About four o’clock last Thursday afternoon a thunderstorm passed over the section of country between here and Pakenham, and several cases of damage by lightning are reported. The most serious was the death of Mr. Martin Rachfort, a stalwart young man of 23, who had been engaged on the farm of Mr. John McCann, near Blakeney, for the previous six weeks. Mr. McCann had been at Pakenham, and was hurrying home to escape the impending storm when ho passed Mr. Rachfort at work digging a drain some distance from the house.
He shouted to him a couple of times that he had better go to the house before the storm came up. Mr. McCann took supper, and, noticing that Mr. R. did not arrive for his meal, though the usual signal had been given, he went out to see what was the matter, and found him lying dead in a lane between where he had been at work and the house. He had been in the act of walking to the house, carrying the shovel he had been using, when a bolt of lightning struck him and killed him instantly. The straw hat he wore was torn to pieces and was scattered around where the body was found, the tongue of one of his boots was found ten feet ahead of him and both boots were badly torn.
Two small round holes were found on the left side of his head, marks showing that the electric current had skimmed along the surface of his body were also quite discernible, and a wound as of a burn on his feet showed where, the fluid had found egress, from the body. The current “ chipped” some of the silver on his watch and made an incision in the glass face, but the watch was,, still running when the body was found. A brother of deceased was summoned from Sand Point, and took charge of the remains. Coroner (Dr.) Burns was notified, but did not deem an inquest necessary. The funeral took place on Friday afternoon, from Undertaker Donaldson’s “ morgue” to St, Mary’s church, thence to the R. C. cemetery.
A man who took up residence in the little railway station at Blakeney and who was there for upwards of a week was arrested Saturday morning by Chief Green of Almonte, on complaints made to him by women residents of that section. It appears the old fellow, who gave his age as 70, took advantage of the miniature depot and the stove installed in there to make himself comfortable. The C. P.R. employes either did not know about their new tenant or paid no attention to him. At any rate no action so far as can be learned.
Women residents of the neighborhood were perturbed, however, over the presence of “the unknown” and feared he might burn down their handsome railway terminal and perhaps a barn or two as well. At any rate they protested to the fullest. The unwelcome guest was not armed to the teeth as some suspected and gossiped about.
He gave up quietly and when he appeared in court was sentenced to 10 days for not having a registration card and to 10 days for vagrancy, terms to run concurrently. Contrary to their first intention the C. P. R. laid no trespass charge.
The extension of the railroad to Rosebank (Blakeney) was another huge development. In 1859 Almonte became the northern terminus for the railroad until enough money was raised to extend the railroad, in the early 1860s, past Rosebank. Because the flour shipped from the A&D Snedden Flour Mill was a large part of the train freight, the stop at Blakeney was named Snedden Station. This was a flag stop where it was a thrill for me as a child, to accompany my father with our two or three cans of milk to load on the train going north at midnight. You lit the big red lantern in the station, ran out waving it on the tracks and the huge steaming monster pulled to a stop. The cans were then loaded and empties thrown off to replace them. There were many stops like this until North Bay was reached, where farmers received a small bonus per hundredweight. This was in the 1950s before farmers in the country received the better prices those near the city did. That’s where the term ”Milk Run” came from.
Marilyn won over the other two contestants, Margaret Blair, Lanark; RR 1 and Carolyn McLenaghan, Perth RR 1. Each girl milked a cow in turn with special stalls set up outside. All the contestants made excellent showings when preparing the cow and equipment, milking and then washing fthe equipment with Marilyn was chosen as winner by the panel of judges, J. Bogaerts, Dairy Inspector from Almonte; C. E. Butterill, Dairy Inspector from Perth and E. T. Rodgers, Cheese Instructor for Lanark from Arnprior.
Marilyn Robertson will represent Lanark County in the Ontario Queen. Finals at the Canadian National Exhibition. Joan Stewart from Lyn, the Dairy Princess from Leeds County was present and presented Marilyn with the “Dairy Princess of Lanark County’’ ribbon. Then Marilyn received a cheque for $50.00 from Mr. Bogaerts on behalf of the committee, $25.00 for placing first and $25.00 for travelling expenses to the C.N.E. Held in conjunction with the Lanark County Holstein Breeders’ Association at their Twilight Meeting at-the farm of John E. James.
Marilyn Robertson was a strong contender for the simple reason that having no brothers she and her sister Rosalyn were their father’s right hand men at their home farms. Each family farm, 10th line of Ramsay received $5.00. The milking stalls, motor, pipeline and most of the equipment were provided by Carson Farm Supplies, Perth.The Perth District Co-Op provided the milker. Assisting with the competition were Carl McIntosh, Almonte RR 5 and James Lowry, Almonte RR 3.
The prize money was donated by all the dairies and creameries in Lanark County along with the main milk producer organizations, Lanark County Federation of Agriculture and Lanark County Junior Farmers’ Association. At the C.N.E. in Toronto she. will be required to milk by machine where time and general efficiency will count. Her father, Mr. George Robertson sold his farm this spring and the family now live on Water Street, Almonte. A ll Marilyn’s friends will be pulling for her, especially during the most trying part where each contestant is interviewed and required to make a short speech on the Dairy Industry in Ontario. Marilyn Robertson will represent Lanark County in the Ontario Queen Finals at the Canadian National Exhibition.
In 4-H Club work, Marilyn has an excellent record, having completed nine 4-H Homemaking Club and five 4-H Agricultural Club projects. This year, Marilyn is Assistant leader of the Cedar Hill 4-H Garden Club and a member of the Almonte 4-H Calf and 4-H Grain Clubs. In 1957 she was chosen as one of five representatives from Lanark to the Provincial 4-H.
Marilyn has competed in several livestock and seed judging competitions placing fifth in the Intermediate Division of the Lanark County Livestock Judging competition last year and third in the Junior Section o f the County. She is past president of the Pakenham Junior Farmers Girls Club and this year is secretary-treasurer of the Lanark County Junior Farmers’ Association.
Mr. Harry Nontell had the grand opening of his new dancing pavilion last Friday night and it drew a tremendous crowd. There were people there from all over the country and parking space had to be arranged for an adjoining field. ‘ The dance hall was converted from the former Blakeney cheese factory (read-Rosebank Cheese Factory) which stood on the shore of the Mississippi River near the north end of the bridge.
It was a substantial building and Mr. Nontell used the main part of it to put down a very fine hardwood floor for dancing. At the side is a refreshment booth and space for people waiting to dance. Pleasantly Located The location is a very pleasant one as the river is wide at this point said there are beautiful falls just below the bridge. Fishing is good in the vicinity and Mr. Nontell proposes to have boats for hire when he gets around to it.
Most of the work of turning the factory into a hall where entertainments can be held was done oy Mr. Nontell himself in the winter months, assisted by his son, Orville, who was home from the West. Harry is a handy man at work of that kind and the floor, fixtures and other alterations are certainly a credit to him. He has made arrangements with Charlie Finner and his popular Hayshakers orchestra to furnish the music. Not only is Charlie a wizard on the violin, but he has no peers when it comes to calling off for the squares.
The crowd on opening night was an orderly one and there was no rough staff in spite of its size. The only unusual incident we heard about concerned a well known young Almonte lady who stepped into a hollow where there was wet clay. She walked right out of her high heeled shoes arid had to wade to dry ground in her stocking feet. Being redheaded and possessed of a temper when riled, she is said to have used a naughty word as she waded back to fish out her pumps.
“Where are all the d—— Sir Walter Raleighs around here?” inquired the damsel plaintively. “The age of chivalry is dead.
In addition to a weekly dance, Mr. Nontell is prepared to rent the hall for private dances, entertainments and receptions. He already has it booked for a number of engagements. It is understood Mr. Nontell has rented the field next to his pavilion and will control the parking himself in future.
Santa Claus arrived in Almonte Thursday afternoon, Dec. 23rd, but he came by sleigh and not on the train as expected. It had been advertised that the old boy would be aboard the 3.45 east bound Pembroke local but this train was late owing to a mishap near Pembroke. After Santa waited for quite a while at Blakeney, where he had no doubt been distributing presents, it was decided to bring him into town in a cutter. There was nothing very unusual about this mode of conveyance for Santa Claus except that the vehicle was drawn by a horse instead of the reindeer he uses when on his Arctic travels.
When Santa alighted from the sleigh it was found he had been accompanied from the North Pole by his wife. Some of the youngsters seemed to detect a likeness between Santa and someone they had seen around town before and the same went for Mrs. Santa. But, be that as it may, the two got a great reception in front of the O’Brien from a vast throng of children who had been waiting impatiently for some time for their arrival.
A special welcome was extended to Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus by Mayor Alex. McDonald and by Mr. Karl Paupst, head of the Lions Club which sponsored the entertainment for the children and the visit of St. Nicholas and his jolly lady. A parade was formed according to schedule and was led by the distinguished visitors in their horse and cutter. It proceeded through the main streets of the town and was made up of floats decorated along Christmas lines; the Citizens’ Band providing music and a group of Mrs. R. G. Kenny’s pupils on a truck singing carols.
On returning to the O’Brien Theatre the young folk crowded in for a free show and generous gifts of candy and oranges. Mr. R. A. Jamieson, K.C., acted as master of ceremonies for the program. Nor were children in the Rosamond Memorial Hospital forgotten. Santa Claus visited them too and presented them with gifts similar to those given out at the theatre.
Dr. J. R. Fraser was chairman of the committee in charge of the Lions Club Christmas party. Assisting him were Messrs. John Lindsay, Jam es Brown, R. A. Jamieson and Nick Carrie. There was a great deal of work entailed in the arrangements not the least of which was the packing of some 650 bags of candy. Special films had been procured for the children’s entertainment which radiated the spirit of Yuletide and Santa Claus, not to mention Mrs. Santa Claus. It is said the latter henpecks poor old Santa to beat the band during their long sojourn in an igloo near the North Pole. In fact this is so much the case that Santa is always glad when Christmas rolls around and he is able to leave her for a few weeks. But this year she was too cute for him and came along to see that he behaved himself, especially with the young ladies of this southern climate because Mrs. Santa is a very jealous gal.
At Appleton a log slide guided the loose logs or booms over the log slide and into a log pond. Log booms were barriers formed by logs chained together with chains and log dogs that guided the rest of the logs down the river. The logs didn’t always stay in the booms and sometimes floated dangerously over the rapids instead of down the log slide.
The Mississippi River supported many lumbermen including Abner Nichols who operated a lumber camp at Wilson Bay on the Mississippi Lake and owned two mills in Carleton Place. From Wilson Bay logs were gathered in large booms and attached with log chains and then floated down the Mississippi River to his mills in Carleton Place.
Once again the tranquillity of the peaceful hamlet of Blakeney has been interrupted. Last Saturday night, I was touring the village and what did I behold in the beam of my headlights?
Was it a gigantic rat?
No, it was another member of the rodent family commonly known as a rabbit, and the same one that Donald Munro had asked me to keep an eye out for. You see, it was their pet rabbit which had escaped captivity and was now enjoying its rare glimpse of freedom.
Well, knowing the Munro’s need for its capture as they feared harm may come of it little did I know that I was now participating in an adventure which would involve several people and would take the better part of an hour. Getting out of my car I tried to corner it along a fence, but to no success. It immediately escaped me by hopping through a hole.
Beth Munro came up the road and I immediately informed her of the situation She replied that Donnie was already out there somewhere m the darkness pursuing the little culprit. At that moment Donnie and a good neighbour, Andy Sweetapple with flashlight in hand, joined in on the chase.
Back and forth across roads, ditches and over fences we did go but to no avail This version of Bugs Bunny had no intentions of being caught and was doing a marvellous lob of evading us. Braving the elements, we stripped off our jackets and used them in a fashion of a Matador .
We began to meet with some success using this method and were able to control the rabbits direction to some degree. Finally after all this running around, diving madly, throwing our jackets as nets, we had it cornered, or did it have us cornered? Anyways, Andy bravely dove right in and caught it .
Cheers rang up and boy. we were glad it was over as we all huffed and puffed our way up the road Donniw invited everyone over for a well deserved drink and the chase was finally over.
In the late 1800s, beavers nearly went extinct in the United States and Canada due to decades of fur trapping and extermination. Canada’s first animal commodity, the North American beaver, was almost hunted to the point of extinction between the 1700s and early 1900s, with a population once estimated to be as high as 400 million was reduced to around 100,000 – most of which were in Canada.The European species faced a similar plight, dropping to just 1,200 individuals around the same time.
Once the 1900s hit and the fur trade went out of vogue, the Castor population rocketed; today, there are an estimated 15 million beavers in North American waterways. But rather than allow them to thrive in pockets, experts have schemed up ways to move them to areas that are badly in need of beaver engineering.
The first cheese factory was opened in the former Snedden stone home on the hill but in 1932, a building was moved from Pakenham to the north end of the bridge where a farmer’s cooperative operated the Rosebank Cheese & Butter Co. until 1954. Then the building was converted to Nontell’s Dance Hall. This dance hall was an exciting addition to the community until it burned to the ground a few years later. — Marilyn Snedden
If you didn’t meet your dream boat tonight, there was always next week at the Dance Halls. These were wonderful places – full of hopes and dreams, full of music and song, full of youth and vitality, noise and energy.
Anticipation and hope lit up the dull days in between. Girls and boys, from all over the country, came to dance the night away. In the 1950s they waltzed and fox-trotted to the big bands and in the 60s they jived, huckle-bucked and twisted to the fabulous music.
We set off to the dance hall every weekend, hungry for excitement. When we arrived there it felt as if our world had gone from black and white to color.
In the cloakroom, we watched girls who had cycled in from the country remove their headscarves and raincoats. We watched as they backcombed their hair and applied their ‘battle red’ lipstick. Some men, in the 1950s, were known to rub goose grease onto their hair in order to style it. Later in the night, this melted under the bright lights of the dance hall. It ran down their faces and smelt terrible, I am told – for this was before my time.
Other friends remember the local carnivals, which took place in villages. Dances were held in a marquee erected in a newly mown hay field. The priest would come, armed with a blackthorn stick and hit the cocks of hay, behind which couples were engaged in ‘close kissing and embracing, repeated and prolonged.’
How can sitting on a sofa with a smartphone be compared with all the excitement of those dance hall days!
Carleton Place Canadian 1958
Classified Announcements for Dance Halls that issue 1958
Dancing Saturday Nights– Town Hall– Carleton Place–Music by CFRA ‘Happy Wanderers’ Admission-75 cents
NE 1/2, Lot 25, Conc 9, Ramsay Township, on the Mississippi River
Blakeney is one of the prettiest places anytime of the year– and especially in the Spring with the raging waters. The tiny hamlet was originally called Norway Falls because of the incredible Norway Pine trees. But, like most of the small towns here the name was changed a few times. It also became Snedden’s Mills because of the amount of industrial growth in the area and its historical beginnings with the iconic Snedden family.
Alexander Snedden became a militia officer and in 1855 gained the rank of Lieutenant colonel in command of the Ramsay battalion of Lanark Militia. His adjutant was Captain J. B. Wylie, Almonte mill owner. Around the Snedden establishment a small community grew at Norway Falls, known as Snedden’s Mills until in the eighteen fifties it was named Rosebank.
It was renamed Blakeney when the post office of the area was moved here in 1874 from Bennie’s Corners with Peter McDougall as postmaster. In the 1850s the name was changed to Rosebank, but similar to Carleton Place and its postal issue, the name Rosebank was already being used and it changed one more time to Blakeney. The nearby railway station continued to be called Snedden, and the name Rosebank also persisted.
Other early industries at Blakeney included a woollen factory, a brewery at the Pine Isles, a second sawmill and a tannery. A three storey woollen mill of stone construction operated by Peter McDougall, was built in the eighteen seventies. The flour mill at Blakeney continued to be run for some years after the turn of the century by Robert Merilees.
Did you know Blakeney once rivaled Almonte in growth? However the railway chose Almonte as their destination because of the Rosamonds and their textile mills and Blakeney lost the industry to their neighbour.
The Snedden family who came from Rosebank, Scotland, named the place where they settled Rosebank and it is still known by that name in that vicinity. Here the Reform Association conventions of the old District of Bathurst and of the United Counties of Lanark and Renfrew of the eighteen forties and early fifties were held.
Among the treasures this family brought from Scotland were brass candlesticks, brass curtain tics, pictures of Robert Burns, ‘the poet, and of Rev. Robert Burns, who was the Presbyterian minister in the kirk where the Snedden family worshipped, a chair worked in needlepoint, a small Brussels rug and a table cover.
A discriminating traveler of 1846 wrote of “Snedden’s Hotel, which is kept in as good style as any country Inn in the Province.” Another travelling newspaper contributor of fifteen years later added in confirmation: “Who in this portion of Victoria’s domain has not heard of Snedden’s as a stopping place? Ask any teamster on the upper Ottawa and he will satisfy you as to its capabilities of rendering the traveler oblivious to the comforts of his home.” Built in the 1840’s by Alexander Snedden, the white frame structure was well know throughout the Ottawa Valley.
“Who in this portion of Victoria’s domain has not heard of Snedden’s as a stopping place,” one diarist is quoted of commenting regarding the Inn. “Ask any teamster on the Upper Ottawa and he will satisfy you as to its capabilities of rendering traveller oblivious to the comforts of his home.”
Preceded by a log building which had been destroyed by fire, the frame building operated as a stopping place until the mid 1860’s. According to the book, one of the inn’s least welcome lodgers was the man infamously known as the villain of the valley, the notorious Laird Archibald MacNabb. The authors state that MacNabb would produce a 20 pound note to pay for his lodging and since there generally was not sufficient cash on hand to provide change, he would simply walk out and say that his account was settled.
Since its closure as an inn, the building has been utilized as a residence and is now home to Alexander Snedden’s great great grandson, Earle and his family.
The Snedden’s have retained many of the original features of the stopping place including the pine interior doors and the heavy front door that boasts a deep axe scar, courtesy of a drunken patron enraged at being ejected from the premises.
Earle’s wife Marilyn has been told that lumbermen used to “roll up” in blankets and sleep in the two large rooms in the downstairs portion of the house. One of the large rooms on the second floor, she says, served as a dining room while the stopping place was operating.
The original white pine boards on the lower level are now covered by hardwood. Until the change in the 1930’s, people were able to pinpoint the location of the bar through the cigarette butts on the flooring.
The Rosebank flour mill was built by four brother, Alex., David, Jimmy and Willie Snedden. A Mr. Henderson was the first miller. John Usher purchased the mill from the Snedden brothers, and after his death, John Merilee, who came from Fallbrook bought the mill from Mrs. Usher. This was in 1888.
There used to a number of thriving mills in Blakeney, but those structures have long since been demolished.The Rosebank Woolen Mill belonged to Mr. Peter McDougall. It was a large stone building, the ruins of which are still partially standing, and was powered by a large water wheel. It was erected in 1873 and in operation under McDougall until 1901. By 1905 it was being operated by Peter Campbell who purchased the mill in 1906. In 1906 it was sold to the Blakeney Woolen Company Ltd with George C Francis as president.
The Mississippi River turned below the bridge and divided into three parts before resuming its course downstream toward Pakenham. Three dams were built across the three channels to the two Islands formed by the division. One dam served the sawmill, one served the flour mill and one the woolen mill.
The sawmill was built by William Snedden on the north side of the river. The lumber companies, MacLaren and Caldwell, floated squared timber from the upper Mississippi and the Clyde Rivers down through Rosebank, so a “slide” was built below the Peter McDougall property, which ran the logs into what is known as the Bay, a quiet pool of water below the woolen mill.
The village brewery a frame building, was north-west of the woolen mill. The early brew master was Mr. Gomersall. Later the brewery was turned into a home for Mr. Peter McDougall, owner of the woolen mill, and his family who lived there until Mr. McDougall built a brick house at the foot of “Granny” Campbell’s hill. The McDougall house is still standing.
The tannery, also a frame building, was south of the woolen factory. William Reilly was the tanner. His two sons, William and Wellington Herman became doctors and practiced in Montreal as partners. (by Helen Theimer)’
It was not until the late 1860s that lovers of the “stanes” in the Almonte district formed a club and built rinks in the town, but at a much earlier date pioneer Scotch settlers gathered on the Mississippi river at Rosebank, four miles below Almonte, and had the time of their lives. They fished nicely rounded stones from the bed of the river, decorated them with fancy silver-mounted and ebony handles and then “curled” to their hearts’ content.
17 August 1870
It had been a dry spring and even drier summer. By mid August, little rain had fallen in four months, parching the fields and forests of eastern Ontario and western Quebec. On 17 August 1870, a work gang clearing a right-of-way along the Central Canada Railway between Pakenham and Almonte near the village of Rosebank set brush on fire along the tracks. It wasn’t the brightest of moves. With a strong wind blowing from the south, the fire quickly got out of control and spread into the neighbouring woods. Despite efforts by railway workers to douse the flames with water pumped from the nearby Mississippi River, it could not be contained. Racing northward through the tinder-dry forest, the fire sent massive columns of smoke into the air blanketing the region.
Almonte Gazette – Aug, 27, 1927. Read the Almonte Gazette here Robert Snedden Died Suddenly in his Office. Prominent Merchant of Pakenham Expired After Opening Up For The Day.
Belonged to Well Known Ramsay Family. Taught School before Entering Business In Almonte and Later in Pakenham. Mr. Robert Archibald Snedden, merchant of Pakenham, and one of the most prominent business men of North Lanark, died very suddenly this Thursday (25 Aug 1927) morning in his office shortly after 8:00 o’clock. While for some time he had not been in the most robust health, his condition was never regarded as serious, nor was it contemplated that his end was so near. Shortly after opening up for business for the day he suddenly collapsed and expired immediately. He was 58 years of age. Mr. Snedden belonged to one of the most prominent families in this district.
Alexander Snedden, his grandfather, was a noted lumberman in the early days. William Snedden, his father, was also in the lumber business for a time and owned the old sawmill at Blakeney. William Snedden was a power in the Liberal political circles in his day. The late Mr. Snedden was born on the family homestead on the ninth line of Ramsay. He was a graduate of the Almonte High School and was a schoolmaster for some years and many of the residents of that district will speak of his capable care of their education when he was in charge of the Rosebank School.
Photo from the 70s of a mill that once existed by rapids in Blakeney
Names on the map above: (also from the McGill Digital County Atlas Project)
Last Name First Name County Township Town Occupation Birthplace
Barker James Lanark Ramsay Farmer Ramsay Tp., Canada
Barker James Lanark Ramsay Farmer Ramsay Tp., Canada
Black James Lanark Ramsay Farmer; Deputy Reeve of Ramsay Tp. Glasgow, Scotland
Bond J.H. Lanark Ramsay Almonte Tinsmith Lanark Co., Canada
Bowland John Lanark Ramsay Farmer Wicklow Co., Ireland
Coffey John F. Lanark Ramsay Almonte Roman Catholic Priest Ottawa, Canada
Fumerton Archibald W. Lanark Ramsay Appleton General Merchant; Hotel Proprietor, Appleton Ramsay Tp., Canada
Galbraith Daniel Lanark Ramsay Almonte Member of Parliament Glasgow, Scotland
Gemmill James D. Lanark Ramsay Almonte Retired Merchant; Major of Militia Lanark Co., Canada
Gilmour John Lanark Ramsay Almonte Butcher Lanark Co., Canada
Gilmour William Lanark Ramsay Farmer Scotland
Kitson William Lanark Ramsay
Lang John Lanark Ramsay Farmer Ramsay Tp., Canada
Lynch D.P. Lanark Ramsay Almonte Physician and Surgeon Allumette, Quebec, Can
Marshall Robert Lanark Ramsay Farmer; School Trustee Lanark Co., Canada
McCreary Joseph Lanark Ramsay Farmer Ireland (McCreary’s Beach on Mississippi Lake?)