The Burning of Wylie’s Mill




This is not the photo of the mill that burned. This is the mill on Water Street. The mill that burned in this story was at the bottom of Mill Street, approximately where the Brian Gallagher Power station is today.
Rose Mary Sarsfield

January 5 1877-Almonte Gazette

A full report of the burning of Wylie’s Mill was in the Free Press of Tuesday eve, which was published about one hour after the fire occurred. Shortly after supper time Almonte people were reading an account in an Ottawa paper of a fire they had witnessed that afternoon about four hours before. Such enterprise deserves recognition and is another proof of the sincerity of the press in being determined to supply the world with reliable news of passing events as soon as it possibly can be done.

At the usual hour the operatives of Wylie’s mill- stopped the dinner hour, and could not have been more than comfortably seated at their meal when the fire alarm aroused them. In short, rounded by hundreds of people, the smoke was so dense that very few dared to enter the mill, as a consequence very little stock was rescued from the flames. It was a dangerous undertaking for any outfit to have risked themselves in the mill at any length of time, even ten minutes after the alarm was first sounded.

The smoke became too thick and every now and again hid the burning building completely from view. The fire engine arrived quickly but there was difficulty getting a place for it to work. They used a hose from Baird’s hydrant, and another from Rosamond’s machine shop was brought into play and did good work. They were all too late, however, for in short time the top three stories were a mass of flames and any endeavours to aid the building were useless.

The firemen acted very wisely in turning their attention to confining the fire to the one building and protecting others around it. It seemed almost certain at one time that the building occupied by Mr. John O’Reilly would catch and that gentleman commenced moving out his valuables. The little wooden buildings surrounding it appeared ready to catch at any moment, and but for the careful watching of those who got on the roofs and kept them continually covered with snow,  or they assuredly  would have been destroyed. As the building burned from the top the danger from the fire spreading was soon over and all the hoses were turned again on the building.

By this change the boiler room and contents were saved. Besides this it was the only thing of any value that was saved was the safe. The building being all wooden and dry burned very fast, and in three hours was almost level with the ground. It is supposed that the fire originated by a nail running into a picker with the wool and by striking fire catching that easily illuminated the material which was spread all round it .

A boy was running the picker at the time, and would have been able to have put the fire out had he had presence of mind to use a barrel of water which was available. Instead he ran downstairs for one of the extinguishers which belonged to the mill but could not make it work.  During this time the fire had made such sufficient headway it forced him to leave, and he had a hard time amidst the suffocating smoke to make his way out.

The mill belonged to Mr. Gilbert Cannon and was not insured. The loss on it will be about $2000. The machinery belonged to Mr. W. H.Wylie and was insured for $7,000, which will cover about one third of the loss.About sixty have been thrown out of employment, and in present circumstance the loss is indeed a great one.

Related reading–

Halls Mills Ghost Town- Another W. H. Wylie Connection

The Almonte Fire– Bridge and Water Street 1903

People from the Potter-Bennett Block Fire– A Shocking Find

Ring Those Bells in Carleton Place– Wylie’s Woolen Mill

Fire at Thom and McNab’s 1903

The Almonte Fire of 1909

Turn on the Lights!

The Ice Cream Man–


The Weekly British Whig

Kingston, Ontario, Canada • Thu, Nov 4, 1920Page 3


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.

2 responses »

  1. This is not the photo of the mill that burned. This is the mill on Water Street. The mill that burned in this story was at the bottom of Mill Street, approximately where the Brian Gallagher Power station is today.
    Rose Mary Sarsfield


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