35th Anniversary – Lanark County Genealogical Society

lanark-county-genealogical-society35-years

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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

http://www.staffordwilson.com

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

 

 

Port Elmsley – Drive-In Dreamin’

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Someone decided one night long ago, that we should save a few dollars, and put a couple of people in the trunk of a car, so 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.

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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’.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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The warm summer air was 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.

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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.

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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’.

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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!

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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.

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For information on the Port Elmsley Drive-In – showtimes and coming attractions:

Port Elmsley Drive In

 

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

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Available at The Book Nook, and The Bookworm,  in Perth, Mill St. Books in Almonte,

or on online

 

Lanark County Classics – Sneak Preview

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Table of Contents for blog

“In this collection of short stories the author invites the reader to journey back to a small farm in Eastern Ontario in the 1960s and 1970s.  Discover Irish legends, and learn about the troublesome banshees of North Burgess Township. Visit Clyde Forks, and share in an unsolved mystery that continues to baffle police today.  Join the celebration of a milestone, in the picturesque village of Middleville, and watch as a tragedy unfolds along the shores of the Mississippi, in Pakenham.  Chat with the neighbours at a popular general store in DeWitt’s Corners, and witness something unusual in the night skies over Perth. Join the author as she travels back to a simpler way of life, in this treasury of tales from another time.”

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“Once again, Arlene Stafford-Wilson triumphantly transports the reader into the heart of rural Eastern Ontario in the 1960s and 1970s. The stories selected for Lanark County Classics, are a fine and timely follow-up to her 2015 release Lanark County Connections.

Stafford-Wilson’s stories are composed with an intense clarity of phrase and image. As in her previous books, her fascination with the human and natural history of her native ground — the rural farmlands, villages and small towns in Lanark County is inexhaustible.

In her latest renderings, even seemingly uneventful lives in sparsely peopled Eastern Ontario hamlets like DeWitt’s Corners, Clyde Forks, Lanark, Middleville and Pakenham — farmers, shopkeepers and townsfolk — are brought back to life for closer examination. Her stories come alive with local names and family connections.  In the simplest of words, and with the richest descriptions, she makes us see and hear an ‘unremarkable’ scene that we will never forget.

No one, having read this latest book, would ever again question, “What is so interesting about small-town rural Canada?” Her thorough and dedicated study of historical ingredients, always come up rich and fresh, seem never to be used up, and draw the reader into that place and time.

What makes Stafford-Wilson’s growth as an author so crisply and clearly visible throughout Lanark County Classics is the familiarity of her materials. With her vivid reminiscences set in rural towns and villages; the more she returns to it, the more she finds.

This latest work, once again confirms that the short story is alive and well in Canada where these heart-warming tales originate, like cool fresh breezes straight off the Rideau Lakes.”

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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 http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Irish Settlers & the Ghost of Burgess Township

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Burgess Ghost

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

Quinn house, North Burgess Township, Lanark County

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“The Windsor Star”, Jan. 14, 1935, p.7

“By evening, the ‘ghost of Burgess’, was the one topic of discussion in Perth”

Burgess ghost 2

Andrew Burke saw the windows break, and the dishes jump

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William Cordick saw three flat irons come down the stairs

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Hundreds of people drove through a snowstorm, to the Quinn home, to see the Ghost of Burgess

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“The Windsor Star”, Jan. 14, 1935, p.7

Burgess ghost 6

“The Ottawa Citizen”, Jan. 16, 1935, p.1

Howard Traynor and Michael Norwood huddled in the house until daybreak

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Predominantly Irish, simple, hard-working farm folk

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“The Ottawa Citizen”, Jan. 16, 1935, p.1

“The Mounties are searching the place, determined to ‘get their ghost’.”

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“Bradford Evening Star”, Bradford, Pennsylvania, Feb. 6, 1935, p.9

“…a teapot jumping into a woodbox.”

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“Minneapolis Star”, Minnesota, Aug. 5, 1935. p.8

 

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.

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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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Irish Settlers to North Burgess Township, Lanark County

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

 

typhus

 

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.

Banshee   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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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Mysterious Fire Destroys Burgess Ghost House

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“The Ottawa Journal”, Jan. 4, 1972, p.5

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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” – ISBN 978-0-9877026-54

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)

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.

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

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