Tag Archives: poison

The Sad Lives of Kate and Margaret Lang

The Sad Lives of Kate and Margaret Lang

A young girl named Kate Lang (Ann Katherine Lang), employed at the Commercial House in Almonte, caused a sensation on Monday morning by taking a large dose of creosote, with the intention of putting an end to her existence.

Medical aid was immediately procured and, though she strenuously resisted, she received such treatment as gave her relief and saved her life. She is now likely to recover. It seems she had been drinking on Saturday and Sunday, and when the effects of the liquor began to wear away she was seized with desire to cut short her life. It is said this is the second attempt she has made in that direction. August 1894

Margaret Lang

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
24 Aug 1898, Wed  •  Page 3

1898, Friday August 26, The Almonte Gazette, page 4
In Ottawa, August 23rd, Margaret Alvina Lang, daughter of Mrs John Lang, of Ramsay, aged 29 years.

1898, Friday August 26, The Almonte Gazette, page 8
Miss Lang’s Sudden Death

Residents of this neighbourhood were shocked on Tuesday afternoon to learn of the death, in St Luke’s Hospital, Ottawa, that day, of Margaret Alvina Lang, daughter of Mrs John Lang, Ramsay – familiarly known as “Vinie.” Deceased , who was 29 years old, was a pleasant-faced and pleasant-mannered lady, clever and popular, and the sudden ending of so useful a life has evoked the warmest expressions of sympathy with the doubly bereaved family, who have found of late years that misfortunes have come upon them in battalions.

Miss Lang had been ill for some time, and latterly her trouble was diagnosed as an internal tumour. Two weeks ago she went to the hospital to have an operation performed for the removal of the tumour. Her brother, Dr Albert Lang, was with her last Monday – the day selected for the operation. The physicians made an incision to carry out their plans, when it was discovered that her trouble was cancer, and of such a nature that it was sure to end her life in a short time. The doctors decided that a further operation was unnecessary.

Miss Lang was made comfortable, and was progressing quite favourably until Tuesday forenoon, when she began to sink. That afternoon the relatives here received a message that she was sinking rapidly, followed by another fifteen minutes later announcing her death.

The body was brought home by Wednesday’s Soo train, and the funeral took place this (Thursday) afternoon, to the eighth line cemetery, a very large number turning out to testify their respect for the deceased and to mark their sympathy with the sorrowing mother and her family, Rev R.J. Hutcheon, M.A., of whose congregation deceased was a member, officiated. Miss Lang was a member of Atthewell Lodge No 29, Daughters of Rebekah, Almonte, and the members of that order attended the funeral in abody and conducted their impressive burial service.

Edmonton Journal
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
26 Feb 1937, Fri  •  Page 24

Leases Hotel

It appears that the late “Mr. John Kelly, a stone mason and cattle drover, decided he would go into the hotel business on the side. So he rented the Commercial House toward the lower end of Mill Street, from J. K. (King) Cole who resided in a frame residence on Farm Street, immediate behind the hostelry which he had conducted for so many years and now turned over to Mr. Kelly.

Needless to say both elderly gentlemen were great friends and visited together on frequent occasions. Mr. Kelly had three sons, all of them now deceased: Dr. J. K., a physician; R. N., a druggist and William G. who for many years was secretary-treasurer of the Public Utilities Commission. It is to the latter, with his rather good sense of humor and fondness for reminiscence, that we owe the tale, we are about to unfold.

In March of 1873 Mr. *McManagle, of the “Commercial Hotel” in Almonte had a beautiful porker, killed and dressed, and stowed away in his ice house to be drawn upon as occasion might require, for the supply of his table–When Pigs Fly or Bacon Up is Hard to Do

Did We Find Henry Lang’s Barn?

Henry Lang and His Lanark County Magic Barn?

When the Spanish Fly Kicks In !

When the Spanish Fly Kicks In !

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Robert McDonald photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

The druggist, doctor or local medicine man was always ready to share his potions for all that ailed you– including the matters of Cupid. Instead of smiles or wise words he offered some nasty stuff put into beer or spread on bread. Yes, bread.

In the Georgian era medical blistering, also sometimes known as vesiculation, raised a blister on the skin, and was thought by Georgian doctors to be an effective tool to deal with certain medical issues. Among the issues and problems blistering was thought to correct or aid was hysteria, hypochonriasis, gout, certain types of simple inflammation, and fevers, as well as cases of insanity. Blistering was achieved with applications of a fine powder usually composed of cantharides (a powerful-blistering substance often obtained from blister beetles, sometimes called Spanish Fly.

Have you ever heard of Spanish Fly?  It’s actually an insect that can be found in hay and it can be really poisonous if eaten. Livestock have died after eating this insect and can you imagine there were people who used this poisonous liquid as an aphrodisiac? It is documented as really doing the job but it hasn’t killed you the next day you might be one of the lucky ones.  Due to its toxicity, it was some also used as a poison.


Uses of Oil

It was used sometimes as a rosy blush when applied to the cheeks– if your cheeks didn’t blister or peel off. After a popular potion of  a foul mixture of pigeons’ droppings, cumin, horseradish and beetroot didn’t work to grow hair people tried Spanish Fly. There is no doubt both remedies caused a scalp tingling sensation that felt as if it might be doing something positive, but the droppings probably didn’t win many friends and the Spanish Fly caused the scalp to bleed and blister profusely. Extreme ideas were the norm of the day back then. Feast your eyes on the 1891 animal remedies clipping below:



Clipped from Vancouver Daily World,  24 Jan 1891, Sat,  Page 3



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

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.




The Peculiar Case of Jeanetta Lena McHardy

If Quackery Poison Gets You!! Blue Poison Ointment

Constipation Guaranteed to be Cured in Almonte

It’s Electrifying! Dr Scott’s Electric Corset

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I have been writing about downtown Carleton Place Bridge Street for months and this is something I really want to do. Come join me in the Domino’s Parking lot- corner Lake Ave and Bridge, Carleton Place at 11 am Saturday September 16 (rain date September 17) for a free walkabout of Bridge Street. It’s history is way more than just stores. This walkabout is FREE BUT I will be carrying a pouch for donations to the Carleton Place Hospital as they have been so good to me. I don’t know if I will ever do another walking tour so come join me on something that has been on my bucket list since I began writing about Bridge Street. It’s always a good time–trust me.

Are You Ready to Visit the Open Doors?


Beware of the Stramonium Datura




Perth Courier, Oct. 18, 1872


From the Renfrew Mercury:  “The inhabitants of Eganville were thrown into a state of excitement last Saturday from the fact that three little girls were poisoned by eating the seeds of the Stramonium Datura, or commonly called Thorn Apple.  One of the children belonged to James Bonfield, Esq. and the other two to Daniel Lacey.  The children soon became quite helpless from the effects of the narcotic.  Dr. Chanonhouse being away at the time, in the township of Stafford—no one knew what to do.  Doctors were telegraphed to for advice but Dr. Chanonhouse was sent for and fortunately got back in time to save their lives.  This is the second case of poisoning that has occurred in Eganville from poison weeds.”

There have been a number of cases of accidental poisoning as well as poisoning due to experimentation. See, also, Datura suaveolens.



In July 2008, a family of six was admitted to hospital in Maryland, USA, a few hours after eating a home made stew. Two were unconscious and the others were laughing, confused, dizzy, thirsty and suffering hallucinations. It was not possible to obtain any information from them and they were treated symptomatically, including tranquillizers in four cases to control their agitation.

Investigators visited the family home and found evidence of green leaves in the remains of the stew, discarded plant material in the kitchen waste bin and a Datura stramonium plant in the garden with numerous freshly cut-off stems.

All six recovered and were released from hospital over the following three to five days. They were, probably, fortunate that a relative happened to visit about an hour after the meal by which time they were already showing sufficiently severe symptoms of mental disturbance as to render them incapable of summoning assistance for themselves.

Lanark County Genealogical Society Website

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

If Quackery Poison Gets You!! Blue Poison Ointment



The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum posted this picture yesterday and I ago curious.

This is an antique poison tin which held Blue Ointment that contained one third Mercury. It shows the skull and crossbones and, in small print below the word “Poison” it says: “A.C. Co. 70”.  Gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia ran rampant during the Victorian era. … with urethral injections, irrigations, calomel, and treated mercurial ointments

This got me thinking about how our ancestors managed to maintain health on their units, especially when there were little to no effective medications available that didn’t involve the hideous sounding mercurial ointment or the downright hazardous, hyposulphate of soda.

Blue ointment is the name for a skin treatment that was used in the early part of the 20th century. Comprised of a mixture of mercurial ointment and petroleum or lard in a ratio of 2:1, respectively, blue ointment was often used to kill body lice, cure syphilis, and soothe troublesome skin irritations that did not respond to other poultices or salves. It was also put on the neck for lice removal especially with soldiers.



The tin was made by the McDonald Mfg in Toronto, Ontario. No idea where the ointment was made.


MacDonald Mfg. Co. Limited
Other names MMCo.
Dates & places of birth and death Established 1899, but had a fire
Occupation Lithographed Tinware Manufacturer
Notes This Toronto firm made large quantities of lithographed tinware, such as tea tins, biscuit tins, shortening tins. Some of its McCormick Biscuits tins were also marketed as “Patriotic Lunch Pails”, as they could be re-used for this purpose after the biscuits were used up.
The company had begun in 1899 (but had a fire). Once re-established, the factory at 401 Richmond Street was expanded in 1903 and in 1923. The MacDonald Manufacturing Company was purchased in 1944 by the Continental Can of Canada company (used a triple CCC mark) and they owned the factory until 1967.

Some of the containers they made were:
-Snowflake Brand Shortening
-Chocolate For Our Soldiers Places of residence Toronto, Ontario
401 Richmond Street

Blue Ointment was everywhere.. It was extremely popular.


 Boxed & Labeled “Poison” Blue Ointment Tubes “Brooklyn,N.Y.” early 1900’s

In local treatment,  the chancre (or sore) would be excised and cauterised, or frequently bathed with types of solutions. Rubbing in a mercurial ointment will hasten the disappearance of any syphilitic skin lesion. For joint affections a dressing is applied. For chronic ulcers, the use of a mercurial ointment and the local application of salvarsan for those on the leg or to the tongue. For general treatment, there were three drugs: mercury, iodine and arsenic.[5] Arsenic?? Yes! Salvarsan is an arsenic-based drug (and mishandling of the injection could and did result in arsenic poisoning on occasion). Syphilis caused open and weeping sores called chancres–these did not itch or cause pain, but were incredibly unsightly.