Rosebank, Blakeney, Norway Falls and Snedden’s Station

Rosebank, Blakeney, Norway Falls and Snedden’s Station
Jack Snedden seeding on Lot 24E, Con. 7 Ramsay. Photo courtesy Lanark Archives.

NE 1/2, Lot 25, Conc 9, Ramsay Township, on the Mississippi River

Blakeney is one of the prettiest places anytime of the year– and especially in the Spring with the raging waters. The tiny hamlet was originally called Norway Falls because of the incredible Norway Pine trees. But, like most of the small towns here the name was changed a few times. It also became Snedden’s Mills because of the amount of industrial growth in the area and its historical beginnings with the iconic Snedden family.

Alexander Snedden became a militia officer and in 1855 gained the rank of Lieutenant colonel in command of the Ramsay battalion of Lanark Militia. His adjutant was Captain J. B. Wylie, Almonte mill owner. Around the Snedden establishment a small community grew at Norway Falls, known as Snedden’s Mills until in the eighteen fifties it was named Rosebank.

Almonte Gazette 1875

It was renamed Blakeney when the post office of the area was moved here in 1874 from Bennie’s Corners with Peter McDougall as postmaster. In the 1850s the name was changed to Rosebank, but similar to Carleton Place and its postal issue, the name Rosebank was already being used and it changed one more time to Blakeney. The nearby railway station continued to be called Snedden, and the name Rosebank also persisted.

Other early industries at Blakeney included a woollen factory, a brewery at the Pine Isles, a second sawmill and a tannery. A three storey woollen mill of stone construction operated by Peter McDougall, was built in the eighteen seventies. The flour mill at Blakeney continued to be run for some years after the turn of the century by Robert Merilees.

Did you know Blakeney once rivaled Almonte in growth? However the railway chose Almonte as their destination because of the Rosamonds and their textile mills and Blakeney lost the industry to their neighbour.

The Snedden family who came from Rosebank, Scotland, named the place where they settled Rosebank and it is still known by that name in that vicinity. Here the Reform Association conventions of the old District of Bathurst and of the United Counties of Lanark and Renfrew of the eighteen forties and early fifties were held.

Joan Stoddart My sister and I took the train from this station into Almonte on Sat for piano lesson from Mrs Smithson on Country St in the mid forties-Very dark inside and I think benches along the wall You bought your ticket on the train

Among the treasures this family brought from Scotland were brass candlesticks, brass curtain tics, pictures of Robert Burns, ‘the poet, and of Rev. Robert Burns, who was the Presbyterian minister in the kirk where the Snedden family worshipped, a chair worked in needlepoint, a small Brussels rug and a table cover.

A discriminating traveler of 1846 wrote of “Snedden’s Hotel, which is kept in as good style as any country Inn in the Province.” Another travelling newspaper contributor of fifteen years later added in confirmation: “Who in this portion of Victoria’s domain has not heard of Snedden’s as a stopping place? Ask any teamster on the upper Ottawa and he will satisfy you as to its capabilities of rendering the traveler oblivious to the comforts of his home.” Built in the 1840’s by Alexander Snedden, the white frame structure was well know throughout the Ottawa Valley.

“Who in this portion of Victoria’s domain has not heard of Snedden’s as a stopping place,” one diarist is quoted of commenting regarding the Inn. “Ask any teamster on the Upper Ottawa and he will satisfy you as to its capabilities of rendering traveller oblivious to the comforts of his home.”

Preceded by a log building which had been destroyed by fire, the frame building operated as a stopping place until the mid 1860’s. According to the book, one of the inn’s least welcome lodgers was the man infamously known as the villain of the valley, the notorious Laird Archibald MacNabb. The authors state that MacNabb would produce a 20 pound note to pay for his lodging and since there generally was not sufficient cash on hand to provide change, he would simply walk out and say that his account was settled.

Since its closure as an inn, the building has been utilized as a residence and is now home to Alexander Snedden’s great great grandson, Earle and his family.

The Snedden’s have retained many of the original features of the stopping place including the pine interior doors and the heavy front door that boasts a deep axe scar, courtesy of a drunken patron enraged at being ejected from the premises.

Earle’s wife Marilyn has been told that lumbermen used to “roll up” in blankets and sleep in the two large rooms in the downstairs portion of the house. One of the large rooms on the second floor, she says, served as a dining room while the stopping place was operating.

The original white pine boards on the lower level are now covered by hardwood. Until the change in the 1930’s, people were able to pinpoint the location of the bar through the cigarette butts on the flooring.

The Rosebank flour mill was built by four brother, Alex., David, Jimmy and Willie Snedden. A Mr. Henderson was the first miller. John Usher purchased the mill from the Snedden brothers, and after his death, John Merilee, who came from Fallbrook bought the mill from Mrs. Usher. This was in 1888.

There used to a number of thriving mills in Blakeney, but those structures have long since been demolished.The Rosebank Woolen Mill belonged to Mr. Peter McDougall. It was a large stone building, the ruins of which are still partially standing, and was powered by a large water wheel. It was erected in 1873 and in operation under McDougall until 1901. By 1905 it was being operated by Peter Campbell who purchased the mill in 1906. In 1906 it was sold to the Blakeney Woolen Company Ltd with George C Francis as president.

The Mississippi River turned below the bridge and divided into three parts before resuming its course downstream toward Pakenham. Three dams were built across the three channels to the two Islands formed by the division. One dam served the sawmill, one served the flour mill and one the woolen mill.

The sawmill was built by William Snedden on the north side of the river. The lumber companies, MacLaren and Caldwell, floated squared timber from the upper Mississippi and the Clyde Rivers down through Rosebank, so a “slide” was built below the Peter McDougall property, which ran the logs into what is known as the Bay, a quiet pool of water below the woolen mill.

The village brewery a frame building, was north-west of the woolen mill. The early brew master was Mr. Gomersall. Later the brewery was turned into a home for Mr. Peter McDougall, owner of the woolen mill, and his family who lived there until Mr. McDougall built a brick house at the foot of “Granny” Campbell’s hill. The McDougall house is still standing.

The tannery, also a frame building, was south of the woolen factory. William Reilly was the tanner. His two sons, William and Wellington Herman became doctors and practiced in Montreal as partners. (by Helen Theimer)’

With files from–Tavern in the Town

Women’s Institute

Ottawa Citizen

Mississippi Valley Textile Museum

It was not until the late 1860s that lovers of the “stanes” in the Almonte district formed a club and built rinks in the town, but at a much earlier date pioneer Scotch settlers gathered on the Mississippi river at Rosebank, four miles below Almonte, and had the time of their lives. They fished nicely rounded stones from the bed of the river, decorated them with fancy silver-mounted and ebony handles and then “curled” to their hearts’ content.

17 August 1870

It had been a dry spring and even drier summer. By mid August, little rain had fallen in four months, parching the fields and forests of eastern Ontario and western Quebec. On 17 August 1870, a work gang clearing a right-of-way along the Central Canada Railway between Pakenham and Almonte near the village of Rosebank set brush on fire along the tracks. It wasn’t the brightest of moves. With a strong wind blowing from the south, the fire quickly got out of control and spread into the neighbouring woods. Despite efforts by railway workers to douse the flames with water pumped from the nearby Mississippi River, it could not be contained. Racing northward through the tinder-dry forest, the fire sent massive columns of smoke into the air blanketing the region.

Almonte Gazette – Aug, 27, 1927. Read the Almonte Gazette here
Robert Snedden Died Suddenly in his Office.
Prominent Merchant of Pakenham Expired After Opening Up For The Day.

Belonged to Well Known Ramsay Family. Taught School before Entering Business In Almonte and Later in Pakenham. Mr. Robert Archibald Snedden, merchant of Pakenham, and one of the most prominent business men of North Lanark, died very suddenly this Thursday (25 Aug 1927) morning in his office shortly after 8:00 o’clock. While for some time he had not been in the most robust health, his condition was never regarded as serious, nor was it contemplated that his end was so near. Shortly after opening up for business for the day he suddenly collapsed and expired immediately. He was 58 years of age. Mr. Snedden belonged to one of the most prominent families in this district.

Alexander Snedden, his grandfather, was a noted lumberman in the early days. William Snedden, his father, was also in the lumber business for a time and owned the old sawmill at Blakeney. William Snedden was a power in the Liberal political circles in his day. The late Mr. Snedden was born on the family homestead on the ninth line of Ramsay. He was a graduate of the Almonte High School and was a schoolmaster for some years and many of the residents of that district will speak of his capable care of their education when he was in charge of the Rosebank School.

Catherine Snedden We are trying to figure out which Snedden family … any ideas? Before my Dad (Bill Snedden) died last year, he showed me this picture and he was not sure. It was taken on the front lawn of the house next to the house he grew up in but before Grandpa actually bought that house. The lawn in this picture was right on the corner of Church and Country sts in front of a stone house. I heard always heard it was a Snedden home but I don’t know which family. If anyone have any insight it would be much appreciated. The middle child looks like my youngest uncle but is a generation to old to be him.
Blakeney Bridge

Photo from the 70s of a mill that once existed by rapids in Blakeney

Names on the map above: (also from the McGill Digital County Atlas Project)

Last Name First Name County Township Town Occupation Birthplace 

Barker  James  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Ramsay Tp., Canada  

Barker  James  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Ramsay Tp., Canada  

Black   James   Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer; Deputy Reeve of Ramsay Tp.  Glasgow, Scotland  

Bond    J.H.  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Tinsmith  Lanark Co., Canada  

Bowland  John  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Wicklow Co., Ireland  

Coffey  John F.  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Roman Catholic Priest  Ottawa, Canada  

Fumerton  Archibald W.  Lanark  Ramsay  Appleton General Merchant; Hotel Proprietor, Appleton  Ramsay Tp., Canada  

Galbraith  Daniel  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Member of Parliament  Glasgow, Scotland   

Gemmill  James D.  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Retired Merchant; Major of Militia  Lanark Co., Canada   

Gilmour  John  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Butcher  Lanark Co., Canada   

Gilmour  William  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Scotland  

Kitson  William  Lanark  Ramsay     

Lang  John  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Ramsay Tp., Canada  

Lynch  D.P.  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Physician and Surgeon  Allumette, Quebec, Can  

Marshall  Robert  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer; School Trustee  Lanark Co., Canada   

McCreary  Joseph  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Ireland (McCreary’s Beach on Mississippi Lake?)  

McDougall  Peter  Lanark  Ramsay  Blakeney Woollen Manufacturer, RoseBank; Postmaster, Blakeney  Perthshire, Scotland  

McFarlane  David  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Glasgow, Scotland   

McIntosh  John  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Perthshire, Scotland   

McPhail  Donald  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Argyleshire, Scotland  

Metcalf  James  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Renfrew Co., Ontario, Canada  (Metcalfe)

Miller  Duncan  Lanark  Ramsay  Appleton Carriage Manufacturer  Lanark Co., Canada   

Mostyn  William  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Physician and Surgeon  Ireland   

Naismith  Peter  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Lanarkshire, Scotland  (Dr. James Naismith invented the game of Basketball)

Patterson  Henry  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Chief Constable, Counties of Lanark, Renfrew and Carleton  Sligo, Ireland   

Patterson  James  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Physician and Surgeon    

Patterson  John  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte  Glasgow, Scotland   

Paul  John  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer; Lime Burner  Ramsay Tp., Canada  

Rae  James  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer; Tax Collector  Ireland   

Raines  Thomas W.  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Dentist  Alabama, United States  

Robertson  James Jr.  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer; former School Trustee  Lanark Co., Canada   

Robertson  W.P.  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte School Teacher  Stirling, Scotland   

Scott  James  Lanark  Ramsay   Manufacturer of Carriages, Buggies  Prince Edward Island, Canada  

Scott  John  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Retired from Business  Glasgow, Scotland   

Scott  William  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Armagh Co., Ireland  

Shirreff  Archibald  Lanark  Ramsay  Almonte Formerly Superintendent of Rosamond Woollen Co.  Scotland  

Sneddon  Alexander  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer; ex-Township Councillor  Ramsay Tp., Canada  (Snedden) 

Sneddon  James  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer; Lumberman  Lanark Co., Canada  

Steel  John  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Renfrewshire, Scotland   

Stewart  Duncan  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Perthshire, Scotland   

Syme  Peter T.  Lanark  Ramsay   Farmer  Dunning, Scotland  

Teskey  W. Rufus  Lanark  Ramsay  Appleton Manufacturer; Township Councillor  Lanark Co., Canada  (Palatine family) 

  The Teskeys came in 1823 from Rathkeale, County Limerick, Ireland, as part of the Peter Robinson group settlement.

Teskey  Wilton  Lanark  Ramsay   Proprietor, Appleton Flour Mills, Appleton  Ramsay Tp., Canada  

Usher  John  Lanark  Ramsay  Blakeney Proprietor, Rose Bank Mills  Antrim Co., Ireland

Bennies Corners and the Snedden Family

The Runaway Bridesmaid From Rosebank to Huntley

A Little Story About Admaston

What You Didn’t Know about Harvey’s Mills — Pakenham

So I Walked Into a Candle Holder and Blakeney-ed Out

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s