“Labour of love”: Couple breathes new life into a former funeral home in Lanark village

The historic home is one of the oldest in the village — operating first as a manse

Evelyn Harford

Perth Courier

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Jeannette and Rene Bosman are returning one of the oldest homes in Lanark village back to its former glory as a family residence.

Jeannette said being able to save and restore a historical Lanark landmark, when others, including the old Kitten Mill, have fallen into severe disrepair makes the project even more special.

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The exterior of the Bosmans’ home. This will be the front entrance. Evelyn Harford/Metroland

“That is a legacy that’ll live on,” she said. “This house isn’t going anywhere. It’s been here 190 years.”

The stone home has been gutted to create a dream home for the couple.

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Interior of the gutted home. Evelyn Harford/Metroland

“It’s a labour of love,” said Jeannette. “This is our town. We don’t want to retire anywhere else.”

Sitting atop a hill, you can still see churches from the house — a reminder of its religious origins.

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St. Andrew’s United Church can be seen from the home. Evelyn Harford/Metroland

The home was built in the early 1830s as a manse for Scottish Rev. William McAllister. It remained in that family until it passed to the Catholic Church until 1946.

Seventy-six years ago, George S. Young bought the property and opened Young Funeral Home. In 1975, Blair and Son Funeral Home bought the business and building. It was used as a satellite office and continued to operate under the Young Funeral Home name to honour what Young had built. Wakes and funerals were held in the home until 2013.

exterior front

Jeannette Bosman holds out a floor plan for the home. Evelyn Harford/Metroland

The home’s unique history and beautiful bones drove the Bosmans to purchase it this March after they sold Providence Point — a retreat they’d owned and operated since 1998.

When the couple were looking for a new place last December, there weren’t a lot of options.

Jeannette said when they saw a dumpster outside the former funeral home while driving to the apartment building they own in Lanark village, the couple decided to reach out.

“We hadn’t heard of any funerals here in forever, I said to Rene ‘What do you think?’” said Jeannette.

On Christmas Eve last year, the couple went to view the property and Jeannette fell in love, despite a past that might have dissuaded others.

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The upstairs of the home is gutted. Evelyn Harford/Metroland

“Everybody passed through, and their lives were celebrated here,” said Jeannette. “This is actually a good place. We want to celebrate the history. The house is more than the history of death. Death is a part of life and we shouldn’t be afraid of it.”

Jeannette, Rene and their 14-year-old son, with the help of tradespeople, have stripped the home to the stone walls on the interior and exterior.

“Me and the crowbar have been good friends,” she said.

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Horsehair insulation, top, and the old boiler in the basement. Evelyn Harford/Metroland

Through the demolition, the building’s history has been peeled back.

What the couple was able to salvage from the building, they will incorporate into the renovation to honour the home’s history.

“We want to tie the old in with the new,” she said.

Jeannette recalls pulling out thousands and thousands of nails from the lath and plaster walls — a reminder of the love put into the home’s construction.

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The home has been stripped to the stone walls inside. Evelyn Harford/Metroland.

“It actually saddens me to take all that lath and plaster off the walls,” said Jeannette. “The work they had to do to even make all those tiny little nails. Somebody has put some major hours into that.”

An old cigarette carton and keys were found. Photos of the ambulance brigade from the First World War were discovered in the attic.

Reminders of the funeral home were also found.

A Victorian funeral carriage, which is owned by Blair and Sons, still rests in the adjacent outbuilding. A home for the piece of history is being sought.

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Funeral carriage owned by Blair and Sons. Evelyn Harford/Metroland

The couple hope the home will be ready for them and their youngest son to move in by next Christmas — two years from when they decided to buy the property.

Future plans for the building, in addition to its use as a private residence, are still in discussions.

To follow along with the renovation, visit the Bosmans’ Instagram account @bosmanestate. If anyone has information about the history of the home, contact them through Instagram.

Genealogy Society Successful Publication “Lanark County Routes” Results in a Sequel to be Published in 2023

Lanark County Genealogical Society continues to celebrate our farming community and the pioneers who cleared the trees and rocks built their homes and planted around the stumps. Our two-volume set published last year Lanark County Routes, East and Lanark County Routes West was a great success.

We tapped into the history recorded in the local Tweedsmuir History books and collaborated with several of the present farmers in the County to tell the stories. We tell the story of who the early settlers were and what is known of their family, and the subsequent owners up to the present day, noting the changes in farm life, from the days of oxen and horses to that of big machinery and robots.

But many stories are yet to be told. We are now beginning to work on a sequel.

LCGS is happy to tell the stories of all the properties and the people who have lived on them, whether they were successful or not. If your farm was not included in last year’s books and you are interested in your farm history being recorded for future generations, please get in touch.

In corresponding with our organization we encourage you to send your email message to communications@lanarkgenealogy.com or by phone: 613-257-9482

This photo is of the McWatty homestead called High Lonesome built in 1875 and demolished in 2013. The McWatty homestead farmland in Pakenham Township (now part of the Municipality of Mississippi Mills) today is the High Lonesome Nature Reserve, a 200-acre property located in the Pakenham Hills and lies within the Pakenham Mountain Provincially Significant Wetland Complex. To read more about this reserve select the link.

Lanark County farms have a varied history. In the early days of settlement, every family relied on the land to provide them with the income and food that they needed to survive. However, that only worked for those who were fortunate enough to get the good land. Many properties passed through several different hands if it was not profitable. Some properties, with the right people involved, grew and prospered and are still providing adequate living for their owners today.

Sample Farms in Lanark County Routes East
The Robertson farm on Upper Perth Road in Ramsay is a farm whose original settler’s descendants farmed until 1962 when it was sold to another local farmer. Like many of the small older farms on its own it was no longer able to sustain a family with the income that was needed

The John Kidd farm on Kidd Road in Beckwith is a farm that is still in the possession of descendants of the original owner, also John Kidd, who arrived in Beckwith in 1818. This is one of many farms where the descendants’ names are recorded for future generations.

Corad Farms Pakenham township is an example of several 100-acre parcels being combined into a large modern operation. The Hunt family have over 500 head of Limousin cattle and grow corn, soybeans and hay on their 1000 acres of land.

Sample Farms in Lanark County Routes West
The John Love farm in North Sherbrooke is an example of one of those farms where the pioneer was barely able to make a living because the land was so rocky and poor. This man was eventually forced to move to Dalhousie where he had slightly better land. His buildings from North Sherbrooke did survive and are now part of the display at Wheeler’s Pancake House and Museum.

Another difficult area to farm was Darling Township. However, the John Rintoul farm Concession 6 was able to sustain Rintoul family members for 143 years. When it was sold in 1995 the new owners extensively updated the buildings including rebuilding the stone foundation under the barn and made it into a working farm again.

Drover’s Way farm in North Elmsley was a property that changed hands many times over the years. The Loten family who bought the land in 2001 have turned it into a major sheep farm with about 600 ewes. They also have horses and operated a riding school.

Pre-Order your copy of a new publication “The History of Pakenham 1823-2023”

After almost two years of research and interviews, author Robert Gardiner is thrilled to announce that pre-sales for The History of Pakenham: 1823-2023 have begun. The book is a hardcover and contains images, maps, and portraits. It covers a broad range of subjects and touches on all 200 years of Pakenham’s history, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy! The book is expected to be released in early 2023.

Pre-order your copy today!

Click on the link below to pre-order your copy and learn more about the book’s pricing, delivery dates, and other details. History of Pakenham Two Hundred Years

“A rare gem for genealogists and historians!”

Pakenham is home to 2 Lanark County Wonders. Five-Span Stone Bridge and the St. Peter’s Celestine Catholic Church. This quaint village also is the home of one of Canada’s longest-run General Stores. Situated along the banks of the Mississippi River, this village is a tourist attraction in Lanark County and about half an hour’s drive west of Ottawa Ontario.

Lanark County Genealogical Society Awards and Recognitions Event

On Saturday, November 5, 2022, in the Beckwith Municipal Building at Black’s Corners Ontario, it was a time to recognize the countless hours of many of our volunteers for their work in researching, authoring and preserving Lanark County Families History and Heritage for the future generations. It also was a time to recognize those who work behind the scenes to make and advance the Society of today.

Awards were presented:

Lanark County Pioneer Families Humanitarian Award to Rose Mary Sarsfield for her leadership and collaborative interest in preserving the history of Lanark County Ontario for future generations. Her lifetime contributions to fostering unity in genealogy, the preservation of records and in helping make family history a vital force in the community at large.

Long-Standing Community Service Recognition Award to Gary Byron and Jayne Munro-Ouimet for their many years of dedication to preserving the family histories of Lanark County.

Dedicated Volunteer Awards to Karen Prytula and Don Ross for their countless hours and dedication in researching and documenting our Lanark County heritage and family stories for future generations.

Back Row: Deputy Reeve Brian Dowdall, Jayne Munro-Ouimet 20+ years service, Helen Benda Life Member, Gary Byron 25+ years service, Rose Mary Sarsfield Humanitarian Award, Karen Prytula Dedicated Volunteer Award

Front row: Marilyn Snedden, Shirley Somerville and Helen Gillan all Life Members.

Absent were Don Ross Dedicated Volunteer Award and Life Members Marion Cavanagh, Linda Seccaspina, Arlene Stafford-Wilson, Rosetta McInnes, and Josephine Van Alstine.

Our Guest Speaker Catherine Poag, writer and a local author spoke to us about her latest publication “The Ferry Man’s House” which is based on a Lanark County real-life legend. Catherine will soon release her second publication that advances on Rideau Ferry’s Gate Keeper legend

The merits of using Cemetery Transcription publications in conjunction with online computer research

Submitted by Brenda Krauter

I recently purchased a Cemetery Transcription publication originally produced in 1989.

I have noticed that there seems to be a general feeling that cemetery transcription publications are now more or less obsolete since the advent of the internet and more and more cemeteries and tombstone photos being available online.

While I agree that being able to view the cemetery information and tombstone photos online is a wonderful asset for research, there are also drawbacks which make the “old fashioned paper” cemetery transcription publications invaluable.  Numerous tombstone photos online are difficult to read as the tombstones have eroded over time and many cemeteries have unfortunately been subjected to vandalism.  As well, it is almost impossible to tell from the online tombstone photos if the tombstones are part of a family plot. 

A large number of cemetery transcription publications were produced many years ago when the tombstones were still very readable and the information was usually compiled according to cemetery plot numbers, making identification of family plots an easier task for research.  Also, I have noticed that some of the cemetery transcription publications also identify plots (and occupants) where no tombstone exists.  Unmarked graves are usually not identified with online cemetery information.  A photo of a tombstone that does not exist cannot be included with photos of the tombstones that do exist.

The fact that most cemetery transcription publications were produced many years ago is a bonus to research, not a negative, as most people doing genealogy research are not looking for recent graves.

Contrary to what the media would have us believe, all the information genealogists seek in doing research is not available online; a lot of information is still only available on paper and microfilm, leaving genealogy enthusiasts with still many avenues to explore.

The annual Lanark County Harvest Festival is back!

Head to Beckwith Park on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022 to celebrate the county’s bounty of the harvest during a community event hosted by Lanark County and Beckwith Township. This festival features partners from the Township of Lanark Highlands showcasing its people, products and projects. Bring the kids there will be fun things there for them, too! Even better, this event is FREE!

Celebrate the harvest and take part in this fun, a community event featuring local producers, food seminars, cooking demonstrations, local musicians, historical displays and more.

Lanark County Irish and Potatoes

It was in the 1750s that a group of sailing Spaniards returned back home to Europe, bringing with them a delicious tuber plant from South America. The tuber we know as a “potato” eventually reached Norway in the mid-18th century and became a regular part of Norse cuisine.  Before the arrival of potatoes (1750s) communities had problems with crop failures, occasional famines and hard times.

All was well for a few decades and then things changed. Once again “Hard times” took its toll on Ireland. Cased by fungus-like organism blight spreading rapidly amongst the potato farmers, The Great Famine also known as the Potato Famine or the Great Hunger, was a period of mass starvation and disease in Ireland from 1845 to 1849. The worst year of the period was 1847, known as “Black ’47”. The most severely affected areas in the west and south of Ireland.

Before it ended in 1852, the Potato Famine resulted in the death of roughly one million Irish from starvation and related causes, with at least another million forced to leave their homeland as refugees. Between 1845 and 1855, at least 2.1 million people left Ireland, primarily on packet ships but also steamboats and barque sailing vessel —one of the greatest exoduses from a single island in history.

The famine was a defining moment in the history of Ireland. Its effects permanently changed the island’s demographic, political, and cultural landscape, producing an estimated two million refugees and spurring a century-long population decline.

At the height of the Famine the English were shipping as many Irish as they could to Australia or Canada, with most going to Canada. Because they were considered social refuse and traveling at government expense, the Famine Irish often came over in conditions worse than those experienced by blacks transported to America as slaves; blacks, at least, were worth money. The destitute Irish were a financial burden to the English as long as they were on their land. Their objective was to be rid of them; it didn’t really matter if they arrived in Canada dead or alive. The 6,000 Irish buried on Grosse Ile near Quebec City is testament to that.

While many Irish-American families are descendants of Famine survivors, Are you a descendant of Famine emigrants?

Irish surnames Lanark County « arlene stafford wilson (wordpress.com)

https://irishfaminestories.ca/en/remembering_family_stories#ottawa_valley_legacies

Irish immigrants to Lanark County « arlene stafford wilson (wordpress.com)

Chapter Three: Bathurst Township, Lanark County, Ontario | McInerny Genealogy (wordpress.com)

Musician Don Messer: song title is Little Burnt Potato

Althorpe School House S.S. #6, aka Tysick School

Althorpe School House S.S. #6 “Tysick School”

The hamlet of Althorpe officially came into existence when a post office was established in 1877 in the home of A. H. Norris. The post office and store served the farmers around Farren Lake, who were subsistent and added food to their kitchen table from their fishing and hunting abilities, and from their gardens, and the wild edibles in season.

As the hamlet progressed, Althorpe was served by a cheese factory, which does not exist anymore. We know that education became important to families through the existence of four other one-room schoolhouses in the area, at various times. The history of the Tysick School probably starts in 1916; as that is the date of our earliest administrative record when we see Ida & R.W. Tysick deeding a part of the lot to the School Board’.

School builder Nicholas Lennon signed and dated one of the building planks

Nicholas Lennon built the school, and as you can see here on the right, he has signed one of the planks in the building. He wrote: Nicholas Lennon, November 30th, 1916.

This may have been the day he installed that board or the date he finished the schoolhouse.1, 2

This next picture is what the schoolhouse looks like today.3

A drive-by view of the schoolhouse most recently

The following article appeared in the Perth Courier dated September 23, 1921: “The trustees of S. S. No. 6 have lately invested in a new flagpole, thirty feet high, and a flag which makes quite an additional improvement to the appearance of the schoolyard. Mr. R. Tysick who erected the flagpole has also been given the contract for the building of a new woodshed this fall, all of which is progress for No. 6.”  Mrs. Horrocks was the teacher.

Public Meeting in the Schhoolhouse
Meeting announcement

Since local schools were sometimes the only public building in the area, they were used for more than just education.  On November 28, 1921, the Honourable J. A. Stewart was holding a public meeting at this schoolhouse. It appears he was campaigning for an election that would occur the following week. His advertisement reads “A cordial invitation is extended to every elector including the ladies. God save the King. 4

In 1922 the school class consisted of seven children from three different families: Tysick, Fournier, and Dowdell. The teacher was Mrs. Horrocks.

The summer of 1922 saw the cleaning of the schoolhouse and its woodshed which included a coat of paint; the work completed by Mr. S. Renaud. Mrs. Horricks passed her examination in an agricultural course that she took during the summer, and returned to this school with new aspirations.  School resumed on September 15.. 5

Mrs. Horrocks

The school was suspended during week 2 March in 1923 because poor Mrs. Horrocks slipped and fell on the schoolhouse steps and sprained her ankle. Luckily, the steps were of wood.  Had they been of stone on cement, she may have hurt herself further. However, a railing might have broken her fall! W.F. Michell was the school inspector for the County, and building inspectors for townships were not popular until later on6 Right: A blurry picture of Mrs. Horrocks.

Students with the teacher on the school steps, Tysick family barn in the background

In 1953 the school had children from only four families in attendance: Tysick’s, Fournier’s, Noonan’s, and Norris. The teacher was Betty Miller. In this picture, you can see the Tysick barn in the background.7

The school was no longer used as a school beginning in 1956.8   It remained in the possession of the School Board until 1968 when it was sold to Joseph Thomson.

present owners Mr. & Mrs. Crawford

Nov 10, 2020 – Presentation Day – In this photo, we see the present owners Mr. & Mrs. Crawford holding their Tay Valley Heritage Properties plaque and certificate.

The Crawfords are eager to preserve our cultural heritage.  Photo by David Zimmerly.

Writer of this article: Karen Prytula

Source
1 Photo by Randy & Tammy Crawford
2 David Taylor research, land abstract
3. Google Maps
4, 5, 6 Perth Courier
7, 8 South Sherbrook School Book

© Lanark County Genealogical Society 2022

Beckwith Township Opens the Heritage Corners with its 1860s One Room School House

During Beckwith Heritage Day on June 8th, 2019, a special and exciting event took place. Beckwith Township now has a replica of a Lanark County One-Room Schoolhouse.

Robert McDonald, a well-known photographer from Carleton Place followed this heritage event throughout the various stages of construction.  LCGS opens our video highlighting this event with two of Robert’s photos that capture the schoolhouse in various stages of construction.

A special thank you to our President, for producing this video of memories.

Welcome to Beckwith Township Replica of a One Room School House

Now accepting Orders for “Recollections” from the Pen of Noreen Tyers

Book Launch

Saturday September 24, 2022

Place: St. James the Apostle Anglican Church, 12 Harvey Street, Perth Ontario

Time: 1:30-3:30 pm

 Program at 2 pm

Please wear a mask to protect others.

Cost of book is $30 cash or cheque to Lanark County Genealogical Society

Street parking on Harvey Street or at the Court House

Noreen writes of her adventures vacationing in the 1940s at Richards’ Castle, Snow Road and her time as the “Pigtail Princess”.

Cover of "Recollections" by Noreen Tyers

A great promoter of the Lanark County Maple Syrup industry, Noreen has a series of stories for children starring Sammy Sap Man and his forest friends. As well she has written about life from the perspective of her little chihuahua Ruffy.

This is a lovely collection of stories from a time that many remember and look back on fondly from a lady who says she is not a writer, but a storyteller. Fortunately, this storyteller has written down her memories.

Writer, Noreen Tyers grew up in the 1940s in the Eastview section of Ottawa. She has authored many stories related to that time from her truly clear memories of situations and how she experienced life at that time. In her early adulthood, when her children were small, the family moved to a century farm in Lanark Township. This resulted in new adventures to write about as she learned to live in the country.

The price is $30 each, and shipping charges are extra. Order your copy in advance of the upcoming Book launch and come to the Launch for a signature by Author!