Tag Archives: walking tour

Walking Around Carleton Place 1986

Walking Around Carleton Place 1986
my collection- Linda Seccaspina

Carleton Place is haunted. But not by pale, moaning spectres that stand at the foot of the bed and rattle chains. The town’s ghosts appear as faint outlines of gothic windows on old St. Andrew’s Church, a third-floor false window at the Leland Hotel, and gas fixtures shaped like lion’s heads on the walls of the old Town Hall.

These buildings are just a few of the many clues to the past that lie quietly around the town, forgotten and overlooked by visitors and residents alike. But a local historical group has put together a walking tour of the town to dig up these ghosts and unearth their tales.

The picturesque town, about a half-hour’s drive west of Ottawa, has a population of a bit more than 6,000. The committee has linked 36 of the town’s oldest sites in the tour, and is distributing more than 5,000 brochures that illustrate and describe them. The stroll through history, which takes about an hour at a leisurely pace, starts at the old Town Hall on Bridge Street, and loops around the Mississippi riverfront area where the town first began. First stop is Town Hall, built in 1895. Like a castle surveying the river, it features roof pinnacles, wrought-iron cresting and tiny dormers with metal flags.


The building has seen an eclectic assortment of occupants: over the years, policemen and librarians, actors and firefighters have passed beneath the carved stone flowers on the entrance’s huge archway. Inside is a wood-panelled council chamber and opera hall with a raked stage and 90-year-old plywood chairs.

Photo- Linda Seccaspina

Across the river, one immediately notices the late Dr. Johnston’s mansion with its tower, gable and arched windows. But the hurried observer might miss the relics across the street. These four plain-looking buildings feature false fronts extensions of the front wall with nothing behind. Read-Summers of Carleton Place Past — Memories of Gooffy’s? The buildings were built in the boomtown days of the 1850s, when Carleton Place was on the railway line linking Halifax to Vancouver, and the railroad employed hundreds of people. read –Dr. Johnson Downing and Ferril I Presume? Carleton Place Then and Now–Bridge Street Series– Volume 12 a

no longer stands

The old Leland Hotel continues this theme of pretence, but adds a wrinkle of its own – a false window on the third floor with only empty sky behind. Around the corner on Bell Street, a dark old building sags with age, its wooden shutters hanging open at a crazy slant. This is the old Peden Store, built about 1845 and the oldest structure on the tour. With merchandise at street level and living space upstairs, it was a typical store of the mid-19th century.

Over on the corner of George and Edmund streets is the original Town Hall, built about 1872. It was conv -ted to a school about 10 years later. For a while it housed the town’s jail, and there are stories of wide-eyed students peering around their books at guards dragging handcuffed horse thieves down the hall.

Down the street and over the river is the McArthur Mill, built about 1871. Originally a woolen mill powered by a turbine fitted with wooden teeth, the building now shelters several high-tech electronics firms. Up the river is another clue to the origin of Mill Street’s name. The Boulton Brown Mill, built in 1823, is made up of three stone buildings and is dominated by the five-storey roller process and elevator built in 1885. The original millstone, which was hacked out of local granite, lies across the street. The mill is being renovated into an 11-unit condominium.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 Mar 1927, Wed  •  Page 11

If you’re lucky, not all the Carleton Place history you’ll find on the tour is clapboard, or stone and mortar. For example, you could meet 86-year-old Alan Swayne strolling down Judson Street on his way to one of his thrice-weekly swims. A resident for more than 60 years, he still remembers a cold February day in 1927. It was five o’clock, and his shift at the McArthur Mill had just ended. He was looking forward to dinner and then lacing up his skates for a hockey match that evening.

From the door of the mill, Swayne could see the railway line that spanned the river, and the sound of the Pembroke local thundering towards it made him look up. But what he saw made him forget about dinner and hockey and made him race towards the bridge. There was a woman thrashing in the icy water. “I threw off some clothes, jumped in and pulled her out,” says Swayne matter-of-factly, leaning on his cane. Read-John Alan Hope Swayne — Local Hero

The woman was safe, Swayne was freezing, and his co-workers escorted their new hero back to the mill. “They put me in a hot dryer to warm me up,” he says. “Then someone gave me a drink, and that was it.” He never made it to the hockey game. When Swayne walks out Judson and down Mill Street, he can see the old mill and most of the buildings that have stood in Carleton Place for more than 100 years. Swayne remembers, and sees what many others would overlook. Read –Working in the Grist Mill

Harold Silver photo
Thanks to Jeannie and Nic Maennling for looking after the museum for some of its life. We used to have a good crowd at the CP Historical Society.. and Ill remember it always.


A 1978 Walking Tour of Mill Street Almonte

A 1978 Walking Tour of Mill Street Almonte
Found in a 1977 newspaper article  in the newspaper article
102 Mill St., Baker’s Jewellery, was built in 1868 by Brown & MacArthur Dry Goods. Note the quoins (contrasting corner blocks) typical of this area. ( formerly Keepsakes and now Cashmere & Rose)
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94-96, Morton’s & The Couple’s Corner, built in 1905. The verandah overhanging the sidewalk represents the one-time fashion along all Mill St. The nine-foot passageway was built to allow for animals and carts passing to the rear courtyard.
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95, Rooney’s Pool Hall was erected in 1835 as the home of Almonte’s first citizen Daniel Shipman. In 1859 it became a hotel– Almonte House. Alterations through the years sadly obscure its original United Empire Loyalist tradition.
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88-90, typical of the 1870s, once housed the Sons of England meeting hall on the third floor.
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83. c.1875, retains fine old glass, woodwork and roof-edge metal cresting.
86, Superior Restaurant, shows the old “boomtown” front, an early 20th century design for an illusion of spaciousness.
The 1890 local sandstone building with clock tower was a post office designed by Dominion Architect (1881-1897) Thomas Fuller who designed Parliament’s original Centre Block. 78. a white and -red brick style dominant in the 1870s.
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71, Teddees, old law offices, possibly built around I860. In 1915 the third floor housed the Almonte Citizens Band.
70-72, James Tobacconist. Note upper brick corbelling, moulding above windows, cast iron pillars.
62, Bank of Montreal, built in 1906, uses stone to effectively accent softer materials. Stedman’s. known as Mr. Forgie’s Brick Building, built about 1873 was first occupied by Forgie, a merchant.
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Artist’s drawing of the portion of the McArthur Block at 63 Mill Street which once housed the Almonte Gazette. It first appeared in the Gazette’s Christmas edition dated December 25, 1891. Thanks to the scrapbooks of Lucy Connelly Poaps
61. the block including the Almonte Gazette, was built 1885 by Wm. MacArthur, a local tinsmith.
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Thanks to the scrapbooks of Lucy Connelly Poaps1949 outside of Josh’s Restaurant (McCormick’s style shop) Kay Julian Norma Barr Jean Blakely-
36-38. Lee’s and McCormick’s. was Murphy’s North American Hotel until 1878. Note the west wall with its two superimposed old ads.
Kerry’s and the Pharmacy, an 1883 building, once owned by members of the Shipman founding family. Pinecraft, on the corner, occupies this part of the original Rosamund Mill complex dating to 1862. Its 5-sided rugged stone design set the early building fashion here, as was followed by the 1863 structure across from it. On the way out of Almonte, you might like to stop for refreshment or a meal at Mama’s Place, a roadside steak house and tavern.

Have You Been to the Keyes Building? Here is Your Chance

Have You Been to the Keyes Building? Here is Your Chance



Photo by Linda Seccaspina- Jennifer Fenwick Irwin and Mark Lovell


Have you ever been inside the Keyes building on Bridge Street in Carleton Place? Here is your chance! The upstairs of the Keyes building will be open for Doors Open Ontario on the day of my walking tour , September 16, thanks to owner Mark Lovell  along with other buildings. On my walking tour we will stop, and you will have a chance to go upstairs and see it. Thanks Mark!! Information is at the bottom.








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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.



Under Lock and Keyes- Keyes Building

Gasp! I Saw Your Ankle- Wine Women and Song




Come this Thursday night on the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum Walking Tour… Hear stories that you have never heard before-wine women & song and finish the tour at Stalwarts where you will enjoy a free sample of their fine beer.

A lady never wore pearls or diamonds in the morning. Everyone was right and proper. If a woman lifted her dress a little and showed her ankle, it was considered very provocative. Hmm…if an ankle was bad, then why was it okay to enhance and show off your décolletage?

As for showing and enhancing décolletage — until more recent times that was simply for the care and feeding of babies. The ankle was indicating there were legs attached and who knows where THAT could lead!   The ages of 21 to 25 years is a favourable age to wed, because: “If she marry young, before her body be properly developed, there would be the danger of an abnormal child-birth.”

In September of 1897 the Almonte Gazette reported that Sudbury had been excited over the mysterious disappearance of Mr. C. Bigar barrister with indications that he had drowned. Searching parties failed to find the body either in the water or the woods though the search had been kept up for weeks.

From 1878 a wife could obtain a separation order on the grounds of her husband’s persistent cruelty, if she was convicted of an aggravated assault upon her. This gave her an incentive to report his violence to the police, because it could be her means of escape. In 1902 the husband’s habitual drunkenness was added to the grounds for legal separation.

The 1857 Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act re-asserted the double standard of fidelity. Simple adultery on the part of the wife was grounds, but adultery on the part of the husband had to be combined with desertion, cruelty, incest, bigamy or practising an ‘unnatural vice’ (sodomy, bestiality, rape of another woman) to be grounds for divorcing him.




Most Women Were Housewives




In the Victorian Era, most women were housewives. These women stayed at home and tended to the house and family, but there were a small percentage of women that had other occupations.

About 3% of all white women during the Victorian era and 25% of all black women were part of the working force and worked for wages. Most of these women were either a maid, nurse, laundress, teacher, psychiatrist, or social worker. Since there were so few women who worked at these jobs, only 9 out of every 10 homes had domestic help (maid, nurse, or laundress). Besides these jobs there is also another way that some wives stayed at home and earned money. This was by farming; some farm wives earned money from selling butter, milk, and other farm products that they produced on their farm.

Women had very little choice in those days and one only has to read the article that was in the Perth Courier in 1880.

Perth Courier, September 10, 1880
Child Desertion—Port Elmsley—On Monday evening, at about 10:00, Mrs. McNab and family, living on the Smith’s Falls Road about two miles from this place, were aroused by a knock at the door.

On going out, a man presented himself saying he had a parcel for Miss McNab, who lives across the road.  Mrs. McNab kindly requested that the parcel be left with her to be delivered in the morning.  The stranger handed Mrs. McNab a letter and started away as if to get the parcel but to their surprise there was a woman sitting in the buggy holding the horse on the road and he stepped in and the pair drove off.

They went to see which way they were going and found a basket which they supposed contained the parcel but upon examination it was found to contain a baby girl about five months old and also a considerable amount of clothing.  On opening the letter the mystery was revealed.  It was headed “Kingston” and said that they were man and wife but their marriage was a secret one and they were forced to part with their darling and asking that the child be cared for and brought up as one of their own.

The mother of the child repented of the rash act and returned two days later saying she could not live without the child and begging them to let her have her child and allow her to return home.  She gave them her name as Smith and said that she was from Montreal.  The mother was brought before the Council and it was decided after hearing the entire story that if the woman was willing to take her child and promised to care for it in the future, it was best to return it to her.



Did Blind Tom Play in Carleton Place?



You will have to find out on Wednesday July 22 at:

The Ms.-Guided Walking Tour of Bridge Street – Wednesday, July 22

6:45 P.M.-8 P.M.


There is more to the history of Carleton Place than what you have read. Even if you have lived here all your life-you have never heard some of these doozies. Join Linda Seccaspina the evening of July 22 to hear an odd tale about the old Union Bank on Bridge Street. Then it’s across the street to former Dr. Preston’s residence for some medical mayhem potboilers. How about a few tales about body modification as we walk past Body Graphics Tattoo on our way to the Queen’s Hotel?

As you stand in front of the now Queen’s Hotel, you will hear accounts of what really went on at the Chaterton House Hotel when it was one of the most eclectic and theatrically renowned hotels in the area in the 1800’s. Not to mention the few ladies of the night that hung around in the alleyway. Then it is on to Ballygiblin’s across the street for a free dessert(beverages are extra) and a question and answer period, or just plain socializing.

See you then July 22, at 6:45 P.M. in front of Moore House (170 Bridge Street) across from the Carleton Place Town Hall

Approx Time- 645 P.M- 8 P.M

Tickets-$10.00 to support the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Details below!


Smoke on the Water Walking Tour –The Great Carleton Place Fires


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A look at the darker history of Carleton Place!  Hear about the many Bridge Street fires and the one that almost destroyed the street. This tour follows along the Carleton Place Main Street with stories about the famous Mississippi Hotel Fire that a floor of the hotel was lost forever.  We stop along the way to listen to stories about the various business fires– those that are remembered, and those whose tales are forgotten.

Did you now there is one building that still has a ghost that remains from the ashes of the fire? Hear about the fire at Zion Church and Mrs. James Gillies home across the street that only been built for 3 years. As we walk to the end of Bridge Street we finish on the site of one of the most famous fires– that of Dr. Johnson’s home.

Join us after at Ballygiblin’s where we will share free slabs of locally hot baked bread topped with garlic and mixed cheese accompanied with homemade double smoked bacon jam!

See you then- Wednesday August 19th, at 6:45 P.M. in front of Moore House (170 Bridge Street) across from the Carleton Place Town Hall

Approx Time- 645 P.M- 8 P.M


Bad to the Bone Puppy Walk — Because — “History Isn’t Just For Humans”


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You and your dogs are invited to the “Bad to the Bone Puppy Walk” through Carleton Place’s Historic Mill District. Come “Sniff Around Carleton Place With Us”.

Bring your pup or pups, walk with us, and learn all about the amazing local history. We will try and have some four legged tidbits too.

Legend was Almonte folks were not supposed to associate with the Carleton Place Irish folks, and especially on St. Patrick’s Day.  As one local resident said, “it’s something to do with us being Scottish, me thinks.”

But were the Ballygiblin riots in 1824 an example of “Orange” frustration? Were the established Protestant settlers jealous of government assistance to new Irish Catholic immigrants? During the riots one immigrant was killed, several were injured, and a number of buildings were destroyed or damaged. Find out all about this historic event.

As we walk down Mill Street past the historic old mills we will see the rare Hackaberry Tree grove. We will go under the old railroad bridge that many a train traveled over the Mississippi River. Hear about the history of the MacArthur Woolen and Gillies Mills that used to employ hundred of local residents. Walk past the old fire hall, historic homes, and St. James Anglican Church on the way to the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. There we will share free lemonade and fresh cookies and have treats for the dogs in the Museum gardens.

See you then- Wednesday August 5th, at 6:45 P.M. in front of Moore House (170 Bridge Street) across from the Carleton Place Town Hall

Approx Time- 645 P.M- 8 P.M

Important Bites-
Limit two dogs per human
Dogs must be on leash at all times
Waste bags required