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Archives1895 Almonte Fair

1895 Almonte Fair

by Marilyn Snedden


When I saw the huge amount of classes offered , I thought I would check the Almonte Gazette in the week following the fair to see if there many entries in these classes. There were over 2 full pages of articles and show results-quite a contrast to the coverage we get now. Since it was on microfilm ,I took some photos and was able to record some of the highlights.

The headline read-

The Almonte Fair again a Great Success. The 37th Exhibition took place on Wed.,Thursday & Friday. Grand weather and a very large attendance. Splendid Exhibits in nearly every department. A fine show of horses & keen contests for the Red Tickets. Lacrosse Matches and Balloon Ascensions.

 A number of fine “commercial” exhibits added to the presence of the interior display.

Mr J.W.Wylie had a circular pyramid formed of bags of flour manufactured in his roller mill and Messrs Merilees & Co.also had a triangular pyramid of their flour as well as a case of cakes.

There was an immense display of roots and vegetables and grain and seeds. Additional space had to be procured for these exhibits. Gradual improvement in the fruit classes.

The animal classes were similar to today except there were many classes for swine as well as sheep, horses and cattle.The most noticeable difference was in the fowl where there were 116 classes including Wild Turkeys and Piebald Canaries.


The Lacrosse March between the teams of Carleton Place & Perth solicited the attention of the crowd from 4 to 6.

The Citizen’s Band enlivened the proceedings but the highlight of the fair was Prof. Frisbee who ascended to high heights in a balloon on two days .

!895 Almonte Fair  Merilees ad0001


Last year a balloon ascension was advertised as one of the attractions,but the aeronaut failed in his attempt to soar above the earth. The attractions committee were in no way to blame, but felt that many of the violators did not view it in that light; and this year determined to keep faith with the public, they contracted with Prof.J.J. Frisbie of Oswego, NY to give an ascension and parachute jump each day.The Professor filled the bill to perfection.His work gave the greatest satisfactionto both the NLAS directorate and the people and stamped him as one of the best men in his line now before the public.

Shortly before five o’clock on Thursday, he began inflating his mammoth balloon on the fair grounds and twenty minutes later,the huge canvas was being expanded to its fullest extent,and everything being ready, he gripped the horizontal bar attached to his parachute, shouted to the score or more men whose efforts were required to hold down the impatient swaying monster,”Let’s go everybody” and the daring aeronaut began his perilous trip through the blue firmament, doing some trapeze work on the way. What wind there was carried him in a south westerly direction. Higher and higher he rose-now hanging by one arm and again by his feet,while waving his adieux to the crowd-until he became a speck in the distance.. When he reached an altitude of about 4000 feet and with thousands of anxious eyes strained to see him,he cut adrift from the balloon,the excitement reached its culmination. The mass of cloth composing the parachute dropped probably 200 feet before it began to take its form but when it did expand and with its living occupant began a graceful sail toward Mother earth-the sight was an exceeding pretty one. During the descent, Prof. Frisbie repeated his gymnastic exhibition, He alighted safely in the field adjoining the cricket field, and in a short time was back on the grounds, being warmly congratulated on his success. The balloon,soon after being relieved of its extra weight,rolled over,emptied itself of its contents,and reached terra firma ahead of the parachute.

Another ballon ascension was given by Professor Frisbee at 5 pm on Friday, and it gave even greater satisfaction than the first.He went higher than on Thursday and in the clear sky could be seen till his appearance appeared to be the size of a doll,or smaller.The drop was made successfully, the Professor landing on Mr.M.Patterson’s race track, and the balloon dropping with a loud bang on top of Mr.P.C. Dowdall’s woodshed. Prof. Frisbie is a gentleman and an artist in his line.

Shortly after the ascension and the conclusion of the lacrosse match the crowd took the homeward way,well satisfied with the attractions presented, and giving well earned praise to the management of the NLAS for the manner in which the advertised attractions was carried out.


Number of entries in previous years

1863                 340   Exhibitors       1511 entries

1887                 214         ”                 1424

1895                 183         ”                 2202   ”


The weather was too cold for the grandstand on Thursday and it received meager patronage.But on Friday afternoon a stand double the size would have been packed. The directorate will soon have to consider the advisability of building a more respectable dining hall and an addition to the grandstand.


Hon. George Bryson-$5 for the best loaf of homemade bread made from any kind of flour—won by Mrs John Simpson

Mr. N.C.Lloyd – For best loaf of homemade bread made fromWylie’s Eclipse Family Flour by farmer’s daughter under 20 years of age

First $3–Miss Tena Lawson Second- Miss Maggie Naismith -$2

Mr. James W. Wylie’s-$5 for the best loaf of bread made from flour manufactured anywhere in the dominion.-won by Mrs J.B.Toshack

There followed a synopsis of the Almonte Fair which highlights the different culture of 120 years ago but also show some things remain the same.

Notes on the Oct.2,3,4th 1895 Almonte Fair

 Scarcely a drunk was seen during the fair.

The phonograph and kinetograph men were on hand.

The merry-go-round furnished great amusement for little folks.

The total ground receipts amounted to $1850-about $500 ahead of last year.

Mr.John Price had on exhibition a sunflower with a diameter of 16”.

The “Joan ofArc”.People were out for amusement. Painting did not draw a crowd

Only one or two cases were reported of which the light fingered gentry got in their work.

A boy caught stealing fruit in the hall got marched off by the constable and received a salutory lesson.

Someone took home (by mistake no doubt)a Silver Wyandotte pullet owned by Mr.F.J. Blake.Will he be good enough to return it?

Almonte merchants closed up for 3 or 4 hours on Friday afternoon to let their employees have a share of the enjoyment.

Prof. Frisbees next engagement is in Dallas Texas,where he gives fifteen ascensions at the state fair.

300 tickets for Almonte were sold at the C.P.R.station,Arnprior, during the fair; 213 at Pakenham and 626 at Carleton Place.

Mr. G.F.McKimm, of the Record,drove out from Smith’s Falls with his fine carriage team ,and doubtless expected to decorate his outfit with a red card on the return trip,but he was unfortunate-got to the grounds with his pair ten minutes after the carriage horses had been judged.Hard luck, brer McKimm but we all have hard luck,sometimes.




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