Things have not changed a lot in Almonte since Mayor Alex McDonald came here from Scotland years ago. He was brought here from his native hearth in Glasgow as a textile expert for the then flourishing Rosamond Woollen Mill. He served his employer well and faithfully and in 1942 he retired. When I introduced myself to the mayor, I pronounced my name “Ingles” the way the Scottish like it, instead of “Ingliss,” the way so many say it. He looked at me coyly and in his soft Scotch brogue he said “Well, you’ve got the name when Mr. McDonald stepped the train at Almonte for the time in 1907, electricity was and no more.”
The town was on the rise of an industrial boom that lasted for many years but has since largely disappeared over the horizon. “There was the Almonte Knitting Mill,” he reminisced, “but it’s gone now. Then there was the shoddy mill, down the street. It was here before me and it’s still here. There was Baird’s woollen mill and Penmans. Penmans were here for years but they had a row with the town council over something. Now they’re in Paris.
“Another old-established firm is the Thoburn Woollen mill. They employed a large number of hands at one time but lately their business has slowed to a trickle,” he said ruefully. “Campbell’s woollen mill was another busy place but it’s gone now. There was a stove works here once and they made good stoves. The business got into incapable hands and collapsed, I understand.”
Alex McDonald has seen the town’s population shrink from a prosperous 3,000 to a worried 2,500; the town’s five once-busy hotels fade away until now there are only two. “When I first came here. I worked a 59-hour week,” the Mayor recalled. “The wages I got were less than jobless draw today as unemployment insurance.”
Alex McDonald at 78 has been on the town council 25 years, and was now in his term as mayor of Almonte. Like his fellow members in council, he’s convinced that Almonte has everything a modern industry could desire abundant help, transportation,electric power and more and even empty facilities ready to to move into.
One of the town’s oldest places of worship Is St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, a magnificent structure that stands as a monument to the excellent stone masons art when it was built in 1869 when it was built. One of the largest congregations in town attends the Almonte united Church where the Rev. H. C. Wolfraim Is minister. St, Paul’s Anglican Church is a large, handsome structure with a beautifully designed and executed interior and elegant glass windows.
Almonte Baptist Church, Rev. Arthur Hirtle, pastor, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, with Rev. T. R. Hutchinson as minister. Legion Building Ernest Miller is president this year of the Almonte branch Canadian Legion, No. 240, that enjoys as nice quarters as you’ll find anywhere in Ontario. The veterans relax in what was once the Royal Bank’s large two-storey stone structure near the heart of the town.
In 1945 a man by the name of Tom Reid, a successful and retired clothing store owner, presented the Legion with this building. Independent as all-get-out. The vets paid back the whole $3,000 or more to Tom Reid, who was 94 in 1952. The Ottawa Press Club could do with an angel like Tom Held.
Almonte has one service club, the Lions Club, and under the president, bank manager W. L. Shaver, they see that no needy child suffers or goes short If they can help. One of the largest W.I.’s (Women’s Institutes) in Eastern Ontario, meets regularly under the guidance of Mrs. Ed James, the president. Busy print shop editor and publisher of the Almonte Gazette, A. Stuart Hanna, and in his busy print shop was a young chap by the name of Douglas James who when he’s not setting type or making up forms, was running down news for The Ottawa Evening Citizen.
George E. Gomme was president of the recently re-activated Almonte Chamber of Commerce. George and his executive had one main objective in mind: to attract new industries to town and to encourage prospective builders as far away as Ottawa.
Dr. B. W. Pickering, A. McCormick; R. J. France Scott Ottawa, to settle in Almonte. Other Chamber of Commerce officers concentrating on the problem of revitalizing this once busy textile town are: Karl Paupst, vice-president; P. W. Strickland, second vice-president; C. J. Newton, secretary-treasurer and eight council members: E. S. Winslow Spragge- Dr. B.W. Pickering, Louis Peterson, M. P. Coderre, W. A MCormick, R.J. France, W.E. Scott and Albert T. Gale.
- The Ottawa Citizen,
- 01 Feb 1941, Sat,
- Page 22
- The Ottawa Citizen,
- 05 Jan 1954, Tue,
- Page 14
- The Ottawa Citizen,
- 22 Sep 1947, Mon,
- Page 10