Friday 27 January 2017

Record of the Week: In Their Hour Of Need

This week's record recounts the tale of "The Bell." In the 1820s, the Village of Perth was lacking ways to tell the time, so the residents decided to resolve that issue by acquiring a bell to ring at designated hours, originally for the workers' benefit. However, when the bell was delivered to Perth, there was the (not so) slight problem of where to put it! We at the Archives have no further knowledge of this story or its accuracy, so if you have more information, please share it in the comments section below. It gave us a chuckle and hope it will do the same for you.

About 1820 the settlement of the old Bathurst District was very short of time pieces, both clocks and watches, which caused much trouble to the inhabitants, so a public meeting was held in the then Village of Perth, when it was unanimously agreed by those present, without distinctions of creed or sect to obtain a bell to be rung at stated hours, three times a day so as to warn the working people of the hours of rest and refreshment. Accordingly a bell was purchased in England and shipped at Liverpool to Quebec, whence it was transported to Brockville, and then by ox-team to Perth, but on arrival, it was discovered to the consternation of the subscribers, that they had no place to hang it except in the Roman Catholic Church, and as the larger number of the contributors were Protestants, this at first caused quite a discussion. But soon a friendly arrangement was arrived at by which the bell was to be hung in the Roman Catholic belfry, and to be for all time to come rung at 6 A.M., noon and six P.M. for the general benefit. Now the Priest at that time was Father John Macdonell, who was esteemed by all, without respect of creed, for his kind lovable nature, and was equally welcome in the homes of the Prostestant's [sic] as of his own flock. Father John was a highlander, the son I have heard of a British Officer, but he never thoroughly mastered the English tongue, but this did not interfere with the general friendliness between him and the inhabitants. The bell was hung, and after mass on the first Sunday when it had been rung, Father John, read out for the edification of his flock, the names of the chief Protestant subscribers to the cost, and added his own quaint remarks about each as they have came down to me. "Mr. M---s is a goot man an exceedingly goot man, She paid ta freight on ta bell all the way from Liverpool, She is almost a Catholic, and you should pray for her. Dr. W----n, is a goot man, She put her hand in her trousers pocket and gave two pounds for the bell, She is a goot man.["] So on he went for some time, till he came to the name of a very rigid Protestant, who however was very intimate with the Priest, but fond of playing practical jokes on the simple old priest. Now was the time for revenge, reading out his name, he said "Mr. ------ is a very goot man, she gave a pound for the bell but she is a most tamnable heretic". All the parties connected with this story have long since passed away, but they had nothing but the kindest feelings to each other and the old bell still rings as of yore.

"The Bell," author unknown

MN AS05.05
Archbishop McNeil fonds

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