Tag Archives: Quebec

Farming Can be a Sticky Situation — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Farming Can be a Sticky Situation — Linda Knight Seccaspina

My late mother Bernice Ethelyn Crittenden on the family’s West Brome farm

Farming Can be a Sticky Situation Linda Knight Seccaspina

Maple syrup was just more than a sappy incident in Canada. It marks one of the most distinct eras in seasonable cuisine, and it was the first of the new and home-grown Canadian products. It has a tang of the woods and the open country, and somehow makes you think of spring flowers and the soft rain which rejuvenates the earth. It also paves the way for the rhubarb pie era which follows soon after. The rhubarb season in turn is succeeded by strawberries and cream, but that is another story altogether. 

Early settlers in Canada learned about sugar maples from our First Nations. Various legends have existed through the ages to explain how maple syrup was discovered. One is that the head of a tribe threw a tomahawk at a tree, sap ran out and his wife boiled venison in the liquid. Another version holds that our First Nations stumbled on sap running from a broken maple branch.

Those from the past have been known to declare that the best syrup was made in the “old days”. It was when the sap was boiled in iron kettles, over open fires, the product retained a furtive flavour of sugary bliss and charred wood. Today the syrup is made in patent contraptions with syphons and spigots, often boiled over coal fires, and protected from smoke in the process. The business may be less romantic than in the past, but the quality of the syrup is even higher.

My great grandfather Arthur Crittenden had some fine maples on his West Brome farm and being told about the value of the maple for the making of sugar, he decided to try sugar making. Unfortunately, he had never studied the effects of evaporation and thought the boiling process would be helped by keeping the kettles closely covered. 

Day after day he boiled away and expected the sugar to boil at the bottom of the kettles. Evaporation was partially secured by the steam raising the covers of the kettles and then the contents grew gradually sweeter. Fresh sap was constantly supplied and though the sugar was hoped for – none ever appeared. As they say ”sugar makers don’t die- they just evaporate”. It never dawned on him that to get the sugary results he must stop putting in sap and boil it all down to a certain consistency. He was about to give up until someone saved the day. Some business brought a member of the family forty miles to visit from home. When he witnessed the operation he solved my great grandfather’s mystery almost immediately. Maple sugar was soon produced and my ancestors finally feasted on the delicious product. He told anyone who would listen that he was thankful for a tree so useful in the wilderness.

However, this giant crop of maple trees became a sticky situation and grew where he intended to clear the land for his crops. All other kinds of trees were removed and the corn and potatoes were planted beneath the sturdy sugar maples. However, the ample foliage of their borad limbs was so shaded and it actually dwarfed the growing crops beneath. My great grandfather became convinced the the same ground could not yield at the same time two such crops. With feelings lacerated in a two fold sense his beloved maples were cut down and in their falling so smashed the corn and potatoes. In the end little of either was harvested and thus his first season was almost a loss.

The next season Arthur did well with a new crop on the fully cleared land, but once again he did not have much luck. At the far side of the newly planted field was a thick bush. He looked at that bush for protection for his crop and did not put any fence on that side. He failed to realize that a bush will keep out much of the sun but won’t keep out wandering animals.

In the heat of the summer a large flock of neighbours’ cattle charged through the bush and invaded the unfenced clearing. The final result was painful. As he viewed the damage to his crops he wondered if he should still be a farmer. That summer a fence was built and the following year a crop was grown with success without interference from maple trees or cattle.

I had no idea that forty gallons of sap are needed to make one gallon of syrup, and one barrel of maple syrup is worth more than 30 times of  a barrel of crude oil. I often wonder if my great grandfather ever grew back those maple trees. You have to admit the early farmers were outstanding in their field, and I have always been proud to have had farmers in my lineage. I would smile each time my father told me to close the door properly as I wasn’t raised in a barn. I always told him he had had it wrong, as I’ve never judged anyone by their relatives, and what goes on in the barn stays in the barn!

See you next week!

Oh Dear, William Penfold and my AB Positive Blood

When the Skeletons Finally Come Out of the Closet “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”

Is it all Relative? Linda Knight Seccaspina

I Am Who I am Because of You

Documenting a Sweet Story of Jim and Gertie Vaughn 1981

Documenting a Sweet Story of Jim and Gertie Vaughn 1981

A Huntley township couple who raised 11 children in the little log house they still reside in, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Mr James (Jim) Vaughan and Miss Gertrude (Gertie) Curtin were married sixty years ago in St. Michael’s Roman Catholic church al Corkery. As part of the happy celebrations surrounding such a remarkable milestone. Mr and Mrs Vaughan at tended a special mass in the church they were married in, on Januray 31.

As well, on Monday, February 2, a long time friend of the families Father Morris Fagan gave mass m the Vaughan’s home. Also over the weekend, main friends, relatives and neighbours dropped by to offer their congratulations to the Vaughans. Like other couples who have been married for a good many years, the Vaughan’s can take credit for their teamwork and tenacity through the hard times and good times of the past sixty years.

What makes the Vaughan’s story an unusual one is the way their two lives have been intertwined for almost ninety years. Jim who is 87, and Gertie, who is 86, were born in Huntley township within 1 1 /2 miles of each other — Gertie on the 12th concession and Jim on the 10th. They attended the same school together, SS No 8, which still stands almost a stones throw from the Vaughan’s prescent residence from that small schooihouse. Gertie ( went on to two years of high school in Almonte).

Jim’s education, however, came to an abrupt hall when he was old enough to farm full-time — like main other farm children of that era. He was young when he left school. For almost thirty years as well, the modest log house on the 10th Concession where the Vaughan’s still live, has been the most important focal point in their lives. Jim was born in that same house which he brought his bride to, and so has lived there all his long life.

The house was built about many years before that possibly by Irish immigrants. It

It’s originaf site was about a mile away from where it now stands. About the same time Jim Vaughan was born, the little house was painstakingly moved. This was accomplished by jacking it up on huge logs which acted as rollers. A team of horses provided ihe power needed to transport it to its present site. Somehow, over the years, 11 children and two adults co-existed peacefully in the four bedroom house.

Modern conveniences were added, but only fairly recently. Electricity was brought in in the early fifties, and the telephone just before the sixties. A bathroom was finally installed about fifteen years ago. The farmland surrounding the old house is still very much a part of the Vaughan saga and is farmed today by one of their sons, Gerald.

The eleven children, 31 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren (the youngest just a few weeks old) of Jim and Gertie Vaughan have now scattered from Vancouver to Labrador City. Jim and Gertie, however, can still be found in their log house on the 10th Concession, any time friends and family care to drop in for a chat or a game of Euchre.


Documenting Carleton Place History — From Bridge Street Benches—JamesMcNeill

Documenting Mabel Hanneman’s Nursing Home/ Bartlett’s

Documenting the Thundertones….

Documenting Mr.and Mrs. William Fest Transportation Building or—I Want Candy

Documenting Frank Lancaster — Painter — Carleton Place

June 1957 –Documenting the Happy Wanderers CFRA

E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) Poetess Town Hall Lanark November 4th 1904 — Documenting Aboriginal History

I Swear it’s True- Part 7 –The British Child Emigration Movement– Sherbrooke Weekend Newspaper

I Swear it’s True- Part 7 –The British Child Emigration Movement– Sherbrooke Weekend Newspaper

When I grew up in the Eastern Townships I used to hear stories about the British Home children from my Grandparents. They had arrived from England in the early 1900s and made Cowansville, Quebec their home. They never really stated that anything was horribly wrong, but the looks on their faces made me understand all did not go well with some of the children.

To tell you the truth I never really thought about it much until I moved to Lanark County, Ontario where a large number of Barnardo’s Home Children had also been sent. Sometimes I heard stories that made me embarrassed to be a Canadian. After I watched a few documentaries about them I wondered if Canada had been in the same league as slave labour. These 4-15 year old children worked as farm labourers and domestic servants until they were 18 years old. The organizations professed a dominant motive of providing these children with a better life than they would have had in Britain, but one wonders if they had other pecuniary motives.

One of the distributing homes in the Townships was founded by a Miss McPherson at Knowlton, where it was stated:

“That all English Scottish and Irish boys and girls were brought up and made into fine Canadian citizens.

Opened in 1872 Knowlton was the third in Receiving Homes that Scottish evangelist Annie MacPherson opened in Canada. In 1875, Mrs. Louisa Birt took over. After illness prevented Mrs. Birt from carrying on her work in 1910, her daughter, Lillian Birt, took over. A fire damaged the property in 1913 and the First World War began, stopping the flow of children and Miss Birt went to work at the UK Shelter. The Knowlton Distributing Home in the Eastern Townships processed nearly 5,000 children from 1872 -1915.

These children arrived in Canada with the usual kit given to child immigrants: a Bible, a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, writing materials, a brush and comb, a work bag with needles, thread and worsted for darning. All this was packed into a wooden trunk along with a nicely trimmed dress and hat for Sunday wear and a sturdy dress (made of a plain or twilled fabric), a dark hat for winter, a liberal supply of underclothing for summer and winter, three pairs of boots, four pairs of stockings, gloves, collars, aprons, pinafores and a warm hood. 

In 1897 it was written in the Montreal Gazette that Mrs. Birt, of the Distribution Home, Knowlton, P.Q. had a party of young people from the Sheltering Home, Liverpool, England, coming to Knowlton about July 20. The majority were under 10 years of age, with a few boys and girls from 12 to 16. Applications accompanied by railway fares and the minister’s recommendation should be supplied first, if possible. Notice would be sent when to meet the children.

These children were a number of the 55th party which had arrived at the local Distribution Home. The older boys and girls had already found positions and homes, and they needed to place the little ones in families to be loved and cared for. In 1897 the following were to be placed locally:


Bertie, aged 5, fair hair, blue eyes; Jimmy, aged 7 (motherless), blue eyes, brothers.

Tommy, age 7, (motherless), dark complexion, blue eyes. 

Willie T., aged 8, fair, bright boy. 

Johnnie, aged 1, and Willie ( aged 9 (brothers), motherless, blue eyes. 

Charlie, aged 9, brown eyes, fair hair, fatherless, gentle. 


Vena, aged 2, fair, hazel eyes. good adoption. 

Maudie, aged 3, and Hettie, aged 5 (sisters), fair, blue eyes, motherless. 

Jennie, aged 7.

Bella,aged 6. Scotch child, bright, brown eyes, dark hair. 

Chrissie, aged 4 Scotch, motherless, fair. 

Louisa, aged 7, fair, blue eyes, motherless. 

Gladys, aged 7, motherless, dark hair, blue eyes. 

Most were not motherless as advertised. Two-thirds of these children had a parent in Britain, but were too poor to raise them. Many were suddenly separated from their families and each other when they were sent to Canada. A good portion never saw each other again. Many spent their lives trying to identify their parents and find their siblings and were unsuccessful. For most of the children, separation from family was the hardest to bear. Conditions for the orphans ran the gamut from atrocious to ideal. There were stories of beatings and starvation. Suicide was not uncommon among home children, and the girls had the hardest times as many from ages 12-17 were molested.

I have written a few stories about the Home Children and some are great stories, that had nice people to live with because they allowed you to sleep in the house and you could eat at the table. Maybe they would buy you a great new pair of boots. Then there were other stories about being lucky that one of the charities showed up in February to check on some of the children as one boy was living in the barn with no heat and the toes of his boots were cut out because they were too small. He was lucky and and they transfered him to the new farm.

William  Price – “To be a home boy—it’s so hard to explain—there’s a certain stigma. I know that for a fact. You’re just in a class. You’re an orphan. Years ago you counted as dirt. You were a nobody. That was only common sense. You were alone in the world.”

Local politicians at that time thought that the Eastern Townships would be the ideal place for the young boys and girls who later might become good Canadian citizens. It was also suggested that some scheme be started by which the Eastern Townships obtain some volume of the immigrants who are coming in to stay. Between 1869 and 1948, over 100,000 children arrived in Canada from Great Britain as part of the British Child Emigration Movement.

Did you know that more than 10% of our Canadian population may be descended from British Home Children? However, many are not aware of these interesting family stories as a lot chose not to talk about it, only wanting to forget that part of their life. After writing many a story I began to understand why my Grandparents talked in hush tones as they told the stories of a neighbour or friend that was once part of the Barnado’s Home Children emigration. The future never belongs to those that are afraid, it belongs to the brave– and in my heart and mind, they were more than brave and must never be forgotten.

I Swear it’s True Part 5– The Lodge on the Summit of Owl’s Head– Sherbrooke Record Weekend Newspaper

I Swear it’s True! Part 4 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina – Tales from Bolton Pass —– SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

I Swear it’s True! Part 3 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

I Swear it’s True!  Part 1 2 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina

I Swear it’s True Part 6– The Lost Black Colony of St. Armand Updates– Sherbrooke Record Weekend Newspaper

British Home Children

Home Boy Lawsuits — Pakenham– The British Home Children

The British Home Children — The Trip to Canada

Ernest Kennings — Home Boy — British Home Children

Robert Laidlaw Home Boy — British Home Children–Buchanan Scrapbook Clippings

Did You Know About Dr. Barnardo’s Baby’s Castle? British Home Children — Home Boys

Canadians Just Wanted to Use me as a Scullery-Maid

Laundry Babies – Black Market Baby BMH 5-7-66

More Unwed Mother Stories — Peacock Babies

The Wright Brothers– British Home Children

Home Boys and Family–Mallindine Family — Larry Clark

Clippings of the Barnardo Home Boys and Girls

Lily Roberts of Drummond The Rest of the Story

British Home Children – Quebec Assoc click

Ontario East British Home Child Family click

British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association click

if anyone is interested in sourcing a personal copy in printed or pdf format of info about British Home Children they can see descriptions and ordering info on our British Home Child web page: https://globalgenealogy.com/countries/canada/home-children/resources/index.htm

Locals can avoid the shipping charge on physical books by calling us at 613 257 7878 to arrange to pick up a copy at our home in CP. Of course there is no shipping charge on the pdf books that they order online.

Best, Rick.

I Swear it’s True Part 5– The Lodge on the Summit of Owl’s Head– Sherbrooke Record Weekend Newspaper

I Swear it’s True Part 5– The Lodge on the Summit of Owl’s Head– Sherbrooke Record Weekend Newspaper

Owl’s Head, Quebec--The Golden Rule Lodge of Stanstead holds a ceremony every year at the top of Owl’s Head. Near the top of Owl’s Head is a natural chamber, accessible on foot, through an opening between rocks. Members and guests of Golden Rule Lodge No 5 of Stanstead of the Masonic Order meet here annually on the summer solstice. This chamber was inaugurated by Henry J. Martin, GM, on September l0, 1857. Acclaimed to be the only natural open air lodge that is known to exist, Masons from the world over have visited here. The Masonic emblem of a square and compass with the letter ‘G’ in
the centre is inscribed on one wall. A double headed eagle, of symbolic meaning to Masons, is depicted on the chamber’s eastern face

Golden Rule Lodge #5 / Annual Owl’s Head Communication · Owl’s Head, c.1900

Through my childhood years there were always mentions of secret handshakes and the glimpses of velvet curtains and big chairs at the local Lodge. Then there were the blue aprons that my Father and Grandfather carried around in something that looked like a violin case. These are the memories of the Cowansville Masonic Lodge I still hold at the age of 71. 

I have always wanted to know what really goes on with the Freemasons. My Dad and Grandfather were Grand Masters and I would always ask what the Cowansville organization was up to. They told me it was a secret, and no matter who I still ask, it still seems to be a secret.

Paul Todd, a member of St. John’s No. 63 in Carleton Place, ON, agreed to show me around last year. These fraternal groups, no matter what you read or think, are based on community and most join at the recommendation of somebody close to them. I am sure my Grandfather Knight joined because he liked the charitable side of the membership, and then some joined as they needed the sense of fellowship like my Father did. In fact it wasn’t only my father’s side, my mother’s side all claimed to be Masons too.

I have written before about Masonic markings found in Lanark County, but according to my Grandfather there were many in the Eastern Townships as well. There is a well known one in Potton Springs, in Vale Perkins and on farms similar to ones I found in Lanark County. But, the mother of all that was a story that I thought was just a local fable. It was about Owl’s Head overlooking Lake Memphremagog, which is located on the border between Vermont and Quebec.

At one time the annual trek June 24th to the only outdoor Masonic Lodge Room, called the Owl’s Head Golden Rule Lodge, was available only by climbing Owl’s Head Mountain. My Grandfather said that it was a hard climb to the area. He only climbed once, and just to the Lodge Room but decided he could never do it again. Even though it seemed like it was a steady climb and flattened out at times, you would always encounter some steep rocks. From ledge to ledge you carefully walked until you reached the plateau. Each year, a candidate for the Master Mason degree carries a wicker basket that contains ropes, the flags of Quebec, the United States, and Canada, and Masonic tools, including a Bible, and a square and compasses.

Instead of just one peak Owl’s Head has three separated by deep chasms. My Grandfather used to tell me he had friends that told him if you went to the very top of Owl’s Head and had binoculars you could see the outlines of Montreal. Between two of the peaks they finally came to the sacred area called The Lodge Room, so named from the fact that different Masons from Vermont and Canada ascended the mountain. It was a wild cavern, accessible only by one path and so constructed by nature as to be singularly adapted to the purposes of a lodge room. In that very spot, the Golden Rule Lodge first had a meeting in 1856. 

The room itself was of sheer rock towering over 500 feet and the officers’ seats were made of natural stone. The site was established by what many Masons claim to be a very ancient lodge located across the lake from Vermont,  and they still perform the 3rd Degree of Masonry ritual at sunrise. It is said that the ceremony conformed to ancient Masonry and that “the old customs are carried out to the letter” at a time when “the sun is at its meridian and several members were initiated on the summit”. 

Having arrived at the foot of “Owl’s Head” Mountain, the ascent was made in about two hours, my Grandfather said. After the lodge had performed the 3rd Degree Of Masonry Ritual, the members descended the mountain, where they enjoyed delicious food made by the ladies of Stanstead, Newport and Derby, Vermont.

At one point in history there was a bad feeling brought about by the war of 1812, and the Canadians were obliged to separate from their American brethren, and founded the Golden Rule Lodge at Stanstead in 1814. This lodge had a long struggle in the cause of temperance. We are told that in those good old days the people indulged freely in spirituous liquors. Intemperance prevailed everywhere; each neighbourhood had its distillery. Potato whiskey was the staple commodity and, during the winter, numerous teams were constantly employed conveying it to the Montreal market.

In 1828-9 the Stanstead lodge died out from a variety of causes. But in November, 1846, a number of gentlemen who had been detained by an unusually severe snowstorm, while attending the winter show of the Agricultural society of Stanstead county, met by accident at West’s tavern, at Derby Line. Here, before a bright fire, and over a social pipe and glass, the Golden Rule was revived under the old warrant granted in 1824 by H.R.H. the Duke of Sussex, which was supposed to have been destroyed at the burning of the Grand Lodge room in Montreal, a few years before.

The Golden Rule Lodge is the only lodge allowed to hold an outdoor meeting or communication in Quebec. Thanks to an 1857 dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Canada they are allowed to have their annual gathering everyJune 24.  At one time Golden Rule Lodge No. 5 of Stanstead, Canada, occupied a lodge room that was bisected by the boundary between Canada and the United States, with entrances on both the Vermont and Canadian sides. Consequently, lodge membership consisted of men from both sides of the border. A charter was applied for and granted to the Golden Rule Lodge in 1853 by the Grand Lodge of England. 

Reading this through I am often amazed that if history isn’t explained or kept from me I seek it out like my pants are on fire. I get excited to be able to tell the stories I was told and hoping that others will pass it on. So please remember that each day of your life is a page of your own history. Pass it on, and see you next time!

Masonic Gathering 1919

Level of description



Eastern Townships Resource Centre

Reference code

CA ETRC P020-003-06-P078

Title proper

Meeting of Freemasons on Owl’s Head 1920

Level of description



Eastern Townships Resource Centre

Reference code

CA ETRC P998-099-007-P001

James Williams

Owl’s Head Basket, Golden Rule Lodge No. 5 – 1900 – 1920

I Swear it’s True! Part 4 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina – Tales from Bolton Pass —– SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

I Swear it’s True! Part 4 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina – Tales from Bolton Pass —– SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

Photo from my collection

I Swear it’s True! Part 4 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina – Tales from Bolton Pass SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

In 1883 Lake View House in Knowlton advertised that a drive through Bolton Pass to Bolton Springs would be unrivalled for wild and romantic scenery. I was surprised that the sightings of fairies were never mentioned in the advertisement because my Grandfather insisted the Pass was full of them.

A few months ago I began to archive some news clippings about Bolton Pass. To this day I can remember driving through the area many times and looking for faeries on each side of the road. Two months ago I bought some Canadian travel books from the late 1800s and low and behold there was a majestic illustration of Bolton Pass, but no mention of faeries.

It was always said that once you passed Brome Village the road dropped down a steep slope into Bolton Pass near Sally’s Pond and on through the pass to the Missisquoi River Valley. From there this offshoot of the Green Mountains continued over the ridge to drop down once more to the shores of Lake Memphremagog at Knowlton’s Landing. Until 1820, even dragging a wagon behind you was impossible and in 1826, an effort was made to be able to travel safely. A government grant was arranged in 1830 and the road was greatly improved so that wagons could finally travel. Settlers were scattered along the Pass at each end, but that steep drop down into the Pass was very real. I always thought that perhaps that drop wasn’t created by glaciers and was actually created by faeries in amusement. My grandfather told me that the early settlers all believed in fairies, banshees and ghosts, and that ghost stories coming from the old country were the favourite amusement at every evening gathering.

It’s been said by history buffs that the original track ran along the south side of the pass at the foot of the mountain. Because it was in the shade longer than the north flank it was abandoned and a new and improved route followed the foot of the north side of the pass. Many years later it was rerouted right down the middle which required more than levelling with a lot of gravel required to fill the wet swampy centre of the Pass. 

During severe cold or stormy weather it was particularly difficult and even dangerous to attempt passing through. On one occasion at least, when a traveller insisted on making the attempt against the advice of those who better understood the risk, his life paid the price.

In 1818 Nathan Hanson married a daughter of Simon Wadleigh and he opened a public house. Even though the road was not really passable for wagons until 1820, those who travelled on foot or horseback needed a place to stay. It was the only road as shown in the history of East Bolton where you might be able to reach the west side of the mountain. 

There were also many tragedies of those that did not make it through the Pass. One day a stranger from the States decided to make his way through but he never came back. A search party was sent out the next day and they found his body on the east side of the mountain- frozen to death. Owing to the amount of snow and the absence of a road the men had taken some boards and nails and made a coffin for him right on site. A crude slab was made to mark his burial site that said: Dr. Levi Frisbie, January 28, 1800.

In 1902 a Knowlton correspondent for the Montreal Gazette wrote about a wonderful cave that had recently been discovered at the base of one of the mountains at Bolton Pass. Mr. Selby, of South Bolton, found the opening which barely admitted the passage of an adult person. Looking inside he saw a large lofty room, sparkling with Stalactites, but being alone he did not venture inside. No one knows if faeries lived in the cave, but he quoted that there were rare fishtail helictites on the walls that sort of resembled fairy wings.

The correspondent reported that others were preparing to visit the spot and explore it thoroughly. The cave,he thought, made a great addition to the many charms and attractions of the drive from Knowlton to Bolton Springs. Why it had remained undiscovered for so many years baffled me and as I searched I could not find any other news story about it.

During the 1930s my Grandfather would sit at the back of the wagon with a rifle with his family to chase off what he called hoodlums or whatever popped out from behind the trees. He said there was no telling what would jump out in front of you on the Bolton Pass Road. Sometimes your eyes played tricks on you, but you kept driving and didn’t stop.

Among the stories he told me was that when the Irish immigrants came to the area their family fairies came with them. He once said that after a fire pit was made; the next morning the whole surface of the pit was covered in tiny footprints and gave the impression that a number of little people had been dancing on the fresh earth surface. No one in my family had seen anything like it in Ireland. They had heard a great deal about fairies while back in the homeland, but had never seen any of their footprints. If they had carried cameras in those days they might have taken a photo, but they had none, so they had no evidence to show those who asked. Some to whom they told the story suggested that the foot marks were those of some small animal, but both men strongly insisted that the marks were like those of miniature human feet much smaller than those of a new baby’s feet.

And so, tales from Bolton Pass go back to a time when a flicker in the bush might be a faerie, or a stone might be a troll in petrified form.Things of nature were treated with a different sense of respect then and I for one will never forget the magical stories of who might have been leaving those sparkly crystals in the stone once seen on a forest path in Bolton Pass.


Bernard Bissonnette


Here on my property in Bonsecours ,gnomes are everywhere and they take care of all the scenery that I see every day

I Swear it’s True! Part 3 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

I Swear it’s True!  Part 1 2 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina

CLIPPED FROMThe Montreal StarMontreal, Quebec, Canada10 Sep 1901, Tue  •  Page 10

CLIPPED FROMThe Montreal StarMontreal, Quebec, Canada14 Jul 1900, Sat  •  Page 5

CLIPPED FROMThe GazetteMontreal, Quebec, Canada21 Jun 1883, Thu  •  Page 8

CLIPPED FROMThe GazetteMontreal, Quebec, Canada23 Jul 1964, Thu  •  Page 31

Old Quebec Pies – Brodie Flour Contest 1963

Old Quebec Pies – Brodie Flour Contest 1963

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada16 Oct 1963, Wed  •  Page 36

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada06 Feb 1963, Wed  •  Page 30

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada06 Feb 1963, Wed  •  Page 30


I Didnt Mean to Break the Internet With My Cranberry Pickle PieRecipe

Cranberry Pickle Pie and Utah Pickle Pie –(Last time I saw something like this, the test came…

Overnight Lock-up Guests Should Be Fed For 25c Apiece — Little Geneaology

Vintage Easter and Bunny Cake Recipes from the 60s and 70s

‘Pet De Soeurs’ or Nun’s Pastries

“Get it On” — Banging Cookies Recipe–This Will Feel Wrong, but Trust Me!

The Invincible Ginger Snap Cookies of Carleton Place

Memories of Woolworths and Chicken in a Van

Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans–Lanark County Recipes

Easy Christmas Cake- Lanark County Recipes

Holiday Popcorn– Lanark County Recipes

Granny’s Maple Fudge —Lanark County Recipes

Albert Street Canasta Club Chilled Pineapple Dessert

Recipes from Lanark County–Glazed Cranberry Lemon Loaf

Gum Drop Cake — Lanark County Holiday Recipe

Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar? Pastry Chef Ben White

“Sex in the Pan” Memories – A RIP Fashion Violation Photo Essay

Katherine Hepburn Did Eat Brownies

The Stewarts and the Shiners of the Gatineaus

The Stewarts and the Shiners of the Gatineaus

Irish Stick Fighters from Ottawa Valley Stickfighters, believed to be Beckwith Shiners from the Foresters Falls – Roche Fendu area…. Taken from The Perth Courier, Nov.29, 1872, 

Between the 1840s and 1850s in the Gatineau district in the province of Quebec, there was a very wild stretch of country, with settlements few and far between. Supplies were carried up the more remote sections in canoes, and there were many cascades in the river. The voyager was frequently obliged to portage along with the freight until they could find a place where he could trust himself in the water again. There existed in that partof the area a body of men who the public called “Shiners”. The operations of the Shiners extended from Bytown (Ottawa) to many miles up the Gatineau and wary be the man or woman who fell under their displeasure.

This group of men were recruited from the ranks of the Irish emigrants who were coming in droves to Canada.These men were not content to let the old feuds from the old country rest in peace, but sought to escalate them in Canada. In the old land the Orange and Green had been at war for a very long time and neither side wanted to bury the hatchet. The Shiners were of the old school Irish Roman Catholic, and the tales emerged of how little value they put on human life.

Early in the 1840s a Scotchman named Stewart took up a large tract of land in the Gatineaus, about 150 miles from Hull, and he brought his wife and three children to settle. All his friends thought he was crazy to even think of taking his delicately bred wife so far away from civilization. However no amount of opposition could deter Stewart. His intention was to procure as much land as he could so later on his children could divy up the land for their families and call that tract of land ‘The Stewarts of Stewartsville’. A log home was put up in the wilderness and he finally sent for his wife and children.

Ill times began for the family as soon as they got there and their rations dwindled to nothing during the first long and lengthy winter. Mrs. Stewart fell ill and nearly died. A small grave was dug beside the home and in it was placed their first male child. Any other man might deal with half of this and decide to go home but not Mr. Stewart as he was a stubborn man.

When Stewart had been living up in the Gatineaus for almost six years, an incident happened that well cost him his life. Feelings were running high between the Shiners and their opponents. An election had been held in Hull, and Mr. Stewart having been down there at the time indulged a little more freely in consuming the spirits and during conservation and expressed how he really felt about the Shiners. That probably wasnot the best of ideas.

He made the journey home safely, but a few days later recieved word that the Shiners would be paying him a visit shortly. That surely meant trouble, but Stewart laughed at the threats. His wife however spent the next three days in hysterics. Three days later an old Scotch priest, Father Paisley, and a friend who were travelling down the river stopped at the Stewarts house to rest. Three of their children were then unbaptized. As the Stewarts were Presbyterian they were determined to seize the day and give them their family a good Christian baptism while Father Paisley was there. They were invited to dinner and stayed the night.

At one in the morning a loud door knock was heard. Mr. Stewart knew it was the Shiners and they told him to come outside. By this time the whole household was up and Mrs. Stewart was on her knees with her children around her praying. The Shiners were not happy with the delay and tried to force the door open. Suddenly Father Paisley with his supplice on and an uplifted crucifix in his hands, stepoed in between Stewart and the 20 masked and armed Shiners who have now broken the door.

Seeing the priest the Shiners backed up and demanded he stop protecting Mr. Stewart who is cowering behind the priest’s burly form. Father Paisley screamed that they would have to kill him first and commanded them to leave the house in the name of HIM who was on the crucifix. The Shiners retorted that he was an Orangeman. The priest replied that they had all been baptized in Ireland and he had baptized the Stewart children yesterday and because of the kindness of being taken in he would protect Mr. Stewart from their wrath. The Shiners had a war meeting and decided not to harm Stewart and would leave him alone.

This was not to be the last time there was to be a record of how religious intervention stopped the shed of blood in the Ottawa area. As for the Stewart family they lived in the Gatineaus for many years and are laid to rest in the vicinity. There is no doubt that stories were told through the generations about the visit from the Shiners.

Lost Ottawa


Morning of Weirdness. Here is a stamp of Joseph Monterrand, known among English speakers as Big Joe Mufferaw.

Joseph was apparently a six foot four French Canadian — truly big for that time — famous as a lumberjack in the Ottawa Valley, but even more famous as one of the few people in the Outaouais willing to stand up against Ottawa’s infamous Shiners.

A real person, he died in 1864. Then his life was appropriated to become the stuff of legends—

Andrew Leamy & Jos. Montferrand – The Two Solitudes, Through a Lens Darkly– Click

The Shiners’ War

Lumbermen in the Ottawa Valley, late 19th century, Topley Studio.

Library and Archives Canada, PA-012605.

20 October 1835

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada31 Aug 1935, Sat  •  Page 2

The Last of the Fenians Sons— Bellamy’s Mills — James Ingram

When the Fenians Came to Visit

When the Fenians Came to Visit

The Rare Fenian Medal of Private W. Rorison– Carleton Place Rifle Company
Fenians OR Ballygiblins? Fighting Irish 101

Fenian Raid Sale– Get Yer Boots Before You Have to go Fight Again

Debunking the Stories My Family Told Me

The Rare Fenian Medal of Private W. Rorison– Carleton Place Rifle Company

A Carleton Place Fenian Soldier’s Photo

Ballygiblin Riots in Carleton Place — Were We Bad to the Bone?

The Hidden Hideaway On Glen Isle

Samuel Hawkshaw- Carleton Place–Carleton Blazers of Bells Corners

So About that Ballygiblin Sign…. Fourteen Years Later!

I Swear it’s True! Part 3 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

I Swear it’s True! Part 3 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

Potton White Sulphur Springs, Que Quebec Canada-BANQ-CP 15995 CON–0002645701–1926

I Swear it’s True! Part 3 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

In 1828 Bolton Spring, noted for its medicinal properties, was discovered in North Potton, Quebec on the farm of William Green by a thirsty farmhand. Its value as a remedial agent wasn’t realized until 1844 when it was used in a case of scrofula. Scrofula was a form of tuberculosis of the neck, and when word got out about the cure people came to drink from this miracle water.

Local legend goes that 14 year-old Nathan Banfill discovered these waters while looking for a drink at the bottom of a cliff at the base of Peeve Mountain. Little did Banfill know that such a huge gush of sulphur water from three springs would become popular in the future and people would come to enjoy its benefits for miles. 

I remember as a little girl my grandfather would take me to this small covered bubbling spring out in the middle of nowhere in the Eastern Townships, and the air smelled like rotten eggs. The family would fill up a couple of milk jugs with the smelly water, but I wanted no part of it. I had no idea that it was similar to what young Nathan Banfill discovered.

One must remember that in 1830 the north of Potton Township was slow to be settled, the local roads were scarcely passable, and the area very uneven for people to come and visit the future spa culture. It wasn’t until 1862 that the upper class folks came to enjoy what C.F. Haskell from Stanstead had named Mount Pleasant Springs.  After several variants of Haskell’s title for the area were forgotten, Potton Springs became the official name.

In 1875, the Potton Springs Hotel was built by ancestor N.H. Green and word spread internationally about the sulphur waters’ supposed healing properties. Eastern Townships historian Gerard Leduc has written that there was possibly another structure before Green’s building as it seems he might have built his first building on top of a former field stone foundation. Merely two years later, the new hotel took advantage of the extension of the railway line of the Missisquoi and Black Rivers Valley Company. The hotel was purchased by J. A. Wright, who supplied it with electricity from a generator and seeing the potential of his investment opportunity, enlarged it in 1912 to accommodate 75 guests.

CLIPPED FROMThe GazetteMontreal, Quebec, Canada08 Dec 1925, Tue  •  Page 10

At a rate of two dollars per day visitors afflicted with liver, stomach, kidney or urinary tract ailments were among those who could expect help and “female diseases” were reported to be greatly benefited by the use of the waters and baths. It was in the right price range for my mother’s side of the family, and they frequented it often until it burned down in the 1930s. It was the cure of all cures they said.

Three sulphur springs originated from a deep aquifer, and the waters were tapped from the mountain springs into a wooden tank and delivered to the hotel below only by gravity. Baths could be taken in a variety of forms, including shower, sitting, and spray, and word was even a pool fed by the springs was available.

Sulphur baths were given for the care of rheumatism or eczema and sulphuric mud packs were applied to troublesome joints. The day at a sulphur spa would begin by drinking as much water as they could, followed by breakfast. After lunch, the guests would take a nap followed by four o’clock tea and a walk in the woods celebrating the flora and fauna with the nightingales heard overhead. Well, that was the story I heard. 

My Grandfather told me stories of Petroglyphs carved on rocks and the sacred Masonic engravings on the protruding stone above a spring including several names and freemason symbols.They say people drank it, bathed in it, and even brought it home similar to my Grandparents who did the same in the 50s from their own secret spring. 

The spa flourished and the McMannis Hotel which was situated at the corner of Mountain Road and Route 243, did an excellent business with the seasonal patrons who journeyed to Potton Springs. Business began to decline at the end of the 1920s, during the Great Depression. In 1923 rumours were so abundant that Typhoid Fever in Mansonville was caused by the water at Potton Springs, when in fact they had gotten Typhoid from their own water.

CLIPPED FROMThe Montreal StarMontreal, Quebec, Canada23 Jun 1923, Sat  •  Page 37

J. A. Wright finally sold the establishment to F. Larin in 1930, but a fire, (possible arson was mentioned) gutted the hotel in 1934. They say there isn’t much left of Potton Springs today, and only a few deteriorating remaining foundations have been left exposed to the elements. The foundation made from Lennoxville bricks remains, but even the 6-7 metre Potton Springs Hotel sign that was found by the new owners was stolen in 1990.

Potton Springs is now private property and moments you try to put into words no longer exist. When I look at old photos it’s pretty overwhelming, memories are now devastation, and there are no longer the original buildings to speak for themselves. 

Someone asked me if I had ever been there and seen the remains. Once again,I only have stories from my Grandfather and if I had a time machine a million memories would now flash through my mind. But, we can never go back, and now the only clues to what happened at Potton Springs only remain in photographs, the carvings among the rocks and the whispers of the wind.

As a final memory I was made to drink a glass a day of that water from my Grandfather’s secret Spring. Do I remember the wretched taste of hard-boiled eggs? No, my memory dwells more fondly of the fabulous Lemon Pie!

CLIPPED FROMThe GazetteMontreal, Quebec, Canada06 May 1922, Sat  •  Page 7

From Potton Springs Go FUND ME

CLIPPED FROMThe GazetteMontreal, Quebec, Canada03 Sep 1931, Thu  •  Page 5

I Swear it’s True!  Part 1 2 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina

What Could Have Been Today– The Gloucester Mineral Springs……..

Carlsbad Springs: The Last Days of the Boyd Hotel Cookhouse

Read- Where Were the Miracle Salt Springs in Pakenham? I Love a Challenge! or

Interesting People –R. E. Irvine — The Story of a Bottle

Whale Sightings in Pakenham and Smiths Falls – Holy SeaWorld!

Sand in the Trunk and Other Winter Things – Linda Knight Seccaspina

Sand in the Trunk and Other Winter Things – Linda Knight Seccaspina

Sand in the Trunk and Other Winter Things – Linda Knight Seccaspina

Two months ago I got my winter tires on my car. As I listened to the roar of the heavier tires, and watched them throw my tire sensor system out of whack, I had to laugh at some old memories.

My late husband Angelo used to argue that winter tires were “for people from Toronto who have to call in the army to shovel the sidewalks when it snows.” That was until one day he backed down my father’s snowy Miltimore driveway in Bromont and removed part of his fence. Not content with believing his Delta 88 could do such a thing he attempted to reverse again, only this time he hit the mailbox.

Through the years as he got older he began to realize living in a rural area needed snow tires. One day I overheard Angelo tell my oldest son Sky to get his head out of the sand and put some winter tires on his car. I just smiled and realized things just take time to sink in. It was similar to that proudest moment of being a parent when my child agreed it was finally cold enough to wear a hat.

Arthur Knight, my late Dad, always insisted that you kept bags of sand in the trunk for traction in case you got stuck in the winter. His 70s Ford Pinto was loaded to the brim with bags of sand, and when I went to visit him he always insisted on tossing some in my trunk too.  

It was supposed to add weight, and if I ever got stuck, the sand could be used for traction, he said. I never actually got stuck, so I never had to use the sand.  He said he learned the hard way hitting every ditch on the Brome Pond road one winter with no sand or salt in the trunk and a bunch of lightweights riding in his car with him. Somehow I doubt that a couple of sandbags, add or subtract anything is meaningful to the traction of a vehicle today that already weighs a few tons when empty, plus a few hundred pounds with a driver and passenger. But, weight was significant in the days of rear wheel drive, because most of the weight was in the front. I can well remember in my youth, the only way I got up an icy hill (not having heeded my father’s advice about the sand) was to have a couple of my friends climb into the trunk to put some weight over the back wheels.

Every year AAA publishes advice for winter driving and putting sand or litter in the back of a car is always on the list. I personally prefer cat litter because it’s relatively inexpensive (non clumping, non scented) and provides decent traction.

I decided to look this traction myth up on Snopes.com and the page was completely blank. Had Arthur Knight had it all wrong? I found a few discussions on a few automotive boards and one man had this to say.

“So while extra weight generally improves traction, the only safe place to put it is in between the wheels. That’s why, for traction, we suggest car-pooling. In fact, when recruiting car-poolers, you could start by putting up a sign at Weight-Watchers.”

After more research I decided to go back to Snopes where I found another link about the topic. Again the page was blank and the lone entry was about a woman called *“The Human Couch”.

Word on the street goes that a very large woman had to be brought to the ER after she had experienced shortness of breath. While they attempted to undress her an asthma inhaler fell out of one of the folds of her arm. A shiny new dime was under her breast and a TV remote control was found somewhere else on her body. Her family was extremely grateful that she was okay, and that they found the remote.

It’s easy to see I don’t care for Winter one bit, and if there is one good thing that comes out of snow, cold and ice is the fact I haven’t seen a mosquito in a really long time.

*( Brown, Mark.  Emergency! True Stories from the Nation’s ERs. –New York: Villard Books, 1997.   ISBN 0-312-96265-7   (pp. 32-33).

Findlay vs. Bailey in Carleton Place —Horses vs. Cars

When was the First Car Fatality in Carleton Place?

When Things Come 360 –The First Automobile Fatality in Carleton Place– Torrance, Burgess, and Names Names

The Carleton Place Bathroom Appliance Cars

Rollin’ Down the Mississippi River —- Tunes and Cars of Carleton Place 1971

 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!