Perth & District Historical Society

Web Links

On this page we are presenting a new interesting question, every two months, about our area history, for which answers or explanation have been lost in time. These mysteries often come to us from our website readers, or just pop up from old photos and documents, such as postcards. Sometimes, they are about forgotten stories or of lost geographic locations in our area. Often, they come to us as questions about "whatever happened to ... ?"

We would welcome any information that you can provide about these questions. We would also be pleased to receive your ideas for other local history questions and mysteries. Email us at:

Current Question

A photo of an unknown metal item - do you know what it is?

This item was found, by the present property owner, in the bush on an old farm outside of Ompah. It is 3' across, and apparently of cast iron. The top left corner was broken off. Note that both sides from the holes are sloped. The guesses to date include stove top (quite unusual stove?), automobile part, or a part fallen off an airplane or UFO (ignore the last two :-) - and, also, there have been no UFO sightings recently in the area).

As usual, guesses of any kind are welcome, at:

Update: Most likely solution -- Thanks to the Cybolsky family for their proposal that it is, in fact, a stove top, with two missing plates and the chimney flu in the middle. Perhaps, someone can name the manufacturer and model - it appears to be an unusual size?

Update 2: Thanks to Charles Dobie for a suggestion that it could be the top of a small maple sugar stove. Perhaps, the large plate holes are intended to hold maple syrup pots. This does seem possible.

Previous Questions

A photo of the second Wemyss railroad station, Highway 7 at Bathurst Con. 5?

Gene Kirkham, local expert on our early railroads, recalls that Wemyss hamlet, west of Glen Tay on Highway 7, had two railroad stations at different times. The original station, built 1883/84 by the OQRR (Ontario Quebec Railroad), was first located on the RR line opposite the Anglican Church junction. It was later moved east down the tracks, to the corner of Bathurst Con. 5 road, and became a private home. Gene is searching an early photo of the second, smaller station, which was across from the first, on the north side of the track (beside Highway 7).

If you know of such a photo, please send us an email:

What is Perth's claim to Victoria Cross recipient Alexander Dunn?

An article in the Perth Courier of January 3, 1963 complained that Toronto had taken ownership of one of Perth's two distinguished recipients of the Victoria Cross, Alexander Dunn. The article states;

"Our Hog Town Hero: Hog Town is at it again. Toronto has laid claim to one of Perth's Victoria Cross winners, Alexander Dunn. Oldtimers will recall that Dunn charged with the light Brigade at balaclava in 1854. The cannon, which he helped capture, have provided the bronze from which VCs have been molded ever since. Of course, Perth can be generous and allow Toronto some of our glory. After all, we still have surgeon Herbert Taylor Reade, who won a VC during the Indian mutiny in 1857. What may annoy many patriots is Toronto's grand but presumptious(sic) claim to something that is Perth's. Toronto interests have even gone so far as to delude the Department of Veterans Affairs into saying that Dunn belongs to Toronto. However, as everybody knows in this district, Dunn was one of the many famous products of the Perth Military Colony.

Question: Why does the Perth Courier make the claim that VC recipient Alexander Dunn was a product of the Perth Military Colony? He was, in fact, born at Toronto in 1833, the son of John Henry Dunn (1792-1854), Receiver-General of Upper Canada. Was there some other connection between Dunn and Perth?

If you know the answer please send us an email:

Do You Have an Old Apple Tree on Your Property?

This ‘mystery’ invites information on apple trees in the area that could be early heritage varieties, and follows the posting earlier in this Mystery section on “Whatever happened to this area’s famous Lanark Greening apple?”

A volunteer researcher in Hopetown, Jennifer Ferris, has been working on a local history project for several years searching out and listing early apple varieties in our area. If you have one on your property or know of others, she would welcome hearing from you.

For example, according to Jennifer, some, like the Wolf River, were large enough to make one pie with one apple. Winter Banana had a gentle scent of banana to it! The Duchess of Oldenburg and Yellow Transparent are early apples, great to eat when super fresh, but otherwise excellent applesauce apples. The Princess Louise, a delightful mid fall apple, with a touch of pear flavour, and a candy apple/ caramel flavour! The Princess Louise is also very resistant to diseases of apple tree's, so it has value for future crosses. The Sheepsnout (sheepnose) or Black Gilliflower was a spicy apple.

The Lanark Greening, the subject of Tay Valley Township’s search during its 200th Anniversary in 2016, was developed by Robert Anderson of Fallbrook (see history later in ‘Mysteries’) and is a very late season, mostly green, hard apple, tart (like a Granny smith). It could go into cold storage and last for several months, before it was 'ready' to eat. The end of January was typical for this apple to be ready to come to the table. It stayed thru light frosts without damage, and often stayed on the tree until picked.

These apples can be saved only through grafting, so a living tree with viable shoots is necessary. The very oldest trees are on borrowed time, so please don’t delay! Grafts are gathered late winter, and stored until spring grafting takes place.

See lost old apple varieties from cbc news:

If you have suggestions, Jennifer may be reached at: or by phone at (873) 354-2507, and Facebook at

Mystery House?

Do you recognise the house in this photo? A reader is asking if it might be a local home, as the painting was framed in 'Perth, Ontario'. The artist's name appears to be "G. A. Hutcheson", and it was painted in 1931.

Mystery Solved:  Lorraine Haddleton, of Ottawa, advises that this house belonged to Ottawa dentist, Dr. Hutcheson, and was located on the north side of Richmond Road, east of Britannia Park. It was one of three impressive homes in a row that later included the CKOY Radio building and also a well-known steak house. All are gone now.

Thank you, Belinda Kasak, for passing this along, and Judy Buehler for noting that it was the CKOY building.

Was an Oil Field Found in Elmsley?

On October 2, 1903, under "The Elmsley Oil Fields", the Perth Courier's front page carried a letter announcing that oil had been discovered in North Elmsley just outside Pert. According to farmer Robert Jamieson, oil was seeping to the surface not only on his own land at North Elmsley Township C-10/L-26, but across an "oil belt [running] north-east and south-west through the 9th and 10th concessions of the Township … for at least five miles, and of considerable width"

The full story of this, which proved unfounded, may be seen in this article by Ron Shaw (PDF).

If you can add anything to this story, please contact Ron Shaw at

Our Area's First Nations Trails - April Update

Readers were invited last month (March 2018) to contribute information on an important part of our area history that has been lost, or overlooked, in time - the location of the early trails of the First Nations peoples.

Subsequently, the website has received new information that has allowed us to pinpoint the likely location of two long distance area trails, between the Mississippi and Rideau Rivers, which has been incorporated into an article, that may be seen on our ‘First Nations’ section of the ‘Local History’ page.

As a reminder, the initial information posted on ‘Mysteries’ provided anecdotal references from local residents regarding possible trails:
  • Along Jebbs Creek (listed on an early map)
  • In the area of Bolingbroke Road (Brenda Kennett)
  • At Silver Lake, Con. 9, Lots 7-10 (north end) (Keith Kerr)
  • Sharbot lake area (Brenda Kennett)
  • taken by Champlain from Mississippi Lake to the Rideau River, thence to the Ottawa River (by Brenda Kennett, has been included in the article in the First Nations section).
Finally, we were introduced to 'marker trees' that the First Nations used to designate and point direction to trails and important sites (also from Brenda Kennett). This has been expanded into an article, which is also on the First Nations History section.

There remain gaps in our information on these and other area trails, such as those at Bolingbroke and Silver Lake, and your input on these would be welcome by e-mail at: or telephone.

David Taylor
April 10, 2018

Q: The 1898-99 Perth Directory lists an early resident on ‘Wilson Street at Grinley’s Corners’, which prompted a local resident to ask where that would have been?

A: Thanks to the long memories of several folks, it turns out that the name should have been written as ‘Greenlys Corner’, located at the intersection of Wilson Street and Bathurst Concession 3 – approximately where Wilson now meets Highway 7. The Greenly family were the first owners of that lot, listed as Drummond Concession 2, Lot 1. The 1880 Walling Map shows a home for an R. Greenly at the corner, approximately at the present Perth Mews and Marks Wearhouse.

This book of hand-written songs and poems, on a typical school scribbler that many of us will recall so well, was found by a Tay Valley resident at a local recycling yard.

View the Hummingbird Scribbler (2 Mb PDF)

We include it for your reminiscing pleasure - and would be interested to know its history. Note: the opinions expressed in the scribbler are not those of the website organisers :-)

Please email us your thoughts about this mystery:

Can you name the school for this month's mystery?

It is a photo of an early rural 1900s school class, with teacher George Noonan, and workers, Jessie Darou, Bob North, Alf Bowes and one other Bowes, presumably in North Burgess or Bathurst.

Answer: After some consultation, it is believed that this is the former Glen Tay School, located on Christie Lake Road, in Glen Tay, now an apartment building. The names of the children are not known. An article in the Perth Courier in 1900 states: "Do not forget the concert this Friday, October 26, in Mr. G.W. Noonan's school, Bathurst. An excellent program will be put through." It is said that this building is inhabited by the ghost of a young girl. Thank you to Mabel Noonan for the photo.

Five Local Mysteries for Your Summer Enjoyment!

Was there a Hazelton’s Furniture Ware House in Stanleyville?

The photo below of a Hazelton Furniture store, provided by a local contributor, is thought to have a Stanleyville connection, according to the caption. Specifically, the caption reads:

“My great-aunt Evelyn Dooher (1888-1974) wrote on the envelope containing this tintype photograph: “Hazelton’s Furniture ware room Canada about 1870”. Mother always kept this. I think they were cousins as she had pictures of the Hazelton girls.” Evelyn’s mother was Mary Ann (McParland) Dooher (1861-1939), who was born and raised in Stanleyville, near Perth, Ontario. If this photo was taken in Stanleyville, I wonder if the church to the right rear of the store could be St. Bridget’s.”

Do you know if the store was in Stanleyville, and, if so, where and at what era.

ANSWER: thanks to Karen Prytula, who found the Hazelton store, on the Walling Map of 1862, in Newboro, Ontario, on the Rideau Canal system, south of Perth, with the caption, Quote: Newboro's James Hazelton Furniture Manufacturing and Undertaking had a steam powered shop in adjacent buildings and produced as many caskets as it did dining room suites. Unquote. We wonder where the store was located in Newboro

Where was ‘The Avenue’ on the Tay River in Perth?

An old postcard of the Perth area, below, presumably shows the Tay River, with the caption ‘The Avenue’. The location of The Avenue has been lost in time. One guess is that it refers to the straightened section of the Tay Canal below South Street. This section was cut to eliminate one of the ox-bows in the old river bed, when the second Tay Canal was built in the 1880s.

Do you happen to know?

ANSWER: We have been corrected about the location of this section of the Tay River. It has been documented as a beautiful stretch of the river located 1 1/2 kms. downstream of Glen Tay, just above a farm bridge that was part of the early property of John Herlehy. A number of local citizens have a copy of a postcard of it. Any further information on this area would be welcome, including anything on the foundry said to be there.

Where was this Unknown Mill?

The photo below of a large mill complex comes from the Perth Museum archives – without a caption. It was mixed in with other photos of the area around Perth, but does not resemble any of the known mills. In the background one can make out a bridge, and town, with several spires or towers.

Answer: Thanks to Brad Nichols, of Lanark, who advises that this is the former Caldwell Grist and Sawmill on the Clyde River in Lanark. "I've lived in Lanark my whole life, and remember this abandoned, collapsing mill when I was a kid. All that was left then was the lower half of the main stone structure that housed the water wheel; the stack still stands, encased in cinder block. There were large old timber-framed gussets, shafts, gears and cogs left in waste. It was pretty well gone by about 1976. The Caldwell mansion may be seen in the back ground - Clyde Hall - now restored."

Where is - or was - the Woodycrest house?

This house, pictured on an old postcard, has a sign in front with the name ‘Woodycrest’. The postcard’s owner has found a reference to the house in the January 24, 1936 edition of the Perth Courier. The short article states that a meeting of the ‘X L Club’ was held there, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Miller, and that a huge crowd of young people attended the meeting.

Answer: It is possible that this is the home is located on Noonan Sideroad across the Tay River from the former Ritchie (aka Adams) sawmill, which was owned for many years by the early Ritchie family. The Ritchie family also built the farm and home located at the corner of Menzies Sideroad and Scotch Line.

And, to carry the subject of early clubs on a bit further:

Can anyone explain what the Swastika Club in Perth was all about? At least one reference to it, ca 1900, mentions that ‘The Swastika boys are talking up a dance to take place in the Town Hall next Monday evening, from eight until twelve o’clock. No refreshments. In the old club only.’

Answer: We have been reminded that the word ‘swastika’ goes back to several cultures including Sanskrit meaning "May good prevail", and representing happiness, peace and prosperity. It was also a widely used Native American indigenous symbol.

Name That Bridge

Where were these bridges of early Perth and neighbouring countryside?

There were many bridges in early Perth and the nearby countryside, some of which no longer exist, such as the Brock Street Bridge over the Tay. At least one is rumoured to have existed, and shows on early maps, but has left no trace - across the Tay at South Street in Perth to the Drummond-North Elmsley Line. Most bridges that are still in place today do not look anything like their predecessors - which is probably fortunate, when one looks at how they were built. This month's mystery provides a sampling of a few that are less known or just interesting, to test your knowledge. Some are obvious - possibly others will be less easy. Can you name them?

Click on any bridge picture for a larger photo
Bridge 1

Bridge 2

Bridge 3

Bridge 4

Bridge 5


Whatever happened to this area’s famous Lanark Greening apple?

Our local mystery this month concerns the Lanark Greening apple, which was developed in Fallbrook, Bathurst Township, and became famous early in this area – and yet there are no known trees remaining here today. Perhaps, the old green apple tree on your property is one?

The Lanark Greening apple was developed by Robert Anderson, at his Fallbrook nursery, located on Concession 8, Lot 21, in Bathurst. From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Robert and his son John provided fresh fruit – and fruit tree seedlings, including the Lanark apple - throughout Lanark and Renfrew Counties. The apple is said to have been large, hard, sweet and long-lasting.

In her book (see below), Claudia Smith relates: “The local fruit salesmen (Robert and John) delivered saplings around the countryside, in the spring. They peddled the rootstock for their newly developed apple, the Lanark Greening, from the back of a wagon. This new apple was a fine hard-cooking apple and a ‘a good keeper’. To this day, Lanark Greening apple trees can be found in orchards or gardens near abandoned farm buildings or next to the stone foundations of a log house long fallen through time.”

There were other greening apples on the market in the 1800s, perhaps some of which might also remain on our local properties today. The Rhode Island Greening was the second most popular apple in Ontario orchards, prior to 1875 (later lost market due to disease susceptibility). It was a hardy, crooked tree, with hard, large, round, light green fruit.

Agriculture Canada has not lost the apple – it is listed in their Gene Resources archive as ‘CN 102945 Lanark Greening’. Seedlings for the Lanark are still available, in at least one southern Ontario nursery.

Do you happen to know where a local Lanark Greening apple tree exists?

Thanks to Claudia Smith, for part of this information, from the book ‘Gypsies, Preachers and Big White Bears: One Hundred Years on Country Roads’.

Please email us your thoughts about this mystery:

Responses to this Mystery:
  1. Barrie and Pat Crampton advise that they have a green apple tree on their property that might be a candidate for the lost Lanark Greening apple. Barrie was the person who raised the question of what had happened to this local apple, examples of which seem to have been lost in our community. Their tree is located in Chaplin Heights, which was part of the Chaplin Dairy farm in Glen Tay (a Bathurst business that served this area for many decades - the story of which we hope to eventually have on our website).

  2. Bill Barratt has a tree on his property near McDonalds Corners that is a major producer of a very large, tasty and long-lasting green apple. The apple was said by an orchard owner in Picton to make the best cider he had ever tasted that was not produced by multiple varieties. One source thought it might be a 'Gibson' variety which was apparently grown in a McDonalds Corners area.

  3. The McFarlane family in north Drummond/North Elmsley Township have a greening apple tree on their property in an old orchard, that produces apples with some of the Lanark Greening characteristics - fairly large, and best when harvested after frost. They also make great pie and crisp, which will probably attract the apple judges.

Note: The organisers of this search for a Lanark Greening apple tree, the Tay Valley Township 200th Anniversary Working Group, advise that the plan is to visit, in the spring, each of the candidate apple trees listed above, and, in the fall, to hold a follow up review of the apples that are produced.

Was the Little Tay in Perth really called the Buck River at one time?

This unusual name for the Little Tay comes from a postcard provided by a local reader, apparently of a section of the Little Tay behind the Town Hall. The postcard carries the text 'Old Plank Bridge on Buck River, Perth, Ontario'. It was also featured in the Perth Courier, on September 17, 1980, with the following description:
"A view of the footbridge across the branch of the Tay River behind the Town Hall. This primitive footbridge crossed the 'Little River' and provided a short route from Wilson Street West through the Code property and coming out in Stewart Park behind the Town Hall near the site of the former distillery. The large tree in the background stood for many years in the grounds of the T. A. Code residence (now the home of Glenn Crain). This scene was the subject of a painting by the famous Canadian artist, A.Y. Jackson, and is reproduced on the cover of 'Perth Remembered' (the anniversary reunion book)."

Please email us your thoughts about this mystery:

Perth, the Capital of the District of Dalhousie; from the N-East bank of the River Tay - painting by Thomas Burrowes, 1828, Archives of Ontario, I0002141

Home | About Us | Events | Latest News | Local History | 200th Anniversary | Photos | Tours | Links | Contact Us

© Perth & District Historical Society

Website design & maintenance donated by: Ken Watson