The Bath Houses of Almonte

The Bath Houses of Almonte

Unexpected Almonte

In the teens & early 1920s, many people in Almonte went to Mill Street to have a bath – and the town had a “pool” (The picture above is an advert found in the Almonte Gazette, 23 July 1920.)
At that time houses didn’t have plumbing or sewers. People used outhouses or chamber pots, and wash tubs were sometimes used. DUNLOP’S BATH HOUSE was located where Louis Peterson (and then his son, Jack Peterson) would later make ice cream on Mill St. (Peterson’s Ice Cream opened in that building in 1924).
DUNLOP’s was separated for men and women. Water was brought from the river, and the dirty soapy water returned there. (Bill Dunlop also taught dancing to patrons in the hall on the second floor of the same building, and also rented it out.)
Dunlop’s/Peterson’s building no longer stands in #Almonte. read-The Crater Lot on Mill Street — Peterson and Dr. Metcalfe

The area is now a vacant/parking lot where the Cuban Mix food truck sits, behind the current The Almonte Ice Cream Shop!
Thanks Brent Eades for pointing me in the right direction for this story. I searched a while and found an advert for Dunlop’s! Thanks very much to the late Gerry Wheatley for some of your words on this topic too…

August 1934- the Opening of the Baths

Commencing activities for the fall and winter season, the 100 Club held a most successful tombola and dance at the N.L.A.S. grounds on Thursday night. The occasion also marked the official opening of the two bathing houses recently erected by the Club. At 6.30 a banquet was held in the main hall for the members and their guests. Among the 150 who attended were representatives from the 200 Clubs of Winchester, Perth and Carleton Place. Centurion Johnston of Winchester, Centurion Welsh of Carleton Place and Centurion Stedman of Perth, brought greetings to the local organisation from their respective clubs. Members of St. Mary’s Dramatic Club were also present as guests of the 100 Club.

In the absence of President S. R. Scissons, vice president G rant W. Dunlop presided over the gathering. The Girl Guides acted as waitresses. Dr. J. F. Dunn in a brief address presented the bathing houses to the town of Almonte. He remarked that this was but one more indication of the 100 Club’s desire to further the interests of the community. Primarily intended for the young people of the town, the bathing houses have been used extensively by young and old alike.

The guest speaker was “Chris” Forbes of Perth, president of the International- He congratulated the local club on its enterprise and urged the members to continue their splendid work. Mr. Forbes remarked on the natural beauty of Almonte, the great number of pine trees making it one of the most beautiful towns in Eastern Canada. Continuing, Mr. Forbes urged his listeners to support the work of the club and told of how service clubs did so much to promote good fellowship and understanding among different countries of the world. “Without these organizations, permanent peace in the world is an impossibility,” concluded the speaker.

An interesting feature of the meeting was the presentation of memorial certificates to three past presidents, Dr. J. F. Dunn, W. M. pim lott arid N. S. Lee. Mr. Forbes made the presentation and pointed out that it was only through the efforts and hard work of these three while each was in office that the club became what it is today. The certificates were the work of a member of the organization, Gordon Hughes. At the conclusion of the meeting a band concept was given on the grounds by the Almonte Citizens’ Band. The refreshment booths and games were well patronised by the large crowd and the evening concluded with a dance in the main hall. 1934-08-23

View Lower Mill Street

350 Almonte Streer- Reformed Prebyterian Family..

Have a read of this, very interesting.

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery…….if you had to do this to survive you were poor.

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot……they “didn’t have a pot to pee in” and were the lowest of the low

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell . …… . Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting Married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof… Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive… So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

And that’s the truth….Now, whoever said History was boring?

The Crater Lot on Mill Street — Peterson and Dr. Metcalfe

The Shoddy Mill

Story of the Bonnechere Bathtub

Bathtub Gin Makes Mr. Bubble Go Flat

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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