“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:


….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


Mother’s Farmhouse Pancakes

Christmas had come and gone for another year, and by early January we were back in our classrooms at Glen Tay Public School. Frigid, gray mornings were spent shivering at the end of the long lane, waiting for the big orange school bus to come rattling up the Third Line.


Even though the winter solstice had passed, the days in Lanark County were still short and dark for the most part. The cold months that were still to come stretched out ahead of us like the long, heavy, trains that thundered and chugged down the tracks, back the side road, near the Fourth Line.

This way to the duck pond0001

Winter in the country sometimes looked barren and lifeless. The soft green grass and fragrant flowers were almost forgotten, as they lay dormant under the heavy blanket of snow. The massive, frozen, white shroud seemed to conceal every trace of life that had ever existed in our yard.


Evenings after school were spent shoveling, pushing, and lifting the snow, from one pile to another. Week after week more snow fell, and it blew and drifted back into the paths that we’d made.


I was always cold, always shivering, cold face, cold hands, cold feet on the floors of the old house. Even with layers of tattered, wool blankets on the bed, the icy drafts snuck into my room, and the windows were coated in a heavy layer of frost. The wood stove in the kitchen eventually died out over night, and my glass of water on the bed-side table was frozen like a miniature hockey rink by morning.


The turkey sandwiches, so delicious on Boxing Day, began to lose their luster, as the first few days of the new month found us eating the leftovers from the enormous Christmas bird. Turkey soup. Turkey pot pie. Turkey casserole. Would it ever end? Endless stacks of sliced turkey were stored in the old chest freezer for those daily turkey sandwiches, dressed with mustard, salt and pepper, staring up at me from my lunch pail at school.


One morning that same January, before heading off to work, at Chaplin’s Dairy in Glen Tay, Dad requested, ever so politely, that we have eggs for supper that evening. Eggs were one of Dad’s favourite meals, any time of day. He liked them fried, over easy, boiled, scrambled, any way at all, and that was his request for supper. My fingers were crossed that Mother would comply and take a break from her relentless production of turkey leftovers.


What a treat it would be to have a nice, light supper after so many heavy meals, rich baked goods, and endless servings of turkey! After Dad left that morning, Mother decided that she would indeed make fried eggs and pancakes for supper, so she began to assemble her ingredients. Hopefully she had everything she needed, or one of us would be making a long, cold trek down to Cavanagh’s store in DeWitt’s Corners.


Mother began her preparations on the old kitchen table. I breathed a sigh of relief, welcoming a change from the endless turkey leftovers. On that cold winter’s evening, so long ago, when Dad returned from work, we had the very best cure for a January Turkey Hangover.



Audry Stafford’s  Farm-style Buttermilk Pancakes

3 cups all purpose flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

¾ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of cinnamon

3 cups buttermilk

½ cup milk

3 eggs   (Mother always used large eggs)

1/3 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Our Mother, being a prize-winning baker at the Perth Fair, had a few good tricks for making her pancakes light and fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

First, let your buttermilk, milk and eggs sit out for a full hour before making the pancakes. By allowing them to reach room temperature the pancakes will rise higher and fluffier.

Use real butter, don’t substitute with margarine, or the flavour will not be as good.

Make sure that your baking powder is fresh to give as much lift and height possible to the pancakes.

Use real buttermilk. If it’s not possible to use real buttermilk, you can sour some regular milk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to each cup of milk. The recipe will still work, but the flavour will not be nearly as rich as using real buttermilk. We always had a quart of buttermilk in the fridge because Dad liked to have a small glass at night before bedtime. Buttermilk is low in fat and very high in protein.

What is Buttermilk?

In case you don’t know, buttermilk is the fluid remaining when the fat is removed when cream is churned in to butter. When I was a kid, farmers separated the milk from the cream on the farm, and shipped cans of cream to cheese factories once or twice a week. The cream would be used to make cheese and butter. Today, cultured buttermilk is produced by adding lactic acid to pasteurized whole milk and adding a touch of salt.

Don’t forget – Mother always warned us not to stir the pancake batter too much. Over-stirring will cause the pancakes to be flat, not fluffy. Just stir ever so slightly, don’t worry about the lumps of flour, just combine the wet and dry ingredients together gently with a wooden spoon or spatula; don’t over-mix.


Use a large bowl and combine your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In another large bowl, combine your eggs, buttermilk, milk, melted butter and vanilla.

The wet and dry ingredients should be kept separate until you are ready to make the pancakes.

Next, heat a lightly oiled frying pan at medium-high heat. To test the temperature you can add a drop of water to the center of the pan, and it should bead up and sizzle.

When the pan is ready, you can mix the wet and dry ingredients. Remember, just mix very lightly, and don’t worry about the lumps. Never over-stir. This is very important.

Scoop up the batter with a ladle and use about half a cup for each pancake. When one side is golden, flip it over with a spatula and cook the other side. Add more oil to the pan as required.

This recipe will make a dozen 5-inch pancakes.

If you have any leftover pancakes, you can let them cool, place waxed paper between them and freeze.

Top the finished pancakes with salted butter and some Lanark County Maple syrup. For a fancy look you can sift a bit of icing sugar on top.

lanark-county-maple-syrup    maple-syrup

If you’re having eggs with your pancakes, like we did, fry them up in a little bacon grease for added flavour. Mother always poured her leftover bacon drippings into a small container and kept it in the fridge. Use it for frying eggs, onions, and home-fries, and make an old fashioned country-style meal.

So cure your January turkey hangover, enjoy some fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes!


Note:   To discover   “10 Things You May Not Know About Maple Syrup”, and for a listing of the top maple syrup producers in Lanark County:  10 Things You May Not Know About Maple Syrup


book cover edited resized LC Comfort (1)

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


Merchants of Perth 1960s and 1970s at Christmastime

We wrote letters to Santa, placing them carefully in our mailbox on the Third Line, we circled gifts in the Sears Wishbook, practised our parts for the Nativity play, and if we were lucky we would visit Perth with Mother, and see the beautifully decorated stores along Gore Street and Foster Street, at Christmastime!

Merchants of Perth at Christmastime


















































































For delicious home-made candy-canes, stop by Haggis’ Candy store!

Haggis Candy cane











































































Sawdon’s Appliances


Scott’s Chicken Villa


Shaw’s of Perth



Siddall’s Furniture


Lanark Santa Claus Parade


Small Brothers


Somerville Farm Supplies


Smith’s Radio


Soper Theatre, Smiths Falls


Stan Cleroux Real Estate


Stan Tufts Delivery




Santa Claus Parade


Clarence Stanzel Plumbing & Heating


Street Travel Service


Sullivan Sanitation


Tay-Towne Cleaners


Tay Valley Sports


Tayside Bakery


Teak Hair Fashions


The Mill Store


The Valley Book Shop


J.A. Thomas Optometrist


Thornbury’s Pharmacy


Tim’s Texaco


Town and Country Restaurant


Han van Pelt


Vanderspanks’s Store




Hope you enjoyed our visit to Perth in the 1960s and 1970s!

This post is dedicated to the merchants of Perth, large and small.  Most work long hours to provide goods and services for the people in the area. Many sponsor local sports teams and community events.  As we fondly recall the merchants of days gone by, let’s shop locally this Christmas season, and support the artisans, craftspeople, and neighbourhood businesses in our community!


vintage photos of historical Perth buildings – Perth Museum
Merchant ads from “The Perth Courier”


Christmas Ads for these merchants included:

A & B Motors,  Acheson’s,  Aeroquip, Albert Gale,  Alice’s Beauty Salon,  Allen’s Bakery,  Anna Mosl,  Andy’s Window Cleaning,  Antiques Vandenbosch,  Balderson Cheese,  Bank of Montreal,  Barrie’s Meats,  Ralph G. Barker,  Barr Motor Sales,  Beamish,  Ben Barbary’s,  Benny K’s.,  Bert Fournier,  Blair & Sons,  Boles Grocery,  Boyd Real Estate,  Brankin Fuels,  Bright Spot,  Brown Shoe Company,  Burchell Supply,  Burns Jewellers,  Cameo Beauty Shoppe,  Cameron Shoe,  Canadian Tire,  Caribou House,  Carolynne’s  Beauty Salon,  Carson Farm Supply,  Carson Realty, Cavanagh’s,  Cavers Jewellery, Chaplin & Code Hardware,  Chaplin’s Dairy,  Circus Surplus Store,  Cleanrite Cleaners,  Conway’s Menswear,  Co-op,  Cooper’s Furniture,  Couch’s Taxi, County Motors,  Craig Motor Sales, Glenn Crain Ltd.,  D. & K. Fabric,  Darou and McIntosh,  Dicola Fuels,  Dixie Lee Chicken,  Dodds & Erwin,  Drummond Centre Telephone Co.,  J.D. Duncan,  E-Z Clean Coin Wash,  E.B. Code and Son Insurance,  E.L. Darou Insurance,  East End Grocery,  Echlin Motor Sales, Farrell’s Store,  Franklin Fence & Furniture,  Frank’s Barber Shop,  Friendly T.V. – Klaas Van Bergen,   Hazel & Eric Fuller Store,  General Insulating,  Girdwood’s,  Golden Triangle Upholstery,  Todd Greig Accountant,  G.W.M. Gift Shop,  H & M Centre,  Holiday Take-Out,  T.M. Hansen Plumbing,  Healey Transportation,  Henderson’s Red and White,  Hodgson & Son,  Hoffman & Son,  L. Huddleston,   HY Fund Studio,  I.D.A.,  I.G.A.,  International Silver,  J.& J. Plumbing,  Jack & Jill, Jack Snow,  James Brothers Hardware, Ken Hannah Minnows,  Ken Hughes, Kerr & Duncan,  Kitten Mill,  Leach Tire Center,  Levine’s,  Lightford’s,  MacPhail Tractor Sales,  Maximilian Restaurant,  McLean Noonan,  McNamee Plumbing,  McTavish Motor Sales,  McVeety Electric,  Mill Fab,  Minute Man,  Montgomery Chiropractor,  Moss Motors,  Nelly’s Shoe Store,  D.M. Nisbet Fina,  Nixon Planing Mill,  Noonan’s,  Central Tire Supply – VanDusen’s,  Oakes’ Bakery,  Orok’s Hardware,  Pant Barn,  Perkins Bowling Alley,  Anne Patterson Laundromat,  Pattenick’s,  Perth Blue Wings,  Perkins Motors,  Perth Television,  Perth Apothecary,  Perth Banks,  Perth District Co-op,  Perth Fire Department,  Perth Flower Shop, Perth Hotel,  Perth  Motors,  Perth Pinto,  Perth Planing Mill,  Perth Tea Room,  R.T. Parks & Sons,  Robinson’s Beverages, Reed’s Smoke Shop,  Reliable Cab,  Revere Hotel,  Reward Shoe Stores,  Rolly’s Restaurant,  Rubino’s,  Russ Ellis,  Ryder’s Restaurant,  Sawdon’s Appliance,  Scott’s Chicken Villa,  Shaw’s of Perth,  Siddall’s,  Small Brothers,  Somerville Farm Supplies,  Smith’s Radio,  Soper Theatre,  Stan Cleroux Real Estate,  Stan Tufts Delivery Service,  Stedman’s,  Stanzel Plumbing  Street Travel,  Sullivan Sanitation,  Tay-Towne Cleaners,  Tay Valley Sports,  Tayside Bakery,  Teak Hair Fashions,  The Mill Store,  The Valley Book Shop,  J.A. Thomas Optometrist,  Thornbury’s Pharmacy,  Tim’s Texaco,  Town and Country Restaurant,  Van Pelt Cabinet Maker,  Vanderspank’s General Store,  Wayfare Restaurant, Rideau Ferry Inn.


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


Inge-Va Inderwick Estate

Inge-Va as it appeared in 2018


Inderwick Estate

At 66 Craig St., in Perth, ON, Built in 1824, of local sandstone.

Who were the Owners?

HARRIS family

1824-1839 – Reverend Michael Harris, came to Perth from Dublin, Ireland, in 1819, the first Anglican minister in the district. He was married to Mary Elizabeth Fanning on September 21, 1819. Mary was the daughter of John Fanning and Sarah Wilson. On November 16, 1822, St. James Anglican Church, Perth, opened for their first service, and in 1824, the elegant stone home at 66 Craig Street was built for their family. Michael and Mary Harris had 11 children, Margaret, Mary, Clifton, Caroline, Harriet, Jane, Emma, John, Robert, Dora, and Michael.

In 1839 the house was sold to Perth lawyer, Thomas Radenhurst.


1839-1854 -Thomas Mabon Radenhurst, a prominent lawyer, son of Thomas Radenhurst and Ann Campbell; married his cousin Lucy Edith Ridout, daughter of Thomas Ridout of Toronto, and they had four sons and six daughters. He was elected  to the Legislative Assemby for Upper Canada in July 1828, as the representative for Carleton County. 

Many of Edith’s Children

Died in the House

She lost three children to tuberculosis, one to typhoid, and one to drowning.

Edith Radenhurst, was widowed in 1854, at the age of 42, and continued to live in the house. Between 1855 and 1873 she lost three of her 10 children to tuberculosis, one to typhoid and one to drowning. Mary, died age 33, Frances died age 15, Charles died age 27, Edith died age 30, Thomas died age 11, and Catherine died age 26.

Child’s coffin, of that time

Radenhurst plot, Pioneer Cemetery, Craig Street, Perth, ON

Only four of Edith’s children – George, Anne, William, and Sarah lived into middle age and beyond.

Edith died in 1878, leaving son William, a lawyer, and daughter Annie, to live in the house until 1894. Annie remained single, and moved to Barrie to be closer to her brother, George. William moved his law practice to Toronto.

Archaeologists Discover

Radenhurst Family Dishes

“Thousands of pieces of dishes and kitchenware discovered.”

Some of the lovely ornate dishes, glass pieces, and kitchen items were found at Inge-Va

Archaeologists made a remarkable discovery at Inge-Va in 1988. While excavating the site of a small shed which once contained a toilet, they unearthed thousands of pieces of dishes, glasses and kitchenware.

It is believed that Edith Radenhurst had thrown out everything

used to consume meals

because of her children dying of typhoid and tuberculosis.

Last Fatal Duel

Robert Lyon, a close relative of the Radenhurst family was fatally wounded in 1833, in a duel with rival law student John Wilson over the honour of a local teacher. In Perth, it was known infamously as ‘The Last Fatal Duel’. His body lay at the house for the funeral.

In 1894 the estate was sold to the Inderwick family.


As it appeared in 1923 when the Inderwick family resided there

Ella Leaves Wandering Husband

Brings Children to Perth

1894 – 1989 – Ella Inderwick and her three children: John, Basil, and Cyril, moved into the house in 1894. It was said that she had grown tired of following her wandering husband around the world, in a series of unsuccessful business ventures. Their last stop was her wealthy father-in-law’s tea plantation in Sri Lanka where she often heard the workers in the fields calling out, “Inge-Va”, meaning, ‘Come here’.

She named the estate Inge-Va

Meaning, “Come Here”

John, the eldest son, moved to England, married Marjorie Handcock, and they had two children – Patrick and Tony. John died in Devon, England at the age of 67. Basil died at the age of 28, fighting with the 17th battalion in WWI, and is buried in England.

Cyril Inderwick, the youngest of the three sons, remained in Perth, joined the Royal Navy, and served in WWI. He lived in the West Indies, and on the west coast of Africa. After WWII, he returned to Perth and married Winnifred ‘Winnie’ Shaw, in 1946, at St. James Anglican church. Winnie was the daughter of Alexander Shaw and Elizabeth Denny. They did not have any children. Cyril became President of the Perth Museum, and was keen on preserving history and specifically heritage buildings. He died at age 67, in 1962.

Inge-Va Donated to

Ontario Heritage Trust

Cyril’s wife, Winnifred ‘Winnie’ Shaw Inderwick, local historian and philanthropist, donated the property to the Ontario Heritage Trust in 1974. Through a life-tenancy agreement she remained in the house until her death in 1989.

Ontario Heritage Trust

From the Ontario Heritage Trust site – an interactive map of Inge-Va’s rooms

Click on link to take a virtual walking tour through Inge-Va:


What Became of Inge-Va?

Inge-Va, 66 Craig St., Perth, ON, in 2006

In recent years, the estate appeared to be abandoned, and the grounds overgrown.

In a committee meeting in October 2020, the Perth town council discussed a letter received from a concerned citizen – Lynda Haddon. Haddon stated that Inge-Va was in a dilapidated state.

Together with 16 Perth and district gardening and landscaping volunteers, Haddon maintained and beautified the grounds of Inge-Va in the years between 2004 and 2010. She was also an active member on the house’s Board from 2006 to 2010. The Board attempted to ensure that that there was usually a tenant on site, like the Perth and District Chamber of Commerce, and that the grounds were tidy and buildings were maintained. The Ontario Heritage Trust resumed responsibility for Inge-Va in 2010. Haddon believed that property has gone downhill since then, pointing out that there was no access to the house or the gardens.

Council agreed that Inge-Va appeared to be neglected, and stated that Ontario Heritage Trust is responsible for the property. Council promised to contact Ontario Heritage Trust and said they would investigate further, once they had received a response from Ontario Heritage Trust.

(from the Ottawa Valley News, published Oct. 8, 2020)

In March of 2021, the Perth town council’s voted to sign a one-year agreement with the house’s owner, the Ontario Heritage Trust (OHT), to have volunteers assist in garden restoration at the Craig Street location. The Ontario Heritage Trust promised to provide $2,000 toward the upkeep.

photo: “Inside Ottawa Valley”, “Perth Courier”, Desmond Devoy

Archaeological Treasures

“Inge-Va’s archaeological value is one of its most important characteristics. Excavations carried out from 1987-1994 recovered approximately 50,000 artifacts, 15,000 of which came out of an abandoned privy. This pit contained over 350 china objects and 280 glass objects. Items recovered from the privy include 10 different sets of tableware, 280 bottles, 71 wine glasses, 108 pharmaceutical and toiletry bottles, 16 chamber pots and seven toiletry sets. These items were discarded in an attempt to rid the house of tuberculosis. These objects provide a unique insight into how medical threats were addressed in the latter part of the 19th Century.”

Source: Ontario Heritage Trust Easement Files

(most of these items are being held in Toronto, ON)

Last Fatal Duel


Perth Historical Society member, Ron Shaw, has suggested that Inge-Va may not actually be the site of the last fatal duel in the province, as engraved on the plaque, although the body of Robert Lyon is believed to have been carried to Inge-Va for the funeral.

Shaw writes,“an eyewitnesses testified at the Wilson trial, Robert Lyon died where he fell in that North Elmsley Township field,” though Lyon’s body was indeed carried to Inge-Va House, then home of Thomas Mabon Radenhurst (1803-1854), “under whose tutelage Lyon was studying law.”

“(the duel) was fought on the west bank of the Tay River, about 100 yards south of South Street, at a point midway across the width of North Elmsley Township … then the farm of John Ambrose Hume Powell.”

The plaque outside of Inge-Va House on 66 Craig St. states: “Here died the victim of the last fatal duel fought in this province.”

The location of the plaque on the grounds at Inge-Va

Last Fatal Duel placque at Inge-Va

Source of Last Fatal Duel controversy – ‘The Record News’, Sept. 10, 2021

Future of Inge-Va

We can only hope that Inge-Va continues to be valued and treasured by her custodians, and that both the stately house along with the historic grounds are maintained and preserved for future generations.


Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Member, Association of Professional Genealogists

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


“The Hoax”, Filmed in Perth

The Strange Case

of the Fanged Skull

Filmed in the town of Perth, Ontario, in 1955, this movie features many local people, in a tale of mystery and suspense.


Set in the town of Tayville, (Perth), the local museum (the Perth Library on Gore Street) finds itself the center of an intriguing drama when an ambitious young reporter causes a scandal over the authenticity of one of its prize exhibits, a human skull.

Gore Street – 1955, appears many times, filmed from various angles

Local businessman, Victor ‘Vic’ Lemeiux playing the role of Vic Edwards, the Editor of the ‘Tayville Times’, with Richard Lamb, playing Harry Raddall, the ambitious young Reporter

A local fundraising group tours the museum

Mr. Appleby, the Museum Curator, played by Clyde Bell, provides a guided tour of the museum

Harry Raddall, reporter, played by Richard Lamb, tells lovely librarian, Helen Tate, played by Joy Lindop (Cunningham), about his plan to sneak into the library late at night and photograph the museum’s fanged skull

The fundraising group concludes their tour with the curator

Reporter, Harry Raddall, played by Richard Lamb, sneaks into the Museum at night, under the cover of darkness…to photograph the skull

The shocking newspaper headlines are revealed at a fundraising meeting, “Skull With Fangs Declared a Hoax!”

A Town Council meeting is held at the Perth Town Hall to decide whether the museum will receive funding

Professor Goddard, played by Peter Hopkinson, examines the skull to establish authenticity

Is the skull real? Or is it a hoax?

“The Hoax”

This delightful short film, just over 28 minutes in length, is a wonderful glimpse into the past, with many scenes of Gore Street, Perth, Ontario, as it appeared in 1955.

The local cast of actors did a fine job in their roles, many with memorable performances.

This historic film short may be viewed in its entirety on the National Film Board’s website, and is a must-see for local history buffs, capturing scenes of the main street of Perth as they appeared in the mid-1950s.


View “The Hoax”

on the National Film Board site: https://www.nfb.ca/film/hoax/

(All Images are from: “The Hoax”, a movie by the National Film Board of Canada, produced in 1955.)

Director: William Davidson

Story and Screenplay:Norman Klenman

Photography: Robert Humble

Sound: Clifford Griffen

Editing: Douglas Robertson

Production: Nicholas Balla


Harry Raddall, Reporter: played by Richard Lamb

Helen Tate, Librarian: played by Joy Lindop (Cunningham)

Mr. Appleby, Curator: played by Clyde Bell

Professor Goddard: played by Peter Hopkinson

Mrs. Tate: played by Mrs. T.A. Rogers

Vic Edwards, Newspaper Editor, played by Victor ‘Vic’ Lemieux

Also featured in ‘The Hoax”:

Vince Lally, Jo Keays, Jack Finnegan, Edna Coutts, Mayor Scott Burchell, John Mather Town Clerk, Mr. ? Arbuthnot, Grace Grainger, Norm Turner, Mr. ? Sawdon, Mrs. ? Hamilton

(and many more)

Please comment below to help identify the local actors from the Perth area so they can be listed with the other members of the cast.

With thanks to the local cast and crew, and to the National Film Board of Canada, for capturing these moments in time, and preserving this special slice of history for the town of Perth, Ontario.

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


Irish Settlers & the Ghost of Burgess Township

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

Burgess ghost 1

“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

Burgess ghost 3

William Cordick saw three flat irons come down the stairs

Burgess ghost 4

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

Burgess ghost 5

“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

Burgess ghost 7

Predominantly Irish, simple, hard-working farm folk

Burgess ghost 8

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

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

Burgess ghost 9

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

“…a teapot jumping into a woodbox.”

Burgess ghost 10

“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.

burgess ghost 12

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.”


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


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


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.


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

quinn house 1

quinn house 2

Mysterious Fire Destroys Burgess Ghost House

burgess ghost 12

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


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, Martin, 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


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.


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


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

Lanark County Genealogical Society


Archives Lanark


Search the census records for North Burgess Township, Lanark County

Searchable online census records for Lanark County


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, Spark Books & Curios, Mill St. Books and online.
“Lanark County Classics” – ISBN 978-0-9877026-54

Lanark County Classics cover 2020


book cover edited resized LC Comfort (1)

Arlene Stafford-Wilson


(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)

UFO Sightings In Lanark County

Since the infamous sightings in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, people across North America have become more aware of strange lights, and unusual objects, in the night skies.

By the late 1960s in Lanark County, details of sightings were published in the local papers, and many credible witnesses reported their accounts of these strange events.

Flying Saucers With Red Lights Over Port Elmsley Confirmed by Perth OPP

Flying Saucers headline over Perth

UFO OPP sightings

April 27, 1967, p.1, “The Perth Courier”

Sightings Over the Rideau Lakes

Ivan Van Dusen UFO reportIvan Van Dusen # 2

April 27, 1967, p.1, “The Perth Courier”

Flying in Formation, Ten Feet Apart…..Moving toward Carleton Place

Everet Lavender

April 27, 1967, p.1, “The Perth Courier”

Mrs. Essex Clement in Port Elmsley:

“They just disappeared.”

Mrs. Essex Clement UFO

April 27, 1967, p.1, “The Perth Courier”

Two Perth OPPs see UFOs on HWY 43 hovering over the Army Tower in Drummond Township

R.C.A.F. Asks for a Full Report

OPP Sighting UFO

April 27, 1967, p.1, “The Perth Courier”

UFOs Seen Over Mississippi Lake

UFOs over Mississippi Lake

April 27, 1967, p.1, “The Perth Courier”

Fall 1973-  was called the

“Autumn of Aliens”

The night skies in Eastern Ontario became very active in the summer and fall of 1973, and some organizations reported that it was one of the largest number of U.F.O. sightings over North America, calling it the ‘Autumn of Aliens’.

Huge Chunks of Ice Fell from the Sky

In Lanark County, it all seemed to begin with a sudden hailstorm, on the Friday the 13th of July.  The hailstorm came out of nowhere, and huge chunks of ice fell, many almost three inches in diameter.  Hundreds of windows and car windshields were smashed by jagged pieces of ice.  A Smiths Falls resident was cut on the head by a chunk of falling ice, and required seven stitches. No one was seriously injured, although there were a few farmers that got caught outside, working in the fields, and had to seek shelter from the large chunks of ice falling from the sky.

lights in the sky

Barely 48 hours after the hailstorm, police departments in Perth and Smiths Falls received a number of calls from residents, claiming to have seen flying objects in the sky.

Flying Object Seen Near Balderson

A local man reported that he and five others were on the Eighth Line near Balderson at 9:30 p.m., when a flying object appeared to be travelling south to north, then returned to the south.   He observed that it was quite large, shaped like a tart.  Another report came in from a resident of Sherbrooke Street in Perth, who saw the same object overhead.  He said that his dog had howled constantly while the object appeared in the sky.

CJET Radio holds call-in show due to large number of UFO Sightings

So many people had observed the same object that CJET radio station in Smiths Falls held a call-in show the following Monday, so that people could phone the show, and share reports of what they had seen.

Sparkling Yellow-Orange Light Over Perth


“The Perth Courier”, Thursday, April 19, 1973

Julian Kustra reports flying object over Sherbrooke Street in Perth


“The Perth Courier” , Thursday, July 19, 1973, page 1.

flying saucer 3

UFO Reported in Beckwith Township on Tennyson Road

The next UFO sighting to be reported in the fall of 1973 took place in Beckwith Township.  A young man was returning to Perth from Ottawa, driving along Highway 7 near Carleton Place, when his headlights suddenly went out.  Concerned that he might be pulled over by the police with his headlights out he decided to take the back way, and turned onto Tennyson Road.  The section of the road closest to Perth has swamp on both sides, and the lad noticed two large lights in the sky, hovering over the swamp.  The object was in the sky just above the tree line.  He pulled the car over to the side of the road, and as he stopped the car he noticed that the object stopped as well, and hovered over the swamp.  He remained parked for a few minutes, and then started to drive again.  When he began to move, so did the object, and it travelled parallel to him for a few more minutes, then disappeared.  Early the next morning, when he pulled out of his driveway in Perth, his headlights were working again.

flying saucer 4

Small Sphere Hovers in Sky over Smiths Falls

Another sighting in the late summer of 1973 was first reported by a young lad working at a gas station in Smiths Falls. He spotted a small sphere in the sky that appeared to be hovering in one fixed location.  He reported seeing silver flames coming from both the top and the bottom of the craft.  The lad was quick to call CJET radio station, and ask if anyone else had seen the odd sphere in the sky.  The radio station confirmed that yes, indeed; they could see it as well.  In the days that followed, at least 40 people in the Smiths Falls area came forward, stating that they had seen the object as well.

…and in the Ottawa area in 1973:

UFO EB Eddy plant Aug 30 1973 p 3

“The Ottawa Citizen”, August 30, 1973, p.3

UFO Over Ottawa River

UFO sighted over river

“The Ottawa Citizen”, August 31, 1973, pg. 2

Army Squadron sees UFO

UFO seen by army squadron

“The Ottawa Journal”, Nov. 7, 1973, p.89

Frightened on HWY 417

Couple terrorized by UFO part 1

couple frightened part 2

“The Ottawa Journal”, Nov. 10, 1973, p. 1 & 2

Strange no explanation headline

UFO hwy 417 part 1

UFO hwy 417 part 2

“The Ottawa Citizen” December 11, 1973, p.41

Cigar-Shaped Object in Sky over Horseshoe Bay, Rideau Lakes

In the summer of 1974 people were once again talking about another strange object in the sky.  It was a typical warm summer evening on the Rideau Lakes, and there were cottagers and residents alike, who saw more than they bargained for, on the night of August 12th.   At around 10 p.m., many were sitting outside, enjoying the call of the loons, and listening to the water lapping on the shore.  Suddenly, high in the night sky, a cigar-shaped object appeared.  Some described it as a long, flat shape, orange in colour. Many said that it was more red than orange, and was shaped like a sphere. Everyone that saw it agreed that it was silent, and it hovered over the Big Rideau Lake, on the south side of Horseshoe Bay, for several minutes, and then vanished.

flying saucer 5

It wasn’t just in the Perth area that strange objects and lights appeared in the sky.  Several residents of the town of Brockville, including some local police officers, confirmed the sightings of some odd lights moving in the night skies.

Brockville UFO

From “The Perth Courier”,  January 3, 1979,  front page, a sighting reported by George Shanks of Lanark, Ontario:

White Blinking Light in Sky over Ferguson Falls flies from Almonte to McDonald’s Corners


Strange sightings of unidentified flying objects were recorded in the Perth area as early as the late 1950s.  Fiery balls of light, objects moving up and down, back and forth, quickly, in ways that airplanes were not able to maneuver.

UFO Tracking Station

Established near Ottawa

UFO tracking stations were established just outside of Ottawa, and rumours of government radio towers and underground facilities were heard up and down the concessions in Lanark County.  Excavations were reported near Almonte, and government agents were testing the soil on several farms in Ramsay Township.

tracking station Shirley's Bay

saucer station 1953

Shirley's Bay project 1953

Shirley's Bay station report 1953

When reporters attempted to investigate further, the government representatives denied all, despite the fact that local men were working as labourers on many of the projects and could confirm what they had seen.

“On August 8, 1954, Smith, and his team at Shirley’s Bay recorded a disturbance, they believed was caused by a UFO. Among the observations that day were transmissions being received too rapid for a trained operator to decipher.”

December 26, 2018, ‘The Ottawa Citizen’ p. A6

Just days later, ‘Project Magnet’, as it was known, was disbanded, without explanation.

For more information on strange sightings in the night skies over Lanark County, and the government’s classified projects in the 1960s and 1970s, read the full story ‘Perplexed in Perth’, from “Lanark County Classics: A Treasury of Tales from Another Time”, ISBN 978-0-9877026-54

Available at local bookstores, or online

Lanark County Classics Book Cover small for blog

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


Irish Wakes

Depiction of an Irish wake – 1873

Traditions of the Irish Wake

“The terrible thing about dying is

that you miss your own wake”

David Allen, Irish Comedian

Traditions seem to go on forever in small rural communities. They are passed down from father to son, and from mother to daughter. The tiny community of Ferguson Falls was settled by seven Irish bachelors and their story was told and re-told through the ages, so it wouldn’t be forgotten. When these young men landed from the old country in the early days they made a pledge to help each other to succeed in the new land, and if even one of them failed to thrive they would all return to Ireland. They were Patrick Quinn, John Quinn, James Carberry, William Scanlan, Terrence Doyle, John Cullen and James Power.

Around the same time my own ancestors arrived – the Stafford and the McGarry families, from County Wexford and County Westmeath, and the Irish-Catholic community grew and prospered in this idyllic community along the Mississippi River in Drummond Township.

In those days it was unusual and even frowned-upon to marry outside of one’s religion, and so the traditions and customs brought from the old country remained firmly entrenched in these early settlers and their families and were passed down for generations. It’s not surprising that many of these practices were still taking place in the 20th century, some with pagan Celtic origins, some more religious, and some so ancient they could no longer be explained.

As a young girl I heard stories, mostly from my father, who grew up near Ferguson Falls, and also some vivid tales from some of the old timers in the area. Some of their most colourful accounts included stories about their Irish wakes.

I remember my father telling me about his uncle’s wake, held in the family home, as was the custom. He said that the wakes were another excuse for people to get drunk, maybe a little drunker than usual, and they did some things that were almost unspeakable. He recalled his deceased relative being ‘laid out’ on the dining room table and that late at night two of the intoxicated guests attempted to pour whiskey down the dead man’s throat.

Many years ago, I also heard from one of the old-timers, James ‘Jim’ Quinn, a direct descendant of one of the seven Irish bachelors, that the standard rate to dig a grave was a bottle of whiskey. The usual amount was twenty-six ounces and was split between two men, who dug the graves by hand at St. Patrick’s cemetery. He was, in fact, according to him, one of the two who dug the grave for my great uncle Jimmy Richards, and the lads were paid in the usual way, a bottle of whiskey, from my great aunt Tessie Richards, the departed’s sister.

The ‘Third Birthday’

The eldest ones used to refer to death as ‘the third birthday’. They claimed that the first birthday was the day you were born, and the second birthday was your baptism. The third birthday is the day you pass away, and should be filled with both mourning and celebration as you move from this life and enter Heaven.

Stop the Clocks

All clocks in the house are stopped at the hour of the death as a sign that the passage of time has ended for the departed. Time stands still for them, and a new period of existence begins, without time. It was believed that if time continued to move ahead that this invited their spirit to remain in the home rather than moving on. Some say it was also a way to mark the time of death. Others claimed it is done so mourners will stay as long as they please without worrying about the time.

The Open Window

Immediately after the death, the window closest to the deceased is opened for two hours. The open window allows the spirit to leave the body. No one must stand near nor block the path to the window as it might prevent the spirit from leaving, and will bring misfortune to any person who blocks it. After two hours have passed the window is closed so that the spirit doesn’t attempt to re-enter the body.

Close the Curtains

With the exception of the open window closest to the deceased, all other windows are to be closed, and the curtains should be drawn until the body is removed from the home for burial. It was thought that if a moonbeam shone through a window at night that evil spirits could come in and try to steal the deceased’s soul.

Photographs Turned Face-Down

Family photographs were turned face-down so that the people in the pictures would not be spirited away with the deceased.

Cover the Mirrors

All of the mirrors in the home were either covered with cloths, or turned backward, facing the walls. There were two reasons behind this custom – that the deceased’s spirit doesn’t see their physical body in the mirror as they leave the home, and so that their spirit doesn’t get trapped inside the looking glass.

Mourning Cards

In the old days people kept black-bordered funeral stationary in their homes. Shortly after the death occurred, they wrote an announcement by hand, on a full sheet, enclosed it in black-bordered envelope and pinned the notice with a thumb-tack to the outside door. A black ribbon was also hung on the door. Neighbours could stop and read the announcement and learn of the date and times of the wake and funeral. A note at the bottom of the page encouraged neighbours to spread the news. A call was placed to local printers to order formal funeral cards, which included information about the deceased, and sometimes a photo or a prayer. The Mourning cards were also known as Prayer cards or Holy cards. Local newspapers were called and orders for obituaries were placed. The Mourning cards were available at the wake and at the funeral and given as a keepsake for the mourner to bring home with them.

Traditional Mourning stationery

Mourning card – Anastasia ‘Stacy’ Richards Stafford (my grandmother) 1954

Anastasia ‘Stacy’ Richards Stafford – Mourning card – 1954

James ‘Jimmy’ Richards – Mourning card – 1951 (Jimmy, my great-uncle, was a farmer in Ferguson Falls and well-known local musician who regularly played his fiddle at the infamous Stumble Inn)


The body of the deceased was washed with Holy water, and dressed in their best clothing. There were often older women in the community who performed this task for the families, and were offered whiskey or food as payment and thanks. Men were shaved and both men and women had their hair combed and arranged nicely. Conservative dress was expected for the deceased and bright or pastel colours were not considered appropriate. The bodies were laid out on top of white sheets, usually on a long flat surface, such a dining room table. In Catholic homes rosary beads would be wound around the hand, with the crucifix laying on the person’s chest, close to their hearts. Once the body was prepared the deceased was never left alone in the room. At least one person must remain, and usually there were groups of people who remained awake through the night with the dearly departed. This custom of remaining awake is the origin of the term ‘wake’.


In some families white candles were placed all around the table where the deceased was laid out, however some families used only 4 candles placed around each of the four corners of the table. Candles were to remain lit (replaced as needed) until the body left for the funeral. It was bad luck to let one of the candles burn out and they were replaced as they burned down close to the end of the wick. The candles used at wakes were said to have healing powers, and the butts of the used candles would be saved and rubbed on burns and cuts.


Keening comes from the Gaelic word meaning ‘to cry’. Women from the neighbourhood would gather at the wake and sob. There were even professional keeners who could be hired to cry at wakes. The art of keening originates from the Irish Banshees who shrieked and screamed foretelling a death. It’s been said that every family of Irish origin has their own Banshee, and that they even traveled with families across the ocean to the new world.

John Todhunter, Ireland Calling

What to Expect

If you’re planning to attend an Irish wake, then be sure to bring a little something for the family. Food, flowers or something to drink is always welcome, and a bottle of good spirits is always appreciated.

Although there is no dress code, wearing black or somber colours is a sign of respect to the family.

After a brief viewing of the deceased, you may pay your respects to the family with a few words, like: “Sorry for your troubles.”, or “Sorry for your loss.” It is a stressful time, and it’s not as important what you say, but more that you showed respect by attending.

The time you spend at the wake can be brief, as little as fifteen or twenty minutes, if you didn’t know the deceased very well. The busiest time will be the evenings, after suppertime, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Neighbours, good friends and family members will remain at the wake for four to five hours, and the closest will stay all night, at least one night, in the room where the deceased is laid out.

The Food and Drink

After the wailing is over, the more social aspects of the wake begin. Food and drink for visitors are provided by the family, and it is customary for guests to bring a bottle of spirits, or some food for the wake. Shepherd’s Pie, Irish Stew, Corned Beef and Cabbage, cold cuts, and small sandwiches are common at wakes. Tea is served in fine china cups, and whiskey, beer, and wine are the most popular drinks, although any spirits will do.

Raise a Glass

It’s customary during the wake to raise your glass and toast the deceased. You might begin the toast by telling a little story about your friendship, or something amusing that happened, that the two of you shared. Some of the most popular Irish toasts at a wake: “May he rest in peace.”, “Gone, but not forgotten.”, “No one spread more love in a lifetime.”, “To absent friends.”, “To our friend who has gone on before us.”

The Smoking of the Pipe

A long-standing tradition is the custom of smoking from clay pipes. These small pipes were filled with tobacco for visitors to the wake house to take. Visitors lit the pipe and took a draw, exclaiming “Lord have mercy on their soul”. Non-smokers were also expected to partake of the ritual and in some cases snuff was also taken. After the funeral, the family broke the wake-pipes in two and buried them outside.

The Story-telling

It wouldn’t be a proper Irish wake without telling stories or reciting poems about the dearly departed. Fond memories are shared and become more animated and exaggerated as the whiskey flows throughout the days and evenings. There are stories of the school years from former classmates, and stories of the departed’s years of work, and about their profession. Family stories and memories are shared with guests, with highlights of a life well-lived, and special anecdotes of their days on the Earth. Fiddles and flutes are played and songs are sung, jigs are danced, and stories continue throughout the days and evenings.

At midnight, the Rosary is said, concluding with: “Pray for us now, and at the hour of our death.” The neighbours, friends, and other guests leave the home, with only those closest to the departed remaining.

Some family members and dearest friends will stay all night in the room with the deceased. The stories and the drinking will continue overnight, and a new group will relieve them in the morning so they can get some rest. It is usual to wake for two to three nights before the funeral.

The Funeral

On the third day of the wake, the body is placed in a coffin and carried out of the home, always feet first, in order to prevent the spirit from looking back and beckoning another member of the family to join them.

Once the departed has been carried from the home, the mirrors are uncovered, the curtains pulled back, and the photographs are displayed again.

Exactly six pallbearers carry the coffin, and there should be 6 handles on the casket, three on each side, in remembrance of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It isn’t always the case these days, but that is the Irish tradition. It is also thought to be bad luck to go home the same route as the one used by the funeral procession.

The funeral is usually held in church, and after that everyone proceeds to the cemetery. A short graveside service will be conducted by the priest.

Rain is a Blessing

Rain the day of the funeral is a sign of a blessing, and if you hear a thunder-clap it means that the deceased has arrived in heaven.

After the funeral, everyone will be invited back to the house, to a bar, or community location for some food and drinks to toast to the deceased and honour their memory together for one last time.

Many of the traditions of the Irish wake live on today, depending on where you live. Some customs have been adapted for modern times, and some of the old ways passed down through families, are strictly followed, as they were in days gone by.

“Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,

and may the souls of the faithful departed,

through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


St. Patrick’s Church, Ferguson Falls, Ontario, Canada, est. 1856.

“But since it fell into my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all

So fill to me the parting glass
And drink a health whate’er befalls
Then gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all.”

“The Parting Glass”, written by Trad / David Anthony Downes

Sources for “Irish Wakes”

Delaney, Mary Murray. Of Irish Ways. Dillon Press, Inc, 1973

Staffords Funerals, website, Dublin, Ireland

Bourke.A (1988), The Irish Lament and the Grieving Process, Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol.11, No.4

Danaher.K (1962), In Ireland Long Ago, Mercier Press.

Lysaght.P (1988), Caoineadh os Cionn Coirp: The Lament for the Dead in Ireland, Folklore 108.

About the Author:

Arlene Stafford-Wilson was raised on a small farm in Bathurst (Tay Valley) Township. Her Stafford and McGarry ancestors left southern Ireland, and arrived in Lanark County in 1816. She also descends from the McKittrick, Waters, Doyle, Carroll, and O’Keefe families, also from southern Ireland.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson


Antler Lodge – Dancing the Night Away in Cottage Country

Antler Lodge interior

Antler Lodge opened its doors for the first time on Friday evening, May 14th 1954.  Admission was seventy-five cents, and they featured round and square dancing to live bands.

Antler Lodge opening night

One of the opening acts at the Lodge was Lee Miller’s Orchestra, and they delighted the crowds weekend after weekend, for much of that first summer.  Naturally, being a new venue, young people, and even some not-so-young people flocked to see the new Antler Lodge.  There were curious tourists as well, who came to check out the newest dance hall in the region, and it became ‘the place to go’ in the summer of ’54. When the perennially popular Rideau Ferry Regatta wound down on the August long weekend, the Lodge became the hot-spot for the in-crowds, a place to mingle and mix, with some new faces, and the old familiar faces as well.  Antler Lodge was a hit.

Antler Lodge exterior

Dick and Margaret McLean, the owners of Antler Lodge, must have been pleased that first summer. Their new business was booming, a crowd-pleasing attraction, where people could gather together, dance, socialize, and enjoy some live country music.

Antler Lodge poster

It’s anyone’s guess whether Antler Lodge would have ever existed, if Margaret and Dick hadn’t got together back in 1939.  They were both local kids from Rideau Ferry.  Margaret, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Jackson, and Richard, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James McLean

Margaret McLean Antler Lodge

Margaret  ‘Marnie’  (Jackson) McLean, owner, Antler Lodge

The McLean’s new business Antler Lodge would become an endearing and memorable place for so many, in the decades that followed.

As those first long, hot, summer weekends at Antler Lodge unfolded, the familiar strains of down-home country fiddling escaped the confines of the rustic wooden structure, and echoed over the fields, and across the Rideau lakes. Melodies from Hank Snow, Ray Price and Webb Pierce, played by local bands, filled the wooden rafters of the homespun Lodge, with hit after hit of trendy country and western tunes.  The dancing went on until the wee hours; romances blossomed, and hearts were broken, to the tunes of Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold.  The parking lot was crammed with vehicles from Perth, Smiths Falls, Brockville, and even as far away as Kingston.  Pretty girls posed demurely beside their date’s cars, decked out in pedal pushers or full skirts, flirting with their beaus, who sported narrow jeans, or pleated trousers.  Shiny glass bottles of beer and liquor appeared from their hiding spots, tucked away, hidden carefully in glove boxes and trunks, and kisses were stolen in this parking lot, known to the neighbourhood teens as the passion pit.

Some kids hung out at the Rideau Ferry Inn, just up the road, but there was something about Antler Lodge; it was cozy, more intimate, more like a house party.  The inside was spartan, unrefined, with exposed wooden beams, and a huge set of antlers mounted on the wall, above a homey, unpretentious, stone fireplace.  In this casual, laid-back atmosphere, the lighting above the dance floor glowed soft, muted; perfect for swaying close, in dimly lit corners, and for long, steady, gazes into the eyes of a dance partner.

One of the first wedding receptions held at Antler Lodge was on October 19, 1955 as they played host to the delightful newlyweds Helen Kehoe and Tom Kerr.  Helen was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Kehoe of Perth, and Thomas was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Kerr of Stanleyville.  The colourful autumn leaves set the stage for the joyful wedding, at St. John’s Church in Perth, officiated by Father Farrell.  Shirley Anne Kehoe, the bride’s pretty sister, was the maid of honour, and the lovely Monica Kerr was her bridesmaid.  At the groom’s side, stood his best man and brother, Walter Kerr, and his charming ushers escorting guests to their seats at St. John’s Church that day, were Pat Kehoe and Pat Kerr.  Following the wedding, an elegant dinner was served in the Blue Room, at the Perth Hotel; and one of the highlights of this special day, was a memorable reception, at none other than Antler Lodge.

On June 12th 1956, Antler Lodge played host to a very special retirement party, for one of the area’s longest serving, and most respected municipal clerks – Roy Darou.  An enthusiastic crowd of over 200 well-wishers and supporters, mostly citizens of North Elmsley Township, gathered to pay tribute to this local legend.  Roy, a dedicated worker, had served the township faithfully, holding the same office for over forty years.  There were glowing speeches that evening by Reeve James Coutts, appreciative tributes by Councillor Ferguson McVeety, many gifts, and warm wishes, from all who had gathered there.  This was one of the earliest of such notable celebrations, to be held at the Lodge, in the coming decades.

Competition remained steady in the dance hall business throughout the summer of ’58, and ABC Hall in Bolingbroke began featuring bands every Friday night, advertising a variety of tempting refreshments, along with music by Lockwood’s Orchestra.  At the Agricultural Hall in McDonald’s Corners, dances were usually held on Saturdays, and often their music was supplied by popular local group – Bill Hannah and the Nightingales.  The admission price was considerably lower than the other halls, at the bargain-basement price of fifty cents for the evening.  To remain competitive, Antler Lodge held a special Midnight Frolic, on Sunday August 3rd from 12:00 a.m. until 3:00 a.m., drawing huge crowds of racers and boating enthusiasts, following the annual Rideau Ferry Regatta.

Boat Show Rideau Ferry

Rideau Ferry Regatta

In the spring of 1959, Antler Lodge raised the bar for their opening dance of the season by featuring music by the famed Country Hoppers, stars of CKWS radio, Channel 11 TV, and RCA Victor records.  They also increased the price of admission, and began to enforce a strict ‘no leather jackets or boots admitted’ policy, to discourage unsavory types from attending their dances, and causing trouble.

The Country Hoppers had a steady gig at the Lodge for the entire summer of ’59, and all through the cottage season in 1960 as well.  People for miles around flocked to hear the sounds of country and western music, mingle, drink, and dance the night away.

Country Hoppers

1961 would see an even greater increase in the popularity of area dance halls, and there were no less than eight local venues featuring live bands.   The Stanley Lodge in Lanark constructed a new wooden dance platform, and hosted the Haylofters of CJOH TV, as well as the much sought after Ottawa Valley Melodiers.

Mac Beattie

John ‘Mac’ Beattie, Arnprior native, led the Melodiers, a legendary Ottawa Valley band on drums and vocals, with Reg Hill on fiddle, Garnet Scheel on guitar, Gaetan Fairfield on rhythm guitar, and Bob Whitney on saxophone.  The band performed for decades, and released a total of seven albums, mostly in the 1960s.

Mac Beattie and the Melodiers

Mac Beattie and others

Left – front – Maurice Charon and Horace Blanchette; centre row, Garnet Scheel, Barbara Ann Scott -drums, Karen Shaw, Mac Beattie, Maisy Billings,Gaetan Fairfield

Mac Beattie Max Keeping

Max Keeping, CJOH TV –  introducing Mac Beattie

At McDonald’s Corners, music lovers could enjoy the sounds of the Country Rockets, playing weekends at the Agricultural Hall, and the Maberly Agricultural Hall featured Kenny Jackson’s Valley Cruisers.   The Valley Cruisers had a distinctive country sound, highlighted by masterful fiddler Kenny Jackson, and polished performer Harry Adrain on guitar and vocals.  The gifted Raymond ‘Raymie’ Donaldson played lead guitar, with the powerful strumming of Gary Barr on rhythm guitar, rounding out this dynamic group.

At Scott’s Ballroom in Westport, they featured round and square dancing, to the sounds of Fred Paquin’s Orchestra.  Kingston native Don Cochrane got his start in the Fred Paquin Orchestra, as a teenager.  Don would go on to collaborate on songs recorded by the Mercey Brothers, and would record two albums of his own music as well.

During that summer, Barker’s on Hwy 15, Otter Lake had music by Ron McMunn and his Country Cousins.  Ron McMunn, or The Silver Fox, as he was known, hailed from Clayton, and in 1954, Ron formed the Country Cousins. His band performed live on CJET radio in Smiths Falls every Saturday night for over a decade and this set the stage for their tremendous popularity in local venues in the years that followed.

Ron McMunn

Reserve me a table

Ron McMunn awards ceremony  Ron McMunn ‘The Silver Fox’

At the Fallbrook Orange Hall, the Mississippi River Boys provided the weekend entertainment, and at Antler Lodge, the Country Hoppers enjoyed their third steady year of regular engagements.

Early in that summer of 1961, the owners of Antler Lodge – Mr. and Mrs. Richard ‘Dick’ McLean announced the forthcoming marriage of their daughter Helen Isobel, to Mr. William Donald Robert ‘Don’ Halpenny.  He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Anson Halpenny, and hailed from Easton’s Corners.  The marriage took place on July 7, at St. James Anglican Church in Perth.

Later, that same summer, Antler Lodge hosted former Perth High School classmates as they celebrated their Class of’44 reunion.

Class of 1944

Following a tasty turkey supper at the Rideau Ferry Inn, everyone drove up the road to the Lodge for some live music and square dancing.  It was a night to remember, and Gordon Mather was an entertaining Master of Ceremonies.  There was a good turnout with Mr. and Mrs. Frank Frizell (Dorothy Ferguson), Bill Thomas, Mr. and Mrs. Willard Shaw (Vivian Greenley) , Dr. and Mrs. C. Campbell (Mary Ewart), Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Elliot (Kaye Ferguson), Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Mather, George Findlay, Mr. and Mrs. Ken Buchanan (Evelyn Radford), Mr. and Mrs. Don Goodfellow (Doreen Marcellin) Mr. and Mrs. Fred Guarino (Mid Stewart), Mr. and Mrs. Ron Thompson (Bette Oakes), Mrs. F. Cohis  (Maxine Ramsbottom), Mr. and Mrs. George Leonard, Mr. and Mrs. Don Campbell (Marg Quartermain), Mr. and Mrs. T. Rockburn (Clara McInnis)

Several prizes were awarded during the evening:  Man with the baldest head – Willard Shaw, runner-up Gordon Mather, Couple married the longest – Mr. and Mrs. Ken Buchanan, Couple married the shortest time – Bernard and Kaye Elliot, Couple travelling the longest distance – Mr. and Mrs. C. Cameron, Couple with an anniversary – Mr. and Mrs. Fred Guarino, and last, but not least – a prize for a bachelor – George Finlay.

The Country Hoppers, formerly known as the Riders of the Southern Trail, were a tremendously popular band, drawing large crowds from Carleton Place, Smiths Falls and Perth; and they became the regular weekend entertainment at Antler Lodge from 1962 through to 1966.  Their first album ‘The Country Kid’ was released in 1962 and included performances by Davey Gibbs, Garry ‘Gizz’ Watt, Fred ‘Pappy’ Ryan, Paul ‘Hiker’ Gurry, and Larry ‘Dooley’ Protheroe.  The Country Hoppers were known for their versatility and could play country fiddle tunes, honky-tonk, ballads, and square dance music as well.

Davey Gibbs Country Hoppers

Dick McLean Antler Lodge 1964

Dick McLean, owner, at Antler Lodge, 1964


In the fall of ‘64, the Appleton Junior Farmers held a dance at the Lodge, featuring the Happy Wanderers.  The Happy Wanderers, an Ottawa group, were immensely popular with teens, and had a regular show, every Saturday night, at the Carleton Place Town Hall.  Ken Reynolds, Ward Allen, Bob King, Vince Lebeau, Joe Brown, and Lynn Strauff, formed the original CFRA Happy Wanderers, and they became one of the most popular acts in the Ottawa Valley.  

happy wanderers 3

Happy Wanderers

Happy Wanderers

They were also featured on a weekly half-hour show, on CFRA radio, broadcast across the Valley.  When they played Antler Lodge, they brought special guests Marie King, Barry and Lawanda Brown.  Bob Livingston kept the evening’s dancers moving around the floor like clockwork, as the caller for the square dancing.  

A few years later, Barry and Lawanda, along with their father Joe, and their sister Tracey, would form The Family Brown, which included masterful lead guitarist Dave Dennison, and accomplished drummer, and capable band manager Ron Sparling. 

The family brown

The Family Brown

Another talented group drawing crowds to the Lodge that year was the Country Harmony Boys. During the later part of ’64, Antler Lodge also featured the Top Hats and the Travelons.

By 1968 Antler Lodge had an established house band that entertained the crowds every Saturday night, during the entire cottage season.  The Country Harmony Boys were a polished group of talented local musicians, and they drew the masses, young and old, to the Lodge, for their weekly fill of square dancing tunes.

Meanwhile, some of the other area dance halls were booming as well, and the popular Balderson Hall often featured Bill Munro and his Country Rockets, or Don Gilchrist and his Dancers, and they kept these cozy venues hopping until the wee hours.  Donnie Gilchrist, a talented showman, was born in Campbell’s Bay. At one point in his career, he teamed up with the very capable Joan Ann Jamieson, and went on to become one of the legendary step-dancers of his time.  He later caught the attention of Frank Ryan, founder of CFRA radio station, who helped to promote him on the local airwaves.  Don rose from his humble beginnings in local dance halls, and went on to perform in 24 countries around the world, and even appeared on numerous TV specials.

Don Gilchrist

Don Gilchrist, legendary step-dancer

Frank Ryan of CFRA was key in promoting many of the local Ottawa Valley bands and helping them to succeed in a very competitive industry.

Frank Ryan  CFRA’s Frank Ryan

Because of their location, ABC Hall in Bolingbroke often had acts come in from the city of Kingston. One of the more sought-after bands in the summer of ’68 was Mallen’s Melodiers, playing both modern pop, and square dancing tunes.  Not to be outdone, the hall at McDonald’s Corners regularly featured crowd-pleasing music by Symington’s Orchestra, for the very competitive admission price of seventy-five cents.

Dick McLean Antler Lodge

Dick McLean, owner, Antler Lodge

Antler Lodge hosted yet another high-profile wedding reception, when Beryl Kehoe married Robert Orok.  On July 31st at St. John’s Church in Perth, Beryl, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lambert Kehoe of Rideau Ferry, became Mrs. Robert Orok.  Robert’s parents Fred and Mona Orok were the founders and owners of the flourishing Orok’s Hardware Store in Lanark, and were well known and respected in the area.  Rev. B.F. O’Neil made the journey all the way from Brockville to officiate the wedding.  Highlights of the ceremony included memorable music, played by talented organist Mrs. Robert McTavish, and a heartfelt solo sung by the gifted David St. Onge.

Beryl Orok's wedding # 1

Left to Right:  Judith Orok, Darlene Beveridge, Kathryn Campbell, Alison Kerr flower girl, Conrad Potvin ring bearer, Bill Neilson, Rick Keller , Bernard Kehoe

Standing up with Beryl was dear friend Kathryn Campbell, Maid of Honour, and two lovely Bridesmaids – Darlene Beveridge and Judith Orok.  William Neilson was the dashing best man, accompanied by two charming ushers, Richard Kellar and Bernard Kehoe.  Two delightful youngsters taking part in the ceremony were Alison Kerr, the bride’s cousin as flower girl, and small, but capable Conrad Potvin had the all-important task of ring-bearer.

Beryl at Antler Lodge

While Antler Lodge was growing in popularity during the ‘50s and ‘60s, there was an undeniable musical revolution taking place in England; and the distinctive beat of rock and roll music was spreading across the ocean, to North America.  It was called the British Invasion,  and groups like  The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits and The Who, began to get air-time on Canadian radio stations.   By the mid 1960s rock and roll was dominating the local airwaves, and by the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, many young people followed the trendy new music, and wanted to hear rock music played live in local venues.

British invasion

Antler Lodge had always been a country music venue.  The rustic, intimate, hall, attracted large, enthusiastic crowds, with their talented live bands, and memorable evenings of western-style square dancing.  As more and more young people gravitated toward rock and roll music, the crowds at the nearby Rideau Ferry Inn began to grow in leaps and bounds. The Rideau Ferry Inn featured live rock and roll bands, or disc jockeys, and by the late 1960s and early 1970s enjoyed the lion’s share of the weekend business.  Country and western music, during those years, lost its appeal with the majority of the young crowds; although it remained as well-loved as ever, with the older generation.

rideau-ferry-inn-1982 Rideau Ferry Inn

The once hugely popular country dance hall was simply not able to compete with the cutting-edge music at the Rideau Ferry Inn, or the latest rock groups playing at the Perth arena or Farrell Hall, like Max Webster, April Wine and Lighthouse.  The declining business continued to operate on a smaller scale through the summer of 1975, but by August of 1976 Antler Lodge had given up, locked its doors, and was up for sale.   A small ad in the real estate section of the “Perth Courier” was published on Thursday, August 5th:  “Antler Lodge, Rideau Ferry, approx 6 miles from Perth.  Stone fireplace, maple floor, stage and lunch counter.”   Two years later, in 1978, the Lodge was still for sale – “This once thriving lodge is situated on a one acre lot. Inquire today. $35,000.”


It was shortly after midnight on Friday, October 9, 1981, when the Bathurst, Burgess, Drummond and North Elmsley (BBDE) Fire Department received the call.  According to Fire Chief Harold Jordan, flames were shooting through the roof of Antler Restaurant, within six minutes of the call.  Eighteen local fire fighters responded to the call, bravely battling thick smoke and hot, scorching flames; but according to Harold, “We couldn’t save anything.”

Antler Lodge up in smoke newsclipping Perth Courier, October 9, 1981


“The local fire department was unable to establish the cause of the blaze, and it remains a mystery why the Ontario Fire Marshals were never called in to investigate the source of the fire that completely leveled Antler Lodge.”


mystery fire




**  The fact that there was never an investigation into the cause of the fire that destroyed this beloved dance hall, remains a mystery even today!


photos of Antler Lodge, used with permission – Graeme Hoatson Beattie
photos of Dick and Margaret ‘Marnie’ McLean, owners of Antler Lodge, used with permission of Carol Ann Moore McDonald (Carol is the niece of Dick and Marnie McLean, on her mother’s side)
photos of Orok-Kehoe wedding, used with permission – Beryl Orok
photo: Antler Lodge poster – printed by Thompson Printing, Perth,  used with permission – Jim Winton


(this story is an excerpt from the book ‘Lanark County Connections: Memories Among the Maples’ – available:

The Book Nook, 60 Gore St. E., Perth, Ontario: https://thebooknookperth.com/product/lanark-county-connections-arlene-stafford-wilson/

Lanark County Connections small book cover

also at:

Spark Books & Curios, 76 Foster Street, Perth, Ontario https://sparkperth.ca/


Mill Street Books, 52 Mill Street, Almonte, Ontario – https://millstreetbooks.com/


For more information on dance halls and musicians in Lanark County:

more on Lanark County Dance Halls


Arlene Stafford-Wilson


Hershey, Smiths Falls


The announcement of the Hershey Chocolate factory opening in Smiths Falls in 1962 brought a sense of hope and optimism to the town, with the promise of hundreds of unionized jobs, and attracting other new business and more tourism to the town.

Smiths Falls Water Tower

Grand Opening of Hershey Chocolate Corporation, attended by 3,000, April 17, 1961

The style of the Hershey bar wrapper evolved over the years. The one above was used from 1951 – 1968.

In 1973 the company added nutrition-related information to their labels, and in 1976 they began to print UPC codes on their products.

In 1984 the white inner wrap was replaced with foil., and in 2003 the company switched to a one-piece wrap to maintain freshness.

(source: Hershey Archives)

Post card featuring the Hershey Plant and Visitor’s Center in Smiths Falls – c. 1982

Where the tour of the chocolate factory began…

Chocolate travelling through the line at the Hershey factory in Smiths Falls

Enormous tanks filled with melted chocolate at the Hershey factory

A view of the assembly line at the Hershey factory

Sign at the entrance to the Hershey Factory in Smiths Falls, Ontario

Hershey Closes

after 46 years

On February 15, 2007, Hershey Co., the parent company, based in Pennsylvania, announced that the factory would be closing as part of a re-structuring. Some jobs would be re-located to Mexico.

More than 650 employees were told that the closure was part of a company-wide supply-chain realignment.

According to local statistics, the enormously popular Chocolate Shop drew 425,000 visitors to the town in 2005.

Union spokesman, Harry Ghadban said, news of the closure was an “absolute shock.”

On December 23, 2008, production stopped, and the Hershey factory, and associated store were shut down.

Ad for Hershey Kisses

The story of the Hershey Factory:

“Sweet Sensation in Smiths Falls”,

one of the short stories in the book, “Lanark County Chronicle”

Book available at The Book Nook, Perth – 613-267-2350, Spark Books, Perth, and Mill Street Books, Almonte and lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com.


Arlene Stafford-Wilson