The Unforgettable Day the Museum Burned Down


Photo from the North Lanark Historical Society Regional Museum


This is the North Lanark Historical Society Regional Museum as it appeared before the fire in 1979 that destroyed the former Appleton School and much of its contents. This photo was taken June 23rd at the 10th anniversary of the opening of the museum. Mr. Morris Turner is shown arriving with a load of dignitaries, drawn by his democrat and team of chestnut geldings.

One hundred years of history on July 19, 1979 went up in flames when Appleton lost in the 100 year old building.  The Almonte Gazette  reported that countless artifacts and antiques were lost forever. At 3:30 pm on July 19th, a passing motorist noticed smoke coming from the building. Once the smoke got into the attic all was lost. The firemen managed to save some items from the museum, but after the fire members of the historical society were seen sifting through the ruins searching for salvageable items and looking for signs as to the origin of the fire.







S.S. #11 Ramsay
S.S. #11 RamsayNLRM 2012.36.2.1
Donated by the North Lanark Historical Society

This photograph is of S.S. #11 Ramsay in Appleton, Ontario.

Appleton’s first school was a log building built in about 1828. By1854 there were 60 children attending the school and a larger building was needed. In 1856 a new two-room log building was built. Attendance quickly rose at the school from 78 students in 1860 to 104 students in 1864. As a result of this increased attendance a two-room red brick school was built for the Appleton students in 1879.

Appleton’s new red brick school operated from 1879 to 1969 when the local school were amalgamated and children began being bused to school in Almonte. In 1970 the building was leased by the School Board to the North Lanark Historical Society which began operating a museum. The museum officially opened on June 26, 1971 but the historic building finally fell to the ground during a fire on July 19, 1979.
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In memory of the late Norman Paul who I used to share stories with at the Historical Society meetings in the 80s. Some of his carvings can still be seen today at the North Lanark Regional Museum. – Photo from the files of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.

Read the Almonte Gazette here.


Historical Note:

The North Lanark Regional Museum is owned and operated by the North Lanark Historical Society with the goal of collecting, preserving and displaying the history of Mississippi Mills. The museum features several exhibit spaces including seasonal exhibits, permanent local history exhibits, and a pioneer log cabin. The museum is the perfect destination for families with young children, retirees and history buffs in general.

The museum collection focuses on local history and includes: artefacts, photographs, documents and books. Our research library contains local history books, family histories and original copies of the Almonte Gazette.

In addition, the Historical Society holds special events such as the Scottish Tea, Strawberry Social, Annual Heritage Dinner, and Guest Speakers at various times during the year

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