Tag Archives: gillies house

The Children of Ross Dhu Part 2 Hilda Martin

The Children of Ross Dhu  Part 2 Hilda Martin

In May of 2009 Stepehen Plowden from the UK wrote a letter to the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum about the fact that Elizabeth or Jane Oliver Bellasis recently had discovered a picture of English children at Ross Dhu in their family photo album. The children were under the guardianship of Hilda Martin and he felt the date of the picture was from the summer of 1942 or 1943. The youngest of the charges was born after the outbreak of the war, and she is not a baby in the picture.

Hi Linda,
My name is Jonathan Roland Gay – I am the person who blogged last year on your WordPress page entitled “The Children of Ross Dhu – Evacuation to Canada”
I became very busy with my PhD research that I have only just remembered your Wordpress blog and looked to see your reply.
My great Aunt, Hilda Martin, lived in Woolwich near the Royal Artillery and trained as a nurse, serving during the First World War. She, therefore, had made connections with military officers in Woolwich and during her service. In 1923 she traveled to India and mixed with government officials and dignitaries – she was nanny/governess there. Hilda finally returned to Rottingdean where she had designed the ‘Seadowns’ house and instructed the architects what she wanted. In 1936 Seadowns had been built and freshly painted. It was at the top of Bazehill Road inset from the road (as is the current building). The house was very big and was to be a home for children of dignitaries abroad.
The children had a view of a school (St Dunstans??) in one direction, and a view of the windmill in the down-road direction. Geoffrey Plowden was one of the children at Seadowns who arrived there when he was 8 years old. I spoke to him earlier this year and he told me that he could smell the fresh paint as he walked in; the floors were wooden and the front room had a row of lockers for the children with toys in the same room. The children were evacuated to Canada (Carleton Place) in late July 1940. I attach a photo of Aunt Hilda (though she is younger here than 1930s/40s). I also attach a screenshot of the passenger list to Canada –  Hilda is on this obviously with the names of some of the children. The Edwardian travel clock went with her to India in 1923, to Canada in 1940 and back to England in 1944.
If you know of anyone who has a photo of Aunt Hilda at Carleton Place with the children or inside the house, I would love to have copies. If not, are there any photos of just the house and rooms?
best wishes



So where was Ross Dhu? At the Gillies home on Townline and Bridge

 - May 22– 2016 Update– Through the Public Archives we found out that  Ross Dhu was the home of Mr. David Gillies on Bridge Street at Townine in Carleton Place







The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
11 Oct 1937, Mon  •  Page 3–



Thanks to Ray Paquette–While self isolating, I have taken the opportunity to “declutter”. I came up with a picture I have no idea where I got it, except from my parents. I have no idea of the significance of it but I’m sure you will recognize the location.

I seem to recall hearing that Carleton Place was the host of a number of British children who, for safety reasons, emigrated to Canada during WW2. Perhaps your followers can shed some light on this…

Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage MuseumWe certainly would, thank you Ray Paquette! Just yesterday we came across this memory of the school from Jennifer Richardson, daughter of George “Geordie” Findlay: “I attended kindergarten run by the English people that minded the English children housed in the Caldwell house at the corner of Bridge St. and the Townline Road…. we sat at a big table to do our work. We played games in another room such as London Bridge. An English boy, Barry Blanchard lived with us during some of the war until his mother settled in Canada.”

Martin PuckettI have a small world story. In 1982 my college hockey team did a tour of Europe. I walked into a bar in Belgium and a man sitting at the bar quickly noticed I was from Canada by the pins I had on my jacket. He asked me where in Canada I was from. I replied Ottawa area. He replied that during the war he had been sent from England to live in a small town called Carleton Place. The pints and the conversation continued from there . Lol

Jennifer RogersLindaThe late Art Evoy told me that the Mutt family from Carleton Place sponsored a young boy from Britain during the war. The young boy’s father was a medic with the British Army.One of the Mutt’s sons signed up for the war and was sent to the Far East. While at the Far East the Mutt boy from Carleton Place was injured and sent to hospital. While at the hospital, the Mutt’s son was treated by a British Army medic who after chatting, realized that the injured solder’s family were the one’s who were hosting his son in Canada. An amazing coincidence.Duncan Rogers

Ray PaquetteDuring a discussion with my sister, Allison Bell, mentioned that she thought our cousin, Pamela Nichols, daughter of Tom and Wilma, granddaughter of Abner, was in the picture. Hearing stories of how Carleton Place children attended school with the British children might explain why my cousin would be in the picture and why my family ended up with it. Comments?

Ray PaquetteNo, its not Victoria School. It’s the old Townsview Apartments at the corner of Bridge and the Townline….

The Wasteland that Nearly Became Carleton Place


Some day go stand in the Royal Bank parking lot and look around. Look to your left and your right, and then down the street. There isn’t much there. I don’t think the full effect hit me until someone spoke about it on the Smoke on the Water Walking Tour. You have to close your eyes and imagine a fire that began on the corner of Albert and Bridge where the pet food building is and burned all the way down to Franklin and Judson Street. Not only that hot spots were found all over town I wrote about it fully in the story “When the Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror.” Pretty melodramatic for a title?” Not really, feast your eyes on the pictures below.


The house of Mrs. James Gillies stood right where the Carleton Place Library park now exists. It hadn’t been built for a very long time and by the loks of the picture above– it was a pretty grand house. Once upon a time on the north easterly corner of that park sat the lovely Gillies residence which was later completely destroyed by the fire of 1910. Seems the only piece of anything that might be considered left standing in the block bound by Beckwith, Albert, Judson and Franklin after the fire was a piece of latticework in the rear of Mrs. Gillies house.


Instead of rebuilding Mrs. Gillies donated the vacnat land to the town of Carleton Place. I can’t even imagine wanting to rebuild on that very spot. At the start of the Victorian period most houses were lit by candles and oil lamps. Interior fittings included chandeliers (suspended from the ceiling) and sconces (fixed to the wall). However these were mainly used on special occasions, and most ordinary events after sunset took place using portable light sources such as candlesticks, candelabra (bracketed candlesticks) and oil lamps, and by the light of the fire. By the end of the period gas lighting was common in urban homes and electricity was being introduced in many.

By Queen Victoria’s death in January 1901, electric lighting was still in its infancy. Gas lighting was common in the cities and larger towns, supplemented by candles and oil lamps, but in smaller towns and villages and in the countryside lighting remained almost exclusively by candles and oil lamps. On  September 28th, 1885. W. A Braedon of Carleton Place had already started a memo book about the day his electric lights went on. Homeowners were charged by the number of bulbs and the number of hours the bulb was turned on. In 1905 Carleton Place street lighting was improved under a ten year contract, with introduction of a year-round all night service and erection of 150 street lights to supplement the arc lamp system.

The fire was in 1910. They never found out what caused the fire that caused so much damage. Was it gas? Was it candles? I guess we will never know, but the memories of what could have been architecturally still looms on those very streets.

Photos from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

The Gillies Home in the Ghost Town of Herron’s Mills



The above picture is how I will always remember the Gillies House. Drab, and sitting on a slight hill. This is what it looks like now:


Herron’s Mills, originally known as Gillies Mills, is a ghost town in the municipality of Lanark Highlands, Lanark County in Eastern Ontario, Canada,near the community of Lanark. It is located on highway 511 between Perth and Calabogie, Ontario.

Businessman John Gillies established a sawmill on the Clyde River in the community in 1842 to supply lumber for construction in the area. The mill continued to operate until 1950. It was later purchased by the Herron Brothers, hence the name. Wikipedia


This is one of the old houses that used to make up the village of Herron’s Mills.I used to go there and take photos with my sons a lot. This house and some of the buildings have since been torn down. It is unknown who lived here, except that maybe the people who once worked in the Herron Mills Woollen Factory across the road. Also read-

Herron’s Mills Bridge Closed 1935

Lost Souls –Herron’s Mills


It was 1821 and 10-year-old John Gillies found himself aboard the David of London along with his parents, James and Helen. Their ship was making its way from Greenock, Scotland to Quebec, Canada. Three of the 364 Scottish passengers died during the trip, while another four were born. The passengers had paid their own way to Canada to become part of the Canadian government’s immigration plan which offered immigrants 100 acres of land and free transportation to it from Quebec City.

Fourty days later, the Gillies had made it by boat, foot and cart, to New Lanark. There, John Gillies learned how to clear the land and build a home as his family began building their future in Canada.

By 1840, John Gillies had a plan. He obtained his own land plot near the Clyde River and 100 adjoining acres. It was here that he and his wife Mary built a home and sawmill. Some say that he travelled the 55 miles from Brockville to Lanark with the 90-pound saw on his back.

Gillies dammed the water to allow for enough flow to power his saw. He would sell his lumber for anywhere from $6 to $12 per 1000 feet. His site grew to include a grist and oat mills. On the other side of the river he built a carding mill to process sheeps wool.

Gillies bought a large circular saw and took contracts to cut lumber. One such contract was to supply 3″ thick wood to be used in the construction of the Plank Road between Perth, Balderson and Lanark. He would later claim that he was not paid for this contract.

In 1861 he built a large home for himself and his family which by now counted nine children.

It was about this time that John Gillies had to deal with an inevitable problem. He had cut most of the pine trees from the area and required a new supply for his mill. He had to bring in lumber from other forests. Gillies decided to buy the Gilmour Mill located in Carleton Place and in 1864, Gillies Mill went up for sale.

Gillies eventually sold the mill in 1871 to brothers James and John Herron who purchased 104 acres of land and the mill. They established a company named the J & J Herron Company and the site soon became known as Herron’s Mills. A stone bakehouse was added and used to bake unhulled oats or unshelled peas. From there they were bagged and then ground into grade to be used in oatmeal and pea brose (a Scottish dish).

The mill grew to include barns and stables, homes for the workers and John Munroe’s tannery. For the worker’s children, a school was constructed. Teachers would be given board with local families as part of their payment.

James Herron opened a post office in 1891 that was located in their home. It continued to operate until 1915.

At its peak, Herron’s Mill was producing over 8000 feet of lumber per day. In 1919 the brothers passed ownership of the mill down to James’ son, Alexander. When Alexander died in 1946, his sister Mary continued to run the mill for five more years. By 1951 the mill sat in silence.
One small building remains, the mill has lost the roof and one wall but still stands with some of the original machinery inside. A couple of collapsed buildings remain as well. I never did find the old home pictured on the cover of Ghost Towns of Ontario, volume 2. Perhaps the most fascinating part was the stone bridge which was built over the Clyde River. The water still continues to flow underneath it.

May be an image of nature



Shelley Dunlop posted— A Great-Uncle of mine was married at this house:
Andrew Dunlop (Andrew3, Gavin2, Andrew1) was born 1866 in Ramsay Twp. , Lanark Cty, and died October 19, 1951 in Hudson , Mass. , USA. He married Margaret Young May 23, 1894 in residence of John Gillies , Carleton Place. She was born 1867 in Dublin , Ireland, and died October 14, 1952 in Hudson , Mass. , USA.

The Almonte Gazette records the birth of a daughter to Andrew Jr. , 9 March 1884 , at Almonte. The Perth Courier records the marriage of Andrew Jr. as ;
Andrew Dunlop Jr. at the residence Mr. John Gillies , May 23 , 1894 , by Rev . A. Scott . Mr. Andrew Dunlop Jr.. to Miss Maggie Young, both of Carleton Place .

The 1891 Carleton Place Census shows a Margaret Young as a boarder at the residence of Mr. John Gilles . She is 35 years old , She was born in Ireland and both her parents were born in Ireland .
She is the general live in servant at the Gilles residence . Her marriage takes place there . In 1891 Andrew Jr. is 25 years old.

Photo taken at Middleville & District Museum 
Photo taken at Middleville & District Museum