Photos of the Lanark Village I Once Knew–Peter Kear

Photos of the Lanark Village I Once Knew–Peter Kear

Peter Kear · 

The Lanark Village I knew (1945-63), for which I have fond memories: Photographic evidence of the origins of the Glenayr Knit’s 1st life as an actual producer of the famed ‘Kitten’ sweater from the late 1940s into the 1980s – the arrival of one of those massive knitting ‘frames’ from Philadelphia, if I remember correctly.

In the background, you can see the old ‘boiler house’ which into the 1950s was powered by coal. It also included a machine shop, where the amazing machinist, Bill Donaldson, worked wonders in maintaining the massive and noisy ‘frames.’ Also, in the background and to the right, is the newly constructed cement-block building housing both the ‘dye house’ plus the extended building for the massive ‘frames.’

Question: Do the ‘frames’ still exist, or were they sold off in later decades, broken up for scrap iron?

When I was 17- The Kitten- Glenayr Knitting Mills Reunion

Peter Kear

pretty sure the massive knitting ‘frames’ came from and were manufactured in the United States 🇺🇸, certainly not Europe or especially Germany so recent after the end of WWII … still in ruins! As I remember, Bill Donaldson was so talented and crucial in machinery operations.

Rhodena Bell

I know my dad Joe Purdon built his handle maker lathe for his oar machine from old kitten mill metal or knitting machines he purchased ,also build his paddle machine from these parts

Dad made hundred of pairs of oars and I made a lot of them as well

He passed away in 1982

He bought this I think before I started working there around 1978 79

Peter Kear

Photographic evidence of Glenayr Knits’ 2nd life with the transitioning in the 1980s to a ‘mill shop(s),’ and no longer producing the ‘Kitten’ sweater in ‘The Village.’ This was largely due to increased off-shore competition as Europe recovered from WWII, the Canadian-American ‘free trade’ (FTA) agreement of 1988 and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1992, plus the growth in the 1990s of corporate globalization, which eventually did-in the ‘mill shops’ as a tourists’ destination, which sadly had a dire impact on ‘The Village.’

Blair T. Paul, Artist – Canadian and International

Peter Kear It’s great that your children got to see the Mill although it was silent then. It was always such a bee hive of activity when I was growing up…the focal point of industry in the village. So many area people were employed there including my mother Margaret Paul both in the factory and then the store for about 20 years. On Saturdays the pace was frantic with bus loads of shoppers arriving from far and wide! All of the stores in Lanark benefited greatly from this prosperity at the Kitten Mill, and this could happen again if the Mill can be restored and made into a classy, well run, multi-use operation. Let us all hope!

Peter Kear


The glorious and prosperous years of the ‘Mill Shops’ …

Marilyn Labelle

I still have a couple of the kitten bags,wont use them.Reminds me of the days when we had our resturant next door,the good ole days when Lanark was a busy place.

Jan M Wilson

My Mom and Dad both worked at the Mill when they first got married. They then moved on to Hopetown to open a General Store. After raising 5 children my Mom went back to work at Glenayr. She loved working there and enjoyed the atmosphere of meeting the customers who traveled many miles to shop there.

Jan M Wilson

Dad worked there when he was very young. In fact that is where they first met. Dad would always say ” I took one look at her and that was it” and Moms comment was always ” Oh Norval stop being so silly” lol I have a standing lamp that the staff at the Mill gave Mom and Dad for a wedding gift….It is great that we have connected again.

Eric Labelle

Yes my mother Hazel Mitchell started to work in the lower mill making socks and blankets for men over seas it was run by Wilf oak I have a picture of the ones that worked there at that time then she worked at the Kitten mill all told she work there for over 30 yes alot of Lanark people made a living. Read-Stories from the Old Kitten Mill

Anne Labelle

My dads boots were nailed to the ceiling in the mill I have fond memories of taking my dad his lunch and the men asking us to go to the restaurant to get things always giving us a few pennies to buy penny candy at adams store the next day

Peggy Barr

I worked there Almost 45 years

Peter Kear  · 

In June 2005 introducing my two kids, Andrew (back left) and Emily (back right), and their cousins, Mark and Sarah, to the history of Glenayr Knit and my story of growing up as a child and a teenager many years before. Interesting enough, my dad had passed away in his 98th year on the eve of the anniversary of the tragic Lanark fire, June 14, 2005, while at a nursing home in Ottawa. His funeral was held at what had been the original 1902 Zion Hall (originally a Congregationalist Church until 1925), now Lanark Baptist Church, a few days later

Blair Paul

Remember this label? I can’t imagine how many Kitten Sweaters and other clothing came out of the Glenayr Knit. My mother, Margaret Paul started to work there in 1962 and retired from the store in 1988.

I am no longer a resident of Lanark, but you can’t take away good memories of a place through the years that have passed.

I remember so much about growing up in Lanark, and I hope that the old and new people of Lanark will save her heritage buildings by what ever means is necessary. I have always found that “When the response to an inquiry is “No, or, I don’t know”, that this is your signal to try even harder to find out, and get it done!”

Not to meddle or speak out of turn, but Councillor Ron Closs’s impromptu poll results concerning Glenayr Knit indicated strongly that folks want to save the old girl, and revive her for the future. There are Ontario laws that support saving buildings like Glenayr…just google and you will see. When our history has been erased, it is erased forever, and that is extremely sad to think about, isn’t it?

I speak as a caring, and concerned ex-resident of Lanark Village.

Dianne White

I agree with Blair. I worked there for quite a few years and would love to see it saved as probably many other former employees would like to see. It was a big part of Lanark as was Rothwells saw mill.

Peter Kear

The mill – and its positive economic impact on rejuvenating and supporting the good people/families of the surrounding community – was the heart and joy of my dad’s existence from June 1945 until his retirement in the fall of 1972.

I can remember him talking and worrying about the future – especially in relation to foreign competition and the need to ‘modernize’ – of both the mill and the community in the late 1960s and well into the 1970s during my family’s visits home to ‘The Village.’ He saw it almost as a miracle that the mill had survived the onslaught of the horrific fire of 15th June 1959.

Read- The Disappearing Older Buildings — The Kitten Mill — Speech– Lanark Heritage Preservation Society

Peter Kear· 

During our stay in Lanark in June 2005, we stayed at the amazing newly-renovated ‘Clyde Hall’ of the Caldwells – what a beautiful structured to restore after even a fire, and connected to a family so significant in the history of ‘The Village! Best wishes in the restoration of the Old Mill building, which will be a challenge no doubt!

The Disappearing Older Buildings — The Kitten Mill — Speech– Lanark Heritage Preservation Society

More Kitten Mill Memories -As the Needle Surges

When I was 17- The Kitten- Glenayr Knitting Mills Reunion

Down by the Old Kitten Mill

How Much is that Kitten Sweater in the Window?

Stories from the Old Kitten Mill

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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