“The Curlers” -filmed in Perth

In 1955, a black & white film, “The Curlers”, was shot in Perth, Ontario. “The Curlers” is a story featuring many local actors, as well as members of the Perth Curling Club.

With a number of scenes shot on the main streets, Gore, and Drummond, as well as the area around the Curling Club, and some rural scenes, the film is a trip down memory lane, and a glimpse back into life in 1955.

The story unfolds as two members of the Perth Curling Club, who are also local farmers, have a dispute over a section of property where their farms intersect.

Early in the film we see scenes of Gore Streets, and Drummond Streets, and then we meet some of the town’s best curlers at the Perth Curling Club.

The Perth Curling Club, as it appeared in 1955.

Members of the club appear in the film, along with actors portraying the main characters.

Producers remarked that the local actors did a fine job in their roles.

With so many Perth residents having Scottish ancestors it’s not surprising that curling was such a popular pastime in the winter months.

The conflict between farmers Henderson and McNair begins when it’s determined that trees have been chopped down on a section of property that each believes is theirs.

Back in Perth, along the main street, both men decide to seek legal counsel over their dispute

Each of the parties discusses the matter with their lawyers to determine the best course of action.

Another scene featuring one of the lovely limestone buildings in Perth – the historic courthouse.

One of the scenes takes place inside the Perth Courthouse

A lunch meeting is held in a local hotel.

A scene inside the hotel.

The two lawyers representing each of the farmers discusses the lawsuit over lunch.

Lunch meeting with some of the town’s ‘movers and shakers’.

Turkey Fair Day – on Gore Street

Back at the Curling Club

The two farmers, still in conflict over the land dispute must play together against an opposing team…

What will be the outcome?

After the game…

At the local church on Sunday

Local actors…and members of the Perth Curling Club

“The Curlers”

Norman Klenman -Story and Screenplay

William Davidson – Director

Robert Humble – Photography

Clifford Griffin – Sound

Fergus McDonell – Editing

Nicholas Balla – Production

Watch the film in it’s entirety,

“The Curlers”

Click on the link below:

https://www.nfb.ca/film/curlers/

….and take a trip down memory lane

From the National Film Board of Canada:

“In this film we see how an ingenious small-town lawyer employs the team spirit to settle a rift between two neighbouring farmers, just in time for an all-important turkey bonspiel.”

photos: are from the film, “The Curlers”

For more local stories in and around Lanark County:

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Member, Association of Professional Genealogists

Honorary Life Member, Lanark County Genealogical Society

Author of : “Lanark County Christmas”, “Lanark County Comfort”, “Lanark County Collection”, “Lanark County Calling”, “Lanark County Classics”, “Lanark County Connections”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid”, & “Recipes & Recollections”

available at local stores or email: lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com

http://www.staffordwilson.com

January 6th – Irish Women’s Little Christmas

Women’s

Little Christmas

Nollaig na mBan (pronunciation Null-ug na Mon) is ‘Women’s Little Christmas’ or the Feast of the Epiphany as it is more commonly known—marking the end of the 12 Days of Christmas, a Christian feast day celebrating the the visit of the Three Kings or Wise Men to the baby Jesus in his manger in Bethlehem, with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Taking Down

the Decorations

Women’s Little Christmas Eve is the day when some will add the wise men to their nativity displays. This would be the final decoration added in the home, done on January 5th, and at the end of the day on January 6th, these, and all of the other decorations would be taken down. Some Roman Catholic families chose to keep their tree up until February 2nd, according to the traditions of Candlemas, which marks the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

The Burning

of the Holly

In ancient times, in more modest Irish homes, holly was the only decoration used, and so it was taken down from the mantle, and burned on January 6th for good luck. It was symbolic to leave the holly up until Women’s Little Christmas.

Holly was thought to have important spiritual attributes, and the Druids believed it could guard against dark witchcraft and evil spirits. The Irish believed that its spikes could capture evil spirits and prevent them from entering a house. Holly placed around the home was thought to be a safe haven for the little people, who traditionally guarded the house from more sinister forces.

It was a tradition if holly was the first evergreen plant to be brought into the house at Christmastime, then the man would have the upper hand and rule the roost for the coming year. For that reason, women usually instructed that the ivy be collected first, then the holly. The timing of taking down the holly was very important. Once brought inside it must not be discarded or taken down until after 6th of January. Throwing out a symbol of good fortune too soon could mean that you were looking for trouble.

Visiting with Friends

and Neighbours

Women’s Little Christmas, on January 6th each year, was the day that women rested and relaxed after a busy season of cooking and festivities. In rural and small-town Catholic Ireland, women gathered in each other’s homes, or down at the local pub, for a few hours of fun, while men looked after the home and the children. As all were seated, a pact was made, to leave the worries and cares of the old year, outside the door. 

Some women stayed in their neighbourhood, and did rounds of visiting in the afternoon. Fruit loaf and tea, or a shot of something stronger, served at someone’s house, and was the day that women did something for themselves, and had a rest after all of their Christmas work.

….And what would a Women’s Little Christmas be without a nice warm Irish Toddy to finish the day?

Irish Toddy Recipe

Irish Toddy

1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar

Boiling water

1 measure of Irish Whiskey (Bushmills or Jameson)

3 cloves

1 slice or wedge of lemon

You may use any whiskey you desire, or for an authentic Irish toddy, use Bushmills or Jameson Irish Whiskey

Add sugar, and dissolve in a splash of the hot water.

Add the whiskey, cloves (if desired) a slice of lemon, and fill up with boiling water.

It is customary to give a New Year’s toast on Women’s Little Christmas, with an Irish blessing:

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Member, Association of Professional Genealogists

Honorary Life Member, Lanark County Genealogical Society

Author of : “Lanark County Christmas”, “Lanark County Comfort”, “Lanark County Collection”, “Lanark County Calling”, “Lanark County Classics”, “Lanark County Connections”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid”, & “Recipes & Recollections”

available at local stores or email: lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Letters to Santa from Perth!

santa letters 2

Letters to Santa

as published in:

The Perth Courier

We’ve all written them –  letters to Santa Claus.  Whether we lived out in the country, in a village, a town, or even a city, we all sat down with a sheet of paper and a pen, and wrote to jolly old St. Nick, asking for that special toy, dreaming that we’d find it under our tree on Christmas morning.

“The Perth Courier” began to publish some of these letters to Santa, and for many years, in the month of December, we could discover what the local children were hoping to receive, from the man in the red suit.

Here are some of the best letters, and maybe you’ll even see your own!

Christmas 1

Christmas 2

Writing the letter to Santa

Sometimes we needed help from an older brother or sister

to make sure that our letters were written as clearly as possible!

Christmas 3

Sent to the North Pole

We also had to make sure that we wrote the correct address for the ‘North Pole’ and walked it down the lane, and set it carefully in the mailbox!

Letters to santa at the mailbox

Christmas 4

Christmas 5

Christmas 6

Christmas 7

Christmas 8

Christmas 9

Christmas 10

Christmas 11

1981 Letters to Santa

from “The Perth Courier”

Christmas 12

Christmas 13

Christmas 14

…..and some of the letters were from rural kids. 

These ones are from Glen Tay:

Christmas 15

This young boy even admits

to being a little bit bad!

Christmas 16

Christmas 17

Christmas 18

Christmas 19

Christmas 20

Christmas 21

1983 Letters to Santa

Christmas 22

Christmas 23

….and from the kids

at Drummond Central:

Christmas 24

Christmas 25

…and some more letters to Santa

from Glen Tay:

Christmas 26

…and little Debbie even included

a lovely sketch for Santa:

Christmas 27

1984 letters to Santa

Christmas 28

Christmas 29

Christmas 30

1983 letters to Santa

from the Perth Daycare Centre

Many of us recall the column called ‘The Private Eye’, and some of the interesting tidbits of news from around Perth that was published each week.  In December of 1983, some of the wee tots at the Perth Daycare Centre wrote to Santa, and the Private Eye had a few favourites!

Christmas 31

……………………..

Another letter to Santa found in a battered old shoe box, many years ago, written by a little girl, who only wanted one thing for Christmas…

Dear Santa:  I live on the Third Line, not far from Christie Lake.  We live in a red brick  house, between Glen Tay and DeWitt’s Corners.  I hope you can see it from the sky on Christmas Eve.  It’s right across the road from George and Merle Korry’s farm, and between Perkins’ and Mitchell’s farms.  I have been very good.  I got a sticker this year from my Sunday School teacher, Betty Miller, for good attendance, and I try to be good at home, and sometimes I help my mother in the kitchen, and help Dad outside when he needs me.  I would like a Beautiful Crissy doll please.  She has long red hair and an orange dress.  Please bring a Davey Crocket hat for my brother Roger, new skates for Judy and Jackie, and some books for my brother Tim.  I will leave some carrots for your reindeer.   

……………..

Always remember to leave a nice snack for Santa.  It’s a long night, and he works very hard.

cookies and milk for Santa

…….and guess what the little girl found under her tree Christmas morning?

Santa under the tree

…..the doll she asked for in her letter to Santa!

Beautiful Crissy

A reminder to all of us that Christmas Wishes really do come true!

………..

L to R:  Jackie Stafford, Arlene Stafford, and Judy Stafford – 1963 at the Stafford house, 3rd Line of Bathurst Township, Lanark County

…and whether you’re young, or not-so-young, whether you write a letter to Santa, or just look up into the clear winter sky, and wish on a star, 

Always believe in the magic of Christmas!

Santa and the reindeer flying

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Member, Association of Professional Genealogists
Honorary Life Member, Lanark County Genealogical Society
Author of : “Lanark County Christmas”, “Lanark County Comfort”, “Lanark County Collection”, “Lanark County Calling”, “Lanark County Classics”, “Lanark County Connections”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid”, & “Recipes & Recollections”
available at local stores or email: lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Irish Christmas in Lanark County

The Irish brought their Christmas traditions when they settled in Lanark County, in the earliest times. Our ancestor, Tobias Stafford, came in 1816, from County Wexford, Ireland, and married Elizabeth, ‘Betsy’ McGarry, who came from Mullingar Parish, County Westmeath, Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Church

Ferguson’s Falls

Christmas, in those times was a far more religious, and far less commercial holiday than it is today. Priests traveled from larger centers, like Perth, to smaller communities, and people gathered at one of the larger neighbourhood homes to hear mass, and to celebrate the birth of Christ. In 1856, St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church was built, on a gentle hill, overlooking the Mississippi River. Finally, the locals had their own church, not just to mark religious holidays, but also a place to witness baptisms, weddings, and to seek comfort at the funerals of their dearly departed.

St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, built in 1856, Ferguson Falls, Ontario

Advent Candles

One of the early Christmas traditions at St. Patrick’s Church was the lighting of the Advent Candles.

Four candles were set up at the front of the church, and one was lit at each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.

1st Sunday of Advent

The first candle was lit with a sermon on being watchful and alert, waiting for Christ’s arrival:

“Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:42  

2nd Sunday of Advent

On the second week, the next candle was lit, with a sermon focusing on making preparations for the birth of Christ:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’ Matthew 3:3

3rd Sunday of Advent

On the third Sunday of Advent, after the lighting of the third candle, the sermon focused on St. John the Baptist, and the foretelling of Jesus coming to earth:

“I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming.” Luke 3:16-17

4th Sunday of Advent

Week four of Advent was the lighting of the fourth candle, and a reflection on the unwavering faith of Mary and Joseph, and a call to those who believed in what was to come:

“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Luke 1:45

Thomas Stafford’s Family

Thomas Stafford, the youngest son of Tobias and Betsy, was just 10 years old when St. Patrick’s was established, and so, he attended the church as a child, and throughout his entire life, with his own children, as he remained on the ancestral Stafford property, on the 11th concession of Drummond Township.

Family of Thomas Stafford, his wife, Mary (Carroll) Stafford, seated with their eldest son, Peter in the middle row. Back row – Ann Stafford, Mary Stafford (local schoolteacher in Ferguson Falls), Thomas Patrick Stafford, and Julia Stafford (who married William Quinn), front row – Margaret Stafford, Anastasia ‘Stasia’ Stafford, and Michael Vincent ‘Vince’ Stafford, (my grandfather, named for his uncle, Rev. Father Michael Stafford, the Apostle of Temperance), photo taken 1896.

Soaking Fruit

in Whiskey

In the weeks before Christmas, dried fruits were soaked in whiskey and rum, and more alcohol was added each day as the fruit became plump and full. A large, square piece of fresh clean cloth was dipped in hot water, and rubbed with flour to make it waterproof. After two weeks of soaking, the fruit was added to a traditional cake batter, and this ‘pudding’ was tied in the cloth sack, boiled for one hour, and then hung in the pantry to ripen.

Christmas puddings were hung in cloth sacks to ripen

An Irish pioneer’s Christmas pudding

Christmas

Decorations

Back in their homeland, the Irish decorated with sprigs of holly, ivy, and other evergreens native to Ireland like Arbutus, and Yew. Once in Canada, they used the native Eastern Ontario greenery – like spruce, pine, and cedar.

Small branches of spruce and cedar were brought into the home, and laid along the mantle

A spruce tree was cut from the surrounding forests, and brought into the house about a week before Christmas. White candles were attached to the tree, and lit in the evenings leading up to Christmas.

I recall our Dad saying that he was nervous when they lit the candles on the family tree because so many house fires were caused by this practice in the Ferguson Falls area, around Christmastime, when he was a young lad.

Shiny Christmas ornaments that we know today were very rare in the early days, and most of the decorative glass ornaments were imported from Germany, were very expensive, and only available in larger towns, like Perth, or Carleton Place. Often, the ladies of the family made homemade ornaments to hang on the tree, and some were made using needle-craft, like tatting, or crochet.

Lace Christmas ornaments were hand-crafted by the early settlers

Some of the more affluent families purchased ornaments imported from Europe

Precious and costly ornaments, imported from Europe

Bloc na Nollag

burning the Yule Log

The cold dark days and nights of the winter solstice were known as “Yule” in Ireland, and most of northern Europe. Burning the “Bloc na Nollag” (Nollag pronounced ‘null-egg’), was an old Irish tradition that continued through the generations, and was common to the Irish who settled in Eastern Ontario. The men of the family dragged home the largest log they could find. After dusting off the snow, the log was placed whole at the back of the fire. This large log was supposed to last for the entire 12 days of Christmas. A small piece of the log was saved to use as kindling for the lighting of the next year’s yule log .

Yule Log

A Candle

in the Window

on Christmas Eve

All through Ireland a candle is lit and placed in the window on Christmas Eve. This tradition was brought to Canada by the settlers, and was a symbol of welcome to the Holy family. It is thought that this custom originated with the tradition of lighting the way for all travelers on the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. It is a tradition for the eldest person in the family to light the candle in the window on Christmas Eve.

A candle lit in the window on Christmas Eve, lighting the way for the Holy Family

An orange in the

Christmas stocking

According to Dad, they hung simple stockings, sometimes wool socks, without decoration, on Christmas Eve, and in the morning, the stocking would hold a few pieces of hard candy, a small toy usually made of wood, and always a lovely, ripe, Christmas orange. He said that fresh fruit was scarce when he was growing up in the 1920s, and it was a very special thing to receive a fresh juicy orange on Christmas morning.

A simple stocking with a precious fresh orange was a treat in the 1920s, in Drummond Township

Off to Church

On Christmas morning, the family got dressed up in their best clothing, hitched up the horses to the cutter, and headed to St. Patrick’s Church.

All of the families in the area donated a bit of money to the local priest, and presented it to him with thanks, at the end of the service. The custom came from Ireland and was known as the ‘priest’s box’, even though the settlers used an envelope, or folded paper together and sometimes painted colourful designs on the outside.

Envelope for a special Christmas donation for the local priest

Irish

Christmas Dinner

Many of the traditional foods from Ireland were not available to the Canadian pioneer settlers, so they made a few substitutions when needed. Although goose was the traditional bird cooked for Christmas dinner in Ireland, the settlers sometimes roasted a duck, chicken, or turkey, instead. The clove-studded baked ham was a tradition brought from the old country, and cooked in our ancestor’s homes. Stuffing was made of bread crumbs spiced with sage, onion, salt and pepper. Potatoes were always a favourite daily staple, and they were usually roasted in the fat of the duck or chicken. Roasted carrots were served, along with gravy made with the poultry drippings. The plum pudding was boiled again on Christmas Day, then a whiskey or rum sauce was poured on the top and it was lit at the table, at the end of the Christmas meal, and served as dessert.

Traditional Irish Christmas dinner with ham, turkey, stuffing, carrots, potatoes, gravy, and Brussels sprouts

Clove-studded baked ham

roasted potatoes and carrots

Fiddling Time

After dinner, the leftover food was put away, the dishes washed, and chairs were moved close to the fire, placed in a semi-circle. This was a time for music! Fiddles were played, and traditional Irish songs from the old country were sang around the fire. Stories were told of Christmas’ past, and jokes were shared, generous glasses of whiskey were poured, and the dancing of a little ‘jig’ to go along with the music was common.

The merriment went on into the wee hours, and it was a tradition for the youngest in the family to leave the home’s door unlatched, before going to bed, to give shelter to any travelers who may pass by. When the story-tellers and the musicians grew weary, and the last soul in the house finally retired to bed, it was their task to make sure that the Christmas candle was still lit in the window, to help guide the Holy Family through the long, dark, night.

And so, the traditions and customs of our Irish ancestors were passed down through the generations, from the very first settlers, to the present day. The special Christmas foods, the hanging of the stockings, the lighting of the candles for Advent, the singing of songs, the fiddling, the whiskey, the story-telling, and the lone candle in the window, lighting up the dark, cold, December night.

So, I’ll leave you with a traditional Irish Christmas blessing, and hope that you will pass along some of your own family’s customs to the next generation, from your grandparents, to your parents, to you, and onto your children, and their children. Peace be with you and yours this holy Christmas season.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Member, Association of Professional Genealogists

Honorary Life Member, Lanark County Genealogical Society

Author of : “Lanark County Christmas”, “Lanark County Comfort”, “Lanark County Collection”, “Lanark County Calling”, “Lanark County Classics”, “Lanark County Connections”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid”, & “Recipes & Recollections”

available at local stores or email: lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com

www.staffordwilson.com

Scottish Hallowe’en

Hallowe’en in Scotland goes back to the time of the Celtic pagans, and it was known as the feast of Samhain. Samhain marked the end of summer, the beginning of winter, and was the night when the veil between the living and the dead was at its thinnest. The Celts believed that spirits could travel freely back and forth between the two worlds, and so, over time, special customs and traditions became woven into the Scottish culture. Fires were lit to ward off evil spirits, and burned throughout the night, until dawn the next morning.

After All Saints Day was established, and became a religious tradition, on November 1st each year, the Scots began to favour the Christian celebration, and the pagan rites on October 31st became less important, until they eventually diminished into the more secular Hallowe’en traditions that remain today.

Carving Neeps

Instead of carving pumpkins, the Scottish tradition is to carve turnips, or as the Scots refer to them, “neeps”. These are far more difficult to carve, being almost solid in consistency. Originally, during pagan times, these were used as lanterns, when someone was walking from place to place, on Samhain. If someone couldn’t be near the village fire, which would ward off the evil spirits, they carved a frightening face in a turnip, placed a candle inside, and carried it with them as they walked around, hoping to scare off anyone, or any ‘thing’ that approached them.

Guising

“Guising”, is the Scottish term for dressing up in a Hallowe’en costume. In the old times, of the Celts, parents would dress up their children and disguise them as ghouls and monsters. Their reasoning was that the real spirits would leave them alone if they thought they were already ghouls. It was a form of protection for the chidren so their souls wouldn’t be stolen in the night. Adult members of the community often practised this as well, dressing up as ghouls and goblins to protect their own souls.

Dookin’ for Apples

“Dookin'”, (or dunking) for apples, can be traced back to the Celtic traditions of Samhain. In this game, the participants try to catch an apple in their teeth, in a deep basin of water. Once the apple was caught, it was peeled, and the peel was thrown over the left shoulder. The shape of the peel where it fell on the floor was said to be the first initial of your future spouse.

Robbie Burns,

“Hallowe’en” Poem

There’s an old poem by Robbie Burns, written in 1795, which tells of some of the Hallowe’en customs that were practised at that time in Scotland. In the second verse of his poem he writes:

“Some merry, friendly, country-folks

Together did convene,

To burn their nits, an’ pou their stocks,

An’ haud their Hallowe’en

Fu’ blythe that night…..”

(Translation: People got together, burned some nuts, and pulled some plants)

Burning Nuts

Engaged Couples

Engaged Couples – On Halloween they each put a nut on the fire. If the nuts burned quietly then the marriage would be happy, but if the nuts and hissed and spat then their marriage would be filled with conflict.

Single Girls

Single Girl – It was customary for a single girl to put two nuts on the fire, one for her boyfriend, and one for herself, and if the nuts hissed, it was a sign of fighting and discord in their future together. If the nuts sat quietly in the fire then they would have a peaceful relationship.

Pulling Kale

or Cabbage

It was customary for single men and women to pull kale or cabbage stocks from the ground after dark, with their eyes closed.

The shape and size of the stock would foretell of the shape and height of your future spouse.

If there was a lot of earth remaining on the stock it was a sign of prosperity.

Scotland Today

Today, some of the old traditions are still celebrated on Hallowe’en in Scotland, and one of the most famous is the annual Samhain Fire Festival in Edinburgh.

High on the top of Edinburgh’s Calton Hill, costumed artists still gather each year and use fire, music, and dance to tell the old stories for the crowds that gather.

From the old pagan traditions, to the modern day celebrations, Hallowe’en is alive and well in Scotland.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Member, Association of Professional Genealogists

Member, Lanark County Genealogical Society

Author of 10 books: “Lanark County Christmas”, “Lanark County Comfort”, “Lanark County Collection”, “Lanark County Calling”, “Lanark County Classics”, “Lanark County Connections”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid”, & “Recipes & Recollections”

available at local stores or email: lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Hometown Heroes 1982

In September of 1982, at the annual Perth Fair parade, three heroes emerged, going above and beyond, in what could have been an even greater tragedy.

Over 100 spectators were gathered on the corner of Halton Street and Gore Street, watching the parade on that Friday in September; the opening night of the 137th annual Perth Fair.

Two innocent bystanders, Amy Nighbor, age 4, of Smiths Falls, and Stephen Buchanan, age 7, were struck when a car plowed into the crowd. Seven others were injured, but not as seriously as the two children.

Ken Carson, age 30, jumped in front of the car which was pushing Amy, wedged under the front wheel in her stroller.

It was said that if it hadn’t been for the quick thinking, and fast actions of Mr. Carson, that the little girl, Amy, might not have survived.

September 8, 1982, p. 2, “The Perth Courier”

“It took a lot of courage to stand in front of that car!”, said Detective Sergeant Doug Cox, of the Perth Police.

A second hero, Stephen McPherson, age 28, an off-duty ambulance driver, was quick to assist Ken Carson in the quick transport of little Amy to the hospital.

Later, Amy Nighbor was transported to CHEO, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, in Ottawa.

A third hero, off-duty officer, OPP Constable David Hutchingame chased after the car, after it slammed through the crowd, reached in, and grabbed the steering wheel.

September 29, 1982, p. 3, “The Perth Courier”

Certificates of Commendation

Ken Carson, Steven MacPherson, and Dave Hutchingame received Certificates of Commendation, issued by St. John’s Ambulance, for their heroic actions, at an awards ceremoney at the Perth Town Hall on February 19, 1983.

January 26, 1983, p. 24, “The Perth Courier”

These three men are Hometown Heroes, who went above and beyond, to help others in danger.

Many decades have passed since this tragic incident, and we might take a moment to pause and reflect on what could have been a very different outcome if these brave men had not been among the crowds on that fateful day in early September, 1982.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

http://www.staffordwilson.com

My Mother, she was Orange…..and my Father, he was Green

“You picked a hell of a day to get married!”

Those were the first words spoken to our mother, the day she met her new father-in-law, Vince Stafford.  He was referring to the fact that they were married on the twelfth of July. He made it quite clear that he was not pleased that his son had chosen to welcome a Protestant into their Roman Catholic family, on July 12th of all days!

Some called it Orangeman’s Day, and some referred to it as the ‘Glorious Twelfth’.  On July 12th each year, Protestant organizations celebrated the victory of Protestant King William of Orange, riding a white horse, who defeated Catholic King James, at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690.

William white horse

The Orange and the Green

When I was a kid, the Irish Rovers recorded a song called “The Orange and the Green”, about a child growing up with one Roman Catholic parent, and one Protestant parent.  We saw them perform the song many times over on a popular television show called ‘The Pig and Whistle’, and the irony of the song was not lost on us.

Irish Rovers “The Orange and Green”

Our father, a Roman Catholic, from Drummond Township, grew up attending St. Patrick’s church in Ferguson Falls, while our mother attended Calvin United in Bathurst (Tay Valley) Township.

St Patricks and Calvin

Although the feelings of bias and animosity between these two religions may seem foreign to us in these more inclusive times, they were still very much in the forefront, during the 1940s, when my parents married. Mother said she never felt accepted by Dad’s family, particularly his parents; and that never changed even up to the late 1950s and early 1960s when the in-laws passed away.

This religious prejudice ran on both sides of the fence. I recall our cousin, Ruth Rutherford, in Ogdensburg, New York, was forbidden to marry her sweetheart, a Catholic lad, and she never got over it.  She remained single for the rest of her life, unable to marry her true love.

It may be difficult for us to imagine, but there were times in our early history in Canada where it was not uncommon for the July 12th celebrations to result in violence or even death.

Montreal Orangemen riots

‘The St. Alban’s Advertiser’, July 20, 1877, p.3

In the early years of the last century, the Orangemen’s Day parades in Canada drew crowds in the thousands, and it was not unusual for fights to break out, and insults along with injuries were to be expected.

Orange Day parade Toronto 1911

Orange Parade, Toronto, July 12, 1911

Although Orangeism originated in Ireland and England, Ogle Robert Gowan, the Order’s first Canadian Grand Master is recognized as the founder of Canadian Orangeism.  It is interesting that Gowan is known to have been a frequent visitor to a local fortune teller, Mother Barnes, the Witch of Plum Hollow. Not wishing to be seen consulting a sooth-sayer, he often sent his wife and their maid to ask questions about his politics and his career.

Orange Lodges, as the membership halls were called, sprang up all over Canada, and in Eastern Ontario, they were a common sight in almost every community.  The closest Orange Hall to our house was at Wemyss, frequently used as a dance hall, and a place to play cards and socialize.

Wemyss orange hall

  “The Perth Courier” Sept. 27, 1940, p.4

Carleton Place was one of the first communities to establish a Loyal Orange Lodge, along with Perth, Smiths Falls, and Montague Township.

Carleton Place Orange Lodge

In the early days, thousands attended Orange events:

Orange celebrations Perth 1904

“The Perth Courier”, July 8, 1904, p4

Through the decades, many community organizations also held their meetings and socials at the local Orange halls.

Drummond Centre

“The Perth Courier”, Oct. 23, 1941,p.1

Carleton Place had one of its largest crowds of visitors on July 12, 1920:

Orangeman's Day 2910

In 1921, the Orange Order agreed on several resolutions, including one intended to abolish all separate schools in Canada.

Orange resolution passed

The popularity of the Orange Order celebrations continued through the 1930s…

orangemens day 1934

“The Perth Courier”, July 13, 1934, p.1

orange order flag

Flag of Canada’s Grand Orange Order

An Orange parade was often led by one of the members on a white horse, symbolizing the white horse ridden by King William of Orange, at the Battle of the Boyne.

orange order white horse

Some of the symbols worn by members of the Orange Order

orange parade symbols

Orange Order – ‘Keys to Heaven

orange order keys

To assist in the war efforts, every Orange Lodge in Canada was turned into a recruiting office in WWII

orange lodge war efforts 1940

“The Perth Courier”, July 19, 1940, p.1

Lanark County Oranges Lodges, Active in 1946

orange lodges lanark county 1946

Lanark County – Orange Order Officers 1946

orange lodge lanark county officers 1946

“The Perth Courier”, July 18, 1946, p.1

In 1957, the Orange Day celebrations were held in Almonte, and Rev. Canon J.W.R. Meaken, shared some comments as part of his address to begin the meeting:

orange order address 1957

“The Perth Courier” July 25, 1957, p.7

Interest in joining the Orange Order began to dwindle in the 1960s and 1970s, and instead of thousands attending the annual parade, it became ‘hundreds’.

orange parade 1971

“The Perth Courier” July 8, 1971, p.1

Memberships grew smaller and smaller in many parts of the country, and in Lanark County, one of the oldest Orange Lodges, in Carleton Place, closed after 185 years, in January of 2015. The existing membership would merge with the Montague lodge # 512.  (The Grand Lodge of Ireland issued the original warrant for the Carleton Place Lodge back in 1830.)

orange lodge Carleton Place closing

Left, John Arksey, County Master for Rideau/St. Lawrence County Orange Lodges,center, Kevin Bradley, Grand Master of the Carleton Place Lodge, and Mark Alexander, provincial grand master, Ontario East, of the Grand Orange Lodge of Eastern Ontario.
“Inside Ottawa Valley” Dec 02, 2015, by Desmond Devoy, ‘Carleton Place Almonte Canadian Gazette’

At one time, there were 30 Lodges throughout Lanark County. After the closing of the Carleton Place Lodge in 2015, only the Montague Lodge and the Smiths Falls Lodge (No. 88), remained. The Almonte Lodge (No. 378) amalgamated with Carleton Place in 1987, Franktown in Beckwith Township (No. 381) in 1992, and Drummond Centre in Drummond/North Elmsley Township (No. 7) in 2013.

…………

Throughout the many decades of the celebration of Orangemen, their sometimes vocal, and occasionally violent encounters with the Catholics, our family will continue to celebrate July 12th for a different reason. July 12th, for us, was the joining of the two religions, historically separated on this date, a young Protestant girl from the west, and a handsome Roman Catholic lad from Drummond Township.

mother-and-dad-dating-in-lethbridge1

Maybe they were ahead of their time.  It was 1943 afterall, and marrying outside of one’s religion was often frowned upon.  Luckily for us, the five children that followed in this unconventional marriage, would grow up in a home where we learned to respect different opinions, different points of view, and different religions.

Christmas baking

And so, the Protestant girl, and the Catholic boy were married for almost 50 years, until Dad passed away.

I still smile when I hear that Irish Rover’s tune, “The Orange and the Green”,  and July 12th, for us, will always be a special day in our own family history.

………….

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Irish Names & Surnames Explained

Traditional Irish Naming Patterns

Naming patterns are important when researching your family history. It has been a long standing custom in families around the world to name children after fathers, mothers, grandparents, important ancestors, relatives and friends. Middle names were often used for the preservation of a mother’s maiden name or the name of a prominent ancestor in that family. Names are very useful in tracking down lineages when there is little or no paper trail.

Names can give you clues to a person’s lineage, but other sources are still required in order to have genealogical proof. The Irish used a very particular naming pattern for children for children born beginning in the mid to late 1700s and through to the early to mid 1900s. It is important to note that not all Irish families followed the pattern although enough of them did that you can often use first names to learn more about an Irish ancestor’s unknown lineage. As with anything in genealogy, this should be proven with supporting documention, but Irish naming patterns are often helpful while building your family tree.

Traditional Irish Naming Pattern:

Naming Pattern Exceptions:

Naming patterns were sometimes affected by deaths in infancy. When a specific name was considered important within the family, the name would usually be given once again, to the next-born infant. In records, there are sometimes two or more children of the same name, baptized within the same family. Each baptism of this name, usually tells of the death of the older child of the same name.

Another example when the naming pattern is altered is when a child was stillborn, or very ill when born, or dying. Sadly, the child was baptized using a less-important family name, but the name of the paternal grandfather (or important ancestor) might be ‘reserved’ for a live birth, or for a child who was expected to live.

Surname Prefixes

Irish surnames of Gaelic origin were more common until Ireland fell under English rule. This led to the use of English versions of traditional Irish surnames. Many of these traditional names had prefixes:

“O”, “Fitz”, “Mc” and “Mac”

Mac or Mc – meaning “son of”

O – meaning “grandson of”

Fitz – meaning “son of” was sometimes substituted for the prefix ‘Mac’ or ‘Mc’ by many of the descendants of Anglo-Norman invaders.

For a period of time, English law in Ireland forbade the use of “O”, “Mc” and “Mac”, although “Fitz” was allowed. When researching your family name be aware that a name like Connor could have once been O’Connor.

The prefix O’ is unique to Ireland. It originates from the Gaelic word “ua,” meaning “grandson of.” Any name beginning with O’ is without question an Irish patronymic (from a male ancestor). The O’ surnames began in the 11th century in Ireland, before the Mc/Mac surnames. Examples of these surnames are O’Sullivan, O’Connor, O’Brien, and O’Leary.

Mc or Mac?

There is a myth about Scottish and Irish surnames that begin with the prefix Mac- or Mc-, that Mac- (as in MacDonald – son of Donald) designates a Scottish and Protestant heritage, where as Mc- (as in McCormick – son of Cormac) denotes an Irish Catholic family name. In fact there is no difference between these two prefixes. They may be either Irish or Scottish in origin and spelled different ways, with either prefix, even within the same family.

Mac- and Mc- both come from the Gaelic word “meic,” meaning “son of.”

“Micks”

In the early days of Irish settlement in Canada, such a large number of Irish names carried these prefixes that it became an ethnic slur for the Irish people to be called: “micks.”

Surnames that Describe the Profession of the Father

Some names beginning with Mc or Mac described the profession of the father.

MacMaster -“son of a master or religious leader”

Macpherson – “son of the parson,”

MacWard – “son of a poet or scribe,”

MacKenzie – “son of the fair one,”

MacDuff – “son of the dark one,”

McDowell – “son of the dark stranger.”.

Some families chose to conform to English laws, and some didn’t, which led to surname variations within the same family. Often Irish who emigrated dropped the prefixes when they arrived at their new countries of residence.

Top 200 Surnames in Ireland

Given Names and Meanings –

BOYS

Given Names and Meanings

– GIRLS

Researching Your Irish Roots

Don’t forget Nicknames

Most given names in Ireland have at least one associated nickname. When names are recorded in birth, marriage, and death, or in church records, a nickname may have been used instead of the given name (Kate for Catherine or Billy for William, for example). Many nicknames are easy to spot, but others are less well known. For example, the nicknames used for Bridget include Bedelia, Bess, Bessie, Biddy, Breda, Briddy, Bride, or Bridie.

Nicknames may also lead the researcher astray if incorrect assumptions are used. While some might assume that Anty is a nickname for Anthony (a male), it is, in fact, more likely a nickname for Anastasia (a female). Lou is both a nickname for male children named Aloysius, Lewis/Louis, and Ulysses as well as female children names Louise or Lucinda or Mary-Louise, or Mary-Lou.

In conclusion, while naming patterns weren’t always followed exactly (for example if there were only one or two children, the father’s relatives always took precedence in the naming of the children), they were usually followed closely.

Remember, if you have an Irish ancestor, and don’t know anything of their parentage, you can use naming patterns to help in your search.

Best of luck researching your Irish ancestry!

Sources:

  • De Breffny, Brian. Guide on Irish Christian Names and their English equivalents. Article Christian Names in Ireland found for years 1670-1850. The Irish Ancestor, Vol.1 No. 1, pages 34-40.
  • Coghlan, Ronan. Irish First Names. Belfast, Ireland: Appletree Press, 1985.
  • Ó Corráin, Donnchadh, and Fidelma Maguire. Irish Names. 2nd ed. 1990. Reprint. Dublin, Ireland: The Lilliput Press, 1992.
  • MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland. 6th ed. Dublin, Ireland: Irish Academic Press, 1985.
  • Matheson, Sir Robert E. Special Report on Surnames in Ireland [Together with] Varieties and Synonyms of Surnames and Christian Names in Ireland. 1901. Reprint. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1968.

Irish Settlers & the Ghost of Burgess Township

Drummond Pioneer Irish Boxty

Irish Christmas in Lanark County

January 6th – Irish Women’s Little Christmas

Irish Hallowe’en in Lanark County

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

http://www.staffordwilson.com

A Beautiful Day, So It Is

fred and ethel0001

“It’s a beautiful day outside, so it is.”

“So it is.”   –     It was an expression we heard often, spoken in our father’s even, melodic tones, with a hint of an accent, faded over the past three generations, since his great-grandfather left southern Ireland.

There were many lively expressions, and old customs, that surfaced from time to time, reminding us that our father had grown up in an isolated area, populated mostly by Irish and Scottish immigrants . It was a close community, where the Roman Catholics married other Roman Catholics, whose families had also come from the old country. The traditions of story-telling and singing, fiddle-playing, and hard-drinking were tempered with an absolute and unwavering devotion to family, and to the church.

He grew up in a rural area where the dead were waked in the home. He recalled one particular wake where the deceased, an uncle, was laid out on the dining room table, as was the custom. The drinking had commenced long before the funeral took place in the tiny, packed, St. Patrick’s Church in Ferguson’s Falls. Some would claim that they drank to help deal with their grief, at the loss of their dearly departed. Dad said that some used any excuse to drink. Before the wake was over that night, Dad, a young boy, would see two men pour whiskey down the dead man’s throat.

In the years that followed, he continued to witness the destructive powers of alcohol abuse, as it fueled conflicts, tearing families apart, and caused children to abandon their education in order to support themselves. Determined not to repeat the past, he would not tolerate the presence of alcohol in his own home. This remained unchanged from the early days of dating my mother, through the five decades that would follow, until his death.

A mild natured man, reflective at times, he was hard-working, and steadfast. A farmer’s son, he loved nature, and frequently called us to come and admire the bright night sky, or a hovering hummingbird in the yard. He loved his family, and smiled proudly as we left the nest one by one, to try our luck in the world. When one of us drove away, down the lane, after a visit home, he would stand out in the yard, and wave at the car until it eventually went out of sight. In keeping with his personality, he was not a demonstrative man, and expressed his love for us in a quiet, reserved way.

An avid reader, he cherished the written word, and regularly devoured the epic novels of James Michener, with some westerns by Zane Grey thrown in for good measure. He would be pleased that all five of his children became insatiable readers, and his grandchildren as well, as the passion for prose continues down through the generations.

As the hot, sultry, days of July are upon us once again, I remember this man, who was our father. He worked tirelessly to provide for us and put food on our table. He shared his wisdom with us, and cautioned us, “everything in moderation” and “always think for yourself, or someone else will do it for you”. He was the role model who gave us a strong work ethic, and reminded us to “always keep your word.”

Today, on his birthday, I recall many July 15ths when we celebrated together. I remember the jokes and the laughter, familiar faces gathered around the weathered old picnic table, and our mother beaming, making her way across the lawn, carrying his chocolate layer cake, candles lit….

It’s a beautiful day to remember our Dad,……so it is.


tobias-stafford

This post in memory of Tobias ‘Tib’, ’Tim’ Stafford
July 15, 1918 – July 18, 1992

(photo: at Stafford House-   l to r:   Tobias  “Tib” “Tim” Stafford, Audry (Rutherford) Stafford, their eldest son,Tim Stafford (standing), seated – Ethel (Burlingame) Rutherford, Fred Rutherford (Mother’s aunt and uncle from Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County, New York.)  (Home of Christopher ‘Chris’ and Leanore Perkins and family can be seen in the distance.)

stafford house after WWII colourized

Photo at Stafford House – taken at the front of the house, picnic table in front of Mother and Dad’s bedroom window, on the front lawn, facing the Third Line of Bathurst Township.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Dad: A Father’s Day Tribute

Tobias ‘Tib’ ‘Tim’ Stafford – 1918-1992

In the quietest moments, without trying to teach, life’s lessons unfolded and we were imprinted forever with a strong work ethic, the power of a kind word, and the value of integrity….

Who was he? What was he like? These are the questions that might be asked by curious grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and their children in the years to come. His descendants will walk this earth, long after our time has passed, when those who knew him in this life are themselves just a memory, a grainy photo in someone’s dusty old album, or a name that’s mentioned from time to time when family members gather together.

His ancestors came to Canada in 1816 and settled in Drummond Township, not far from Ferguson Falls. Both sides were from southern Ireland, and both Roman Catholics, weary of the treatment of their kind by the British, and longing for freedom and the opportunity to thrive and prosper.

Dad was the youngest son, of a youngest son, of a youngest son of the pioneer settler, he was named for.

He attended school in Prestonvale, and played ball on the local team, and the Innisville team were their greatest rivals.

Church attendance was non-negotiable and held at St. Patrick’s each Sunday without fail.

photo: 1896, family of Thomas Stafford & Mary Carroll Stafford (seated in the middle) Thomas was the youngest son of pioneer settler Tobias Stafford and Elizabeth McGarry, 11th concession, Lot 10, Drummond Township. Seated in the front is Dad’s father, Michael Vincent ‘Vince’ Stafford.

(back row: Anne, Mary, Thomas Julia, middle row: Margaret beside her father, and Peter beside his mother, Anastasia seated beside Vince in the front row)

1932 Prestonvale Ball Team

The Prestonvale ball team in 1932, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford seated 2nd from the end, wearing a tie.

(other players unknown, but may be some of the same players as the 1934 team below)

Prestonvale Baseball Team 1934

Back row: Bob McEwen, Mansell Horricks, Henry McFarlane, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford, Roy McEwen, Dawson Horricks

Front row: Ossie Rothwell, Billy Tullis, Lloyd Horricks, John Dickenson

St. Patrick’s Church, Ferguson Falls, Ontario – where Dad and his family attended services

He enlisted in WWII, in the R.C.A.F., where he met our mother, while they were both stationed at the No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School in Lethbridge, Alberta. They married in 1943, and he was posted overseas in Bournemouth, England.

Stafford House

1946 – Dad was discharged from the Royal Canadian Air Force, and he, Mother, and their two babies, Tim and Judy, moved to the home they would occupy for the next 50 years – the Stafford House.

By the 1960s, the family had grown! Left to right – Roger Stafford, Arlene on Judy’s lap, Mother – Audry (Rutherford) Stafford, Dad – Tobias ‘Tib’, ‘Tim’ Stafford, Tim Stafford, and Jackie Stafford.

Dad farmed the land for some years, then the cattle became ill with tuberculosis and had to be destroyed. He hauled milk to local cheese factories, spent some years working on the railroad, a couple of decades delivering milk for Chaplain’s Dairy in Glen Tay, then finished his workdays at Wampole Pharmaceutical on Hwy 7, in 1983, when he retired.

1968 – their 25th wedding anniversary

1988 – 45th Wedding Anniversary – with Korry’s farm in the background

What was he like?

Dad was soft-spoken, and for the most part was even-tempered and easy to get along with. His family was very important to him and he enjoyed spending time together at Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions. He kept his cars in immaculate condition and loved to take us all for Sunday drives into the country. He enjoyed nature and called us over to see a hummingbird flutter, or a sun-dog in the sky. He loved to hear the birds calling, high up in the maple trees, and didn’t mind the bats swooping around on hot summer evenings. He took great pride in the appearance of his lawn and enjoyed cutting it and trimming the long grass.

Ready for a Sunday Drive – L to R: Roger, Jackie, Tim, Dad, Arlene

How do I remember him on Father’s Day?

He was the slayer of dragons who hid in the dark corners of my room at night. He was the one I ran to during thunderstorms, who distracted me from my fears by showing me his watch with the hands that glowed in the dark. He was a night-time story-teller and a bed-time book-reader. He was the tour-guide on Sunday drives, and the local historian on trips to the cemetery. He believed that everyone deserved a treat – every day, and he brought home chocolate bars, tucked into his lunch pail, for each one of us, every evening. He was a great believer in common sense and had a surprisingly simple solution for almost every problem. He showed us how a man treats a woman he loves as he joked around and also complimented our mother as though they were still dating. He got up each day, dressed neatly, and went off to work, and I never heard him complain about his job, although I’m sure there were times that he could have.

And so as we pause today to thank the fathers of the world, some who are still here, and as we also remember those who are no longer with us, I will finish with a quote that reminds me of this quiet, thoughtful man who we called, “Dad”:

“He didn’t tell me how to live,

He lived, and let me watch him do it”

Clarence Buddington Kelland

http://www.staffordwilson.com