Tag Archives: Royal Bank

The Curse of the Old Royal Bank Building in Spencerville

The Curse of the Old Royal Bank Building in Spencerville

Years ago I posted a newspaper clipping from many many years ago about kids putting up wagons on top of buildings. I couldn’t figure out how they did it and thought it was a strange sort of prank. Little did I know it began many moons ago in Spencerville, ON.

Here is the story…..

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
01 Nov 1979, Thu  •  Page 3


The Spencerville poltergeists have done it again. Despite a beefed-up Halloween night police force and a warning that the perpetrators wouldn’t get off lightly, a hay wagon once again found its way to the roof of the village’s old bank building. The tradition goes back to the days when turning outhouses upside down was considered a good Halloween trick.

Ten Ontario Provincial Police officers in six cruisers kept their eyes peeled for the mischief-makers well into the small hours Thursday morning in this community about 15 kilometres northeast of Prescott. But police had to respond to a report that vandals were lobbing Molotov cocktails around the streets of nearby Cardinal at around 9 pm said Prescott OPP Sgt Phil Say.

They didn’t catch the tricksters who boosted the wagon seven metres to the roof within half an hour “Sometimes they put it up two or three days before or after Halloween. But up it goes one way or another” Sgt Say said the owners aren’t amused. The 80-year-old building was sold to two Ottawa women four years ago.

It received more than $5000 in damages several years ago when holes in the roof damaged antiques in the building. Last year the owners hired a guard but the wagon went up two days before Halloween says Maryjane Reed one owner. Ms Reed says she can understand the village’s affection for tradition but it’s costing her money And she says the villagers know who does it but the circle is closed to outsiders.

“They won’t talk because it’s an old custom” Sgt Say said. Some local farmers also consider it a joke he says. Often they don’t bother to report the wagon until that wagon has gotten up to the roof of the Royal Bank building. Sgt Say said he isn’t sure how it’s done ‘ It’s a tradition” he said but he estimates it takes about six.

Sgt Gaw suggests that the job is for people to lift the wagon which is done easily in a few minutes by a team of scouts to monitor the dismantling of the wagon and reassembling it on the roof.

The Kingston Whig-Standard

Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Fri, Nov 02, 1990 · Page 31


Vandals responsible for a Halloween prank that damaged a Spencerville antique shop may never be caught because residents arent co-operating with police, says the investigating officer. “I drive into town and the doors close. Nobody wants to rat on a neighbor,” said Const. Jeff McConnell, of the Prescott detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police.

A Halloween tradition, which dates back 50 years, was repeated Oct 30 when a farmer’s hay wagon was hoisted onto the roof of the antique shop. Windows and a door were broken, and the roof was damaged. Either that night or the next day, vandals went beyond tradition and spray-painted the building with obscenities, and broke windows, McConnell said. In total, the building sustained $15,000 in damages. Bernice Campbell, who bought the former bank building in 1986, said her insurance company has discontinued coverage.

Two youths responsible for the hay-wagon prank last year were convicted of mischief, McConnell said. They were caught because someone in the community, located about 60 kilometres south of Ottawa, told police who was responsible tor the vandalism. McConnell said he hopes someone will do the same this year because his investigation is “going nowhere.” Two police cruisers and the police station were also damaged Halloween night, McConnell said.

Even after police arrived, small fires were set in the streets and some people threw eggs. “Spencerville on Halloween night is a war zone,” McConnell said. “People, for one day of the year, decide to act like idiots.” Ross Somerville, deputy reeve of Edwardsburgh Township, said that when he arrived in town about 9:30 p.m., there were about 150 youths milling in the streets but they weren’t throwing anything. Somerville, who as a teenager participated in the hay wagon prank, says damaging property was never the point of the joke.

When Bernice Campbell bought a building in Spencerville nobody told her it came with a curse. But after six years the Ottawa woman has had enough. What started as a harmless Halloween prank has destroyed, her antique business and left her on the verge of nervous collapse. “I’m devastated,” Campbell, 64, said Sunday in an interview. “It’s not right what happened to me.”

The curse returns every year around Halloween, when gangs of pranksters show up at her shop. It’s a tradition in the town, which is about 60 kilometres south of Ottawa, stretching back 50 years. Every Halloween a farmer’s hay wagon is “borrowed” and lifted onto the roof of the former bank building. No one knows how the wagon lifting got started. But it’s out of control.

The wagon was boosted on top of the building again this year, the night before Halloween. Windows and a door were broken and the roof was damaged in the process. Then about 150 youths went on a rampage. They tossed eggs and spray-painted obscenities on the building in shocking pink paint. On the night of the incidents, two police officers were assigned to Spencerville until 3 a.m., according to Staff Sgt. Brent Hill, who’s in charge of the Ontario Provincial Police detachment in Prescott.

He said, however, that as far as he knew the worst of the damage was done before his officers were on the scene. “It definitely wasn’t done when we were in the village. We wouldn’t stand for any of that.” Hill said that while his officers were there a few minor fires were set in the streets and some people threw eggs.

The wagon was taken down sometime in the past couple of days, although Campbell doesn’t know who did it. And the township has sent her a letter offering to clean up the graffiti. But she remains bitter. “I’ve got all kinds of water damage inside,” Campbell said. “I spent so much fixing the place up, new floor and a furnace. Now it’s all ruined.” Last year, vandals hung her in effigy from the wagon. “They caught me in my car and started rocking it,” she said.

“When I opened the door, they pelted the inside with eggs.” Campbell said her insurance company has discontinued coverage. “I’m losing everything I put into the place. The damage this year is about $15,000 but it would be twice that to fix everything up.” Ross Somerville, deputy reeve of Edwardsburgh Township, doubts 100 police officers could stop a tradition that many in the village of 500 consider harmless fun.

“Just like summer comes round every year, that wagon goes up,” said Somerville, who watched the crowd this Halloween. As a youth, Somerville said, he helped hoist the wagon. Last year, two men were convicted of mischief following the pranks. And Hill said this year’s excesses are under investigation. But Campbell says slap-on-the-wrist punishments are no deterrent. She feels the township should compensate her.

David Sloan, who was township reeve until last week when he was defeated in elections, scoffs at the suggestion. “I don’t know how we would be responsible for the township residents breaking and smashing things,” he said. “If any other place is broken into we’re not responsible, we don’t have to come good.”

The Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada18 Nov 1991, Mon  •  Page 11

Comments from If you grew up in Prescott, Ontario remember…

Who out there remembers the prank of putting the hay wagon up on the roof of the Royal Bank in Spencerville. Does anyone have any stories about it?

Halloween Wasn’t Halloween Unless we had the wagon on the bank. Good times.

The farmers always knew where to find their missing wagon the next day. Usually it was Cliff Acres’ wagon. We girls were the police look outs and the guys the workers haha.

We had wagons coming in all directions back in the day. lol

At the back of the bank there was a lower section where the vault was, we would hoist a few boys up, they jumped up to the main roof. Roll the wagon up the wall tongue up, we pushed, they pulled. We were in and out in seconds. You could not rob a bank that quick, lol

I think the police had as much fun trying to catch us than we did putting the farm equipment up there. They would drive around the block and there would be something hoisted up there by the time they came around. One yr they were goin to catch everyone involved by taking pictures. They never got one of us.

I remember Dad telling me about a year the police were convinced they would stop it.

He said the decoys went out to distract the police, the wagon went up and everyone was back at the hotel watching the police come back…. I think he mentioned a certain Constable Kashubi? got peppered with farm fresh eggs too amongst this goose chase lol

We always enjoyed seeing the wagon up on the bank. We lived in Spencerville for 8 years but were considered newcomers 🤗 so we never knew who did it. LOL

Little did the boys know that we sat back and watched the whole thing happen. And then acted all surprised that it did!! Wouldn’t have been any fun if we cops intervened too soon. It was gonna happen, so along with everbody else, we might as well have enjoyed the action!

North Augusta was a different game. Guys there didn’t know how to play. So they got lotsa eggs smashed in their pockets, guys running into fences in the dark, etc. No sport at all! 

My Uncle Ted was the bank manager there for a few years. He had a good sense of humour about the inevitable lol

Lots of fun while it lasted, now the wagon is gone, and the bank they put it on is gone too.

Lots of fun while it lasted, now the wagon is gone, and the bank they put it on is gone too. I have no year when it disappeared.

So what happened to the NEW Royal Bank building


Shane’s School — Just off the Smiths Falls Road– Cursed

The Continuing Curse of William Street in Carleton Place

The Limerick Forest Dolls –Low Tide at the Cabbage Patch??

Another Fish Tale- Clayton Lake and the Minnow Can — Fred Blake, Dennis Nolan and George Comba 1934

Witches Folklore 101 in Ontario 1800s

Catching Ghosts– or Can You?

There’s Something About Mary RBC

There’s Something About Mary RBC


Photo- Tom Edwards- given to his Mother

Thanks to Tom Edwards once again

Onto the Global Stage: The 1960s and the End of Parochialism



Photo- Tom Edwards

Royal Bank staff outside the RBC building.. His mother is second to left




If Mary uses Chargex, it must be fine…


Royal Bank used their ‘girl-next-door’ advertising persona “Mary” to promote Chargex, a subtle reassurance to consumers wondering whether this new way of managing money was for them. “Mary” of the Royal Bank was a successful advertising strategy that linked bank services to a personality. She was featured in print, radio and television advertisements from 1968 to 1976.




Bill and Robert Brown in the RBC parking lot that used to be the address of 94 Beckwith st– Photo Bill Brown


Norma Ford Back L-R – Marina Napier Quinn, Rena Hastie, Laurie Kirkpatrick McCabe, Audrey Marshall, June Hall McEwen, Ellen Neron, Norma Ford, Janet McLaughlin, Judy Fisher. Front L-R – Phyllis Donnelly and Ilene Edwards. Photo- Tom Edwards


Photos from the Canadian and Gazette files from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum-Recognize anyone?

Norma Ford- Yes, St. Andrews Church basement. The CP Hospital ladies put on a luncheon every year, always well attended and fantastic food. There were usually two seatings, (12 and 1 pm) all the staff at RBC attended every year. Miss those great meals. Usually roast beef and that gravy – wow.


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)




Carleton Place Then and Now–Bridge Street Series– Volume 7 –Scotia Bank to the New York Cafe

Bob Mossing in middle, Manager of Royal Bank in the 70’s probably at St Andrew’s Church basement for the CP Hospital luncheon.

Edwards Genealogy– Family Photo Album

Edwards Genealogy– Family Photo Album

Tom Edwards has helped me immense with great photos etc.. Thanks to him again we have some great family photos.



My dad, John Edwards and his mom, Edith Edwards (Erskine) 1954 sitting on the front steps of their home in Appleton.


My dad John Edwards on the bridge in Appleton. The brick building in the background is the old general store.


My mom’s Uncle Jim Cavers.  So it turns out Jim Cavers was married to Ann Cavers, who was previously Ann O’Connor. She was my grandfather, Carney O’Connors sister. That’s how she was my moms aunt. Jim Cavers died in 1957.


Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoor

Looks like supper with Grandma Edwards. Mom, Dad, Ruth Craig, Eldon Craig, maybe Josie Symington at the end of the table, next one I don’t know, then Uncle Johnny and Essie Erskine.



Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, wedding and indoor

L to R Grandma Edwards, John Edwards, Ilene Edwards, Carney O’Connor, Muriel O’Connor (Ferguson) and Great Grandma Eva Ferguson (Stewart).


Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, indoor


Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

Tom Edwards- Mom and Dad


Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing

Tom Edwards Ilene Edwards, Sue Edwards Jim Edwards at mom’s 65th Birthday.


Image may contain: one or more people

Picture is Carney O’Connor with his 1938 Plymouth.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sitting

This is a picture of my Uncle Stewart Ferguson and Aunt Hilda Ferguson. On the back of the pic it says”Hope you like this snap. Stew looks like he’s afraid of the camera. Love from Hilda and Stewart. Aunt Hilda says my oldest brother is taking the photo.

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and indoor

Closest My Aunt Marie Dennie, middle my grandmother Muriel O’Connor and farthest is mom, Ilene Edwards




My moms Aunt Clara Morris and Grandpa Tom Ferguson


Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, weddingMy Aunt Marie Dennie and mom on Marie’s wedding day


Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting and childMarie Dennie and my mom Ilene Edwards


Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standing and weddingR to L My Dad John Edwards, Kim Edwards, my Uncle Ray Edwards, My Aunt Patricia Edwards and the other bridesmaid is Brenda Craig Shewchuk-Her mom Ruth was my dads sister.


Image may contain: 2 people, indoorMy great aunt and uncle Johnny and Essie Erskine.


Image may contain: 10 people, people smiling, people standingThe ladies from the Royal Bank a few years back. For those still with us, we wish you all a Merry Christmas. For those that aren’t, trust me, we have you with us always. We love you and forever miss you.


Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and indoorThis was when Dad went the gang from Findlays to play hockey in Montreal.



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)




Tom Edwards– Social Community History—- Newspaper Clippings

More on Stewart Ferguson by Tom Edwards

Uncle Johnnie Erskine and Stewart Ferguson by Tom Edwards

The Oldest IGA Employee & Other Almonte Memories

Tom Edwards Social Community History–Photos

Tom Edwards– Social Community History– Local Business Ephemera

Glory Days in Carleton Place- Tom Edwards– Horrick’s and Air Raid Sirens

Coffee Talk– Coolidge’s Penny Candy and Rochester Street– For Tom Edwards

Stew Ferguson and Maggie Porteous/Ford–Tom Edwards