Photo-a snap of me and my siblings (L to R; Vincent, Mary Margaret, me, Maureen) taken in 1986 when we were all together for the last time (my brother has passed), on the bridge at the end of Carleton Street, leading to the Rosamond estate on the island.–Michael Doyle photo
Thanks to Michael Doyle for sending this. Please send in your memories and photos to me at email@example.com
By Michael Doyle
We lived in Montreal at the time. My father, Meyer Francis, was recruited in 1939 by Canadian Vickers in Montreal to work there as a pattern maker, a trade he learned while working at Findlay’s Foundry in Carleton Place. Our family joined him a year later (I was five).
My mother, Alma Veronica Voyce, came from Almonte and, our annual trek was to visit my grandparents in Almonte, then over to Carleton Place to visit friends and family, and then to Smiths Falls to visit my dad’s family. When I was a bit older, probably around 7 or 8, I was permitted to spend the summer months in Almonte, where I developed quite a few friendships. I cannot remember any of the names, but a group of boys would gather almost every day when weather permitted to swim, and a favorite spot was right next to the mill by the railroad bridge. The flume, a bypass of sorts to the falls, was a wonderful deep ‘pond’ and we took full advantage. The railroad bridge was, perhaps, 15 or 20 feet higher than the water in the flume and that was just too tempting to pass up. It was almost a rite of passage to say you had dove, or more likely, jumped into the flume. Summers at my grandmothers were really what memories are made of.
My grandparent’s home was on Carleton Street, at the time the last house before the mill on Rosamond St E. Their backyard faced what is now Coleman Island Park. That whole stretch of water from the old Almonte Flour Mill, to the falls behind the Rosamond Woolen Mill, was our summer playground. And we took advantage of every inch. We fished, swam, played daredevil and generally just had a wonderful time. Summer’s end was a sad time in having to return to what I viewed as dreary Montreal and back to school.
When I was a bit older I helped a local farmer out on Ottawa Street (at the time nothing but farms out there), to gather hay, for which I earned a few pennies, used to buy favors for a couple of young ladies I got to know, and in return I was taught how to kiss for the first time. Sweet memories.
That, and movies at the O’Brien Theater, ice cream cones at Petersons (two scoops), sodas at Sneddens (strawberry was the favorite), and the freedom to walk anywhere we wanted and explore the wonders of a delightful small town. If I recall, there was a pool hall kitty-corner from the O’Brien Theater, from which we were frequently ejected because we were too young. I remember the monument that stood on Bridge Street right by the railroad tracks, commemorating the awful 1942 Train Wreck
I’ve attached a snap of me and my siblings (L to R; Vincent, Mary Margaret, me, Maureen) taken in 1986 when we were all together for the last time (my brother has passed), on the bridge at the end of Carleton Street, leading to the Rosamond estate on the island.