Tag Archives: Steamer picnic

The Steamboat Picnics on Pretty Island



Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


I did some researching for  information about Dick Willis for the story called: People from the Potter-Bennett Block Fire– A Shocking Find and found this neat story about Pretty Island by Howard Morton Brown.



Steampunk Ottawa Picnic-Photo-Ottawa Citizen


Steamboat Picnic- by Howard Morton Brown

While firemen have built up a company they did not forget the social side of life.  Years ago the firemen’s picnic was the event of the season.  It was held on Pretty’s Island, and the date was fixed to correspond with the ripening of *John McCann’s corn – his contribution to the feast, as that was a big item on the bill of fare.






The steamer *Enterprise was donated free by *Senator McLaren.  He also gave a substantial cash donation to purchase groceries and the said groceries to be purchased at Sibbitt’s.



People dressed up in costumes pose for a photo at the Ottawa Steampunk Picnic at Strathcona–Ottawa Citizen

One fireman was hiding a basket containing a bottle of ‘milk,’ under a clump of bushes at the water’s edge when smash came a rock over the bush and when he got the water out of his eyes the bottle was gone.


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Steampunk Ottawa Picnic-YouTube

While the women spread the table cloths on the ground and were emptying the well-filled baskets, the corn and tea were bubbling in the boilers sending forth an appetizing odor that could be felt over at *Shail’s Settlement.

A glance at the names of the committee in charge of the picnic is enough to convince the most skeptical that a better day’s outing could not be held – such names as the late Sid Anable, Bill Whalen, Bill Patterson, Joe Wilson, Alex. Wilson, Oliver Virtue.  Wylie’s barge was towed along for a dancing platform for the home trip and with the late George and Dick Willis playing the fiddles – it was not called an orchestra in those days – such foot-inspiring music was produced by these two musicians as has never been equalled.




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Photo from Joan Halpenny–These are from my grandparents and father. ( McRostie’s) I’m guessing late 1800s and early 1900 s. The people in the photos would all be dead now but perhaps relatives might recognize them.
Can anyone help?

Senator Peter McLaren (politician)–Click here

*John McCann-Mr. John McCann of Ramsay died on Thursday, February 16,1911, after a lengthy illness.  Deceased was only 44 years of age, and leaves besides his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jas. McCann, a widow, three daughters and one son, also six sisters. The sisters are Mrs. Robt. McIntosh, Almonte; Mrs. Wm. Wallace, Preston; Mrs. Wm. Lawrie and Mrs. Wm. Armstrong, Ramsay; Mrs. Robert Crawford, Carleton Place; and Mrs. Wm. Allison, Winnipeg.

*May, 1870—Carleton Place Herald:

The steamer Enterprise has now made several successful trips between Carleton Place and Ennisville.  We have not had time or opportunity, owing to the demolition of our old building and the erection of new premises, to avail ourselves of the pleasure.  We notice also several packages of freight leaving the steamer.  We believe that our spirited member, Mr. Code, is sending his manufactured cloth to Montreal by steamer via Carleton Place.  Soon also picnics and other social gatherings will be the order of the day.  When the locks at Ennisville and Fergusons Falls are built the property of our beautiful village will be a fixed fact.” –James Poole

The navigation scheme collapsed and in the spring of 1872 the Enterprise, in a neglected state of repair, was sold by auction.  The Enterprise,a paddle wheeler which could carry a hundred passengers, operated on the lakes and river in the service of the lumber industry under the ownership of Peter McLaren and the Canada Lumber Company for about twenty-five years.  It was made available throughout those growing years of the town as an excursion steamer for many summer and social activities.


*The rows of cottages along the east side of the Middle Lake are next – Shail’s, the Coleman High Bank and Petrie’s Shores, served by a good paved road.

“Suggestions for School, Picnic, or Travelling Lunches-1904

In boxes, or pretty baskets of suitable size and light weight, may be found in our stores; some of them fitted with compartments and receptacles for the various articles which are usually prepared for such occasions…For a travelling or picnic party of any large number, and particularly if there is to be some conveyance to and from the place for luncheon, it might be advisable to provide one’s self with a hamper elegantly fitted with every needful or imaginary article. They are marvels of convenience and help greatly in keeping everything separate and in perfect condition and really tempt the appetite. Their cost is generally equal to their convenience,, but for those whose purses will not permit such a luxury, a steamer cooker with its various compartments will be found a fair rival, as far as convenience goes. For the traveller on a short journey, and where dining cars are not to be found or patronized, there is nothing better than a paper box and some bottles or jars of convenient size, which may be left when their usefulness is ended, in some waste bin by the way. There will be but few ounces of extra or useless weight, which is not the case with the imported hampers. These often weigh, when empty, more than some persons could well carry. The following menus will show the great variety one may arrange for either of the occasions when such meals are needed:
No. 1. Spiced beef sliced, rye muffins, cup custard, bananas.
No. 2. Roast beef or cold steak sandwiches, canned fruit, hermits.
No. 3. Stuffed eggs, buttered rolls, oranges.
No. 4. Chicken sandwiches, tiny rice puddings, peaches, milk.
No. 5. Cheese sandwiches, gingerbread, prunes.
No. 7. Fishballs, Graham bread and butter, prune whip, lemonade.
No. 8. Baked bean sandwiches, potato salad, apples, gingersnaps.
No. 9. Jelly or jam sandwiches, sliced ham, little plain cakes, milk.
No. 10. Lettuce sandwiches, stem strawberries with sugar, cream cheese balls, cookies.
Formerly such lunches were confined to sandwiches, cakes, etc., with perhpas a bottle of cold coffee or lemonade; but as cakes and rich sweets are often the things least to be desired, it is wise to provide some receptacle in which a greater variety of foods may be carried. Small fruit jars, with glass covers and rubbers, which may be tightly sealed,–tiny tumblers for a small portion of stewed fruit, or soft pudding, tiny custards, puddings and timbales, meat or fish, salads and many other foods, will all find a place in the luchh box prepared by one who is willing to give some thought and time to this duty. Waxed paper is almost a necessity, if things are to be kept separate and in attractive condition. Plates made of wood as thin as pasteboard are cheap and especially convenient for picnics and travellers, where no table is procurable; and a cheap knife, fork and spoon add little to the weight, but much to one’s comfort.”
What to Have for Luncheon, Mrs. Mary J. Lincoln [Dodge Publishing Co.:New York] 1904 (p. 41-44)


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun


The Laird of Pretty Island

Tales from Dinky Dooley Island

People from the Potter-Bennett Block Fire– A Shocking Find

Before and After in Carleton Place

Fires in Carleton Place–James Gillies House

Bridge Street V.E. Day Parade Photos- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Facts You Might Not Know About Carleton Place for our 150th Birthday – Part 5