Allan’s Mills— Lanark County Ghost Town

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  19 Jun 1971, Sat,  Page 49

 

 

Allan’s Mills, named for William Allan, was a small milling hamlet located just west of the town of Perth in Lanark County. The community got its start after Allan built saw and grist mills, followed by a general store and blacksmith shop. A post office was opened in 1872.

At its height, Allan’s Mills included a wagon maker, shoemaker, carpenter and two blacksmiths. The surrounding area was dotted with other small mills that included the McCabe Mill, the Ritchie Mill and the Bowes Mill. A school located on the Scotch Line was shared by all the surrounding settlements.

By the late 1890s, business was beginning to slip. Timber supplies had become depleted and farmers were making a gradual transition from wheat to dairy farming. Many of the mills did not survive the upheaval.

 

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“William Allan’s grist mill on the Tay.  Allan was a prominent citizen of North Burgess in the 19th century.

Farmer, mill owner, storekeeper, postmaster, councillor and Township treasurer.”

Picture supplied by Pat Allan – 13 Aug, 2011

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The Scotch Line bordered the former townships of Bathurst and North Burgess. Nearby Grant’s Creek flowed directly into the Tay River, which provided more than ample water power resources. Before long the countryside was dotted with grist and sawmills that were kept busy by the burgeoning lumber and farming industries.

William Allan was the son of one the early Scottish immigrants. Born in Ontario in 1833, he purchased a large piece of land just south of the Scotch Line and built a sawmill and a stone grist mill. He then added a grocery and dry goods store, along with a blacksmith shop. Just north of the shops, he built a beautiful, stately home to raise his growing family. Allan’s Mills gained official status in 1872 when he opened a post office. As busy as he was, Allan also found time to become active in local affairs and served as both a councillor and township treasurer.

A small town site popped up around William Allan’s mills that included Pat Fagan, a wagon maker, Ed Murphy, a shoemaker and William Steele, a carpenter. Henry Harper and George Murphy worked as blacksmiths as did, for a time, William’s son, James. Many of the surrounding mill owners, such as George Oliver, T. and J. Scott and George Ritchie, also chose to make Allan’s Mills their home. The school was located on the Scotch Line and shared by all the surrounding settlements. Other prominent residents included John Armour, who owned a large plot just south of Allan’s Mills. The number of villagers ranged from about 50 to 75.

George Oliver owned the first parcel of land just behind the Allan mills, where he also operated a grist mill. John Ritchie’s sawmill was located north of the Scotch Line on Concession 1, Lot 12, along the Tay River in Bathurst Township. The Scott brothers’ sawmill was located in North Burgess Township on lot 17, five lots west of Allan’s Mills. Their grist mill could be found in Bathurst Township on Concession 1, Lot 17. At the foot of road, right at the Scotch Line leading to the mill was a tollgate, blacksmith and cheese factory. Just to the west of the Scott grist mill on Lot 15, were the Wilson saw and grist mills.

By the late 1890s things were beginning to slip. Both the wheat and timber supplies had become depleted and farmers were making a gradual transition from wheat to dairy farming. This was not good news for the mill owners and many of the mills did not survive the upheaval.

The Wilson mills and the Scott sawmill have both disappeared. The Scott grist mill was purchased by the Bowes family and renamed Bowes Mills. Later on, it was converted to an electrical power plant that provided power to the town of Perth up until the 1920s. The old mill has been well preserved but the dam has deteriorated badly. The Ritchie sawmill still exists but is derelict and in a serious state of disrepair. The McCabe mill, across the road, has been renovated and is now a private home. Oliver’s mill survived the carnage and is presently being used as a barn.

By 1892, William Allan had sold the grist mill to the Burgess Milling Company, who reportedly kept it going until the 1970s. Allan continued operating the store until his death in 1908. His son James took over the post office until the arrival of rural mail delivery in 1914. Allan’s stone grist mill was by far the most fortunate. The stately mill, along with the general store, the blacksmith shop and William Allan’s magnificent home, have all been restored and are now privately used. The schoolhouse, located next to the Scotch Line Cemetery at the north end of Allan’s Mills Road, is owned by the cemetery and remains in use. The area, which is located about 10 kilometres west of the historic town of Perth, remains busy and active and continues to support a large rural population.

Thanks to Robert Thomas for sharing the information on the schoolhouse.–Ontario Ghost Towns

Grant’s Creek doesn’t even make it on to the map (as a tributary of the Tay River) but, it rushes at full spring speed roaring past the former Allan’s Mill.  On Grant’s Creek which joins the Tay above “Roger’s Road” there were two power plants at Allan’s Mills, a mill was built by John Allan and later sold to Francis Allan as a saw mill.  This was replaced by a roller mill in 1890.

William Allan was born in Ontario in 1833. He purchased property south of the Upper Scotch Line on Grant’s Creek, (concession 10 lot 12, North Burgess) and built a saw and grist mill. The mill first began operation in 1878. A grocery and dry goods store, as well as a blacksmith shop and post office, were added to Allan’s Mill at a later date. William’s son, James, worked as the blacksmith at one point.

In 1892, the Burgess Milling Company purchased the mill from William Allan and it continued to run until the 1970’s. The grocery and dry goods store was run by William until his death in 1908, and James took over the post office until rural mail delivery was established in 1914.

John Matthews is responsible for the restoration of the mill, general store and blacksmith shop, and in 2010 it was bought by new owners. William Allan was a prominent man in the township and is remembered as being a farmer, mill owner, store keeper, post master, councillor and township treasurer.-Historic Mills Tay Valley

Scotch Line Cemetery

Location513 Scotch Line, Lot 12, Concession 10, Upper Scotch Line, North Burgess

Scotch Line Cemetery

Details: In 1886, a half-acre of land on the Upper Scotch Line passed hands from Gilbert Wilson and his wife Marian, to a group of men wishing to have a community cemetery. The cemetery trustees were John Wilson, Robert Allan and Robert Hendry. They purchased the half-acre for $75. Although the land was not officially a cemetery until 1886, around ten people had been buried there previous to the purchase. In the same year as its purchase, the Scotch Line Cemetery had its first official burial. The man’s name was Mr. George Oliver, a local mill owner, who died at the age of 49 on June 26, 1886. A fence was put up around the cemetery in 1887 and the cost of $40, as well as the purchase price of the land, was paid for by a group of 24 men in the area.

A piece of land 10 feet in size was added to the west side of the cemetery in 1920. Also added was a strip of land 40 feet wide fronting the Upper Scotch Line and 210 feet to the rear of the cemetery. The strip was purchased in 1941 from the Scotch Line School, which shared the same lot as the cemetery. In the same year, the land between the west side of the cemetery and Allan’s Side Road was purchased for $100 from Gilbert Wilson. The project of planting 200 pine seedlings was completed in May of 1942, with the trees being placed along the fence separating the cemetery from the school, as well as the fence by Allan’s Side Road. After its closure in 1968, the remaining school property was purchased for $1000 on July 12 th . This purchase would mark the final expansion of the cemetery. The Scotch Line School is still situated on the cemetery lot and is a beautiful addition to the land.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

relatedreading

The Ghost Towns of Eastern Ontario

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

The Gillies Home in the Ghost Town of Herron’s Mills

The Ghost Ship of Brown’s Hill

The Ghost of the Lanark County Old Log Cabin

Paranormal Hauntings of the Rideau Canal and other Unsolved Ghost Stories

Photos thanks to Celeste Reisinger on Abandoned – Ottawa/Gatineau & The Valley

Allan’s Mills ghost town. All private property in the Tay Valley, ok’d by Admin

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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