Take Me Where the Mississippi River Once Flowed– The Hidden Mill River

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If you talk to some of the old timers in town they will tell you the Mississippi River once flowed up near Townline in Carleton Place and the powers to be re-routed the river bed to where it now flows. Somewhere down the line stories got mixed up and this week I found out the real story from Jennifer Fenwick Irwin from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Museum and was really shocked.

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The Mississippi River flows around McArthur Island and a man made channel for the Mississippi River was built and re-directed for the McArthur mill. More on that next week. The shocking part was realizing that another channel once lapped the back doors of the old Gillies Mill. Yup–right by the back door and through Bill Bagg’s adjacent property that was once the blacksmith shop for the Gillies Mill. When Bill Bagg bought that house he found an open cistern/well inside his house and it had to be boarded up so no one would get hurt. That made me shiver and think of the film Silence of the Lambs.

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So the driveway you see now and the land in front of the river is all fill. That’s right- limestone rock was brought in and they filled the channel up. I guess movements are like rivers. Dipping into them is never the same twice.

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Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

16 responses »

  1. there were two bridges back in the 60s. the big bridge that is still there, and a small bridge were bill baggs drive way is water flowed under both

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    • Jennifer Fenwick Irwin from the Museum gave us alll this fact and others during our last walking tour… Pretty easy if you go down to the bridge. The fill starts on the other side where they park cars and goes across the road to Bill Bagg’s. It’s all Limestone fill in there. I can understand that.. The Townline gossip was mind boggling.. I’ve got back up LOL

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      • Linda I don’t know if you are aware of it or not but the picture of the channel and mill are of the other mill on the island. I guess you could say there were actually 3 bridges if you count this one.

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      • Linda I don’t know if you are aware of it or not but the picture of the channel and mill are of the other mill on the island, In other words the McArthur mill. I guess you could say there were actually 3 bridges if you count this one. The one that was filled in was the channel for the Gillies mill / machine shop. I find it confusing that “Gillies Grove” which was once a place for picnics etc was on the island where the McArthur mill was. At least that’s my understanding. Maybe I’m wrong. I got this idea from an article somewhere on here. I’ll look again. Anyway that island where McArthur’s mill is is where we spent all our time in the spring fishing when we were kids. Right across from the “pike hole”. I find it really depressing when I drive by there now and it’s all fenced off with that ugly fence.

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  2. Linda I don’t know if you are aware of it or not but the picture of the channel and mill are of the other mill on the island, In other words the McArthur mill. I guess you could say there were actually 3 bridges if you count this one. The one that was filled in was the channel for the Gillies mill / machine shop. I find it confusing that “Gillies Grove” which was once a place for picnics etc was on the island where the McArthur mill was. At least that’s my understanding. Maybe I’m wrong. I got this idea from an article somewhere on here. I’ll look again. Anyway that island where McArthur’s mill is is where we spent all our time in the spring fishing when we were kids. Right across from the “pike hole”. I find it really depressing when I drive by there now and it’s all fenced off with that ugly fence.

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    • I feel the same as you Dan. I am a new comer to Cp. We arrived in 1978 with our 10 and 8 year old sons and our 1 year old daughter. But a big part of their growing up involved fishing and swimming from that island that is now fenced off. We built a house on Rosamond next door to Bill Bagg’s place and in 21 years of living there was much enjoyment from watching visitors to that rocky section now fenced off. Walked my grandchildren over there in all seasons to look at flora and fauna. I just assumed it would always be a public right of way. What a loss.

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  3. OK so I just gained a little more understanding of why “Gillies Grove” is on the Island where the McArthur mill is located. At one time Gillies owned the McArthur mill and I assume the island where Gillies grove and the McArthur mill are located as well as the mill on the mainland, One of the articles mentions picnics etcetera that Gillies put on for his workers. I assume these were held in Gillies grove on the island.

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