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

investigation

why

…………………

**  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 online or in local stores.  ISBN-9780987702647)

Lanark County Connections small book cover

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

more on Lanark County Dance Halls

http://www.staffordwilson.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

m1-christmas-store-hours-1961

m7-town-hall

a-b-motors-dec-1970

m-achesons-mens-and-boys-wear-1963

m7-footbridge-stewart-park

aeroquip-dec-1975

m7-revere-hotel

albert-gale-dec-1965

m7-library

alices-beauty-salon-dec-1978

m7-mcmartin-house

allens-bakery-dec-22-1960

gore-st-1960s

 

m1-anna-mosl-1967

 

andys-window-cleaning-dec-1975

m5-nativity-play

antiques-dec-1976

m7-st-andrews-pres_

balderson-cheese-1978

 

m1-bank-of-montreal

m5-candlelight-service

m1-barries-meats

 

barker-barrister-dec-1966

m4-santa-coming-to-town

barr-motor-sales-dec-1965

 

beamish-1974

 

m7-st-james

ben-barbarys-dec-1970

 

benny-ks-dec-22-1960

 

bert-fournier-dec-1970

 

blair-and-sons-dec-1958

 

boles-grocery-dec-1975

 

boyd-real-estate

 

m-jp-brankin-fuels-1964

 

m1-the-bright-spot

brown-shoe-co-dec-1970

burchell-supply-dec-1958

 

burns-jewellers-dec-1978

cameo-beauty-shoppe-dec-1970

cameron-shoe-repair

canadian-tire-good-ad-dec-22-1960

m4-santa-parade-2

caribou-house-dec-1970

carolynnes-dec-22-1960

carson-farm-supply-dec-1970

m4-santa-parade-3

carson-realty-dec-1975

cavanaghs-1966

cavers-jewellers-mills-china-shop-dec-1975

m4-santa-parade-4

chaplin-and-code-hardware-dec-1958

 

chaplins-dairy-1969

chaplins-delivery-notice-1968

 

circus-surplus-dec-22-1960

m1-cleanrite-cleaners

 

conways-dec-1958

co-op-1974

coopers-furniture-dec-1970

couchs-taxi-dec-1970

county-motors-1974

 

craig-motor-sales-dec-1966

crain-insurance-1974

d-k-fabrics-dec-1970

darou-and-mcintosh-dec-1958

dicola-1957

dixie-lee-fried-chicken-dec-1970

 

dodds-and-erwin-dec-22-1960

m1-drummond-telephone

duncan-accountant-dec-1966

dunlop-coin-wash-1974

 

e-b

e-l

east-end-grocery-dec-23-1965

 

echlin-motors-dec-1965

farrells-store-stanleyville-dec-23-1965

franklin-fence-dec-22-1966

franks-barber-shop-1966

friendly-tv-dec-1970

fuller-store-rideau-ferry

general-insulating-dec-1958

girdwoods-dec-1970

 

golden-triangle-upholstery-dec-1970

greig-accountant-dec-1966

gwm-gift-shop-1974

h-m-centre-dec-1970

 

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

Haggis Candy cane

haliday-take-out-dec-1976

m-tm-hanson-plumbing

healey-transportation-dec-1970

hendersons-red-and-white-dec-1970

hodgson-and-sons-dec-1978

hoffman-and-son-dec-1958

m1-huddleston

 

hy-fund-studio-dec-1970

i-d-a-pharmacy

iga-dec-22-1960

iga-foodliner

international-silver-dec-23-1965

j-j-plumbing-1974

 

jack-and-jill-childrens-wear-dec-23-1965

jack-snow-1958

jamesbrothers1963-644x435

james-brothers-1958

ken-hannah-minnows-dec-23-1965

ken-hughes-motors-dec-1958

kerr-and-duncan-dec-22-1960

kitten-mill-dec-1978

leach-tire-dec-1970

levines-dec-22-1960

lightfords-dec-22-1960

m2-family-wrapping-gifts

macphail-tractor-sales-dec-1975

maximilians-dec-1978

mayor-and-town-council-dec-1975

mclean-noonan

mcnamee-plumbing-and-heating-1974

mctavish-motors-dec-1965

mcveety-electric-dec

 

mill-fab-dec-1976minute-man-dec-1975

 

montgomery-chiroptactor-dec-1966

moss-motors-dec-1965

nellys-shoe-store-dec-22-1960

nisbet-fina-1966

nixon-planing-mill-dec-1970

noonans-dec-18-1958-p-11

noonans-meat-market-dec-23-1965

 

northway-snowmobiles-dec-24-1970

oakes-bakery-1976

 

oroks-hardware-1978

pant-barn-dec-1975

 

perkins-bowling-alley

m1-laundromat

m1-pattenicks

PERTH BLUE WINGS 

m4-blue-wings-2

m4-blue-wings-1

m4-blue-wings-3

m4-blue-wings-4

 

perkins-motors-1958

perth-television-service-1974

m2-rudolph

perth-apothecary-dec-1975

 

perth-banks-dec-1970

m2-santa-and-the-kids

perth-co-op-1958

 

perth-fire-dept-1974

 

perth-flower-shop-1958

 

perth-hotel

perth-hotel-dec

m4-bordons-egg-nog

perth-motors-1970

 

perth-pinto-1974

 

perth-planing-mill-dec-1970

perth-tea-room-dec-1958

r-t
m-robiinsons-beverages-1963

 

reeds-smoke-shop-dec-1970

 

reliable-cab-dec-1975

m4-cow

revere-hotel-dec-1975

m4-christmas-stocking-little-boy

reward-shoe-store-dec-22-1960

rollys-restaurant-dec-1970

m4-santa-parade-5

rubinos-dec-1958

m4-santa-parade-6

russ-ellis-dec-1958

m-ryders-restaurant-1963

sawdons-appliances

scotts-chicken-villa-dec-1976

shaws-dec-25-1958

shaws1-644x336

siddalls-dec-22-1960

m4-santa-parade-7

small-brothers-1958

somerville-farm-supplies-dec-24-1970

m1-smiths-radio

soper-theatre-dec-1975

stan-cleroux-dec-1976

stan-tufts

stedmans-dec-1970

m4-santa-parade-8

m1-stanzel

street-travel-1974

sullivan-sanitation-dec-1976

tay-towne-cleaners-dec-1975

tay-valley-sports-dec-1975

tayside-bakery

 

teak-hair-dec-1976

the-mill-store-dec-1975

the-valley-book-shop-dec-1976

thomas-optometrist-dec-1966

thornburys-drug-dec-1970

tims-texaco-dec-1970

town-and-country-restaurant

van-pelt-carpenter-1974

 

vanderspanks-dec-1970

perth-birds-eye-view
m1-wayfare-restaurant-1967

letters-to-santa-1978

letters-to-santa-1978-2

m4-winter-farm

m4-new-years-rideau-ferry-inn

m7-santa-and-reindeer-flying

 

 

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

This post is dedicated to the merchants of Perth, large and small.  Many 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 remember to shop locally this Christmas season, and support the local artisans, craftspeople, and neighbourhood businesses in our community!

Merry Christmas!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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.

 

…………………………………

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Lanark County Classics – Book Launch

A sunny, warm, late September day brought record crowds to the official book launch for “Lanark County Classics: A Treasury of Tales from Another Time”.

The Book Nook, a popular store on the main street of historic Perth, Ontario, was the setting for a steady stream of book lovers eager to read the latest collection of stories set in Lanark County, the picturesque maple syrup capital of Ontario.

The newly released stories in this series are set in Perth, Lanark, DeWitt’s Corners, Pakenham, Clyde’s Forks, Middleville, and the former North Burgess Township, taking the reader along on a journey back to the 1960s and 1970s in rural Eastern Ontario.

An early visitor to the store on Saturday, was Tara Gesner, from Metroland Media, a reporter covering the book launch for the local newspaper.

tara-gesner-metroland-media-sept-24-20160001

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

book-launch-2016-1

 

A reader from Port Elmsley stopped by, interested in local history, and had certainly come to the right book launch for stories set around the region.

port-elmsley-resident-sept-24-20160001

 

Dianne Tysick Pinder-Moss, former classmate of the author has purchased the entire collection for her mother, who has been a fan of the series since the beginning.

dianne-sept-24-20160001

 

Nancy Townend, Pakenham resident, came to the launch after hearing that one of the stories ‘Perils in Pakenham’, was set in her lovely,scenic, village.

nancy-townend-sept-24-20160001

 

Carol-Ann McDougall,  resident of the Big Rideau Lake, featured in the story “Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story” Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story  brought a lovely, bright yellow chrysanthemum to grace the table of the book launch.  Carol-Ann has read all of the books in the Lanark County series, and has been looking forward to reading the newest collection of stories.

carol-ann-book-launch-2016

 

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

carla-brown-sept-24-20160001

 

Avid reader of local history, Tom Ayres was eager to get the latest book in the series.  Tom has read all five in the collection, and is the reader who requested the story on Antler Lodge, featured in the last book – Lanark County Connections. Antler Lodge

tom-ayres-book-launch-2016

 

One of the stories in the new book, Lanark County Classics is ‘Meet Me in DeWitt’s Corners. The story takes the reader back to the earliest days of the hamlet, recounts the history of this proud settlement, and the DeWitt family, whose name still graces the community today.   It was a special treat to have members of this founding family attend the book launch.

jane-dewitt-brady-ogrady-1-sept-24-20160001

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

Jane DeWitt Brady O'Grady 2 Sept 24 20160001.JPG

 

Also, a direct descendant of Zephaniah DeWitt, and native of DeWitt’s Corners – William ‘Bill’ Cavanagh,  son of Helen DeWitt and James ‘Jim’ Cavanagh, and his wife Brenda.

bill-brenda-cavanagh-1-sept-24-20160001

 

Another native of DeWitt’s Corners, and descendant of pioneer Zephaniah DeWitt, sister of Bill, JoAnne Cavanagh Butler, daughter of Helen DeWitt and James ‘Jim’ Cavanagh:

joanne-cavanagh-butler-sept-24-20160001

It was a real treat to share some memories of DeWitt’s Corners with Jane, JoAnne and Bill!

Along with the DeWitt descendants, long-time residents of DeWitt’s Corners, Elaine and Dave Morrow stopped by the book launch.  Both Dave and Elaine contributed their memories and stories of DeWitt’s Corners for the book.  Owner of The Book Nook, Leslie Wallack, is standing to the right of Elaine. Leslie and her staff were busy the entire day assisting visitors to this popular store.

elaine-leslie-sept-24-20160001

Beverly Miller Ferlatte also stopped by the book launch.  Beverly shared her memories of S.S. # 4 , Bathurst, School for the story based in DeWitt’s Corners.  Beverly’s grandmother Mary Jordan was a well-loved and respected teacher at the school for many years.  The school house has been converted into a residence and Beverly’s brother Brian is the current owner of this historic building.

bev-miller-ferlatte-1-sept-24-20160001

Janice Jordan Gordon was another contributer to the DeWitt’s Corners story in the book. Janice was very helpful in identifying the children in several class photos from S.S. # 4 Bathurst School.

janice-jordan-gordon-1-sept-24-20160001

A book launch would not be complete without a visit from former neighbours from the Third Line of Bathurst, Margery Conboy and her daughter Diana. Margery and her husband Wayne Conboy also shared their memories of DeWitt’s Corners, and the historic cheese factory that remained at ‘The Corners’ until 1979.

margery-diana-sept-24-20160001

 

Another former neighbour, Dave Mitchell,stopped by the book launch.  Dave was also interested in reading the story on DeWitt’s Corners, and finding out more about the history of the area where he was raised.

dave-mitchell-elaine-sept-24-20160001

 

The Book Launch at The Book Nook was a great success!  Many thanks to host Leslie Wallack and her staff, for keeping up with the steady crowds, and for providing the delicious refreshments.

A special thanks to all who came, from near and far, to stop by and chat, to share some memories, and to be a part of the busy day!

………………………………………………

Stories in “Lanark County Classics”:

  1. Baffling Banshees in Burgess
  2. Meet Me in DeWitt’s Corners
  3. Mystery in Clyde Forks
  4. Multitudes in Middleville
  5. A Grand Era in Lanark
  6. Perils in Pakenham
  7. Perplexed in Perth

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

 

UFO Sightings Over Perth

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 Perth Ontario, 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

UFO OPP sightings

Ivan Vandusen, R.R. 2 Smiths Falls,

– one of the first to report the UFOs

 

Ivan Van Dusen UFO reportIvan Van Dusen # 2

Flying in Formation, Ten Feet Apart…..

Moving toward Carleton Place

Everet Lavender

 

Mrs. Essex Clement in Port Elmsley:

“They just disappeared.”

 

Mrs. Essex Clement UFO

 

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

UFOs Seen Over Mississippi Lake

 

UFOs over Mississippi Lake

 

It 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

UFO 1

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

 

Julian Kustra reports flying object

over Sherbrooke Street in Perth

UFO 2

“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.

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

 

ufo-jan-1979

Cartoon printed in “The Perth Courier”, January 10, 1979, page 2

Flying objects in the sky became the talk of the town!

 

ufo-jan-10-1979

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 some of 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

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Lanark County Classics – Sneak Preview

Sneak peek banner

 

Table of Contents for blog

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

Book Review jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

………………………………………………………….

Available at The Book Nook, The Bookworm & Blackwood Originals in Perth,  Perfect Books & Books on Beechwood in Ottawa, Arlie’s Books in Smiths Falls, Mill St. Books and Divine Consign in Almonte, or on http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

The Cry of the Banshee in North Burgess Township

banshee

 

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

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

 

Quinn house Burgess

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

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

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

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

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

Quinn family and police Burgess

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

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

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

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Who were these Irish Settlers?

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

irish potato blight

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

Irish immigrants

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

coffin ship

 

typhus

 

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

nburgess

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

Irish legend

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

Banshee   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

haunted house headline

haunted house of Burgess

quinn house 1

quinn house 2

………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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

Adam

Bennett

Byrne

Byrnes

Byres

Callaghan

Chaffey

Darcy

Deacon

Donnelly

Dooker

Doran

Eagan

Farrell

Hanlon

Haughian

Jackman

Kearns

Kelly

Kerr

Lappan

Lennon

McCann

McCracken

McGlade

McIver

McLeod

McNamee

McParland

McVeigh

Mullin

Murphy

O’Connor

O’Hare

O’Neill

Parry

Powers

Quigley

Quinn

Ryan

Scanlon

Smith

Stanley

Stapleton

Thompson

Toole

Traynor

Troy

White

………

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:

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

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

St. Bridget’s Cemetery Staneyville Ontario

Roman Catholic interments North Burgess Township

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

Scotch Line Cemetery – North Burgess

Irish Immigration to Canada

Irish Immigration to Canada National Archives

Lanark County Genealogical Society

https://lanarkgenealogy.com/

Archives Lanark

http://archiveslanark.ca/index.php

Search the census records for North Burgess Township, Lanark County

Searchable online census records for Lanark County

Irish Genealogy Records online

Irish Records

……………

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

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

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

 

Lanark County Classics Book Cover small for blog

…..

(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)

Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story

big rideau lake

They were a couple of crazy kids from Kirkland Lake – outdoorsy-types, loved to ski and ride ski-doos, and most of all, they loved each other. After high school, they enrolled at Carleton U. , married in 1982, settled down in Orleans, and raised a couple of kids.

Fifteen years ago they went for a drive, and that was the first time they laid eyes on the Rideau Lakes. They’d never seen anything so blue, so peaceful, and so perfect. He looked at her and said, “This place feels like home.” And at that precise moment, they decided that someday they would build a house on that very spot.

At first, they bought a trailer, and a plot of land near the shoreline, and every season, without fail, they returned to the Big Rideau.

Their kids grew up, and they knew that it was time –  time to sell the house in the suburbs and build their dream along the water’s edge. The Big Rideau had been calling their names for years, and they were finally able to answer.

 

ken and carol ann

Mornings begin now with pink skies at sunrise, and waves gently lapping the shores. Evenings wind down to the sound of the loons as the sun dips low along the horizon and eventually disappears into the lake.

Ken on the boat

 

A bumper crop of apples, along with a perennial Perth Fair prize-winning recipe for Applesauce Loaf from “Recipes & Recollections”, filled their lake house with the warm scents of home baking.

applesauce bowl and bookapple sauce loaf in the pan 5

applesauce loaf in the ovenapplesauce bread finished

 

Time is spent lovingly restoring a 1961 classic boat to her former glory, and day-trips to Perth or Brockville, along the scenic Rideau waterway.

ferry bridge

 

lake life with ken and carol ann

 

boat

 

You never know who might stop by for a visit in Rideau Ferry!

deer at Rideau Ferry

 

Pull up a chair on the deck, and soak up the warm summer sun…

dog 2

 

 

Make some new friends at the annual Rock the Dock…

life at the lake

 

 

or dance the night away at the yearly corn roast, along the shores of the Big Rideau

night scene

 

Grab a cold drink, and sit outside at the fire pit.

fire pit

 

Whether you feel like socializing, or would prefer a quiet evening listening to the sounds of the loons, there’s always something to do at the lake!

loons

The beguiling charm of Rideau Ferry has been capturing the hearts of visitors and residents alike going back as far as the days of the pioneer settlers.

“One of the most notorious characters that passed his leisure time along the Rideau waterways was none other than Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone.  Al Capone was a mobster based out of Chicago, and he made his fortune as a bootlegger, during prohibition.

Al Capone

He is said to have been a frequent visitor to a grand home in Kemptville, that was once owned by John Harris.  Harris was a local who became a pharmacist, and worked in Chicago.

 

Al Capone's house

It has been suggested, that because of his background in chemistry and science, he was possibly cooking up quantities of moonshine in his home, and as you can imagine, this was of great interest to Capone.

In 1927 Harris built the beautiful, stone mansion that still stands today on Oxford Street in Kemptville.  Locals say that the house was built with a state of the art security system, and series of underground passages.  The grand home features leaded glass, a main switch to control all of the lights in the house, and a panic button wired directly to the local police station. It has yet to be confirmed that there are two tunnels leading from the house; one that links the home to the Kemptville Hotel, and the other which connects the house to the river.

Some of the stories have suggested that Capone himself hid a quarter of a million dollars, between the walls.  Whether fact or fiction, witnesses, some of them lifelong residents of Kemptville, who were around in the 1930s and 40s, claim they saw many long, black limousines and the infamous black Cadillac parked at the home.  Coincidentally or not, Harris sold the house, and moved away within a few weeks after Capone’s death.”

On a lighter note, one of the popular dancehalls of the 1950s – 70s was known as the Rideau Ferry Inn. It was built on the site of what was originally a family home known as ‘Coutts House’.

After 1905, the building was rented to a series of business men. During the 1920s and 30s regattas became popular and Coutts House held canoe races and rowboats races. They also sponsored events for sailboats and it was the site of many grand daytime celebrations and intimate evening affairs for the wealthy travelers visiting in the summer.

Coutts_House

In 1947 Doug Wallace, native of Osgoode, bought Coutts House, tore it down, and built a new structure, with wood framing and grey granite blocks. It was a two storey building and the second floor featured a large dance area with seating on three sides.

By the 1960s the building had become known as the Rideau Ferry Inn, and during this time became licensed for liquor sales. Up until that time people smuggled in their own booze, particularly in the roaring twenties when rum-running along the Rideau had its hey-day.”

Rideau Ferry Inn

Whether you’re a visitor to the Rideau Lakes region, or living the ‘Lake Life’ like residents Ken and Carol-Ann McDougall, Rideau Ferry and its majestic, pristine waterways offers something for everyone.

With a rich history, and its striking beauty, the lakes are a wonderful place to pull up a chair and enjoy the view.

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If you spend time around Rideau Ferry, you may hear these surnames that go back in the history of the area since the early days of the settlement:

Best

Bethune

Beveridge

Buchanan

Campbell

Cornell

Covell

Crombie

Dettrick

Donaldson

Fitzgerald

Frost

Gallagher

Gemmell

Gould

Grierson

Hall

Hitchcock

Houze

Irving

Jackson

Johnson

Joynt

King

Mathews

McCue

McKay

McLean

McVeety

Millar

Miller

Moore

Oliver

Poole

Purdon

Reid

Richards

Rintoul

Runge

Sewell

Shaw

Smith

Stewart

Taylor

Thomlinson

Tully

Vandusen

Wallace

Wills

Wilson

Wood

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Excerpts on Coutts House, and Al Capone’s heyday, taken from:
“Lanark County Chronicle – Double Back to the Third Line”    ISBN 978-0-9877026-26

LC Chronicle

Recipe for the prize-winning Applesauce Loaf, may be found in –
“Recipes & Recollections: Treats and Tales from our Mother’s Kitchen”  ISBN 978-0-9877026-09
recipes & recollections cover 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Available in local book stores, and online
www.staffordwilson.com