Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne – From Perth Courier

Received from Christine Spencer – [email protected]


Perth Courier, December 15, 1922

In the Days O’Auld Lang Syne

Recalling Incidents of Former Years Around the County Seat of the Good Old County of Lanark

John J. McLauren

Franklin, Pennsylvania

December 9

Renewing my subscription to the dear old Courier for something like the 55th time, naturally suggested how quickly the years have fled and how sadly the ranks have thinned since my first acquaintance with the paper in 1859.  Fond memory pictures once more form and faces to be seen no more this side of the Celestial City and incidents not to be forgotten while life remains.  How vividly the scenes and persons of the early sixties rise up in looking backwards to review the fruitful past!  Let me indicate by short paragraphs a number of bygone people and sundry events.

Do you remember when James Thompson, Charles Rice and George L. Walker piloted the Courier which Alexander Cameron founded in 1834?  Thompson of medium size and brunette pattern was appointed sheriff, held the position upwards of 50 years, lived on Gore Street beside the Tay and rounded out a plump century before crossing the Great Divide.  It was his habit to come to the Courier office then in the building directly opposite the town hall every Thursday evening to chat a while and get a copy of the sheet just off the press.  Rice bought from Thompson and in turn sold to Walker upon receiving a court appointment.  He was tall, dark and genial and a vigorous writer.  Walker, a blonde of average height and slender build, was quick, energetic and never found napping at the switch.  His brother, expert James M. “clever as they make ‘em” and still alive and hearty, going to Pembroke to edit the Observer; George L., engaged to do local writing and traverse the county for news and subscribers, the experiment paying off handsomely.  Michael McNamara, the talented jeweler next door to the Courier office helped with the editorials wielding a powerful pen.  He migrated to Walkerton and long ago joined Mr. Walker on the Shining Shore.

Do you remember Richard Shaw, who operated the Farmer’s Foundry and owned the British Standard, Tory weekly with sturdy Burton Campbell at the helm?  Later, the Expositor came into existence with Captain Thomas Scott, a gallant military officer and Thomas Cairns, ex-postmaster, as chief factors in the management.  Shaw served as mayor and councilman with characteristic efficiency.  Shaw possessed superior abilities and independence and Cairns numbered his friends by whole battalions.  Alas, James M. Walker and myself are the sole survivors of the newspaper fraternity in days o’auld lang syne.

Do you remember when Dr. Wilson, cultured and studious and Dr. James S. Nichol, thoroughly competent, were practicing physicians.  Dr. Robert Howden, kindly and sincere; Dr. Horsey, refined and sympathetic; and Dr. J.D. Kellock, courteous and dependable and young Dr. J.S. Nichol, hanging out his shingle later.  Dr. Wilson was a skillful geologist and lover of nature.  Dr. Nichol died suddenly at the bedside of a woman in childbirth and Dr. Horsey passing away in Chicago without a moment’s warning in the prime of a successful career.  A very large congregation packed Knox Church on the Sunday the boy, son of Mr. and Mrs. T. Menzies of Bathurst, whom it was the faithful physician last professional act to assist in bringing safely into the world, was baptized “James Stewart Nichol”.

Do you remember when Judge John Malloch, a dignified and true gentleman of the old school, presided over the county court; W.R.F. Berford was clerk; James Patterson was sheriff; and Charles Rice was an important officer; with Thomas Radenhurst, Daniel McMartin, William O. Buell, John Deacon, Donald Fraser, William McNairn Shaw, were all leading barristers.  Judge Malloch built Victoria hall, the finest residence in Perth.  Radenhurst was Queen’s Counsel; Buell excelled in legal advice and preparation of documents; McMartin and Fraser were convincing pleaders; Deacon an eloquent voice who attained the judgeship of Renfrew County; and Shaw, who was crippled sufficiently to compel him to always walk with a cane, and served creditably in Parliament, hitting the Long Trail a year or two after, erecting the beautiful mansion in which he answered the Final Summons.  Mr. Shaw was a fastidious dresser, friendly and social with black hair and beard and a deep sense of propriety.  Among his students were Francis A. Hall, who gained distinction at the bar and filled a term or two as mayor, and John W. Douglas, sprightly and striking in civic and military concerns; and George Alfred Consett, alert and diligent and for many years kept a complete diary that was a correct summary of current events.  All but the latter have answered the Final Subpoena that accepts neither excuse nor postponement. 

Do you remember when Rev. William Bell, Rev. William Bain, Rev. James B. Duncan, Presbyterian ministers; Rev. Michael Harris, Episcopal; Rev. James Henderson, Baptist; Rev. George McRitchie, Methodist; Rev. John McLaughlin, Convenator; and Rev. John Hugh McDonagh, Roman Catholic priest, who were the local ministers.  The frame churches of Mr. Bell and Mr. Harris were fired by incendiaries; a falling rafter of the latter fatally injured George Miller, an esteemed citizen.  Mr. Bell was Perth’s first pastor, arriving in 1817 and laboring forty years, his quaint church standing idle a decade after his death.  A section of his flock organized St. Andrew’s Congregation in 1826 in charge of Rev. Thomas Wilson, an earnest divine and erected a stone edifice in 1832 since remodeled into its present form.  Mr. Wilson returned to Scotland, Mr. Bain succeeded him in 1846 continuing until his death in 1881.  Mr. Duncan, one of the most able preachers Lanark County ever boasted, soon after the disruption, accepted the call to Knox Church built by seceders from the Old Kirk.  He stayed 18 years building up a strong membership and removing to Chicago in 1866.  Coming back to Canada, he ministered at Mt. Forest and Galt, celebrated his jubilee in 1900 and died at an advanced age.  He was a born witness and fine conversationalist always preached without notes and used pertinent illustrations and illumined every subject he touched.  What he styled “the awful sermon” was a discourse that shriveled the flimsy excuse given by many of the adherents for not subscribing liberally to appeals for funds to improve the church and manse which gave great offense to the delinquents and hastened his resignation.  One noteworthy exception was John Motherwell, a substantial Bathurst farmer and father of the Hon. William Motherwell, the political leader and statesman.   The big hearted farmer had a seat in the gallery that commanded a view of the audience on the main floor.  Catching my eye at one impressive point in the sermon, he laid his hand upon his breast and smiled broadly.  Meeting him the next forenoon on Gore Street, he said:  “Wasn’t that sermon a scorcher, when I signaled to you it meant this hits John Motherwell right between the eyes; so this morning at breakfast I knocked at the manse and handed Mr. Duncan five pounds extra with thanks for his straight talk in the pulpit”. It goes without saying to anyone who knew him that the stalwart yeoman over whose grave the snows of many winters have drifted, was a conscientious liberal and sincere to the degree.  Mr. Henderson, dark eyed and black bearded was a forceful personality in or out of the pulpit and universally admired.  Mr. McRitchie was of a goodly appearance and address, a faithful toiler in the vineyard and often conducted his services on Sunday afternoons in rural schoolhouses.  Mr. McLaughlin was a frequent preacher two or three hours to his handful of patient hearers but the Convenantor organization has long been a tradition only.

To Be Continued

Perth Courier, December 29, 1922

Do you remember when J. Livingstone, Rev. A. McClure, R. Burke and Rev. Thomas Hart were principals of the grammar school and Rev. Thornton had the staff of the common school?  Livingstone was a graceful and gracious man, married Miss Berford, studied law and sat on the bench for a number of years preceding his lamented demise.  Mr. McClure, scholarly and rather reserved, was a skilled instructor and master of the classics.  Mr. Burke, urbane and companionable from the ground up entered the Episcopalian ministry and went to mission fields in Oso laboring faithfully to the end of his useful and benevolent life.  Mr. Hart preached his first sermon in Knox Church, taught successfully and filled a professor’s chair in Winnipeg University with signal ability.  He was one of nature’s noblemen, admirably fitted for responsible duty and left a worthy record of service to God and humanity.  Dr. Thornton was every inch a thoroughbred and died in the very blossom of a fruitful course, esteemed and mourned by the entire community.  Two elder sisters of mine, Helen and Catherine, daughters of Beckwith’s teacher pastor in 18??, opened in Perth the first school in Lanark County with lady teachers.  My mother taught in North Elmsley and Drummond for some years and it was also my fortune in 1860-64 to have had two schools at one or other of which every family on both sides of the road between Perth and Rideau Ferry was represented.  Naturally, a few of my pupils have been enrolled on high one of the brightest and best only last month in the person of Euphemia Spalding, widow of George Oliver, also a valuable pupil.  Mrs. Oliver was the second daughter of John Spalding, Reeve of North Elmsley and one of the school directors of my section with John Poole, a trusty friend always and everywhere and Thomas Nichol as an associate and Rev. John Bell the learned Anglican rector of Smith’s Falls township; and Mr. Worrell, a Christian gentleman of the finest type was ever considerate and approachable and understanding of human nature.

Do you remember the Hon(?) (illegible word) Kennedy, affable and (illegible word), practical and who married (illegible word) Henderson, the accomplished daughter of the Baptist pastor.  Devoted to his profession, Dr. Kennedy cared for the teeth of a host of grateful patrons, extracting them only when necessary.

Do you remember when the Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, toured this section, stopping ten minutes at Smith’s Falls to greet the throng that assembled to see him?  A good woman from Ramsay who had driven miles to look at the heir to the British throne voiced her sentiments with the observation “weel, weel, Queen Victoria’s bairn is just like my bairn at home”.  The Duke of Newcastle, florid and rotund, wore a grey suit and seemed bored but forced a smile when the venerable Col. Playfair, a Waterloo veteran, read a loyal address which the royal scion acknowledged suitably.

Do you remember when the Fountain Fire Company appeared in parade drawing the ancient hand engine that squirted effectively?  The gallant lads wore white jackets trimmed in blue and marched in a manner regular troops might envy.  James Cameron and John Spalding, George Corry and John Lee, six footers, erect as pine trees, usually led the column.  Cameron was a prosperous Bathurst farmer; Corry was a blacksmith whose axes were warranted to cut the toughest hemlock knots; and Lee was turnkey of the jail under Robert Kellock and W. H. Grant and their successor until death claimed him after half a century of meritorious service.

Do you remember when W. Rutherford and George Cox made wagons and vehicles enduring as the New England deacon’s wonderful one horse shay?  John Rutherford, William Cronin and George Corry ironing the carriages and shoeing horses according to Hoyle?

Do you remember when Alexander Kippin, W. Elliott, James Todd and James Campbell were builders and carpenters?  John Riddell and David Hogg supplied furniture.  A. Ferrier manufactured saddles and harnesses; Patrick Griffin and T.C. Enright were merchant tailors; James Templeton and the Kirkpatricks had tanneries and John A. McLaren distilled whiskey pronounced by connoisseurs “ok”.

Do you remember when Jonathan Lock and James Spalding brewed beer that needed no apology?  Lock, a real heavyweight, tipped the beam above three hundred pounds, and shifted to Smith’s Falls and ended his days there.  Lock’s Bridge, the upper stone arch spanning the Tay on Gore Street, was named for his family.

Do you remember when Ezekiel Morrison, chunky and obliging, started the first photo gallery and with his brothers, established a restaurant, a word that for a time puzzled most of the natives.

Do you remember when William McLeod made tin pans, basins and kettles by hand at his shop near the Methodist Church, his good wife conducting a boarding house of approved brand.

Do you remember when H. B. Wright, brimful of vim and the get-up-and-go quality that spells success, opened his furrier and clothing establishment beside the Courier office in the Rice block; Thomas Hicks, Roderick Matheson and Carr Thompson had tidy stores that prospered lively.  George Miller and W. Lily were iron founders and David Holliday erected and tenanted his frame building on Gore Street for mercantile purposes.

Do you remember when Thomas Aspden, four square to every wind that blew, developed the phosphate mines in Burgess, shipping tons of the product to England, quitting the job after months of what seemed to be profitable results.

Do you remember when James Bell was registrar with Archibald Sinclair, king bee of penmen, administrative deputy?  Mr. Bell, prompt and enterprising, was a son of the first resident pastor and attained a patriarchial age.  Two of his brothers, James and John, were early merchants who issued shinplasters payable in goods and broke up the monopoly of exorbitant prices.  Two other brothers, Andrew and George, filled Presbyterian pulpits for many years and Ebeneezer taught school in North Elmsley, later farmed on the shores of Ottay Lake and finally settled in the west.  The Bell family is now merely a tradition following in the wake of the Alstons, Boultons, Grahams, Powells, Saches(?), and Thoms, all missing from the muster roll for a generation or more.

Do you remember when Sgt. Lambert, tall and majestic, arrived from Toronto to train the Perth volunteers, a military organization that was ordered to the front in the Fenian invasion?  Lambert died unexpectedly and his widow married a farmer at Rideau Ferry.

Do you remember when Alexander Morris moved from Montral and defeated John Doran for parliament, beginning Tory domination in south Lanark and paved the way for John O. Haggart, Capt. Matheson, Dr. A.E. Hanna, and J.A. Stewart to attain political preferment and fill high offices?  Mr. Morris was exceedingly smooth and suave with a gifted tongue to might readily coax a setting hen off her nest while his Presbyterian eldership and his father’s excellent record in parliament appealed strongly to the clannish Scotch Reformers of the district who basely deserted Doran, a first class citizen.

Do you remember when Robertson’s Music hall was the main place for entertainment and secular meetings prior to the erection of the Market House in 1862?

Do you remember when Richard Shaw was mayor, Thomas Brooke clerk, Robert Jamieson tax collector, J. McCaffrey treasurer and Thomas Cosgrove constable?  Abram Code of Innisville, John Laurie of Bathurst, D. McCrae of Drummond and Capt. J. McGill Chambers of Montague were rivals for positions in the liveliest campaign the riding had ever known, Shaw winning against the field.

Do you remember when Joseph Brown, a dwarf in body, and a giant in spirit, and “Paddy” Curley, aged and homeless, were town characters with striking peculiarities?

Do you remember when John Adams, a born vocalist, taught singing in the schools in and around Perth and Mrs. E.W. Seeley was a trained soprano worth walking miles to hear render Dana’s touching “Passing Under the Rod”.  Wishing to complement Mr. Adams, who commanded the respect and affections of all good people, a class in North Elmsley thought of presenting him with an elegant Bible.  James McLaren a well to do farmer on the Scotch Line, asked to subscribe for the purpose of the book, expressed his practical view of the case:  “buy a Bible for John Adams?  He has more Bibles in his home than he can use but here’s a pound towards getting him a gold watch”.  That settled the matter in favor of the time piece.  Mrs. Seeley wife of the express agent, joined the Angelic Choir many years since but she is by no means forgotten.

Do you remember when a galaxy of pretty girls in grace and beauty, second to none in or out of Canada included Allans, Bells, Berfords, Miss Bostwick(?), Miss Botsford, Brookes, Campbells, Miss Mary Cox, Douglasses, Frasers, Gemmills, Haggarts, Harts, Miss Lily Miller, Mathesons, McMartins, Miss Malloch, Miss Ida Mowat, Nichols, Miss Pendergast, Radenhursts, Miss Thompson, Miss Templeton, Watsons and dozens more who no longer gladden this vale of tears.

Do you remember when George Love, the colored barber, cut hair for a dime, shaved for a nickel, throwing in a budget of conversation to boot?  The high cost of living did not bother folks then as now and Love saved money right along.  A pompous Southerner who he had shaved handed out a $100 bill saying he had no change.  Love dived into a deep pocket, pulled out a handful of bank notes, and silver and counted out $99.95 and thanked the stranger for his patronage.  The customer could not conceal his surprise and said:  “this beats the deuce; I have been looking at hands in this county for a month without spending a penny, for the inn keeper and farmer who lodge me and fed me could not break the bill you have just changed”.  Love replied “I always carry a bit of change to call the bluff of anyone who tries to put one over on me”.

Nearly all the persons named in this article have gone to the Final Journey that has no return passage; whole families are extinct.  The ranks are thinning steadily and old timers look in vain for forms and faces familiar in former years.  It would be easy to fill pages of the Courier with remembrances but this is enough for now.  Offered a second helping at dinner on the day of her arrival, a lady astounded her company by declaring:  “No thank you.  I have partaken  of a genteel sufficiency and any more would be an elegant superfluity”, so a second helping may be possible by and by.  For now, goodbye

Perth Courier, June 19, 1925

Do You Remember?

Incidents of Days Gone By That Old Perth Boys Will Remember

When Billie Wodden rode the high wheeled bicycle?

When the S.L.A.L. fairgrounds were at Greenby’s Corners?

When Perth had two excellent brass bands and rivalry was keen?

When there were three or four or five tall gates between Perth and Lanark?

When Mark Lapoint and Jimmie Downey took the long bicycle rides in the summer?

When Jimmie King was the fastest skater in Perth and also the fanciest?

When Bob Edwards made beautiful fans out of shingles and sold them about town?

When the Thanksgiving Day road races around the Glen Tay block caused a “thrill”?

When a liquor “spotter” was thrown under the Mill Street Bridge following a police court case?

When Tom Fennell and Walter Harrison performed single and double song and dance turns?

When Dr. Wolfe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin came to Perth as a wagon show and presented under a canvas at the rear of the present Code block?

When the remains of Sir John MacDonald, Premier of Canada, who died in June of 1891, at Ottawa, passed through Perth on a special train to Kingston for burial.

When the Wizard Oil Co. with a beautiful carriage drawn by four snowy white horses held forth on the Market Square selling their preparations intermingled with songs, etc.?

When a certain woman with a strong craving for drink dropped a flask of liquor on the pavement of the town hall one evening and mopped up the remains with her handkerchief?

It only seems a few years since Glen Tay and Port Elmsley (Pike Falls) were thriving villages.  Wonder where the descendants of those prominent in business and social circles of fifty years ago are today.

When a disastrous fire in the winter of 1892 destroyed Henry Taylor’s hardware store, George Barrie’s butcher shop, W. McIntyre’s photographic gallery, and J.M. Poole’s Perth Star newspaper plant on Gore Street where the Balderson Theater now stands?

When the first balloon ascension was witnessed in Perth?  It was back in the 70’s when Barnum’s Show held forth in Gamsby’s Field and in passing over the late Dawson Kerr’s house, the basket came in contact with his chimney and knocked it off.

Remember as a boy the fun derived from “running the logs”; great, large, pink hemlocks, cedar and basswood as they floated down the Tay.  For about a week in the Spring of each year the “drive” was a memorable event.  There was pork and beans, high wines and malt, and the log rolling contests galore and the Tay full of logs for miles at a stretch.

When we used to pay “shinny” on Grant’s Creek with the goals about a mile apart?  The shinny was a crooked little stick cut from the bush preferably an elm with the root forming its curve and the “puck” a hard rubber ball.  There was no “off side” or any other rule just bang, slash, trip, dodge.  Everything went so long as the ball was placed between the two sticks frozen in the ice.

When an organization known as the “Slashers” was in existence.  They were forced by mutual consent to banish the wife beater and similar offenses but gradually developed into an organization when corrective methods were adopted in an effort to set old scores.  The Slashers carried a rawhide up their coat sleeves and history says each member knew how to use his corrector.

When the Mechanic’s Institute (Public Library) with Robert Jamieson as librarian, was located in the present Custom House premises?  Here the Perth Courier Club met and occasionally held checkers tournaments with outside clubs at home and away.  Among the players of those days were J.A. Kerr and Thomas Bothwell who still play and the following deceased:  Joshua Bothwell, Robert Lochead, Dr. Crain, Dr. Munro, C.(?) or G.(?) A. Consitt.

How often in the intervening years have you wished for a ride on a hard sleigh down Walker’s Hill?  Do you remember how you would start at Patterson’s Corners (Harvey and Drummond Corners), gather speed as it reached Constable Cosgrove’s house, whirl down Walker’s Hill like a streak of lightning, cross the river and pull up with a thud on the bark bank of Devlin’s Tannery.  Them were the days!

Did you ever hear Jimmie Moore tell how he confused the saloon keeper at the corner of Harvey and Core Streets with impersonating two well known characters in a fight in one of the sorrow drowning rooms of his tavern?  If you never have, get him to narrate the incident.  And by the way, Jimmie, can you tell how and why Adam C. “hitched up” Jess, but Tom Baird can relate this incident to the King’s taste, too.

When Perth’s first bowling alley was located?  The late Dennis Kane, father of Peter Kane and Mrs. D. Ferguson in town, conducted a tavern in the building occupied by Peter Kane, opposite the old St. Andrew’s Church.  At that time, east of the river in the vicinity of the court house, was the centre of town and there were four hotels or taverns between the Long Bridge and Craig Street on Drummond Street.

What would you give for a day down the Tay or up Grant’s Creek or up the avenue as in days of your with a cedar pole, short line, with gang hooks attached, an old lucky monitor, a chunk of bread, butter, pepper, sale, green onions, a frying pay and some nice plump, juicy twitching frog’s legs?  The taste of such repasts lingers on my tongue and in my mouth to this hour and the days sport will never fade from my memory while life lasts.  How about you?

When Charlie Freshman, son of Rev. Mr. Freshman, of Asbury Church, made the first chest protector for a baseball catcher ever seen in Perth?  Charlie was celebrated as the savior of the “boy behind the bat”.  It was a piece of ticking stuffed with shavings, straw and rags and an odd string strung through it to keep the “stuffing” in place.  It was slung over the shoulders like a poke on a breachy cow.

Ask George James if he remembers his first day in the 7th room of the public school.  If he forgets, tell him he got a whale of a lambasting.  You know, George used to pull his head backwards as the switch or taws came down and the teacher slashed herself but the male teacher in the 7th room was on to him right from the start and he grabbed him by the wrist before giving him his first lesson in P.T. (physical training).  The explanation of “P.T.” is given for the reason that that subject was not in the curriculum until present years although taught just the same by the teachers of long ago.

When the Dominion Government manufactured in Perth the huge eleven ton cheese to be sent to the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893?  The cheese was put together in the C.P.R. freight shed under the direction of Professor J.A. Ruddick.  A heavily build wagon for its display was built by the late Matt Stanley.  Early one morning in March, 1893 the cheese was shipped by special train to Chicago, the Citizens’ Band and a large number of citizens assembled at the station to see the train depart.  After the Chicago Fair the cheese “found” its way to England Sir Thomas Lipton having purchased it to be sold in his chain of stores there.

Perth Courier, June 20, 1923

Perth’s Pioneer Merchants (and others)

The following article was discovered among some press clippings in this office the other day and it will be of interest to old timers as well as our youthful readers of the Courier.  The name of the author is not given. 

The early merchants of Perth—Morris, Ferguson, Taylor, Wylie, Watson and Delisle, brought most of their goods from Montreal by one horse trains on the ice to Bytown, thence by trains to their destination.  Long strings or trains driven by French Canadians would come together, presenting quite a picturesque appearance.  Later the Rideau Canal and steamships on the Ottawa River would supercede the primitive methods.  Prices were high and many families found it difficult to buy the necessities of life.  Merchants upheld the rates, never thinking of underselling each other, a clear proof that combines are not an invention of today.  Credit was the general rule often resulting in a mortgaged farm and wasted homes.  Manners ran in this style for years until William and John Bell, twin sons of Rev. William Bell, opened a large store on Gore Street.  They sold at fair prices and received an enormous patronage and gave exorbitant profits a fatal blow and broke up the monopoly.  Hon. Roderick Matheson, an officer in the British service who gained distinction in politics, was long a prominent merchant.  The late Arthur Meighen, a self made man came over 50 years ago and established the prosperous business still carried on.  Plate glass, big windows, show cases, elegant fixtures, and modern equipment render the Perth stores of today much unlike those of 70 years ago.

Doctors Wilson, Thom, Reid and O’Hare, the latter three army surgeons, were pioneer physicians.  Dr. Wilson, thoroughly skilled in his profession and a real gentleman always, took the lead, lived to a goodly age and was universally esteemed.  The lamented Dr. James Stewart Nichol had an immense practice of 30 years, dying in 1864. 

Among the half pay officers, McMillan, Robertson, Powell, McKay, Sache, Ashton, Fraser and Nichol were prominent.  Few of these retired veterans engaged in any business, preferring to live upon their pensions and take the world easy.  Usually they contrived to have a “jolly good time” until death ended the scene. 

Thomas Radenhurst and Daniel McMartin were lawyers of repute.

John Wilson and Robert Lyon, two law students, quarreled about a young lady and fought the last duel in Upper Canada.  This was in June of 1833 a year before John Cameron founded the Bathurst Courier of which Sheriff Thompson, Charles Rice and the late George Walker were afterwards editors.  Wilson sent the challenge to Lyon because Lyon had slapped his face in the court house.  At the second fire Lyon, who is said to have directed his second to load his pistol with peas fell dead before assistance could raise him, pierced through the heart.  The dreadful tragedy occurred on the right bank of the Tay causing great excitement.  Wilson hid a few days, then surrendered to the authorities, was tried and acquitted.  He moved westward, rose to eminence in the law and was appointed to the bench and ultimately became Chief Justice of Ontario.  During his protracted judicial career he would never sentence a man to death, leaving the task to his colleagues.  He bitterly mourned his participation in the duel on each anniversary of the day and he would shut himself in his room to fast and pray and gave vent to his sorrow.  Young Lyon, a brother of Capt. Lyon of Richmond and a relative of Robinson Lyon of Arnprior, was tall, handsome, genial and exceedingly popular.

The modest village had several humble schoolhouses which would cut a sorry figure beside the present temples of learning.  Messrs. Stewart, Hays, Tait and Kay taught the district school successfully, maintaining strict discipline.  An important part of their duties was to sharpen the quills—steal pens had not been thought of.

Wylie and Ferguson secured the contract to build the Tay Canal, then deemed a grand enterprise.  While performing the work, Mr. Wylie lived at Poonahmaice(?) subsequently located in Ramsay where he opened a store and helped start the village that has grown into the important village of Almonte.  One of his sons still is in the business there.  A daughter married the late Judge Malloch.

The Presbyterian, Episcopalians, and Methodists conducted a Union Sunday School in the old court house.  The ministers were on friendly terms although the people were divided into cliques and factions which had little social intercourse with each other.  Once the aristocrats, who believed themselves head and shoulders above the ordinary run of humanity, had to do their statute labor on the streets owing to the scarcity of workmen, much to the edification of the community.

John Adams, who attained four score and ten taught singing school most efficiently.  Congregational singing was the style in church and Perth ranked high in the feature of worship.  Folks dressed neatly on Sundays.  My mind recalls perfectly the looks of the principal men and women who lived in Perth seventy or more years ago.  Pretty girls were by no means scarce.  Three barefoot boys, Malcolm, John and Alex Cameron were particularly clever and ambitious.  All became distinguished notwithstanding John died in the bloom of what promised to be a remarkable career in medical practice.  Malcolm Cameron’s public service is a part of the history of the province.

About 66 years ago Duncan Campbell, a young man well known about Perth and Oliver’s Ferry, went to Bytown.  Walking along in the evening, he noticed a tavern sign and entered the house to seek lodgings for the night.  Some rough looking fellows began talking in Irish, saying he was nicely dressed, must have money and should be put out of the way during the night.  His knowledge of Gaelic enabled him to understand their conversation.  He treated them a couple of times, took advantage of a chance to get out and ran clear to Bytown.  An investigation showed that the premises had a room built over the Ottawa River where strangers were lodged.  Then the ruffians would enter stealthily, throw the sleeping victims into the stream and keep all their clothes and money obtained from the murder.  Various persons disappeared in this mysterious manner of whom no trace was ever found.  The horrible place was torn down as a result of Mr. Campbell’s experience which he never forgot.

Perth Courier, June 19, 1925

The Tay Engine in the Old Days

A former Smith’s Falls boy wrote the following in the Record News as follows:

During the “Old Home Week” I wonder how many will discuss the old stage days—the days before the advent of the railroad when those who did not have horses of their own, went by stagecoach to Brockville or to Perth.  Twice every week I stood and watched the stage coach from Brockville come across the Black Bridge (the drawbridge that spanned the second lock) with the outrider blowing his horn long and loud as they swing along the road across Hog Island and the Red Bridge and drew up in front of the hotel which occupied the same site on Beckwith Street as the one just above the Malson Bank does today.  Here they changed horses and sped on their way to Perth.  The road from Brockville to Perth was macadamized and toll gates were stationed at regular intervals much to the annoyance of the drivers of private rigs, Francis Shamior the father of Mrs. Emaline McKenzie who died only a month or two ago, was the proprietor and genial host.

Who will remember the William or Prince Albert old time side wheel steamboats which ran from Kingston to Ottawa; or who of them saw the first three locomotives brought down from Kingston on barges and landed at the foot of George Street?  These locomotives were the first to do service on what is now the world circling C.P.R. railway system.  The first one landed was the “St. Lawrence” and the second one was “The Ottawa”.  The third one was “The Tay” a much smaller engine than the other two.  A temporary track had been laid down on what is now George Street and connected with the main line just about where the English Church Cemetery is located.  Many, no doubt will remember the little “Tay” as it was used for many years to haul the trains from Smith’s Falls to Perth before the through link to Toronto was built.  Denny McElliott and Pat Donegan as conductor and engineer manned that train during the whole time of its existence and “Dinny” became one of the best known characters in the community.  When it came time to start, his set speech in his deep Irish brogue was:  “Pat be sure and stop at Pike Falls before you start”.  It was also his proud boast that he had never had a collision during the twenty odd years he and Pat had run the train.  It can naturally be inferred that the train had considerable fun at Dinny’s expense.

Perth Courier, January 12, 1923

Reprinted from an 1865 poem by J.J. McLaurin

Perth, 1865

Perth, like its Scottish namesake stands

‘Mid spreading fields and fertile lands

Upon the River Tay

Dense forests once and swamps were seen

Whose autumnal tints and gorgeous greens

Combined in rich array

Where now the “model town” is found

With happiness and honor crowned

Improving every day

Our town exists where once the trees

Waved proudly in the stirring breeze

The trees no longer stay

From Kingston sixty miles or more

From Brockville thirty three or four

From Ottawa some fifty two

In Drummond Township stands to view

Our town—the town we all love best

Perth, Lanark County, Canada West

Within these fifty years

Since eighteen hundred and fifteen

How many changes Perth has seen

Then came McPherson—first was he

Where Perth now stands to cut a tree

Let not his name be forgotten be

Few months elapsed ere noble bands

Men with brave hearts and willing hands

Began to cultivate these lands

And soon the “Lanark Settlers” came

True, sterling men of honest frame

And warmest gratitude to claim

Let us revere the names

And recognize the claims

Of Ferguson, McMillan, Rice

McLaren, Taylor, Spalding, Bryce

Young, Fraser, Campbell, Holliday

Bell, Matheson, McLellen, Gray

Kidd, Adams, Rutherford and Scott

These men should never be forgot

God Bless These Pioneers

In Perth, the good old days of your

Some forty years ago or more

“Craig Darrock” kept a little store

Now they are numbered by the score

And businessmen are hourly met

On Foster, Harvey, William, Gore

Mill, Herriott or Drummond Street.

Stores now are neither small nor few

Eight blacksmith shops stand out to view

The saddlers’ shops half as many more

Banks, tanneries and foundries three

With nine or ten hotels we see

Drug stores of Gamsby, Kellock, Coombs,

A photographic artist’s room

And mills erected on the Tay

Saw, card, and grind both night and day.

Besides as seen from last reports

Perth large amounts of grain exports

The lumber trade is already great

The butter, pork and ashes trade

Have also great advances made

While mining but of late begun

Has up to date thousands run

Five Allans, Botsford, Dunnet, Kerr

Shaw, Meighen, Mair, O’Brien

McLean, McLaren, Sibbitt, Wright

Walsh, Ferland, Devlin, Ryan

Two Mathesons, two Hendersons

Two Walkers, Thompson, Hart

Brown, Weatherhead and Anderson

With several more take part

In business now and do it well

While Messrs. Morris, Despard, Bell

In bank management revel.

J.M.O. Cromwell (famous man)

In what we call a P.L.S.

John Morris also is the same

The meaning anyone can guess

McLean and Spillman paint our floors

Walls, wainscots, ceilings, windows, doors

J. Kennedy makes teeth of bone

And those whom fate has left without

Or else makes something for his own.

By pulling other people’s out

G. Gilbert has a barber shop

Where he will reap the bristly crop

He does his best to complete

And though he shaves is not a cheat.

Wright, Walker, Griffin, furnish suits

O’Brien, Allan—shoes and boots

Hart, Walker, books and papers new

McLaren, Gemmill “mountain dew”

J. Mitchell—beer and bottled ale

Hardware is kept by Martindale

McLeod, two Butlers, Andrew Bell

Have kettles, tins and pans to sell

At two fine shops we buy our clocks

Northgraves and McNamara’s

While J. McCulloch, Hicks and Cox

Make rollers, rakes and plows and harrows

Gigs, buggies, wagons, and wheelbarrows

James Allan, Laurie, Dennison

Supply the town with bread

And Davies at “Perth Marble Works”

Makes tombstones for the dead

Mechanics, tradesmen, businessmen

May God increase their store

May they as years are passing by

Be prospered more and more.

Once traveling was so very slow

It took at least a week to go

By trains and wagons and bateaux

From Perth to Montreal

Trains that were used in former days

Were but a clumsy sort of sleigh

Which went in many devious ways

Now trains are quickly run on wheels

And great delight a Perthite feels

As on he moves at railway speed

That far outstrips Mazeppa’s steed

Or down the great St. Lawrence floats

In one of Hamilton’s steamboats

No longer now a week we spend

Before we reach our journey’s end

By railway first—the B & O

To Brockville in two hours we go

There we remain until we dine

Then start upon the Grand Trunk line

At Prescott and at Cornwall call

And take our tea in Montreal

Once children at the district school

Knew something well—it was the rule

They wished the school a pleasant day

Would go to LEEward of deKAY

Or hoped some long would tumble down

And kick their teacher right up BROWN

Now at the grammar school they learn

Their real interest to discern

Now Mr. Hart wins youthful hearts

While useful knowledge he imparts

He teaches merry girls and boys

To add in one another’s joys

From one another’s cares subtract

And multiply each kindly act

How to proportion and divide

The hours that o’er them swiftly glide

To practice virtue and reduce

All envy, malice and abuse

How to extract the root of pride

And many other things besides

He teaches grammar, reading Classics

With hints and mathematics

Mr. McDowell, aide-de-camp

Too helps the noble cause along

While Dr. Thornton in the Commons School

Instructs the youth in many a useful rule

Nor must the lady teachers be forgot

Miss Laurie, Forgie, Smitherman and Scott

There also is a separate school

Where Cosgrove and Miss Feeley

Both deeply versed in knowledge sound

Communicate it freely

Previous here schools with honest pride

Knows how the scholars have been tried

And proudly think of honors won

By Thornton, Kellock, Patterson

McLean, hart, Kerr and Matheson

Who all at college ranked A1

But we must not forget the name

Of one who may remembrance claim

One who endeavored to advance

The cause of education here

Whom all that value sterling worth

Should honor and revere

A man of candor, upright, free, sincere

We mourn his loss we shed a silent tear

And hold the name of M. McDonnell dear.

Now let many here record the name

Of one whose pupils hold him dear

Who gained their friendship and esteem

Who ruled by love and not by fear

We love the man, admire the work

And bless the genial Mr. Burke

Perth’s population now amounts

According to the last accounts

Compiled from latest rolls

To hear three thousand souls.

Some fat, some lean, some large, some small

Some stout, some thin, some short, some tall

Some quite youths, some sportive blades

Some married folk some cross old maids

And Perth can boast of ladies fair

With deep blue eyes and golden hair

While lovely girls are hourly met

With eyes and tresses black as jet.

Which is the better of the two

The brilliant black or melting blue?

What would earth be without a fair one’s smile

To cheer our hearts—our weary hours beguile

What would earth be without those lustrous eyes

Whose tender glances we so highly prize

Without those beaming eyes and smiling faces

This earth of ours would be a wretched place

A world forlorn, deserted dreare

Nor would I ask to linger here.

Many of our girls lead happy lives

May they become true loving wives

And fond devoted mothers

God bless all lassies on this earth

But bless the pretty girls of Perth

Much more than any other.

The Honorable R. Matheson

Has long been M.L.C.

A Morris Esq., also is

Our present M.P.P.

The former is a man of worth

Integrity and zeal

Who strives to do his duty well

And seeks the public weal

Whose sands of life are nearly run

Who when his life shall end

As full of honors as of years

Shall to the grave descend

And may the latter gentleman

By all his actions show

That what he does is never done pro bono public

May he have happiness and health

Joy, honor, wealth and fame

And leave behind him when he dies

A clear, unsullied name.

J. Malloch, Esq., is our Judge

A judge of good report

Who shows true dignity and ease

Presiding at the court

A genial, social gentleman

One whose addresses tell

He loves a joke, enjoys a laugh

And wears the ermine well

God bless His Honor, grant him health

Peace, comfort, happiness and wealth.

J. Thompson Esq., is the name

Our worthy sheriff bears

He is an upright, honest man

Who minds his own affairs

Kind hearted, generous and free

Long may he live and happy be

Long may he fill his present berth

And be an ornament to Perth.

Our clergymen instruct the youth

The Rev. Thomas Hart, B.A.

Whom while our citizens esteem

His pupils honor, love, obey

Six others speak the word of truth

And seek to show the narrow way

The preacher I admire the most

Is one who is himself a host

His style is good, his language free

And his initials J.B.D.

The Reverence R.L. Stephenson

I trust will prospered be

And also hope that on his church

A spire I will shortly see

The other four who yet remain

Are Messrs. Hansford, Knott and Bain

And last of all though not the least

Father McDonagh, the R.C. priest.

May all these clergymen be blessed

And when from earth they go

May they enjoy eternal rest

Where pleasures ever flow.

Messrs. A. Morris, Deacon, Fraser, Shaw

McMartin, Buell, Beynon, practice law

The second soon will be a judge

An honor none to him begrudge

Indeed I hope he yet will be

Chief Justice Deacon, L.L. D.

And when the last subpoena comes

Commanding their appearance

The “summons” all will soon obey

From which there is no clearance

May all our lawyers reach the shore

Where “precepts”, “writs”, “unjunctions” “wills”

Fees, mortgages, deed codicils

Advices, actions, lawyer’s bills

Costs, suits and trials are no more.

Five doctors:  Wilson, Howden, Horsey

J. Kellock, Nichol practice physic

No quacks are they but men of skill

Yet folks must die, do what they will

And spite of powder, drug or pill

No M.D. I’m very sure,

Has ever found the “perfect cure”

Though some apply a sticking plaster

And keep the folks from going faster

When death whom none can disobey

Whose summons must be heeded

Doth bid our doctors come away

May they arrive where pains and ills

And doses, powders, drugs and pills

Are neither known or needed.

Here let me name two clergymen

Whose deeds we ought to cherish

Who preached in Perth for many years

Who were among our pioneers

Let not their memory perish

Let young and old remember

The names and actions well

Of Reverend Michael Harris

And the Rev. William Bell.

A doctor too, not long deceased

May our remembrances claim

A skilled physician, tender, kind

Let all who knew him bear in mind

James Stewart Nichols’ name

Should any Fenians dare appear

They will meet a warm reception here

From many a loyal volunteer

Two companies we now possess

And may their shadows n’er grow less

As to the van that bravely press

May they defend their country’s cause

Uphold her liberty and laws

For truth and freedom nobly stand

And be an honor to our land

Perth has 100 firemen bold

Two companies of red and blue

In summer’s heat and winter’s cold

Prepared their duty still to do

Our fireman and our volunteers

Are worthy of three times three cheers

The schoolhouse once some twenty square

Was but a wretched log affair

The schoolhouse now is built of stone

A building Perth is proud to own

Accommodates 300 scholars

And cost about $4,000

R. Douglas is the builder’s name

A gentleman of portly fame

Commanding presence, stately mien

A worthy subject of the Queen.

3,000 pounds the market cost

We do not think the money lost

For ‘tis indeed a grand affair

And gives the town a business air

Judge Malloch’s handsome residence

Than which Perth has no other such

Cost some 400,000 pence

And Mr. Shaw’s about as much.

Of six good churches Perth can boast

A court house jail stores quite a host

Fine private dwellings, banks, hotels

And rink where merry beaux and belles

Meet on the tee to have a skate

And move along at a rapid rate

The “fallen angels” there are found

Yet joy and pleasure much abound

Old Fogies talk of wasting time

And speak of skating as a crime

But truth to tell I do not think

There is any danger in the rink

Except that some may get a fall

At which we laugh and that is all.

The Standard and Examiner

The first newspapers here

Dr. Tully and by Stewart owned

No longer now appear

The Family Herald, too, is dead

But others occupy its stead.

The Courier was first begin

In Eighteen Hundred Thirty Four

‘Twas published by John Cameron

Who is alas! No more

His days on earth were quickly done

His race was but too swiftly run

Beloved while living mourned when dead

For him a silent tear is shed.

The next proprietor was one

Who is now known to fame

The Honorable M. Cameron

Well worthy of the name.

May he have pleasure and success

And long enjoy true happiness

James Thompson, Esq., was the third

His cause was just and wise

The fourth was Charles Rice, Esq.

Now Clerk of the Assize

Two worthy men they worked with zeal

And sought to aid the public weal.

The fifth one—he who edits now

Is Mr. George L. Walker

Who knows his business, drives his quill

And is no idle talker

But one who minds his p’s and q’s

And has correct, enlightened views

His paper now is 32

Is young and strong – as good as new.

Then there is the Perth Expositor

The British Standard, too

But what we want three papers for

Is beyond my view

However, if they make it pay

I am very glad to hear it

T. Scott the former publishes

B. Campbell prints the latter

To give us notices and news

And information scatters

When editors are called to die

In printer’s parlance “locked to pl- - -“

And must become “dead matter”

This epitaph I would suggest

Here lies an editor at rest

Yet though he lies he was forsooth

A man who always told the truth

And sought to do his very best

All false reports to batter.

An Orange Lodge in Perth is found

St. Patrick’s men go marching round

Freemasons too and Sons abound

“Come join the Orange ranks” said one

To him I thus refused

“Oh I’m not green enough for that”

“And beg to be excused”

“Come be a Mason” said a friend

“Oh not at all” said I

“I’d sooner for a lawyer be”

“And that’s the reason why”

“Come join the Sons” another asked

“Drink naught but sparking water”

I said “with all respect for thee”

“Id rather join a Daughter”

Court, county, market, council, clerks

Rice, Moffatt, Berford, Graham, Brooke

Not one of these his duty shirks

Or tries cute dodges, tricks or quirks

Now let us at the Council look

R. Shaw, Esq., is presiding Mayor

John Doran, Esq., is our Reeve

R. Douglas, Esq., deputy

Two good officials I believe

O’Brien, Allan act together

United in the bonds of leather

This much I’ll say for all the rest

They seem to do their very best

And keep expenses down

And benefit the town.

McCaffrey is town treasurer

Moorehouse collects our tax

T. Cosgrove is head constable

And Kellock is not lax

In watching each and every cell

And guarding all our “jail birds” well

T. Cairns is postmaster now

A civil, kind, obliging man

He has besides a Sunday name


Which is in plain English to say

The office cannot be moved away.

Now at the close I wish to say

To all the citizens of Perth

May you be prospered every day

And long remain in health

Should war arise or trouble come

May each and all of us be seen

Most nobly striving to defend

Our town__our County__and our Quebec

Posted: 07 April, 2005