Many years ago James Brothers , George and Lawrence of Perth had a park here along the shores of the Mississippi where people loved to picnic. It was said swimming was not the best in this area. Years ago Ken Millar from Snow Road brought his cream to the Playfair Bridge where it was transferred to the cream truck. While waiting for the creamtruck to arrive they decided to take a dip and found the bottom full of pointy stones and they needed sneakers.
CLIPPED FROMThe Lanark EraLanark, Ontario, Canada25 Jun 1902, Wed • Page 5
The many reports of flooding and law suits probably brought the powers to be to build a new dam in 1907. I had no idea..
Here is one for you.. This is From the photo album of Jay Playfair thanks to Laurie Yuill– somewhere in Lanark County.. a reaaaaaaaaaaaaal long shot.. but any idea?? ( middleville lanark village playfair area) late 1920s
Robert Playfair–AdminPretty sure that’s the dam on Mississippi, just above playfairville.
Robert MilotteMy Father and uncles used to call it Smith’s Dam it’s located just behind Oral Pretty’s house!!
Ken BarrMy parents in law, Neville and Gwen Wall, owned the property that this dam was a part of. It is on the Iron Mine road.
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
27 Sep 1907, Fri • Page 12
Construction of a hydro electric power plant was begun by H. Brown & Sons at the former site of the Canada Lumber Company mills, after several years of preparation of the riverbed including tailrace excavation and building of a concrete millpond dam. 1909
Bill LemayI went over the falls more than once. there was a spot at the bottom of the falls called the bubble bath. swimming and lots of fun
Donna McfarlaneDad wentover the falls in a 23 foot inboard boat.. the motor failed. the men from Findlays dressed as undertakers etc and had a parade after the boat was pulled out over to lake avenue and frank where my parents lived.. Annie M was the name of the boat.. Dad still had the signs at the time of our fire…
Donna Mcfarlanethis was april 23 1945
March 1968 down at the old Hydro Dam-Randy Amyotte as the hero.
Dan WilliamsHad to be 1968 ’cause we were still swimming there and jumping from that tree long after 1962. We were not too pleased that they cut it down either!
Photo Llew Loyd
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
Renfrew , Ontario. Canada. facebook Page
Thank you Mike Dakers for sending this article below.
Black Donald Mines buried under Centennial Lake
By R. Bruce McIntyre – March 4, 2020— You can also read this in the Eganville Leader
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.
Looking for the Artist of this Carleton Place Painting-The Lime Kiln
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
07 Oct 1907, Mon • Page 10
Today the Victoria Woolen Mills stands in business section of Almonte at the corner of Bridge and Mill streets. It is an unusual five-sided, five-storey high stone structure. A provincial historical plaque commemorating “The Rosamonds of Almonte” stands outside the building.
Take a walk behind the mill, following the path beside the building and next to the parking spaces. Immediately one notices the spectacular view of waterfalls, rapids and the limestone rock over which the river tumbles. Look closely and you’ll see the Chancery Dam, Almonte’s oldest structure, dating from the 1820s. This wooden dam was completely submerged in spring but in summer it held water back to the benefit of mill owners upstream, resulting in endless lawsuits with those operators below.
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. James Forgie died at age 83 in 1916 and owned 73 Little Bridge St. in Almonte. (Mississippi Mills)
Mary Peden 1920s Carleton Place- Photo property Linda Seccaspina– Rosamond House in the background on Bell Street.
Rosamond returned to Carleton Place for two years, operating there for a short while,
and then came back to Almonte in 1836, purchased the present Rosamond property on the North end of the Island, and proceeded to demolish the “Chancery Dam.” This of course would turn the water to the North Channel, and impair all powers adjoining Mill Street. This intolerable situation brought on the famous lawsuit known as “Forgie V Rosamond.”
Forgie owned the old Penman property (now the site of the new Post office) and of course he was out of business if the Mill Street power owners could not maintain the “Chancery Dam.” This suit was a “class action” by all the Mill Street powers. Rosamond
lost this suit and another later on over the same dam.
Photo from Lanark County Tourism–Almonte Walking Tour
Further down from the “Commercial House” was a vacant lot. This may have been intended for an extension of Charles Street, which now exists only on the Easterly side of George Gomme’s property. Crossing this vacant space, to the present location of “Harry’s Motors,” was a small building occupied by Robert Drury, a saddler and harness maker. He was one of the several who had “lately removed from Lackey’s Corners” there and “now expects to meet his old friends and make new ones” in Almonte.
From there down there were but two buildings – the Shipman property and James Wylie’s store (above mentioned). Around the corner at the turn to the bay (Gemmill’s Bay) was the first residence of James Rosamond in Almonte. This James Rosamond was born in Carleton Place – his father Bennett Rosamond came to Carleton Place from Ireland. And Bennett Rosamond, known to many present old-timers, was the grandson of the first Bennett Rosamond, the first Rosamond in Almonte, started in the woollen business here close to the site of the Shipman gristmill – across the street from the Public Utilities Commission property. The property was owned by his father Bennett Rosamond (the first) and was sold by him in 1834 to John Baird, with the stipulation that Baird was to have all the benefits of the “Chancery Dam” to run his woollen mill. After selling, Rosamond returned to Carleton Place for two years, operating there for a short while, and then came back to Almonte in 1836, purchased the present Rosamond property on the North end of the Island, and proceeded to demolish the “Chancery Dam.” (Documented by Fran Cooper)
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
03 Oct 1907, Thu • Page 7
The “Chancery Dam” is really a historic edifice in the history of Almonte, although it is under water most of the time. You may still see it to the North of the bridge below the Dairy property. Waterpower was a matter of life and death to the early industries. There was no electricity in those days. (documented by Fran Cooper)
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 Jan 1907, Wed • Page 3
- Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.
An old dam near Carleton Place was the only thing marked on this picture with the name Horace written on it. Could it be Horace Brown?
Horace Brown was the younger brother of A.Roy Brown and served in both the infantry and air force during the First World War. An avid photographer from a young age, he smuggled his camera with him to France and documented his wartime experiences.
Horace died in 1919 from the Spanish Flu.–Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
Settlers of Upper and Lower Canada impounded small streams to power their grist and sawmills, sometimes also to float logs to market. Navigation on larger watercourses often required canals and locks such as the Royal Engineers provided to maintain depths and bypass rapids on the St Lawrence, Ottawa and Rideau rivers. Gradually projects increased in number and size as the new Dominion expanded westward.
But where was this in Carleton Place? You can see the edge of some homes in the distance
Wendy LeBlanc —Linda, if you look at the building on the right side you will see that it has a boom-town front and a balcony on the river side. I am quite sure that this photo was taken at our dam looking upstream and that the building, torn down about a decade ago, served a number of businesses notably Sinclair Brothers Men’s Wear, and more recently Lolly’s Tea Room and Goofy’s Ice Cream Parlour.
Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
This photo of Winnie the Pooh and Harry Coleman was taken at Salisbury Plain in 1914 by Horace Brown of Carleton Place. Brown, a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force kept a diary and took many, many photos of his World War One experiences.