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Remember This? The Carneys

Three generations served as Sheriff
Carney family SSMPL
The Carney family is pictured in this undated photo. Sault Ste. Marie Public Library archives

From the archives fo the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

Remember This . . . Generations of Carneys left their mark on Algoma

Richard Henry Carney was born in Dorchester, England on February 3, 1802 and immigrated to Upper Canada circa 1832-1833. Prior to his arrival in Sault Ste. Marie, Richard lived first in Barrie and then later in Owen Sound, holding various positions including the inspector of licenses, Customs Agent, operator of the Owen Sound Times newspaper, business owner, County Reeve and was the first mayor of Owen Sound.  

It is felt that the active roles that he played in Owen Sound area led to his appointment as a Magistrate and Commissioner for the Protection of Indian Lands in Upper Canada so he moved to Sault Ste. Marie with his wife and children in the summer of 1858 to assume his new position. 

Arriving in Sault Ste. Marie, he and his family moved into the Ermatinger Old Stone House.  

By 1860, he was appointed as Algoma’s first sheriff serving under Judge John Prince.  He and one of his sons, John, took on the role of census enumerators in 1861.  Richard Carney held the position of Sheriff until 1882, when he voluntarily resigned because of failing eyesight and hearing.  Upon his death on April 20, 1885, he left behind three sons and five daughters.  Richard Carney’s legacy included his belief in the dissolution of reserves, support of the 'civilization' of First Nations people while opposing those who tried to abuse their power over the First Nations. 

In the 1880s, the influx of new residents working in the copper mines in Bruce Mines led to the need for the construction of a jail in this community in 1887. Prior to his death, Richard Carney had ordered that a jail be built so that they could “house rowdy miners” there.

William Henry Carney, eldest son of Richard Carney was appointed to succeed his father as the second Sheriff in Sault Ste. Marie following his father’s resignation in 1882. 

William Henry Carney SSMPLWilliam Henry Carney. Sault Ste. Marie Public Library archives

Based on census records, William H. Carney was born in London, England on July 2, 1830. In the book, Views of the Sault by Heather Ingram, “from 1858 until the early 1900s, two generations of Carneys, who served as the first and second sheriffs of Sault Ste. Marie, made the (Old Stone) house both a place of business on the main floor and personal residence on the upper floor.”  

According to a 1913 Sault Star article, W. H. Carney “was instrumental in having the first meeting called, (in 1868), for the purpose of establishing an agricultural society for the District of Algoma.”

He served as Treasurer of the Society for five years. While treasurer, W. H. Carney “was a moving spirit in (Sault Ste. Marie’s) first fair” held at the corner of Pim and Church Streets. After being appointed Sheriff for the District of Algoma in 1882, he held the office for 35 years. William (Henry) Carney was also the editor of the first newspaper published in the Sault called the Algoma Pioneer which he established in 1874.  He later sold the newspaper to Edward Biggings.  William Henry was also a charter member of the Keystone Masonic Lodge. He died on January 19, 1917 and left behind two sons and two daughters.

William Carney, son of William Henry Carney, was the third member of his family to become Sheriff of the District of Algoma. He served as Deputy Sheriff for many years before his father’s death and later took over as Sheriff.  

William Carney resigned as Sheriff in January 1920.  In a Sault Star article that appeared following his death on December 26, 1929, he was remembered “as a very popular official”.

Throughout the years other Carney family members have left their mark on the city and area in many ways.  The construction by R.H. Carney of the Carney office building on Queen Street was declared to be “the finest office building in town.” 

Many of the family members became business owners.  An interesting comment was shared in response to an earlier ‘Remember This’ article on J. C. Pinch and his grocery stores.  Descendants of J.C. Pinch related that the Carpin Beach area was settled by Orville C. Carney, a Sault businessman and Dr. Charles Pinch in the early part of the last century and its name is derived from CARney and PINch.

Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

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