The worst fire that has occurred Almonte in many years broke out in the mill of the Campbell Woolen Company shortly before midnight on Monday evening. The mill was completely gutted, and Mr.. P. J. Campbell estimates his loss at $50,000, partly covered by insurance. The origin of the fire is unknown.
It would seem to have started in a frame addition to the mill which was used for the storage of wood and coal. The blaze was first noticed by a young lady shortly before midnight. She immediately telephoned the alarm in. By that time, however, the fire had made considerable headway and the flames were shooting high into the air. It was just about 12 o ’clock when the siren awoke the sleeping town. The fire brigade was quickly on the scene but it was found it impossible to save the mill. By 3 a.m. the building was completely demolished.
The building was formerly owned by the Kirben Company, makers of furnaces. It was taken over about eleven years ago by Mr. P. J. Campbell who had for a number of years been operating asuccessful textile mill at. Blakeney. Mr. Campbell states that, he will not rebuild the Almonte factory. He has had offers from several towns to relocate and he is considering these. The loss of the Campbell mill to the Town of Almonte is a serious one. Although it had not been in very active operation of hue there were prospects of a busy season in the near future. The loss to the owners is also a serious one and the deepest sympathy is expressed for Mr. Campbell and his associates.
The former Campbell Woolen Mill building originally was built in 1872 as the Almonte Furniture Company by Messrs. Kirby and Bennett and was known locally as the KirBen Building. In September of 1876 The Almonte Furniture Factory had a large fire and the town wanted it to be rebuilt even if it was thought due to indifferent management and heavy loss the furniture factory would have to close down. The shares in the company were so low that shareholders were willing going to dispose them for 30 cents on the dollar- Read-The Sad Saga of The Almonte Furniture Factory
Darlene MacDonaldLocated at south east end if Water St. Next to C.P.R. tracksWhere Drynans was.Who knew
Allan StanleyGrowing up my father’s house was the last one on Water Street before the Campbell Mill, where my Grandfather was a night watchman at one time. The mill burned down under mysterious circumstances after the owners lost “water rights” access to the Mississippi river. There was a lot of suspicion regarding the final fire… just some gossip perhaps that I had heard from elders when I was young.
The Campbell Mill almonte.com
Recently, Marjorie Campbell, a resident of Almonte, donated a painting of the Campbell Woolen Mill to the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum. The picture was painted at the request of Marjorie Campbell by Mr. D. R. Faire in 1979 from a photograph taken in the 1920’s. It was a gift for her husband Donald M. Campbell whose father had owned the mill. The picture had, hung in Mrs. Campbell’s living room for many hears, but she felt the picture and the story of the Campbell Mill should be hanging in the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum as a reminder of when Almonte was the center of Woolen manufacturing in Canada. The Campbell Mill was located at ‘the south-east end of Water Street, next to the C.P.R. tracks, where Brian Drynan now has his automotive repair shop. It was the only local mill that was located away from the Mississippi River, the source of power for all early mills. It was one of the earliest mills driven by steam power.
Our Heritage By Gerry Wheatley
Campbell Wollen Co.
The building originally was built in 1872 as the Almonte Furniture Company by Messrs. Kirby and Bennett and was known locally as the KirBen Building. The factory operated for many years, then had financial problems. In 1887, James H. Wylie, who owned other mills in Almonte, installed a one set flannel mill in the building, added two more sets over the next two years, and called it the Elmdale Flannel Mills. In March, 1919, Mr. P. J. Campbell of the Blakeney Woolen Company purchased the Kir-Ben building and started moving the looms and other machinery from Blakeney to the KirBen building to produce flannels. In March, 1928, a Saturday fire heavily damaged the building. The Almonte Gazette. reported that “spontaneous combustion in the dryer room’ was suspected as the cause. “An alarm was I given and the fire brigade did effective work and succeeded in confining the blaze to one department.” The damage amounted to $12,000. Later in 1928, the picture of the Kir-Ben building was printed in The Almonte Gazette with the following report below it.“Campbell Woolen Company’s Mill at Almonte which was destroyed by fire in a Monday midnight conflagration. The loss is estimated by P. J. Campbell at $50,000, partially covered by insurance.” The Campbell Woolen Mill ceased operations, the remainder of the building was demolished i and the Company was closed a few years later. I wondered whether there was any evidence left of the old Campbell Mill so I drove down Water Street to Brian Drynan’s Garage. Brian had found considerable evidence of the Campbell Mill while building his garage, house and other structures. The railroad siding to the Mill is still in place. He found stone foundation walls; a six inch cast iron pipe from the river to the Mill, thought to bring water from the river; and two large concrete slabs, one now serving as a base for propane tanks. And bricks’ lots of bricks. Brian remembers the bricks had markings on them and was told they were made in Almonte. He will try to find some of the old bricks for the museum. I am not aware of a brick factory in Almonte.
Listen to the noise..During those years Almonte was known to travelers on the trains as The Woolen Town, because the Rosamond Woolen Company, the Old Red Knitting Company, the Penman Woolen Mill, Campbell’s Woolen Mill, the Yorkshire Wool Stock Mill and Wm. Thoburn’s Woolen Mills all made the flat metallic clacking of the looms as familiar a sound of Almonte as the whistle of the CPR steam locomotive. (from roots.org)