Past Parables of the Penman Woollen Mill



Photo from


During those years Almonte was known to travellers 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.



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Photo from Lanark County Tourism–Almonte Walking Tour


March 1 –1926- Almonte Gazette

Penmans Limited has purchased from the town of Almonte a frontage of 30 feet on Mill Street. It adjoins the Penman Mill on the west side and extends back from the street front to within three feet of the Gilmour dam on the river, which was built last year. This new property will be used for the erection of a new scouring house as the old one is to be removed. This purchase has given great satisfaction in Almonte and is regarded as an evidence of the satisfaction of Penmans Limited with their investment in Almonte and evidence also of the good relations that existed between the town and the company since it established itself here.

The Penman mill will now be completely severed on all sides from other properties. It will mean the tearing down of the photograph gallery operated by D. L. Woods. The transaction was ratified by the Town Council and was expected additions to the mill would be carried out in the near future. The purchase price of the property was $ 1,000.

AUTHOR’S NOTE—The assurance that all was well between the town and Penmans was soon blasted. Not only did the company not build any more additions to the plant, except the scouring addition, but they pulled out of Almonte in the middle of 1930 and a year or so later threatened to pull the whole building down if the town didn’t buy the property and relieve them of taxes.

The moral of this story is: When I’m stuck for a closing to a story, I will drag out my last resort:  Overwhelming illogic.




Memories of Penman’s Mill

The Editor of the Almonte Gazette

The item on Penman’s in the recent issue recalled some fond memories of working in Penman’s Almonte.

In the winter we used to organize toboggan and skating parties and end up at Esther Stratton’s or McKay’s for hot chocolate and other goodies.

I was one of the fortunate ones to be transferred with the company to Paris in 1930. After about three months in Paris, Penman’s General Superintendent (Mr. Long) asked if I ever went fishing at Floating Bridge. I told him we used to go fishing at Floating Bridge early in the morning and be back in time for work.

One particular morning Jack Stratton, Billie Richardson, Lorne Ritchie, and myself were going down the road to the bridge past Henry Savage’s when my 1923 Ford T model jumped out of the ruts and landed in the ditch.

When we rapped on Savage’s door at 5:30 am for help, Mrs. Savage put her head out an upstairs window and called: “what is wrong? Is anybody dead, or anything?”

We told her our problem and she called to Henry that there were some boys here who had run their car into the ditch and needed help.

In a few minutes Henry came out and put the harness on an old grey horse. Some of the boys didn’t think it would ever pull the car out.

But when Henry tied a rope on the housing axle and on the whiffle tree, the horse pulled the car out so fast it nearly went into the ditch on the opposite side of the road. The road was quite narrow and rough in 1927.

When we asked Mr. Savage what we owed him, he said, “nothing, boys, unless you get a good catch, then drop off a fish.” We were able to drop off two good sized pike.

Mr. Long said, “Well, Bill, I can tell you another story of Floating Bridge and Clayton Lake.” He asked me if I knew that Indian fellow Joe Baye. I told him I knew of him.

“Well,” said Mr. Long, “one time I was in Almonte inspecting the mill, when Herb Lundy (Penman Manager in the early nineteen twenties or before) asked me if I would like to go fishing.”

“I sure would,” I said.

“Herb hired a horse and buggy and we drove to Joe Baye’s, who was going to be our fishing guide in his boat. We had a good day and caught some good fish and this Joe Baye cooked some for our supper.”

“Just as we were going back to Almonte, a real bad storm came up and Baye suggested we stay overnight, which we did. He had two bunk beds in the attic. We had to climb a ladder on the wall to get to the beds. We were pretty tired and regardless of the thunder and lightning and rain beating on the roof, we slept most of the night.”

“Just about dawn, I could hear someone coming up the ladder and gosh, Bill, I could see this Indian fellow’s head and shoulders coming up through the opening and he had a big knife in his hand.”

“I was so scared I didn’t know whether to yell for Herb or what to do. Well, anyway, he took two or three steps towards me, and then he reached up and cut something down from the rafter, than he went back down the ladder.”

“Later on I could smell ham and eggs frying. (It was a cured ham he cut down from the rafter) I don’t think I ever enjoyed a better ham and egg breakfast and I always intended to go back to Joe Baye’s for more fishing, but I never was able to make it.”

As far as I know Mr. Long was telling a true story.

William Labron, Paris, Ontario.

 - Almonte Will Pay 1 $10,000 For Rights Purchase...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 17 Oct 1929, Thu,
  3. Page 19

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 and now in The Townships Sun

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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