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Interesting Discovery at Enterprise Joseph Imre


he Napanee Express on December 22, 1936, featured a truly unique story of discovery in the village of Enterprise. During the fall of 1936, several boys playing in the woods around Enterprise discovered a threefoot-long sword revealed by a fallen tree. The sword was believed to be from the “troublesome times” of the Rebellions of 1837-38 in Upper and Lower Canada. The discovery sparked local discussion around the tales of secret training for militias and sympathizers in the attempted overthrow of government a century earlier. That’s quite a spellbinding story for the small village of Enterprise. The Rebellions of 1837-38 were much more subdued in Upper Canada than in Lower Canada. On the one hand, militias were established to protect areas in which regular troops had been sent to quell uprisings in Lower Canada, where events took a more violent turn. Kingston, for example, had a permanent Militia Garrison to protect the city from rebels. These garrisons were comprised of groups like the 1st and 2nd Addington and 2nd Lennox militias, and many others who had seen battle only twenty-five years earlier during the War of 1812. In other instances, groups of anti-government sympathizers and rebels would train secretly in rural locations and on farms with weapons like pitchforks, axes, and swords in light of muskets being in short supply. This is most likely how a sword ended up in Enterprise.

With King’s visit and the discovery of the sword two years later, Enterprise found itself at the centre of a truly unique historic event. The Napanee Express article in 1936 also mentions that the sword was found on the property of Elias Hawley (although a margin note in a separate copy of the article indicates Eli Hawley). Records reveal that several properties in the Enterprise area were owned by members of the Hawley family in the late 19th century. However, land records for the 1930s for the area reveal property changing hands often, so it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the sword was found. A significant amount of logging and drilling occurred in the vicinity, so it’s plausible that the sword was unearthed as a result, but its exact location remains a mystery. Interestingly, there is also no mention of what happened to the sword after its

discovery. Perhaps its condition meant it was not salvageable, or the property owner kept or discarded the artifact. The artifact itself may be lost, but the story of a time when history converged on the village of Enterprise lives on. Joseph is an Archives Volunteer at the Lennox & Addington County Museum and Archives.

In a historic twist, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s tenth Prime Minister and then Liberal leader, was also the grandson of William Lyon Mackenzie, a journalist, politician, and prominent leader of the 1837-38 Rebellions. Mackenzie King visited Enterprise during a local by-election political rally on September 17, 1934, to promote a local Liberal candidate, Mr. Colin Campbell. Campbell was thrown into the race after the sudden death of incumbent Conservative William Spankie. Even the Premier of Saskatchewan, James Gardiner, was present at the rally, which King used to lambast the R. B. Bennett government for its trade and tariff policies. Mackenzie King would go on to win a third term and majority government as Prime Minister in 1935. Local newspapers like the Napanee Express on September 18, 1934, reported that “Enterprise witnessed the largest crowd ever congregated in the village when the whole countryside turned out to hear Mr. Mackenzie King’s speech...” They also noted that “Cars were parked out a mile on every road leading into the village and there were five times as many people outside as the hall could hold…” Mr. King’s visit to Enterprise provided Colin Campbell with the first Liberal majority in the riding since Confederation.


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The SCOOP • February / March 2018

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The SCOOP // February / March 2018  

The SCOOP is an independent community newsmagazine. Since 2005, we have been covering rural life in the Ontario area north of the 401 and so...

The SCOOP // February / March 2018  

The SCOOP is an independent community newsmagazine. Since 2005, we have been covering rural life in the Ontario area north of the 401 and so...