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Address: 5962 Regional Road 73 [Old Highway 16]

Location: Lot 9, Con 2

Date and Fabric: c. 1880 ? 11/2 storey stone farmhouse

Known Owners:

Daniel H.Eastman [pt] and John Eastman [pt]
land only
- 1860's
James Craig c 1860 - ?
Ephraim Craig ? - 1921
Harry N. Moffatt 1921 - 1961
Howard and Helen Kingsley 1961 -

photograph 1997

Other photos on file from 1982, and undated about the same time

See also "Presence of the Past" for December, 1983

The stone farmhouse in Carsonby that is now [1982] occupied by Howard Kingsley and his family was originally owned by James Craig. The year of its construction has not been determined but it is probably safe to assume that the building dates at least from the 1880's; consequently, it is a tangible link to the early years of settlement in Carsonby and in Rideau Township.

The house, which is situated on lot 9 of concession 2 in the geographical township of North Gower, has changed hands very few times since it was built. The present [1982] owners, Howard and Helen Kingsley, obtained ownership in 1961 from the estate of Mrs. Kingsley's father, Harry N. Moffatt. Mr. Moffatt had purchased the house and farm forty years earlier from Ephraim Craig for $20,000 - an amount thought excessive by many people including his own father, who consequently opposed the transaction. "Ephie" Craig was the second surviving son of James Craig, the man thought to have built the house. The elder Craig had obtained the 160 acre farm during the 1860's. The northwest portion of it had previously belonged to Daniel H. Eastman, and the remaining eighty acres had been farmed by John Eastman.

James Craig came to North Gower Township as a boy of seven with his family, including seven brothers and two sisters. Their parents abandoned Ireland and sailed with the family for North America in April, 1840. Upon arrival in Canada, the family journeyed first to Montreal and then up the Ottawa River to Bytown. After making their way to North Gower Township, they settled on lot 12 in concession 3. Within a year, however, they relocated to the west half of lot 13, concession 2.

While in his early thirties, James purchased his own land and began farming it. Until then, he had worked in partnership with his twin brother William on the family homestead. James must have been a dedicated farmer because he was twice awarded gold medals for having the best kept farm in North Gower and Marlborough Townships; the first one was presented at an agricultural fair held in 1875 and the second one followed in 1887. Craig apparently supplemented his farming income by working with twin William in the winter lumber camps [shanties or chantiers] up the Ottawa valley. Together they filled contracts for E.B. Eddy, J.R. Booth and other Ottawa lumber barons.

The farmhouse has been the scene of some humorous occurrences over the years. On one occasion the men who were digging a well behind the house were so taken by surprise when water began gushing forth that they scrambled out of the hole without bothering to retrieve their tools. Decades later, the tools are thought to be still down the well. 58

It is reported that the house was also a stopping place for John A. Macdonald on his frequent trips between Ottawa and his Kingston home and constituency. He would apparently stay the night and then continue his journey with fresh horses in the morning. It was a convenient arrangement and seems to have been followed for some time. 59 In the course of these visits Macdonald's regular driver, a young man named Jock McKinstry, fell in love with James Craig's eldest daughter, Hannah. Aware of her parents' disapproval, the two eloped in February, 1878: McKinstry galloped up one morning and carried Hannah off as she stood pumping water at the well. Heartbroken [so the story goes] by this turn of events, James was consoled by twin brother William; he realized that what was done was done, and suggested that they kill the turkey running loose in the yard and have a dinner for the young couple when they returned.

The farm has been worked continuously until the present. Crops grown in the past included peas, potatoes and wheat as well as today's staples of corn and hay. Livestock was always important too; by 1870, James Craig was milking twenty-two cows 60 and raising other assorted cattle, sheep, horses and even bees. The farm was a major producer of cheese; in 1870, more than 1500 pounds of it were processed.

According to Harry Craig, longtime resident of Carsonby and grandson of James, it has always been a good farm. For the past decade [i.e., prior to 1982], though, it has not been worked by the residents of the house. Much of the land has been leased by the Kingsleys to neighboring farmers, which has allowed Mr. Kingsley to work elsewhere. [after Michael Way, 1982 61 ]

58 see also 2377 Church Street. Artesian wells [locally known as "flowing wells"] are not uncommon in the area.

59 Not, probably, for a very long time. The railway reached Bytown from Prescott in 1854, and the Rideau Canal was of course in place. Ottawa did not become the capital until 1864. It seems doubtful whether Sir John made very many trips between the capital and Kingston by road, which in those days was a slow and uncomfortable way to travel. In short, the elopement may very well have taken place, but it seems likely that some of the details of the story have been changed in the telling, or that two stories have been telescoped into one.

60 admittedly a small herd by today's standards, but in those times this represented about four person-hours of hand milking twice a day, plus associated chores. In short, twenty two milkers implied a lot of labour. The herd would be dried off for the winter.

61 Mr. Way recorded his sources with some care - see the file for details.

March, 1990

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