Regarding the piece on the Victoria Woollen Mill, AKA the Shoddy Mill, do you have a link to that article? It shows that the piece continues on Page D2. My Great Grandfather, John Blakeley, brought his family to Almonte a century ago in 1919 to run the Shoddy Mill, and did so until his death 10 years later– Frank Will Fix It
A restored 19th-century textile mill at the mouth of Almonte’s main strip is on the block for $2.1 million. The property, known as the Victoria Woollen Mill, overlooks the Mississippi River at the foot of Mill Street. It has been designated a provincial heritage site for its architectural and historical significance. The original mill was built in 1863 by James Rosamond and churned out “shoddy,” a fabric made from wool waste, until about 1933. An older, adjoining mill burned down in 1923. Greg Smith and Stephen Brathwaite bought the property in 1993. They modernized wiring, plumbing and sprinkler systems, and added a three-level annex and other renovations.
Tenants include a restaurant, antique shop and three technology firms. Mr. Brathwaite said the building was a “derelict shell” when they bought it. He declined to say what they paid or how much they invested in the site. “It’s a pretty good price,” said Vicki Haydon, economic development officer for Mississippi Mills, the town into which Almonte was amalgamated in 1998. “The building’s completely finished and they pretty much have full tenancy there.” “Right now it’s an attractive time, with the growth that’s happening in Almonte, for the partners to sell.” Technology firms have recently been drawn to the “funky” office spaces in redeveloped mills, she added. A well-known glass sculptor in the area, Mr. Brathwaite is involved in redeveloping seven other sites around town, including an old post office on Mill Street. “Almonte is really being gen-trified,” he said. “We’re seeing people setting up business here where the principals don’t live in town. That’s a big change.” Mr. Smith and his wife also own the house in Almonte where the inventor of basketball, James Naismith, once lived.
Victoria Woolen Mill (1857)
- Lot 22, 7 Mill St
- Ramsay Woolen Cloth Manufacturing Company (Grenville, Menzies, Shipman and Rosamond among the shareholders) was a woolen mill running on this site from 1851 and 1852. It burned in July 1852 . James Rosamond of Carleton Place, a shareholder of the short lived Ramsay corporation, then moved his woolen mill operations, the first in Eastern Ontario, from Carleton Place to Almonte as the founding of Almonte’s leading manufacturing enterprise. He bought the site of the Ramsay Company’s mill and built a four story stone building, later known as No. 2 Mill, which he opened in 1857 James Rosamond, who lived until 1894, gave the management of his growing business in 1862 to his sons Bennett and William, who doubled its plant capacity and in 1866 admitted George Stephen, Montreal woolen manufacturer, as a partner. He became Baron Mount Stephen, president of the Bank of Montreal and first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
- In 1868, the Rosamonds attempted to establish a joint stock company to run the factory but apparently was unsuccessful.
- The mill was sold to Andrew Elliot in 1869. The firm of Elliot, Routh and Sheard was established in 1870 (1870 – 1873). The firm was subsequently Elliot and Sheard; Elliott, Shirreffs and Company; and Elliott and Company. The firm operated successfully until 1888 and the firm also controlled a shingle mill on lot 19 Mill St 1879 – 1887.
- It was no longer running as a woolen mill and in the control of James A Cantley of Montreal; may have been used however, by Rolland and Brothers for shoddy manufacturing at least in 1888 and 1889.
- The Mill was sold to Daniel Shaw in 1893 and the Almonte Blanket Mill with John B Wylie and Daniel Shaw as proprietors occupied part of the building from 1894 -1902. The other part of the building was occupied by John Elliott and David Shepherd (John Elliott was former manager of Elliott and Company until 1888), shoddy manufacturers from 1891 – 1895; and then by Francis Scantlion, shoddy manufacturer from 1895 – 1902.
- The mill was sold in 1902 to Richard William Lee and Hirst Taylor, shoddy manufacturers and was still operating in 1911. MVTM