The formation of Perth’s Old Boys’ Reunion was consummated in the fall of last year, and was brought about through the efforts of a number of local men. The object in view was to bring back to Perth as many as possible of the town’s offspring and former residents, and also of those who claim the neighboring townships as their old home, for a re-union celebration, at a time to be associated with the Dominion day period of this year. The project instantly became universally popular so far as every Perthite and old Perthite was concerned, and with the sentiment expressed in verse by an Old Boy we are in entire accord:
No town that I know, in this fair domain
Should be prouder to see her sons again
Than the town on the Tay, dear, good, old Perth,
Whose sons are scattered o’er all the earth.
The expectations of this great event has been uppermost in the mind of every member of Old Boys’ Re-union for the past eight months, and on the very date of this week’s issue of the Courier we begin to taste the joys of realization. How sweet they are! The Old Boys and the Old Girls are with us again; many of them friends of our youth, many of them of our own flesh and blood, back in the town of their birth, and of our birth, back in good old Perth. And to them we extend a hearty welcome and the hope and wish that they will make and feel themselves at home. Our Old Boys and Girls have not come alone; they are proud of the place of their nativity; they have brought with them members of their families it has been their blessing to enjoy since they went away from Perth, some ten, some twenty, some thirty, forty, fifty and perhaps sixty years ago. A hearty welcome is extended also to those whose only claim to be associated with Perth lies in the relationship indicated. Those of you who have been absent many years will, no doubt, feel as strangers in a strange land, but we hasten to assure you that you are one of the primary reasons for which the re-union was formed. We are all pleased that a majority to whom invitations were sent, signified their intention of being present on this occasion. It was not expected that everyone would accept, and to each of those who found that circumstances of different kinds would not permit them to come home, a joint message of greetings and remembrances with glad tidings of the old town on the Tay is sent by citizens of Perth. We accompany the message with the wish that at some time not far distant the town will be graced with a visit from them. And so, dear old Perthites, who are with us on this occasion, we give you the keys of our town; its freedom is yours; and there is coupled the prayer that your visit among us may be pleasant, profitable and fruitful of the different events arranged for your special delectation. We want you to be young once more, to live and laugh as in the happy days of yore.
“The old town has a history,” says one resident, and with this we are all in entire accord. Who made her history of what was it made? are two questions that have been often asked; complete answers will be gleaned from the extra pages of the Courier of this week. Beyond a doubt the motto, “fonstina lente sed certo,” appearing on the town’s modest coat of arms, has played a prominent part in the making of the town’s history. “Hasten slowly, but surely” — to give a literal translation — has been the slogan of Perth for nearly one hundred years, and was the watchword when the town’s substantiability was being erected on the solid rock of success; and our Old Boys take pride in pointing out that it is due in no small measure to the fidelity with which the motto has been honored that Perth is in the enviable position to-day, to say what is said in the full line across the top of this page. Times and customs have changed, but the old motto still remains, and with it the visitor will find one other characteristic of early Perth prominent in Perth of 1905. We introduce it with some diffidence; that prince of good fellows, hospitality. The hospitality of the towns-people of older Perth was proverbial; “their homely joys and destinies obscure,” walked hand-in-hand with their frank and hearty custom towards strangers. Conservative in manner though we may be, we are proud of this legacy handed down to us by our forefathers. It may appear clothed in the garments of present-day regulations, but underneath the exterior there is found the real framework of a kind and hearty consideration for strangers. We know this to be true of the people of modern Perth, for we have found it so. And accordingly you who have been away either through choice or selection will find the residents of your old birthplace ready to receive you back again, for Perth does delight in welcoming back her own. And we ask you to follow the advice of Longfellow:
“This is the place; stand still, my steed,
Let me review the scene,
And summon from the shadowy past,
The forms that once have been.”
‘Tis a long period of time to bridge from 1815 to 1905, and who among us to-day can successfully do this feat? The world has moved at a rapid pace and the answer of a necessity is few. Who among us at this gladsome re-union have fought life’s battle for ninety years in the good old town of Perth? Few remain, very, very few.
You can count them on your fingers. Even within the past few years the death toll has made enormous inroads among our older residents and they drop out of this life one by one. A reunion of a town’s sons and daughters who have gone out from their place of nativity and located themselves after their own manner and fashion in places most acceptable and adaptable to them, is tinged with mingled feelings of joy and sadness; joy, because of the comfort and love on visiting again your birthplace, and scenes of your childhood, and perhaps youthful days, and meeting once more your old friends and acquaintances. Sadness is present, for you meet not those you once knew; mayhap they have gone to their “bourne whence no traveller returns.” But
“‘Tis the way of the world; old friends pass away
And fresh faces arise in their stead;
But still ‘mid the din and bustle of life,
We cherish fond thoughts of the dead.”
But what a wealth of fond recollections must rush o’er the Old Boy or Girl, as they trod the streets of their old town, revisit the haunts of their boyhood, and girlhood days, recall the quips and pranks they used to play or the hundred and one odd things that made up their life in those happy days of childhood. But perhaps the poet can best paint this picture:
“Old memories rush o’er my mind just now,
Of faces and friends of the past;
Of that happy time when life’s dream was all bright,
E’er the clear sky of youth was o’er cast,
Very dear are those memories — they’ve
clung round my heart,
And bravely withstood Time’s rude shock.”
Those who were writing home when the reunion was in its embryonic stage have added meaning to
“Home, home, sweet home,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”
And Perth and neighborhood is the home of many thousands now inhabiting every progressive centre in North America, and no spot on earth can fill its place in a gathering of this kind. Cowper’s lines corroborate this:
“This fond attachment to the well-known place
Whence first we started into life’s long race,
Maintains its hold with such uplifting sway,
We feel it e’en in age, and at our latest day.”
When we think of our forefathers striking into the unbroken vastness of the old Perth settlement ninety years ago, and gradually hewing out their homes in this forest primeval, and when Perth and district of to-day passes in review before our mind’s eye, what a picture of contrasts presents itself! How different are the times, and how true do King Arthur’s words come,
“The old order changeth, giving place to new.”
In the district of Perth was developed a people, whose sturdy life as they spread over the Dominion, has done much to build up the national life of our country. Perth, and Perth district, has contributed more than her share of her best brawn and brains for the welfare of Canada. Perth is represented in the active commercial circles of Canada: the industrial and mercantile business embrace many prominent men who point with pride to the county town of Lanark as their home. We have contributed our share of sons to several seats of academic learning; the bench has been honored by Perth jurists, while we feel a privileged pride in speaking of the four cabinet ministers the town has given to the service of the province and the Dominion, at different times in our history. In short, in every branch of Canadian life will be found representatives from old Perth, and not only in our Dominion have Perth boys and girls made honorable and creditable names for themselves and shed lustre on their native town, but in the States will be found hundreds holding the best positions at the top of the ladder. It is gratifying to know this and that our boys and girls who left us have to a very large percentage, been law-abiding citizens.
Hand in hand with a reunion walks the history of the place holding it and the Courier this week endeavors to give Perth’s reunion its companion. No claim is made that the history is complete, and a paper undertaking to publish in the manner we have done the story of a town so prominent as Perth, must be brief, to the point and general, touching only the fringe of the question. In laying the foundation for the historical structure we sought as much matter of as varied a nature as possible, in order that different phases of the life of the old town would be portrayed. Our enquiries were set afoot early and were met with prompt and hearty replies, and those who have contributed to this number we wish to thank publicly. It is a matter of great pleasure to the present firm to experience the real and loyal affection old Perth boys have for the Courier. Through their kindness and ability we are enabled to publish the very cream of historical facts and reminiscences. Our difficulty lay not in the securing of “copy”; rather was it in choosing what to use. Our endeavor has been to treat on Perth — as much of it as possible at any rate — prior to 1860, and in this respect the majority of the contributors have fallen in with our wishes. We believe every article so full of historical facts and reminiscences, will be read with a relish, and if the Courier is able to meet half way the wish frequently expressed, for a history of Perth, we are satisfied, for the extra labor, time and expense involved. We would have liked to have made a more complete story of the town; we have only touched the fringe, as we stated before, and will not be satisfied until we accomplish the purpose we have in view. Our churches, schools, banks and other institutions are only dealt with in a semi-general way; we wish to treat the history of each in a fuller way. Perhaps it will fall to our lot to do this in the no distant future — before all of our old residents are gathered away — in commemoration of remarkable stage in the life of ourselves, our seventy-fifth birthday. We are nearly seventy-three years old now. At any rate we will try our hardest and best to accomplish our wish.
For nearly three-quarters of a century the Courier has been linked with the life and history of the town. The paper was started as the Bathurst Courier in 1834, by John Cameron. Ex-Sheriff Thompson and the late Charles Rice were the next publishers for the proprietors in order named, and the Courier then passed into the control of the late G.L. Walker (father of the present proprietor). On his death his two brothers — James M., now of Gananoque, and the late W.T. Walker — assumed control, and since October, 1901, W.W. Walker has been owner and proprietor under the old firm name of Walker Bros. We leave to our friend Mr. Donald Fraser, of Victoria, B.C., the task of telling the history of the old Courier; we are proud of the solid basis on which the paper is established and its steady advancements.
The Courier of to-day is a very different paper to the issue of 1851, then, the Bathurst Courier of which a copy of November 7th, 1851, is now before us at time of writing. The issue then was four pages and seven columns to a page in size, and the policy evidently was to furnish news of a metropolitan nature. The early settlement depended almost entirely upon the local paper to supply it with the news of the outside world, for many of the settlers could only subscribe for the home journal. In the march of time the city dailies and weeklies gradually usurped the old functions of the country weeklies, and narrowed their field. Nowadays dailies are to be found in nearly every home, and the weekly’s policy now is to present a readable story of the life of its town and district; and this is the aim of the Courier of to-day.
The Courier has always been liberal in politics, and an indication of its fearlessness, even in olden times, is gleaned from an article attacking the Toronto Globe, and in defence of Hon. M. Cameron. The Courier has ever been a welcome visitor, we believe, to homes in South Lanark and to South Lanark people in general, and frequently we are reminded that our paper has been taken by families ever since it was first issued. The Courier is more than pleased to welcome home the Old Boys and Girls.
What a contrast there is between Perth of to-day and Perth of forty or fifty years ago! How great and interesting in the comparison will appear to all — whether old or young — who read the several articles in this edition, contributed by Perth’s old-timers, and the contrast will appeal to them we are sure, as it appealed to us. In this connection, we cannot do better than to reprint from the Courier of October, 24th, 1902, a summary of the changes wrought by time in Perth in forty years. It was spoken in reply to an address and presentation made by a number of citizens of the town to one who was leaving after a residence of forty years. The speaker introduces the quotation we are using here with a reference to the time — forty years ago — when he became a resident of Perth. Looking backwards from 1902, it was interesting to note some of the many changes in the town and neighborhood during the period mentioned. The quotation continues:
“At that time there was no Town Hall in the place, no town clock, no lights in the streets at night — no telephones. Plate glass for windows or doors was unthought of, but every night heavy wooden shutters were slammed up on the 7 x 9 paned windows to help the door key to guard the inside. No electric light turned night into day, but the tallow candles or coal oil lamp illumined shop and dwelling with its dull radiance. The streets of the town, now so beautifully shaded, were almost innocent of trees, and the rolled and rounded macadam on the streets and the granolithic sidewalks and crossings were undreamt of. Water works were a luxury non-existant in small towns like Perth, and most of our beautiful residences were then unbuilt, and there was no church edifice then but what has been rebuilt out and out, enlarged or greatly beautified. Gamsby’s Farm, then an expanse of grain and roots, dominated by a single farm-house, is now largely covered with dwellings of men, and the felt factory had then no place even in the visions of citizens, nor had the hosiers taken the place of the tannery in the centre of the town. There was but one ineffectual telegraph line, and a twelve mile branch railway line was all that connected us with the main line of iron tracked railways then, and no such a thing as steel rails were in existence to bear up the ponderous rolling stock. The winding Tay river and the nauseous basin have been changed into a stretch of navigable water between Perth and the Rideau and a spacious and cleanly turning-place for steamers in the heart of the town. The old wooden railway station, good enough for primitive days, has given place to the present handsome and solid buildings of the beautiful and unique Perth mottled freestone. The C.P.R. carshops have for twenty-one years covered the swale land and the sand hill south of the malarious alder swamp, and the old pioneer graveyards within the limits of the town have given place to the park-like beauties of Elmwood cemetery or the growing expanse of St. John’s burying place. The roller-process for making flour has pushed out the old mill-stone, and cheese factories and creameries in and about the town have driven out the dash churn and the old style butter business. Ox-teams would now be a phenomenon on our thoroughfares, and the log school houses on the country waysides have been thrown back into oblivion by our school inspectors.”
In the short time that has run since the above quotation was spoken and printed — over 2¾ years — it is interesting to note in this connection what changes have taken place. More granolithic walks have been laid and on the residential streets there is left the mark of the modern beautifier of thoroughfares in laying the walks outside of the trees. The town now boasts of about five miles of granolithic sidewalks. Another modern idea was the determination of the rate-payers to take up the practice of municipal ownership of public utilities and franchises, and at the January municipal elections in 1904, by almost a unanimous vote, the town declared to buy out the Perth Electric Light Company for $10,000. The company had a contract of lighting the town streets and several stores with arc lights, and their business was taken over thy the town corporation on April 1st of last year; Perth now lights her own streets and municipal buildings, and has the privilege of supplying a limited number of lights for commercial purposes, from which a good revenue is derived. The business for the first year — or to be exact, for nine months — was satisfactory, a balance of $334 being on the right side of the ledger, besides paying the debenture for the year. When the town handed over its cheque of $10,000 to the Perth Electric Light Company, there was secured to its citizens a clear deed to the water power at Ritchie’s seven miles above Perth, and the plant and equipment of the company.
Old Boys and Girls will note the sewerage system adopted in 1903, when ratepayers decided to spend $30,000 in constructing permanent sewers. Work was started in the fall of 1903, when the outlets in Cockburn and Sherbrooke streets were constructed by contract under the supervision of an engineer engaged for this special purpose. The mains are laid double and the cost paid contractor for labor is $5,594.50, and for materials, $3,369.87. The total length is 3,130 feet, and the rock excavated totals 464 cubic yards. In 1904, the council secured tenders for several contracts of sewers, but one providing satisfactory, it was decided to do the work by day labor with the engineer in charge. The policy proved satisfactory, and was continued this year. Last year sewers were built on North street (between Victoria and D’Arcy); Gore street, 4 blocks; Drummond street, 8 blocks; and Beckwith street, 4 blocks. The total length is 10,370 feet, rock excavated, 840 cubic yards; cost, wages, $11,826.27, and materials, $6,692.25. Seventy-eight house sewers were built at a cost in wages of $677, and materials, $614. Up to the present time for this year the following operations have taken place; Gore, one block, 200 ft., completed; Stewart, one block, 249 ft., under construction; Isabella, one block, 302 ft., completed; Mary, three blocks, 527 ft., under construction; Alexander, one block, 165 ft., completed; Wilson, two blocks, 500 ft., completed; Beckwith, outfall, 130 ft., under construction; Matheson lane, 400 ft., under construction. The rock excavated is approximately 400 cubic yards, and the cost in wages to date, $4,401.18. The cost of materials is not to hand. The sewers constructed in 1904 and 1905 are on the combined system, one pipe for storm and sanitary. In all about 2¾ miles have been constructed at a cost of $32,000. Householders have taken advantage of the system and have installed in their homes a new and complete plumbing system, containing all the commodities such a system provides.
A new House of Industry was built in 1902 on the outskirts of the town and opened on Friday, January 30th, 1903. In 1902 and 1903, the county council decided to spend $65,000 of county money in improving the county roads and $19,246.60 of this was used in buying up the toll road companies which controlled the following stretches of highway running from Perth, Manion and Balderson, Balderson to Fallbrook, and Balderson to Lanark. These were the last roads in the county on which tolls were collected. The county is now steadily improving the roads as designated in the good roads’ by-law. Since 1902 the C.P.R. carshops have been removed from the town and joined with the big Angus shops of this railway in Montreal, where many of our townsmen are now employed. The company’s indecision of a couple of years took decisive shape last year when the change was made. Their action is looked upon some as being bad business for the town and by others as being the best thing that ever happened. Advocates of the first alternative base their contentions on the ground of the amount of money floated monthly in town by the carshop employees, and those of the other alternative argue that the town became too dependent upon one corporation, and by being rid of the shops they will assert themselves plainly. Whichever view is taken of the question, Perth is not sitting down and weeping over the C.P.R.’s move; citizens are up and doing, very much in the current for new industries and new business, as instanced by the Winn and Wampole by-laws. Our local industries are in good condition and steadily flourishing. We can all conjecture what Perth will be ten, fifteen or twenty years hence; we are safe in saying that the majority of these pictures would have Perth a large and prosperous city. Our visitors in “Old Home Week” will find we do not boast when we say it is a contented and prosperous Perth, a determined Perth, who is entertaining at this period.
For the repression of crime about £6,000,000 a year is spent in England and Wales.
To re-arm the Royal Horse and Field Artillery at home and abroad the war office has sanctioned an expenditure of about £2,500,000.