In the 1860s there lived outside of Almonte within a short distance, a man who was known by the name of “Old Mitchell,” and who was a real hermit. “Old Mitchell,” as he was called, was a bachelor who lived a lonely life on his own farm.
Although this man lived within a mile or two of Almonte he had not been known to enter Almonte for over 30 years, and had seldom even been off his own farm. His food had, during those 30 years, been brought to him either from the village and from neighbours. Mr. Mitchell had a fine brand of sand on his farm, and his “pit” was much resorted to by Almonte builders, and by farmers who required it.
The hermit grew hay and oats, kept cows and hens, and was pretty well self-contained. People didn’t bother the hermit much except when they went on business, as he kept three rather savage dogs. The hermit, while living a hermit’s life managed to keep pretty well abreast of the news and so it came about that in the spring of 1860 that he learned the Prince of Wales was going to visit Almonte. On the day of the Prince’s arrival much to the surprise of his neighbours the hermit left his farm and walked towards Almonte.
But, he did not go all the way. He stopped at the top or the “Bay Hill” just outside of Almonte, from which point he could get a good view of the road where the Prince was to pass.
One day the hermit died and he was found dead in his shack. A search was made after he had not been seen for some time, and the actions of his dogs and stock had made it apparent that something had happened on the place. There was a general impression among the Almonte people and his neighbours that the old man had a lot of money saved up, and after his death a lot of digging was done all over the farm, but without result.
“Old Mitchell” had no relatives anywhere near Almonte. Mr. Young does not remember what became of his property and says that those who had occasion to visit the old man noticed that the appearance of his shack used to tell that the hermit regularly swept his one room home, but that he used to sweep the dirt into corners and behind cupboards, etc. Every now and then he would have a general cleaning because as a hermit he knew that he was connected to everything in his life– except maybe housecleaning.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome 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. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.