Class of 1958 – S.S. # 4 Bathurst School – taught by Mary Jordan
Summer in the country was a time for swimming in the Tay River, hanging out with friends at the millstone at Cavanagh’s general store, and regular bike rides up and down the Third Line. There were farm tractors, hay-wagons, mothers outside hanging their washing on clotheslines, and daisies and black-eyed-Susans waving in the ditches, as I flew by on my old red bike.
I always passed by the familiar farms and houses along the way – Mitchell’s, Conboy’s, pedaled like lightning past Heney’s, so their dogs couldn’t catch me. I continued past Radford’s, Siebel’s, Mitchell’s, Kerr’s, Closs’, heading up the Third Line toward Kyle’s, Perkins’ and Doyle’s when one day, something unusual caught my eye.
A stylish wedding party was entering St. Vincent de Paul Church; a bride in a flowing white gown, three bridesmaids dressed in pastel pink, carrying matching nosegays. Several cars were parked outside, decorated with pink and white tissue flowers. I pulled over to the side of the road to watch the procession. The old Catholic church had been around for as long as I could remember, and appeared as proud and majestic as ever on that hot summer day so long ago.
The early settlers in Bathurst Township were keen to have their own church, instead of driving to St. John’s Church in Perth, or St. Bridget’s Church in Stanleyville. Roads were treacherous at times in the winter, with deep snow, sometimes freezing rain, or both.
Long before St. Vincent de Paul Church was built, Roman Catholic services were held for 69 years, in the home of Mrs. Ed. Lee on the Third Line.
The people of Bathurst petitioned Bishop James Vincent Cleary for a church of their own. They needed a suitable, conveniently located place to erect a new church building.
John DeWitt, son of a pioneer settler, and his wife Mary Neil knew there was a need for a Roman Catholic Church to serve the growing community. Hoping to improve the situation, they made a promise to donate the land to build a church.
The paperwork was completed, and the land on lot 11, between the 2nd and 3rd concessions of Bathurst Township was donated by John and Mary DeWitt on July 26, 1889. To ensure that the transaction was legal, the land was sold for the token sum of one dollar to the Kingston Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.
The construction progressed quickly, and the first mass was held on November 23, 1889. The church was packed that day, and this stately building has served generations of families around DeWitt’s Corners and the area for over 125 years and counting.
Pastors who have served St. Vincent de Paul:
Rev. T.P. O’Connor 1889-1899
Rev. John O’Brien – 1899-1901
Rev. J.H. McDonough – 1901-1912
Rev. P.J. Keaney – 1912-1917
Rev. J.J. Keeley – 1917-1926
Rev. J.V. Meagher – 1926-1928
Rev. L.B. Garvin – 1928-1934
Rev. Walter Whalen – 1934-1940
Rev. J.W. Callahan – 1940-1947
Rev. W.L. Terrion – 1947-1952
Rev. J.C. LeSage – 1952-1976
Father Karl Clemens – 1976 – 1983
Father Richard Whalen – 1983-1985
Father Liam Tallon – 1985 – 1993
Father Karl Clemens (back) – 1993 – 1998
Father Lindo Molon – 1998 – 2006
Father Mark Ruckpaul – 2006 – 2012
Father Aidan Dasaah – 2012 – 2014
Father Jan Kusyk – 2014 –
One of the weddings in the early days of St. Vincent de Paul Church – Henry Edmund Hagan, son of Hugh Hagan and Agnes Bennett, Westport, married Anna Victoria Jackman Hagan, daughter of John Jackman and Matilda Nagle, Wemyss, on 25 September 1918. Henry was 25 and Anna was 17. (according to Richard Frizzell, their grandson on his mother’s side – ” Family history has it that she married so young in order to escape having to rear her 4 brothers and sisters after her mother passed away in 1916.”)
According to their grandson, Richard Frizell, “Henry and Anna farmed up on the mountain in Westport until 1956 or 57. They sold the farm and moved to Glen Tay. They had 5 children; my mom, Vera, was the oldest girl.”
Father James Keeley – served St. Vicent de Paul from 1917-1926
I recall that Father J.C. Le Sage was the Priest of the parish from 1952 through to 1976. Fr. Le Sage was well-liked, and a good friend to many of the local parishioners. He was known to be extremely intelligent, and it was widely believed that he had come from a very capable family. He had a reputation for being an excellent business manager, and ensured that the Church was in good repair.
During his time serving at DeWitt’s Corners he hired an exceptionally talented Dutch painter who cleaned and restored the wood ceiling of St. Vincent’s, and painted the interior of the building. He was also instrumental in building a parish hall in Stanleyville (the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish Hall) to serve both parishes (St. Vincent de Paul in Dewitt’s Corners and St. Bridget’s in Stanleyville). Because of his excellent fiscal management, the total costs for the new hall were paid off quickly. Along with Fr. Le Sage’s sound business sense, an active Catholic Women’s League helped to raise money for the church, and assist with local charities.
At the age of 67, Rev. Father LeSage suffered a heart attack at his home, near Stanleyville, and passed away on September 13, 1976.
In 1979 the parishoners from DeWitt’s Corners and Stanleyville, sponsored a family of seven ‘Boat People’, who had fled their homeland for Canada.
St. Vincent de Paul, the pretty red brick church at DeWitt’s Corners, has served the community for well over a century. Both residents and seasonal visitors from nearby cottages have found comfort and a sense of belonging, inside these stately walls.
Many weddings, christenings, and funerals have taken place over the past hundred years, and to those of us who grew up in this neighbourhood, St. Vincent de Paul will always remain a memorable place, in our hearts.
A sunny, warm, late September day brought record crowds to the official book launch for “Lanark County Classics: A Treasury of Tales from Another Time”.
The Book Nook, a popular store on the main street of historic Perth, Ontario, was the setting for a steady stream of book lovers eager to read the latest collection of stories set in Lanark County, the picturesque maple syrup capital of Ontario.
The newly released stories in this series are set in Perth, Lanark, DeWitt’s Corners, Pakenham, Clyde’s Forks, Middleville, and the former North Burgess Township, taking the reader along on a journey back to the 1960s and 1970s in rural Eastern Ontario.
An early visitor to the store on Saturday, was Tara Gesner, from Metroland Media, a reporter covering the book launch for the local newspaper.
There were many new faces stopping by, after reading the glowing reviews appearing in several publications Review of Lanark County Classics
A reader from Port Elmsley stopped by, interested in local history, and had certainly come to the right book launch for stories set around the region.
Dianne Tysick Pinder-Moss, former classmate of the author has purchased the entire collection for her mother, who has been a fan of the series since the beginning.
Nancy Townend, Pakenham resident, came to the launch after hearing that one of the stories ‘Perils in Pakenham’, was set in her lovely,scenic, village.
Carol-Ann McDougall, resident of the Big Rideau Lake, featured in the story “Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story” Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story brought a lovely, bright yellow chrysanthemum to grace the table of the book launch. Carol-Ann has read all of the books in the Lanark County series, and has been looking forward to reading the newest collection of stories.
Carla Brown stopped by, as she often does, to purchase the latest Lanark County book for her grandmother Shirley Myers.
Avid reader of local history, Tom Ayres was eager to get the latest book in the series. Tom has read all five in the collection, and is the reader who requested the story on Antler Lodge, featured in the last book – Lanark County Connections. Antler Lodge
One of the stories in the new book, Lanark County Classics is ‘Meet Me in DeWitt’s Corners. The story takes the reader back to the earliest days of the hamlet, recounts the history of this proud settlement, and the DeWitt family, whose name still graces the community today. It was a special treat to have members of this founding family attend the book launch.
Jane DeWitt Brady O’Grady – descendant of pioneer Zephaniah DeWitt, founding family of DeWitt’s Corners.
Also, a direct descendant of Zephaniah DeWitt, and native of DeWitt’s Corners – William ‘Bill’ Cavanagh, son of Helen DeWitt and James ‘Jim’ Cavanagh, and his wife Brenda.
Another native of DeWitt’s Corners, and descendant of pioneer Zephaniah DeWitt, sister of Bill, JoAnne Cavanagh Butler, daughter of Helen DeWitt and James ‘Jim’ Cavanagh:
It was a real treat to share some memories of DeWitt’s Corners with Jane, JoAnne and Bill!
Along with the DeWitt descendants, long-time residents of DeWitt’s Corners, Elaine and Dave Morrow stopped by the book launch. Both Dave and Elaine contributed their memories and stories of DeWitt’s Corners for the book. Owner of The Book Nook, Leslie Wallack, is standing to the right of Elaine. Leslie and her staff were busy the entire day assisting visitors to this popular store.
Beverly Miller Ferlatte also stopped by the book launch. Beverly shared her memories of S.S. # 4 , Bathurst, School for the story based in DeWitt’s Corners. Beverly’s grandmother Mary Jordan was a well-loved and respected teacher at the school for many years. The school house has been converted into a residence and Beverly’s brother Brian is the current owner of this historic building.
Janice Jordan Gordon was another contributer to the DeWitt’s Corners story in the book. Janice was very helpful in identifying the children in several class photos from S.S. # 4 Bathurst School.
A book launch would not be complete without a visit from former neighbours from the Third Line of Bathurst, Margery Conboy and her daughter Diana. Margery and her husband Wayne Conboy also shared their memories of DeWitt’s Corners, and the historic cheese factory that remained at ‘The Corners’ until 1979.
Another former neighbour, Dave Mitchell,stopped by the book launch. Dave was also interested in reading the story on DeWitt’s Corners, and finding out more about the history of the area where he was raised.
The Book Launch at The Book Nook was a great success! Many thanks to host Leslie Wallack and her staff, for keeping up with the steady crowds, and for providing the delicious refreshments.
A special thanks to all who came, from near and far, to stop by and chat, to share some memories, and to be a part of the busy day!
Stories in “Lanark County Classics”:
“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.”
“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.”
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
As late summer turns to fall each year, I am reminded of the pretty little church on the hill, not far from DeWitt’s Corners. It was on a bright September morning in 1896, that the very first service was held at Calvin United Church.
It seems only fitting, in this photo of my niece Meaghan, that she and her husband, Sean Christie, are standing in front of the building where her parents Judy Stafford and Jim Ryan were married on the 21st of May, 1966.
It is the same church where her grandmother Audry Stafford brought me, and my four siblings each Sunday, when we were children.
Calvin United Church was built on the property of Mr. John Cameron. The first elected officers in the church were Andrew Gamble, William Scott, Andrew Palmer, George Miller, Andrew B. Miller, Andrew W. Miller, W.J. Palmer, John Jordan, Nichol Stewart, Alex Palmer and Sydney Miller.
There is a Roll of Honour for the brave veterans of Calvin United Church who served their country so faithfully, during times of war: Lloyd Henry Cameron, Helen Muriel Jordan, Hugh Boyd McLellan, John Grey Palmer, Harold Earl Radford, James Stewart Scott, Earl Alexander Tysick, Edwin Cecil Popplewell, John Ernest Miller, Donald Edwin Jordan, George Bertram Fyfe, Kenneth Arthur Kirkham, George Elwood Palmer, Howard William Radford, John Adam Scott, Andrew William Stewart, Raymond McIntosh Blackburn, Andrew Gordon Miller, William Arthur Stewart.
In September 1936 Calvin United Church celebrated their 40th Anniversary:
In 1979 Calvin Jordan was presented with an award for serving the church for over half a century. The award was presented by Charlie Patton and Alan Jordan for his outstanding service.
Although because of the times, men held the offices in the church, women have also played an important role going back to 1894 with the ‘Ladies’ Aid’. Later, there was a ‘Women’s Mission Society’, and even later the U.C.W., or United Church Women. In 1962 the younger women formed the Calvinettes.
Some of the dedicated women of the ladies’ auxiliaries over the years were: Lillian Cameron, Ethel Scott, Ethel Korry, Jean Korry, Mae Miller, Bertha Stewart, Edith Miller, Mary Miller and Mabel Palmer, Marge Cook, Wilma (Scott) Peckett, Eleanor Conboy, Jean Jordan, Audry Stafford, Ona Closs, Maxine Jordan, Mabel Palmer, Isobel Cameron, Frances Dixon, Betty Johnston, Wilma Munro, Mary Jordan, Betty Miller, Margery Conboy, Kathy Patton, Marion Majaury, Doris Popplewell, Agnes Stiller, and Carmel Jordan to name a few.
Many ministers have served at Calvin United Church over the years, offering spiritual guidance, sharing in the joys of baptisms, officiating at weddings, and offering comfort at the funerals of loved ones.
Calvin United Church has a rich history, and a steadfast presence in the community for over a century. It’s a short drive from Perth out the Third Line to DeWitt’s Corners, turn right onto the Cameron Side Road, and a quick drive up the picturesque country road.
If you are visiting the area, stop by, and feel the sense of history, and of the generations who have passed before you, in this pretty church on the hill.
Although it didn’t look like much until late in June each year, around the third or fourth week of the month, the old rosebush, planted by Dad’s Aunt Clara Richards Carberry, sprang reliably back to life. Great Aunt Clara had planted the rosebush back in the 1940s, along our fence, on the east side of the house, under the poplar trees.
It was an uncertain time when she planted that rosebush, the years between 1939 and 1945, when World War II raged on, separating families from loved ones, and prematurely ending young lives, as they fought bravely, on the front lines in Europe.
By the time that I was old enough to be aware of the rosebush, it had spread, as perennials will, and imparted a bright pink show of fragrant roses that stretched for several yards, along the old fence. For the entire five decades that we lived in the house, that rosebush bloomed faithfully. Without any pruning or watering, it gave us a lovely fuchsia display, each year, shortly after the summer solstice had passed, as though that was its signal to begin to bloom.
Maybe in such an unsettled time in our history, Clara wanted to create some beauty that would last; something predictable and steadfast; something she could count on.
So the rosebush bloomed like clockwork, late in June, each year for decades, watching silently from its sheltered patch under the poplars, along the fence, as one by one we finished our years in school, and left the old homestead, to go out and make our way in the world. It watched all five of us come and go, and it thrived long past that time, for another quarter of a century, until our father passed away, and our Mother sold the house, and moved to town.
With a legacy like that, how could any of the short-lived ‘annual’ plants ever compare to this faithful old perennial, planted by Clara, so many years ago? More importantly, how could we ever forget those bright, pink, fragrant roses, and how they graced the edge of our yard, so beautifully each year, late in June?