The Hemlock is a tree who, due to her longevity, holds our histories and stories. The logging industry stimulated economic development in the 19th century, with white pine logs exported to Europe. Local forests were depleted of hemlock to provide bark for the leather tanning industry. The bark of eastern hemlock is rich in tannin and was once one of the main commercial sources for the leather industry.
Unfortunately, trees were often stripped of their bark and left to rot. Brice McNeely from the Carleton Place Tannery was always on the outlook for Hemlock bark. Now they use Chromium(III) sulfate to process the hides.
Ad from Carleton Place newspaper 1873 from .. Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
The company started its operation in 1868 by a group of business men of Perth including Thomas Aspden, Alexander Morris, William J. Morris, Captain John Manion, John S Hart and a Boston Company. Located on Lot 2, Concession 3 of the Bathurst Township, the northern shore of Christie Lake on Gravely Bay was chosen as the location for the mill because it was thought there would be an adequate amount of hemlock trees to sustain business. The mill extracted tannin from hemlock bark, which was used in leather tanning. The tannin was exported as well as used locally at a tannery in Perth. The company closed in 1874, citing a lack of hemlock in the area.
Related reading: Did you know our Hackberry grove on Mill Street is quite possibly 5000 years old?