The Leaky Chancery Dam –The Forgie’s of Almonte Part 2

The Leaky Chancery Dam –The Forgie’s of Almonte Part 2


The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
07 Oct 1907, Mon  •  Page 10


Today the Victoria Woolen Mills stands in business section of Almonte at the corner of Bridge and Mill streets. It is an unusual five-sided, five-storey high stone structure. A provincial historical plaque commemorating “The Rosamonds of Almonte” stands outside the building.

Take a walk behind the mill, following the path beside the building and next to the parking spaces. Immediately one notices the spectacular view of waterfalls, rapids and the limestone rock over which the river tumbles. Look closely and you’ll see the Chancery Dam, Almonte’s oldest structure, dating from the 1820s. This wooden dam was completely submerged in spring but in summer it held water back to the benefit of mill owners upstream, resulting in endless lawsuits with those operators below.


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In 1869 Rosamond employees were criminally prosecuted for destroying 60
ft of the Almonte Chancery dam in a case that became known as Rosamond vs. Forgie. James Forgie died at age 83 in 1916  and owned 73 Little Bridge St.  in Almonte. (Mississippi Mills)

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Mary Peden 1920s Carleton Place- Photo property Linda Seccaspina– Rosamond House in the background on Bell Street.


Rosamond returned to Carleton Place for two years, operating there for a short while,
and then came back to Almonte in 1836, purchased the present Rosamond property on the North end of the Island, and proceeded to demolish the “Chancery Dam.” This of course would turn the water to the North Channel, and impair all powers adjoining Mill Street. This intolerable situation brought on the famous lawsuit known as “Forgie V Rosamond.”



Forgie owned the old Penman property (now the site of the new Post office) and of course he was out of business if the Mill Street power owners could not maintain the “Chancery Dam.” This suit was a “class action” by all the Mill Street powers. Rosamond
lost this suit and another later on over the same dam.


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Photo from Lanark County Tourism–Almonte Walking Tour


Further down from the “Commercial House” was a vacant lot. This may have been intended for an extension of Charles Street, which now exists only on the Easterly side of George Gomme’s property. Crossing this vacant space, to the present location of “Harry’s Motors,” was a small building occupied by Robert Drury, a saddler and harness maker. He was one of the several who had “lately removed from Lackey’s Corners” there and “now expects to meet his old friends and make new ones” in Almonte.

From there down there were but two buildings – the Shipman property and James Wylie’s store (above mentioned). Around the corner at the turn to the bay (Gemmill’s Bay) was the first residence of James Rosamond in Almonte. This James Rosamond was born in Carleton Place – his father Bennett Rosamond came to Carleton Place from Ireland. And Bennett Rosamond, known to many present old-timers, was the grandson of the first Bennett Rosamond, the first Rosamond in Almonte, started in the woollen business here close to the site of the Shipman gristmill – across the street from the Public Utilities Commission property. The property was owned by his father Bennett Rosamond (the first) and was sold by him in 1834 to John Baird, with the stipulation that Baird was to have all the benefits of the “Chancery Dam” to run his woollen mill. After selling, Rosamond returned to Carleton Place for two years, operating there for a short while, and then came back to Almonte in 1836, purchased the present Rosamond property on the North end of the Island, and proceeded to demolish the “Chancery Dam.”  (Documented by Fran Cooper)



The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
03 Oct 1907, Thu  •  Page 7


The “Chancery Dam” is really a historic edifice in the history of Almonte, although it is under water most of the time. You may still see it to the North of the bridge below the Dairy property. Waterpower was a matter of life and death to the early industries. There was no electricity in those days.  (documented by Fran Cooper)



The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 Jan 1907, Wed  •  Page 3



Graham Forgie and 65 Mill Street

Past Parables of the Penman Woollen Mill

Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Court of Chancery of Ontario …, Volume 26

The Exact Reason Rosamond Left Carleton Place

Rosamonds – The One Carleton Place Let Get Away


Entire Dam Above Smiths Falls Swept Away

Swimming at the Dam, St. James Park and Other Things

The Power of the Mississippi River Dam in Carleton Place

This Old Dam

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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