There were stirring times in the Ottawa district in the year 1866. That was the year that was set for the U.S. Fenians to raid and capture Canada. All the district south of Ottawa was agog with excitement, because, if the Fenians had been able to cross the St. Lawrence and gain a foothold, the district between the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers would have had to bear the brunt of the fighting.
Everywhere in the Ottawa district volunteer companies sprang into existence, and stood ready to leap to the country’s defence. Drill halls were built at Manotick and North Gower and the volunteer corps. In those districts began to drill feverishly. The whole district was on edge. A story of the excitement which prevailed in the country around Manotick, North Gower and Kars was told by Mr. W. J. Scobie, on Gladstone Avenue years ago.
Mr. Scobie was a very small boy then, but the events which took place were impressed on his mind. The Scobies lived on the River road between Kars and Manotick. Mr. Scobie’s father was the late Samuel Scobie. Mr. W. J. Scobie tells us that as soon as word spread that the Fenians might cross, all the people in North Gower township began to prepare. Old shot guns which had hung on the wall as ornaments were taken down, cleaned and oiled.
To provide against a sudden and unexpected raid every farmhouse at night was turned into a fort. At night, scythes, pitch forks. crowbars, etc, were carried into the houses and placed where they might best serve as weapons of defence. All doors were locked and barred after dark. Where there were numbers of boys in a family, the boys took their turn night after night doing outlook duty.
One night when the excitement was at its- height the Scobie house received a visit from Mr. John Ferguson, a son-in-law of Samuel Scobie. Mr. Ferguson was an officer in the militia company which had Its headquarters at Manotick. When Mr. Ferguson called it was fairly late, and young W. J. Scobie and his brothers were in bed upstairs. Mr. Ferguson had come to tell Mr. Samuel Scobie that a man who had come from the St. Lawrence had told that things were getting critical there, and that the Fenians might cross at anytime.
While the men were talking there came a loud rap at the door. Instantly Samuel Scobie, Mr. Ferguson and the older boys jumped to their feet and grabbed convenient weapons. Mr. Scobie advanced to the barred door and standing to one side, shouted,
“Who is there?”
A voice replied. “Is John Ferguson here?” “Yes,” Mr. Ferguson replied, “who wants him?” The voice continued, ‘The Queen wants him, The Fenians are coming and he is to report to Manotick at 6 am! The company marches to the front tomorrow at nine o’clock.
Mr. Scobie withdrew the bars, opened the door and invited the Queen’s messenger in. Mr. Ferguson put on his hat and left for his home. The next morning the village of Manotick responded to the bugle call, and the brave men of the Manotick corps set off on their 45 mile march to the front.