Tag Archives: sewers

The Cholera Epidemic of 1911

The Cholera Epidemic of 1911



Life before bottled water???? 
This ad for bottled water from the pure spring water at Hunt Club was in the Ottawa Journal in May of 1911.Now known as the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, this is the golf course by the airport at Hunt Club and Riverside. (Linda Seccaspina on Lost Ottawa)

Did you know there was also a spring near the Borthwick Ridge (South of Hawthorne).The water was collected and pumped from a bricked well located on land belonging to the Borthwick family, north of the ridge, on lot 20 in the fourth concession. William, son of settler Thomas Borthwick, bottled the water and sold it in Ottawa in his own grocery store, and other locations, in the 1870s and subsequent years. The waters had a salty taste.

It seems people were always prepared for a zombie apocalypse all through local history. Bottled water, strong abs and plenty of canned food.


Thanks to my favourite Ottawa historian Jaan Kolk, information about a cholera outbreak in 1911 in the Ottawa area was posted on Lost Ottawa as this was a reason why bottled water was being advertised to heavily in the newspapers.


Jaan Kolk– 1911 saw a serious typhoid outbreak in Ottawa that was blamed (correctly) on the city water supply – so lots of ads for spring water could be found that year. The major selling point for artificially-made ice in Ottawa was that it was made with guaranteed pure water. Here is a Journal ad from Dec. 27, 1912.


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Jaan Kolk–Here is part of an April 17, 1911 Journal report on the typhoid epidemic caused by problems with the city water supply




The gap was capable of closing sharply. In the typhoid year of 1911, the Ottawa death rate was reported as 20 per 1,000 (about the same as a good year in the 1880s) and the birth rate as 23.6 per 1,000.

Registrar General, “Annual Report, 1911,” Sessional Papers, 1912, p. 18.
Figures vary from those of the MHO of Ottawa because of a different reporting
period. In 1911, Ottawa had the second highest death rate among Ontario
cities; Carleton County (at 21.1/1,000) had the highest county rate .




Jeff Legault–I seem to remember we had an old water bottle (carboy) in a wooden cradle like holder at our old cottage near Low, Quebec that we used to fill and bring with us on weekends. We had no running water or electricity back in the early 60s up there. It may have had Tally Ho written on it somewhere. Looked something like this.


Perth Courier, June 6, 1966

History of the Rideau Ferry Road

Empire strategists gave the village an unsuspected boast in 1826 when the government dug a canal linking Kingston to Bytown (now Ottawa), the purpose being to protect supply lines from a possible “Yankee” invasion.

This event brought 1,300 workers to the village front door.  More than 500 men died of malaria.  Upon completion in 1832, Archie Campbell erected a wharf and warehouse to handle canal produce.  Side wheelers plowed the river and wagon trains brought goods to the Campbell wharf.  In 1834 Campbell died of cholera.–Tales from Oliver’s Ferry

Cave Creek: the “scourge” of early Kitchissippi



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  09 Sep 1911, Sat,  Page 14


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

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





ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847


The Cholera Epidemic of 1832

Think the Smallpox issue on Outlander was far fetched?

Tales from Oliver’s Ferry

Smallpox in Carleton Place — Did You Know?

The Great White Plague


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

Are You Ready to Visit the Open Doors?


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What Was a Honey Wagon?- The Job of a Night Soil Scavenger

What Was a Honey Wagon?-  The Job of a Night Soil Scavenger

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Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum– Photo-Founded on a rock this town. Think back to no indoor plumbing. Outhouses needed to be emptied. Where did all the poo go? Behold the Honey Wagon dumping ground! #poop#honeywagon#outhouses#carletonplace#rowonrow#greatsoil#historyisfun


Somewhere behind the old Carambeck School/Community Centre in Carleton Place there lies what appears to be rows of earth that maybe once was created by agriculture. In fact if you look around closely on the outskirts of any village, town or city you might come across the very same thing.

“You smell that Jimmy?” 
“Hey I know that smell from somewhere! “
“That’s right Jimmy that smell is from the local honey wagon!”





A honey wagon was a large sacred vehicle which carried a tank filled with human feces, which was found inside of the “honey holes”, and was transported to a secluded location where sometimes it was dried and then scraped up to be disposed of elsewhere. Sometimes it was just left there to ferment.

In the good old days there was no such thing as proper sewer drains. Most town and city streets had open sewers running down them in to which all kinds of waste was thrown. There was in theory at least a system of refuge collection to clean up the streets that were littered with rotting food, dung, animal corpses, human feces and other waste products. But the cleaning up system was sporadic and not carried out effectively enough. In fact I have read local town  newspaper notices advising people that Spring was just around the corner and to stop throwing their garbage out the windows to the streets below. Yes, that would be you Carleton Place!

In addition people had to make do with burying much of their waste material in a cesspit either in their cellar or in the garden. Technically these were supposed to be emptied regularly, but many were not. The stench was overwhelming not only in summer but in winter as well.




The Honey Wagon From the Lethbridge Historical Society


When you ask about the worst, most dirty/horrible jobs many people immediately respond with coal mining.

In 1907 the Lethbridge City Council decided that a scavenger should be hired. The duties of the scavenger would be to clean the privies (outhouses) and pick up garbage but also to remove the dead animals from the coulees. The winter of 1906-07 was a legendary one for the cold and snow. Come spring there was said to be 40 head of cattle found dead around the coulees and community of Lethbridge (many, many more out across the country). It was the scavenger’s responsibility to collect and remove the dead animals. They then had to be buried or burned. The said would dispose of the hides of the animals.

Eventually the job of dead animal scavenger would be separated from the job of “Night Soil Scavenger”. This rather intriguing job title belonged to the person who cleaned the outhouses around town. In September 1909 E.P. Mee was contracted at $25/week. The city would supply the lime. Then, of course, all of those lucky people who had to clean out the bed pans and other indoor toilets. Lucky, lucky people.– Lethbridge Historical Society


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 and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)



Penny Trafford– All along the houses on McArthur and Napoleon to Lake Avenue there is an 8 foot allowance that separates properties owned by the town which was the Honey Wagon lane.


Headbangers Arrested in Calgary Sewer – Canadian Insanity Needs to Go Viral!

Beware of Germ Ridden Phantom Limbo Dancers – Public Bathrooms

Outhouses Need to Be Cleaned– Conditions of Our Rural School– 1897

Cisterns I Have Known

Hats Off Carleton Place! — A Hard Wood Makeover-Before and After

The Outhouse is Trending Again!