The town’s woollen manufacturing had its start with the opening in 1851 of a mill with one set of machinery by the Ramsay Woollen Cloth Manufacturing Company, a company formed under the new Joint Stock Companies Act with capital raised in Ramsay and Beckwith among some forty shareholders. The village of Ramsayville at this time had a population of little more than two hundred persons. The next summer a fire destroyed the new woollen mill, gutted Daniel Shipman’s nearby unfinished and uninsured new gristmill and destroyed his old mill. Disaster, however, struck a scant two months after the mill had been put into operation. Fire broke out. The mill was totally destroyed, and the company was forced by circumstances to close down. Two years later, in 1853, James Rosamond bought the site and prepared to rebuild on the same spot. Mr. Rosamond, however was from Ireland, and this time he resolved to build in stone.
The loss in this Mill Street fire, one of a number of similar fire losses of following years, was about 2,000 pounds to the company and 2,000 pounds to Mr. Shipman. Daniel Shipman at once rebuilt his mill within its standing stone walls. The building, later owned by John Baird, finally was torn down in 1902.
The Ramsay Woollen Cloth Manufacturing Company opened in 1852 at
the bottom of Mill Street in a frame building with just one set of machinery.
This was the first local venture to process wool products for export, rather
than for local use. Shares were owned by 36 local residents, among
them Daniel Shipman (Ramsayville) and James Rosamond (Carleton
When the building was destroyed by fire the following summer,
Rosamond bought the site and water rights himself. By 1857 he had built a
3.5-storey stone building, known as the Victoria Woollen Mill, to produce
wool products for export. In 1862 James’ sons Bennett and William, who
had acquired management of their father’s textile business, doubled the
capacity of the Mill Street mill by adding a three-storey, five-sided building
adjacent to the earlier one. It is this second building which survives at 7
Other woollen mills soon followed: Samuel Reid and John McIntosh established the Almonte Woollen Manufacturing Company on Shipman’s old sawmill site in 1854, operating there until 1865. Demand for woollen products was very good amongst the people on the farms in Ramsay and Huntley, the mill was the first woollen mill in the place, and the future looked good. Their venture marked the beginning of what was to become the major industry of the place for the next hundred years.
One day in the spring of 1851 Mr. Haskins and Mr. ———- (late in the employ of the Rosamond Woollen Co. of Carleton Place, called on my father, John Gemmill who died the following year on the subject of establishing a mill at Almonte. This project was looked on favorably by Mr. Shipman. Mr. John Scott and Mr. Hugh Rae also favored it. The result was that a company was formed called “The Ramsay Woollen Cloth Manufacturing Company.” It ran a short time and was burned. This was the beginning of the industry in Almonte. Mr. John Gemmill was chairman of the Board in this firm. Shortly after the fire Mr. James Rosamond moved his machinery from Carleton Place to Almonte and launched the Rosamond Woollen Company which was for many years to enjoy an enviable prestige for turning out cloth of the highest quality.