Dr. Ernest Welland Gemmill
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.