2nd Annual Book Fair, Perth Chapter, Ottawa International Writer’s Festival

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The crisp fall air and bright warm sunshine set the tone for the popular Book Fair at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. The Book Fair was part of the 2nd annual Perth Chapter of the Ottawa International Writer’s Festival, and showcased the work of local authors Gene Bassett, Arlene Stafford-Wilson, Dan Roy, William Byers, Steffany Sinclaire and Randy Ferrier.

perth chapter international writers festival

Set along the peaceful shores of the Tay Basin, the Crystal Palace in Perth features a weekly Farmer’s Market, Saturday mornings from spring through to Thanksgiving weekend. Local vendors offer produce, maple products, honey, mustards, and preserves, along with fresh beef, lamb and beautiful one-of-a-kind arts and crafts and flowers.

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Across the busy parking lot, aromas of farm-fresh bacon and ham beckoned us over to the vendors known as ‘Piggin Out’. Their famous breakfast sandwiches are piled high with farm fresh eggs, savory ham, crisp bacon and thick slices of local cheese on country buns. Piggin Out is operated by James Haven Farms – familyjames@storm.ca   Call 613 267-6495. Their farm is on the 5th concession of Tay Valley Township.

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Outside the Crystal Palace, a full-scale tribute to the famous ‘Mammoth Cheese’ adds interest to the landscape. Most Lanark County kids will know the story of the world’s largest cheese, made with pride for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Countless local dairy farmers contributed milk toward the monumental project, and the completed cheese weighed 22,000 lbs, standing six feet tall.

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Popular outdoor vendors line the route to the entrance of the Crystal Palace. Joynt Family Farms of Lombardy offers organically-raised beef, lamb and chicken. You can order ahead by calling 613-283-8698 or email –joyntfarm@sympatico.ca

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Waratah Downs Organic farms had variety of fresh, ripe vegetables. They operate an 80 acre farm, 8 km west of Perth toward Westport. http://waratahdowns.com/

Sarah of Hollyhock Grange sells vegetables and lamb grown on their 100 acre farm near Smiths Falls.  Sarah also makes baked goods and preserves from their produce  Phone: 613-284-0578 sarah@hollyhockgrange.ca http://www.hollyhockgrange.ca

These are just a few of the outdoor vendors at the Farmer’s Market offering farm-fresh goods outside the Crystal Palace on Saturdays.   The variety continues inside the building, where more than a dozen indoor vendors display delightful goods – the edible variety, as well as beautiful handmade arts, crafts and floral creations.

Trina Conboy is a regular vendor, and showcases her handcrafted, unique ceramic gift and tableware under the name of Taylea Pottery – https://www.facebook.com/Taylea-Pottery-211176805560315/timeline/   Trina holds an open house each November where customers can shop for Christmas gifts and enjoy some tea and festive cookies.

Taylea Pottery

A farmer’s market in Lanark County would not be complete without some maple products and Oliver’s Mapleworks fits the bill. http://www.oliversmapleworks.com/ Members of the Lanark and District Maple Syrup Producers Association, maple syrup has been produced on this property since the 1820’s with the original sugar camp being built by Bob Hendry in 1973.

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Tucked at the far end of the Crystal Palace was a lovely display of plants and flowers, artfully arranged and beautifully displayed by Sylvia’s Plant Place. Located on the upper 4th concession of Bathurst Township, Sylvia’s is a full-service florist specializing in weddings and has been featured in the Ottawa Wedding Magazine. http://www.sylviasplantplace.ca/

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A trip to the Farmer’s Market should always include a stop at Joyce’s Mustards. Joyce’s mustards are all homemade, delicious on ham or pork chops, and popular with locals and tourists alike. https://www.facebook.com/JoycesMmmmMmmmMustard

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Something special for both the ladies and gentlemen are the lovely offerings from Jan Made Soaps. Located just outside of Smiths Falls, their pure, natural soaps attract repeat customers to the Perth Farmer’s Market each week. Their line of gentle Shea soaps are particularly popular. https://www.facebook.com/JanmadeSoapsetc

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Fifi Fu Designs has a lovely display of handmade felt items and paintings as well. Many of their felt items are charming and whimsical and they make lovely gifts for the little ones in the house. https://sscribailo.wordpress.com/

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Beyond the colourful displays of the talented vendors, were six tables set up to accommodate the local authors invited to participate in the 2nd annual Book Fair, part of the Ottawa International Writer’s Festival.   Book fairs are a wonderful way for authors to meet and interact with readers, to answer questions, and also to gain feedback and new ideas for upcoming books.

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Thanks to the Perth Farmer’s Market for providing the venue so that all of the authors had the opportunity to showcase their work. Many thanks also to both new friends and familiar faces that stopped by to purchase books, chat, share ideas, and show their support for local writers.

Special thanks to friends Carol-Ann and Shannon McDougall for travelling from their home on the Big Rideau. Thanks also to friends from my ‘home and native land’ along the 3rd line of Bathurst – Trina and Sawyer Conboy, and Dave and Elaine Morrow. The historic Conboy homestead has been in their family for many generations. Also, noteworthy, this November, the Morrow family will be celebrating 40 years of farming their land in DeWitt’s Corners.

Finally, heartfelt thanks to the many local farmers in Lanark County who supply our markets:

“In winter’s chill, or summer’s heat,

A Farmer works, so the world can eat”


Local History Comes to Life at the Book Launch for “Lanark County Connections”

The warm September weather last weekend brought residents and visitors alike to the historic streets of Perth, Ontario.  One of the liveliest spots on Saturday was The Book Nook, situated along picturesque Gore Street, as they hosted the launch of “Lanark County Connections: Memories Among the Maples”.

LCC book launch purple coat and ArleneLCC book launch Arlene & Leslie

Leslie Wallack, owner of The Book Nook, displayed stacks of all five books including “Lanark County Kid”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle” and “Recipes & Recollections”. They were artfully arranged on a rustic table, the perfect place to chat, and have the book personalized, or signed as a special gift for friends or family, in the upcoming holiday season.

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Book lovers and well-wishers came from near and far, to be among the first to read the latest release “Lanark County Connections”. Chapter 1 begins with the story of Antler Lodge, an old-style dancehall. Beloved in its hey-day, it was known as ‘the place to go’ to hear some of the best country music in the Ottawa Valley.

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In another story, the reader is introduced to the wealthy Stewart family of Perth, and learns of a scandal involving the much-publicized court battle to determine the rightful heirs to the McLaren Distillery fortune.   In the chapter featuring Matheson House, now the Perth Museum, readers share in a ghostly encounter with a restless spirit, set in the lush gardens of this historic property.

LCC book launch Helen Don Arlene seatedLCC book launch Kevin Bower Arlene Fran

In one of the more light-hearted tales, the author takes the reader on a laid-back bus tour, set in the 1970s, as it weaves its way through Drummond, Ramsay, Darling, and Dalhousie townships, on Lanark County’s back roads, meeting some delightful local characters, and visiting some lesser-known scenic gems.

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Readers are encouraged to scan through the index at the back of “Lanark County Connections” to see if they recognize any of the local names featured.

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Special thanks to those who travelled considerable distances to attend the book launch; the new faces and the more familiar faces as well, and to all who made the event such a great success!

LCC book launch visitor from radio broadcase


An Afternoon to Remember – Tay Valley Township’s 200th Anniversary Launch

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Despite the overcast skies and threats of rain, nothing could dampen the spirits of the enthusiastic crowds that packed the Eco-Tay Centre on Saturday afternoon to mark the launch of Tay Valley’s 200th anniversary celebrations.

The well- organized event ran like clock-work, beginning with the volunteers warmly greeting visitors at the gate, accompanied by the well-designed, colourful signage proclaiming that this was ‘the place to be’ to celebrate the history of Tay Valley Township.

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The event was held in a huge, rustic, barn, one of the many lovely buildings on the property known as the Eco-Tay Education Centre. The Eco-Tay Centre, owned by Michael Glover and Annie Dalton is the site of the Ritchie family homestead, the original settlers in 1816.

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The barn was a hive of activity, with something for current and former residents and history-lovers of all kinds.   Kay Rogers, Editor of ‘At Home in Tay Valley’ was busy at the book table, signing copies of the popular book, while visitors waited in line, eager to purchase the historical publication. Over 60 of the contributors – writers, artists, videographers and story-tellers were present at the event, and the room was abuzz with lively conversations and reminiscences of days gone by.

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A beautiful cake, artfully decorated with the Tay Valley 200th anniversary logo was the centrepiece for a table covered with delightful goodies to please the most discerning palate.

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Not far from the book table, positioned near a doorway, and back-lit by the sun, was perhaps one of the loveliest quilts imaginable, displayed with pride, created and stitched by the Lanark County Quilters Guild. This awe-inspiring quilt features 200 quilt squares, and an actual map of the original 1816 settlements. The 200-square quilt was fashioned specifically for the 200th anniversary celebrations, and certainly showcases the fine work done by the members of the Guild.

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A special announcement was made around 2:00 pm that the guest of honour would be arriving shortly. Entering the building with a military escort, the Honorable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, representing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Canada, was welcomed by all present.

The opening ceremonies were led by Lanark County Warden, and Reeve for Tay Valley Township Keith Kerr, officially declaring the launch of the 200th anniversary celebrations. Her Honour, Elizabeth Dowdeswell graciously thanked Tay Valley Township for inviting her to participate, and she shared some inspirational thoughts on the importance of preserving local history for future generations. Kay Rogers shared her experiences of editing the 200th anniversary publication, comparing it to an old fashioned ‘bee’, where many hands make light work.

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It was a pleasure to meet with the distinguished guests, as well as some familiar faces from the neighbourhood – Maxine and Keith Jordan, Verna Perkins, Dianne Tysick Pinder-Moss, Nancy (Miller) Chenier, and Beverly (Miller) Ferlatte. It was lovely to have the opportunity to meet Eco-Tay owner Michael Glover, and Lanark County Tourism Manager Marie White.

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The Lieutenant Governor, along with County Warden Keith Kerr toured the grounds of the Eco Tay property, and exchanged thoughts on the 200th anniversary plans in place for 2016, and the highlights of events taking place in the months to come.

Walking the grounds of the beautifully maintained property, and the lush green landscape stretching in every direction, it was a time to remember and reflect on the original owners. The Ritchie family, who in 1816 cleared the land, built a home, and started their lives in the new world. It was a day to remember all of the original settlers to Tay Valley, and how they laid the foundations for our communities and our futures.

Grounds at Eco Tay0001It was an occasion to reflect on those that came before us, and a day to celebrate the achievements of the past 200 years. Many thanks, to the organizers and the volunteers who made the event such a success. Special thanks to Kay Rogers who gathered our stories, our photos, our artwork, and our history, and assembled it all in “At Home in Tay Valley”, so that future generations may remember who we were, and how we lived.


Perth’s Millionaire Bachelor – Who Inherited His Fortune?

McLaren Will case

First to manufacture ‘the Mickie’ – liquor in a 12 ounce bottle, Perth native John McLaren made his fortune distilling alcohol. Known as “Old Perth Malt Whiskey”, a bottle could be had for .80 cents and was hailed as being “equal to the best ever brewed in Scotland”. Most whiskies in those days were aged very briefly, usually four days or less, and McLaren aged his for a full month before it was distributed to the local bars and liquor stores around Lanark County.

McLaren Distillery trademarkMcLaren's mickey

Robert McLaren, one of the earliest settlers, arrived in Perth in 1816. When his son John came of age, he sent him to Scotland so he could study the finer points of whiskey manufacturing. McLaren’s Distillery was founded in 1831, located on a section of land known today as Stewart Park. Some say it was the combination of the clear waters of the Tay River and the secrets learned from the Scots that led John to become the local ‘Whiskey King’ or ‘Baron of Booze’.

McLaren's whiskey bottlesMcLaren John photo

A favourite among whiskey judges, Old Perth Malt Whiskey enjoyed a unique reputation and even some doctors of the time regarded it as “non-injurious”. It became a household staple, said to cure everything from flat feet to the common cold. The popularity of McLaren’s whiskey grew in leaps and bounds, and in its heyday was sold from coast to coast, all across Canada.

Many local businesses carried spirits manufactured by McLaren’s Distillery in 1903:

Smiths Falls: 9 hotels and 1 store

Carleton Place: 8 hotels

Perth: 7 hotels and 2 stores

Franktown: 2 hotels

Ferguson’s Falls: 1 hotel

Innisville: 1 hotel

Maberly: 1 hotel


John McLaren was listed in the 1881-82 Business Directory for Perth, Ontario.

Do you recognize any of the local names of business owners? – perhaps one of your own Lanark County ancestors is listed below:

ALLAN, Alexander; Hardware

ALLAN, F. B.; Merchant Tailor

ALLAN, J. A.; Barrister, Solicitor, Conveyancer

ALLAN, James; Gen. Merchant

ALLAN, William A.; Teller Merchant’s Bank of Canada

ALLAN, William; Saw, lath & shingle mill

ALLEN, Hebert; (Ryan & Allen) Mason and Contractor

ANDERSON, Jane, Mrs.; Tailoress

ANDERSON, John; Knox Church Board of Trustees

ANDISON, Annie; Teacher

ANDISON, Nicholas; Dealers in Dry Goods

ANDREWS, Wesley; Miller at Wood’s Mills

ARMOUR, John; Board of Managers, St. Andrew’s Church

ARMSTRONG, George E. (McMaster & Armstrong)

ARMSTRONG, Henry, Mrs.; Dressmaker

ARTHUR, John; Knox Church Board of Trustees

ATCHISON, James, M.D.; Physician

BAILEY, James; Grocer

BAKER, William; Engineer

BARNES, Samuel M.; Blacksmithing and Wagon Making

BARRIE, George F.; Dealer in All Kinds of Meats

BARRIE, Thomas; Proprietor, Barrie’s Hotel

BARTLETT, Russell W.; Furniture store & undertaker

BECKETT, James – Beckett Bros

BECKETT, Robert; -Beckett Bros

BECKETT, Sarah, Miss; Dressmaker

BEGLEY, Robert W.; (Miskelly & Begley)

BELL, James; Registrar S. Riding Ln’k

BELL, John; Carriage Makers, blacksmiths

BELL, Robert C.; (W. P. Bell & Sons)

BELL, W. P. & Sons; Photographers

BELL, William P.; (W. P. Bell & Sons)

BERFORD, W. W.; Solicitor,

BINGLEY, Charles; Wagon maker

BLACK, William; Confectioner

BOLTON, Wesley; Carpenter

BOTHWELL, J. & T.; Coopers

BOTHWELL, Joshua (J. & T. Bothwell)

BOTHWELL, Thomas (J. & T. Bothwell)

BOWER, Joshua; (Bower Bros.) Chemists & druggists

BOX, James; General store

BOYD, Samuel; Assistant clerk, Merchant’s Bank of Canada

BRADLEY, J. F.; They do it all

BRAMLEY-MOORE, C. R.; Ledger keeper Molson’s Bank

BRECKELS, George; Builder and contractor

BRENNAN, John; Grocer

BRODIE, R. J.; Chemical works

BROOKE, Thomas; Clerk, County of Lanark

BROOKE, W. B.; Town assessor

BROWNING, Arch.; Saw mill

BRUNTON, James; Mason

BRUNTON, Richard; Mason

BUCHANAN, Daniel; Potash manufacturer & farmer

BURROWS, William; Postmaster

BURT, A. W.; Professor of modern languages, P.C.I

BURWASH, S.; Head master Smith’s Falls High School

BUTLER, George; Stoves & tinware

BUTLER, R. C., Mrs.; Grocery and temperance hotel

BUTLER, William; Town councilor

BYRNE, Owen; Proprietor, union Hotel

CAIN, Wm.; Veterinary surgeon

CAIRNS, George F.; Barrister, Solicitor,

CAIRNS, Thomas; Postmaster

CAMERON, Alexander; Livery

CAMERON, Walter; General merchant

CAMPBELL, Duncan; Farmer

CAMPBELL, John G.; Mill owner & town councillor

CAMPBELL, John; Blacksmith

CANTON, Mary Ann, Mrs. (widow J.); Trader

CARNDUFF, Robert; Retired

CARROLL, Michael; Prop. Carroll House, livery

CARSS, Ogle, Mrs.; Music teacher

CARSS, Ogle; Grain dealer, owner & Capt. Steamer Olive

CASEY, Fred. W.; Barrister, Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Ont

CASWELL, Byron; Ticket Agent G.T.R., Agent G.N.W. Telegraph Co

CASWELL, William H.; Manufacturer of all kinds of Carriges

CHALMERS, H. D.; Division court baliff

CHALMERS, Henry D., jun.; Foreman blacksmith, Frost & Wood

CHALMERS, John; Retired

CHAMBERS, J. H.; Town councillor

CHAMBERS, John McGill; Retired

CHARLES, John; (Charles Bros.) Livery

CHARLES, William; (Charles Bros.) Livery

CHASE, Abner; Dealer in new & second-hand goods

CHRISTIAN, Daniel, Mrs.; Music teacher

CLARK, A.; Retired


COLES, J., Mrs. (widow John); Grocer & confectioner

COLNELLY, (sic) Edward T.; Grocer

CONNELLY, Edward; Captain, Tay Steam Fire Co

CONNOLLY, Edward; Captain Tay Steam Fire Co.

CONNORS, Grace, Mrs.; Postmistress

CONSITT, George Alfred; Solicitor, agent Standard Life Ins

COOMBS, John S.; Medical Hall, Established 1846, Apothecary & Druggist

CORRY/KORRY, George; Sherrif’s officer

COX, John; Carriagemaker

CROMWELL, J. M. O.; Provincial land surveyor

CROSBIE, J. W.; Janitor Perth Colegiate Institute

CROSKERY, R. W.; Manufacturer and Dealer in Boots and Shoes

CUDDY, Joseph; Boot & shoe maker

CUNNINGHAM, Michael; Weaver

CUTHBERTSON, John; Milkman

DAVIDSON, Thos; Knox Church Board of Trustees

DAVIES, Francis; Dealer in Flour, Groceries, Foreign and Domestic Fruits

DAVIS, George H., Rev.; Minister Canada Methodist Church

DENNISON, Wm. J.; Livery, cattle dealer, carriage painter

DETTERICK, Alonzo; Sewing machine agent

DETTERICK, Walter; Market clerk & caretaker Town Hall

DEVLIN, C. & M.; Tanners & curriers

DEVLIN, Charles; (C. & M. Devlin

DEVLIN, George; Dry g’ds & Groc.; Auctioneer

DEVLIN, Michael; (C. & M. Devlin)

DICKINSON, E. A.; Drawing master, boards Allan House

DICKSON, H. H.; Postmaster

DIGNAN, Dominick; Boarding house

DODDS, M. R.; Perth Flour Depot

DOLAN, James H.; Proprietor Perth Marble Works

DONALD, James; Warden, County of Lanark

DOUGHERTY, Edward; Saddler and harness maker

DOUGLAS, George; Manufacturer & Dealer in Boots, Shoes

DOWDALL, James; Blacksmith and horse shoer

DOWDALL, Maggie, Miss; Assistant teacher, R. C. Separate School

DRUMMOND, R. J.; Manager, Bank of Montreal

DRYSDALE, Jennie, Miss; Telegraph operator G. N. W. Telegraph Co.

ELLIOTT, Archibald; Trustee, Canada Methodist Church

ELLIOTT, Edward; Barrister, Solicitor, Notary Public

EWART, Miss; Dressmaker

FARMER, G. B.; Boot and shoe store

FARRELL, Wm.; Saddler & Harness Maker

FARRY, Daniel; Groceries, provisions

FERGUSON, Duncan; Carpenter

FERRIER, Walter L.;(Ferrier Bros.)Manufacturers in Harness, Trunks

FERRIER, William; (Ferrier Bros

FIDLER, Margaret, Miss; Grocer and milliner

FINLAY, George, jun.; (G. & G. Finlay) Butchers

FINLAY, George, sen.; (G. & G. Finlay) Butchers

FITZSIMMONS, W.; Sexton, Canada Methodist Church

FLUKER, G. W.; Grocer, confectioner & fruit dealer

FRASER, Harry D.,M.D.; Physician & Surgeon, Coroner for Lanark County

FRASER, John; Knox Church Board of Trustees

GILLAN, Francis; Proprietor Saline Springs boarding house

GLOSSOP, D.; All kinds of Boots & Shoes

GRAHAM, Richard; Grocer

GRAMSBY, G. A.; Dry goods & groceries

GRANT, Allan; Station agent C.P.R

GRANT, I. C.; Proprietor Allan House, Billiard Parlour

GRANT, Wm. H.; Jailer, Lanark County jail

GRANT, Wm., M.D., C.M.; Physician and surgeon…

GRAY, James; Manager Merchants’ Bank of Canada

GREENLEY, Jane, Miss; Dressmaker

GRIFFITH, E. J.; Meat market

HAGGART, John G.; (John Haggart & Company

HALL, Annie, Miss; Organist Baptist Church

HALL, F. A.; Solicitor for B. of M.,

HALL, Francis; Boot & shoe maker

HALLIDAY, Wm.; (Scott & Halliday) General Merchants.

HART, John; Bookseller & stationer, Dealer in English & U.S. Wall Papers

HART, William B.; With John Hart

HAWKINS, Charles; Secretary Perth Co-Operative association

HENDERSON, J. T.; West End Warehouse, Dealer in Dry Goods

HETHERINGTON, Jason E.; Foreman Perth Courier

HICKS, James; General merchant

HICKS, Thomas; Carriage maker

HICKS, William; License inspector under Dominion Act

HILLIARD, Ida, Miss; 3rd dept., Pakenham public school

HOBAN, Anthony; Proprietor Perth & Westport Stage Line

HOGG, D. Manufacturer Furniture, Upholsterer and Undertaker

HOGG, William J.; Variety Store, Dealer in Fancy Goods, China, Glass

HOLLIDAY, James; Retired

HOPE, Peter; Stoves and tin ware

HOSIE, George; Farmer

HOWIE & McWilliams; Brick makers, carpenters and contractors

HUDSON, J. Prop. Ferguson’s Falls Stage Line

JACKSON, John S.; Hair dresser & tobacconist

JACKSON, Wm.; Gunsmith

JAMES, Edward; Blacksmith and horse-shoer

JAMES, Henry; Harness maker

JAMES, Richard; Shingle factory

JAMES, Wm. Henry; Saw mill

JAMIESON, Robert; Clerk, 1st Division Court, Lanark County, Town Collector,

JAQUES, Marcus; Principal Perth Public school

John Haggart & Co.(Fred W. Weeks, Manager). Manufacturers of Flour

JOHNSTON, A.; Manufacturer of Ginger Ale, Lemon Soda

JORDON, Elizabeth, Miss; Milliner and dressmaker

KEAYS, John; Manager at Wm. Lees

KELLOCK, Daniel; Collector Inland revenue, office

KELLOCK, Jas. F.; Wholesale & Retail Druggist. Specialty – Coal Oil

KELLOCK, John Dickson, M.D.; Physician and surgeon, coroner

KELLOCK, William B.; Painter

KELLY, W. H.; Conductor C.P.R., bds Allan House

KENNEDY, J. F., L.D.S.; Dentist, Agent Sun Life and Accident Insurance

KERR, George; Retired

KIPPEN, Alexander, jun.; Foreman at Duncan Kippen’s

KIPPEN, Alexander, sen

KIPPEN, Duncan; Planing mill, sash, door factory

LALLY, Michael; Cooper

LASHLEY, Henry; Agent Singer Sewing Machine Manuf’g Co

LAURIE, James A.; Fruits & confectionery

LAURIE, James, Mrs.; Baker & confectioner

LAVIN, D., Rev.; Parish priest, Roman Catholic Church

LEE, John, Mrs.; Matron, Lanark County Jail

LEE, John; Turnkey, Lanark County Jail

LEES, William; Flour & feed mill & saw mill

LESTER, E. A., Mrs.; Fancy goods, wools

LILLIE, Robert; Bolt and nut works; Foundry

LISTER, F. A. W.; Accountant, Merchants Bank of Canada

LOCHEAD, Robert; Weaver

LOVE, Edwin; Hair dresser

LOWE, David; Sexton, St. Andrew’s Church

LUCKENS, Traiton, Rev.; Pastor, Baptist Church

McGILLIVRAY, M., Rev., M.A.; Minister St. Andrew’s Church

McTAVISH, Peter; Livery

MALCOLM, John; Chairman Perth Co-operative association

MALLOCH, Edward George; Barrister, attorney, solicitor in chancery

MANION, M., Miss; Dressmaker

MANSELL, C. B., L.D.S.; Dental Surgeon

MARKS, Joseph; Sexton, St. James church

MASON, Frederick; Excise man, Inland Revenue

MATHESON, Arthur J.; Barrister, Notary, etc. Perth Mayor

MATHESON, Charles A.; (Shaw & Matheson), cheese m’f’r & farmer

MATHESON, Roderic; General merchant

MAY, Daniel; Weaver

McALLISTER, J. A.; Merchant Tailor, Dealer in Gent’s Furnishings

MacARTHUR, Andrew; Stoves and tinware

McBRAYNE, Angus; Practical tailor

McCANN, John; Mason, bricklayer & contractor, Town councillor

McCARTHY, Richard H.; (Warren & McCarthy)

MacDIARMID, Alexander; Collector of rates

MacDIARMID, Peter, jun.; Farmer and councillor

McDONALD, Duncan; Knox Church Board of Trustees

McDOWELL, R. W., Rev.

McELLIGITT, John J.; Teacher, Roman Catholic Separate school

McGARRY, William, J. P.; Manufacturer of Fanning Mills, McGarry Post Office

McGREGOR, Peter; Mason & contractor

McKERRACHER, John; Custom Tailor, Gentlemen’s, Youths’

McKINLEY, Mary M.; Teacher, 5th dept. Perth Public School

McKINLEY, Peter; Elmsley North Township clerk

McLAREN, John A.;Distiller of Perth Malt Whisky, Perth Distillery

McLAREN, John Morris; Proprietor Revere House….

McLAREN, Peter; Lumber merchant

McLAREN, William; Baker & confectioner

McLEAN, James A.; (Scott & McLean) A Large Stock of Tweeds, Flannels

McLENAGHAN, Charles; Farmer and councillor

McLEOD, William; Tinsmith

McMaster & Armstrong; Dry goods and groceries

McMASTER, John; (McMaster & Armstrong

McMORINE, (McMARINE?), S., Rev.; Minister of St. Mark’s Church

McNAUGHTON, Peter McIntyre; Asst. clerk, Merchant’s Bank of Canada

MEIGHEN, Charles; Trustee, Perth Board of Education

MEIGHEN, Robert; (Arthur Meighen & Bros)

MEIGHEN, William; (Arthur Meighen & Bros)

MENZIES, Wm.; Knox Church Board of Trustees

MERCEAR, R., Rev.; Church of England

Merchant’s Bank of Canada

MICHAEL, George; Farmer and gardener

MICHELL, F. L., B.A.; County of Lanark inspector of

MILLS, George Chisholm; Postmaster and general store

MOFFATT, Thomas, Capt

MONG, Stewart; Insurance agent

MONTGOMERY, W.; Merchant Tailor

MOORE, T. B.; Clerk, Township of Drummond

MOORE, Wm. B.; (Andison & Moore)

MOORHOUSE, Henry; Treasurer Town of Perth

MOORHOUSE, M., Miss; Organist Canada Methodist Church

MORRIS, John; Provincial land surveyor

MORRISON, James; Painter

MORTIMER, Wm.; Milkman

MOTHERWELL, James W.; Publisher of the Perth Expositor

MUNRO, David, M.D.; Physician and surgeon

MYLNE, S., Rev.; Lanark Co. Board of Examiners of School Teachers

NEILSON, Andrew; Practical Watchmaker & Jeweler

NEILSON, Minnie E.; Teacher, 2nd dept. Perth Public School

NESBITT, David A.; principal, 1st dept, Pakenham public school

NICOLL, Thos; Trustee, Perth Board of Education

NIX, William, Rev.; Assistant to St. John’s Church (Roman Catholic)

NOONAN, D. R.; Blacksmith and Horseshoer

NORTHGRAVES, W. & Co.; Jewelers and Dealers in Fine Gold Watches

NORTON-TAYLOR, W. H.; Ledger keeper Bank of Montreal

O’BRIEN, Josephine, Miss; Organist St. John’s Church

O’BRIEN, William; Manufacturer and Dealer in Boots, Shoes

O’CONNOR, John S., Rev.; St. John’s Church parish priest

O’NEIL, Annie, Miss; Public school teacher

O’NEIL, John; Manufacturer of all kinds of Heavy & Light Vehicles

PALLISTER, Mrs.; proprietress Commercial Hotel

PARKER, Wm., M.D., M.C.P.S.O.; Physicians and Surgeons

PATTERSON, James; Bailiff 1st Division court

PAUL, Moses; Shoemaker

PAUL, Moses; Weaver

PINK, W. J.; Wholesale and Retail Manufacturer of Furniture

PLAYFAIR, A. W.; Warden, St. James Church

PLAYFAIR, Wm.; Mill owner

POOLE, Oliver; General store

POOLE, Thomas; Trustee, Canada Methodist Church

PORTER, Geo. A.; Junior clerk Bank of Montreal

PRENTICE, Thomas; boot & shoe Maker

PRESTON, Dr.; License Commissioner under Dominion Act

QUIGLEY, James; Undertaker. Caskets, Coffins, Shrouds, Funeral Requisites

RADENHURST, William H.; (Radenhurst & Shaw barristers and solicitors).

RANDALL, John; Millwright

RATHWELL, Edward; Proprietor Farmers Hotel

REID, Alexander; Knox Church Board of Trustees

REID, Thomas, Mrs.; Dressmaker

REYNOLDS, Francis C., Rev.; Minister, Can. Meth. Church Dalkeith

RICE, C.; Registrar High Court of Justice and Surrogate Court

RIDDELL, John; Knox Church Board of Trustees

RIELY, Wm.; Blacksmith

ROBERTSON, Alexander; Dry goods, groceries, crockery and glass-ware

ROBERTSON, Hugh S.; Teacher 6th dept. Perth Public School

ROBERTSON, Hugh; Accountant

ROBERTSON, J. M.; General store

ROBERTSON, James; Boot and shoe maker

ROBERTSON, Neil; Professor of Classics, Perth Coll. Inst

ROBINSON, Thos.; Proprietor Perth & Maberly Stage Line

ROSE, James; Shoemaker

ROSS, James, Rev., B.A.; Minister, Knox Church

ROTHWELL, A. T.; Grocer

ROTHWELL, Wm.; Rector & professor of mathematics, P.C.I

RUDD, Anslow B.; (H. C. Rugg & Co. Dealers in drugs and chemicals

Rugg H. C. & Co.;

RUGG, Henry C., M.D.; (H. C. Rugg & Co.) Physician & surgeon

RYAN, Hugh; Railway contractor

SADDLER, Lizzie, Miss; Dressmaker

SCOTT, David E.; (Scott & McLean)

SCOTT, Robert; (Scott & Halliday)

SCOTT, Susan, Miss; Organist Methodist Church

SCOTT, Wm.; Baliff fifth Division Court, Lanark

SCUDAMORE, C., Rev.; Professor of arts and sciences, P.C.I

SEELEY, Alfred E.; Express, telegraph & railway & steamship ticket agent

SENKLER, William Stevens; Judge of the County Court and Surrogate Court

SHAVER, James; Barber

SHAVER, Philander H.; Agent, Canadian Express Co

SHAW, Alexander C., B.A.; (Radenhurst & Shaw)

SHAW, Henry D. (Shaw and Matheson)

SHEEHAN, James; Proprietor Sheridan’s Hotel

SHEIRCHON, James; Fanning mill manufacturer

SHELLINGTON, Henry; Weaver

SHERIDAN, James; Livery

SHERIDAN, P. J.; Dealer in Dry Goods, Groceries

SLOAN, John; Proprietor Albion Hotel

SMITH, James J.; The Peoples Boot and Shoe Store

SMITH, John; Carriage Maker

SMITH, Thomas; Mason and contractor

SMITHERMAN, Annie H.; Teacher, 3rd dept. Perth Public School

SOMERLON, Thomas; Butcher & Farmer

SPALDING, James, jun.; (Spalding & Stewart whiskey manufacturers)

STAFFORD, Henry; License Inspector under Ontario Act (our g-grandfather’s brother)

STANLEY, Matthew; Carriage manufacturer

STEPHENSON, Richard L., Rev., M.A.; Rector of Perth

STEVENSON, W. A.; Superintendent, C.P.R. car shops

STEWART, Alexander; Farmer and weaver

STEWART, John K.; (Stewart Bros.)

STEWART, Robert; (Spalding & Stewart)

STEWART, Robert; (Stewart Bros.)

STONE, Robert; Chief Constable

SUTHERLAND, James, Mrs.; Grocery

TAIT, A. H.; Dealer in Cooking, Box & Parlor Stoves

TAYLOR, –; Civil engineer

TAYLOR, Henry; Importer of Shelf and Heavy Hardware

TAYLOR, Hugh, Rev.; Minister, St. Andrew’s Pres

TAYLOR, Isabella, Miss; Music teacher

TEMPLETON, George; Tanner and currier

THOMPSON, Henry; Farmer and cattle drover

THOMPSON, James; General store

THOMPSON, James; Sheriff County of Lanark Court house

THOMPSON, John F.; Farmer and cattle drover

THOMPSON, Robert; Traveler for Jas Leggett, boots & shoes

THORNE, John Wright, Rev.; Pastor Baptist Church

THORNTON, George; Dealer in Pianos, Organs & Sewing Machines

TIMS, John W.; Accountant Bank of Montreal

TOMLINSON, John; Boots and shoes

TOVEY, John; (R. & J. Tovey) Milkman

TOVEY, Richard; (R. & J. Tovey) Milkman

TREGENT, Augustus P.; Insurance agent

UMPHERSON, Wm.; General store

Union Fire Co.; 25 men, James Wilson, captain

Union Hotel; Owen Byrne proprietor

VINEBERG, J. Lyon; Dealer in Ready-Made

WAIT, Henry, Mrs.; Dressmaker

WALKER, A. C.; Custom Tailor, Gentlemen’s, Youth’s and Boys’

WALKER, Belle M., Miss; Organist St. Andrew’s Church

WALKER, James M.; Editor, Publisher and Proprietor of Perth Courier

WALKER, Mary; Teacher, 1st dept. Perth Public School

WALLACE, Miss; Fashionable Milliner

WARD, Michael; Proprietor, Albion Hotel

Warren & McCarthy; Benjamin Warren, Rich’d H. McCarthy, hardware

WARREN, Benjamin; (Warren & McCarthy)

WEEKS, Frederick W.; Manager Perth Mills

WHATELEY, George; Land & Ins. Agent, Dealer in Mines and Minerals

WICWARE, Elizabeth, Miss; 2nd dept., Pakenham public school

WICWARE, Mrs.; Boarding house

WILSON, James; Captain Union Fire Co

WILSON, John; Proprietor Hicks House, also billiards

WILSON, Thomas, Mrs.; Milliner and hair work

WILSON, Thomas; Sexton St. John’s Church

WODDEN, Wm,; Knox Church Board of Trustees

WOODS, David R.; License Inspector under Ontario Act

WOODS, John; Proprietor Perth & Glen Tay Stage Line

WRIGHT, Benjamin; Builder and contractor, town councilor

WRIGHT, H. B.; Hatter and Furrier

McLaren whiskey ad

John laboured day and night, expanding his operations, and became the town’s wealthiest businessman. Some say he was secretive, reserved, and was not one to discuss his personal or business matters. He never married, had no children, and for the most part lived a quiet life and kept to himself. When John McLaren passed away at the turn of the century, many in the town of Perth began to speculate – who would be the heir or heirs to his fortune?

By 1902 the town of Perth was “never more absorbed in one topic of conversation” as they were during the trial held in the local courtroom to settle the case of John McLaren’s Will.


To discover more about the curious case of John McLaren’s will and the trial that had the whole town talking, read the story “Jessie’s Gift”, from new book “Lanark County Connections – Memories Among the Maples”, release date is September 26th 2015, 12 noon to 3 pm, at The Book Nook, 60 Gore St. E., Perth, ON.   Call 613-267-2350 to reserve your copy.

or visit The International Writer’s Festival – Perth Chapter, October 3rd 9 am to 1 pm at the Crystal Palace, Perth, ON.


For more information on Business Owners listed in the 1881 Perth Business Directory:


 or visit the Resource Library at the Perth Campus of Algonquin College – 7 Craig St., Perth, ON

 To learn more about your Lanark County ancestors send your queries to the Lanark County Genealogical Society   inquiries7@bell.net , visit them online: http://www.globalgenealogy.com/LCGS/Contact%20Us.htm

Archives Lanark is a valuable resource for researching your Lanark County roots http://archiveslanark.ca/index.php or email – info@archiveslanark.ca

 If you require extensive research and are not able to visit Archives Lanark, their genealogical staff can assist you. Send your queries to: research@archiveslanark.ca

* Perth distillery trademark from the McCord Museum:


690 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal, Quebec   info.mccord@mccord-stewart.ca

*images of John McLaren, his whiskey, and ads for the Perth Distillery,

from – “The Perth Courier”



Lanark County Quilting Legends – of the 1950s, 60s and 70s

Almost every family had one – a quilter; someone who could take random bits of cloth, even scraps or rags, and turn them into a work of art. They were the creative ones; usually the quiet ones, sitting off in a corner, away from the crowds, working on their quilting blocks, embellishing their squares of cloth with embroidery, and intricate stitchery. They were the serious ones, labouring with precision, ensuring that their stitches were evenly spaced, even in places hidden deep within the seams of the cloth.

Ladies quilting # 2Ladies quilting # 3quilts at the fair

These quilters were the unsung heroes of home crafting. Blessed with nimble fingers, tireless hands, and meticulous sight, they turned the family’s cast-off clothing and abandoned fabrics into beautifully designed bedcovers; fit for the coldest Eastern Ontario winters. Often young, inexperienced hands worked alongside older, farm-weathered hands, at community quilting bees. The older ones were the masters, the coaches, and the instructors, guiding the young ones on the finer points of their art.

vintage double wedding ring quiltvintage parasol ladies quilt

vintage pinwheel quilt

Many of these artisans were sociable, and organized quilting bees, welcoming all of the ladies in the neighbourhood. They assembled quilting frames, and set up sturdy, wooden chairs all around, inviting the experienced and the not-so-experienced, to join the circle. There were lively conversations along with occasional laughter and story-telling, mixed in with the stitching. The quilting bees always ended on a high note – with hot tea poured lovingly into delicate china cups, served alongside decadent homemade cookies and squares.

A few quilted on their own, but many were members of local churches, community organizations, or Womens’ Institutes.

The following were some of the most active quilting groups in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in Lanark County:

Balderson Women’s Institute

Bethel Women’s Institute

Calvin United Church – Calvinettes, and U.C.W

Drummond Centre Women’s Institute

Elphin community quilters

Flower Station community quilters

Glad Tidings Tabernacle Church, Ladies group, Perth, ON

Harper Women’s Institute

Hopetown community quilters

Innisville – St. John’s Women’s Association

Lanark – Catholic Women’s League

Maberly United Church W.A.

McMartin House, Perth, ON

St. John’s Church Perth – Catholic Women’s League, Perth, ON

Port Elmsley Women’s Institute

Rideau Ferry United Church Women’s Group

Salvation Army Church, Perth, ON

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Women’s Missionary Society, Perth, ON

St. James Anglican Church, Perth, ON

St. Paul’s United Church, Ladies group, Perth, ON

Watson’s Corners U.C.W.

Port Elmsley quilters complete

Do you remember some of Lanark County’s Quilters of the 1950s, 60s and 70s?

Mrs. Ralph Affleck

Mrs. Alexander

Mrs. Ralph Barrie

Mrs. E. Benedict

Miss Jean Blair

Mrs. Bothwell

Mrs. Boyce

Mrs. F.J. Byrne

Mrs. Mildred Briggs

Isobel Cameron

Lillian Cameron

Marguerite Cameron

Mrs. Stewart Cameron

Mrs. Walter Cameron

Mrs. Joseph Chamney

Mrs. Charlton

Mrs. R. Charlton

Mrs. Churchill

Eleanor Conboy

Mrs. Conlin

Mrs. Cooper

Mrs. Charles Crampton

Mrs. George Crampton

Mrs. Clarke Devlin

Mrs. Cecil Dobbie

Mrs. Hilda Donnelly

Mrs. M.J. Donohoe

Mrs. Barbara Dowdall

Mrs. Betty Dowdall

Mrs. H. Duby

Mrs. Clarence Ennis

Mrs. H. Ferguson

Mrs. Dave Foster

Isobel Foster

Marlene Foster

Mrs. B. Fournier

Heather Fournier

Mrs. M.J. Furlong

Maria Fyfe

Miss Mae Gallinger

Mrs. Gamble

Mrs. Clifford Gardiner

Mrs. Lillian Gardiner

Mrs. Oliver Gardiner

Mrs. Thomas Gardiner

Mrs. Adam Geddes

Mrs. Aldon Gray

Mrs. Beverly Hall

Mrs. Earl Hallaren

Mrs. Charles Hermer

Mrs. George Ireton

Mrs. A. Ireton

Mrs. Harry Ireton

Mrs. James

Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Keays Jordan

Marion Jordan

Mary Jordan

Mrs. Edward Joynt

Mrs. Kennedy

Mrs. W.P. Kilfoyle

Mrs. Keith Knapp

Mrs. James King

Mrs. Violet Kirkham

Ethel Korry

Mrs. John Larmon

Mrs. Manion

Mrs. C. Matheson

Eleanor McInnis

Mrs. Alex McIntyre

Mrs. McPhee

Mrs. Charles Miller

Edith Miller

Mrs. Ernest Miller

Mrs. Forrest Miller

Mary Miller

May Miller

Mrs. Robert Moodie

Mrs. Eleanor Munroe

Miss Ursula Murphy

Mabel Palmer

Mrs. John Pennett

Mrs. Thomas Phelan

Mrs. Lester Polk

Mary Popplewell

Mrs. Ed Rathwell

Mrs. John Reid

Christine Rice

Florence Rice

Miss Jean Riddell

Mrs. Norman Richardson

Jean Scott

Dorothy Scragg

Eleanor Senkler

Mrs. H. Shaw

Mrs. A.M. Sheppard

Miss Elspeth Smith

Mrs. Somerville

Miss Spence

Audry Stafford

Mrs. Frank Stead

Mrs. Harold Stead

Mary Stewart

Mrs. Stokes

Mrs. E. Thompson

Madge Thompson

Bertha Toutant

Mrs. John Vanden Bosch

Mrs. George Wales

Mrs. Mabel Walroth

Mrs. H. Warwick

Mrs. Sadie Watson

Mrs. Allan Weidenmaier

Mrs. Fred Weidenmaier

Mrs. W.G. Weir

Mrs. Wilfred Wesley

Alice White

Mrs. J. White

Mrs. Roy White

Mrs. Murray Wilson

quilt pattern bookvintage quilt booksQuilt pattern in Perth Courier

15 Characteristics of an outstanding Quilter:

  1. They possess the patience and commitment to complete a long-term project such as a quilt
  2. They have the skill and precision to produce work with fine craftsmanship
  3. They have an artistic eye for good design
  4. They have tremendous self discipline to produce consistent stitching throughout the piece
  5. They have a natural gift of creativity and originality
  6. They have a rare ability to see connections in patterns, and to draw ideas from many sources
  7. They possess a high level of esthetic skills in order to situate patterns to set them off to their advantage
  8. They have the ability to focus on solutions, not on regrets. When they make mistakes, they learn from experience
  9. They experiment with open minds in order to improve
  10. They meaningfully communicate with others in the quilting circle to share ideas
  11. They create designs that have the power to withstand time
  12. Their works are easily distinguished from others of their own time
  13. They have the ability to portray light, perspective, color and space
  14. They teach others and pass down their knowledge
  15. They inspire others to be the best they can be!

These quilting legends of Lanark County passed down their knowledge, and left their legacy in the form of the beautiful quilts that they produced. They were the gifted artisans of their time, and will be remembered for their delicate stitching and colourful designs, works of art that will be handed down through families, for generations to come.

***If you remember a Lanark County quilter, or a quilting organization, (1950s-70s) that has not been mentioned in this article, please send their name in the ‘comments’ box below, and they will be added.

To discover more about quilting in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in Lanark County, read “The Quilting Queens of Lanark County”, from “Lanark County Connections – Memories Among the Maples” – Book launch is Saturday, September 26th from noon to 3pm at The Book Nook, 60 Gore St. E., Perth, ON., and Ottawa International Writer’s Festival – Perth Chapter – Saturday, October 3rd, 9 am to 1 pm at the Crystal Palace, in Perth, ON.


CAROL BENNETT McCUAIG reviews “Lanark County Connections”

Carol's blog with dogArlene Stafford-Wilson has done it again! Lanark County Connections: Memories Among the Maples, the latest in her series of popular memoirs, is a book that is sure to delight her many fans. It is a mixture of childhood memories and carefully researched local history.

The author has written this book as a tribute to the founding families who settled in the townships of the Perth Military Settlement whose bicentennial will be celebrated in 2016. The anniversary is of special interest to her family because her ancestor, Tobias Stafford, arrived in Drummond Township in 1816. In this new collection of reminiscences she continues to reconstruct the rural Ontario of her childhood, taking the reader along for the ride.

An interesting part of the social history of Lanark County concerns the many local dance halls of the 1950s to the 1970s. Arlene takes a close look at these and in particular the Antler Lodge at Rideau Ferry. Her account is sure to provoke a burst of nostalgia in those who were there! “To many, the charming, rustic Lodge was the unforgettable backdrop for their first kiss, their first dance, and for some, their first love,” she suggests. This chapter recalls some of the big names in Ottawa Valley country music in the decades following the war. What became of them all? Where are they now?

The author notes that in 1957 a meeting held at the Antler Lodge resulted in the Ferry Road Telephone Company voting to let the Bell Telephone Company convert North Elmsley Township to dial service. Remembering the days when I shared a 28-household party line in Lanark County, I know that the people who lived there must have many a tale to tell of their experiences back then.

There is a fascinating chapter about the family who built the historic Matheson House, now the Perth Museum, but that is not all! Something strange and wonderful happened to the young Arlene when her mother took her to the grand opening of the museum in 1967. What was that all about? You will have to read the book to find out more!

The chapter entitled Quilting Queens of Lanark County is as much a glimpse into the lives of rural women half a century ago as it is an account of the art of quilting in Lanark County. And the superstitions associated with the craft are delightful. You’d better not begin a quilt on a Friday or you may not live to complete it! “From my vantage point, under a sturdy wooden quilt frame, I learned much more than how to make a fancy cover for a bed,” Arlene recalls, harking back to her childhood. I, too, can remember sitting under a table, hidden by the cloth, taking in all sorts of information not intended for a child’s ears! Perhaps this image will evoke interesting memories for others too.

Perth’s Stewart Park is a lovely place in which to take a peaceful walk. Have you ever wondered about the origin of its name? This book supplies the answer in the form of a heartfelt tribute to Jessie Henderson Stewart, who gave the land to the town. This was someone whose life is an inspiration to all women, and her story is well worth reading.

For me, a valuable part of the book is the way it brought to the surface numerous memories of my own. As a journalist I interviewed a number of the people mentioned by the author, including Walter Cameron and Garnet Hazard.

And then there are various references to married women, who, prior to the advent of the women’s movement of the 1970s, were always referred to under their husbands’ names. Woe betide the unwary newspaper editor who recorded a woman as, for example, Mrs. Mary Jones, instead of Mrs. Donald Jones. Heated words would be exchanged and an apology published the following week!

Even for readers who have no Lanark County connections of their own, the book may well spark recollections of another time and place. Meanwhile, those of us who have lived there will pounce on the many references to those who have gone before us. “I knew her!” we may say excitedly, recalling incidents that are amusing, or happy, – or perhaps otherwise!

To quote Arlene, there is “nothing quite as good for the soul as a day or two, far away from the busy world, discovering the back roads in Lanark County”. Why not join her, as she shares some of her memories among the maples? I think you’ll be glad you did.

Book Launch: Saturday, September 26th noon – 3pm, The Book Nook, Perth, Ontario.   http://www.staffordwilson.com

Review byCarol McCuaig former weekly newspaper editor, author of sixty three books, including “In Search of Lanark”, historical novels, regional histories, commissioned works and books geared to helping people who are researching their Lanark and Renfrew County (Ontario) roots.

In Search of the Red Dragon: The Welsh in Canada” received the Ninnau Award for its contribution to North American Welsh culture.

In 1997 she received an Achievement Award from the Ontario Heritage Foundation, for her body of work in recording regional history.

http://carolmccuaig.ca/   Website: Carol Bennett McCuaig

photo:  courtesy – website of Carol McCuaig

Paranormal Perth: Garden Ghosts on Gore Street

Ghost in the garden

Paranormal Perth: Garden Ghosts on Gore Street:        A chill that travels down your spine, the unexplained feeling of dread, or a sudden drop in temperature, are physical signs that many have experienced in a haunted locale. How do places become this way? Why do spirits linger in certain buildings, or even in certain rooms?

Some say that the history of a building is almost always a primary factor. When a building is very old, and has a long history of human habitation, naturally the chances increase dramatically that someone over the years has experienced strong negative feelings in that space.

In 2016 Perth, Ontario will mark 200 years since the first settlers established the town, and many of the beautiful limestone buildings date back into the early 1800s. Some of these historic old buildings have changed hands many times over the years, like the present Perth Museum on Gore Street.

Some may not realize that the Matheson family occupied the impressive stone manor as their family home for almost a century. When the last family member died in the house in 1929, the building became the elegant Birkacre Tea Room from 1930-38, operated by William and Jessie Kinloch. From 1938-46 the building was called The Vanity Fair, a posh restaurant owned by Clifford and Alice Carr. The Perth-Upon-Tay Legion bought the building in 1947, and it was their meeting place until 1967, when it became the Perth Museum.

The Matheson family, original owners of the mansion, were wealthy and prominent in the community. They hosted many parties and social gatherings in the beautiful gardens behind the house. Of the seven daughters in the family, only one married; and the other six girls remained at home, lavishing much time and energy tending the lush garden at the back of the property.

garden ghost 3Garden ghost 2

Although some paranormal researchers say that violence or sorrow may cause a spirit to feel bound to the world, until justice is rendered, this is not always the case. Some say it can be the strong attachment to a particular location, and that spirits may return to a place where they spent their happiest times. It’s been said that these feelings of contentment, of the person never wanting to leave, can seep into a place, either in the walls of a building, or the soil of the ground itself, and leave a certain ghostly energy or impression. Researchers claim that ghosts tend to stay in places that they considered to be their own during their former lives, and areas that were once very closely linked to themselves as a living human being.


Have you ever experienced signs of paranormal activity?

Disappearance and re-emergence of objects in the house

Finding unidentified objects in the house

Appearance of unexplained marks around the house, e.g. scratch marks on the walls, odd marks on cupboards or walls

Hearing weird sounds or sounds of doors closing or opening, banging, laughter, walking, speaking, etc. in the absence of any source

Sudden changes in temperature

Lights or electronic equipment going on or off repeatedly or not working without any reason

Mobile phones not working

Cats or dogs whining or barking unnecessarily

Feeling a presence in the house

Feeling of being watched

Seeing ghosts

Until it is proven, we may only speculate that some spirits never leave old stone buildings like Matheson House in Perth. Do the spirits of the lovely daughters who tended their gardens so faithfully in life still roam the lush property behind the Perth Museum? Do they still gather flowers and tidy the weeds as they did in the past, preparing for the lavish garden parties where they entertained the Who’s Who of Lanark County?

Matheson House garden 2Matheson House garden 1

Take a trip into the past and meet the family who lived in this historic building, learn about the elegant Birkacre Tea Room, the posh restaurant known as the Vanity Fair, and the Perth-Upon-Tay legion members who passed their days and nights in this building, long before the time when it became the popular Perth Museum.

Read more about it in “Matheson House: Perth’s Grand Lady of Stone”, one of the stories in the new book, ‘Lanark County Connections – Memories Among the Maples’. The book launch is September 26th at The Book Nook in Perth, or visit the Perth Chapter, Ottawa International Writer’s Festival at the Crystal Palace, Perth on October 3rd.


Matheson house for blog Matheson House living room

(some photos courtesy of the Perth Museum)