Perth & District Historical Society– the former Caldwell Grist and Sawmill on the Clyde River in Lanark.
In April of 1892 Mr. W. C. Caldwell’s Boiler Mills and Sawmill burnt to the ground.
The countryside was upset over the burning of the big roller mills and the
sawmill belonging to Mr. W. C. Caldwell, that happened on a Thursday night of April 14.
The fire originated in the drying kiln adjoining the mill proper, and was first noticed by Mr. Winslow, the smoke coming from the little building attracting his attention.
The alarm was given, and the firemen lost no time in getting the engine on the spot, but by this time the fire had made its way through the door of the kiln into the main building, and the dust seemed to carry the flames like lightning from one part of the building to another.
The building was frame, and, although the engine was doing good work, all hope of saving the mill had to be abandoned. An army of willing hands were working like Trojans to save what they could of the contents and they managed to carry out about 200 bags of flour. The heat was so intense that the little sawmill across the river caught fire.
– CLYDE FORKS Lanark 1890s Caldwell Lumber Mill
By Herculean efforts a band of workers succeeded in getting out the circular saws and planer just as the roof fell in. The alarm had been given at ten o’clock, and at twelve both buildings were in ashes, flat on the ground. The mill dam was also badly damaged. The total loss was estimated at thirty thousand dollars and the insurance amounted to only $6,500.
There was a very heavy stock of grain in the building at the time and this was badly
damaged, and was disposed of to the farmers at from 20c. to
30c. per bag. The amount realized from the damaged grain and the flour saved was about $1,500.
Fire was still smouldering in the ruins the next day, and it was hoped that Mr. Caldwell would rebuild at once. There was some talk of giving him a bonus from the village as this was at that time the most disastrous fire in the history of the village of Lanark.
Mr. Bates insisted that a fire-warden was now needed in the village as men stood around doing nothing— not because they were unwilling to work, but because there was no one to direct them properly. Mr. James Watt, of the firm of T. Watt & Son, struck a 2:40 gait for the scene with his fire extinguisher. He got there before the fire had a good hold on the main building, and did good work with his little appliance, but it was soon exhausted. He thinks that five or six of them put in operation at the time he arrived would have saved the main building.
Sympathy was expressed for Mr. Caldwell as truly his losses have been great in the last five years. With the loss of his sawmill at Clyde Forks, his connection with unsuccessful speculators in Manitoba, and now the burning of his flour mills here, his losses tote up to one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars.