Part Sixty-Three ~ Here We Go… Again
Who doesn’t love looking at class photos from the last century? Hopefully not you, because here we go again!
Because The Rideau District Museum has a plethora of photos of citizens of the village from the 1900s, it seems a shame not to share them all on Vintage Westport. Even if you see yourself here, it isn’t because you are ‘vintage’, but because you were fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough, depending on your take), to have shown up on picture day when you were in school.
Part Sixty-Two ~ Continuing with the Trend
Last week we took a look at the pupils of Bell’s School, Salem, and Ardmore, and, not surprisingly, that was our most popular Vintage Westport post ever. For those who don’t follow The Rideau District Museum on Facebook, we had over 1,800 views of that particular post!
We love being popular, so, to continue with the trend, we are going to post three more school photos today where you might be able to spot a grandparent or distant relative. As always, we thank you for following Vintage Westport and keeping our history alive!
Part Sixty-One ~ A Look Out of Town
This week, Vintage Westport is venturing out of the village and taking a peek at some of the outlying schools in the district. Back in the days of the one-room schoolhouses, children would walk for miles every day to class and some would even hop on the B&W and ride to school in style on the train with a monthly pass.
Part Sixty ~ A Final Look Back at Blair’s
Continuing last week’s post, “A Look at Blair’s Store”, we are going to take another glimpse at some memories of the store that stood on the corner of Main and Bedford Streets. Were you in the village at the time of the fire, and were you one of the many gathered on the street to watch it burn?
Part Fifty-Nine ~ A Look at Blair’s Store
Blair’s Store was a Westport landmark that stood on the southeast corner of Main and Bedford Streets. One of the last big fires of commercial properties within the boundaries of the village, Blair’s was destroyed in 1963.
Part Fifty-Eight ~ Westport’s Irish Roots
Because today is St. Patrick’s Day, and many in the village will be celebrating their Irish heritage, I thought it would be fitting to put in an excerpt from The Book of Westport.
“Irish-Catholic roots run very strong in Westport. In the 1850’s, a great number of
weddings recorded in the St. Edward’s parish register by Rev. Foley had origins in
Ireland. Henry Bennett & Mary Ryan (both of County Armagh), John Donnelly &
Margaret Byrns (both from Ireland), Felix Bennett & Bridget McCoy (both from
County Armagh), Michael McCoy & Martha O’Here (County Armagh), Patrick Fegan
& Alice O’Here (both from Ireland) were all united in marriage in 1852 in Westport.
Many of the Irish that came to The Mountain during the Potato Famine have
remained in the area for generations, as the names of these students (below) at
Mountainview School in 1914 indicate. Members of the Dier, McCann, and Murphy
families immigrated to North Crosby in the mid-1800”s.
Part Fifty-Seven ~ What Else Was There (at the Upper Mills)
Last week we took a look at the west end of the Mill Pond and saw the International Buckle Factory in its glory days before the fire that destroyed it in 1909. Back in the early 1900s, the Upper Mills was the location of the Buckle Factory, The Electric Light and Milling Company, and of course, Mount-View Hospital. This week we’ll take a look at three more photos of the Upper Mills.
Part Fifty-Six ~ So this was The Mill Pond
The west-end of The Mill Pond was once home to the International Buckle Factory, which was built around 1903 and destroyed by fire in 1909. Mount-View Hospital was operated by Dr. Berry and Dr. Singleton, with nurses Alice and Rebecca Lynn, from the 1890s until the 1920s. Originally the hospital was the residence of Joel Clark who had operated the Carding Mill; the building still stands, now as a private residence, in its original location. Westport was very industrious in its early days, and had a sash and door factory, a furniture factory (Fredenburgh’s Red Mill), a malleable iron works, and more.
Part Fifty-Five ~ The Day the Dam Broke
The following is an excerpt from the Book of Westport:
“When the village awoke on Saturday, July 1st,  they were surprised to find that the Westport woolen mill and electric light dam had broken during the night and carried away the Sand
Lake dam, the buckle factory dam, the road near W.C. Fredenburgh’s dam and the bridges at Mountain Road and Main Street. As a result, those in the village were greatly concerned as they had suddenly become more isolated and business was sure to be seriously affected. Damages were estimated at $10,000.”
The rushing waters from the broken dam resulted in an almost complete drainage of Sand Lake, and severe damage to The Narrows and Newboro locks.
Part Fifty-Four ~ Before it was The Cove
Before The Cove was The Cove, it was the Tweedsmuir (or ‘The Tweeds’ as many would remember). But prior to The Tweeds, it was called The Lexena.
Alex and Lena Brown combined their names to give The Lexena its title. It operated as a hotel/inn for many years and served turkey dinners and good old-fashioned cooking out of the home once owned by the Fredenburgh family.
Lena is shown in the photo on the left in her late 40s or early 50s, and in the photo on the right, she is in her younger years (possibly in her teens). Lena Laishley Brown was a prominent Westport business-woman and entrepreneur that maintained a successful, neat, and prosperous establishment.
Part Fifty-Three ~ The Corner of Main and Spring
Before it was the bank, it was… the bank. The Merchant’s Bank was opened in the old Cameron Hotel in the late 1800s, and has remained a bank since that time. In 1913 a second financial institution opened in the village; the Union Bank was located on the corner of Main and Bedford in the old Lockwood’s store with J.J. Gallagher, manager, T.E. McLeod, teller, and Harold Dowdall, ledger-keeper.
Part Fifty-Two ~ The Death of Wm. Foley
“The Death of Wm Foley occurred at his home here on Feb 7th 1917 of Appoplexy. He fell in the Cellar where he had went to get an Apple to eat before retiring. Father D. E. Foley of Toronto said his Funeral Mass & Father ORourke sang the Libera. Pallbearers – B.J. McNally. W.C. Fredenburgh, John Cawley. Wm Ewart, J.J. Gallagher & John Mulville, His Brother James Foley of Ottowa attended The Funeral”
Part Fifty-One ~ Out and About Town
This week we’re looking at some vintage Westport photos of early transportation in the village.
Part Fifty ~ Some Women Named Maggie
From 1900 to 1909, the list of the most popular baby girl names usually brought Margaret out in the top three. Maggie, sometimes a given name, and often the shortened form of Margaret, also shows up frequently somewhere in the list.
Today, we shall look at the photos of three women named Maggie.
Part Forty-Nine ~ Ninety-Eight Years Ago in Westport
Happenings in 1919 in the words of Nell McCann
“Sister OHara Died at Philadelphia – with her her Sisters – & her Remains were brought to Kingston on Mar 12th accompanied By Margaret, Jenny & John & his Wife – Met in Kingston by Steve OHara & Wife also J. F. McNally & Wife. The OHara Party returned to Westport & stayed a few days then went”
“Mar 5th Ash Wedensday Dr Berry Died at his home here after a short Illness of Flu followed by Paralysis age 52 yrs”
“Social held in St Edwards School & Grounds on July 16th very large attendance (danced in Hall until 4 A.M.) realized a goodly sum
Ice Cream Candy Booth 48.00
10 Gold Piece
Nett Proceeds over $900″
Part Forty-Eight ~ Ninety-Nine Years Ago in Westport
Now that the New Year has arrived, let’s transport ourselves back ninety-nine years to 1918 when the Red Cross was first organized in Westport. At this time, the village had been thrown into the devastation of The Great War, losses and injuries had begun to pile up, and respected citizens started to take action.
“The (Red Cross Society) Organized in Westport on Jan 3rd (Dr Lockwood gave a talk on the war, Father ORourke Chairman, James McQuire President, M.E. Mulville Treasurer. W. Ripley Secretary) The Ladies of the Executive are 5 in Number. Representing the 5 Denominations – Mrs B.J. McNally Mrs. H.W. Lockwood, Mrs. Baylay, Mrs. G. Fredenburgh, Mrs. H. [I] Arnold”
~the above entry is from The Diary of Nell McCann
Win Ripley became the treasurer, which was definitely within his wheelhouse, as they say. He was a man of many talents.
Part Forty-Seven ~ tensions in the Village
The holidays are a time to celebrate, be joyous, and be with family. However, during the war years, the village was filled with the tensions of local boys preparing for battle and heading overseas.
During the early days of World War I, parents, friends, and relatives watched the youth of Westport pack up their belongings and head off to an unknown future. The following entries from Nell’s Diary recorded the December happenings of 1915.
“We have about 20 Soldiers billeted here for the winter drilling under Capt. Bert Adams. Went to Kingston on 13th Dec & got Kakia Suits returned & is drilling under Liutenant”
“Died on the Battle Fields of France Dec 12/1915 R.A. Kane Son of Thomas & Ellen Kane after being C. Engineer on the B. F. for over 18 months”
“Deming McCann home to spend Christmas in his Military Uniform R.C.H.A. looks fine Just 18 years”
Part Forty-Six ~ Nell McCann
Christmas is almost here, and The Rideau District Museum would like to thank all that have bought copies of The Book of Westport and The Diary of Nell McCann to give as gifts for the holidays. Your support of the museum is greatly appreciated.
Nell’s diary has been an amazing fundraiser for us over the years, and if you’ve read it, you can understand why; it is a candid accounting of real life in the village in the early 1900s from a woman who was was writing down her thoughts without ever knowing how important her words would become to the history of Westport.
Today we are going to look at a few pictures of Nell, supplied to the museum by her relatives, Jackalyn Brady and Jim Forrester.
And here’s Nell.
Part Forty-Five ~ Westport Christmas of 1912
In keeping with the holiday season, I decided this would be a good time to share some Christmas entries from Nell’s Diary from 1912:
“Mrs. Jas Mulville moved into her new house Christmas Eve Dec 24/12”
“Born to Mrs. Coskey (nee A. Brady) a son on Christmas Day 1912”
And speaking of Mrs. James Mulville, her husband, J.V. Mulville was the owner of The American House on Main Street (40 Main Street), and the Mrs. would keep control of the hotel for many years after his death.
An interesting tidbit about J.V. can be found within the pages of The Book of Westport:
“In August, Mr. J.V. Mulville had on exhibition at the American House
Hotel, a 5 ounce egg from one of his Black Minorca hens measuring
seven and a half by eight and a half inches. 1905″
That’s one big egg!
Less than a month later, the death of James Mulville was reported in local papers:
“Mr. James Mulville, proprietor of the American House Hotel for thirty
years, died on August 30th at 78 years of age. Settling in Westport
half a century before, he came from Ireland, and for twenty years
operated two stage lines running out of Westport. His widow and
seven children survive. 1905″
Do you have your copies of The Book of Westport and Nell McCann’s Diary to give as gifts this holiday? If not, The Book of Westport can be purchased at Lower Mountain Mercantile and Town Hall for $20.00, and The Diary of Nell McCann is available at Town Hall for $10.00!
Part Forty-Four ~ the two Billy Burns
Back in the early part of the 1900’s, people died in many unusual ways. A lot. Mr. Ben Tett was found dead in his chair in December of 1915. Miss Mary Black was found dead sitting on her chair on Fair Day in 1917. George Hartwell was found dead in his chair in May of 1921.
And those are just the chair-related deaths in Nell’s Diary.
No matter how you died in Westport, in the end you might just end up being looked after by Billy Burns. Or at least by one of them.
As there were two Billy Burns in the village, and to save confusion, they were known as “Church Billy” and “Undertaker Billy”.
Part Forty-Three ~ More class pictures
As we think of the hustle and bustle that is Black Friday for some of our friends in the U.S., it is a good time to sit back, relax, and be glad that we aren’t fighting crowds for great deals on televisions and toys. It’s a perfect opportunity to grab a cup of coffee and look at some more early-years photographs from Westport’s educational institutions.
Part Forty-Two ~ Here comes the snow
So far this autumn we have managed to see very little snow in Westport, but we are slated to have a little bit of the white stuff early next week. According to the Diary of Nell McCann, that’s right about on schedule.
The following diary entries are about the first snows of the season in the early 1900s.
- “First heavy Snow Storm of the Season (have to shovel) Nov 24/12”
This one is from 1913, when the first snow of the season arrived on the 10th of November:
Nov 10 First cold Blustery day with flurrys of Snow & dreadfull wind Storm & Snow Storm. Nov 10 Started to use the Wood out of the Barn
And from 1914:
- Second Snow Storm of the Season the day Mrs Maurice Lehan’s Body was placed in the vault Nov 13/1914 (The first snow storm of 1914 was on October 26th)
Speaking of Nell, if you haven’t yet purchased a copy of Nell’s Diary, or the Book of Westport, they can be purchased at Town Hall during the winter months when the museum is closed. They would make a terrific gift for the holidays, or a thoughtful Stocking Stuffer. Copies of the Book of Westport are also available at The Lower Mountain Mercantile!
And now for some snow photos of Westport:
Part Forty-One ~ We Remember
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
Westport remembers our own who fell during The Great War (WWI):
- Orval Adam ~ Member of The Royal Flying Corps ~ Date of Casualty: April 1, 1918 ~ Aged 31 Years
- Frederick Board ~ 2nd Canadian Infantry Battalion ~Date of Casualty: Sept. 13th, 1917 ~ Aged 23 Years
- John Cherry Boyd ~ 2nd Canadian Infantry Battalion ~Date of Casualty: August 18th, 1917 ~ Aged 23 Years
- Theo. Charbonneau ~ 8th Canadian Infantry Battalion ~Date of Casualty: November 19th, 1917 ~ Aged 21 Years
- David A. Herlehy ~ Died at Sea ~ Enlisted Name: David Herley ~ Naval records not yet released, further details not available
- Robert A. Kane ~ 3rd Field Co. Canadian Engineers ~Date of Casualty: December 12th, 1915 ~ Aged 26 Years
- Andrew Kish ~ 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles ~Date of Casualty: Sept. 7th, 1917 ~ Aged 24 Years
- Terrance J. McCaffrey ~ Killed in Action ~ Date of Casualty: Nov. 3rd, 1917 ~ Aged 27 Years
- Edward Nixon ~ 27th Battalion Canadian Infantry ~ Date of Casualty: November 6th, 1917 ~ Aged 31 Years
- Harry Cecil Roushorn ~ 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles ~ Killed at Vimy Ridge ~ April 9th, 1917 ~ Aged 23 Years
- William Truelove ~ 3rd Machine Gun Company ~ Date of Casualty: Sept. 24th, 1918 ~ Aged 24 Years
- George Earl Wing ~ 4th Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles ~Date of Casualty: April 9th, 1917 ~ Aged 24 Years
Part Forty ~ Conley Continued
Last week we looked at the Conley building on Main Street, and today we’ll look a little bit deeper at the Conley’s business in the Village of Westport.
James Conley and his son built their new shop on Main Street in 1909 to showcase the boats and launches that they manufactured. In earlier years, a factory was situated on Bedford Street where Conley and Truelove operated their boat building and carriage works. This building is now home to The Rideau District Museum.
In April of 1912, G.S. Conley of Westport patented a new and improved boat fender, making it quite clear that boat building was definitely in the Conley blood.
Part Thirty-Nine ~ “The Times They Are A Changin'”
To quote Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A Changin'”, as is the face of Main Street. Work began this week on 31 Main Street, and this old site is undergoing another facelift.
Over the many years of Westport’s history, 31 Main has housed the boat-building factory of James and George Conley, Conley’s Garage, Dave’s Marina, the mall, and more.
As I am no poet, the following is a photographic ode to 31 Main Street – The Conley Years.
Part Thirty-Eight ~ More Old-Timey School Photos
It’s time for some more photos from the early days of Westport. This week, we’ll look at some classes from the Westport Public School.
Part Thirty-Seven ~ Old School Photos–St. Edward’s
Waking up on this chilly October morning, I was trying to think of a blog post that was something a little different, that could be looked at for a while, and perhaps enjoyed with your morning cup of coffee. What could be better than some old class photos from the early years of Westport’s schools.
So we shall start out with an oldy, but definitely a goody. Here is a class picture from 1899 at St. Edward’s School. Try to imagine the excitement that might have been felt that day in school way back in the 1890s, when it might very well have been the first photo that these children had ever been in, in a time before everyone had a cell phone in their hands with the ability to take as many pictures as they want. (Note: because of the age of this photo, it can’t get any larger without getting a tad blurry)
Another St. Ed’s photo, this one circa 1910.
And lastly, a 1907 graduation photo from St. Ed’s Continuation School.
Part Thirty-Six ~ Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is here again and there’s no better time to share some turkey-related Westport nostalgia.
The Westport Turkey Fair (also known as Poultry Fair Day) was usually held in December and folks from far and wide would flock to Westport to purchase turkeys, chickens, and pretty much any other livestock that locals would feel like parting with.
The major buyers usually hailed from the U.S.A. and Quebec, as those from nearby refused to pay the high prices that were demanded at the sale. In the early 1900s, turkeys would sometimes fetch the hefty price of 32 cents a pound, which is today’s equivalent of $6.75!!!!!
Part Thirty-Five ~ All Things Bright and Beautiful
Westport has always had an active fund-raising presence and community spirit. From work-bees to arranging packages to send overseas during The Great War (later known as WWI), the community has a tendency to pull together when it needs to, as well as supporting local artists, writers, and the like. Last weekend there was a fund-raiser for the library in the form of a Local Writers’ Showcase. This weekend the Westport Arts Council presents “All Things Bright and Beautiful ~ a gathering of quilts and quilters”. Over the years, Westport has gained the reputation of a bustling arts community that is home to countless artists, studios, and craftspeople.
When I talk about Westport on this blog, it is usually in the form of individuals and their accomplishments, events that happened on specific streets, etc., but this week we’re going to look at Westport as a whole.
The best way that I can think of to tie in community spirit and our wonderful Westport, are with photos taken of the entire village, whether it be from The Mountain, the Rideau, or across the lake. So as you look at the pictures of our town, whether you live in the village, near the village, cottage nearby, or visit us from far away through our blog, give yourself a nice little pat on the back to congratulate yourself on your great decision to become a part of the Westport community.
If you are wanting to get in on the fun and take a look at hundreds of quilts in our local churches on Saturday, and support the Westport Arts Council at the same time, you can purchase your passport to get you admitted to the displays for $5.00 at The Museum.
Part Thirty-Four ~ the weather is a-changing
‘Tis the season for changing leaves, warmer clothes, and dropping temperatures. I’m sure many debated turning on their furnaces this morning, or lighting a warm and cozy fire in the fireplace or wood stove. When did it get chilly enough to light the fires for the winters back a hundred years ago? As always, Nell McCann has the answer for us. Here are a few memories of olden-days Westport.
“Fire in Church for first this Fall on All Saints Day Nov 1 1915”
“Jan 21st (1920) Coldest day & night this winter 35 D below Zero – 23rd Stormy – Snow & Wind avereged 18 below Zero – Feb came in nice & remained so for 2 weeks – last two weeks very cold some days Registering 28 below & some 18 below”
“Nov 10 First cold Blustery day with flurrys of Snow & dreadfull wind Storm & Snow Storm Nov 10 Started to use the Wood out of the Barn”
Part Thirty-Three ~ events and goings-on in our schools
Would Nell McCann have been an avid social media maven if she were still alive today? What if she were sharing everyday Westport occurrences on Facebook or Twitter?
Nell probably had no idea that her words would one day become a great insight into our village’s past, an invaluable tool for genealogical research, and a fantastic source of local history which is enjoyed and appreciated by hundreds of people. Just like the students (and most adults) of today share their lives with friends and followers, Nell recorded similar entries into her own personal diary that we still enjoy reading today.
Each entry could very easily be posted onto Facebook today, and it would not seem at all out of the ordinary for someone to share their thoughts and musings with the world. What would seem unusual, however, are the illnesses that would shut down not only the schools, but a large part of the village.
Below is a sample of school-related journal postings that could be deemed ‘Facebook worthy’:
“Scarlet Fever in the Convent School Pupils Oct 1913”
“Died at his home here of Tubercular Meningitis after a short Illness, Mr Burton Taggart (Principal of High School) at the age of 37 his funeral Conducted By The Masons & I.O.O.F was largely attended & the profusions of Flowers which was laid on his Casket Testified to The high Esteem in which he was held” (1915)
“Churches, Schools, Pool Rooms closed down Tight, for about 3 weeks on Account of The Flu Epidemic, Beginning the 20 of Oct & lasting until Nov 18th” (1918)
Part Thirty-Two ~ a look at some of our teachers
Although there was always an abundance of wonderful and influential teachers in the village over the years, we at Vintage Westport like to focus on the long-ago. Even though we have a huge supply of old class photos, the teachers weren’t always identified in them, and so they are destined to go nameless in pictures from the latter part of the 1800s and early 1900s.
We do, however, have some identified photos of a few of our local educators at the Westport Public School. Meet Miss Mary Stinson.
This photo was taken around the time of Mary’s graduation from the Ottawa Normal School in 1902, and she would later teach in Westport for about five years.
She left Westport and headed west, a very common occurrence back in the early 1900s, especially for those with breathing difficulties, as the fresh air of the mountains was supposed to do wonders for one’s health.
Mary would meet her husband in Alberta and the two of them would eventually move even further west to British Columbia.
Upon her departure from Westport, her pupils gave her a letter stating, “our best wishes for your health and success shall always follow you in the great pathway of life”.
Next up is Miss Lola Bullard, shown here in 1909.
From the pages of the 1911 census, Lola is listed as single, born in 1888, living with her father, Burton, Aunt Emma, 12-year-old brother Josiah, and her grandparents Levina and Josiah in Leeds, Ontario.
Miss Bullard taught classes in Westport, Newboro, Delta, and Athens and was from Plum Hollow.
A locally well-known elocutionist, Miss Lola taught the art of proper pronunciation to her pupils and was adept at giving speeches.
Lastly we have Dora Beatrice McFarlane, Junior Room teacher at the public school in 1927, and in later years at Halliday’s School, S.S.#5, North Crosby.
Born in Prescott in 1900, Miss McFarlane would marry Wilfred Rice of Westport in July of 1927. Interestingly, and in a shameless plug for the museum, next summer we will have Mrs. Rice’s wedding dress on display in our collection
Mrs. Rice can be seen in the back row of the above photo wearing the hat.
Part Thirty-One ~ there weren’t just doctors
A few weeks ago we talked about the doctors of Westport, and how they were responsible for bringing new lives into our town and keeping residents healthy through the village’s epidemics and everyday illnesses.
But we haven’t yet talked about the two main nurses at our own Mount-View Hospital.
The Lynn Sisters.
Alice and Rebecca were the daughters of William Robert Lynn and Mary Ann Matchet, both immigrants from Ireland.
Alice, born in 1860, taught school for three years and then attended nursing school in Waltham, Massachusetts, in her early 20’s. She nursed in the Westport area for the remainder of her life and was one of the founders of Mount-View. Also serving as a midwife, Alice would often move into the home of the soon-to-deliver woman and stay for a time after the birth until the mother was able to look after her family again. As a result of Alice’s assistance, a great number of babies in Westport were named Alice.
In 1866 the Lynns had another daughter whom they named Rebecca, however, she died at the age of eight months. Apparently, William had loved the first Rebecca so much, that he also named his next daughter Rebecca as well. Rebecca was one of eleven children, but not unusual for the latter part of the 1800s, only six lived until adulthood. The second Rebecca was born in 1871. Rebecca also received her nursing diploma in Waltham, and together with Alice, she would serve Westport and area as nurse and midwife. As neither of the women married, they lived together in a house on Rideau Street. Rebecca died in 1966 at the ripe old age of 95 and is buried in the United Church Cemetery; which is the same final destination as her brothers Thomas and Abraham and her sisters Alice, who lived until she was 80, and Caroline (Whitmarsh), and their parents.
Part Thirty ~ St. Edward’s School
Work began on The Convent School way back in 1885, and the building was completed in 1886. For one hundred and thirty years the Sisters and teachers at St. Ed’s have shared their knowledge through Catholic education with the youth of our village.
The corner stone from the original St. Edward’s school sits in The Rideau District Museum. It reads, “Convent School Erected 1885; Rt. Rev. J.V. Cleary. S.T.D., Bp of Kingston; Rev. M. J. Stanton, Pastor”.
Part Twenty-Nine ~ a few of the Doctors of Westport
Staying on the topic of doctors, this week we’re going to take a brief look at some of the early ones in the village.
Doctors Berry and Singleton were the main doctors that worked at Mount-View Hospital, which still stands (as a private residence) at the edge of The Mill Pond. These doctors and the Lynn sisters were instrumental in Westport’s health care during the latter part of the 1800s and into the 1900s.
Doctor Hamilton kept the village healthy during the years of WWI, delivering babies, performing surgeries, making house calls, and even accompanying patients to Brockville when necessary. Dr. Hamilton was mentioned over 25 times in Nell’s Diary as he assisted the infirm of Westport and brought new lives into the world.
Doctor Ford Goodfellow, another of Westport’s prominent early physicians, was born during the smallpox epidemic of 1902. At the time of his graduation, many of the modern conveniences of medicine had not yet been established and home births were still the norm. Even when roads were impassable, Doc Goodfellow would make his way to the patient’s side no matter the hour. When conditions would allow, the doctor would travel by “hand-jigger” along the railway track. “One evening as I was pumping my way along the railway track, in a race with the stork, I heard the disturbing sound of an approaching train. I jumped off and managed to tip my hand-jigger seconds before the train rushed by.”
Part Twenty-Eight ~ some deeper delving into Lockwood Field
Last week we talked a bit about the history of the Community Field on Concession Street. In the early days, performances would be held there and large platforms would be brought out for stages and dancing. Although no photos seem to exist of these platforms, at least to my knowledge, last week we looked at a few pictures of sports days, school events, etc. on the premises of what is now known as Lockwood Memorial Field.
But who was the “Lockwood” that this field is named for?
To sum it up in just a few words, Dr. Ambrose Lockwood was a war hero.
Dr. Lockwood made his way to The Front during the early days of WWI where he soon discovered that patients brought into the clearing stations with lung injuries were being shuffled off to wards to die. At the time it was felt that beds and nursing care needed to be reserved for those with injuries that could be treated and had at least some hopes of survival. Hope didn’t exist for those whose lungs were damaged by shrapnel or gunshot wounds.
Unable to perform operations that he knew would save the lives of hundreds (or thousands) of men, as families could not be reached in time to get permission to perform a risky and unheard of surgery, Dr. Lockwood’s hands were tied…
…until a soldier entered the clearing station who, as fate would have it, was a relative of one of the higher-ups that was present at the hospital. Knowing that there was a chance to save the young man’s life, Dr. Lockwood was finally granted the permission needed from a family member and performed the lung surgery. This young soldier survived the war, as did countless others that were brought out from the back wards of the hospitals and given the life-saving surgery that Dr. Ambrose Lockwood had wanted to perform since the onset of The Great War.
So the next time you are strolling through Lockwood Field, think of the story of a local hero that gave so many young soldiers the chance to return home to their families after a devastating injury that would have otherwise ended their life.
Part Twenty-Seven ~ a long history in ‘The Field’
Were you among the spectators at Lockwood Field last night to watch the performance of Taming of the Shrew? Lockwood Field, once known as the Community Field, or simply The Field, has a long history of bringing the village together. Picnics, school sports days, live theater, and entertainment has happened in that same spot for well over a hundred years, and the very first picnic ever held in Westport was held there on September 7th of 1870!
Next time you are enjoying an evening event at Lockwood Field, take a look at the silhouettes of the buildings that surround you, and you’ll be looking at almost the same view that would have been seen more than one hundred years ago, from the spire of St. Edward’s Church, to Knox Presbyterian (minus the bell tower), and even the old Rideau View Dairy.
Part Twenty-Six ~ more things we don’t see in Westport anymore ~ Part Three
This is our third week of looking at things we just don’t see in Westport anymore. Over the years, traditions change and other things just lose their appeal. Things such as:
Part Twenty-Five ~ more things we don’t see in Westport anymore
Last week we looked at three things that you just don’t see anymore in Westport, like drive-ins, dance halls, and cart races.
This week, we’ll look at a few more pictures of other things that have disappeared off the Westport map.
Part Twenty-Four ~ things we don’t see in Westport anymore
Lots of things disappear in a village, whether through progress, lack of interest, or the ordinary shifting of demographics that renders them obsolete. Today we’re going to look at three things that haven’t been seen in Westport for a very long time: Scott’s Ballroom that used to stand on Bedford Street at the site of the municipal parking lot, the cart races in the street of the 1960 Homecoming Week, and the old drive-in known as “Mountain View Drive-In Theatre”.
Part Twenty-Three ~ on this day in our history
What happened in Westport during the last century on this day? Nell McCann’s diary to the rescue!
100 years ago today, Nell made the following journal entry:
“Drowned in the Rideau while out fishing Capt. Bert Adams on Sat July 8th 1916 age 43 buried under the I.O.O.F. funeral private”
103 years ago today:
“Lawn Social held in aid of Ladies Institute July 8/13. A great Success. [Senatir] Derbyshire & Hon. [Dormaveu] Speakers $110.00”
96 years ago today:
“Died in Ottowa after 4 Months Illness of Ulcers of Stomach – Miss Myrtle Whitmarsh July 8 Buried in Westport”
Part Twenty-Two ~ Happy Canada Day
As today is Canada Day, it seems appropriate to post Canada-Day-themed pictures. However, as there are no photos that seem to have been taken during this holiday in old-time Westport, the best we can do is show some of our summer-themed photos taken at what is now The Lions Club Beach. Although these photos are a little more recent than we usually post, it seemed a fitting way to kick off the celebrations that will be held there this afternoon and evening.
A happy and safe Canada Day to all of our readers from Vintage Westport!
Part Twenty-One ~ Now You See It, Now You Don’t (Part Three)
Let’s go back to the days of the 1920’s. More specifically, the winter of 1923. This was the year that fire visited both the Wardrobe Hotel (which we talked about last week) and The Windsor. Both of these structures lost their battle to the flames.
The Windsor, which was located just south of The American House Hotel (current location of Neil Scott’s realty office), burned down less than two months after the Wardrobe. It was shortly after these devastating fires that new equipment was purchased and a new team of fire fighters were organized in the village.
Part Twenty ~ Now You See It, Now You Don’t (Part Two)
In part two of “Now You See It”, we’re going to look at The Wardrobe Hotel (also known as The Wardrobe House, and for a brief period of time The Wardrop). More information was given about the Wardrobe way back on Week Five when we discussed hotels of the village.
The Wardrobe sat snugly on the southwest corner of Church and Bedford Streets for many, many years and was a place to get a good meal, comfortable and clean lodgings, and maybe even a beverage or two.
Part Nineteen ~ Now You See It, Now You Don’t (Part One)
For those that are familiar with Westport, it sometimes seems that things tend to stay the same; the same wonderful shops, restaurants and landmarks consistently dot the landscape. However, during the early years, the face of Westport was changing frequently, mainly due to fires and new construction.
Take the north end of Church Street, for example. Right up until 1915 you could have a clear view of The Mountain at the end of that block.
In 1915, The Myers’ Block was constructed at the end of Church Street on Bedford, and it was recorded in Nell’s Diary:
“Tea in aid of The Soldiers to be served in Myers New block on Sat July 17 1915. Opening of the new Block a very successfull Red Cross Tea Realized about $85 Sat July 17/1915″
Part Eighteen ~ Taking the Train
The old Brockville and Westport train was popular in its day, which makes it hard to believe the financial difficulties that were encountered. Almost from the start, the B & W was fighting off creditors and bankruptcy.
The train was used for almost everything, from circus cars to students with passes hopping on to catch a ride to school. It was also used to whisk people away to adventures in distant cities, or, quite often, on their honeymoons.
The Diary of Nell McCann mentions many such couples in her diary entries, such as the following couple:
“Married at St. Edwards By Rev M. ORourke at 8 a.m. Maggie Scanlin & Jack Hamilton of Elgin. Attendants Dr. James Dunn & Nellie Scanlin. Trip to Ottowa on Afternoon Train”
Also from Nell’s Diary:
“Married in the House by Rev M. Boudreau Miss Eva Blair & Fred Laidlaw. Motored over to Perth & took The 1 a.m. Train for Western Points, Oct 3rd 1916”.
Rain, snow, sleet, or hail, the train made its way back and forth from Brockville to Westport.
“Roy Palmer & Cassie Provost Married by Rev Howe at the Parsonage & took the afternoon train for Ottowa & eastern Parts on Monday 21 April – Terrible rainy day”
Part Seventeen ~ Early Summertime Postcards
Summer may not officially arrive for several weeks, but the weather certainly feels like cottage-season is already here. Camping, cottaging, and boating on the waters near Westport are a popular pastime, for obvious reasons. Early settlers, however, found little value in lake-shore property due to its unworkability, and those planning to make a living off of the land were hesitant to purchase lots on the water.
The earliest cottage-themed record in Nell’s Diary was found in 1914:
“My first trip to Bobs Lake to J. C. F. (J.C. Forrester) Cottage with Bob & family. Splendid time. Aug 2/1914. Spent the week out at the Cottage with Aunt & Uncle from the 5th to the 9th of Aug. Visitors Muriel Butler & Fred Forrester, Mr Whaley & Stanley, J.C.F., Mrs. Hill from S. Falls”
However, the newly released book of Westport has a recording of cottagers taking to their lakeside getaways in 1897, pre-dating Nell’s diary entry by more than 15 years:
“Citizens were starting to take possession of their summer cottages and were entertaining their friends”, and “Many locals were camping on the Lower Rideau Lake.”
If you’ve been enjoying our Vintage Westport blog posts, you may want to purchase a copy of the Museum’s newly released book of Westport, which contains over 200 local historic photos of our village, citizens, and more. These books are available at the Museum for $20.00 (no tax), or, if you live too far away to make the trip to Westport, the book can be ordered directly from the distributor (shipping charges apply) by clicking on the book cover below:
Part Sixteen ~ Westport Postcards from the 1930’s
For a change of pace, today we’re going to look at some postcards of Westport from the 1930’s. Places like Castle’s Jewelry Shop (which was located on Church Street) and various stores around the village would sell postcards of local sites to the vacationing masses. The following three photos were given to the museum many years ago from an anonymous donor.
Part Fifteen ~ People of our Past (Part Five)
Nell kept track of everyone; whether they lived in the village or were just passing through. She also knew who was checking into Westport’s hospital, Mount-View.
From cataract surgery to appendectomies, Mount-View was a convenient hospital that still stands on the edge of the Mill Pond. Entries from Nell’s diary stated things like, “Mt. View Hospital opened for an Operation on Jimmy [Antwine] but through some misunderstanding it did not take place so Albert – a Orphan Boy was first & Wilfred Murphy & [Alphonnus] Thompson next” and, “Jim McCann’s operation performed in Mount-View Hospital on March 17th 1912“.
Part Fourteen ~ People of our Past (Part Four)
In The Diary of Nell McCann, Nell kept tabs on the village and recorded the births and deaths that occurred around her. In the early 1900’s, even though Westport was a thriving village full of young families and hard-working citizens, there were a great number of deaths due to illnesses and circumstances of the times. From pneumonia to child-birth, death was the most-recorded event in Nell’s book. The word “born” was mentioned sixty-eight times, while “died” made an appearance two hundred and twenty-two times!
“Mrs. Duncan Ripley died at her home Upper Mills Feb 9/13”.
Part Thirteen ~ People of our Past (Part Three)
A couple of weeks ago, we talked about Nell McCann and the diary in which she recorded the comings and goings in early Westport. Since it is the end of the month, we’re going to look again at Nell’s diary and some of the entries that she made during the month of April and the prominent villagers that she wrote about.
1913 ~ “Dr. Singleton Sold his house to E. [Gremmon] Apr. 15“
1914 ~ “Noah Whitmarsh died of Plura Pneumonia. Nursed by Miss Lynn May 14th 1914“
1914 ~ “Ernie Botting & Nettie De Wolfe Married in house By Dr McKenzie May 12/14”
Part Twelve ~ People of our Past (Part Two)
Walter Colster came to the village around 1905. A talented photographer, Walter set up his shop on Church Street West. In the 1909 commemorative issue of The Westport Mirror, it stated that he had a “fine gallery which is well equipped with the best cameras, etc. and turns out first-class photos”.
During the early days of Westport, Gypsy caravans would frequently visit towns and villages in the area. Colster’s photography studio can be seen behind the man with the bear, dating this photo of Church Street to sometime after 1905 when Walter moved to Westport. At the end of the block, you can see the Wardrobe House hotel.
With this closer view, you can see the sign for Walter’s shop on the side of the building, and attached to the front wall beside the windows are samples of his photography in frames. This building was most-likely destroyed in one of the Church Street fires (the fire of 1915 started in McEwen’s bakeshop across the street, and the fire of 1923 originated in Blair’s store where a Masonic meeting had been held earlier that evening).
Part Eleven ~ People of our Past (Part One)
We’ve looked at the hotels, palace ships and even the layout of the village, but we have yet to talk about the early citizens that helped shape our town. Prominent businessmen and early entrepreneurs frequently got their names into the local papers for their accomplishments, but Nell McCann was a resident that wrote down everything that she saw and heard into the pages of her diary. Those same prominent businessmen and notable citizens made their way into Nell’s writings (quite frequently as the Pall Bearers in local funerals), as this entry from 1916 indicates:
“Captain Thos Lynch died Oct 23rd from the effects of a fall from an Apple Tree funeral at St Edwards Wedensday Oct 25. Pall Bearers. M. Mulville -P. Garvin- Jas. H. Martin – John Cawley – J. P. Foley-F. Charbonneau-W Byrnes Undertaker”
Part Ten ~ Clothiers of Westport
There were a great number of merchant tailors and clothiers popping up around Westport in the early 1900’s. No matter what your needs were, there was someone available to make you look your best. There was also an abundance of general stores, grocery and bakery shops. The following ads were found in turn-of-the-century editions of The Westport Mirror.
Part Nine ~ Revised Westport Fire Maps
New construction. Destruction by fire. Many things changed quickly in Westport in the early 1900’s. Last week we looked at the fire maps of the village in 1897. Now, if you would like to examine the differences between the original maps and almost ten years later (September of 1908), you can check them out below. To examine them on a bigger scale, they are available on the website of Library & Archives Canada. Simply click on the following revised maps and you can zoom in and examine our village and the changes that occurred during the early 1900’s.
Part Eight ~ Westport Fire Maps
Ready to explore the village of olden days and see if you can find your home, or what used to stand on its spot? The fire maps of Westport (and most towns) for 1897 indicated which buildings were made of stone, wood or brick and also showed where there were piles of woods, sheds and more. This would help both insurance companies and fire responders know what they were dealing with in a town. The maps of 1897 for Westport show a lot of the streets before they were destroyed by fires, and these maps would later be revised in the 1900’s to show the changes that had occurred since they were first created. The Westport maps have now become public domain, and the link to examine them closer can be found at the website of the Toronto Public Library. Click HERE to be whisked away to the Toronto Public Library site where maps can be viewed on a larger scale
Part Seven ~ The Hotels of Westport (Part Three)
Last week we mentioned the fire that came close to the American House Hotel. That would be the fire of March, 1923, which destroyed the Windsor Hotel along with a house to its north and two across the road. The late Beulah Knapp (Palmer) was present at the fire and recalled the piano was saved from the flames, was rolled out the front door by helpful onlookers and sustained damage when it crossed the road. Likely due to the brick construction of the Foley House and the stone of the American House, both of those buildings survived the north-blowing wind that might have otherwise destroyed them.
The final in our series is the only one that still functions as an inn. The Cove, located on the corner of Main and Bedford Streets was originally the home of local businessman and mill owner, William Fredenburgh. Both the main inn building and the annex located across the street were constructed as private residences. The Lexena Hotel (shown in the photo below from the 1930’s) was owned by Alex and Lena Brown and became the Tweedsmuir Hotel in later years. Locals can still recall fond (and some not-so-fond) memories of “The Tweeds”, but stories still surface of the times that were had ‘back in the day’. Now a charming inn with a reputation of fine dining, one thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the glorious view of The Mill Pond which draws so many visitors to Westport year after year.
Part Six ~ The Hotels of Westport (Part Two)
I’m sure that many of you can remember The Westport Inn, which had once been called the Alhambra. Standing on the outside curve of George Street, The Westport Inn was a local landmark for many years, even after its doors closed to overnight guests. Abandoned and largely forgotten (except by those that would sneak in to play cards), the large hotel fell into disrepair and was torn down in the 1980’s.
There probably aren’t a lot of locals that can still remember The Ryan. Built in the 1920’s, The Ryan was touted as being one of the finest hotels in all of Canada. With fishing from the balconies that faced the water, and a river running through the basement where boats could be driven inside the hotel, it was widely promoted and was said to be fully booked for its grand opening. A grand opening that never happened. The Ryan was suspiciously destroyed by fire before it ever saw its first guest. We will talk more about The Ryan when we cover the fires of Westport at a later date.
Part Five ~ The Hotels of Westport (Part One)
Because of the railway, the proximity to the Rideau, and the number of roads passing through it, Westport was once a hub of activity for reasons other than our current bustling tourism trade. Farmers stopping in the village to trade their livestock, cheese merchants coming to town to ship out their goods on the train, and tradesmen staying over for business purposes could be picked up at the station or the waterfront and catch an express stagecoach to one of the many hotels in town. The Wardrobe, The American Hotel, and the Cameron Hotel were just three of the hotels functioning in the late 1800’s in Westport. Of these three hotels, only one is no longer standing.
Part Four ~ Luxury of Westport’s Past
Cruises were a big deal in the late 1800’s and into the early parts of the 1900’s. Ships like “The Haggart” of Perth would ply their way along The Rideau bringing tourists, sports teams and spectators to Westport on a regular basis. For a few cents, folks could join a group of people and sail to our village to enjoy events like community picnics, fairs and baseball games. These day excursions were extremely popular, but those seeking true luxury would splurge for a cruise on the bigger ships, such as the James Swift, the Rideau Queen, the Rideau Belle and the Rideau King. These “Palace Ships” would take their passengers in comfort between Kingston and Ottawa with numerous stopovers in between, including “The Port”. These cruises began their decline into obscurity when war efforts demanded that time and money be spent on necessities rather than luxury.
Part Three ~ Snowy Days on The Mountain
For anyone that ventured out during the snow storm this week, it was easy to see why it was considered one of the biggest snowfalls in recent memory. Although storms in Canada are commonplace, our modern snowplows got everyone back up and running within a day. Back in the earlier days of Westport, snow clearing took a lot longer, with many parking their cars and reverting to the horse and sleigh when the roads became impassible. Below are three pictures of a snowy day on The Mountain, where the road might have been nightmare-inducing for those with bald tires and bad brakes.
Part Two ~ Winter on the Railway
With our first real blast of wintery weather coming up this weekend, it might be a good time to look back at what winters were like in Westport’s earlier days.
Back in the days of the B & W Railway, the speediest route between two stops wasn’t always the train. Oftentimes, the train would get stuck somewhere along the way and nothing could help but some good, old-fashioned, shoveling. Bresee’s Cut was a particularly treacherous stretch of track where the train sometimes ended up stuck for quite some time, bringing the passengers to their destinations over 18 hours late! The following three photographs show the old B & W mired in the snow in Bresee’s Cut.
Part One ~ Beginnings
Above is one of the earliest-known photographs of Westport, circa 1871. With open fields in the distance and Fredenburgh’s Furniture Factory in the foreground, many of our current landmarks are absent in this old picture. Prior to construction in (circa) 1876, the lot where W.H. Fredenburgh would later build his home on the northwest corner of Bedford and Main Streets stands vacant (currently The Cove Country Inn). The year following this photograph (1872), Hiram Lockwood would construct his general store (currently the home of Lower Mountain Mercantile).
A close-up view of Fredenburgh’s Furniture Factory (also known as The Red Mill) shows the industrious direction in which Westport was heading during the early years. The Red Mill was a sash and door factory which also produced high-quality furniture. Ideally situated along the shores of The Rideau, the goods produced at the factory could be easily shipped by boat to their destination.
With Lockwood’s store and W.H. Fredenburgh’s home now in place, this photograph shows a more recognizable view of The Village as it starts to take shape in the early 1890’s.