Tag Archives: 65 Mill Street

Almonte Heritage Redevelopment Group Buildings: Victoria, Thoburn Mill and 65 Mill Street

Almonte Heritage Redevelopment Group Buildings: Victoria, Thoburn Mill and 65 Mill Street


When Santa parks his reindeer atop Almonte’s 150-year-old Victoria Woollen Mill, he has to comply with the poop-and-scoop regulation. It says so right in the legal condominium corporation document extending annual landing rights to the jolly old fellow. All of which may make the venerable building at 7 Mill St. the only former textile mill in the world that’s being repurposed for stylish, riverside condo living, while guaranteeing Santa a touchdown strip.

Neighbourly gestures like these rooftop rights typify Almonte, a 20-minute drive west of Kanata, Ont., in historic Lanark County. With its vibrant arts community (the Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival is a must-see August event), gift and other specialty shops, picturesque setting including the Mississippi River coursing through town, and proximity to the big city, Almonte is on a growth track. But even while grooming itself for expansion, Almonte current population about 4,800 is determined to hold fast to its small-town charm.

Nowhere is this hybrid of past and future more evident than in the Almonte Heritage Redevelopment Group’s resurrection of old industrial buildings, like the Victorian Woollen Mill, into downtown residential and commercial space. The goal is affordable downtown housing and vibrant business space that’s essential if small towns are to short-circuit urban sprawl and highway commercial development that kill their centre cores. “We’re trying to create a neighbourhood in the style of Westboro or the Glebe, where you can walk out the door and pick up a loaf of bread or a book,” says Stephen Brathwaite, founder of the group with Greg Smith.

Since 1993, Brathwaite, a nationally recognized glass artist, puppeteer and self-styled redeveloper, and his Almonte partners have snapped up historic downtown properties for major makeovers. The Victoria Woollen Mill was the first. Backing onto a waterfall of the Mississippi River and boasting oiled wooden beams and deep-set windows, it now includes a ground-floor restaurant, art gallery and shops. The balance of the building is mostly occupied by businesses, but those units are now available as condos, 10 in all ranging from 900 to 2,000 square feet and priced at roughly $175,000 to $385,000. Thoburn Mill is another of the group’s “adaptive reuse” projects. It’s at 83 Little Bridge St. behind the Romanesque revival-style post office on Mill Street (built in the late 1800s and now home to engineering, law and other small businesses, the old post office has been usurped by a newer, box like Canada Post building, a product of the Eyesore School of Design, further down Mill Street). A mix of commercial and residential space, Thoburn Mill will include 13 household units once -rebuilding is finished later this summer or fall.

Its residential space is currently classified as apartments, but those will become condos ranging from 1,000 to 1,650 square feet and selling in the $210,000 to $350,000 vicinity. “I can walk to so many places,” says Margaret Brunton who’s rented her two-storey, open-concept apartment in Thoburn Mill since 2005 and is buying one of the condos. “The minute I step outside in the morning, people say: ‘Hello, Margaret.’ There are young people around. It’s like a little community.” She also praises the town’s natural beauty and how secure she feels in a place where everyone knows everyone else. Like others, Brunton’s unit includes a generous deck overlooking the Mississippi and its cascading spillway (that proximity to the river means that the building’s old, existing turbine will be restarted, which should make Thoburn Mill self-sufficient with green electricity).

Brunton’s current home is also atop the river walkway, a public area where a romantic young man apparently popped the question to his beloved within days of the snaking walkway opening a couple years ago. Almonte architect Peter Mansfield designed Brunton’s unit and most of the other spaces in the Thoburn and Victoria Woollen mills. He also planned the heavily glassed barrel-vault addition to Thoburn Mill. “It’s almost archaeological with all its different sections,” says Mansfield, referring to how the mill’s former owners added to it during profitable years.

“It was fun fusing contemporary building materials into the old warehouse structure,” he adds, referring to the glass and steel that define much of the building’s common areas, the massive wood beams traversing residential ceilings and the old brick walls that define some of the commercial space. Along with the Victoria Woollen and Thoburn mills, the Almonte Heritage Redevelopment Group rents apartments in smaller heritage buildings in downtown Almonte and has plans for residential lots and other projects around town. It’s also begun work on a larger historic building at 65 Mill St. Like other projects, energy efficiency ranks high on the list of planning priorities. According to the town’s chief administrative officer, Diane Smithson, the current population is expected to grow to about 8,000 by 2026. Ottawa Citizen

65 Mill Street

Calgary Herald

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Sat, Aug 08, 2009 · Page 96

Rosamond and Victoria Mill — Rosamond Journey from Carleton Place to Almonte

Memories of Madeline Moir – Pinecraft Proberts and John Dunn 1978

Where Was Pinecraft?

Hodgins Bros. Ltd Thoburn Mill 1950s

More Tales from the Thoburn Mill

Is Samuel Shaard Lying in the “Cement” of the Thoburn Mill?

Tears From the Old Gears of the Mills

Bits and Pieces of William Thoburn and the House on Union Street

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

Graham Forgie and 65 Mill Street

Graham Forgie and 65 Mill Street

Graham Forgie and 65 Mill Street



On the last day of December in 1894 on Saturday afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Graham Forgie that lived on the 11th line of Ramsay, were driving home from Almonte. The team became unmanageable as they began their journey and finally ran away when they were on the outskirts of the town.

During the latter half of the 1800s, Ontario roads were in a serious state of neglect and deterioration. Historians call this the “dark age of the road” where roads were being uploaded and downloaded among levels of government. Roads were opened, roads were abandoned. But this would begin to change in the 1890s—when the first automobiles appeared

Mr. and Mrs. Forgie were thrown out of the buggy on a fence. Mr. Forgie escaped with a few bruises, but Mrs. Forgie was injured badly. Her breast bone and several ribs were fractured, and she was unconscious for some time. She is still in a serious state, and suffers so much that the poor woman was kept almost constantly under the influence of morphine. Dr. Hanley, who is attending Mrs. Forgie, says she is seriously injured, but is doing as well as could be expected They were also members of the The Ramsay Free Church and the congregation is praying for her.

Did you know the Forgies also owned 65 Mill Street? See below.

Screenshot 2020-01-14 at 09.14.09.jpg



These people seceded from the Church of Scotland, the Auld Kirk in 1845 and in 1846 built the Free Church, a large frame plaster cast Church on Lot 15 West Concession 8, across the corner from the Auld Kirk. The church was destroyed by fire in 1926. It had been used as a barn. The manse, a white frame house still stands and was long used as a farm dwelling. In it Dr. Robert Tait McKENZIE was born and later it was the dwelling of Mr. & Mrs. Wm. ALLEN, Mr. David WILSON and Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth McGREGOR



65 Mill Street Almonte

(Report prepared by Linda Hamilton for the Mississippi Mill Heritage Committee in May 2016)


Commercial with some residential. Commercial includes Kentfield Kids, Century

21, and Doree’s Habit. The second story currently houses BH Photography’s reception, office, and studio space.


History: This building was built in 1873 By James Graham Shaw Forgie (b1833 d1916). The Forgies were a prominent Almonte family at the time. James was the fourth of thirteen children born to Graham and Ann Forgie, both of whom had emigrated from Scotland. James G. S. Forgie married Isabella Thomlinson (his cousin) on May 7, 1855. Isabella passed away in 1907. He married his second wife, Georgina Gray Smith in 1911. James G. S. Forgie bought Pt Lot 19A on which 65 Mill street stands, in 1867 for $3240.


There is evidence to suggest that the building was built in two parts. The recent renovations revealed bricked-in doors and windows (the arched bricks that would have gone over the tops are visible) and the foundation is also at a different level. The

western most half was built first. Evidence also suggests that at the time that it was built, the western most wall was an exterior wall which is true because the adjacent building, 61-63 Mill was built in 1875. James G. S. Forgie owned several other properties, among them the old Penman woolen mill on Mill St.


In 1869 Rosamond employees were criminally prosecuted for destroying 60 ft of the Almonte Chancery dam in a case that became known as Rosamond vs. Forgie. (see story

below). James Forgie died at age 83 in 1916. That year his widow, Georgina and son John Graham Forgie (a lawyer, born 1862 in Almonte) sold the property to the Nontells.


In the twenties, 65 Mill Street was part of the “Nontell Block”, referring to the family who owned it. Isaac Nontell (b1865) and his wife Hattie had three daughters: Pearl, Iva, and Olive. Pearl was born in 1894.


In his essay Almonte in the Twenties, Almonte historian Earl Munro wrote that the building contained a cafe and a store run by O’Kilman’s (subsequent owners of that cafe were George Blickman and later Mr. Evoy). Apparently the Nontells lived in one of the two second floor apartments. On the top story a long hall ran the length of the building with a row of rooms facing the street and another at the back, mostly rented by millworkers at a cost of $1.50 per week. Louis Peterson, the renowned Almonte ice cream maker, rented there too. In 1956 The Nontell’s heirs sold 65 Mill street to Lloyd North and his wife for $14300. Lloyd North was a town councillor. He died in 1968. There were various subsequent owners in the later part of the 20th century. Stephen Brathwaite, Marc Lefebvre and Peter Egan bought it from the Lefebvre family who owned V&S. (Stedmans)




The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
02 Jan 1906, Tue  •  Page 9



Buggies Horses and Accidents

Wild Horses Could Not Drag Me Away

Tippins — Perth– Just Wanted to Keep His Horse Warm?

Findlay vs. Bailey in Carleton Place —Horses vs. Cars

The Horseshoe Sinkhole Bridge? Mysteries of Lanark County

Name These Lanark County Horseshoe Honeys!

Wild Horses Could Not Drag Me Away

You’ve Got Trouble in Franktown-Dead Horses and Wives

A Horse is a Horse of Course– Of Course—Angus McFarlane

We’re Goin’ Racin’ Boys on High Street

The McArton’s of Ramsay

Sent to Canada’s Shutter Island for the Death of Sarah McArton