Tag Archives: Gemmill Park

Those in charge of the Gemmill Park must erect WHAT??? You will not believe this!

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1952-02-28

The 98 acre playground known as Gemmill Park in Almonte– which was left to the town by the late Miss Winnifred Dunlop Gemmill following World War II, has become a source of embarrassment to the Council. At the time Miss Gemmill made the bequest— and she included a strange stipulation in her will to the effect that in order to qualify for the generous gift, those in charge of the park must erect a gas chamber on the grounds to do away with homeless dogs and cats in a humane way.

The town fathers baulked at this idea but for the time being were ready to accept the other provision that the huge tract, all lying within the town boundaries, must be used for recreation purposes.  It is believed that distant relatives of Miss Gemmill, living in this country, were not too pleased about the bequest and inquiries were made at that time by an Ottawa legal firm handling the estate as to what the town intended to do.

However, no definite steps were made to interfere with Almonte’s inheritance and at the municipal elections of 1948 the people voted in favor of setting up a Commission, members of which would be appointed by Council to manage the park. Three years ago a rink was built on a portion of the property facing on Country Street. And this is about the only recreational use ever made of the big area except for the comparatively small space occupied by the Ont. Govt, roadside park at the junction of highways 29 and 44.

It has been long felt that 98 acres of park might be proper for a city of 15,000 but is way beyond the means of a town of 2,600. Loss of revenue, when it was taken off the tax roll, is more keenly felt now than at that time. So, for several years there has been a movement on foot to use a reasonable space for a town park, including the skating rink site, and subdivide the rest for residential and industrial sites. To do this a special Act of Legislature would be necessary to get around the will.

Acting on instructions from the Council, and with the acquiescence of the Parks Commission, the town solicitor, R. A. Jamieson, Q.C., made an application to have a private bill introduced at this session of the Ontario Legislature. The fee of $150 necessary to bring about this action was paid and then inquiries from the Ottawa firm of lawyers acting for Miss Gemmell’s heirs indicated that the application would be opposed in the private bills committee at Toronto.

The Parks Commission then asked council to withdraw the action for the time being. It is hoped that the $150 fee can be returned. One member suggested at a special meeting of the Council and Commission that the big property be handed back to the heirs and re-instated on the tax roll. It is not likely the heirs, if they knew the local situation, would look upon their inheritance as a real estate bonanza.

Gemill Park still belongs to the town of Almonte (Mississippi Mills)— and as far as I did research, no gas chamber was built for animals.

CLIPPED FROM
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
04 Dec 1943, Sat  •  Page 17

CLIPPED FROM
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
04 Dec 1943, Sat  •  Page 17

The Gemmill Well in Almonte 1951

So What Happened to Miss Winnifred Knight Dunlop Gemmill’s Taxidermy Heads?

Gemmill Park Skating Rink May Be Illegal–1947

Jessie Leach Gemmill -The “Claire Fraser” of Lanark

History of McLaren’s Depot — by Evelyn Gemmill and Elaine DeLisle

Next Time You Drive Down Highway 15–Gemmils

From Gemmil’s Creek to the Riel Rebellion

Orchids in Gemmils Swamp June 1901

The Gemmill Well in Almonte 1951

Gemmill Park Skating Rink May Be Illegal–1947

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Gemmill Park Skating Rink May Be Illegal–1947
The original site of the Almonte Community Centre
1899
Almonte-Photos from Mill of Kintail Conservation Area
Lanark, Ontario

December 1947 Almonte Gazette

The open air rink to be built in Gemmill Park has cost the taxpayers of Almonte $908.00 up to the present -time and will cost considerably more before it finished was the unwelcome news unfolded before the Council at its meeting on Tuesday night. This large sum of money is made up of two items—$563 for work done by Harry Metcalfe’s bulldozer in levelling the site chosen by the Committee and $345 for lumber and other material.

The rink has been an unfortunate project from the start so far as the Council is concerned. There was considerable criticism over the site selected. Unofficial and some semi-official critics who have viewed the large area composing Gemmill Park (98 acres) express astonishment that the Council Rink Committee and the Parks Commission should pick on a spot which would require the expenditure of $563 to make it level. In doing this those responsible not only ran into difficulties in preparing the terrain for flooding but raised the animosity of the Roman Catholic community by locating the rink so close, to the convent that it may be a nuisance to the sisters of St. Joseph.

It is said by those opposed to the site chosen that the rink could have been put out in the middle of a field which was already level or so nearly level that it would cost little to make it satisfactory for flooding. Others feel that as it is to be a temporary expendient —so it is hoped—the rink might have been put on the town hall lawn a second time. Argument against this latter alternative is that the ice sheet there would not be large enough for hockey. Maybe Illegal.

There are citizens of the town with considerable municipal experience who feel that the building of a rink is ultra vires so far as a municipal council’s authority goes. They say a town council has no right to engage in private enterprises such as building rinks any more than it would have to build a large dance hall or bowling alley. If this contention is correct then the money spent on the open air rink has been expended illegally.

Gemmil Park, a true testament to the devotion to physical activity in the town. At any time, in any season you will find someone in the Park. Tennis courts, track, soccer fields, football field, play structure, baseball diamond, horshoe pits, basketball courts and the recently added skateboard ramp. The hills beyond the tennis court are the site of winter fun; sledding here is the ultimate.

John Gemmil, prominent town citizen, once owned a stately home and farm where the park is today. After his death, the property passed to his daughter Winifred Gemmil. Upon her death in 1943 the farm or Homestead was bequeathed to the town of Almonte that they might “construct, establish and maintain a Public Park or Recreation Ground.”

Prior to this park being established numerous other sites through out the town had been used as playgrounds. The most used field in town was the N.L.A.S (North Lanark Agricultural Society ) grounds on Water Street in Almonte. The field was large and the grandstands provided good seats for spectators. In the 1920’s and 1930’s sporting events were typically played on McCallum’s Sports Field.

The Almonte Arena where it stands today, near Gemmil Park, was opened in 1950. Through the years it has seen its share of activity. Hockey players, Broomball players, Figure Skaters, Ringette Players, call this there second home in winter months. Roller hockey and ball hockey enthusiasts use the surface in the summer months

Almonte-Photos from Mill of Kintail Conservation Area
Lanark, Ontario

Amanda Pulker-Mok
July 1, 2018  · Almonte  · 


Last stop of the day, the main stage at Gemmill Park and fireworks! Thank you to everyone who organized events this weekend. You all did such a fabulous job! Happy Canada Day!!
— at Gemmill Park Almonte.

Clippings of the Almonte Bombers

So What Happened to Miss Winnifred Knight Dunlop Gemmill’s Taxidermy Heads?

The Homestead – a John Dunn story

Jessie Leach Gemmill -The “Claire Fraser” of Lanark

History of McLaren’s Depot — by Evelyn Gemmill and Elaine DeLisle

Next Time You Drive Down Highway 15–Gemmils

From Gemmil’s Creek to the Riel Rebellion

Orchids in Gemmils Swamp June 1901

So What Happened to Miss Winnifred Knight Dunlop Gemmill’s Taxidermy Heads?

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So What Happened to Miss Winnifred Knight Dunlop Gemmill’s Taxidermy Heads?

I was doing some research in the Almonte Gazette and came across this article in 1943. So what happened to all the taxidermists heads that used to be in the town hall. Just very curious?

The Homestead – a John Dunn story — Photo

November 23 1943

Word has reached Almonte of the death in London, Eng., of Miss Winnifred Dunlop Gemmill, elder daughter of the late Lieutenant Colonel James Dunlop Gemmill. She is the last member of a pioneer Almonte family which held a most prominent place in the life of this community for many years. Following the death of her father August 18, 1929, she came to Canada with the remains which were interred in the Auld Kirk Cemetery. Soon afterwards she returned to London, Eng., where she had resided ever since.

Her father, the late Col. Gemmill, was so far as is known, the oldest native of Almonte at the time of his death. He was 96 years of age and was a former commander of the old Lanark and Renfrew 42nd Regiment. The late Miss Gemmill’s mother was Katherine Murdoch Knight.

 Two daughters were born to this union, namely, Miss Margaret Edith Gemmill, the younger, who died in California in 1913 at the age of 31 years. The mother died in Rome, where the family had resided for some years and her remains were buried there. 

Col. Gemmill was a world traveller and his daughter Winnifred accompanied him much of the time. During his declining years she was his constant companion. Although away from Almonte for so many years Miss Gemmill kept up a constant interest in the community. She was a subscriber to the Gazette at the time of her death and occasionally wrote letters to this office commenting on items that interested her. 

Some years ago she gave tangible proof of her regard for the old town by donating to it a splendid collection of wild animals’ heads which were trophies of her father’s big game hunting expeditions in Africa and other parts of the globe. These specimens of the taxidermist’s skill were placed on the walls of the town hall and the council chamber and evoke favorable comment from visitors to that building. 

The time the war broke out, it is understood, was Miss Gemmills desire to return here but the dangers of crossing the oceans scared her so she never returned. The picturesque Gemmill home with its gabled windows, stands deserted at a point where Bridge and Country streets merge. It has suffered considerably at the hands of vandals and many people believe something should have been done to stop this nefarious practice.

The farm, consisting of some 100 acres, lies within the boundaries of the town and Miss Gemmill was one of Almonte’s heaviest taxpayers up to a few years ago when it was made impossible to transfer money from Great Britain to other countries. It is whispered about that Miss Gemmill’s will is a very interesting one indeed. Miss Gemmill died at her London home on Friday, Oct. 19th. 1943

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
30 Oct 1944, Mon  •  Page 13
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Sat, Nov 27, 1943 · Page 2

A stone cairn stands close to the heart of the town of Almonte. Erected on the lawn in front of the complex housing the Community Centre, the Arena and the Curling Club, a bronze plaque on the cairn states that the surrounding acres make up GEMMILL PARK, and that the whole acreage was donated to the Town of Almonte by Winifred Knight Dunlop Gemmill, spinster.

The Homestead – a John Dunn story

More than a century ago it was the 100 acre farm of pioneer John Gemmill where maple, oak, and pine competed for sunlight at the margin of the farm fields. This month’s column is an introduction to a significant white oak that grew on the Gemmill farm at field’s edge

Gemmill Homestead white oak

Unexpected Almonte
April 13, 2020  · 

This old water fountain is located in Gemmill Park, #Almonte. Enter the park across from the Esso, where the road entrance is, walk down that road and when you are parallel with highway 29, you will see this fountain on your right in the bushes. Was it placed in the park near its inception – sometime shortly after 1943?

In 1943, when the blitz raged over London, Winnifred Knight Dunlop Gemmill, last of the Gemmill family, died. In her will the Gemmill homestead properties were gifted to the people of Almonte for their recreation and enjoyment. I’ve heard that this area, at this end of the park, near this fountain, was a popular picnic spot during that era. Gemmill Park is still a wonderful park, with picnic spots, trails, water and washrooms… 🙂

Thanks Kathy for the photo and directional details
CLIPPED FROM
The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
28 Dec 1936, Mon  •  Page 8
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 May 1952, Fri  •  Page 17

1881 Census

Name:Winnifred Gemmill

Gender:FemaleAge:1

Birth Year:1880Birthplace:Quebec

Religion:Canada Presbyterian Church

Nationality:Scotch (Scotish)

Province:Ontario

District Number:112District:Lanark NorthSub-District

Number:BSubdistrict:AlmonteDivision:1Household Members:

NameAge
James D. Gemmill48
Catherin M. Gemmill32
Winnifred Gemmill1
Mary Brownlee35

Jessie Leach Gemmill -The “Claire Fraser” of Lanark

History of McLaren’s Depot — by Evelyn Gemmill and Elaine DeLisle

Next Time You Drive Down Highway 15–Gemmils

From Gemmil’s Creek to the Riel Rebellion

Orchids in Gemmils Swamp June 1901