Hazel Mitchell was born in Dalhousie across from the Dalhousie Township Hall and moved to Lanark December 5, 1926. She worked at the Kitten Mills for over 30 years and was the longest that lived on the Main Street of Lanark.
For most of the 20th century, Lanark and its Glenayr Kitten Mill was a hub for textile production in Ontario. Since its closure in 1997, the mill has sat abandoned and it was the mill that made the village of Lanark a pretty bustling place. And then the mill closed down and now there’s nothing there. Lanark sadly still hasn’t recovered from the mill closure.
MITCHELL, E. Hazel Peacefully at Lanark Lodge, Perth on Tuesday August 3rd, 2004 Hazel (Scott) Mitchell in her 98th year. Hazel was born January 3rd, 1907, she was predeceased by her husbands Albert Mitchell and by previous marriage, Edward Labelle; she was the cherished mother of Fern (Boyd) Roberts, Eric (Dianne) Labelle and Everett Labelle; step-mother of Frank (Doris) Mitchell, Arnold (Shirley) Mitchell, Elizabeth (late Des) Vaughan, Agnes Emon, Merina (Jim) Elliott, Florence (Tom) Healy; she will be sadly missed by many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Hazel was predeceased by sisters Mabel Swerbrick and Frances Munro and brothers Harold and Orville Scott. Friends may pay their respects at the Young Funeral Home, Lanark Thursday August 5th from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. Funeral service will be held in St. Andrew’s United Church, Lanark Friday at 11:00 a.m. Interment, Greenwood Cemetery, Middleville. In remembrance, contributions are suggested to the Alzheimers Society of Lanark County, the Lanark Lodge Memorial Fund or the First Baptist Church, Lanark.
Published in The Ottawa Citizen on Aug. 5, 2004
(The year before I was married, which was thirteen years ago, I lived in Scotland.)
One day, about fourteen years ago now, while perusing the wares at a knitwear outlet in Edinburgh, I felt a curious and unexpected wave of nostalgia. This place in Edinburgh, Scotland was so strikingly similar to a place my mother used to take us to in Ontario, Canada (now, what was the name of that place that Mum used to take us to? … it was in Lanark, and there was something Scottish about it … and something to do with a kitten … ), so uncannily reminiscent of the Glenayr Kitten Mill of my childhood. The piles of jumpers (but we called them ‘sweaters,’ of course) all laid out on wooden tables; the firm but friendly salesladies; the general air of solid but unpretentious quality … all of a sudden, I was back in Lanark (Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada, that is).
I have to admit, I bought a cardigan that day, just on the strength of that memory.
The Glenayr Kitten Mill outlet in Lanark (Lanark Co., Ontario, that is) was the kind of place that we (my sisters and I, that is, though certainly not our mother) loved to hate. So fusty and old-fashioned, and please, mum, don’t make us wear those sweaters! that’s not what the popular girls are wearing, and the mothers of the popular girls only shop at the Bay. But our pleas fell on deaf ears: our mother has always known a bargain when and where she finds it, and bargains are what she found at the Glenayr Kitten Mill.
As I now recall it, the Kitten Mill had an impressively no-nonsense integrity: no frills; no fuss; just good, sturdy value at a fair price. But it wasn’t until years later, while looking at jumpers at a knitwear outlet in Edinburgh, that I began to appreciate the Kitten Mill for what it had been: a little piece of the Scotland-to-Canada knitwear tradition that had already, alas, all but died out when our mother took us to the Glenayr for new sweaters.
(And it wasn’t until I lived in Scotland for a year that I began to truly appreciate the fundamentally Scottish character of so much of “English” Canada, or of “English” Ontario, at any rate. I recall going to the Waterstone’s on Princes St. in Edinburgh to look for an Alice Munro book [which I found, btw] because there was this story that I just hadto reread: I had heard something earlier that day that had so uncannily reminded me of this Munro story, and something had finally just clicked about Scotland and Canada…)