Tag Archives: Gemmill

Gemmill Stories and Geneaology

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Gemmill Stories and Geneaology

Dr. Ernest Welland Gemmill

February 1945

Medical practitioner in Toronto, Dr. Ernest Welland Gemmill, died Saturday, February 10th at the home of his son, Rev. Claude D. Gemmill, aged 79 years. The late Dr. Gemmill was born in Horton Township, near Renfrew, a son of the late John Gemmill and his wife, Ann Jane Coulter. When he was an infant the family moved to Clayton where they resided for eleven years and thence to Almonte. Following his graduation from McGill University he practised in Almonte for a short time, coming to Pakenham in 1890, where he practised for 29 years. He then went to Toronto where he carried on in the east end for 25 years until he became ill last August. In his younger years he was an enthusiastic curler and cricketer. He was a devout member of St. Mark’s Anglican Church where he took an active part in all organizations. Surviving are his widow, the former Miss Edfta Gibson of 299 Kingswood Rd“ two sons, Rev. Claude Gemmill and John Gemmill, one daughter, Betty Gemmill, all of Toronto. Of a family of six, he is survived by two brothers, Rev. Wm. Gemmill of Victoria and Edwin M. Gemmill ofj Lindsay, Ont., one sister, Miss Catherine Gemmill ofV ictoria, B. V. Oni son Ted, died in the last Great War. Mr. Wm. Banning of Almonte is cousin. Interment was made at Toronto.

Name
Ernest Welland Gammill
Gender
Male
Age
79
Birth Date
19 Jun 1866
Birth Place
Renfrew Ontario
Death Date
10 Feb 1945
Death Place
Toronto, York, Ontario, Canada
Father
John Gemmill
Mother
Anne Jane Gemmill
Spouse
Edna Gibson
Certificate Number
013055

Stories

John Gemmill and his wife, Ann Jane Coulter purchased a hotel in Clayton from James CoulterJr. in 1869. In addition to the hotel he had the contract to run the mail from Almonte to Clayton daily which included a stage business where riders paid 50 cents each. In 1876 John took over the Almonte Hotel and sold the Clayton hotel to John McLaren. He also bought the Davis House in Almonte. from Whispers from the Past, History and Tales of Clayton” sold out the first printing of 200 copies during the first week. Today I picked up the second printing, so we are back in business! If you want to purchase a book please email me at rose@sarsfield.ca or call me at 613-621-9300, or go to the Clayton Store, or Mill Street Books in Almonte.

The following letter is from our old friend, Mr. Dugald Campbell of Vancouver. Readers of the Gazette are always pleased to see an article by him and this time he sent several. The journalistic spirit must have moved him after a long silence:

 Vancouver, B. C. Nov. 27th; 1958. Editor Gazette: 

Much interested in the photo of the late Lt.-Col. J. D. Gemmill. He was gone out of the district when I was a lad but we always remembered the fine picnics we were able to hold, several of them each summer, in Gemmill’s Grove. 

One of the fine interesting characters of Almonte in my day was John Gemmill, who was my host of the old Davis House. Not only was he a good hotelman, he kept the place in excellent order, and it was the home of many of the valley travellers who used the local railway during their work.

The eldest son became an Anglican clergyman and went out to Japan, and later on his sister went out there with him. This couple experienced the terrible time of the great uprising and typhoon of Tokyo, and they lost everything. They came back to Canada and  for a time lived in Victoria, B. C. Charlie Gemmill was a druggist, learning the business with P. C. Dowdall, and he was the chef of the Davis House and later when the Davis House changed hands, after the demise of their father, Herb went up Toronto way and carried on his calling in fine form. 

Perhaps the most interesting of the Gemmill lads was big Ed. He became a husky lad early in life, and he did the driving to the CPR station to pick up the travellers’ grips. Ed. has gone these past few years, but I had several most interesting visits where he was in charge of the Empress Hotel there. The first time I went there I camouflaged my name a little, and he gave me a fine room but Mien he found out who I was, well we stayed up more than half the night chin-wagging about old times in Almonte.

Ed. Gemmill told me yarns about my home town which I had never heard in my youth there, yarns that could only come from night-clerking at the old Davis House. John Gemmill, the owner of the Davis House, was a fine horse fancier, and at the local NLAS fair and there was great competition between Gemmill and A. C. Wylie, and a little later, with your famous Dr. Archie Metcalfe.

Gemmill had a pair of smart bays and Alex. Wylie had a pair of fancy chestnuts, and competition around the old oval was really something. When Archie Metcalfe got into the picture, he also had a pair of very smart steppers, and I think, perhaps, the carriage competition in that direction was the outstanding event of the third day of the fair for a number of years. So the Gemmills have come and gone in the great procession, but they were a fine group of folks just the same.

Dugald Campbell.

Letter from Davis House to Scotts in Pakenham- Adin Daigle Collection– Where Was Davis House?

Jeremy Woodchuck of Gemmill Park

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

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

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By an Almonte ‘Native’

From The Millstone

It was the early 1950s and after seeing a ’Duster’ (Western Movie) at the local O’Brien Theater ( The Hub building) the kids would be hyped to play Good Guys vs the Bad Guys in Spring Bush. These games were played in the bush area behind the arena and Almonte Reformed Presbyterian Church (located on Almonte St.), while running up and down the hills and into the bush pretending to shoot or be shot only to come back to life quickly or argue that the shooter had really missed you. Some of those discussions were quite lively. I don’t believe that real cowboys would have taken the time for such discussions. It’s a good thing that they were only cap guns.

‘Spring Bush’ …. To those who played in it, it is well known. To those new to Almonte it is Gemmill Park. In the 1950s, Spring Bush was the wonderland of Almonte. It provided everything for active healthy kids in search of adventure and activity. When you told your parents that you were off to play in Spring Bush, whether it was summer or winter, they reminded you to check the time on the Post Office clock and be home for supper.

There were no roads or houses as today. My mother would tell stories about how the area, one of many around Almonte, was used as a common grazing ground for the animals of Almonte residents. People would pasture their cow there and fetch it home to be milked and then taken back.

At the corner of Country and Perth Streets (where Art Horton lives today) was a makeshift softball field. Games of ball were played there all day as participants came and went, going home for lunch or to complete chores only to return later. All were welcome but mostly the Snedden boys as they were usually the only ones that had a ball and a bat.

Near the Hwy (then Hwy 29) in the North West corner of the park across from the present day Esso station (then MacDonald’s) was a well laid out park for motorists to stop and have a picnic. There were areas to have a BBQ, small pits for fires, picnic tables, drinking fountains and washrooms. Everything was well used and extremely well maintained.

Today everyone still uses the hills behind the arena in winter, for concerts in summer. What child hasn’t enjoyed rolling down the hill over warm summer grass?

But, I wonder, do kids today dare their friends to slide down ‘Devil’s Trail’, more than likely to face a jump at the bottom that would send the slider flying high screaming through the air while those at the top were howling with riotous laughter?

Oh yes! Have you ever had a cool refreshing drink of water on a hot summer day from the pipe at the bottom of the little spring (hence the name Spring Bush) located ….. Ah! .…wait!…… that is for you to find!

July 1945 — Almonte Gazette

The “spring bush,” a little recreation ground across from the Bay is known to all Almonters and has been a favorite spot for youngsters through the last fifty years or more. The old home which faces on Country Street is a building which commands the interest of many visitors. It is of stone construction with steep sloping roof and high gabled windows. Set back in a grove of trees with the original farm buildings in the rear it is a picturesque spot.

This home was not occupied by the Gemmill family for a long time as the father and daughter resided in England. Col. Gemmill, who was a world traveller and big game hunter, died there but his body was brought home and interred in the Auld Kirk Cemetery.

Last to occupy the homestead was Mr. J. F. Patterson and his family. About ten years ago Mr. Patterson bought the property on the corner of Elgin and Country streets where he now resides and the Gemmill house has since been vacant. That it was allowed to deteriorate to the extent it is a reproach to the authoriies. It is said that even the hardwood flooring has been stolen and much other m aterial was removed before the thief or thieves got around to that. In addition young vandals have done a thorough job on the interior as they always do around this town unless people are on hand to protect the premises.

The decision of the Judge came; as somewhat of a surprise to those people in town who had taken an interest in the matter. Mr. Jamieson, reporting to the Council after the hearing for intrepretation of the will, seemed rather optimistic although he admitted there was no telling what attitude the bench might take on the queer stipulation made in the bequest. It had been the intention of the town, if it had secured immediate control of this property to endeavor to interest the Ontario Government in its possibilities as a roadside park.

Warehousing business carried on by this were located in what was then known as New Ontario. At any rate it is known that Miss Gemmill’s father did take part in those famous military operations between 1866 and 1871. The idea of locating slaughter houses on property in far and wild Temiskaming or even in Huntley is a novel one which Almonte would hardly be expected to carry out unless the property coming to it was extremely valuable and, as the Judge pointed out it has not the legal right to do so. The “Homestead” as the name implies is the old home of Lt.-Col. Gemmill and is bounded by Country, Perth, Christian and Almonte Streets. As stated above it comprises 98 acres part of which are wooded.

The wooded portion fringes highway 29 and would make an ideal place for one of the camping grounds projected under the government policy for attracting and accommodating tourists. It was also suggested that whatever use might be made of the large acerage for recreational purposes the old home would serve as an excellent club house. Regardless of the judgment respecting the will it is possible that the property may yet fall into the hands of the town. No one likes paying taxes on property thousands of miles distant especially, if it is producing no revenue.

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.

Found this in the Almonte Gazette

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

The Gemmill Well in Almonte 1951

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The Gemmill Well in Almonte 1951

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 ❤️

August 1951

Water coming from taps in the New England section of Almonte has an unpleasant taste and wears a yellow tinge, Town Council -was told at its regular meeting Tuesday .night by Councillor Walter Morton. He said he had heard complaints from several friends who lived in that part of the town and one of them had gone So far as to say the aqua pura had an evil smell.

He asked Reeve George Gomme, Chairman of the Waterworks Committee, if he could throw any light on the subject. Mr. Gomme said he had heard some talk of the kind but as the water was tested – periodically in the Provincial health laboratories, and as every sample came back marked A l, which is the purest classification, he could not see what more there was to do in the matter.

Mr. Gomme said that he understood the local medical health officer secured samples from various sections of the town including New England. One thing sure the water was pure for drinking purposes no matter what color it was or how it tasted. It developed that other members of the Council had heard talk of the water being brackish in New England. One man suggested that it might be iron. Another said he understood the water was at its worst when the well in Gemmill Park, which is practically a failure, was turned on.

This shaft led down into a dolomite rock formation and was practically abandoned so far as a good producer is concerned. The driller said that when dolomite is encountered it means the well will be a failure. However, as the water supply at that time was most precarious and as some water could be obtained from the dud, a small pump was installed and is used from time to time.

No one in the Council was in a position to say whether the well in the park was the culprit or not. Mr. Gomme said it would be an easy matter to have the medical officer, Dr. Fred Snedden, take his next sample from some tap in New England. But again, the Reeve pointed out that while the sample would likely come back from Toronto rating the purest classification possible that would not take a nasty taste out of it nor affect its color.

It was finally decided to send a sample of the water away for mineral analysis. A small quantity of water was taken from a tap in Mr. Harvey Scott’s residence and is now on its way for this test. The laboratory experts will no doubt be able to tell what is in the water and what makes it taste and look the way it does but whether they will be able to suggest a remedy remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gomme reported, the well at the corner of Hope and Euphemia Streets was practically ready for operation. There were still a couple of valves to be installed and a pump house to be built. It is believed this is a very fine well with lots df water. If present hopes are justified it may be the answer to the complaints of New England people about the quality of the water that passes through the taps.

When it is turned on it will probably be quite sweet and if the quantity is what most people think it will be no longer necessary to use the well in Gemmill Park.

also discussed at same meeting.

Need of new doors in the local lock-up was discussed by the Council. Opinion is a child could get out of th e cells as they are.

The municipality (the Town of Mississippi Mills) supplies drinking water to approximately 5,350 people in Almonte. There are five municipal wells constructed between 1948 and 1991 varying in depth from 38 to 79 metres.

Where does the water come from?

The municipal wells draw groundwater from the Nepean Sandstone Aquifer which is well-known for supplying a good volume of quality drinking water.

Drinking Water in Almonte –read here

Gemmill Park Skating Rink May Be Illegal–1947

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

From Gemmil’s Creek to the Riel Rebellion

Gemmill Park Forest read click

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