Many of the early settlers in Lanark County, arrived in 1816, like our pioneer ancestor, Tobias Stafford. He came from County Wexford, married the lovely Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ McGarry, from County Westmeath, and after a year spent living on Stafford Island, built a home on lot 10, 11th concession of Drummond Township.
One of the recipes brought from their native southern Ireland, was for Irish Boxty. It was a simple dish, made with ingredients on hand. In those days, it was a very long trip by horse and buggy to Perth, for supplies. Many of the early recipes relied on staples, ingredients available in the cupboard, at home.
As some may already know, the Irish love their limericks, and poems, and there is a little rhyme about Boxty, that was often recited with a wink and a smile. Although it is not very politically-correct in these times, it gives us a glimpse into the things of the past, that were popular in the early days:
“Boxty on the griddle, Boxty in the pan, If you can’t make boxty, You’ll never get your man”
Recipe for Boxty/ Irish Potato Cakes
2 c mashed potatoes
1 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp grated onion
1 egg, beaten
Mix all ingredients together, shape into patties, and fry in a greased pan, until golden brown. (salt and pepper to taste) Serve with eggs, breakfast meats, and hot buttered toast.
(enjoy with a cup of hot Irish breakfast tea, or hot black tea, as our parents did)
This old recipe, in its simplicity, may not be diverse enough for the modern palate, and some may wish to add spices or vegetables into the mix.
Mother and Dad enjoyed plain food that wouldn’t upset their stomachs, and this certainly fits the bill.
and…never to be forgotten, the ritual that always came before any meal at the Stafford home, was the grace:
Bless this food to our use,
and us, for thy service”
For more information on the early Irish settlers of Drummond Township, and St. Patrick’s church:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
This recipe is from “Recipes and Recollections: Treats and Tales from our Mother’s Kitchen” ISBN: 9780987-7026-09
Churching refers to a blessing given to mothers following their recovery from childbirth. After remaining at home for 40 days after giving birth, the woman would return to church where she would thank God for the safe delivery of her child and receive a blessing from the priest. This was known as ‘Benedictio Mulieris Post Partum’ (The blessing of women after giving birth), and more commonly known as ‘Churching’.
The forty days was a rest period, where the woman’s husband and female relatives would take on all of the household chores, giving her time to recover after childbirth, and to spend time with and enjoy the baby. Wealthy families hired what was known as a ‘monthly’ nurse who worked specifically with new mothers taking on their duties for the first six weeks. At the end of that time, the ceremony of churching marked a return to normal life, and was often accompanied by a party.
Only married women were eligible for the blessing. They were to be appropriately dressed, and carried a lighted candle. The priest would then mark the woman with the sign of the cross in holy water.
Among the old beliefs and customs brought to Lanark County by the early settlers from Ireland, were their superstitions about new mothers, and the rituals of Churching. In Irish folklore, it was regarded as unwise for a woman to leave her house to go out at all until she went to be ‘churched’. It was believed that new mothers who had yet to be churched were regarded as attractive and vulnerable to the fairies, and so they were in danger of being kidnapped by them.
Painting: Joseph Noel Paton – 1850
Churching in the West
In the history of many religions all things having to do with birth and death are understood as somehow sacred, and the custom of ‘Churching’ was also practised in many of the other Christian churches, such as Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist.
In the Lutheran church, there is a prayer for “the Churching of Women” – “God, we praise Thee for Thy great mercy shown to this mother and her child, and humbly beseech Thee to keep them always in Thy gracious care.”
In the Anglican 1979 “Book of Common Prayer”, there is “A Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child.” The rite takes place within the Sunday liturgy soon after the birth and parents and other family members come to the church with the newly born child to be welcomed by the congregation and to give thanks.
In the Methodist Church the custom of the churching of women, is officially known as “An Order of Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child”, and continues to be offered in the present day.
Painting: “A Woman’s Solemn Churching after Childbirth” by Christen Dalsgaard – 1860
Origins of Churching
In previous times infant mortality was very high and baptizing a child quickly became important. Because of this the mother could not always attend the baptism, because she was often still recuperating from birth.
The time of recovery — called “lying in” was often a welcome time of rest for women who often had hectic and busy days . During the lying in, women were exempt from attending Mass on Sundays and from fasting.
You may see references to ‘Churching’ in parish records, where the minister or priest recorded the Churching, Birth, Baptism, Marriage, Death, and Burial Records of the members of a congregation.
A Thing of the Past?
The rite was dropped by the Catholic Church after the second Vatican Council of 1967. Some say that the practice lost favour because it was seen as a ‘purification’ ritual, however, another possible view is that giving thanks for safely coming through childbirth may still be relevant today. For some, a service focused entirely on the woman, apart from her identity as mother, is rare at a time when the new baby commands so much attention.
Churching in modern times
Where to Find
Irish Churching Records:
You can find Churching Records within the Church of Ireland registers, as a notation in the baptismal registers.
Some records of Irish churchings include:
Cork, Cloyne parish, – churchings from 1795 to 1818
Kilbrogan, – churchings from 1756 to 1818
St. Mary’s Clonmel, – churching records from 1796 to 1801
Evidence of churchings in Catholic registers are more difficult to find. They are normally found in baptismal registers as notes written in the margins, as is the case in Kilbrogan RC in County Galway
Those were the first words spoken to our mother, the day she met her new father-in-law, Vince Stafford. He was referring to the fact that they were married on the twelfth of July. He made it quite clear that he was not pleased that his son had chosen to welcome a Protestant into their Roman Catholic family, on July 12th of all days!
Some called it Orangeman’s Day, and some referred to it as the ‘Glorious Twelfth’. On July 12th each year, Protestant organizations celebrated the victory of Protestant King William of Orange, riding a white horse, who defeated Catholic King James, at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690.
The Orange and the Green
When I was a kid, the Irish Rovers recorded a song called “The Orange and the Green”, about a child growing up with one Roman Catholic parent, and one Protestant parent. We saw them perform the song many times over on a popular television show called ‘The Pig and Whistle’, and the irony of the song was not lost on us.
Our father, a Roman Catholic, from Drummond Township, grew up attending St. Patrick’s church in Ferguson Falls, while our mother attended Calvin United in Bathurst (Tay Valley) Township.
Although the feelings of bias and animosity between these two religions may seem foreign to us in these more inclusive times, they were still very much in the forefront, during the 1940s, when my parents married. Mother said she never felt accepted by Dad’s family, particularly his parents; and that never changed even up to the late 1950s and early 1960s when the in-laws passed away.
This religious prejudice ran on both sides of the fence. I recall our cousin, Ruth Rutherford, in Ogdensburg, New York, was forbidden to marry her sweetheart, a Catholic lad, and she never got over it. She remained single for the rest of her life, unable to marry her true love.
It may be difficult for us to imagine, but there were times in our early history in Canada where it was not uncommon for the July 12th celebrations to result in violence or even death.
‘The St. Alban’s Advertiser’, July 20, 1877, p.3
In the early years of the last century, the Orangemen’s Day parades in Canada drew crowds in the thousands, and it was not unusual for fights to break out, and insults along with injuries were to be expected.
Orange Parade, Toronto, July 12, 1911
Although Orangeism originated in Ireland and England, Ogle Robert Gowan, the Order’s first Canadian Grand Master is recognized as the founder of Canadian Orangeism. It is interesting that Gowan is known to have been a frequent visitor to a local fortune teller, Mother Barnes, the Witch of Plum Hollow. Not wishing to be seen consulting a sooth-sayer, he often sent his wife and their maid to ask questions about his politics and his career.
Orange Lodges, as the membership halls were called, sprang up all over Canada, and in Eastern Ontario, they were a common sight in almost every community. The closest Orange Hall to our house was at Wemyss, frequently used as a dance hall, and a place to play cards and socialize.
“The Perth Courier” Sept. 27, 1940, p.4
Carleton Place was one of the first communities to establish a Loyal Orange Lodge, along with Perth, Smiths Falls, and Montague Township.
In the early days, thousands attended Orange events:
“The Perth Courier”, July 8, 1904, p4
Through the decades, many community organizations also held their meetings and socials at the local Orange halls.
“The Perth Courier”, Oct. 23, 1941,p.1
Carleton Place had one of its largest crowds of visitors on July 12, 1920:
In 1921, the Orange Order agreed on several resolutions, including one intended to abolish all separate schools in Canada.
The popularity of the Orange Order celebrations continued through the 1930s…
“The Perth Courier”, July 13, 1934, p.1
Flag of Canada’s Grand Orange Order
An Orange parade was often led by one of the members on a white horse, symbolizing the white horse ridden by King William of Orange, at the Battle of the Boyne.
Some of the symbols worn by members of the Orange Order
Orange Order – ‘Keys to Heaven‘
To assist in the war efforts, every Orange Lodge in Canada was turned into a recruiting office in WWII
“The Perth Courier”, July 19, 1940, p.1
Lanark County Oranges Lodges, Active in 1946
Lanark County – Orange Order Officers 1946
“The Perth Courier”, July 18, 1946, p.1
In 1957, the Orange Day celebrations were held in Almonte, and Rev. Canon J.W.R. Meaken, shared some comments as part of his address to begin the meeting:
“The Perth Courier” July 25, 1957, p.7
Interest in joining the Orange Order began to dwindle in the 1960s and 1970s, and instead of thousands attending the annual parade, it became ‘hundreds’.
“The Perth Courier” July 8, 1971, p.1
Memberships grew smaller and smaller in many parts of the country, and in Lanark County, one of the oldest Orange Lodges, in Carleton Place, closed after 185 years, in January of 2015. The existing membership would merge with the Montague lodge # 512. (The Grand Lodge of Ireland issued the original warrant for the Carleton Place Lodge back in 1830.)
Left, John Arksey, County Master for Rideau/St. Lawrence County Orange Lodges,center, Kevin Bradley, Grand Master of the Carleton Place Lodge, and Mark Alexander, provincial grand master, Ontario East, of the Grand Orange Lodge of Eastern Ontario.
“Inside Ottawa Valley” Dec 02, 2015, by Desmond Devoy, ‘Carleton Place Almonte Canadian Gazette’
At one time, there were 30 Lodges throughout Lanark County. After the closing of the Carleton Place Lodge in 2015, only the Montague Lodge and the Smiths Falls Lodge (No. 88), remained. The Almonte Lodge (No. 378) amalgamated with Carleton Place in 1987, Franktown in Beckwith Township (No. 381) in 1992, and Drummond Centre in Drummond/North Elmsley Township (No. 7) in 2013.
Throughout the many decades of the celebration of Orangemen, their sometimes vocal, and occasionally violent encounters with the Catholics, our family will continue to celebrate July 12th for a different reason. July 12th, for us, was the joining of the two religions, historically separated on this date, a young Protestant girl from the west, and a handsome Roman Catholic lad from Drummond Township.
Maybe they were ahead of their time. It was 1943 afterall, and marrying outside of one’s religion was often frowned upon. Luckily for us, the five children that followed in this unconventional marriage, would grow up in a home where we learned to respect different opinions, different points of view, and different religions.
And so, the Protestant girl, and the Catholic boy were married for almost 50 years, until Dad passed away.
I still smile when I hear that Irish Rover’s tune, “The Orange and the Green”, and July 12th, for us, will always be a special day in our own family history.
In the quietest moments, without trying to teach, life’s lessons unfolded and we wereimprintedforever with a strong work ethic, the power of a kind word, and the value of integrity….
Who was he? What was he like? These are the questions that might be asked by curious grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and their children in the years to come. His descendants will walk this earth, long after our time has passed, when those who knew him in this life are themselves just a memory, a grainy photo in someone’s dusty old album, or a name that’s mentioned from time to time when family members gather together.
His ancestors came to Canada in 1816 and settled in Drummond Township, not far from Ferguson Falls. Both sides were from southern Ireland, and both Roman Catholics, weary of the treatment of their kind by the British, and longing for freedom and the opportunity to thrive and prosper.
Dad was the youngest son, of a youngest son, of a youngest son of the pioneer settler, he was named for.
He attended school in Prestonvale, and played ball on the local team, and the Innisville team were their greatest rivals.
Church attendance was non-negotiable and held at St. Patrick’s each Sunday without fail.
photo: 1896, family of Thomas Stafford & Mary Carroll Stafford (seated in the middle) Thomas was the youngest son of pioneer settler Tobias Stafford and Elizabeth McGarry, 11th concession, Lot 10, Drummond Township. Seated in the front is Dad’s father, Michael Vincent ‘Vince’ Stafford.
(back row: Anne, Mary, Thomas Julia, middle row: Margaret beside her father, and Peter beside his mother, Anastasia seated beside Vince in the front row)
1932 Prestonvale Ball Team
The Prestonvale ball team in 1932, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford seated 2nd from the end, wearing a tie.
(other players unknown, but may be some of the same players as the 1934 team below)
Prestonvale Baseball Team 1934
Back row: Bob McEwen, Mansell Horricks, Henry McFarlane, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford, Roy McEwen, Dawson Horricks
Front row: Ossie Rothwell, Billy Tullis, Lloyd Horricks, John Dickenson
St. Patrick’s Church, Ferguson Falls, Ontario – where Dad and his family attended services
He enlisted in WWII, in the R.C.A.F., where he met our mother, while they were both stationed at the No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School in Lethbridge, Alberta. They married in 1943, and he was posted overseas in Bournemouth, England.
1946 – Dad was discharged from the Royal Canadian Air Force, and he, Mother, and their two babies, Tim and Judy, moved to the home they would occupy for the next 50 years – the Stafford House.
By the 1960s, the family had grown! Left to right – Roger Stafford, Arlene on Judy’s lap, Mother – Audry (Rutherford) Stafford, Dad – Tobias ‘Tib’, ‘Tim’ Stafford, Tim Stafford, and Jackie Stafford.
Dad farmed the land for some years, then the cattle became ill with tuberculosis and had to be destroyed. He hauled milk to local cheese factories, spent some years working on the railroad, a couple of decades delivering milk for Chaplain’s Dairy in Glen Tay, then finished his workdays at Wampole Pharmaceutical on Hwy 7, in 1983, when he retired.
1968 – their 25th wedding anniversary
1988 – 45th Wedding Anniversary – with Korry’s farm in the background
What was he like?
Dad was soft-spoken, and for the most part was even-tempered and easy to get along with. His family was very important to him and he enjoyed spending time together at Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions. He kept his cars in immaculate condition and loved to take us all for Sunday drives into the country. He enjoyed nature and called us over to see a hummingbird flutter, or a sun-dog in the sky. He loved to hear the birds calling, high up in the maple trees, and didn’t mind the bats swooping around on hot summer evenings. He took great pride in the appearance of his lawn and enjoyed cutting it and trimming the long grass.
How do I remember him on Father’s Day?
He was the slayer of dragons who hid in the dark corners of my room at night. He was the one I ran to during thunderstorms, who distracted me from my fears by showing me his watch with the hands that glowed in the dark. He was a night-time story-teller and a bed-time book-reader. He was the tour-guide on Sunday drives, and the local historian on trips to the cemetery. He believed that everyone deserved a treat – every day, and he brought home chocolate bars, tucked into his lunch pail, for each one of us, every evening. He was a great believer in common sense and had a surprisingly simple solution for almost every problem. He showed us how a man treats a woman he loves as he joked around and also complimented our mother as though they were still dating. He got up each day, dressed neatly, and went off to work, and I never heard him complain about his job, although I’m sure there were times that he could have.
And so as we pause today to thank the fathers of the world, some who are still here, and as we also remember those who are no longer with us, I will finish with a quote that reminds me of this quiet, thoughtful man who we called, “Dad”: