Since the building was erected in 1885, it has housed a variety of different operations including municipality offices, the fire station, police station and jail house, and the municipal library. The building also once housed a fire bell which was removed in 1968 upon completion of the new fire hall. Almonte.com
One of the few jailbreaks ever recorded in Almonte’s history was discovered last Saturday night when Caretaker Walter Berry of the town hall went into the lockup corridor and found that a young man who had been placed in one of the cells a short time before, had vamoosed leaving the barred door open. This insult to the impregnability of the local houseguest was perpetrated by a paratrooper who has been in the service for a couple of years and who was taking a little holiday at his home here while A.W.L. from the camp outside Ottawa.
It appears that late in the afternoon he got a little too much lubrication on board and when he went home he started taking things to pieces, including his “old man.” His “operation cut-up” sounded like the descent of a parachute during a hurricane. The provincial police were sent for and they locked him up in one of the cells. After that they left for the rink where the ice carnival was being held.
It is said that the paratrooper continued his “operation cut-up” in his narrow environment rattling the bars and expressing his opinion of the law in loud and uncomplimentary terms. When things suddenly got quiet for a time, Mr. Berry decided to investigate and he found the bird had flown from its cage. An old man sleeping off a jag in an adjacent cell heard nothing.
Mr. Berry notified the police at the rink and they searched the town but could find no trace of the paratrooper. It has since been learned that he went across the street from the town hall to Barr’s Grill and calmly drank a cup of coffee probably realizing even if the police had already learned of his escape, which they hadn’t, it would naturally be the last place they would look for him.
One theory of how he escaped was that he got his armdown through the bars and turned the key—if it was in the lock. But that does not explain how the additional hurdle of a cross bar and padlock could be surmounted. The door to the main room off which the tier of cells is located is not secured and as the police, when they lock a man in, must leave the keys some place where the caretaker can get them in case of fire, it is possible that some outsider entered and let the lad out.
A note was found in his handwriting directed to Officer Malcolm McNairn which read, in effect: “So long Mac, I’ll be seeing you.”
The Carleton Place Town Hall is an important landmark both historically and architecturally. The land was originally owned by William Morphy, one of the first settlers in the area and for whom the town was originally named Morphy’s Falls. He built a house on the present Town Hall site in the early 1820s.
Designed by George W. King and built by Matthew Ryan, the building is a fine example of the Richardson Romanesque style of architecture, which was popular in North America in the latter quarter of the nineteenth century. Richardson Romanesque style is a North American style, introduced by architect Henry Hobson Richardson, with typical features of rough stone, round-headed windows, semi-circular arches around doors and windows, dormer windows and round towers. The Council Chamber on the interior was originally called the Red Chamber because of the fine pine woodwork with a red satin finish. Other features on the interior include one of the few remaining raked stages in Canada, fine examples of woodwork in pine and ash, decorative pressed metal ceilings and mosaic encaustic flooring.
An imprinted line on the back of this CARLETON PLACE Ontario postcard shows that it was originally purchased there … in the variety shop of Miss Sarah Hickson on Bridge Street.From the 1910-15 period, the card presents another view of the street close to the Mississippi River; in the background is the beautiful 1890s town hall at the corner of Mill Street.A message is written on the back side, but the lack of an address/postage stamp indicates the card was sent by cousins inside a protective envelope.
A History of the Carleton Place Public Library— click here
In honour of Janet Baril’s Retirement, Head Librarian 1984-2013
Starting in 1829, the Ramsay and Lanark Circulation Library originally served the townspeople of Carleton Place. It had over 500 volumes, and was located in the Anglican Church which stood at Lot 16, 1st Con. Ramsay, opposite the Union Hall and schoolhouse.
Our present library began on March 14, 1846, as a Subscription Library with 65 original members. The entry fee was 2 shillings and the yearly fee was 5 shillings. The subscription list continued until 1850. By 1851, the Carleton Place library was operating out of the school house on Bridge Street, later Central School, which became the site of the post office. Some pages are missing until a partial list appears in 1864 when the record ends.
The officers and directors of the Carleton Place Library and Mechanics’ Institute for 1851 were:
President: James Duncan (blacksmith); Vice President: William Peden (merchant); Treasurer: Robert Bell, M.P.P. ; Secretary: David Lawson (store clerk, postmaster) ; Librarian: Johnston Neilson (schoolmaster) ; Directors: George Dunnet (merchant), Duncan McGregor, James C. Poole (newspaper publisher), Thomas Patterson (Ramsay farmer), John McCarton (Ramsay farmer).
April 5, 1865: “The Carleton Place Library will be open on Monday next, and on the first Monday of every month hereafter. Person wishing to read can on payment of .25 cent per quarter of a year.”
Interest in the library seemed to have dwindled until 1883 with the formation of the Carleton Place Mechanics Institute. The object of this Association was to: “establish a reading room and library, procure suitable apartments (sic) and deliver courses or lectures on useful and interesting subjects, as well as supply its members with the means of instruction in Arts, Sciences, Literature and General knowledge.” They housed the library wherever there was an empty building, or an individual would take it to their home. The Mechanics Institute looked after the library until 1895, when legislation was passed in Ontario whereby the Mechanics Institute became the Public Library, free of subscription dues. The Town by-law taking over the Library was not passed in its’ complete form until January, 1897. Upon completion of the Town Hall in that year, the Public Library began its’ long stay there. At this time the book collection was 2,458 volumes, and the number of books taken out during the year was 4,418.
In 1897, the Art Loan Exhibit, an exhibit of Lanark and Renfrew’s social and natural history was put together by the library at the Opera Hall in the new Town Hall.
Information from 1956 shows that “At present there are about 1,000 borrowers, approximately 8,000 volumes to choose from, and a yearly and growing circulation of over 20,000…on the library tables there is an excellent range of daily papers as well as periodicals of Canadian, English and U.S. origin, which can be read in the quiet and well-lighted main room…the library is housed in the town hall main floor, a central and convenient place for its users…”
In 1966 the Eastern Ontario Regional Library System was set up. This allowed for a pooling of book resources and interests of all Public Libraries in the ten counties of Eastern Ontario.
In 1970 the new library was built on land donated by the Town and funded by private individuals. It measured 3200 sq. ft., four times the size of the Town Hall library. Once again, in 1979, the Library needed more space and was expanded to double its’ size.
Then in September, 1986, the Library was vandalized and set on fire, destroying the adult fiction collection and causing water and smoke damage to the rest of the collection. The library was moved to temporary quarters in the Mews Professional Building on Lansdowne Avenue, until the library was rebuilt and the fire damage cleaned up. The Library returned to its’ home in February, 1987, with an official opening on May 23, 1987.
In 1994, the Library held 35,569 volumes and 93,040 volumes circulated during the year. Also, 910 volumes were loaned to other libraries in Ontario and 966 volumes were borrowed from them.
Computerization came to the library in 1992 in the form of an automated system. No more card catalogues, or hand-written patron library cards. The future had arrived!
As a millennium project, the library underwent a massive renovation starting in
June 1999, and ending in February 2000. At that time, the large Barbara Walsh meeting room on the east side of the building was turned into a much needed larger children’s area, with a new and smaller Barbara Walsh room added to the front of the building. Glass fronted offices were added close to the new circulation desk, along with public internet access terminals and storage areas. A local history/microfilm room was located near the Beckwith Street side of the building.
In December 2010, the library began to provide access to e-books through Southern Ontario Library Service, for all Carleton Place and area patrons. Ancestry Library Edition also became available early in 2011 for local family history buffs.
Statistics from 2011 show the Library holding approximately 63,000 items, with 108,280 circulating throughout the year. As well, patrons borrowed approximately 2,440 e-books, and Ancestry Library Edition saw approximately 11,691 research hits. Also, 1,273 volumes were loaned to other libraries in Ontario and 1,245 volumes were borrowed from them.
David Lawson 1846-1851
Johnston Neilson 1851-1887
Peter McRostie 1887-1909
Emma McRostie 1909-1941
Louise Elliott 1941-1960
Barbara Walsh 1960-1984
Janet Baril 1984-2013
Carleton Place 200th fact-Thanks to Laura @Restovation — we now have this complete photo on file and available for all to look at online. Thank you. Downtown Carleton Place 1909—Built on the south side of the Mississippi riverbanks the new town hall was just about to be opened. The building which faced Bridge Street was to house “a joint” town hall, fire and police station, concert hall and new library.It was advertised as a building that would astonish strangers by its proportions and ornateness. The cost was currently at $25,000 and there were still yet bills to be settled. There was a good many ratepayers that were furious that the cost was above and beyond of the initial quote of $12,000 and they swore that council would be held responsible for such monstrous costs at the next election. In fact the media wrote that the council was said to have run away with their duties to their constituents, and it was built solely as a monument to them.
Mr. Conklin elocutionist and Impersonator assisted by local talent and also by Mr. Hinchcliffe of Carleton Place gave an entertainment In the town hall last evening under the auspices of the Methodist Church. The entertainment received fair patronage, although the widespread sickness and fear of small pox in town at present surely contributed to the low attendance.
David Garrick undoubtedly was his best effort, an opportunity being given him to display his versatility of talent. His rapid change of face, form and manner, and particularly his adaptability to the varied character which be portrayed. were particularly entertaining. His other selections were more humourous and appeared to be pleasing to a large portion of the audience. Mr. Hinchcliffe rendered some vocal numbers with good effect.
Miss Sanderson contributed some calisthenic exercises for which she was warmly applauded. The entertainment taken altogether, was excellent although its promoters will not be much in pocket by their venture.
The church at 299 Bridge Street was a frame structure at its early beginnings, large enough to seat 250 persons. It was more than likely sold to the Baptists by the Wesleyan Methodists when they decided to move in 1888. According to some historical writings in newspaper archives the chapel was used as a grammar school in the early days as well as a church. In 1871, the wooden church was moved (*would love to know where it was moved to) and the present brick church on Bridge Street was built by Wesleyan Methodists, not the Baptists. When the Methodist’s congregation became larger they built and moved to a new church at the corner of Beckwith and Albert Streets. (Zion-Memorial United Church)
Did you know that the late great former Mayor of Carleton Place Brian Costello’s father and mother once were the caretakers of the town hall and lived in a former basement apartment?
When Brian’s children came to visit their grandparents thought they lived in the biggest house in Carleton Place.
Frank and Gertie Costello were on duty 7 days a week 24 hours a day just in case of a fire call. The caretaker’s role included the fire dispatcher’s job.
On some nights the Costellos could hear the drunks who sometimes inhabited the the cells behind the bedroom walls and the police would come and go at all hours.
One Christmas his Frank Costello felt sorry for prisoners who were away from their families and invited them from their cells to share in the season of a fine meal at the Costellos.
When Gertie Costello would bake– she would make two pies: one for the family and another for the police and the prisoners.
When Ray McIsaac began as police chief in 1953 the police station consisted of two desks in a room sandwiched between the library and the fire hall, with cells for prisoners downstairs. The council chambers doubled as the courtroom and on Thursday morning court was in session.
The Fireman’s Ball was held in the town hall auditorium. Held the last Friday in January the event attracted 1,100 to 1,200 people and the ball would not end until the wee hours of the morning.
The CFRA Happy Wanderers also performed every Saturday night in the auditorium for 4-5 years. Attracting 600-800 people the whole police force would be working which was 4 men.
Once in awhile the police would bring in someone for questioning and people in the library would try and eavesdrop. The late great Barbara Walsh used to go up to them and tap them on the shoulder and tell them to move along. When Walsh started in 1960 she was one of only two women in the building along with the clerk’s assistant Isobel Shail. Thing have changed but —- do you know there have been only 7 women elected to council/mayor since 1905? The building was full of men and they had a smoking room set aside across from the clerks office where they could discuss matters during breaks.
The library moved out in 1970 to the present library on Beckwith Street. The Fire Department also was in the same building until the move to Coleman Street in 1997. The town hall used to be jammed with trucks and equipment and used to be crammed pretty tight. They used to put the old ladders through the old windows at the back from time to time. All this from a former wee house sitting on a piece of land once owned by William Morphy in 1820.
When I was a kid the town hall including the auditorium was wide open. You could go in and discover stuff!. The balcony was a great place to go, or behind the stage which was pretty much unused spaced sort of like the attic in an old house. You could however make your way to the tower! Fun times! The other thing I remember about the auditorium is the annual Fireman’s Ball. I was just a kid but I remember being there and hanging around in front of the stage listening to some country band playing “On the wings of a snow white dove”. I hated country!
Carleton Place Town Hall. ‘Our thriving neighbour— Carleton Place— is going to build a town hall, and to cost about $6,000 or $7,000. We understand that our townsman, Mr. Wm. Willoughby, has got the contract, and will begin work as soon as the snow disappears next spring. The new building will be erected on the north side of the river, and in rear o f Mr. Wm. Glover’s property.
The museum is run by the Carleton Place and Beckwith Historical Society with assistance from the Town of Carleton Place and the Township of Beckwith.Opening as the Victoria School Museum in 1985, the name was changed in 2011 to reflect the scope of our collection and our communities.