Photo from Clarendon Miller Archives
The Lanark County Genealogical Society is very honoured to have been sent this and to be able to publish it.
History of McLaren’s Depot–Written by Evelyn Gemmill and Elaine DeLisle
Lot 11 Con 11 Palmerston, Frontenac County Ontario
Property: Believed to be bought from the Crown by Gillies Lumber Co. who took McLaren on as a partner and later sold to him hence the name McLaren’s Depot. McLaren sold to Canada Lumber Co. in 1880 who sold to William Richards in 1890. In 1909 the Richard’s sold all but the store and about an acre of the property to David and Marion Gemmill. David tore down all the log barns and built a new bank barn which stands across the road from where the farm house was. In 1943 Elmer Gemmill bought the farm from his mother. In 1974 Elmer and Evelyn Gemmill sold to their son Dale and Mary Gemmill. In 2006 Dale and Mary sold the farm to their son Scott. In 2013 the barns were divided off the farm and that piece of property was sold to John French and Molly Hartin.
Farm House: In 1885 Canada Lumber Co. built the frame house 21’ x 27’ for their foreman by the name of Lenahan. The original house had 3 rooms downstairs and 3 bedrooms and a hall upstairs with a summer kitchen on the back and a verandah across the front. In 1928 the summer kitchen was torn down and an addition added with basement and 2 storeys, kitchen and bedroom with a cistern in the basement. This addition was 16’ x 24’ with a verandah on both sides. At the same time the two story woodshed was built 16’ x 24’. The house was wired in 1944. In 1948 the front verandah was replaced with a sun porch built by Elmer. In 1950 the house was sided with red insul-brick siding. In 1960 a waterline was put in coming from a well under the store. It was 1975 before the hot water was put in. In 1962 they built new chimney and put in furnace, and also put on an aluminum roof. In 1969 had 10 storm windows were put on. About 1950 a garage was built to the north. It was torn down in April 1986 by Dale. The woodshed is still standing. Dale built his big garage for his sand and gravel business in 1997. The farm house was torn down by Scott Gemmill on April 15th 2014. Four generations of Gemmill’s had lived in it.
Residents of the Farm House over the years were: The Lenahan family who, Mr. Lenahan was a foreman for McLaren and later Canada Lumber Co. 1893 -1904? Chris Forbes and family then lived there. He was book keeper for Canada Lumber Co. (His daughter Carrie was born June 1904) Johnston Buchanan lived in the house until 1909 when it was bought by my grandfather David Gemmill and his wife Marion Fair. All their family were born in the house except the oldest Eldred who was born at Watson’s Corners. Their family were Eldred, Doris, George, Elmer, Marion, Laura, Gerald and Stanley. In 1943 Elmer Gemmill brought his new wife Evelyn Barrie also from Watson’s Corners to take over the farm from his mother after his father Dave died in 1940. They raised their four children here, Dale, Earl, Walter and me, Elaine. In 1974 Elmer retired and Dale returned with his wife Mary Pretty and their sons, Rodger, Scott. A third child Cynthia then was born in 1977. In June 1986 Dale and Mary purchased the store and moved there. Rick and Diane Roberts rented the farm house with their children Lance and Cassandra until 1988. In January 1989 Stephen Hermer and his family moved in and lived here until the house was torn down in 2014.
Barns: The original barns were probably built by Gillies in about 1850. The hay barn was frame with double threshing floor. Sheep shed – frame. The cow-byre and stable were log buildings. An octagon silo was built beside the cow byre with a hen house built in a corner. In 1921-22 these barns were torn down and the present Bank barn was built further back from the road. The stable, cow byre, box stalls & silo, hay barn & granary were now all under one roof. In 1978 the stable was torn out and an open cattle barn with cement floor was built. In 1980 the silo was torn out and in 1981 the lumber on the front was replaced with new doors. A milk room and entrance was built complete with sewage system and hot water put in. The hen house was built inside the gate about 1960. In 1991 Sterling Laffin rented and remodeled the barn. The barns were severed from the rest of the property in 2008. Scott Gemmill built a new large house on the property at this time. It was sold to John French and Molly Hartin in 2014.
Sugar Camps: The first building was a black smiths’ shop built by the Lumber Co. with a stable below beside the rocks. Part of this building was a frame building which housed a photographers shop. After Gemmill’s bought in 1909 this shop was turned into the sugar camp where maple syrup was made and was used until 1940 when the roof fell in. A new sugar camp was built in the middle of the sugar bush. This camp was used when we were growing up and it had no electricity. We had to carry all the syrup up a steep hill to get it home. This camp was used until 1971 when the camp was moved back to the site of the original one. This camp was torn down in 1989/90 and moved to the present site in Albert Millar’s sugar bush which was bought from Arnold Carson in 1984. A story ran in the Lanark Era about the 100 consecutive years of syrup making in the Gemmill family in 2009, with Cole Gemmill tapping a tree. He was the 5th generation to tap trees on this farm. Because of failing health Dale Gemmill made syrup for the last time the spring of 2012. As it was a poor year he only made 50 gallons of syrup. The bush and camp have since been rented to Steven Skinner.
Log House: This house was probably built as a trading post by Gillies Lumber Co. and later Peter McLaren used it as a store and Post Office (1870). The frame part was built on and rented. A number of families lived in the two places; one of the first known was Fleetwood Millar who was a clerk in Allen’s store. The Jim Patterson family lived in one part in 1906, when Jim drove a team for Isaac Allen. (He had a brother Wilfred). Lewis Trombley lived in the frame part and the Charles Kennedy family in the log house from 1906 – 1910. Jim Duncan lived in the log house, sometime between 1910-1918. His wife was Dolly Wright (Wright’s lived in a house where Glenn and Karen Patterson now live). From 1918 to 1927 Mrs. Andrew Gemmill (Great-Grandma Gemmill) lived in the frame house. She was a midwife and helped deliver many of the local babies. Her daughters Agnes (Mrs. Jim Richards) and Martha (Mrs. Frank George) and her sons Willard and Lorne, also a sister-in-law Agnes (Mrs. Frank King) lived with her part of this time. After 1927 the log part was turned into a Feed Store Shed for United Farms Co op run by David Gemmill (Grandpa). In early 1930 when Highway 509 was under construction Bill McIntyre lived in the frame part, and then Watson and John Fair (Our grandmother’s brothers) were last known residents. The frame part was torn down and log part was used for storage and as a garage. (I remember as kids playing in there and dad always stored the sap cans in here.) In 1970 the log house was sold for $175.00 by Elmer Gemmill and logs were taken to Loughborough Lake to build a cottage.
In 1971 approximately 1 acre was surveyed off for Dale Gemmill and deeds for this lot were turned back to Elmer and Evelyn in 1974 when they proceeded to build a new bungalow with full basement and 2 bedrooms, bath, kitchen and living room. All conveniences were installed including electric heat, septic system, and well water with chimney from the basement. The basement was divided into four parts, with storeroom, workshop, laundry room and rec room. In 1975 the house was bricked by Brian Larocque of Lanark. After Evelyn died in 1998, Dale and Mary purchased the house from the estate and rented it out for four years and then decided to build an addition and renovate the inside. After building on a heated garage with a large bedroom and bathroom above and opening up the whole living area, they moved over from the store in November of 2003. Elmer, Evelyn and Dale all passed away in this house, where they lived the last portion of their lives.
Drive Shed: A large two story building beside the log house was used as a storage shed and shop. In 1938 half of this shed was torn down and the remaining part was used as a machine and storage shed. It was hit by lightning and burned to the ground the end of May 2006.
McLaren’s Depot Store: The building that housed the store is reported to have been built by Canada Lumber Co. as a store and residence after 1890. The store was run by the Richards family with Post Office brought back from McKinnon’s in fall of 1912. Adam McGonegal rented and W. J. Clement operated the store until 1914 when it was moved to John A. Geddes’ store and station at the other end of the village of Snow Road. In 1937 George Gemmill bought the store from Richards and ran it for 5 years and then sold to John A. Geddes in 1942. In 1948 Max and Dorothy Millar bought the store and John A. Geddes’ business. They lived there with their children Bob, Joanne and Sharon. The post office was brought back to the store and was run by Max Millar from January 1, 1949 until November 10, 1973. The store was bought by Americans Jerry and Phyllis Saylor March 31st 1973. They opened a little restaurant on the side where the feed shed used to be and called it “The Dew Drop In”. Saylor’s closed the business part of the store in 1978, but kept the post office until Dale and Mary Gemmill purchased the store from them in July of 1986 under the name D & M General Store. They closed the store on October 31, 2010. They tore down the store in March 2013.
New Homes: In 1989 Sterling and Norma Laffin built a new home where the first and third sugar camp site was beside the big rock before going up Gemmill Rd. It was sold to Nick Agiomavritis in 2010.
Scott Gemmill built a new home beside the Alex Trombley house in the fall of 1992 on a corner of the Gemmill farm. His Grandpa Elmer Gemmill and dad Dale helped him build it. A beautiful stone wall was built along the driveway. Scott has two children Cole and Sierra. This house was sold to Cory Davenport and Lauren Scott in May 2013.
All of the original buildings in the McLaren’s Depot picture have been torn down but have been replaced with beautiful new homes. Life goes on almost 150 years later…..
Written by Evelyn Gemmill and Elaine DeLisle
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)