Book Fair at the Crystal Palace

Autumn’s brightest maple trees were the colourful backdrop for the 3rd annual Book Fair at the Crystal Palace in Perth, Ontario. Nestled along the historic Tay Basin, the Farmer’s Market hosted a number of local authors, along with their usual offerings of produce, craftspeople, artisans and home-baked goods.

Perth Crystal Palace


The yearly event is a wonderful opportunity for visitors and residents alike to meet with authors, share in discussions, ask questions, and discover the literary offerings produced in their community.


Anne Raina, author of ‘Clara’s Rib’, and Kay Rogers, Editor of ‘At Home in Tay Valley’ share a few words at the opening of the event.


Author Gene Bassett was back this year with his books ‘Tall Tales’ and ‘Stolen Moments’. In Gene’s words, “Hopefully, these vignettes will give the reader time to pause, and give reflection to the humour and serendipity that keeps us in tune with life in all its ups and downs.”


Larry Cotton, author of ‘Whiskey and Wickedness’ brought the full complement of books in his series.



Kay Rogers was on hand at the event to promote “At Home in Tay Valley”, a collection of stories and memories from the people of Tay Valley.  Proceeds from the sale of At Home in Tay Valley will support an annual scholarship for a student graduating from Perth & District Collegiate Institute, or from St. John Catholic High School who has demonstrated a keen interest in history.



Joel Leblanc and Thomas Uhryniw were busy, promoting the popular souvenir book marking 25 years of the Stewart Park Festival.


A number of local readers as well as some out of town visitors stopped by to say hello.


What a treat to see a former classmate and neighbour from the Third Line – Dawn-Marie Brady, and share a few memories!


Signing a copy of my new book “Lanark County Classics: A Treasury of Tales from Another Time” for Scott Reid, member of Parliament for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston.  Scott kindly shared some fascinating stories and history of the historic Haggart residence in Perth. It was a pleasure to meet with such an avid reader and history buff!


Once again, many thanks to those who stopped by to say ‘hello’ on this busy Thanksgiving weekend.

Thanks as always to our host the Perth Farmer’s Market for sponsoring this event, for promoting local authors, and most importantly for supporting literacy in the community.


For more information about the Perth Farmer’s Market:    Perth Farmer’s Market

35th Anniversary – Lanark County Genealogical Society


Maple leaves displaying a kaleidoscope of colour, and crisp fall air set the scene for the 35th Anniversary celebration of the Lanark County Genealogical Society.  As we drove along Highway # 7, the bright signs along the way reminded us that we’re entering the ‘Maple Syrup Capital’ of Canada, although the spectacular scenery leaves no doubt in our minds.



The much-anticipated event was held in the Beckwith Township Hall, near Carleton Place, –  the perfect setting to mark this milestone for the genealogy society.



A beautifully decorated cake served as the centerpiece for the buffet table, generously laden with all sorts of delicious choices for the celebratory luncheon.

After lunch, LCGS President Jayne Munro-Ouimet opened the program, welcoming one and all to the celebration.

Honoured to be the invited guest speaker, my presentation focused on ‘Genograms’, and how they can be used in addition to vital statistics, to illustrate patterns and traits in a family tree.



LCGS member Mary Kerfoot spoke briefly on the Kerfoot family, and their proud history in Lanark County.



The Historical Artifact Committee of the LCGS presented a Kerfoot Family Bible, featuring entries going back to the earliest times in the township.  The members of the committee recounted the story of how the family bible was rescued from a Salvation Army thrift shop in Victoria, British Columbia, and transported safely back to Lanark County.


L to R:  Jennifer Irwin, Rosemary Campbell, Beckwith Township Councillor Tim Campbell,  LCGS President Jayne Munro-Ouimet, Mary Kerfoot, and Brian Dowdall.

(Mary Kerfoot is a direct descendant of pioneer George Kerfoot)


Several presentations were made to distinguished members for their years of service and their dedication to the Lanark County Genealogical Society.  Below, Frances Rathwell and George Stewart receive their well-deserved recognition from the Society from Jayne Munro-Ouimet, LCGS President.


At the conclusion of the formal presentations, a book-signing and ‘meet and greet’ was held at the book table.



A special highlight of the day was a gift from the LCGS of the heavenly liquid gold produced in the Lanark County maple trees each spring.  This particular bottle was produced at  Wheelers Maple Syrup near McDonald’s Corners.


It was a day to remember in Beckwith Township!  A proud and important milestone for the Lanark County Genealogical Society, marking 35 years of continual service in helping people far and wide connect with their family roots.

“On March 27, 1981, twenty-four genealogy enthusiasts met near Smiths Falls Ont., to discuss the formation of a local genealogy society. This group grew in scope and number to become the Lanark County Genealogical Society in 1982. In 35 years the organization has grown to include members from all over the world . The mandate of the Lanark County Genealogical Society is to assist members in researching family histories, and in the gathering, recording and preserving of genealogical information pertaining to Lanark County.”

Congratulations on 35 great years!


To find out more about the Lanark County Genealogical Society LCGS

To discover the family history collections, land records, wills, and research aids held at the Lanark County Archives Archives Lanark

For information on Wheeler’s Maple Syrup Wheelers

Lanark County Classics – Book Launch

A sunny, warm, late September day brought record crowds to the official book launch for “Lanark County Classics: A Treasury of Tales from Another Time”.

The Book Nook, a popular store on the main street of historic Perth, Ontario, was the setting for a steady stream of book lovers eager to read the latest collection of stories set in Lanark County, the picturesque maple syrup capital of Ontario.

The newly released stories in this series are set in Perth, Lanark, DeWitt’s Corners, Pakenham, Clyde’s Forks, Middleville, and the former North Burgess Township, taking the reader along on a journey back to the 1960s and 1970s in rural Eastern Ontario.

An early visitor to the store on Saturday, was Tara Gesner, from Metroland Media, a reporter covering the book launch for the local newspaper.


There were many new faces stopping by, after reading the glowing reviews appearing in several publications   Review of Lanark County Classics



A reader from Port Elmsley stopped by, interested in local history, and had certainly come to the right book launch for stories set around the region.



Dianne Tysick Pinder-Moss, former classmate of the author has purchased the entire collection for her mother, who has been a fan of the series since the beginning.



Nancy Townend, Pakenham resident, came to the launch after hearing that one of the stories ‘Perils in Pakenham’, was set in her lovely,scenic, village.



Carol-Ann McDougall,  resident of the Big Rideau Lake, featured in the story “Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story” Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story  brought a lovely, bright yellow chrysanthemum to grace the table of the book launch.  Carol-Ann has read all of the books in the Lanark County series, and has been looking forward to reading the newest collection of stories.



Carla Brown stopped by, as she often does, to purchase the latest Lanark County book for her grandmother Shirley Myers.



Avid reader of local history, Tom Ayres was eager to get the latest book in the series.  Tom has read all five in the collection, and is the reader who requested the story on Antler Lodge, featured in the last book – Lanark County Connections. Antler Lodge



One of the stories in the new book, Lanark County Classics is ‘Meet Me in DeWitt’s Corners. The story takes the reader back to the earliest days of the hamlet, recounts the history of this proud settlement, and the DeWitt family, whose name still graces the community today.   It was a special treat to have members of this founding family attend the book launch.


Jane DeWitt Brady O’Grady – descendant of pioneer Zephaniah DeWitt, founding family of DeWitt’s Corners.

Jane DeWitt Brady O'Grady 2 Sept 24 20160001.JPG


Also, a direct descendant of Zephaniah DeWitt, and native of DeWitt’s Corners – William ‘Bill’ Cavanagh,  son of Helen DeWitt and James ‘Jim’ Cavanagh, and his wife Brenda.



Another native of DeWitt’s Corners, and descendant of pioneer Zephaniah DeWitt, sister of Bill, JoAnne Cavanagh Butler, daughter of Helen DeWitt and James ‘Jim’ Cavanagh:


It was a real treat to share some memories of DeWitt’s Corners with Jane, JoAnne and Bill!

Along with the DeWitt descendants, long-time residents of DeWitt’s Corners, Elaine and Dave Morrow stopped by the book launch.  Both Dave and Elaine contributed their memories and stories of DeWitt’s Corners for the book.  Owner of The Book Nook, Leslie Wallack, is standing to the right of Elaine. Leslie and her staff were busy the entire day assisting visitors to this popular store.


Beverly Miller Ferlatte also stopped by the book launch.  Beverly shared her memories of S.S. # 4 , Bathurst, School for the story based in DeWitt’s Corners.  Beverly’s grandmother Mary Jordan was a well-loved and respected teacher at the school for many years.  The school house has been converted into a residence and Beverly’s brother Brian is the current owner of this historic building.


Janice Jordan Gordon was another contributer to the DeWitt’s Corners story in the book. Janice was very helpful in identifying the children in several class photos from S.S. # 4 Bathurst School.


A book launch would not be complete without a visit from former neighbours from the Third Line of Bathurst, Margery Conboy and her daughter Diana. Margery and her husband Wayne Conboy also shared their memories of DeWitt’s Corners, and the historic cheese factory that remained at ‘The Corners’ until 1979.



Another former neighbour, Dave Mitchell,stopped by the book launch.  Dave was also interested in reading the story on DeWitt’s Corners, and finding out more about the history of the area where he was raised.



The Book Launch at The Book Nook was a great success!  Many thanks to host Leslie Wallack and her staff, for keeping up with the steady crowds, and for providing the delicious refreshments.

A special thanks to all who came, from near and far, to stop by and chat, to share some memories, and to be a part of the busy day!


Stories in “Lanark County Classics”:

  1. Baffling Banshees in Burgess
  2. Meet Me in DeWitt’s Corners
  3. Mystery in Clyde Forks
  4. Multitudes in Middleville
  5. A Grand Era in Lanark
  6. Perils in Pakenham
  7. Perplexed in Perth



Port Elmsley – Drive-In Dreamin’


Someone decided one night that to save a few dollars we should put a couple of people in the trunk of a car so that they could get in for free at the Port Elmsley Drive-In Theatre.

I guess we can just chalk this one up along with the other peculiar things that we did as teenagers.  Luckily no one was hurt, but for the three bucks they each saved on admission it was a pretty undignified way to arrive at the movies.

It’s possible that we weren’t the first ones to try that little stunt.  After all, the Drive-In had been open for a long time before any of us had ventured there.


It was in September 1952 that ‘The Perth Courier’ ran a short article about a Drive-In being constructed at Port Elmsley.  The article stated that it was the first to be fabricated in this district and it was built by Gordon White of Ottawa for W.J. Williams, of Newboro.

The article went on to say that it would be assembled on a ten acre property a half mile south of Highway 15 and that the Drive-In would have a capacity for 300 cars. It would feature a design first of its kind in Ontario, where the projector booth would be in a two-story building nearly 400 feet from the screen.  This was a distance that was 150 feet greater than any of the other Drive-In theatres at that time.  It was to open the following May of 1953 at a total cost of $75,000.  True to their word, they opened on schedule and called the new Drive-In ‘the Showplace of the Golden Triangle’.



Port Elmsley was indeed a great location for a Drive-In theatre because it’s situated about halfway between Perth and Smiths Falls.  There were always droves of cottagers and tourists staying around Rideau Ferry and the surrounding lakes in the summer. There were also many residents of the towns and villages nearby that enjoyed a drive up Highway 15 on a warm summer night to see some great movies.



Because the Drive-In opened in 1953, many folks had parked in that huge parking lot and viewed many movies on that big screen long before my friends and I ever made it there in the ‘70s. In fact, it was more than twenty years after it opened that it became one of our familiar haunts each summer as we passed the nights away under the stars.

Some of us were lucky enough to have gone to the Drive-In as children, dressed in pajamas, playing on the teeter-totter and swings between the first row of cars and the giant screen. As the sun sunk low in the sky, we were having the time of our lives. What could be better than staying up past your bedtime with a whole bunch of other kids, the aroma of popcorn in the air and watching the cartoons at the beginning of the show?


Every kid knew the words to the concession jingle ‘Let’s all go to the lobby, let’s all go to the lobby, let’s all go to the lobby, to get ourselves a treat.”  When we heard that song it was our cue to start heading back to our parents’ cars because the movie would be starting soon.  By the time they played the Chilly Dilly song about the big, juicy, dill pickles, we were in the back seat with our pillows and blankets, all ready for the show to begin.  Much to the delight of most parents I’m sure, we were asleep by the time the second feature began and this allowed them some peace and quiet and time alone – well, almost alone.



We’d usually begin assembling all of our gear during the afternoon.  First, we’d pack up a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels, because there was nothing worse than having a big messy streak or some bugs splattered right in the middle of your window.

Mosquito coils were also vital to a relaxing evening.  Because of the speaker hanging off of the front window we weren’t able to close it all the way, so burning a mosquito coil would take care of any of the little pests that flew into the car.  If none of the gang had any, we’d have to head out to Canadian Tire on Highway 7 and pick some up before the show.  We’d place one of the little green coils on its small metal stand, set it on the dashboard and light it up. Many years later I happened to read on the side of the package that those coils were for outdoor use only.  Oh dear!





A couple of pillows and a blanket were a nice touch and made movie-viewing a comfy, cozy event.  We’d also bring a small flashlight because nothing was worse for us girls than stumbling around on the gravel path trying to find our way to the washroom on a dark, moonless night; especially right after watching a scary scene in a horror movie. That just didn’t work for us.  Sometimes we’d bring a roll of t.p. from home, in case they ran out, which happened once in a while during the all-night movie marathons.


I still recall the crunch of the gravel as we slowed down to enter through the gates into the Drive-In and began scouting for a good spot.  A good spot to us was front row centre and enough space for the three cars to park side by side so that we could socialize.  We also had to make sure that all three speakers worked so we would pull into the spots and test the speakers, otherwise we’d have to move all three cars to a new location, maybe a row behind.  Of course every row farther back that you were you would have to contend with people getting in and out of their cars in front of you or turning on their cars to clear their windows because they were fogged up for some reason.  So, the best real estate in the lot was the front row, right in the center of the screen and if we went early enough the best spots would be ours.

I think the lads liked having spots near the front not just for the sake of the movie, but so that their cars were together and very visible in the front row.  There’s no denying that they all had sweet cars.  Those three cars managed to get some looks touring around town and had been known to burn up more than a little rubber on the quarter mile runs down Roger’s Road.




The warm summer air would be filled with strains of Foreigner’s ‘Hot Blooded’, or Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and typically a little bit of our favourite space cowboy, Steve Miller singing “The Joker’; a song that you could say became a symbol of  the times. Some have said that it was an era of music like no other, before or since and the sounds of our generation could be heard throughout the parking lot of the Drive-In on those sultry summer nights in Port Elmsley.



As the sun slid down lower in the sky the horizon glowed first in a dusty pink, then a soft purple. There was always one car that began honking their horn because they believed that it was dark enough to see the movie.  After a minute or two, more people started to honk and then shortly after that the show would begin.

One of the things that we enjoyed the most were the ‘Dusk to Dawn’ shows where the first movie would begin at dusk and the movies would continue all night until the early morning when it became too light to see the picture on the screen.  The movies were played back to back and were often horror films like ‘The Exorcist’ or ‘The Omen’ or ‘Jaws’. I recall one night that my friend and myself, even after having consumed large quantities of pop, did not want to use the washroom just in case that giant crazy shark ‘Jaws’ had somehow compromised the plumbing system out in Port Elmsley.  We just weren’t taking any chances.




We saw many nights come and go in Port Elmsley.  There were some beautiful, sleek, muscle cars in those days parked row after row, paint glistening in the moonlight.  We made numerous trips to the concession stand in an attempt to fill our unquenchable teenaged appetites.  We even had a few scary trips in the dark, giggling on our way to the washroom and back. We screamed a few blood-curdling screams as did some of the folks in the neighboring vehicles one evening I recall, as the character Jason appeared in his hockey mask in the thriller ‘Hallowe’en’.



Today, the Port Elmsley Drive-In is one of a handful of drive-ins still operating in Ontario. Leave it to the folks in Lanark County to know a gem when they see one and to continue to go out and enjoy movies under the stars.  I hope that in the future that the little kids in their p.j.s, young people and not so young people will take the time to visit the drive-in and have as much fun as we did.  Take a trip to Port Elmsley and make some of your own memories!


In its heyday, Port Elmsley had many residents and some of the family names that were common in that area were:  Armstrong, Taylor, Stone, Hunter, Weatherhead, Best, Couch, Wicklum, Weekes, VanDusen, Seabrook, Shaw, Sherwood, O’Hara, Moore, Dudgeon, Lavender, Findlay, McTavish, McVeety, Beveridge, and Clements.


The full story “Dusk to Dawn in Port Elmsley” is part of a collection of stories in the book “Lanark County Chronicle”


Available at The Book Nook, The Bookworm & Blackwood Originals in Perth,  Perfect Books & Books on Beechwood in Ottawa, Arlie’s Books in Smiths Falls, Mill St. Books and Divine Consign in Almonte, or on


Stomping in Ompah!


Late one summer, we heard that there was going to be a music festival over the Labour Day weekend, up in Ompah.  This was going to be a back-roads tour to end all back-roads tours – an outdoor party with live music, and we couldn’t wait!


There wasn’t really much up there at that time.  The most popular thing in Ompah was likely the Trout Lake Hotel owned by Wayne Kearney.  It was a former residence; over 150 years old, in fact it was the oldest building in Ompah and was now a bar. The old timers around there say that they began serving liquor there in 1904.  It was the first licensed establishment in Eastern Ontario and the locals also said it was one of the first bars in the province. That place was the home of some famous and infamous barroom brawls too, but we won’t get into that.  There were quiet times, but the people who went up there mostly summer fishing enthusiasts and the winter snowmobiling patrons kept it fairly busy.


After much anticipation, Labour Day weekend finally arrived.  We packed as many of us that could fit into one of my friend’s parent’s cars and off we headed to Ompah.  We drove up the third line and turned up Cameron Side Road, past Calvin Church and over the tracks and onto Hwy 7. We turned onto the Elphin Maberly Road and continued onto Hwy 509, then Lake Road and Lafolia Lane.  We parked and got out of the car. The Stomp grounds were beautiful with tall, majestic trees, situated on a hill, overlooking Palmerston Lake.


That first Ompah Stomp was held on September 3, 1978 and their special guests were Max Keeping of CJOH TV and Doug Anderson of CKBY FM.  The step dancing contest was held at about 8pm followed by old fashioned round and square dancing.  The musical guest artists that year were Sneezy Waters, Mike O’Reilly and Wayne Rostad.



I guess we thought that it was our own little ‘Woodstock’, and over the years the Ompah Stomp grew as people heard about it and wanted to experience the live music and party atmosphere. That first year, the organizers had anticipated about 200 people showing up and they ended up with a crowd of closer to 3,500.  The second year the crowds grew to 5,000 and the third year saw that rise to 6,500.





Some of the musical acts that performed at the Stomp were:  Neville ‘Nev’ Wells, also a member of the Ompah snowmobiling club, the Family Brown, Jack McRae and the King of Clubs, The Prescott Brothers, Hugh Scott, Ron McMunn and Carbine, Steve Glenn, David Thompson, Fred Dixon, Lynn and Chris, Lloyd Wilson, Dallas Harms, Ted Daigle, C-Weed Band, Terry Carisse and many others.






















“Perth Courier” September 12, 1979 – a review of the second year of the ‘Stomp’:



















A poem written by Kathy Norwood, about the ‘Stomp’ printed in March 1980





“Perth Courier”  Sept. 2, 1981  page 19:


Poster from 1982





The Road to ‘The Stomp’  – 1983

road-to-ompah-1983Poster from 1984


Liquor and beer flowed freely from coolers and wineskins and the lineup at the washroom facilities was unbelievably long, but everyone enjoyed themselves just the same.  It was wonderful to have a music festival so close to us.  Usually, if we wanted to hear live music of that calibre we’d have to travel to Ottawa or Kingston, so it was great to have the Ompah Stomp so close by.






The Stomp would carry on for many years after those first few annual celebrations, and people would come up from the States and would come from neighbouring provinces as well, some came from as far as Alberta.  Labour Day weekend was one of the busiest and most exciting for us in the area, because we had the Perth Fair and the Ompah Stomp.


Who would have ever thought that a small village of around 100 people and their little snowmobile club would be able to create a music festival that would attract thousands of people from all around. It was another example of the spirit of the people who lived in rural Eastern Ontario.  They never faltered in their belief that they could succeed, or lacked the confidence to organize a music festival just because they were a handful of folks from a tiny village.  The Ompah Stomp became a metaphor, an example for all of us that it only takes a few people who believe strongly in something to make a difference.  It sure made a difference for us kids in the country who were always looking for a little excitement; and the Ompah Stomp made our last weekend each summer something we’d all remember fondly for years to come.

Photos from the 1978 Ompah Stomp from the private collection of Don White from the band Grateful We’re Not Dead:  Grateful We’re Not Dead Facebook Page

For more information on Grateful We’re Not Dead:  Grateful We’re Not Dead Official Band Website


Some of the families who settled around Ompah:  Dunham, Kelford, Closs, Conlon, Dawson, Ellenberger, English, Gunner, Hitchcock, Cox, Keller, Killlingbeck, Kirkwood, Mabo, Massey, McGonigal, McDougall, Molyneaux, Moore, McDonald, Murphy, Payne, Praskey, Sproule, Thomas, Tooley, Richardson, Riddell, Roberts, Sproule, Stewart, Stinson, Thomas, Uens, Ostler, MacRow, Martelock, James, Ackerman, Allen, Struthers, Brown, Gunsinger, Lemke, Armstrong, Jeannerett, Hermer, McNeil, Badour, Johnston, Kring, HIll, Weiss, Wood, Card, Boyd, Dempster, Donaldson, Larock, Morrow, Mundell, Praskey, Ryder, Shanks.

A link to the 1911 Census of Frontenac County, Palmerston, including Ompah:

If you would like to read more about the Ompah Stomp, the complete story “Stomping in Ompah” is included in a collection of stories in the book “Lanark County Kid: My Travels Up and Down the Third Line”



Available at The Book Nook, The Bookworm & Blackwood Originals in Perth,  Perfect Books & Books on Beechwood in Ottawa, Arlie’s Books in Smiths Falls, Mill St. Books and Divine Consign in Almonte, or on


For more information on the history of Ompah and some of its founding families:

Clarendon and Miller Community Archives:


The Legend Behind the Recipes

The bright-eyed twenty-something grabbed her hat, and headed straight for the recruiting station, after hearing that her only brother was rejected from the military because of his poor eyesight.  “Someone has to represent our family in the war efforts!” her voice fading as she ran down the sidewalk, vanishing out of sight.


The No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School in Lethbridge would become her new home, where she would meet the dashing young Lanark County farm boy Tim Stafford.




After a whirlwind of dating, he asked for her hand, and they married on July 12, 1943.


In the months that followed she began to feel a bit queasy, and discovered that they were going to have a baby.  The rule in those days was to discharge female soldiers who were expecting, and sadly, she gave up her position as Corporal, and returned  home, where she gave birth to a strapping baby boy on a warm spring day in May of 1944.

When the war ended, they settled on a farm on the Third Line of Bathurst Township, Lanark County, just west of Perth, Ontario, and the family continued to grow.  Now there was big brother Tim and his two little sisters Judy and Jackie.

Mother Tim Judy Jackie.jpg

Always busy in the kitchen, an excellent baker, Audry began to enter the home-craft competitions in Perth Fair.  Her baking was a big  hit, and she won blue ribbons, red ribbons, silver cups, silver trays, and filled her china cabinet with the spoils from her winnings.   She won so many prizes over the years that her reputation for baking was the talk of Lanark County, and the Agricultural Society asked her to be a Fair Judge.




For decades, Audry was a Fair Judge throughout the County of Lanark – at the Perth Fair, the Maberly Fair, the Lombardy Fair, even more distant fairs in Madoc and Tweed.  She became a well-known Fair Judge throughout Eastern Ontario.

Audry lived a long life, and when she passed away her children assembled all of her prize-winning recipes, and included stories of growing up on the little farm out on the Third Line of Bathurst.  The book was called “Recipes and Recollections: Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen”   (Audry’s first-born Tim, and second-born Judy are featured on the cover)


This popular book has become the ‘go-to’ guide for anyone who loves the traditional, the classic, the old-time, farm-style recipes.    No less than 93 prize-winning recipes are featured in the book, and it has become a best-seller, ideal for anyone considering competing in the baking categories at the local fairs who’s looking for an ‘edge’.

“Recipes and Recollections” will warm your heart, and fill your stomach, with homemade comfort foods guaranteed to please the crowd!

Available at The Book Nook, The Bookworm & Blackwood Originals in Perth,  Perfect Books & Books on Beechwood in Ottawa, Arlie’s Books in Smiths Falls, Mill St. Books and Divine Consign in Almonte, or on

UFO Sightings Over Perth

The night skies in Eastern Ontario became very active in the summer and fall of 1973, and some organizations reported that it was one of the largest number of U.F.O. sightings over North America, calling it the ‘Autumn of Aliens’.

In Lanark County, it all seemed to begin with a sudden hailstorm, on the Friday the 13th of July.  The hailstorm came out of nowhere, and huge chunks of ice fell, many almost three inches in diameter.  Hundreds of windows and car windshields were smashed by jagged pieces of ice.  A Smiths Falls resident was cut on the head by a chunk of falling ice, and required seven stitches. No one was seriously injured, although there were a few farmers that got caught outside, working in the fields, and had to seek shelter from the large chunks of ice falling from the sky.

flying saucer 2

Barely 48 hours after the hailstorm, police departments in Perth and Smiths Falls received a number of calls from residents, claiming to have seen flying objects in the sky.

A local man reported that he and five others were on the Eighth Line near Balderson at 9:30 p.m., when a flying object appeared to be travelling south to north, then returned to the south.   He observed that it was quite large, shaped like a tart.  Another report came in from a resident of Sherbrooke Street in Perth, who saw the same object overhead.  He said that his dog had howled constantly while the object appeared in the sky.

So many people had observed the same object that CJET radio station in Smiths Falls held a call-in show the following Monday, so that people could phone the show, and share reports of what they had seen.



“The Perth Courier”, Thursday, April 19, 1973


“The Perth Courier” , Thursday, July 19, 1973, page 1.

flying saucer 3

The next UFO sighting to be reported in the fall of 1973 took place in Beckwith Township.  A young man was returning to Perth from Ottawa, driving along Highway 7 near Carleton Place, when his headlights suddenly went out.  Concerned that he might be pulled over by the police with his headlights out he decided to take the back way, and turned onto Tennyson Road.  The section of the road closest to Perth has swamp on both sides, and the lad noticed two large lights in the sky, hovering over the swamp.  The object was in the sky just above the tree line.  He pulled the car over to the side of the road, and as he stopped the car he noticed that the object stopped as well, and hovered over the swamp.  He remained parked for a few minutes, and then started to drive again.  When he began to move, so did the object, and it traveled parallel to him for a few more minutes, then disappeared.  Early the next morning, when he pulled out of his driveway in Perth, his headlights were working again.

flying saucer 4

Another sighting in the late summer of 1973 was first reported by a young lad working at a gas station in Smiths Falls. He spotted a small sphere in the sky that appeared to be hovering in one fixed location.  He reported seeing silver flames coming from both the top and the bottom of the craft.  The lad was quick to call CJET radio station, and ask if anyone else had seen the odd sphere in the sky.  The radio station confirmed that yes, indeed; they could see it as well.  In the days that followed, at least 40 people in the Smiths Falls area came forward, stating that they had seen the object as well.

In the summer of 1974 people were once again talking about another strange object in the sky.  It was a typical warm summer evening on the Rideau Lakes, and there were cottagers and residents alike, who saw more than they bargained for, on the night of August 12th.   At around 10 p.m., many were sitting outside, enjoying the call of the loons, and listening to the water lapping on the shore.  Suddenly, high in the night sky, a cigar-shaped object appeared.  Some described it as a long, flat shape, orange in colour. Many said that it was more red than orange, and was shaped like a sphere. Everyone that saw it agreed that it was silent, and it hovered over the Big Rideau Lake, on the south side of Horseshoe Bay, for several minutes, and then vanished.

flying saucer 5

It wasn’t just in the Perth area that strange objects and lights appeared in the sky.  Several residents of the town of Brockville, including some local police officers, confirmed the sightings of some odd lights moving in the night skies.

Brockville UFO


Strange sightings of unidentified flying objects were recorded in the Perth area as early as the late 1950s.  Fiery balls of light, objects moving up and down, back and forth, quickly, in ways that airplanes were not able to maneuver.  UFO tracking stations were established just outside of Ottawa, and rumours of government radio towers and underground facilities were heard up and down the concessions in Lanark County.  Excavations were reported near Almonte, and government agents were testing the soil on several farms in Ramsay Township.  When reporters attempted to investigate, the government representatives denied all, despite the fact that local men were working as labourers on many of the projects and could confirm what they had seen.


For more information on strange sightings in the night skies over Lanark County, and some of the government’s secret projects in the 1960s and 1970s, read the full story ‘Perplexed in Perth’, from the new book “Lanark County Classics: A Treasury of Tales from Another Time”.

Available at The Book Nook, The Bookworm & Blackwood Originals in Perth,  Perfect Books & Books on Beechwood in Ottawa, Arlie’s Books in Smiths Falls, Mill St. Books and Divine Consign in Almonte, or on

Lanark County Classics Book Cover small for blog