Part Fifty-One ~ Out and About Town

This week we’re looking at some vintage Westport photos of early transportation in the village. Oxen on Church Street, circa 1910. This photo is from a 1989 edition of The Mirror, in which a couple of people thought they could identify some of those pictured. The team of oxen belonged to Barney Murphy. Alfie Bennett in the grey cap (uncle of Bruce Bennett), George Warren in black hat (relative of Ken Warren), Billie Smith who lived on the Delbert Adrain farm, Mike Bennett in black hat (Peter Bennett’s father), brothers Wilfred and Mike (driver) Murphy (sons of Barney Murphy). Mike was the father of Fanny Murphy. From a 1988 copy of the Westport Mirror, this picture shows Raymond Merkley, Nor

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. Kissing Tom (Thomas Taggart) with Maggie Russell on the left – unknown woman on the right. They are standing in front of the old post office on Main Street and the building behind them is where the Vanilla Beans patio is now located. Photo and information supplied to the museum archives by Beulah Knapp. St. Ed’s Sewing Group 1903 – Maggie Kane Murphy, Rosemary Murphy Howell, Julia O’Grady Kane, Sad

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” Some members of the O’Hara family: Bernard O’Hara, Pat O’Hara, Marcellus O’Hara, Sam Nichols, Jimmie Oakie, Tom O’Hara, John O’Hara, Phonse O’Hara, Jerome O’Hara, Steve O’Hara. This photo was dropped off anonymously in an album of miscellaneous photos to the museum with names identified on the back. “Mar 5th Ash Wedensday Dr Berry Died at his home here a

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 fr

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” Captain Bert Adams would die only a few months after Nell’s diary entry, when he

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. An

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

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”. One of the Billys Billy Burns’ team of blacks at St. Ed’s Cemetery. The driver is one of the two men

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. St. Ed’s School Band ~ Year unknown ~ Back Row: Eulalia Kallaugher, Marie Hamilton, Fern Stoness, Catherine Murphy, Monica McCann Third Row: Vivian Donnelly, Dorothy Lynett, Hilda McAndrews, Julia O’Grady, Marie Garvin. Second Row: Helen Myers, ____ Stoness, Walter Byrnes. Front Row: Hugh Walsh, Margaret Donnelly, Donny Cooper, Harry Hamilto

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 va

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

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. This photo, from the early 1900s, shows one of the boats that woul

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. During the 30s, Main Street was home to a hardware store, and the telephone company was on the east side of the street. Conley’s Garage at 31 Main can be seen just beyond the truck. Conley’s Garage in the snow, most likely in the 30s or 40s. The inside of Conley’s Ga

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. Westport Public School ~ 1912 ~ Names were given to the Museum by Cliff McEwen, many years ago. Teacher, Louise Connelly. 3rd Row: Cassie Prevost, Edith Whaley, Minnie Scott, Carrie Whitmarsh, Liesa Hutchings, Jean Castle, R. Clark, Ruth Young 2nd Row: A. Whitmarsh, Marjorie Arnold, Jean Adams, Lance Seargent, Kenneth Butler, Jim Crawford, Eddie Botting, Trudy Glenn Front Row: ____ Grove, ____ Grove, Harold Fredenburgh, Stanley Wing, Clifford McEwen, Ross Springgay, Ralph Myers This was a special class held at the Orange Hall because Westport Public Scho

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 pict

Part Thirty-Six ~ Happy Thanksgiving!

Apparently Blair’s was your Turkey Fair Day Headquarters way back in 1909 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!!!!! C

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,

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” It must have been very difficult to keep the large interior of St. Edward’s Church cozy during brutally cold spells in the early years. “Jan 21st (1920) Coldest day & night this winter 35 D below Zero – 23rd Stormy – Snow & Wind avereged

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

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. Miss Mary Stinson ~ 1881 to 1978 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

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30 Bedford Street, P.O. Box 68

Westport, Ontario, Canada

K0G 1X0