I try to lay low on weekends, but once again Ben Weiss’s posting made me think of that era– so here is a piece I wrote years ago and seldom share.
I was Part of the French Revolution and I Forgot Linda Knight Seccaspina
Last year I wrote a blog on French Canada, and it seemed to rip open a box of memories that had been filed away in my mind for many years. I had actually lived through an important part of Canadian history and forgot all about it.
When Pierre Elliot Trudeau became Prime Minister in April of 1968 it changed Canadian history. The night he won I was at the Cowansville, Quebec Hotel with my friends and my father, who was a campaign manager for Jean Jacques Bertrand.
My French Canadian friends ran in and grabbed my arm for a night of celebrating. The feelings in the air were the same as when Barack Obama won in a 99% African-American neighborhood forty years later. My friends were thrilled that hopefully help was on the way for French Canadians.
My best friend kept teasing me, asking me if I was angry that a French Canadian man had won the election. Being Sally Sunshine all my life, I never take sides. Life should be about people working together, and not against each other. But, I was thrilled he had won, as I really liked him and hoped there would be no more taking sides. Even my stepmother and father were taking sides as she loved Trudeau also, and the conversation had gotten so unpleasant in my home that she had taped a giant poster of Pierre Trudeau to the living room wall. Sadly at one point, the people of French and English Quebec did take sides, and a revolution was born. Out of this unrest came the notorious FLQ (Quebec Liberation Front).
There were bombings, and declarations from them that called for a socialist uprising against those considered Anglo-Saxon imperialist oppressors. Yes, it felt just like the ‘play wars’ we always had in the lumber yard with my French friends as children, only on a bigger scale, and very real. They called for the overthrow of the Quebec government and the independence of Quebec from Canada.
At age 16, I started dating a French Canadian boy whom I will call Yves. His father had completely radical opinions about the English and did not mince words when his son brought home an English girl. It turned out that he had known my grandfather, and considered him one of the Anglo-Saxon imperialists, as he had money and what he considered “British airs”.
My father was equally concerned. Not that Yves might have some radical tendencies, but the fact that his hair looked a little long. This was typical of my father. Never worry about the important stuff, just make sure he cuts his hair. It certainly would be a travesty if people talked about it. It was all around town anyways that Arthur Knight had trouble with his oldest daughter.
He also did not like the fact that his daughter was not dating a nice Anglican boy, and he told me to “kiss him goodbye”. In Quebec, the age of consent to marry was 21 and he would not allow me to marry Yves until I reached that age. Maybe he had the right idea as the marriage only lasted a year and a half, but I knew the only reason was because he had long hair and worked at Vilas in Cowansville. Not good enough for his daughter.
On October 15, 1970, more than 3,000 students attended a protest rally in favor of the FLQ. The FLQ then kidnapped James Cross, the British High Trade Commissioner, and when their demands were not met they kidnapped the Minister of Labour and Vice Premier of Quebec, Pierre Laporte.
When a CBC reporter asked Prime Minister Trudeau how far he was going to go to stop the FLQ he said,
“Just watch me!”
On October 16th, at 8 am I stepped out of my apartment building on Pine Ave. in Montreal what I saw was unbelievable. Prime Minister Trudeau had invoked the War Measures Act at 4 am, and military forces lined my street like there was a war going on. That’s when all hell broke loose.
The next day, October 17th, 1970, Pierre Laporte was found dead in the trunk of a car, strangled to death.
Living in Montreal during the time of the War Measures act was like living in a war zone. Soldiers halted anyone they felt was suspicious, and I was even stopped at the Greyhound Bus Terminal and asked for my passport. All they said was that I looked like someone who was on a list.
Of course I have been on lists all my life. For years, I was considered a threat to the Canadian population because of “those” Viet Nam War protests and I sold subversive literature in my store. Subversive literature would be the alternative music and radical fashion magazines that I sold in my store Flash Cadilac in the 70’s and 80’s. Thankfully, things have changed.
In the end of all this chaos: 453 people were rounded up, and some were given asylum in Cuba. The five flown to Cuba were jailed when they returned to Canada years later. Yves and I split up, and I have not seen him in 47 years. Most of my generation moved out of Quebec and went to Ontario after they graduated. They sadly left because of too many rules and regulations about language and cultural issues. I often wonder what could have been, I really do. I will always miss ‘Ma Belle Province’ –language issues or not.
Every second or third Friday night for a number of years CHEZ-FM DJ Brian Murphy could be found in my store Flash Cadilac talking to me for hours. I will never understand how we became friends, as we were different as night and day. But there he was sitting on a stool next to my cash register, and we always had hours to chat about stuff. Both of us had a love of music, but no one knew more about music than Murph. I loved to tease him about his love affair with Dire Straits, and he would in turn constantly mention my extremely bad taste in music. But sometimes he would admit that some pop music wasn’t all that bad. I wonder what he would have thought of BTS. Murph, I’m going to ask you that when I hopefully got up into rock and roll heaven, unless Hell is Gothic, and well, you know, I might enjoy that.
Brian was never there to shop, and seldom took interest in my customers (even the sexy ones) unless they mentioned music. I always had a Diet Coke or two for him, as he got thirsty discussing life, and sometimes he overwhelmed me with his knowledge. You could never have a 15 minute conversation with the music genius–his musical thoughts came in volumes. He would talk endlessly about his record collection in his basement which was floor to ceiling, as well as covering the stairways and hallways. Brian, you would be happy to know (in later life) I married one of “your tribe” who had 7000 records to get rid of in Berkeley, California to move here to Canada. I know you would have told him what was more important in life LOL.
After Brian was let go amid the big CHEZ-FM shuffle I wondered what he was up to when I no longer saw him anymore. When I read his obituary I was devastated and angry at myself for not reaching out to him and hoped to God his frog collection would be taken care of. He will always be the Sultan of Swing to me and so much more.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I wonder what Brian would have to say about a particular genre of music I’m playing. When he died CHEZ-FM posted the following on their website:
“Heaven has just welcomed its new music director.”
If tears could build a stairway,
And memories a lane.
I would walk right up to Heaven
And bring you back again.
The Brian Murphy Fund *Application and donation links found below* A Sub Fund of the Education Foundation of Ottawa and An Endowment Fund within the Community Foundation of Ottawa This award is in memory of Brian Murphy, host of CHEZ 106 “The Source” “Blues 106,” “Jazz 106” and other programs. He was known as one of Ottawa’s most original people. Brian will be remembered for his encyclopedic knowledge of musi
Please leave comments so I can them all here for permanent doucmentation… thanks
This is Artcetera, speaking from the home of Brian Murphy, host of CHEZ’S The Source, Blues 106 and Jazz 106 programs on Sunday nights. The shows reflect Murphy’s eclectic tastes in music, a subject for which he is wildly enthusiastic. He’s also a champion talker. Let’s listen in.) Now I’m going to get myself in real serious trouble with what one friend calls the jazz ayatol-lahs, and another friend calls the jazz weasels. Because really what jazz is, even though it has become in a sense an art form ta-dah ta-dah, is pop music. MOZART WROTE POP MUSIC, or adapted pop music. And nothing makes me angrier than the jazz ayatollahs or the jazz weasels, or the BLUES ayatollas or the BLUES weasels, people who are so structured in their musical taste.
. . . I’ve always gotten from certain people in the Ottawa jazz scene the ayatollahs, the weasels the feeling that they really can’t take me seriously when it comes to jazz. Why? Because I like rock and roll. (It’s me again. We’re talking to Murphy because May 24 is his 50th birthday, and CHEZ is dedicating the day to his music, and also holding a birthday party for him at the Penguin. The radio station is broadcasting from his house that day, and they’ve asked him to pick 125 to 150 rock songs, and they will make up the playlist for the station that day.) I just took a page for every letter and as songs came into my mind I started going through them … So you got a list that starts A’s: Allman Brothers, Ramblin Man and Animals, House of the Rising Sun. B’s: The Band, The Weight, The Beach Boys, Good Vibrations, here’s a tough one, Beatles, I’ve got two, Am The Walrus and In My Life. And I’ve got Bonzo Dog in here, which will probably come out, and this particular song means a lot to me: Urban Spaceman . . . (Music magazines spill on the floors of Brian Murphy’s house.
There’s barely room on the kitchen table for the breakfast he eats at 4 p.m. he doesn’t go to sleep until 8 or 9 a.m. He collects things in the shape of frogs, and frogs spill along the shelves of his living room in ceramic and plastic and wood. A frog quilt spills off his bed. CDs spill out on top of the thou sands of albums kept in the boxes in his basement. Books spill on his desk. Words spill out of Brian Murphy.) First of all, above all, I’m an entertainer. I’ve got to make people feel good. That doesn’t mean that occasionally I can’t stop and make them think about something or make them angry about something that makes me angry. But at the same time as I’m entertaining, I’m kind of teaching. I’m taking all of this lore, all of this knowledge, all of this listening, and sifting them through this particular body and mind, and what comes out is some kind of synthesis of all this stuff. (May 24 is also the 50th birthday of Bob Dylan.
Above Murphy’s basement sanctuary, where he goes to turn on a record and read some science fiction and think about the connections that run through music, above that sanctuary is a sign: ‘The Most Famous Album Never Released: Bob Dylan & The Band The Basement Tapes.’ Basement. Tapes. Connections.) Dylan was the wordsmith. Dylan was the man, the person who opened the words up for everybody. In a sense, Bob Dylan made poetry acceptable to the masses. What a horrible way to have to put it. (Murphy rocks from leg to leg, from subject to subject. He loves music of all kinds, he hates people who put it into pigeonholes, he wants people to understand . . . There are only kinds of music another line I’m going to steal and it’s been attributed to Kurt Weill and it’s also been attributed to Igor Stavinsky there are two kinds of music, good music and bad music.
Take your pick. . to understand something called Sturgeon’s Law, a law that says that 90 per cent of everything is trash. Mur phy’s Corollary puts Brian Murphy that at 95 per cent. So you shouldn’t be surprised … – -J Pop music is banal and all of those things, but! lot of it more than you realize is great music. It can move you. “I’d be surprised if a lot of pop music is bad- ‘ A lot of everything is bad. But when it’s good; -” we just ask Brian Murphy.) . Part of what I try to do is I go through life trying to find these perfect records. To me the ultimate compliment about a piece of music, no matter what its genre, is it makes you feel good to be alive.
There were lots of musicians that signed the Wall of Shame in my store Flash Cadilac, and I think I have a story about each one of them. But the person I remember most and miss was the eccentric but incredibly talented musician Nash the Slash.
In 1978 my friends Bernie and Marion brought me to the now late legendary Black Swan on Rideau Street in Ottawa. I had no idea what I was about to see, but I was promised a real treat. I remember I had on a huge Victorian ruffle style coat with a Snow White collar made out of white PVC. Bernie remarked that I had chosen the right outfit for the concert and I had no clue what he meant until the curtain went up. The whole stage was decorated in white shiny PVC vinyl like my coat and I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation.
All of a sudden a man looking much like The Invisible Man in a white tuxedo and top hat graced the stage. As soon as the first notes of his electric mandolin pierced the air I was hooked and in love with his originality. His name was Nash the Slash and he began as a solo artist in 1975 and then founded the band FM. He plays an electric mandolin and violin but also plays keyboards and the glockenspiel. His music moved me so much I had goosebumps up and down my arms for the whole show.
I wrote him a letter after the concert and asked him if he would visit my store the next time he was in town to sign autographs. Sure enough he had someone contact me that he would indeed grace my store and would like to cut up a side of beef with a chainsaw in my store window. Linda being Linda thought this would be the performance art gig of the century.
Let’s remember James Jeffrey “Jeff” Plewman (March 26, 1948 – May 10, 2014), better known by his stage name Nash the Slash.
11m · Linda, the last newspaper listing I see for the Black Swan (275 Rideau) is May 25, 1979. It became Arnold’s in July of that year, and the last lsting I see for Arnold’s is July 1984. The 1991 layer at GeoOttawa shows a very large excavation at that location. From the Journal, July 11, 1980:
The Wall of Shame — Flash Cadilac Rideau Street Ottawa
Behind the cash register at Flash Cadilac lay the notorious Wall of Shame. There taped to the wall were 100’s of words of wisdom, and autographed photos from the “famous, and not so famous”. What no one knows is the creation of the wall began as a joke.It was a dark Montreal smoke-filled bar on Mountain Street. Idolizing Leonard Cohen, I quoted his poetry to anyone that would listen. It was the 60’s, minds were changing, and I still considered myself part of someone’s, okay, anyone’s, Beat Generation.
Years later, on my way to a Heavy Metal Convention in Los Angeles,to do a remote for CKCU and 54 Rock my friend Andrew Searle and I spotted a few celebrities on board. Cohen himself was on our flight to Los Angeles with his much younger girlfriend Rebecca De Mornay. When the plane landed, we pushed our way to the front to get a glimpse of him. I remember taking his hand while we both stood by the baggage turnstile, and gushed like a smitten teenager. Completely ignoring Christopher Plummer on the other side, I told him about my never ending love for him. He smiled, in that Leonard Cohen sort of way and said softly, “My dear the years have been kind to you”. Leonard then autographed one of my manila envelopes, and when I returned to Ottawa
I cut out his autograph from the envelope and taped it to the wall. I turned, and jokingly said to my staff: “Can you believe that man is dating someone years younger than all of us?”
Now, that’s a damn shame!”And so, “The Wall of Shame” was born. My Nash the Slash autographed album was part of it.
Victoria Lidia IlgacsWorked there as a cocktail waitress from what it open to closure. Made about a 100 bucks on a good night. Sharon Nate, Daughter of the owner of Nate’s delicatessen, managed the place. Saw Heart there as a bar band, Minglewood, Rough Trade, Dominic Troianno, Goddo, Dave Wilcox, The Action, Larkspur, Downchild Nlues Band, Nash the Slash, April Wine, etc. Got punched out by a couple of Satan’s Choice chicks one night. Was eventually shut down when the Choice overtook the place.
Journal interview by Christopher Cobb
Sometimes we tend to forget that , most of -today’s rock superstars started their careers in small bars, light years away from the massive arenas that. most are now associated with. Somewhere in the dim and distant past, bands like the Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd and-hosts of others were swinging their guitars in holes in the wall, struggling to make a living. Public- health regulations wouldn’t allow many of those dives to even open their doors nowadays, but still, there continues to be a need for such places platforms for young bands to work and grow”, from.
For the past couple of- years, Ottawa’s Black Swan has been filling the gap in this city. Bands playing at the former Rideau Street garage, are invariably a cut above those usually found at high school dances, yet not of the stature to be playing big concerts, even as an opening act. The Swan with its capacity of 220, is a place for showcasing upcoming acts.
Some of them die early deaths and others go on to greater things. Either way, they rarely return once the listening public has made its decision. For travelling bands, the old bar is a place of discovery or a stage in development, and for its audience a place to go and check out the new stuff.
Sal Khan, owner of the Black Swan, (Squires and the Commercial Tavern), hasn’t had too many money losing weeks since he opened the bar a couple of years ago. Which proves something. . . . “During the past couple of years, Ottawa audiences have matured considerably,” says Khan. “At one time you could put any band In the club and you’d fill it every night. Now it’s a different story. The audiences now are particular about what they hear and knowledgeable about the music.
Some bands we hire die an early death, but they usually deserve to. Monday nights at the Swan are always free and as such usually the most popular. The success of Tuesday onwards often depends on the reports spread around by the Monday crowd. Khan hires lots of Canadian bands who are on the regional bar circuit. He wants to provide an outlet for Canadian talent but at the same time is concerned about new restrictive immigration laws which are making It difficult for foreign artists of a certain level to get into the country.
“Many club owners are worried about this,” he says. “Immigration officials are tending to consult the musicians unions and automatically the unions are saying that there are Canadians around capable of doing the job. “What these people don’t realize is that you often need a certain number, of foreign artists to keep bars alive for the Canadians to grow in. To deny a foreign artist a work permit just because he or she is a foreigner is nonsense.” Despite awkward Immigration policies, the financial and musicial future of The Black Swan looks bright enough for improvement and expansion: And if Canadian music ever becomes a world force, the dingier, unglamorous establishments like the Swan can probably take a lot of the credit.
In 1978 my brother Dale was manager of the black swan and the squires and the Nozzle. Sal Khans general manager. My brother Donn was manager at the Vendome for a few years. Dale ran the swan and the squires and Nozzle as well as the commercial at one time. Sal Khan owned a few bars. My brother Dwight bought the old wizard pub on bank street and made it the bankbridge arms until he sold it to the barleymow guy. Danny Delahunt
Jamie DunlopSpent too many nights at the Swan in my youth. Nash the Slash, Cornstalk,Songship, Rough Trade, even Heart managed to get mis- booked and had to play a weekend there while their first major hit album was breaking. I know Vicki Ilgacs well and handed over wads of cash to her in return for beer. It always amazes me that at the time you could afford an apartment and go out to these dives a few times a week while working a single job. Good times.
Sue JarvisGreat nights there in my day when Eugene Smith & the Warm-up band played.
The first TV program I remember watching as a child was the Mantovani Show, and not only was it boring, but it was in black and white. Because we lived 14 miles from the Vermont border in Quebec we were lucky to be able to receive some American television, and not just the staple Canadian three.
Cartoon Corner and Howdy Doody were favourites of mine back in the day on CBC. I also remembered having to unplug the TV when a thunderstorm occurred as my Mother said it was “going to blow the house up if one of those bolts wrapped around the venetian blinds”. Of course, I still think of that when it’s storming outside sitting in my lazy boy chair that’s pointed at the television along with every other piece in the room, and still with decorative venetian blinds.
Every night at 5 in 1961 I would watch the CBC TV show Razzle Dazzle hosted by Suzanne Somer’s husband, Alan Hamel. I had entered a writing contest and was eagerly waiting to hear if I won a pen with my “meatless meat pie” essay. A few weeks later I found out that I had indeed won a Razzle Dazzle pen for my story along with a photo of Howard the Turtle.
One day in the 60’s my father went to Keith Lachasseur’s Appliance store on the Main Street in Cowansville and came home with a colour TV. I didn’t really care one way or the other as I was actually used to the rainbow hues of “the plastic sheet” on the front of the television. It ‘simulated’ full colour along with rabbit ears covered in tinfoil to stimulate even better viewing. Of course it was sold as a cheap alternative to buying an expensive colour TV and its promise had sucked my father in. I think he immediately knew he had the wool pulled over his eyes, but never knowingly admitting a mistake, he insisted that it was ‘just as good’ as the real thing.
In our family he was the only person allowed to touch the new TV and he was always up on the roof adjusting the antenna to get the best
picture. After seeing everything in black and white while we simultaneously hunted dinosaurs in those days my world had now progressed to technicolor with a new neighbour coming in every night to see ‘the TV.’ Some of the highlights were: ‘Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Colour’ when Tinkerbell would splash colour on the screen and of course the burning map on the TV show Bonanza was priceless.
One night my father went out to a Lodge meeting and my friend Sheila came over to watch The Man from U.N.C.L.E. David McCallum, who played “Ilelya Kuryakin” on the show, had been dubbed the “British James Dean” and was the only reason I watched that show. The fact that I had always seen him cast as a delinquent was a bonus for me since there is nothing like a bad boy. Sheila and I sat down and got ready to watch. The NBC Peacock came on and it remained in black and white. Where was the colour?.
Was my father really not at the Lodge meeting and adjusting the roof antenna so I could not enjoy the show? The Man from U.N.C.L.E began and I started fidgeting around with the buttons. Instead of black and white the show suddenly turned red and then blue and I wondered if the rainbow plastic sheet had found its way inside the TV. Was I doomed? After fidgeting some more the picture started skipping and I had to play around with the “horizontal hold” button. I think all of you remember that particular button with joy and happiness.
Illya still stared at me in glorious black and white, and I stopped playing with the buttons. Fifteen minutes before the show ended my father came in and tweaked his magic and it turned from black and white to colour.
Once you had colour TV you never went back to black and white- you just went to “upgrade”. Some of my friends in the late 60’s used LSD instead, and their whole lives became Technicolor — without television. My family just continued to ‘upgrade’ and in lieu of Don Messer’s Jubilee we watched Tommy Hunter on Friday nights. Who knew a
Hoedown, Tommy Hunter and Brenda Lee could all exist in colour together?
McLuhan once said,“The medium is in the message”– or was that ‘the massage’. But now we are confronted with all sorts of media so pardon me while I check my Facebook Twitter and Instagram and watch a season of something on Netflix real quick. Just remember if someone had not invented the TV we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners.
“Now Howard Sadler, as everyone knows, is a man who walks on his heels and his toes; He lives on a farm right forninst Irishtown, growing beans and potatoes most all the year round.
He’s lived on this farm some hundreds of years, growing spinach and squash and corn in the ears, And carrots and beets and peas in the pod; Sure, all come up smiling when Howard turns sod.
In summer he’ll fill up the back of the truck with produce of garden and field and the muck, and off into town he’ll drive with the stuff, and everyone wonders “Has he brought us enough?”
He’ll stop at the houses and talk till noon bell With gossip and stories, all news fit to tell, Of things agricultural, local, historical, And nary a word of it merely rhetorical.
One day I asked Howard, in spite of his fame, “Do you mind all the Irish? Remember their names? All of your neighbours, their houses, and, well, If Irishtown talked, what do you think it would tell?”
Well, Howard, he stopped and he wrinkled his brow, He stared past the hedges, the pond and the plough, he pushed at his chin with a three-fingered hand, Took a deep breath, and thus he began,”
Sunday within the Octave of Groundhog Day. Two o’clock in the afternoon. Sun blazing full blast. Both Jean Steel and I squinting. Not a shred of cloud in sight, yet a sharp chill in the air; even so, snow melting from the woodshed roof at Howard Sadler’s place on the edge of Almonte.
A dozen polled beef cattle in the barnyard stood in the sun near the wall of the barn, stiff-legged from winter’s confinement inside, not knowing where to go now that they had been let out for the day. Thick hair on the flanks of a few of the animals was matted with clumps of manure; all were dusted over with chaff and hayseeds. Two of them ventured to walk away from the wall of the barn, but so slowly that it seemed as if they were caught in a trance. Other than twin jets of hot breath streaming regularly from their nostrils, they could have been characters in a bovine mime.
Strength, however, was stirring in the February sun, and the woodshed roof had caught the warmth and held it close, and now from the lip of the roof in at least a dozen places, water dripped steadily, plopping into little craters scoured out from the mound of snow at the entry to the woodshed. So much snow had melted that the water was splashing over the sides of the craters below, and already had formed a slick coating of ice, a barrier at the threshold of the woodshed.
Inside, three rows of stove-length, split maple, stood piled against the wall of the woodshed. A bucksaw leaned against the empty sawhorse in the middle of the shed, and on the other side of it, a pile of old fence posts lay waiting to be cut into stove lengths.
The timelessness of sawdust, chips and bark from split maple mixed in the woodshed with the promise of new life from the heat of the sun and water from the roof melting away and trying to soak into the ground. Still, the cattails standing frozen into the ice of the frog pond called out the need for patience.
Howard met us at the door.
“Let’s go inside if we’re going to talk about Irishtown,” he invited.
He led the way into the kitchen, and before the cheery fire in the Quebec heater, we sat and talked. The mica in the door of the stove glowed cherry red, and flames from the stick of burning maple danced behind the mica curtain with quiet enjoyment. From a cage, full in the face of winter sunlight streaming in the living room window, a bouncing canary with black wing tips chirruped excitedly.
“Irishtown. That’s it, is it?” Howard asked, seeking reassurance, as if Irishtown were a thing so self-evident that he found it surprising that anyone might inquire about the obvious. Irishtown had been so close to him for nigh on seventy-five years that he found himself now searching for a suitable spade to dig properly around this place called Irishtown, and show it as it was, its people, its way, but principally its people.
“Howard,” I started, “Jean Steel was asking me on Ground-Hog Day a very simple question, and I said it was one that should really be put to you for an answer.”
“I’ll try,” said Howard. And turning to Jean he said, “What was the question?”
“The question is,” Jean began, “Just where is Irishtown? Where does it begin? Where does it end? Why is it called Irishtown? That’s what I’d like to know.
“Well,” Howard began in a testing king of way, “Irishtown is where the old Irish lived in Almonte. I’d say it’s where most of the Irish families lived here years ago. Of course, things have changed a lot. I’ve lived here most of Seventy-five years now, and these old families have been my neighbors for all those years. So I remember the. I’d think that Irishtown is where the Irish lived. Is that it? But I suppose you’d like to know who were these people, and where did they live, and so on, the like of that?”
“Yes,” Jean said. “Yes, Howard, the like of that.”
Howard paused, and looked out the window past the canary in a dreamy kind of way, silent, thinking to himself, about Almonte, and Irishtown, people an so on.
Why, every town in Ontario has its Queen Street, and its King Street, and most have a Victoria Street, and in years gone by a great many had clearly defined areas of Irish because the massive emigration from Ireland tended to make Irish enclaves in many communities. Why, until a very few years ago Ottawa had its Corkstown, a small collection of houses along the railway right of way, way out west in Nepean township overlooking Britannia Bay. It had one street running off the main highway towards the scattered houses, and the street came to be called, also simple Corkstown Road.
Well, the road is still there, although little of Corkstown except the name Corkstown Road remains. Even it is paved now, and is a major artery running alongside the abandoned railway line which for nigh on a hundred years, beginning in August 1870 ran proudly as the Canada Central from Ottawa, out past Corkstown, and on to Carleton Place, to form a junction there with the Brockville and Ottawa, and a decade or so later they were both amalgamated into the Canadian Pacific Company’s main line from Montreal to Almonte and on to the Pacific at Vancouver.
And so we sat in Howard’s kitchen and went on to discuss the fact that we couldn’t think of any other place in Ontario which still has an Irishtown quite as distinct as Almonte’s, and that the closest we could find was in the Peterborough district, where a second Irish emigration, the one of 1825, and like that of 1823 to “a place with a falls on the Mississippi” under the superintendence of the same Peter Robinson, resulted in the settlement of 2500 distressed Irish from Cork, Tipperary, Waterford and Killarney on the crown lands along the Otonabee River and in the townships adjacent to Lake Chemong. And, we reflected with Howard, that even in these days, the wayfarer who travels from Peterborough on the return journey to Ennismore and takes the causeway over Lake Chemong is said, in tones full of mock solemnity and respect, to have passed over into the Holy Land.
For over a hundred years stirrings of the same king of religious fervour have animated wayfarers in Almonte on they finished their work in the mills along the Mississippi and headed out across the bridges to their homes in Irishtown. Though less elegantly phrased perhaps than those of the Ennismore Irish, these stirrings and holy sentiments of people from Irishtown found quick expression once the wayfarers turned at the blacksmith shop, came in sight of Barney Lunney’s store, and then the bridge over Jimmy Moreau’s creek, the creek that cuts diagonally across the width of Irishtown from French Hill to the Mississippi, there indeed lies the heart of Irishtown, and, well, Howard was looking back from the window. Evidently, out of his momentary reflection had come a decision.
“We’d just have to get all these old Irish people in,” he said, coming out of a momentary reverie. “Yep, begin, let’s say, on a far side of the frog pond, by Mae Gallagher’s house, and go down Ottawa street, and over to Gore.”
“As far as Jim Little’s pasture fence?” I asked.
“Yep, on that side, and take in Maude and Victoria on the other”. Howard went on.
“That takes us right to French Hill,” I suggested to Howard.
“Right. And go a little further down, even to take in Union and Main Streets.”
“Howard, that takes you past the blacksmith shop,” I offered, to see if he would put a stop to Irishtown there. But no, he did not.
“The idea is to get all these old Irish people in”, he stated, and then went on.
“We could start right here at the top of the hill where Simon Kelly lived. And just below that house were two Irish ladies named Dolan. Maggie and Fannie, worked in the woollen mills. Spinning. And across the road, that’s Ottawa Street, was Ben Bolton and next door was Theriault’s and Oakleys on the corner.”
“Theriault’s, Howard,” said Jean, “Was that an Irish family?”
“Right in the heart of Irishtown,” Howard explained. Case closed.
“Now you take Harold Street”, Howard went on, “that was all Irish. There was Paddy O’Meara, Jim Farrell, Jack Farrell, and Mick Welsh, and the Badour house on the corner.”
“Martin Dwyer’s house was across the road. Martin ran a little market garden on his lots there. And then you’d find Jim Nagle, and Frank LeClair, and the O’Reillys. The two O’Reilly girls lived a good number of years.
Howard went into another slight trance, and we wondered what would come next. It didn’t take long to find out. It was about men who worked in specialty jobs in the big Rosamond No.1 Woollen Mill.
“Next door to the O’Reilly’s was Mick McKevitt. Mick was one of the maintenance men down at No. 1 Mill. He used to run in the big engine with the steam turbine when the water went down in the river in summer time, and that engine kept the whole mill working.
Mick McGrath across the street from him was one of the loom fixers, and his brother Billy, who lived on Victoria Street, was another loom fixer. Then there was Jack Lyons. He was the head engineer and boiler man. The Lockhart’s and Elmer Boyce’s.”
“The old, what we used to call the “old” Cottage Hospital, the first hospital in Almonte, which was first started in 1908, was right there too. “On the corner across from that was Charlie Liberty’s, and then John Slattery’s. There was the Slattery house and the Slattery store. And then the Letang’s. That house is now owned by Mrs. Jim. Houston.”
“Letang,” I said. “Would that be French, Howard?”
“Couldn’t be,” Howard replied. “Next door to the Letang house was Malones, you see, and in the next house was another Malone, and they owned a store, No French there that I could see.”
“Course, all this is goin’ back some,” Howard pointed out.
“And there’s not too many in the town today would remember all these old Irish.”
“Well,” Jean said, “How could I describe the limits of Irishtown if someone asked me to put it down on paper?”
Howard was quiet for a moment, for he couldn’t get the people out of his mind. At length he turned the question round to me and asked how I would answer Jean’s query.
“I’d have to say that Irishtown is that portion on the north side of the town of Almonte which begins at any one of the cattails on the south shore of Howard Sadler’s frog pond, and fans out from there like a tom turkey’s tail feathers to reach the mount of Jimmy Moreau’s creek to the falls of the Mississippi.”
The three fingers of Howard’s right hand scraped across his chin and helped him to reflect on the accuracy of that description for an instant.
“That would seem to cover the ground” he said at length. “But that’s goin’ back some.”
Hi Linda, my name is Amy Thom, my husband, Wes Thom, and I bought a place on Ramsay Conc 8. Our summer kitchen is now a play area for our kids. When we looked through the floor boards on one side, it revealed years of ‘recycling storage’ and many many old cans/bottles/ointment containers! Today when looking through , I found this receipt and was wondering if you had any info on ‘Almonte Cold Storage’. Thanks! Amy
Cold Storage Plant Almonte
Memories..The largely attended funeral service for the late Lester Boyd Jamieson who passed away on Friday, February 14th, 1975, was held on Sunday afternoon, February 16, at Almonte United Church. Mr. Jamieson suffered a heart seizure and passed away a short time later. Funeral services were conducted by Rev. Robert McCrea of Almonte United and Rev. Ray Anderson, a former minister of the Almonte Church. Interment was at the Auld Kirk Cemetery. The well-filled church was a fitting tribute to one who had served his church as an elder for some 50 years and as clerk of the session for 35 years. Mr. Jamieson was born in North Dakota on October 23, 1890, and came to Canada as an infant. He was a son of the late Robert Jamieson and his wife, Sarah Dworkin. He received his early education at the school at Hopetown and later learned the art of cheesemaking at Kingston dairy school. He was married at Watson’s Corners in 1912 to the former Mary Euphemia McDougall, and for the next 13 years resided in such places as Perth, Prospect, Malakoff and Clayton, following his trade as a cheesemaker. The following 28 years were spent farming on the farm outside of Almonte where his son Boyd now resides. After moving into Almonte, Mr. Jamieson was for three years in the Registry Office, followed by some time in the Almonte Cold Storage plant. In later years, he worked at refurbishing old furniture at the Pinecraft shop. Besides his wife, Mr. Jamieson is survived by a son, Boyd, of Almonte; two daughters, Mrs. Eileen Russell of Kingston, and Mrs. Beryl Riddell, Cardinal; a brother, William, at Hopetown, and two sisters, Mrs. Clara Miller of Timmins and Mrs. Percy Currie of Radisson, Sask. He was predeceased by a son, Lionel. Pallbearers at the funeral were Ross Craig, Larry Command, Weldon Kropp, Wilbert Monette, and nephews Melville Dowdall and Mac Dowdall.
After a few years spent apprenticing in the North, fur trade employees were sent to the Fur Training School. The School opened in the late 1940s to provide instruction in all aspects of fur buying such as grading, pricing, and more. Originally six months long, the course was later shortened to three. Beaver was always the primary focus of the curriculum but all species were covered. Graduates went on to store management in the North or to work in the Raw Fur Department or Fur Sales Division.
And in 1991, faced with dropping sales due in large part to the anti-fur movement, the Hudson’s Bay Company announced it was ending its fur business.
With that announcement, it brought to an end nearly three centuries of its connection to the fur trade.
Amy said:”The Mum deodorant actually still has a little in it, and you can see the marks from fingers having swiped through it!”
Rexall Milk of Magnesium
Soon after its invention by Charles H. Phillips in 1873, Milk of Magnesia became Phillips’ most popular product.
REXALL Bronchial Syrup
Remember the Rexall ONE penny saled?
Coal tar was one of the active ingredients in Mazon. Mazon Cream is a by-product of coal processing. The skin cream does not appear to be available in the U.S. but can be ordered online ..
Medicated anti-itch cream for effective and long-lasting relief of itching and scaling of Eczema and Psoriasis.
Carnegie Drugstore- Miss McKee
The prescription bottle has ‘Miss McKee’ on it, my understanding was before the Morton’s bought the farm, it was owned by his uncle Issac McKee, they had a daughter who passed away as a child? So the prescription bottle would of been hers from when she ill? Pretty interesting! -Amy Thom
Amy, we found her.It looks like she died from Tuberculosis
1952, Thursday January 17, The Almonte Gazette page 8 Miss Agnes McKee On Tuesday, Jan 8th, Agnes Jane Isabel McKee, only daughter of Mr and Mrs Isaac McKee, passed away at the home of her parents, followed an illness of four month’s duration.
Carnegie’s Drug Store
Joan ArmstrongA lot of memories, I wish I could remember it all ….Irval motors where Don Coady is, oh – before that Snedden’s drugstore, NS Lee Hardware – across the street Peterson’s Icecream, Hydro office – McCormick’s ladies wear, Proctor’s shoe store on corner of Brae and Mill.BMO, I forgot Carnegie’s drug store before now
The Misses Hogans had a military shop somewhere in the area of Baker Bob’s today.Going past BMO all I can remember is Needham’s shoe store, Graham’s drugstore, The Superior.Of course the Pool room corner where Subway was (across from Keepsakes:Cashmere Rose)A garageLots of ???StedmansI hope someone can fill in the blanks.Oh, forgot the Almonte Gazette!
The highlight of the year was the birth of David at the Rosamund Memorial Hospital on February 17, 1954. The doctor was Dr. Schulte, a German doctor who eventually returned to Germany. (His associate was Dr. Rolf Bach who remained a friend for many years until he died in 2010) Doug was busily teaching a class at school the afternoon that David was born. He was a wee one but the delight of family and new-found friends in Almonte. Read FAMILY TIME: 1956 – 1964 (PART 2)
NEW HOSPITAL’S 1ST BABY
On Friday, May 12th, the first baby was born in the new Almonte General Hospital. She was Katherine May Eriksen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Eriksen, nee Olive Elliott of Almonte. Dr. 0. H. Schulte was the doctor in attendance. The Eriksens also have a son Jimmie, aged two years.
I still have my original crimping iron from the first day of the “Regretful HairStyles 80s” era. It’s the colour of pink candy floss and works better than anything new on the market. When it comes to crazy hair and makeup, no decade trumps the 1980s– but throwing this crimping iron in the trash can is out of the question at this point in my life. They say ‘Old is not gold’, but honestly this crimping iron is along for the ride like the wine coolers, the cassettes and the mall. So do I still crimp or curl my hair? Personally, I always try not to anger the beast, and most days my life is held together by a single bobby pin.
Regretfully, I lost a vintage 1920s Marcel curling iron in my hair styling repertoire that I found in my Grandparent’s barn on South Street in Cowansville, Quebec. It was part wood and part metal and should have had a danger sign on it. Vintage curling irons were once heated on the fire or the stove for the most part, so I used my grandmother’s wood stove to warm it up. I was warned never to curl your hair with a vintage curling apparatus as they are dangerous and you can burn your hair off, and might even singe your scalp. Each time I used it my grandmother would get hysterical and tell me to be careful. In the hair salons of days past they used to try it on a piece of paper first before they curled their clients’ hair. Why am I thinking there must have been a few minor salon fires in those days?
My grandmother, Mary Louise Deller Knight got her first perm when she immigrated to Canada and it really didn’t go very well. She kept telling the hairdresser her hair hurt under one of those over-sized dryers and no one listened. It was a sad day after that my friends. Mary loved to control everything in her life, and sad to say you can’t. That’s why hair was put on your head to remind you of that very thing. So after they lifted the lid, a lot of Mary’s hair fell out and eventually grew back very thinly.
Mary tried every potion and lotion known to man and finally she gave up, and that’s when Eva Gabor came into her life. They always say that beauty comes from inside– inside a hair salon actually– and we would make quarterly trips to Montreal to buy her Eva Gabor wigs and I never ever discussed it. When she asked me questions about certain styles I chose my words very wisely—until her golden years. That’s when she plopped those wigs on her head sideways, backwards, and any other position known to man, and someone had to tell her.
It doesn’t matter who you are, just remember that no one really has control over their lives and your hair is here to remind you about that fact. On great days it swings like the hair in an old Breck commercial and on the bad days it’s frizzy and wavy when you can expect a day of total loss of control. You are as strong as the hairspray you use and always remind folks that the messy bun you are sporting actually took 18,501 tries. Thank you to the past few weeks of Canadian humidity– I always wanted to look likeThe Lion King said no one ever. Your comb is not a wand.
In the end my grandmother made me promise that when she died to make sure her wig was on her head straight which I did. Dead or alive– you need to look like you are not having a bad hair day, as after all, no one is looking at your shoes.
This was called Hair Attention if you were going to something special.
When we were young girls, a special occasion came up attention was given to your hair. Usually Saturdays were bath and hair washing day, and when you lived with no hot water, it was a challenge to my Mom to get us “cleaned up and presentable” as she would say. She would boil the kettle on the old coal stove and then wash our hair in the kitchen sink, yes the water was cooled. I can tell you complaining was not permitted.
Now hair brushing was done every evening before bed, one hundred strokes and for goodness sake, do not forget where you were at or you started over at one again. There were times when I did wonder if I had any hair left on my head. My Mom had two other sayings and there was no sense complaining as they when they were repeated time to time, you just knew to keep your mouth buttoned up. Her two favourite sayings were, “You Know Cleanliness is next to Godliness” the other one was, “You can’t make a Silk Purse out of a Sow’s Ear.” In other words, just grin and bear it, and accept the Words of Wisdom.
If it was a particular, special occasion, she would decide to put ringlets in your hair, oh dear I did not like ringlets, I was no prissy, princess, and that was for sure. This was a chore, she would patiently divide your hair, it had to be even, the right amounts of ringlets. I do think there were times in order to save time the ringlets would be larger, you know you would get fewer ringlets but they would be fatter. In some ways that was better as it took less time and suffering, it was a chore.Do not think that is the end of the hair treatment, Oh No, there was another step to this mission. First of all my Mom would have cut some strips of material maybe a House Dress that was worn thin in spots, and into lengths it would be cut. We would then wrap some hair around her finger and make a ringlet, a bobby pin was inserted to hold. Then we would wrap the ringlet with the strip of material. This would happen with every ringlet.
Now for a young child the whole deal was an evening job, and if both Grace and I had to be done, by the end of the second child the nerves could be frayed, the feet tired and the finger was exhausted of being in that ringlet position. Oh I hope I am first tonight, as it pulls a bit if Mom was tired. For some reason after each ringlet was made, it was patted and pressed up against your head. You know there you go, ringlets made, rags in and patted it up against the head. Your head was exhausted, and then another statement would come out “PRIDE PINCHES’‘. You have to know it was not my pride it was my mother’s pride, and she waited for the compliments on how the daughter’s hairs, looked, just look at the shine. If you only knew what it took, the curls, the brushing. Personally speaking, I did not care. Have you ever tried to rest your head on the pillow with a bunch of lumpy rags attached? UNCOMFORTABLE! Just to let you know with the rags in your hair, it was lumpy sleeping and a good night’s rest you did not get.
Remembering Courage Strength and Love- Linda Knight Seccaspina
By the 1930’s 90% of the urban population was dependent on a wage or salary, and most families you knew lived on the edge. Living in the city meant reliance on a male family member with a job to stay alive, and if you lived on the farm you counted on what you grew to feed everyone.
As a child, my Grandmother used to tell me all sorts of stories about the Depression. Each morning she made sandwiches for the hungry people knocking on her door, and her weathered screened verandah sometimes became a shelter for homeless people during rainy nights. The train station was just a few blocks down from where they lived on South Street in Cowansville, and those that rode the freight trains would get off daily to see if they could find work or food.
I was always told that we had a hobo mark on our side door, and Grammy Knight would also take in needy families until they got on their feet. Grampy once said that he never knew who would be sitting across from him nightly at the dinner table. Each time my Grandmother asked him to go to the grocery store to get another loaf of bread for someone in need he went without complaining.
One day Grammy hired a young homeless woman named Gladys who worked for her until she died. I was barely eight years old when Gladys passed, but I still remember her like yesterday. Gladys was an odd looking woman who tried to hide her chain smoking habit from my Grandmother. The manly-looking woman would talk up a storm while she cleaned with stories that young ears should have never heard– but I always did.
Gladys would tell me all about her days during the depression as a teenager, where she would hide along the tracks outside the train yards. She would run as fast as she could along the train as it gained speed and grab hold and jump into the open boxcars. Sometimes, she missed, and sometimes she watched some of her friends lose their legs, or their lives, as they jumped off as the train was reaching its destination.
There was nothing left at home for her during those horrible years of the Depression. One Sunday they were without money for the church collection plate and under one of the old rugs they finally found a dime which they proudly placed on the collection plate.
There were just too many mouths to feed and Gladys knew she wasn’t going anywhere if she remained at home. So she just rode the rails as it was free and she knew she would find food somewhere, which was more than she was going to do at home. She cut her hair, wore overalls and a cap, and survived life on the road until my Grandmother hired her.
Gladys ended up dying in her sleep in ‘the back room’ of my Grandparents home. After she died, my Grandmother promptly labelled it ‘Gladys’s room’. When I was older and came home on weekends, that very same room was where I slept. You have no idea how many times I thought I saw Gladys in the dark shadows scurrying around with her feather duster, and yes, still chain smoking.
When I was older my Grandparents would make a simple dinner for themselves. My Grandfather would cut up tomatoes, add mayo like a dressing with salt and pepper. While I watched him eat, I would say, “is that all you’re having !!?? He would reply to me,
“I’m from a time when you looked in the icebox and you put together what was in there and that’s what you had. Remember that “my birdie” … it isn’t always right there for you when you get home . Money was scarce and we had to survive on what we grew in the garden. We learned to use everything and had no waste”.
My Grandparents taught me a lot about life. I never thought I would be my Grandmother, but here I am now. They taught me to count my blessings, not my troubles, and to “show up” for people. Your ancestors that lived through those times were brave and they never judged a book by its cover. You just never know as they say, the things you take for granted might be something others are praying for.