The above picture is how I will always remember the Gillies House. Drab, and sitting on a slight hill. This is what it looks like now:
Herron’s Mills, originally known as Gillies Mills, is a ghost town in the municipality of Lanark Highlands, Lanark County in Eastern Ontario, Canada,near the community of Lanark. It is located on highway 511 between Perth and Calabogie, Ontario.
Businessman John Gillies established a sawmill on the Clyde River in the community in 1842 to supply lumber for construction in the area. The mill continued to operate until 1950. It was later purchased by the Herron Brothers, hence the name. Wikipedia
This is one of the old houses that used to make up the village of Herron’s Mills.I used to go there and take photos with my sons a lot. This house and some of the buildings have since been torn down. It is unknown who lived here, except that maybe the people who once worked in the Herron Mills Woollen Factory across the road. Also read-
It was 1821 and 10-year-old John Gillies found himself aboard the David of London along with his parents, James and Helen. Their ship was making its way from Greenock, Scotland to Quebec, Canada. Three of the 364 Scottish passengers died during the trip, while another four were born. The passengers had paid their own way to Canada to become part of the Canadian government’s immigration plan which offered immigrants 100 acres of land and free transportation to it from Quebec City.
Fourty days later, the Gillies had made it by boat, foot and cart, to New Lanark. There, John Gillies learned how to clear the land and build a home as his family began building their future in Canada.
By 1840, John Gillies had a plan. He obtained his own land plot near the Clyde River and 100 adjoining acres. It was here that he and his wife Mary built a home and sawmill. Some say that he travelled the 55 miles from Brockville to Lanark with the 90-pound saw on his back.
Gillies dammed the water to allow for enough flow to power his saw. He would sell his lumber for anywhere from $6 to $12 per 1000 feet. His site grew to include a grist and oat mills. On the other side of the river he built a carding mill to process sheeps wool.
Gillies bought a large circular saw and took contracts to cut lumber. One such contract was to supply 3″ thick wood to be used in the construction of the Plank Road between Perth, Balderson and Lanark. He would later claim that he was not paid for this contract.
In 1861 he built a large home for himself and his family which by now counted nine children.
It was about this time that John Gillies had to deal with an inevitable problem. He had cut most of the pine trees from the area and required a new supply for his mill. He had to bring in lumber from other forests. Gillies decided to buy the Gilmour Mill located in Carleton Place and in 1864, Gillies Mill went up for sale.
Gillies eventually sold the mill in 1871 to brothers James and John Herron who purchased 104 acres of land and the mill. They established a company named the J & J Herron Company and the site soon became known as Herron’s Mills. A stone bakehouse was added and used to bake unhulled oats or unshelled peas. From there they were bagged and then ground into grade to be used in oatmeal and pea brose (a Scottish dish).
The mill grew to include barns and stables, homes for the workers and John Munroe’s tannery. For the worker’s children, a school was constructed. Teachers would be given board with local families as part of their payment.
James Herron opened a post office in 1891 that was located in their home. It continued to operate until 1915.
At its peak, Herron’s Mill was producing over 8000 feet of lumber per day. In 1919 the brothers passed ownership of the mill down to James’ son, Alexander. When Alexander died in 1946, his sister Mary continued to run the mill for five more years. By 1951 the mill sat in silence.
One small building remains, the mill has lost the roof and one wall but still stands with some of the original machinery inside. A couple of collapsed buildings remain as well. I never did find the old home pictured on the cover of Ghost Towns of Ontario, volume 2. Perhaps the most fascinating part was the stone bridge which was built over the Clyde River. The water still continues to flow underneath it.
UPDATE ON THE GILLIES HOME
Shelley Dunlop posted— A Great-Uncle of mine was married at this house:
Andrew Dunlop (Andrew3, Gavin2, Andrew1) was born 1866 in Ramsay Twp. , Lanark Cty, and died October 19, 1951 in Hudson , Mass. , USA. He married Margaret Young May 23, 1894 in residence of John Gillies , Carleton Place. She was born 1867 in Dublin , Ireland, and died October 14, 1952 in Hudson , Mass. , USA.
The Almonte Gazette records the birth of a daughter to Andrew Jr. , 9 March 1884 , at Almonte. The Perth Courier records the marriage of Andrew Jr. as ;
Andrew Dunlop Jr. at the residence Mr. John Gillies , May 23 , 1894 , by Rev . A. Scott . Mr. Andrew Dunlop Jr.. to Miss Maggie Young, both of Carleton Place .
The 1891 Carleton Place Census shows a Margaret Young as a boarder at the residence of Mr. John Gilles . She is 35 years old , She was born in Ireland and both her parents were born in Ireland .
She is the general live in servant at the Gilles residence . Her marriage takes place there . In 1891 Andrew Jr. is 25 years old.