The big road camp built by the Provincial Government in Darling Township in 1934 was partially destroyed by fire last Saturday morning. Provincial’ police believe that it was the work of incendiaries and have been carrying on an investigation into the circumstances. Just before going to press today (Thursday) afternoon The Gazette got in touch with provincial police at their district headquarters in Perth and found that no warrants had been issued up to the present time.
While not committing themselves to any extent the provincial officers admitted that it looked like the work of “fire bugs.” This camp which had about a dozen units, including warehouses, dormitories, cook houses etc. was constructed during the time, townships like Lavant, Darling and part of Pakenham were under jurisdiction of the Northern Development Department. About half of the buildings were destroyed.
It is understood the watchman, Murray McLean of Perth, was in Calabogie a t the time. The camp has not been occupied since last fall when road work in Darling was discontinued. It is locatell about nine miles from Calabogie. Ray Kilgour of Eganville, was watchman in the interests of contractors who had supplied equipment such as bedding, etc. It was his time off, according to reports. That the camp may have been burned by people who were angry because they did not get work on the roads is a theory that the police are running down. One bright feature about the sad occurrence is that the $900 “root house” constructed by Premier Hepburn’s Government escaped the flames and will remain a monument to those great architects who constructed it. 1936 May Almonte Gazette
Thousands of jobless men were shunted off to federal relief camps in the Canadian wilderness in the 1930s. The camps became a focal point for a generations anger and a lasting legacy of a government’s ineffectiveness during the era.
By 1932, there were an estimated 70,000 unemployed transients. Many of the men congregated in cities and frustration was growing among their ranks.
As the number of jobless transients grew, the federal government feared they could threaten public order. Bennett’s military chief, General Andy McNaughton, warned that the unemployed could launch a Communist revolt. suggested that the men be sent to rural relief camps where they could neither vote nor organize. The camps were voluntary, but those who resisted could be arrested for vagrancy. he men cleared bush, built roads, planted trees, erected public buildings in return for room, board, medical care and 20 cents a day. They were paid one-tenth of what an employed labourer would make doing the same work.
In April 1935, the men’s unhappiness boiled over. Fifteen hundred men from the British Columbia relief camps went on strike and congregated in Vancouver. The move launched months of cross-country protests, which culminated in a riot in the streets of Regina.
A year later, with a change of government, the unpopular relief camps were shut down. Some of the men found temporary work but most returned to their wasted lives in the cities.
In all, 170,248 men had stayed in the camps.
During the Great Depression and WWII, the Office of War Information and the Farm Security Administration encouraged people to “put up” foodstuffs and use their existing root cellars or even make new ones. They were encouraged to waste nothing and that meant keeping food as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
MEN PLACED ON FARMS Another week’s operation tacked 500 more placements on the Ontario Governments score in its farm-labor drive; and Hon. David Croll,/minister of Labor and Public welfare, announced Wednesday that the total through all agencies can now be Estimated conservatively a t 2(500 m |n. Placement score during. the second half of last week was through offices of the Employment Service of Canada, 28 through district representatives of the Ontario^ Department of Agriculture, and an estimated 50 more through relief officials. Almonte Gazette 1936
May 30 1936
Provincial police from their district headquarters a t Perth, are carrying on two investigations in the Township of Darling at the present time. One of these has to do with the fire that destroyed the Provincial Government road camp on the morning of Saturday, May 9th and the other concerns the stripping and theft of heavy copper wire from the steel towers of the Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario. Two arrests have already been made. The watchman in charge and Ray Kiigour of Eganville, are in jail at Perth, following their arrest last Thursday, May 21st. 4 McLean was watching the camp in the interests of the Government while Kilgour was there in the interests of the contractors who had supplied blankets and other equipment. According, to a police theory the Company that supplied blankets did not ask for the return of extras included in the order and these were disposed of to farmers and other residents of the district. The Company then made a demand for the return of all its equipment and the fire ensued. It is understood the caretakers of the camp deny all connection with the mysterious fire that destroyed half of the buildings.
The once-bustling Renfrew County Village of Black Donald, site of Canada’s most famous graphite mine, has been sentenced to die by drowning. In 1967 the level of the nearby Madawaska River will be raised 150 feet by the new Ontario Hydro Mount a i a Chute dam, then due for completion, and Black Donald will vanish forever.
Terrible loss? No. I’m convinced the place was already dead. Most of the inhabitants fled when the mine was closed years ago. Some dismantled their homes and transported them to new sites, while others simply left everything behind them.
Walking down the main street of Black Donald now is like visiting a ghost town of the old West. Traces of former prosperity are everywhere, yet the pulse of the place has all but ceased. The community Catholic Church, a big steepled frame building, is almost in ruins. Its stain-glass windows are shattered, its pews broken, its altar strewn with fragments of religious statuary.
The Black Donald mine was once the richest flake-graphite mine in North America. While ore containing 10 per cent carbon was considered a good mining grade, Black Donald ore averaged 20 per cent for almost half a century following its discovery in 1894. The mine’s first big setback came in 1938 when, after it was decided that all of the readily – extractable ore had been taken out, the workings were abandoned.
But graphite was suddenly found to be a vital war material is 1942, so Black Donald was re-opened and 50,000,-000 pounds of refined graphite were produced from the workings earlier believed to be exhausted. Although mining continued until 1954 and the mining charter was not actually surrendered until 1962, Ontario Hydro doomed the whole operation with its purchase of the property in 1947 to pave the way for the gigantic Mountain Chute power project.
It would “take between 24 and- 48 hours” for the water to be released at Palmer Rapids to make itself felt at Mountain Chute. There was to be no flash flood and they would let it out at the rate of not more than 1,000 cubic feet per seconds When the Mountain- Chute dam would be sealed off a lake, which would extend a distance, of 20 miles up stream from Mountain Chute to Griffith, on Highway 41 would begin to build up.
Formation of the lake would depend on the speed of the spring run-off and precipitation and the lake would submerge the abandoned Black Donald graphite mine and most of the town of Black Donald, near Calabogie. “Father Dooner’s-Church,”, a frame structure built under sponsorship of the late Monsignor William Dooner during the First World War on the highest point in the district would alone remain to mark the site of Black Donald. . The church was abandoned when the mine was shut down in 1954.
Orla Lambert-Nickell I remember Dad and Mom driving us down to look at the village one last time before they flooded it. It was so sad to see. We walked through the buildings and I still remember a steeple sticking out from the water for a long time
The large building on the left was the village’s amusement/dance hall. It was a popular destination on Saturday nights when many residents came to dance or watch a motion picture in the bench seating. The remains of a rather unique ghost town is not too far from Calabogie, but you won’t find it on a map and you won’t be able to see the old buildings. The once vibrant village of Black Donald Mines is long gone and buried under Centennial Lake.
Centennial Lake covers a mine that, for a time, was a world leader in the production of graphite, the mineral used for lead pencils, stove polish, metallic paints and especially as a lubricant for heavy machinery.
A St. Patrick’s Day fire in 1912 was just one of many accidents or natural disasters that plagued the operations of the mine. A series of mine-shaft collapses in 1950 forced ownership to cease operations and it was the beginning of the end for the mine and the village. The Black Donald Mines General Store was one of the busiest locations in the village. The store was the only source of supplies for the employees and their families.
Today, that mine, and the busy village that popped up during its heyday, are buried. It was a village where most of the early workers were of French descent who worked alongside a new wave of Irish men looking to improve their lot in life.
The names of some of those early French settlers and Irish miners are still present in the area as some of their descendants still call the area home.
For the first half of the 20th century, the name Black Donald was associated with the mine. Irish and French workers spent long days with artificial lights strung along the shaft to help them find their way.
Today, Black Donald is the name of a lake that is one of the most popular tourist locations in Greater Madawaska, a far cry from working underground in total darkness.
‘Money People’ Got The Mine Operational
The story goes that a homesteader named John Moore literally tripped over rock containing graphite while searching for his cows. That simple discovery led him on a six-year quest in search of ‘money people’ to invest in his find.
In 1895, John Moore met Senator George McKindsey. The Senator gave him two dollars to cover the cost of leasing 167 acres of his land and he would return four months later to pay Mr. Moore $4,000 for all surface and mineral rights on the property.
The very next day, Senator McKindsey sold his newly acquired land to a group of businessmen who formed the Ontario Graphite Company. It wasn’t a bad couple of days for the Senator who pocketed a whopping $42,000 for the sale of the same site from Mr. Moore 24 hours earlier. He left the village bound for Ottawa with a nice little profit of $38,000.
The mine was up and running in mid-1896 with 15 employees and by 1904, the company had a refining plant on site and a workforce of 32 employees. And it showed no signs of slowing down.
A Village Is Born
That year, Rinaldo McConnell took over the day-to-day operations and he realized the potential of the mine and took steps to keep the men motivated in order to increase production. Within the first year of managing the mine, he had several more houses built for the married men and their families, as well as a larger sleep-camp for the other workers. When war broke out in 1914, the demand for graphite was sharply increased and the mining operation continued to grow, adding on to the 77 buildings that dotted the landscape. The growing village grew to 118 during the war and employees were kept busy when not below the surface. New structures were built and among those buildings were a barber shop, a Catholic church, a school and a dance hall. All the buildings were lit with electric lights, except for the school which was located just outside the village. By 1924, the mine reached the peak of its production. It accounted for 94 per cent of all graphite in Canada, but managing the site was no easy task. The operation declined and by 1939 the workforce was down to only seven employees as most operations ceased when the mine was purposely flooded. Although World War II started in 1939 and several mines throughout Canada were heavily involved in the war effort, it wasn’t until 1943 that operations returned to the village and it appeared the resurrection of the mine had begun. Residents cheered when Jack Wilson became the new postmaster in 1944. He told them the new daily mail service from Calabogie was a good sign and things were looking positive for the village. When they raised a beer to toast their good fortune, they thanked Mr. Wilson a second time because he helped them get their beer. Because beer was rationed in wartime, it was often ordered by mail from Arnprior and shipped back to the miners. The war-time boom had most of the men in the village return to the mine, but some replaced their shovels and tools with rifles and joined up to fight for their country. On three occasions the villagers came together to mourn the loss of three young men who left the tight-knit community to go overseas. They gathered to give comfort to the Brydges family after Walter Brydges was killed at Dieppe; they cried when word came back that Nick Danyluck died in a Japanese concentration camp and they attended church to say goodbye to Aldome Scully who was killed during the march to Berlin.
From Village To Ghost Town
When the war ended in 1945, the one-time rosy outlook for the mine and village was beginning to fade after several accidents and weather conditions took its toll. Production was halted several times due to mine shaft collapses. The loss of all electricity after a dam was washed away on the Madawaska River, combined with a fire in some of the key buildings, finally took its toll on ownership. In 1950 underground operations were terminated and by 1954, scrap dealers were called in to salvage whatever they could. The industry that fueled the growth was gone and the village’s fate was sealed. Black Donald Mines was now just another Canadian ghost town. All that remained were a few burned out buildings. The residents who used to spend every Saturday night in the dance hall or had their hair cut at the barber shop or attended church every Sunday morning had long moved away. The one-room schoolhouse that paid Mamie Foran $500 in 1918 to teach the French and Irish children daily lessons was closed when Stella Amell said goodbye to her students for the last time in June,1962. George and Margaret Kelly took over the post office after former Postmaster Jack Wilson passed away. On August 31, 1962, they sorted the mail one last time when the final delivery was made to the rural outlet. Ontario Hydro purchased the site in 1959 with a plan to build the Mountain Chute dam. Contractors were brought in to bulldoze the remaining buildings to make way for the dramatic change of landscape envisioned by Ontario Hydro. In 1966, the dam was built and the operating station was ready to go, when water was released to fill the 8,500 acres headpond. After six months, the flooding ended and the body of water was named Centennial Lake in honour of Canada’s 100th birthday year in 1967. As water cascaded through the sluiceway of the Mountain Chute Generating Station on March 26, 1967, hydro employees gathered to celebrate the first day of operation. Perhaps some of them looked out on to the horizon and wondered where the final traces of Black Donald Mines were buried under the new 150-foot deep new lake.
Sheila Romhild looking for any information on the “Elliott Brothers Pipe Band” that was around for 3 Elliott generations and played at every public occasion in the Calabogie area. if you can help please comment or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
“Although many traditional tunes were influenced by the idiosyncracies of the bagpipe (range, ornamentation, drones), the fiddle gradually evolved as the ideal instrument for cheap and versatile accompaniment. Traditional dances were group dances but the concept of a solo dancer accompanied by a single fiddle is a naval tradition. In the sociological sense, there are few instances where men and women are forced to entertain themselves separately.
In the navy, however, partnerless men were in need of exercise and entertainment. Jigs (especially the spritely Irish tunes) were part of the on-board routine. In Lanark County, the navy-styled format evolved naturally when men were isolated from their wives or girl friends every winter during the timber boom which took place throughout most of the nineteenth century. Throughout the Ottawa valley, regional and national styles were cast together at an accelerated rate”.–Fiddling in Lanark County by David Ennis
Here is the article about Jennie, from the Ottawa Citizen, Saturday July 01, 1950. Found using newspapers dot com. Not the article requested, but offered in case it is of interest.
Donna Mcfarlane round this on ancestry originally posted by a vanessa johnson of jane jennie majoury
John Morrow added
My grandmother, Agnes (Napier) Morrow 1891-1971 told me two or three years before she died, and the story was repeated to me almost verbatim about 25 years later by her daughter Beatrice 1924-2017, wife of “Granny” Majaury’s great-grandson Kenneth Whyte, that Granny Majaury’s common first name was JANNIE, not Jennie. Jannie Majaury’s brother John Crawford was married to my great-grand aunt Sarah JANE Wark, and my grandmother, along with most of her generation in Darling Township knew her as Aunt Jannie, with the next generation being the first to call her Granny. Jannie was also fudging about her age, competing with a neighbour named Spencer Church, who died in June 1961 at 105 but claiming to be 111; Jannie was actually in her 100th year when she died.
How many spellings of Majaury are there? Take a look…
Clipped from The Ottawa Citizen, 09 Jul 2002, Tue, Page 26
So where was Craig’s Camp? It was described as being west of Calabogie by way of Gordon Rapids to Lammermoor in Dalhousie–In layman’s terms it was on the Lanark Calabogie Road. Was it at Craig’s Creek.?
Mrs. Ernie Elliott spent Sunday last at F. A. Craig’s. Mr. John Smith called on friends at Calabogie on Tuesday.
Mr. Jas. Sweeney visited his home at Marble Bluff this week-end.
Mr. Boyd Ellrott made a business trip to Calabogie Monday last.
Mr. Stanley James spent Sunday with his sister, Mrs. A. Camelon.
Mr. Alex. Herron and Albert Warren spent Sunday at Craig’s Camp.
Mr. Chas. Virgin purchased a fine horse from Mr. John Craig last week.
Miss Alma Craig is on the sick list bat we hope to hear of her recovery soon.
Messrs. George “Chalmers and Alii e Ferguson aft-e on the sick list at present.
Mr. Ross Camelon lias returned to the camp after two weeks absence in Ottawa.
Mr. Tim -Sweeney and Mr. Maek Barr spent ‘Sunday at their homes in Brightside.
Messrs. John A. Craig and William G. Craig made a business trip to Tatlock on Monday last.
Mr. *Wm. Camelon had the misfortune to upset his load of logs last week and bruised his leg but he is recovering rapidly.
Two young men from this vicinity tried to imitate Johnson and-Willard the other night, but decided it was a bad practice and stopped for fear they would get hurt.
Mr. William Elliott had a narrow escape the other day, the team getting a. fright and running some distance, but Wm. got them under control before much damage was done.
Mr, Stanley James made-a mistake the other night, stepping into a dish of boiling water. His moccasin was badly crimped, but Stanley was lucky enough not to scald his foot.
Our cook, Mr. Adam Craig, spent Saturday and Sunday at his home at Calabogie. Mr. John P. Craig took bis place while he was away and made a good success of the job for a greenhorn.
Donna Sweeney LowryRegarding Marble Bluff, my great grandparents Timothy Sweeney and Margaret O’Connor came to Canada about 1847 and settled in the backwoods of Darling Twp on Lot 5 Con 4.
In John Sweeney and Lizzie Wark’s time (my fathers parents) at the end of their lane in Darling Twp L5C4 on the #511 Calabogie Rd., large blocks of marble were quarried out and moved across country in the winter to the K&P. My understanding is the area took on the nic name Marble Bluff.
As a child when we visited the old homestead where Dad grew up, there was a small building still standing by the laneway that was part of the work area. Of course in later years the hill to the south of the Sweeney homestead was opened up as a marble mine and now is the huge Tatlock Guarry owned by Omya, Perth. The old homestead is also part of Omya now.
My Grandfather John Sweeney was the mail delivery person. For how many years, I sadly don’t know; information I did not pay attention to. Perhaps it was the quarry on his land that gave it’s name to the mail route.
I hope other people bring forward stories of the early marble quarry work in Darling. As a child you just don’t always pay attention when your parents try to tell you about the earlier years.
A close-up view of the serpentine, Lanark marble- Marble Bluffs
Clyde Forks United Church Hall— A large marble monument was cut from the Marble Bluff quarry on the 511- teams of horse would haul blocks like this from M arble Bluff during the winter using the clyde river as a ice road. Once stockpiled they could be hauled away by train.
Perth Courier, July 19, 1918
Review Cases Before the Tribunal
Category B–John Burns, farmer, Marble Bluff, exempted till 1st November
SWEENEY, John b: ABT 1859 in Tatlock, Darling Township, Lanark, Bathurst District, Canada West d: 21 MAY 1943 in Marble Bluff, Darling Township, Lanark, Ontario, Canada 1918 Directory- Marble Bluff from Charles Dobie’s collection
SCHEDULE OF POST OFFICES
3. Clayton R. R. #2
6. White Lake
8. Marble Bluff
9. Green Mountain
In 1995 my wife and I bought a log house at Marble Bluff that was built about 1908. In the house was a wooden box of pigeon holes said to have been left over from when the Post Office was there. It is now with our son in Seaforth, Ontario. We bought the house from a Harvey Horne and had an extension added and a metal roof put on. We stayed there only 5 years, selling the 100 acre property to OMYA. It was not quite 100 acres as near the far end of the driveway close to the 511 was a quarry owned by Angelstone. This was serpentine marble and I reckon the photo shown is that and not the pure white calcite marble mined by OMYA.