Tag Archives: roads

What was the First Load Down Wolf Grove Road? 1906

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What was the First Load Down Wolf Grove Road? 1906
December 7 1906

The Perth Road was first laid out by Josias Richey, the Government Deputy Surveyor, as a road from Kingston to Pakenham throughPerth. According to Howard Brown in Lanark Legacy, the Perth road follows a Precambrian Ridge that runs through what was then known as Wolf’s Grove. This geographical feature created a natural trail that was likely a native travel route long before the settlement of the area.

With the later widening and paving of what is now Wolf Grove Road, the Old Perth road fell into almost total disuse. Parts of it are not maintained at all in the Winter. Because of this, the road remains almost frozen in time. Many essential arteries from the past were built ever larger as the demands of traffic grow, going from farm roads to highways and losing some of their rural charm in the process. The Old Perth Road is a wonderful example of a significant historical road that has not been modernized at all.

The Importance of the Eighth Line

In the 1820s, the Eighth Line was the main road connecting Ramsayville or Shipman’s Mills (now Almonte) with Pakenham.  The Ninth Line (now Hwy 29) was only a path.  The road from Morphy’s Falls (present day Carleton Place) to present day Almonte was built by statute labour in 1828.  From Almonte to Pakenham, the road for many years was so bad that it could only be used for hauling supplies in winter. The road ran from Almonte to the Tannery hill on the Eighth Line and along it past the Bennie’s mill on the Indian River to Bennie’s Corners, that across to the Ninth Line at Snedden’s and on to Pakenham. With the Old Perth Road joining the Eighth Line between Lots 14 and 15, it is not difficult to imagine the Eighth Line as a most heavily travelled road.  It was, therefore, only natural that schools, churches, and businesses would built along it.  The present day Wolf Grove Road between Auld Kirk and Union Hall was not opened as a highway until 1967.  Before that time, it was used only as a winter road.

#1792 Wolf Grove Rd – The Union Hall School was located on this site from 1847 until its closure in 1964 after which the building was moved to the Ramsay Township municipal offices where it was used as a maintenance garage.  It was demolished in 2017. Education was a priority for early settlers and not surprisingly, the Union Hall School has an early, varied, interesting and sometimes controversial history.

# 1905 Wolf Grove Rd – Sutherland’s farm (now called Hobby Horse Farm). The first owner who received the original crown grant was Jock Sutherland, a Highlander with Jacobite ancestors who came with his wife from Glasgow. They could speak both Gaelic and English.  His son, William, married Margaret Campbell, who was the daughter of a veteran of the Crimean War who was the first president of the Almonte Fair and was also a magistrate. The first post office for Union Hall was kept in the Sutherland home.  The window frame had a slot cut into it through which letters were dropped.  The mail came from Clayton. Later the post office was moved to the Penman home. The telephone came in 1908. Rural mail delivery started in 1911.  The farm passed out of the Sutherland family ownership with its sale in 1980.

Mississippi Mills

The Perth Road was first laid out by Josias Richey, the Government Deputy Surveyor, as a road from Kingston to Pakenham throughPerth. According to Howard Brown in Lanark Legacy, the Perth road follows a Precambrian Ridge that
runs through what was then known as Wolf’s Grove. This geographical feature created a natural trail
that was likely a native travel route long before the settlement of the area

https://www.mississippimills.ca/en/explore-and-play/ramsay-historic-features.aspx

Related reading

The Lanark County Back Roads Tour

So Where was Lloyd Ontario Lanark County? Thanks to Jennifer E. Ferris

Documenting Houses -Almonte — Marshall Street

Photos of Men at Work – 1920s — Don’t Forget About Me!

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Photos of Men at Work – 1920s — Don’t Forget About Me!

All these photos came from the Playfair family in the Lanark/ Middleville/Playfair area. Thanks to local historian Laurie Yuill. All circa 1920s except for the corduroy road photo second to last– That photo is earlier. Some look like railroads and some do not–

All these photos came from the Playfair family in the Lanark/ Middleville/Playfair area. Thanks to local historian Laurie Yuill. All circa 1920s except for the corduroy road photo second to last– That photo is earlier. Some look like railroads and some do not–

Canada’s first provincial Dept of Highways was created by Québec in 1914. Two years later Ontario, which had had a provincial instructor in charge of roadmaking attached to the Dept of Agriculture since 1896, formed its own separate highways department.

Through the 1920s cars became cheaper and their numbers multiplied; registration of motor vehicles increased from 408 790 to nearly 1.62 million by the end of the decade. Good roads associations, national and provincial, led the crusade for improved road travel, and expenditures on roads by all governments tripled. By 1930 the annual outlay was $94 million. Methods and technology for building roads improved as horse-drawn scrapers and graders gave way to steam power for shovels and rollers. However, road building in most provinces ceased and maintenance was reduced during the Great Depression and WWII as men and materials were urgently needed in the war effort. The few good paved roads that had been built were almost completely destroyed by heavy wartime traffic, particularly in industrial areas. The Canadian Encyclopedia

For Whom the Toll Gates Tolled– Revised

The Lanark County Back Roads Tour

Stories of the Mississippi River — Elk, Rice Beds, and Corduroy Roads

The Toll Gates of Lanark County on Roads that Were Not Fit for Corpses

almonte gazette 1930

When Merivale Was the End of the Road

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When Merivale Was the End of the Road

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Here’s Construction Season in 1926, described as “Asphaltic Concrete – Merivale Road.”

George Boyce was then a boy of 16 and old enough to have clear recollections about the area and his family far in 1860. According to Mr. Boyce, Merivale Road was “the end of the road.”— literally. At a point about a mile south of the Boyce farm the road tailed off into a trail, and it wasn’t far from that when even the trail ended.

The road to Ottawa at its best points wasn’t much. In fact it was hardly a road at all in the proper sense. Most people who travelled it did so on horseback. Only a few of the dozen settlers owned vehicles of any sort. Although Ottawa was only from eight to ten miles from the Merivale settlers, “going to town” was not a matter of everyday occurrence, as it is now. But if the people did not go to town often, they made up for lack of travelling by visiting. They visited far more than at present– for both sociability and mutual aid. In these days people “borrowed” a lot from each other. They had to. None of the settlers had enough of anything to get along independently.

So they borrowed all sorts of things, from farm implements down to food. But, they always returned them and things were loaned cheerfully. The people who loaned knew that within a few days they themselves might be borrowers. Every borrowing meant a visit. “Borrowing” visits kept the settlers from being lonesome, and therefore it had its good points. Today borrowing is rare, and if a farmer runs short he jumps into into his vehicle as the case may be and whirls into town.

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City View School in Nepean, located at 8 Merivale Road according to an Ottawa City Directory from 1923.

The settlers who were located in the Merivale district when the Boyces were there in 1860, were William Stinson, Joseph Switzer, Wm. Craig, James Craig. Wm. Caldwell, Robert Mowat (brother of the Ottawa tailor of the sixties). Joseph Green. Christopher Green. John Davidson, and the Keenan family to which belonged Mr. Keenan, the veteran pioneer teacher, and Dr. Keenan.

If the farmers of today in Nepean have comfortable homes, they can, in the opinion of Mr. Boyce, thank their ancestors. Both the men and the women of the 1850s and 1860s worked very hard, he says. As showing how the women of that period tried to help make ends meet, Mr. Boyce tells how Mrs. John McSorley, who lived “at the end of the road,” several miles past the Boyce farm, used to frequently walk to Bytown, a matter of 12 miles, and carry a pail of butter to the market.

When the Boyces went to the present Boyce farm in 1860 “bees” were of common occurrence. There were bees for log burning, for barn raising, for crop gathering, and for a dozen other things. As a matter of fact people could not have accomplished anything without “bees.” It was almost impossible to hire help, and if help had been available the the people still had no money to pay for it.

The people were not “afraid to to home in the dark” in those days. Mr. Boyce tells how the people, after dancing half the night after a “bee,” would go home several miles through the bush roads, utterly unafraid, though bears and even wolves still abounded.

Samuel Hawkshaw- Carleton Place–Carleton Blazers of Bells Corners

The Groom and the Lads

Stories of the Mississippi River — Elk, Rice Beds, and Corduroy Roads

Life in Lanark Village 1820 — Bad Roads Distilleries and Discontent!

Take Me Home Beckwith Roads– Photo Essay

Life in Lanark Village 1820 — Bad Roads Distilleries and Discontent!

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Life in  Lanark Village 1820 — Bad Roads Distilleries and Discontent!

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Lanark Village 1820

According to a few settlers tales the Village of Lanark was laid out the same way as Perth. However, it didn’t look like a town in appearance, but more like a rather thickly settled farming district. The Clyde River was much the same size as the Tay and it ran through town as the Tay did in Perth. The mighty Clyde drove the only mill in the area which was used to grind all sorts of grain.

When you arrived in town you would would mostly likely have been met by the miller who had emigrated from New Lanark in Scotland. His claim to fame was being the first person who had brought a European woman into the Village of Lanark! He would tell any new visitor that he was happy, and bring them around to his home to have a meal  or two with his children.

Apparently, all was not happy in that household, and under the same roof as the miller lived a very discontented  person. The miller’s wife was so unhappy that word around the county was that she was the only miserable person this side of Perth. I highly disagree with that statement after writing about the conditions the first settlers had to live with. But, miserable or not, she would “quick step” behind her husband to hear any news or gossip from any newcomer in town.

One thing you did not discuss with the miller’s wife was the deplorable conditions of the tradespeople in Britain at the time. You would never ever discuss how fortunate the settlers were to relocate to Lanark County instead of suffering the hardships of back home.

“Dinna say that; dinna pretend to tell me that this is better than hame. I wad sooner soof the causey in Scotland than stay here,” she would argue.

Local folks would argue with her that she would have a hard time getting meat to eat, or a job, and families were basically penniless back across the pond. The miller’s wife would agree with you on that point, but her greatest concern was buying clothes like those back in Scotland. She was a decent woman she said, so she needed decent clothes, and none the likes of what they sold in Perth. The disgruntled woman never seemed to understand that clothes back home were now harder to get than meat, and that she should consider herself fortunate that she was able to enjoy the fruits of the four local whiskey distilleries.

The area around Lanark Village had only one place of worship: a handsome Presbyterian Church with a lovely spire, all built of stone. The roads from Perth to Lanark for travelling preachers was clear for only two to three miles from Perth.  Not even the prayers by the clergy could help them on that road that was only broad enough for a wagon or a sleigh. It had sharp turns around a tree or a stump that sometimes were not feasible for man nor beast.  Once you spotted cleared land or a home  you had to wade through snow or water you to inquire if you were headed in the right direction or get lost.

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
29 Jan 1938, Sat  •  Page 2

Going through the bush was done by mostly following the marks on trees and, yes those who got lost were frequent, but the blazed trees would take them to someone’s dwelling. Most times one would eat a meal or spend the night in some stranger’s home. You would not attempt these roads at night for they were dark save for a blaze in the scattered homes along the road–mostly owned by Scots. After a Sunday in the pulpit in the Village of Lanark most men of God deemed the roads fearful and their hands were sore holding on to the wagon. One has to wonder if difficult roads in those days led to beautiful locations, or heights of greatness.

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

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

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So What Did We Find Out About this Photo from Lanark Village?

A Walk through Lanark Village in 1871

Revolutions of Death at Caldwell & Son’s

Remembering a Shoemaker in Lanark Village–Thomas Wilson

Lanark Village News 1887–The $5 Wager and Other Things

Trip Advisor 1834- Richmond to Perth is the “Road to Ruin”

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Trip Advisor 1834- Richmond to Perth is the “Road to Ruin”

 

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The Smits on a road on their farm in Richmond hauling in potatoes. Public Archives

It’s hard to fathom that 183 years ago in 1834 most everyone walked and not on smooth roads,  but more like corduroy roads or through forest trails. Imagine those that were used to horse and carriage in the old country suddenly having to rough it when they came to this part of the bush in 1820. Some road-side taverns were not known for having luxury meals, and an average dinner at the end of a travelling day was a sparse meal of ground maize and treacle. Who could face the early unforgiving Canadian scenery on a meal like that?

They said the road to Richmond was a miserable one that led through the woods for nearly 20 miles with many swamps. What would the early settlers say today to streamlined cars hitting 60 km on a smooth paved surface? No one was impressed with Richmond in those days, but they were with Perth. At Richmond there were 30 to 40 log homes, a small tavern run by Sargent and Mrs. Hill, with tolerable accommodations- but there was no roof. However, this spot had been recommended by the Trip Advisor of the day as a “Paradise of Upper Canada” when it was no more than what some called a “Purgatory”.

 

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Richmond was surrounded by swamps, and the Main Street was below a small rivulet that ran nearly parallel with it. For 30 miles to Perth the name of the road became “Road to Ruin” because it was chiefly travelled by those ‘from the swamps’ who had to attend court in Perth and mostly empty pockets were the fruits of their journeys. Litigation was as costly then as it is now.

Perth on the other hand was a pretty little village well watered and with a desired population some wished could be transferred to their own villages. It was new lands, new traditions, and new forms of expressions of  blazing your own trail.

 

 

historicalnotes

 

Re: Smit Photo above

Lanark County Roads- A Cormac McCarthy Dedication Photo Essay

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PLEASE PLAY WHILE VIEWING PHOTOS–All photos by Linda Seccaspina

No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So, he whispered to the sleeping boy. I have you.

                            — Cormac McCarthy (The Road)
 

 

 

                                “Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.”
                                 — Cormac McCarthy
 

 

                                     “What would you do if I died?
                                              If you died I would want to die too.
                                              So you could be with me?
                                              Yes. So I could be with you.
                                               Okay.”
                                            — Cormac McCarthy (The Road)
 

 

 

 

Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.”
               — Cormac McCarthy (The Road)

 

 

 

You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.”
    — Cormac McCarthy (The Road)

 

 

             

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
Cormac McCarthy (The Road)
 

 

 

  

 

He thought if he lived long enough the world at last would be lost. Like the dying world the newly blind inhabit, all of it slowly fading from memory.
Cormac McCarthy (The Road)

 

“The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night. The last instance of a thing takes the class with it. Turns out the light and is gone. Look around you. Ever is a long time. But the boy knew what he knew. That ever is no time at all.”
Cormac McCarthy (The Road)
 

 

 

Listen to me, he said, when your dreams are of some world that never was or some world that never will be, and you’re happy again, then you’ll have given up. Do you understand? And you can’t give up, I won’t let you.”
Cormac McCarthy (The Road)

 

 

 

“When one has nothing left make ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.”
Cormac McCarthy (The Road)
 

 

“When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different.”
Cormac McCarthy (The Road)
 

 

 

“If trouble comes when you least expect it then maybe the thing to do is to always expect it.”

 

            — Cormac McCarthy (The Road)

 

 

 

 

                                 “You have my whole heart. You always did.”
                                            — Cormac McCarthy (The Road)
 
 

On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world. Query: how does the never to be differ from what never was?
Cormac McCarthy (The Road)

 

 

 

“Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.”
Cormac McCarthy (The Road)

 

 

 

“Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was?”

                          — Cormac McCarthy (The Road)

 

 

“When you die it’s the same as if everybody else did too.”
                             — Cormac McCarthy (The Road)

 

 

“I don’t know why I started writing. I don’t know why anybody does it. Maybe they’re bored, or failures at something else.”
Cormac McCarthy

 

 

Images of Lanark County, Ontario by Linda Seccaspina

 

 

The Toll Gates of Lanark County on Roads that Were Not Fit for Corpses

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This is the “Toll Gate House” located just south of the Village of Lanark on Hwy # 511.

Every thirty miles, years ago, tolls were situated along on the Eastern Townships Autoroute in Quebec, and people complained about having to pay for the maintenance of the roads. Imagine if they had to endure the roads in the 1800’s. If you used a road, you had to stop and pay a toll, and this money was used to maintain them. There were many Toll Gates in Eastern Ontario.  Farmers used to have to maintain the roads that were adjacent to their property, by crushing stones and grading the roadway.  If you didn’t do this, there could be fines imposed.

Roads, for longer than people could remember, were nothing more than dirt tracks that turned to mud in the winter and baked rock hard in the summer. Either way, movement along these ‘roads’ was difficult and at certain times of the year, practically impossible especially in Montague Township where farmers suffered due to bad road conditions. So the toll was a way to supposedly get better roads.

The public was given the opportunity to invest in these road companies. The money raised by charging people to use the roads was split between profits for the share holders and the cost of maintaining the roads in the control of the trust.Toll gates were established through which people and carriages had to pass before continuing with their journey.  People began to object paying a toll. Some would even jump over the toll gate to avoid paying. To decrease the chance of this happening, spikes (or pikes) were put at the top of the gates – hence the title turnpike trusts. In some parts of the country, the toll gates were so unpopular, that they were destroyed

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The 1855 Municipal Manual for Upper Canada granted private road companies the right to collect tolls in consideration of planking, graveling, or making a bridge. The public was given the opportunity to invest in these companies. Any group of men with a minimum of 5 people could form a joint stock company as long as they built a minimum of two miles of road. There could be a toll gate every five miles, and the charge was a penny per mile with a half penny extra for animals. Most of the roads were laid with pine blanks most of it from the John Gillies sawmill.

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Even the Lanark Era newspaper got into the fray, and advertised where the secret non paying roads were- which didn’t make sense. But if you went to church, or were a man of uniform, you could forgo all means of payment . By 1856 people had enough and refused to pay because the planks were rotting away. Word up and down the Lanark line was that the roads were so bad even the transportation of corpses couldn’t make it to their destinations. In1904 tolls ceased to exist as the maintenance of the road was taken over by the county.

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Photo of Lanark County Road Crew from Bytown or Bust

Last Photo of Carleton Place from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Dear Adam Nephin, is it Spring Yet?

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Yesterday on Facebook I saw Adam Nephin post the following:

Freezing rain, if you could at least hold off until tomorrow that would be great. A few hours is all I need.

Sincerely,
Adam’s Subaru

I agree with you Adam. It used to be that the Fall change didn’t bother me at all, and the Spring change bothered me for only the first 2-3 days at most. NOW? It takes a week to get used to the Fall one, and THREE weeks to adjust to the Spring one. I want to pick one or the other – or split the difference – and stick with it! I also want this weather to end!

The traditional start of spring is governed primarily by hours of daylight, not the weather. And the traditional start of Spring is, essentially, Groundhog Day, even back in history before that furry prognosticator’s tradition was coined.Although it is hard to feel like Spring has begun in sub-zero temperatures, the length of day drives a change in weather, and together both drive plants to come out of dormancy.

Thank you Mother Nature for such an, um, “engaging” Winter. We may never have had such a great chance to observe wintertime complexities. Please rest assured we really took that in, and will not need a redo in the next few decades. You have our word on that, yes, indeedy.

We were wondering if, just for balance’s sake, you could even things out a bit by giving us a pleasant Spring. I mean, let the necessaries of nature happen without all that harrowing drama. Floods, fire, drought, pestilence, and all that mess is so last winter, we figure you might want to delight us with something gentle and fresh.

Just sayin’.

Oh, and if you could beautify the earth and give us foodstuffs without clogging up our sinus allergy “thingies”, we would really be grateful.So we hope you will lay out your beauties on the earth in a way that allows us to enjoy a great show.

Thanks, because we know you are “lookin’ out” for us.