If the Falls Could Talk




No. 2 Falls-Photo from Mississippi Valley Textile Museum

Excerpt From The Almonte GazetteThe Volunteer  — by John Dunn

James Rosamond, a director of the company, and a local entrepreneur, resolved to venture additional capital to erect a woolen mill on a site beside No. 2 Falls.  It was a stone structure, five stories in height, and was the start of the Rosamond Woollen Company. Only a few years later it gave way to the great undertaking called No.1, the head office and manufacturing center for the next ninety years of the Rosamond Woollen Company at the end of Coleman’s Island.

And all during those years Almonte was known to travelers on the trains as The Woollen Town, because the Rosamond Woollen Company, the Old Red Knitting Company, the Penman Woollen Mill, Campbell’s Woollen Mill, the Yorkshire Wool Stock Mill and Wm. Thoburn’s Woollen Mills all made the flat metallic clacking of the looms as familiar a sound of Almonte as the whistle of the CPR steam locomotive.



Penman Wollen Mill-Photo from Mississippi Valley Textile Museum      


Down on Coleman’s Island, right at the end where the island abuts against the No. 1 Falls of the river, Alex Rosamond, a son of Almonte, and scion of one of the largest woolen manufacturing firms, succeeded to the office of managing Director of No. 1. It was a big undertaking, and his responsibilities affected the lives and the livelihoods of hundreds of working men and women in the town. For throughout the town, on Mill Street, in the post office, at the drive sheds outside West’s Store, the talk was always No.1. No. 1, timeless and unchanging.

     Any day, Alex Rosamond could look out his window in the front office and watch Tom Leishman’s team of big chestnut horses, glistening with health and light perspiration, their harness all polished leather marvellously offset by gleaming brass buckles and fittings, bringing yet another wagon load of bales of raw Australian wool down the hill to the loading ramp at the back of the mill. Tom held a steady hand on the lines, but the team seemed to know what was to be expected of them.

      Steadiness. That’s what it was. Everyone called it a steady town of 2200 people, spinners, weavers, dyers, loom-fixers, millwrights, carpenters, masons, stationary engineers, and all the rest.


Photo from Mississippi Valley Textile Museum     

Take Mick McKevitt for example, way down there in the boiler room beside the loading ramp. When it came to feeding steam to the big turbine power wheel resting there in its cradle as finely balanced as the works of a fine Swiss watch, Mick was like a master magician, feeling rather than knowing the right moment and the correct amount of steam to give the wheel. Steady. That was Mick all right. Real steady with live steam.

     On the way back to the freight sheds Tom Leishman’s team pulled a load of bales of another kind, and usually the full of the wagon, all wrapped in heavy kraft paper, addressed to places in the Old Country, to be shipped by CPR to Montreal and forwarding to England. And all of them bore the label:

                         Rosamond Woollen Company

                                            Almonte, Ontario

                             Makers of Fine Woollens

                                             And Worsteds


Photo from Mississippi Valley Textile Museum


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

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.

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