lion’s Club, Carl Sadler, said the club would like to make it a town project involving other local  groups and organizations. He said the club will need the support of the other organizations to be able to afford a good drawing band to attract the teenagers.

The spirits of Halloween roamed freely in Almonte this week, but for the most part they were the spirits of youth and goodwill. The half-anticipated destruction that took place last year, in which store windows were broken, a car burnt, and an unruly mob tyrannized Mill Street, never materialized. Apart from a few isolated incidents of soaped windows, paint splashed on cars, this Halloween was one of the quietest Almonte has seen for several years. Five members of the Ontario Provincial Police were on duty that night, with two police cars cruising the town. Corporal O ’Connor, on duty in the police station that night, did not receive any requests for assistance. Four firefighters also remained on duty at the fire station, while others also cruised the town Some incidents of vandalism were reported, however. 

The window in the door of the L C B O outlet on Queen Street was broken, to the tune of about $175. Someone kicked and damaged a storage shed at Becker’s on Ottawa Street. Police said the damage, which was repairable, was not serious. The front window of the house owned by Almonte high school principal Douglas Kilpatrick was also broken, at an estimated cost o f $165. The front window of Baker’s

Jewellery store on Mill Street was also cracked. Several youths caroused around town, tossing eggs and apples, and sawdust. 

A number of small bonfires were lit, and at the corner of Mill and Bridge streets, a small group lit smoke bombs made of saltpeter and sugar. Meanwhile, the community dance, featuring the rock band *Metagenesis, entertained about 350 youngsters throughout the evening at the arena hall. Sponsored by the Lions and Civitan clubs, the town o f Almonte, and the Business and Professional Association, the event was organized by high school student Cherri Campbell. It remained the centre of activity for most of the evening, breaking up finally about 2 am. November 1980

*METAGENESIS were a Canadian Hard Rock quartet formed in Arnprior, Ontario in 1971. Read more here.. click

Council Chamber Fight- Walls Spattered in Blood

The Ongoing Fight of Rooney’s and Karl’s Grocery — Part 2

Carleton Place Fights Racism 1963

The Seven-Barrelled ‘pepper box’ Revolver — Rosamond Fight — July 1875

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa JournalOttawa, Ontario, Canada03 Nov 1898, Thu  •  Page 2

So When was the First Santa Claus Parade in Carleton Place?

So When was the First Santa Claus Parade in Carleton Place?

I can recall going to the Legion when it was located on Bridge Street (where Bennett’s Butcher Shop was on the east side, next to Dr. Johnston’s.  We’d see a movie and then get a paper bag with hard candy and an apple (and/or orange) in it from Santa. That would be in the 1950s.
Wendy LeBlanc —Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Read- Memories of Carleton Place — The Roxy and Marilyn Monroe


saintsaa (2).jpg

Photo from the Carleton Place Canadian Files from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

From Rob Probert: 1962 makes sense to me as that is when Eldon Henderson started the Marching Saints. And I know that the band was responsible for the parade for some time.  I can’t say with any accuracy as I only moved to CP a couple of years before that. The Santa Claus float was kept in his backyard for years. The arena candy sounds about right to me.  I know at some point it was in the town hall as well… for sure when I was president of the Chamber and then it moved to the Bank of Nova Scotia where crowd control was easy—in and out the back door.

The CP Board of Trade Board went silent for a long time so if they had previously sponsored a parade it would have been dormant until Eldon started it back up…likely with the help  of Lawrence Donnelly.


Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum



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  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 24 Dec 1963, Tue,
  3. Page 38



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  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 25 Nov 2009, Wed,
  3. Page 31



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  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 18 Nov 1995, Sat,
  3. Page 113



Jeremy Stinson Dad, John Stinson mentioned that Wayne Conley and many members of the Lions were in this float and the ‘Captive’ was from the ‘Rich’ RBC float…
Dad would have to explain more…
For the record, my Dad is Little John.



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  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 02 Dec 1975, Tue,
  3. Other Editions,
  4. Page 2


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  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 25 Nov 1974, Mon,
  3. Main Edition,
  4. Page 4





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  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 20 Nov 1972, Mon,
  3. Other Editions,
  4. Page 3


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  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 25 Nov 1986, Tue,
  3. Other Editions,
  4. Page 8



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  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 09 Nov 1962, Fri,
  3. Page 33


Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 24 Nov 1978, Fri,
  3. Other Editions,
  4. Page 3
  1. 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.
    1. relatedreading

A Collection of Lanark County Home Movies (parades)

It was 1967–a Centennial– Parade Slides from Wendy Healey–Armstrong Family

When You Fall Over in a Parade Float

Carleton Place Loves a Parade!

Santa Claus Parade Photos—Photography –John Rayner 2009 2015

Carleton Place Santa Claus Parade Photos

Santa Claus Parade Photos–2010– 2012 2014 –Michael Gauthier-Freedom Photography

Santa Claus Parade 2015 — Photos- Bob McDonald

Carleton Place Santa Claus Parade 2007

The Carleton Place Santa Claus Parade 2003

Carleton Place Christmas Parade 1987

The Night Santa Claus Came to Town – Holiday Parade Photos! 2012

Carleton Place Loves a Parade!

Photos of the Orange Parade Almonte 1963 — Name that Band?

When the Saints Marched Down Bridge Street?

When the Saints March By Howard Johnsons

What Happened to John Liddle?

More Photos and NOW Music! Memories of the Carleton Place Marching Saints

Memories of Carleton Place — The Roxy and Marilyn Monroe

Carleton Place 1940’s —- The Popularity Contest


The Carleton Place Halloween Parade 1958 –Lorraine Nephin

Last Night I Saw Someone I Loved at the Halloween Parade

Carleton Place Cabbage Patch Doll Parade 1984

1977 Carleton Place Parade– Who Do You Know?

Almonte Topics Back in 1893 June 6th

Almonte Topics Back in 1893 June 6th


Members of the Almonte Cricket Club in front of the current lawn bowling clubhouse. Date, members and occasion unknown. The Millstone

‘The Almonte cricketers played their scheduled game at Arnprior with the club of that town on Saturday. Our club won easily, the score being 108 for Almonte, and 49 for Arnprior.

Mr. Robert Barnett is paying a visit to his old home and friends in this neighborhood. He is now a prosperous builder in Duluth. Rumor says he will be accompanied on his return by one of Ramsay’s fairest daughters.

Another old Almontor, dame rumour says, will shortly come from Kansas, and another from the far Northwest, on the same errand.




Washburn’s circus, which exhibited here lately, was a poor affair, but the sharpers connected with it found the usual number of fools around town ready to part with their money.

Mrs. Coates and her daughter Birdie returned home a few days ago from California, after a sojourn of two years in the Golden State.




Miss Minnie McDonald, who has for some time been engaged in *mission work in British Columbia, returned last week in very feeble health.  In California for some months, the climate did not agree with her, and so she was obliged to return home.


Image result for cpr almonte

The new train arrangements on the C.P.R. are not as good as the people would like to see, However, one redeeming feature is that it brings us the “Citizen” at a very early hour in the day.

Mr. Edward Leyden left here for Sherbrooke.where he has secured a good position in the large woollen mill.




  • Mission work-The earliest reserves in Canada appear to have been established on seigneurial holdings by Catholic missionary orders and private persons



A sports venue in Almonte
1900 Almonte- Community Memories

Almonte Cricket Club
Cricket was very popular and evidence of the Almonte Cricket Club dates to 1862. The Express, predecessor of the Gazette, our local newspaper, reported numerous cricket related details:

May 9th 1862 Express
Almonte Cricket Club rolling and sodding of the pitch with play to be held twice a week, invitation to new members opening game of the season to be May 17, 1862. Also an advertisement for a meeting of the Almonte Cricket Club.
The cricket grounds were at that time located at the rear of the B&O Railway Depot (Brockville and Ottawa Line)

Friday May 30th 1862 Express
“The Queen’s Birthday – Saturday last was generally observed in this village as a public holiday… About 10 o’clock a.m., the Cricket Club turned out for a practice on the cricket ground where they remained until noon. At 2 o’clock pm they returned, but having no other club to play against them, not even the “All England Eleven”. Sides were chosen and a match was played between themselves, creating a good deal of excitement and amusement among the large number of spectators on the ground.”

Friday May 28th, 1870 Almonte Gazette
“The 24th – Queen’s Birthday – A greater crowd went to Arnprior where a great deal was to see. A procession of firearms, games, footraces and free whiskey made the morning interesting. While the afternoon was filled by lacrosse, cricket and the “TERRIBLES”. Altogether the celebration in Arnprior was very creditable to the managers.


Information 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.


Social Note Shenanigans from the Almonte Gazette June 1899

Downtown Almonte 1891 — Thumb Biters Skaters and Widows

It Raineth Every Day in Lanark County–Social Notes–July 30, 1897

The Funniest Anti-Dog Letter to the Editor–Almonte Gazette

Tips From the Almonte Gazette “Travel Section” 1874

Renfrew The Creamery Town 1900

Renfrew The Creamery Town 1900




Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  17 Nov 1900, Sat,  Page 14


RENFREW,ONTARIO by du_uuh, via Flickr



MCNAB Township ( Renfrew County ) DIRECTORY – 1851 

A Township and Village in the County of Renfrew , C.W. Population of the Township about 1500.


MORRIS, JAMES, postmaster and county registrar

Bourke, Edward, innkeeper

Devine, Mathew, shoemaker

Dickson, Robert, weaver

Frazer, Rev. S., Church of Scotland

Henderson, Archibald, weaver

Forrest, John, weaver

Leckie, David, innkeeper

McNab , D.C. , school teacher

Martin, John, lumber merchant

Mackie, David, carpenter

Morris, Peter, & Co., general store

Morris, William, lumber merchant

Morris, James, jun., town reeve

Neil, Nicholas, cooper

Rochester , George, miller

Rochester , William Y., general store

Sutherland, John, tailor

Stewart, Allan, township clerk

Wright, Nathaniel, innkeeper


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)




Heritage Renfrew

The Directory of Renfrew

Are These Memories Just for Ourselves? — The Family in a Box

I Saved the Lives of 29 Men That Day

The House at Sand Point


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The Hysteria and Overbooking of Hayley’s Comet 1910

The Hysteria and Overbooking of Hayley’s Comet 1910




If you read *When The Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror! you will remember three young ladies residing in a house in one end of Carleton Place. They were suddenly awakened at 3 am that night in May of 1910 by the cries from the town fire and the illumination of the sky. The women thought that Halley’s Comet had passed that night and had produced the end of the world.

The three rushed outdoors in their night clothes waving their arms and crying in despair. They thought it the end of the time was near. It took awhile to get the ladies under control and understand what had really happened. No doubt they had read the newspapers that very day about the coming of Halley’s Comet.




For weeks international and local newspapers literally terrorized their readers. Over 500 Italians in Little Italy in New York fell to their knees in prayer that night when they saw the ball of flame bearing down on them in the sky. In New Jersey locals took the whole day off work to pray in their local churches for their salvation. Fraudsters hawked anti-comet pills, with one brand promising to be “an elixir for escaping the wrath of the heavens,” while a voodoo doctor in Haiti was said to be selling pills “as fast as he can make them.” Two Texan charlatans were arrested for marketing sugar pills as the cure-all for all things comet, but police released them when customers demanded their freedom. Gas masks, too, flew off the shelves.



The whole performance took five hours that night while the Carleton Place fire raged. On the bridges of Ottawa and on rooftops people gathered and some educators carried bottles so they could contain some the atmosphere for future analysis.  The world’s greatest scientists assured everyone that no harm would befall and their analysis could not be foretold, but it was concluded that there was no cyanogen gas from the tail of the comet that they were fearful of. Local bartenders were telling their patrons to drink half water and half alcohol and that was an antidote if they breathed any cynogen gas from the meteor. Local farmers removed their lightening rods from their homes and barns fearful of dangerous light flashes and substances that might accompany the comet.

Folks got real creative with their anxiety. It didn’t help that a few months earlier, The New York Times had announced that one astronomer theorized that the comet would unceremoniously end life as we know it. The Associated Press warned their readers they had observed two rather large black spots on the sun and solar eruptions were viewed and spread even more hysteria.

In the end there was no collision, and no drastic effects and life went back as we know it. That night as part of Carleton Place burned down few thought of Hailey’s passing comet except for the girls near Townline and the visibility of Halley’s Comet at the birth and death of Mark Twain was nothing “an exaggeration.”


I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: “Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.”
 Mark Twain, a Biography


Some of our citizens claim to have seen the comet Friday night.
There is nothing wrong with their eyesight–Almonte Gazette- May 27 1910


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.



When The Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror!

When The Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror!- Volume 1- Part 2


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Americans? Moving to the Land of the Flee?




How to “move to Canada” Google searches have skyrocketed since Donald Trump’s Super Tuesday performance yesterday. Media has also reported that the Canadian Government’s website was experiencing technical difficulties around the time of the search spike, though it is not known whether the two incidents were connected.

Did I also mention that Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz threatened to move back to Canada in the event he is elected President of the United States?

“America’s voters are telling us they want an outsider as president. Therefore, if I am elected as your president I will move to Canada to be as outside as I can get,” said Cruz.

This Presidential race has become a side show circus and I have never witnessed such a shabby list of political candidates running for President. In all the debates and news media attention, all I’ve heard is how much each of them can bash each other or run each other down. Really?

The American population is sucking it up like hungry babies drinking warm milk, and the news media dutifully reports every whimper and word with flashing banners and glaring headlines. Personally, I’d rather vote for my neighbour’s cat as the next President instead of any of the candidates I see running. Did I mention he is a Siamese cat too?

People need a reality check before burning bridges. As I have stated before--you cannot simply “move to Canada” or pretty much any first world country, because these countries have much more stringent immigration requirements. This means you need to have a REAL job offer or proof of income and assets that would be sufficient to keep you off any kind of social services that country provides for its citizens.


Now CNN has dispatched a crew to Cape Breton in Canada to find out what the island has to offer Americans considering leaving the United States if Donald Trump wins the presidency. Hell of a time to invite someone–right in March with spring break and all. Why not build a direct tunnel from Mexico to Canada? We can even have way stations with Starbucks and Ben And Jerry’s along the way. Cape Breton is a wonderful place. Scenery beautiful, people great–just one recommendation – Glenora Whisky needs to lower its price a wee bit so we could enjoy more of it.

Are these protesting Americans serious? Last night one of my American friends emailed me saying he passed the online practice test on Canadian Citizenship. He says he doesn’t own any guns and knows when to insert an extra “u” into words. He mentioned his great-grandparents immigrated from Canada and wonders if there is a there a “Law of Return” that he might qualify under? He told me to mention he also plays hockey and is a hell of a goalie.

If Trump becomes president Americans are more than welcome to try to come to Canada. I have a little extra room in my garage and there is poutine for all. Do you really want to immigrate to Canada? Join an NHL team, like the rest of them:)

Related Reading:

So You Want to Move to Canada Eh? — Written at the Carleton Place Tim Horton’s

Rocking the Casbah –When “Breaking News” Doesn’t Listen



Image created by Sarah Cavanagh from Discover Carleton Place


There is no doubt that things are not like it used to be–there are lots of things that keep us all apart now. Personal lives, our home and hobbies, and hooked up to mass media. Now we seem to have precious little time or inclination to reach out or to engage with the place where we live. Of course this is not healthy for communities, and humanity.

But, through Facebook we can find out a lot more about who we are, as a community, and weave ourselves together into one strong unit. This is why I created The Tales of Carleton Place. It is a place we can come together, reminisce, and become hyped up for our community.

The Carleton Place Social Scene, Discover Carleton Place, Carleton Place Restaurant and Retail Review, Carleton Place–Celebrating Our Town etc. are many places we can go to on Facebook and get involved in our community.

One things all these groups have in common is that they work together to create a bond for Carleton Place. None of these people that spend a great deal of time and effort running these groups are paid, nor do they have advertisers or sponsors. These groups share everything that is needed to be shared, no questions asked. We network to help each other in Carleton Place and never worry that one group might be better than the other. The reason we do this is so people can reach out to each other rapidly and systematically to deal with a crisis or sudden opportunity, quicker than official media. I have huge issues with local media etc. that does not follow this rule. Egos need to be left at the door these days- there is no more room for it for our community to prosper.

We have a lot of smart and wise individuals in this community, there is no doubt about it. A good tool for community self-organization is to become a strong force and do all the things that are needed to be done. But it can only be done by sharing.

The more a community’s wealth stays in the community, the healthier it will be. The foundation of a strong, wise, resilient community is people knowing and actively engaging with each other —simply because it feels good or meaningful to them. Sharing only succeeds in beginning a circle that brings back multifold benefits especially for local communities– and if you didn’t realize it–sharing is the one big reason for the magnificent success of social media

What good are thoughts unless used to benefit others? What good is happiness or success for our rural towns unless shared by all? So if it’s success you want for Carleton Place start spreading the warmth and goodness to others around you. What has anyone got to lose?

Thank you to everyone that shared Jamie Law’s terrible ordeal yesterday. It is only though you and your sharing we can turn this around for him. Let’s Rock the Casbah for our communities!



Robert Shaw “Cold as Ice” in a Cardboard Box?



Please note sometimes he was known as John and sometimes Robert Shaw

 Perth Courier, October 9, 1896

The week before last a half witted resident of Carleton Place named Robert Shaw, known as “Christmas” was brought in on a charge of kissing the young ladies of that town and the judges gave him three months in the Perth gaol.  Shaw was a resident of Perth at one time, but now devotes his time to Carleton Place.


Photo-Google Image

Feb 20th 1914– Almonte Gazette
It has been reported that our erstwhile citizen of Carleton Place- Robert Shaw, alias “Christmas”, has passed to the great beyond having been frozen to death somewhere up north. The unfortunate man had taken shelter in a large packing box in which his body was found. It is a tragic ending to a remarkable life. No doubt his demeanor could have possibly aroused the bad weather.

After reading the half witted resident of Carleton Place comment– I wondered why they spoke of his remarkable life. The Victorian Era may not have had its own version of the Darwin Awards, but thanks to the miracle of newspaper records, we can reflect on the bizarre deaths and disasters of yore. True or untrue.


February 27 1914– Almonte Gazette

The report in circulation last week that Robert Shaw of Carleton Place had perished with the cold is not correct. The Carleton Place Hearld has since received information from a gentlemen who saw Mr. Shaw on Friday last. He is in excellent health and working steadily on the construction of the CNR, being with Angus Sinclair contractor on the Pettawawa River. We are sure that Robert’s many acquaintances will be please to learn that no such fate as that was written fell to his lot.

  • In reality Robert Shaw  died at the age of 68 in 1929

Historical fact

People believed the weather was not merely a natural occurrence. Bad weather could be caused by the behaviour of wicked people, like murder, sin, incest, or family quarrels. Going way back it could also be linked to witches and sorcerers, who were thought to control the weather and destroy crops. They could, according to one infamous treatise on witches – the Malleus Maleficarum, published in 1486 – fly in the air and conjure storms (including hailstorms and tempests), raise winds and cause lightning that could kill people and animals. and animals.

Read the Almonte Gazette here

Read the Perth Courier at Archives Lanark


Practical Tip

Just in case you need shelter–Practical Tip for Urban Shelter from Practical Survivor.co


* Refrigerator cardboard box
* Styrofoam found within the same box and dumpster.
* Duct tape
* Box cutter
* Tape measure
* Marker

If the circumstances force us to build the shelter outside, we should protect the shelter from moisture. We could use multiple layers of trash or any available plastic. (trash bag, tarp, poncho, carpet, sheet metal, wood, rugs) The refrigerator box can be replaced with boxes from big screen TVs or whatever is available. Most families have boxes in their attic. Local furniture stores are usually happy to let people take away their trash. Call and ask for permission. A lot of furniture and hardware stores will give you cardboard.

We built the shelter as a triangle, in order to minimize the walls we would have to insulate. Lets not forget, a smaller shelter is easier to warm up with body heat. If we wanted to squeeze two people in the shelter, we could choose a rectangular configuration. I guess we can call our shelter, an urban emergency survival A-frame or urban A-frame shelter.