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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

 

The Cry of the Banshee in North Burgess Township

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The story of the Burgess Ghost begins with the arrival of so many Irish to the areas around Westport, the Scotch Line, Black Lake, and Stanleyville, that it became known as the ‘Irish Invasion’.

This is the the home where the story took place, in the cold, bitter winter of 1935, at the home of Mr. John Quinn.  John lived in the house with his wife, and two sons Michael age 13, and Stanley, 11.

 

Quinn house Burgess

Don Rennie, reporter for The Perth Courier, wrote a story on the Burgess Ghost in 1967:

“Strange occurrences were happening in 1935 at a farm in North Burgess just off the Narrows Locks road. Mr. John Quinn, his wife and two children, Michael, and Stanley, ages 13 and 11, reported innumerable phenomena taking place in their home. Stove lids, according to the Quinns, “danced” in the air, the teapot “jumped” off the stove into the wood box, three flat irons “walked” down a staircase and dishes “pranced” on the dining-room table. Word of this mysterious goings on spread quickly throughout the district. Although, perhaps skeptical, hundreds of persons from miles around flocked to the Quinn home.

On the Sunday after the reporting of the “ghosts” more than 100 cars arrived at the Quinn farm. Along with the cars a flotilla of cutters and sleighs dotted the white-capped farm. The snow fell incessantly and the thermometer dipped way below the zero mark.

Newsmen from across the country arrived and the CBC news from Toronto reported the strange events. Although the strange occurrences could not be readily explained many held doubts in their minds as the credulity of the phenomena. Believing that there had to be a reasonable explanation behind the occurrences, the Perth detachment of the OPP decided to hold an investigation.

On a Saturday afternoon, members of the force motored to the Quinn home, and inspected the building. Nothing strange occurred while they were there. That same evening Inspector Storey returned to the house. He remained there until Sunday morning along with about a dozen district men, sat in the house, speaking in hushed tones, but again nothing happened.

Quinn family and police Burgess

photo: members of the Quinn family, and the local police force

Mr. Quinn was unable to explain the strange occurrences that had been going on for the past couple of weeks. Pieces of beef he had placed in a barrel had been found littered throughout the house, he said, and the Wednesday before a window pane crashed for no apparent reason. He had not thought that too odd until it happened the very next evening.

Andrea Burke, a neighbouring farmer, declared that a bone thrown out of the home time and time again had always returned to the house for no explicable reason. Another neighbour, William Cordick, swore that he had seen three flat irons descend the Quinn’s staircase one after another.”

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Who were these Irish Settlers?

Most, but not all of the Irish in North Burgess Township, came from County Down and County Armagh, and many came in the 1840s, to escape a horrible famine, that swept through Ireland  like an unstoppable plague.   A disease called Potato Blight ravaged their crops for nearly a decade, and during that time over a million died of starvation, and an equal number fled Ireland on ships sailing to Canada and the United States.

irish potato blight

Most were tenant farmers, leasing their land; unable to pay their rent when their crops failed, and were evicted by ruthless landlords.  They bundled up what little they had, and boarded ships headed for the new world.

Irish immigrants

Seven weeks was the average length of time spent at sea, and the conditions endured by these Irish immigrants were so terrible that the ships were nick-named ‘coffin ships’.  The lice, ticks and fleas common in these over-crowded vessels were the ideal breeding grounds for the transmission of disease, and by 1847 an average of 50 passengers died each day of typhus on their voyage from Ireland.

coffin ship

 

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The areas where this ‘wave’ of Irish settled in Lanark County:

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These new settlers brought their traditions, customs, and stories with them to the new country.  Stories and legends were passed down from father to son, and from mother to daughter.  Tales from the old country were told in the evenings by the fire, and the one story that seemed to run up and down the concessions in North Burgess was the legend of the Irish Banshee.

Irish legend

The Banshee, or ‘Bean Sidhe’ is an Irish spirit, and her high-pitched wail foretells of a death in the family.  It was said that each family had its own Banshee, and that they travelled with them from the old country.  Some said that the family’s Banshee would stay in Ireland at the family’s estate, and mourn the dead.  The settlers to the new land brought their vivid descriptions of the Banshees – some claiming that she was an old hag with red eyes, but others said she was a fair, pale Irish beauty with long red hair dressed in a flowing gown.

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It’s been said that whoever hears her high and piercing shriek could be sure that there would be a death within 24 hours.  Irish lore tells that the Banshee always wailed when a family member dies, even if the person had died far away, and news of their death had not yet come. The wailing of the banshee was the first warning to the household of the death.

When several banshees appeared at once, it was said to foretell of the death of someone prominent, or of an accidental or unintended death – often of a murder victim, a suicide, or a mother who died in childbirth.

The early settlers in North Burgess passed down their stories of banshees, fairies, ghosts and the little people.  Although they were fiercely loyal to God and to the church, they never abandoned their beliefs in the spirits and creatures of their ancient folklore.

The Story of the Burgess Ghost became a local legend….

The story of the ghost in the Quinn house was passed down through the years, told and retold at family gatherings, around campfires, and particularly in the weeks each year leading up to Hallowe’en.

In a strange final twist to the mystery of the Burgess Ghost, the Quinn family home burned to the ground.  The cause of the fire was never determined, and remains a mystery to this day…..

In 1972, the Quinn home was burned to the ground.

haunted house headline

haunted house of Burgess

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Some of the families who were among the earliest settlers to North Burgess Township:

Adam

Bennett

Byrne

Byrnes

Byres

Callaghan

Chaffey

Darcy

Deacon

Donnelly

Dooker

Doran

Eagan

Farrell

Hanlon

Haughian

Jackman

Kearns

Kelly

Kerr

Lappan

Lennon

McCann

McCracken

McGlade

McIver

McLeod

McNamee

McParland

McVeigh

Mullin

Murphy

O’Connor

O’Hare

O’Neill

Parry

Powers

Quigley

Quinn

Ryan

Scanlon

Smith

Stanley

Stapleton

Thompson

Toole

Traynor

Troy

White

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In 2002 the townships formerly known as North Burgess, South Sherbrooke and Bathurst were part of an amalgamation, and adopted the name of Tay Valley Township, as they are known today.

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For genealogical records of the founding families of North Burgess Township:

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onlanark/nburgess.htm

National Archives of Canada – Immigration Databases Online Searh –  Immigration to Canada

St. Bridget’s Cemetery Staneyville Ontario

Roman Catholic interments North Burgess Township

Scotch Line Cemetery – Burials from 1822-2000  North Burgess Township

Scotch Line Cemetery – North Burgess

Irish Immigration to Canada

Irish Immigration to Canada National Archives

Lanark County Genealogical Society

https://lanarkgenealogy.com/

Archives Lanark

http://archiveslanark.ca/index.php

Search the census records for North Burgess Township, Lanark County

Searchable online census records for Lanark County

Irish Genealogy Records online

Irish Records

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For more information on Irish Folklore in the early days of Lanark County:

Banshees of Burgess’, is part of a collection of short stories in ‘Lanark County Classics – A Treasury of Tales from Another Time’. The reader will discover more about the early families from Ireland who settled in Lanark County, and their customs and beliefs in the supernatural, brought from the old country.  The story explores some of the tales passed down by these Irish settlers, and documents their personal experiences with Banshees, ghosts, and fairies while living in Lanark County.

Available at The Book Nook, The Bookworm, Mill St. Books and online.

 

Lanark County Classics Book Cover small for blog

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(map of Northern Ireland – By Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa) – map by NNW, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7918534)

Genealogy Tip: Free Searchable Online Passenger Lists

Dorothea Woolsey passenger list

Have you ever wondered how and when your ancestor crossed the ocean to Canada or the U.S.? For those who arrived in the 1800s and later, it wasn’t until the early 1920s that commercial flights were offered, and even then, only available to the very wealthy. In the 1930s and 1940s, many still travelled by passenger ship.

Anyone travelling by ship was recorded in a ‘passenger manifest’, and depending on the line, the information recorded could be either very basic or extremely detailed. At the very least, a passenger manifest will tell you the date that your ancestor set sail, the name of the city or port where the ship originated, and a list of the names of every passenger.

More detailed ship’s manifests will also list your ancestor’s nationality, age, their occupation, and their final destination. It may even list the name of the person and address where they will be visiting or where they intend to live.

The image above is the passenger manifest which lists my great-grandfather William Woolsey, with two of his daughters – Grace and my grandmother Dorothea Woolsey. The ship’s manifest shows that the year is 1909, they are travelling from England and their final destination is Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It lists my g-grandfather’s occupation – a butcher and lists the occupations of my grandmother and her sister – housekeeper and shop girl. This is typical information that may be gathered from a ship’s manifest and adds another element to your genealogical research.

Listed below are three of the top free searchable online databases listing passengers immigrating to both Canada and the U.S. :

Collections Canada – also includes American records in the case where the port of entry was in the U.S. and the passengers either remained in the U.S. or continued on by train to Canada.
The databases include – Passenger Lists, Border Entry and Immigration records
http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/022/022-908.002-e.html

The Ships List
Over 3,500 free passenger lists to Canada, U.S, and Australia
http://www.theshipslist.com/

The Immigrant Ships website has over 14,000 records of passenger manifests
http://www.immigrantships.net/

Good Luck with your search! Please leave any questions or comments below.

http://www.staffordwilson.com

“Lanark County Calendar” Book Launch

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One of the best things about visiting Perth is seeing old friends, and yesterday was no different during the launch of ‘Lanark County Calendar’.

Many thanks once again to Leslie Wallack, owner of The Book Nook for hosting the book launch. The Book Nook is a bright, cheery store filled to the rafters with books of all kinds and features a broad selection of titles by local authors. It was a perfect setting to introduce ‘Lanark County Calendar’ to local readers.

We had barely finished setting up the books at the ‘feature table’ when Tom, an avid reader of local history, stopped by for a visit, and was the very first to pick up his signed copy of ‘Lanark County Calendar’. Despite the cool November weather, traffic into the store was steady throughout the day and brought many visitors and friends from days gone by and some new readers as well.

Maxine Jordan, an old friend from Calvin United Church as well as former neighbour from the Third Line in Bathurst Township stopped by for a chat and a copy of the new book. We also had the pleasure of spending some time with Elaine Morrow and her husband Dave, also long-time residents of the Third Line and we had a chance to catch up on some of the goings on in the old neighbourhood.

A couple of former classmates stopped by and it was wonderful to have the chance to chat and find out how they were doing. Dianne Tysick Pinder-Moss, a classmate who goes back to the one-room schoolhouse near Christie Lake, as well as being a former fellow 4H Club member, came by for her copy of the new book and we shared a few laughs and a quick chat. Another school chum from days gone by Marie Kerr stopped by the store and was great to see her as well. I hadn’t seen Marie for many years so was an unexpected treat to spend a few minutes with her again.

Another friend, who is in the process of building her dream home near beautiful Rideau Ferry, Carol-Ann McDougall stopped by. Carol-Ann surprised me with a lovely bouquet of red carnations with congratulations on the new book. Many thanks for this thoughtful gesture Carol-Ann and for taking the time to stop by.

Thanks also to Sean and Meaghan Christie for joining us on this special day and helping to make the launch a success.

The day breezed by quickly with so many visitors to The Book Nook and we are grateful for a successful launch of the new book and look forward to visiting Perth again in the near future.

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Book Launch – Lanark County Calendar

LC Cal Book Launch Ad

Join us on Saturday, November 2nd from 1 – 3 p.m. at The Book Nook – 60 Gore St. E. in Perth, Ontario for the launch of ‘Lanark County Calendar – Four Seasons on the Third Line’.

There is a waiting list, so to reserve your copy for the launch, please call 613-267-2350.

Just in time for Christmas – a signed copy makes a great gift.

For out of town – Order online at http://www.staffordwilson.com

In her fourth book, author Arlene Stafford-Wilson invites us to spend the year with her and watch the seasons change on the family farm in Bathurst Township in the 1960s and 70s. Join her in the magical weeks leading up to Christmas in the country. Spend the days of early spring with her as she collects the sap for maple syrup season. Share the lazy days of childhood and the long walks down country lanes picking wildflowers on hot summer days. Come along as she goes to the Perth Fair and be there as the Lanark County maple trees show off their spectacular fall colours. Experience the change of seasons in Eastern Ontario from winter, spring, summer and fall in this Lanark County Calendar.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson, author of ‘Lanark County Chronicle’, ‘Lanark County Kid’, and ‘Recipes and Recollections’ grew up in Lanark County, on the Third Line of Bathurst Township. She began writing stories and poetry while attending one room schools at Christie Lake and the Scotch Line. By the age of eight several of her poems had been published in children’s magazines and by age 11 she entered and won a writing competition in a national publication. Former Newsletter Editor for the Lanark County Genealogical Society, she has authored articles for both Canadian and Irish Genealogical publications.
Her first three books continue their popularity and sell out time and again in local book stores.