The Revolutions of the Hawthorne Mill

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In March of 1924 the Hawthorne Woolen Mill had to close after many years in Carleton Place, and the prospects of it re-opening seemed bleak. The company was in liquidation, and Mr. Richard Thompson, the chief owner, pointed out that the assets of the company were some $425,000 more than the liabilities. Thompson said with the tariff conditions it was impossible to run a woolen mill in Canada. The manufacture of cloth would now stand idle in most mills. The closing of the mill was sad for him, as the 200 persons that worked there were responsible for their homes and families in Carleton Place, and had been devoted to the company. There was little or no other work for these people in town, and he had deep sympathy for them. Mr. Thompson explained that it was possible for other mills in Carleton Place to also be affected soon. The wages paid by the Hawthorne Mill amounted to $250,000 a year, and the mill was also the largest user of water and electricity in the town.

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In April of 1946 the Hawthorne Mill, then owned by the Renfrew Woolen Mill went on strike. Kent Rowley, Canadian director of the United Textile Workers, said if the unions demands were not met they would prepare for general action throughout the valley to win those demands. The UTW had laid two major demands before the management of the Hawthorne Mills owned by M. J O’ Brien. They wanted 15 cents more an hour in wage increase, and two weeks holidays for all employees. Mayor A J Coleman had offered to act as conciliator. In some places there were employees in various mills in the valley earning as low as 21, 29 and 32 cents an hour.

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Mr. Rowley said the same demands made at the Carleton Place plant were made at its sister plant in Renfrew. He said H A Green, managing director of the O’Brien interests, were living in in the age of the past. It was added that anytime the union ever made an attempt to work out an agreement with the plant– it was always met with the word NO. The workers became disgusted and went out on strike. Their tents were pitched, and their fires lit and they meant to demonstrate to Mr. Green that we were going to stay there and fight, until they got some sort of an understanding. Mr. Green told them to go out on strike as he felt his workers were not that strong and their spirit would be broken in a week.

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In Novemeber 1952 Renfrew Woolen Mills went on strike. Mr. O’Brien said they had been operating at a heavy loss for the past year and a half and the strike cost them their contract with General Motors for upholstery for their 1953 cars. The Carleton Place mill employing 90 men now covered by the union was still operating- but only on one shift. It would be forced to close in one week. Mass picketing had hurt the shipping output and both plants just closed down soon after that, never to open again.

Photos- Linda Seccaspina

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

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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