I really enjoy your articles on Facebook. With regards to the article about O.E. Rothwell Lumber Co. Ltd. I am attaching information about the lumber mill in Lanark which operated from 1946 to 2003 in the Village employing many local people over the years.
Hope some of this information will be helpful.
Elaine Rothwell Hanna
O.E. Rothwell’s introduction to the Forest Industry started by cutting cordwood in the winter and driving it to Carleton Place by horse and sleigh. In the summer months he was hired out as a farm hand to farms in the area of Ferguson Falls.
In 1936, Ossie, as he was known, hired four private sawmills known as Custom Mills. Two were situated in the Ferguson Falls area, one at Boyd’s Settlement and one at Brightside.
With the onset of World War II, Ossie in 1940 applied to join the Army. As a result of being in the lumber business he was refused entry because he was deemed too important to the war effort at home.
In 1942 Ossie purchased Christie Donaldson’s mill which he set up on the 9ft Concession of Lanark Township. This mill operated there for two years, then was moved to Clydesville for another two years.
In 1944 he purchased Waites Brothers mill with a Crown Timber Licence of 1600 Acres in the Ompah area of Mosque Lake and along with his own mill made one large mill from the two.
This mill was set up in 1946 on South Street in Lanark adjacent to the Clyde River. This was a seasonal mill and operated from April to the end of October. In the winter months a bush camp was set up on the Crown Licence which with logs cut there and private logs purchased locally supplied the mill during the summer period.
1956 saw the business being incorporated and becoming the O.E. Rothwell Lumber Co. Ltd. A planing mill was started in 1959 with equipment from Rothwell-Perrin Lumber Co. Ltd. in Portland, a Company which Ossie and Frank Perrin purchased in 1948 which was formerly Portland Lumber Co.
Ossie was President of this Company until 1959 when he sold his shares to Mr. Perrin and some staff members when they started to build Pre-Fabricated houses. Construction of a new sawmill was started on the same site in Lanark in 1966 and started producing Lumber on August 28th, 1967. This automated mill used less labour and the average production was 3,000,000 board feet of lumber per year.
Two Dehumidification Dry Kilns with a capacity of 40,000 board feet were built in L976. This allowed some of the lumber being kiln dried to a moisture content allowing it to be used directly in the manufacturing of furniture.
Ossie retired in 1983 and the business was purchased by Don and Jeff Rothwell. Ossie passed away June 23d, 1985. A new planing mill was started in 1987, 20% of the production was company lumber and the remaining 80% was lumber from companies in Ontario and Quebec needing their lumber planed.
The 1990’s saw a boom in the hardwood lumber industry resulting in many companies building new mills with far larger capacities of production. As a result, in 2001,, with a surplus of hardwood lumber being produced in Canada and the United States and an offshore influence many mills were forced out of business. July 2003 saw the O.E. Rothwell Lumber Co. Ltd.being forced to close their doors.
Hello Linda I was wondering what you could tell me about the Rothwell sawmill in Lanark
So I began to dig and this is what I found….. andif you have any memories please comment or email/
FRANK PERRIN— President ef Rothweli-Perrin Lumber Co ltd was co-founder and served as vice-president and general manager until 1957 when he became president purchased by 0 E Rathwell of Lanark and Frank Perrin of Portland and the new name established. Mr Perrin had previously served as general manager for the former company The assets of the firm consisted af a small work shop saw mill.
RAYMOND GAMBLE-Vice-president joined the staff in 1951 and has served in various capacities was elected vice-president in 1957 and appointed general manager recently a small office building and a fleet of two trucks. In 1949 the building storage apace was in creased and sash and door manufacturing plant put into operation. By this time the staff had increased to a total of fifteen From 1948 to 1958 the firm has enjoyed a steady growth.
ELDON GUTHRIE – Assistant general manager with responsibilities being sales in the show room and the territories and purchasing of building supplies every year with additional trucks and cars have been added to the fleet. At the present time the Arm operates twelve delivery trucks ranging from half-tons to tractor tandem trailers and five passenger cars. Two lift trucks have been added to the equipment in the yard for fast handling of lumber. In 1955 the firm opened a branch yard and office in Kingston and entered the prefabrication and by commencing construction of precision built quality homes.
This department has grown, until today it forms better than fifty per cent of the total volume of the company’s business. In order to consolidate assets of the firm and to create greater control. The yard and office in Kingston were sold in 1936. The addition of the dry kiln to our equipment enabled them to supply steam heat to all the buildings. The yard In the same year the site of the mill and sash factory were doubled to accommodate the precision built quality home operations.
In 1957 a new shaving baler built and installed enabled FRANK WOODS sales representative in the Kingston area to turn another byproduct of planing mill into saleable merchandise. The showroom was tripled’ in size and modernized to become one of the finest in Eastern Ontario. There has been an increase instaff from four to sixty-eight The number of trucks increased from two to fourteen including thre tractor trailers and the output of lumber from a very modest beginning in 1948 to over six million board feet in 1957. The growth of the firm has added several new homes to the community in the last ten years.
The Mazinaw-Lanark Sustainable Forest License (Number 542621) was signed on October 30, 2002 by Mazinaw-Lanark Forest Inc. of Cloyne Ontario. It was amended May 22, 2003. The SFL is intended to provide timber to the following existing forest resource processing facilities of the shareholders or associated with the shareholders of the Mazinaw-Lanark Forest Inc: Chapter Three 49 Domtar Inc. located at Cornwall Norampac Inc. located at Trenton Lavern Heideman & Sons Limited located at Eganville Dament & Charles Lumber Mfg. Ltd. and Herb. Shaw and Sons Limited located at Pembroke George Stein Limited located at Palmer Rapids Gulick Forest Products Ltd. located at Palmer Rapids O.E. Rothwell Lumber Co. Ltd. located at Lanark and M.J. Umpherson Lumber Co. Ltd. Located at Lanark
Sale of Rothwell Logging Mill Building & Equipment b) Bidders are instructed to include an up to date WSIB certificate and an insurance certificate for general liability in the amount of $5,000,000 adding the Township as an additional insured. c) Bids must be addressed to Chelsea Dawes, Manager of Facilities/Community Affairs The Township of Lanark Highlands, 75 George St. Lanark, Ontario K0G 1X0, and must be received by the Township no later than the Closing Date and Closing Time of: 10:00 am (EASTERN STANDARD TIME) On February 14th, 2020
Perhaps had we as residents done a better job of supporting our local business, Drysdales, D&B Shoe Store, Home Hardware, The Kitten Mills, OE Rothwell, Playfair Woodproducts and many others the town would be in better shape. I was guilty of “price” shopping outside of my community as many others were as well. If we want to rebuild Lanark we have to show we will support it. I buy all I can in the village and going forward will continue too. A hard lesson that almost killed a town of great people but Lanark and its residents are the toughest I’ve ever met and I believe it will eventually bounce back.
Well now I can remember the woolen mill and George Young’s furniture store with caskets in the back room. 1960s.
Employees who worked for OE Rothwell
The Perth Courier Obituary 1985, Wednesday April 10 Ivan Lawrence Closs
The village of Lanark and surrounding area was shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Mr. Ivan Closs at the Great War Memorial Hospital, Perth. Mr. Closs has been hospitalized for two weeks following a heart attack. He was making excellent progress towards recovery when a second massive coronary claimed his life on Sunday, November 11, 1984. Born in Lavant Township, March 15, 1927, Ivan Lawrence Closs was a son of the late Benjamin Closs and his late wife, the former Jenny Napier. He received his early education at Flower Station. On October 17, 1951, he married to Barbara M. Closs of Lavant Township, who survives with one son, Leslie J. Closs, daughter-in-law Rose and one grandson, John B. Closs, of Kingston. He is also survived by two sisters, Mrs. Emma James of Perth and Mrs. Lyla Garrett of Clyde Forks. He was predeceased by one brother, John L. Closs of Flower Station. The late Mr. Closs was employed for 23 years by the Canadian Pacific Railway During this period he worked at Arden. Flower Station, Renfrew and Havelock. After leaving C.P.R. he returned to Lanark and worked for the O. E. Rothwell Lumber Company, Central Wire and Cable, Perth, Canadian International Paper Company, Smiths Falls and for past seven years with the Ministry of Natural Resources. He was a member of St. Andrew’s United Church Lanark. He also belonged to Evergreen Masonic Lodge, No. 209, Lanark, and to the Order of the Eastern Star, Royal Tay, No. 193, Perth and Royal Canadian Legion Branch 244 Perth. An Eastern Star Service was held on Monday evening, November 12, 1984 which was largely attended. The funeral was held on Tuesday, November 13, 1984, at the Young Funeral Home, Lanark. The service was conducted by Rev James M. Whyte of Central Lanark Charge, with interment in Hopetown Cemetery. Pallbearers were six nephews. Gordon Closs, Clarence (Buddy) Closs, Winston Wayne and Thomas James and Ron Garrett. Flower-bearers were nieces and nephews of the deceased. The many floral arrangements, contributions to charitable organizations and the large number of people who called at the Funeral Home to pay their respect were testimony to the esteem in which Ivan was held in the community.
Herb, Earl and Isobel Tooley at Mountain School (SS No. 14) ca 1935
Judd and his family logged, farmed and raised cattle on the mountain. Their son Herb remembered walking cattle from the farm to the Lavant train station where they were loaded and shipped to markets.
Logging was one of the main industries in the area during those times, and employed many local families. Harvested pine from the surrounding area often was floated through Mackie Lake into the small creek at the north end of the lake. From there they were moved into Long Schooner and Round Schooner and through Mackie Creek into the Madawaska River. Rapids existed on both creeks so wooden chutes (or slides) allowed the logs to bypass the rapids. When Herb was about 15 or 16 years old, his grandfather, Luther Tooley, lost his leg in a logging accident on the trail between Proudfoot Bay on Fortune Lake and Brule Lake. He managed with a wooden leg for the rest of his life.
The remains of several old logging roads still exist around the lake, one of which follows the creek down from Camp Lake. Another one branches off Mountain Road and leads into the marsh at the south end of the lake, where at one time marsh hay was cut.
In the 1920’s, Louise’s parents Julius and Carlena (Hartmann) opened a tourist lodge on their homestead on Sand Lake, and Luther (Judd’s father) operated a hunting & fishing camp on Brule Lake. Now known as “Pleasantview Lodge”, the large log cabin on the site was actually moved there by Judd and his brother John, from their mother Emma’s (Wood) homestead. Read more here… click
Some time ago The Gazette published the gist of a letter received from E. T. Foley of Pasadena, Cal., asking about the location of a mill his uncle owned in the vicinity of Almonte and wondering if a picture of it could be procured. Elsewhere in this issue is a letter from one of our out-of-town subscribers dealing with the matter at some length. Dr. J. F. Dunn and Wm, Young also gave information in regard to the mill mentioned by Mr. Foley which coincides with what appears in the letter. Dr. Dunn states that the Foley home was the first ,on the left past Hall’s Mills.
The original Hall, who operated the mill there, was married to a Foley and the house where they lived is now occupied by Mr, Cameron. Mrs. Shane of Pakenham was another Foley. The brothers, Timothy and Michael, uncles of E. T. Foley of Pasadena, after selling out the sawmill here to the Caldwell interests, went to the United States and became wealthy as railroad contractors. Those who recall the old sawmill think it extremely unlikely that any photograph of it will be in existence. It stood approximately on the site where Dennis Galvin’s portable mill was located up to a few years ago. In those day’s the art of photography was not what it is now and a building had to be of great public importance to merit attention of that kind
This has been received from one of The Gazette’s subscribers who prefers to remain anonymous:
The Editor, Almonte Gazette, Almonte, Ont.
Dear Sir: A recent issue of The Gazette makes reference to a letter received from Mr. Edward T. Foley of Pasadena, California, asking information about a saw mill which was owned by his uncle in Almonte many years. I am not acquainted with Mr. Foley but I presume he is a nephew of one of members of the original firm of Messrs. T. & T. Foley of Almonte who later became the firm of Foley Brothers well known lumbermen and railway contractors of St. Paul, Minn.
The Foleys had left Almonte long before my time but I had often heard of them. I believe there were five brothers, Timothy, Thomas, Michael, John and George (Tim, Tom, Mike, John and George). There were also several sisters, one of whom was married to a Mr. Hall after whom Hall’s Mills was named. There was a mill at that place but I do not think it is the one Mr. Foley has in mind. In my boyhood days there was a saw mill at the far end of Water Street just beyond the N.L.A.S. fair grounds. At that time the mill was owned by one of the Caldwells of Lanark Village but I do not think he was the original owner. I think I would be correct in saying that the mill had been built and operated for a while by the Foleys but afterwards disposed of to Mr. Caldwell.
The Foley home was on W ater S treet not so very far from the mill. Their’s was a corner property directly across from the fair grounds. The house, a frame building of rather ornate design, faced on a street the name of which I cannot re call, but it extended from the exhibition grounds towards the C.P. R. tracks. On the Water Street side there was a high closed fence but it was not a crude or ugly affair, it was constructed of dressed lumber and was of neat design. There was no open gate but a closed door, apparently designed to ensure privacy. The door was not flush wi|th the fence but rather inset somewhat like a casement. Different times when passing that way I noticed what appeared like lettering deeply penciled in black on the frame of the casement. Upon closer inspection in plain capital letters: the name T. & T. Foley was disclosed. This, I believe, answers Mr. Foley’s inquiry. I am quite sure the mill on Water Street is the one owned by his uncle, and the house was the one the family occupied.
When I remember this house first, it was the residence of the late Mr. Robert Pollock. It is has beenmany years since I passed that way but the last time I did so, it was still in existence. As for the mill, I am not in a position to say. It was not large but was well built and unless purposely destroyed, some trace of it will surely remain. To digress a little, I might say that at the mill there were three piers built in the river just above the mill and extending from pier to pier were booms of squared timber, the idea of course, being to harbour the logs to be sawed at the mill and to prevent them from floating down the river.
Among the younger fry, the piers were spoken of as first, second and third and were great favorite places for swimming and diving. I recall one experience when, in diving I struck my head with such force on a sunken log, that I was nearly stunned. I consider myself lucky that I was not drowned. But to return to the original topic, I think that my recollections are fairly accurate and I hope may be of interest. It is quite evident that Mr. Foley would like to know something of the early beginning of the Foley Bros, and properly so. They were among the many Canadians who won fame and fortune in the U.S.A.
Yours very truly, First, Second and Third Piers
I had written about Henry Lang’s Barn a few years ago and remembered something about the Caldwell Sawmill. Sure enough this is what happened to it.
Almonte Gazette July 22 1898—The old sawmill opposite “island” (save the mark !) at the N.L.A.S. grounds has been torn down and towed across the river to the farm of Mr. and Mrs. Lang, where the the bulk of the timbers, etc., will be used in the erection of a barn to replace the one destroyed by fire.
Almonte Gazette September 2, 1898–That barn of Mr. Henry Lang’s will be an interesting one from the fact that its material has been mostly furnished by two landmarks Mr Caldwell’s old sawmill and Mr. Cannnon’s shingle mill on the shore of the bay below the town—both, as well as the timber slides, having become relics and reminders to the present generation that in bygone years Almonte was a live lumbering centre. Read- Henry Lang and His Lanark County Magic Barn?
The City of Foley traces its roots back to the 19th century lumber barons and the four Foley brothers who settled in Benton County in the late 1800s. The brothers originally came from Lanark in eastern Ontario, Canada. Their Irish immigrant family made Lanark their home during the second administration of President Andrew Jackson during the turbulent 1830s. CLICK here
.Brian SarsfieldProbably the Pembroke Lumber Company, beside the Ottawa River . Make be take prior to the fire of June 1918.
It’s the Pembroke Lumber Company pre 1918.. and all the photos will go back to the family but this one will go to the Pembroke Historical Society.. Thanks to everyone who identified the photo.
Fire June 12,1927
PEMBROKE, Ont., June 12 1927– Fire, which it is estimated caused damage to the extent of a quarter of a million dollars Saturday, threatened to wipe out the entire industrial and business section of the town, and many buildings were saved from possible destruction only by a timely change in the direction of a stiff wind when the blaze was at its height.
The flames were fortunately confined to the yards of the Pembroke Lumber Company, where millions of feet of lumber were reduced to ashes. The cause of the fire is attributed to a bathing party of boys who used part of the lumber yards in which to dress and smoke. Between five and six million feet of lumber was destroyed. The burned area covers between twelve and fifteen acres and is flanked on either side by woodworking industries, including the yards and factories of the Canadian Match and Splint Companies, immediately to the west, but behind the path of the flames.
The scene of the fire parallels the main business street of the town only two blocks away. For three hours millions of dollars of property was in jeopardy. Scores of people removed their household effects from their homes and an hour after the alarm sounded the town generally prepared itself for the worst. It was a spectacular fire. Driven by a high northwest wind, the flames leapt from one lumber pile to another, until over three hundred were on fire. The air space used for drying purposes only served as a vacuum for the flames and the ordinary hydrant stream vanished into steam immediately it struck the outer edges of the fire.
Flames shot up hundreds of feet into the air and heavy clouds of smoke hung over the entire town and countryside. Historic Sawmill Saved. The historic sawmill of the Pembroke Lumber Co., built in 1860, and which has cut millions upon millions of feet of virgin pine of the Ottawa Valley, was saved, owing to the heroic efforts of the Pembroke and Renfrew fire departments, and of the mill workmen using their own fire-fighting equipment. This mill and other buildings and wharves along the river front repeatedly caught fire but were quickly put out.
The whole area for blocks around was thoroughly drenched, records showing that over two million gallons of water was pumped at the municipal station, not taking into account what was taken from the river by the gasoline pumpers of the Pembroke and Renfrew fire departments. It was early realized that it was a fruitless task to fight the fire proper and that efforts should be confined to saving adjoining property.
The news of the threatened conflagration spread rapidly to adjoining towns and proffers of aid came from almost every town between here and Ottawa, including Ottawa City. At five o’clock, half an hour after the fire started, Mayor Duff phoned Renfrew for assistance and the creamery town fire-fighters immediately responded, making the forty-four mile trip here in an hour and twenty minutes.
The firemen did not let up until seven o’clock this morning, meals and hot drinks being served at the scene of the fire. Several of the firemen were overcome, but were able to resume. The intense heat could be felt for blocks away. It is believed that a bathing party of small boys who used a lumber pile as a dressing shelter and smoking place, was responsible for the fire which for three hours threatened the entire town.
A high northwest wind which carried the covers off the lumber piles for hundreds of yards through the air and which blew directly into the business section, suddenly veered to the southwest at seven in the evening and the situation was saved. Loss Put at $350,000. E. Dunlop, president or the Pembroke Lumber Co., today stated that the lumber was all of export number one grade, cut over the last four seasons and which had not moved owing to stagnation in the lumber industry.
He placed the loss at a quarter of a million dollars and stated that his company was one hundred percent, insured. Some of the lumber destroyed had recently been sold, Mr. Dunlop said, and he did not know whether or not insurance had been placed on this by the purchasers. He corrected a report that a section of the lumber burned was the property of the J. R. Booth Company.
Sawing for this company was due to commence tomorrow morning and would be proceeded with. Sawing operations would not be interfered with by the fire, he said, his company having between six and eight weeks piling ground available outside the fire area. The burned-over yards are a mass of wreckage, the steel rails being twisted in every conceivable form by the intense heat. The fire will smoulder for days.
The Canadian Match and Splint Corporations, with an investment of over two millions, only a stone’s throw away from the origin of the fire, took every precaution. Streams of water played constantly’on their plants and lumber exceeding ten million feet of matchwood. The chemical building was emptied of Its content, which were taken out of danger. The general opinion in Pembroke today is that the town is very fortunate in having escaped a repetition of the conflagrations which visited the town In 1908 and 1918.
Both Mr. Dunlop. of the Pembroke Lumber Co., and Mr. Woodruff, general manager of the Canadian Match Co., are high in their praise of the manner In whim the situation was handled by Fire Chief Dry and his men, assisted by the Renfrew fire department.
The town of Pembroke, about one hundred and twenty miles up the river from Ottawa, was founded in 1828 by Col. Peter White, a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, who was for many years one of the principal timber merchants of the Ottawa Valley. His sons have been actively engaged in the lumber business and by their enterprise have done much to build up their native town. Hon. Peter White, born at Pembroke August 30, 1838, after receiving a business training from an Ottawa mercantile firm, entered into partnership with his brother, Andrew T. White, now deceased, as A. & P. White, and for many years carried on an extensive lumber business which is still continued under the firm name. Mr. White is known best, perhaps, as an active politician. He was elected to Parliament in the Conservative interest for North Renfrew in 1874 and, with the exception of a brief interval, represented the constituency steadily until 1896. He was chosen Speaker of the House in 1891 and held that position during a parliamentary term, until 1896, in which year he was defeated in the general election. He carried the constituency again in 1904. Mr. White is a member of the Privy Council of Canada, to which he was called in 1897. He is a director of the Pembroke Lumber Company and is prominently identified with many local commercial enterprises. His brother and business partner, Andrew T. White, was also in public life and for some time represented North Renfrew in the Ontario Legislature.
There was a man in the 1860s who was not half native but also hailed of German descent named Norman Bernhardt. He was a really strong man and hailed from Otter Lake and worked for the John Gillies Lumber Yard in Braeside. Although he strong as no other he only measured only 5 foot 8 inches. One of the tales that is still carried on to this day was that he lifted three pork barrels end to end. A barrel of pork weighed 240 pounds in those days, but he mastered this very impressive feat.
On another occasion while working at Bertrand Lake, he carried 14 bags of oats a distance of a mile and a half over a portage. The oats averaged 72 pounds a bag. That would make the weight he carried a little over nine hundred pounds.
A well known Ottawa Valley lumberman who told this story but did not want his name used, for fear he would be branded as a stretcher of the truth says that six or seven of the bags were carried by means of a *tump line and the remaining bags were piled on top of the man’s head and shoulders. Believe It or not.
The third and last feat of strength credited to this gentleman took place in Otter Lake. It is alleged that on this occasion that he carried a weight of 2.200 pounds of wheat a distance of over 100 feet. Hard to Believe.
I kind of have to think twice at this story, but there were undoubtedly some remarkable men that existed in our local history. and Andrew White of Pembroke, the millionaire lumberman of Pembroke, and champion lifter of of the Ottawa Valley. So we put the feats of this man in the records in the legends sections.
*A tumpline (/tump-lyne/) is a strap attached at both ends to a sack, backpack, or other luggage and used to carry the object by placing the strap over the top of the head. This utilizes the spine rather than the shoulders as standard backpack straps do.
I finally have in my hand the death notices of the Gillies family and feel like I have been entrusted to find out as much as I can about each one of them. The death notice of John Stark Gillies was tucked away with a photo of a woman whose image had been taken in Washington D.C. Who was this person? No matter how hard I tried I could not seem to find a Gillies who lived in that part of the world. So while some of this story about the life of John Stark Gillies is factual, the woman’s life is not and remains a mystery.
On the 23rd of October 1938 John Stark Gillies, age 70, president of the Gillies Company was reported to have had a heart attack at the stroke of midnight. Widely recognized in all parts of the lumbering business, the late J. S. Gillies was president of a family business that bore his name and that of his grandfather, father and brothers.
John was born in Carleton Place in 1868, a son of the late James Gillies and Eleanor Ackland and was educated in the local public and High School and later attended Queen’s University in Kingston Was this woman a friend from his educational days that he had maintained contact with throughout the years?
I envisioned this Edwardian soap-and-water beauty unassuming and funny and actually felt her spirit tripping over something at John’s funeral with her soft laughter heard throughout the building.
On October 9th,1920 John married Margaret Russell of Arnprior who I am sure was aware or was friends with this woman. I looked for signs in the photo and wondered why she was unmarried or had she been? Was she simply a spinster friend of the family?
John Gillies took great interest in the affairs of the Braeside community which was made up mostly of Gillies employees. From that first sawmill that was erected above the village of Lanark on the Clyde branch of the Mississippi in 1842 to later moving to Carleton Place family history was made.
In 1853, Peter MacLaren became a partner of the Gillies and the firm became known as the Gillies and MacLaren Company. The second timber limit was acquired by the company, the Gilmour Limit on the Mississippi River in 1862. To cut the timber for this second limit, a second mill was opened in 1866 in Carleton Place. There the firm operated under the name of Gillies and MacLaren and this quiet but studious deep thinking man was known to have 100s of volumes of books in his library. Did this friend of his past spend occasional summer nights with the family reading books and discussing the affairs of the world?
The death of John Stark Gillies brought a profound loss to his hundreds of friends, not only in Braeside, but throughout the Ottawa Valley. Gillies always had great concern for his employees and was said to have no human failings by friends. What advice, would this woman in the photograph doled out to him if she had the chance to be at his deathbed?
The newspaper article said more than 70 cars left his late Braeside residence for Arnprior the day of his funeral to where his interment occurred. Beautiful floral tributes covering areas from floor to ceiling filled Mr. Gillies home. The funeral parlour car was filled to the top with tributes and the cortege followed by many people on foot who slowly left the home for services.
In imagining the mystery female sitting in the sixth row at his funeral, I could see myself in this woman. She had lived a small life, as do most of us, but the world she carefully assembled was rich and meaningful in ways she never grasped, and John S Gillies appreciated her being in his life.
As the pallbearers: Robert Campbell, Brodie and Allan Gillies, and nephews Arnold and Kenneth Muirhead walked solemnly into the church carrying the body of John Stark Gillies you noticed that she didn’t quite fit into the family’s lifestyle. I could detect that she was holding something back in the old faded photo now sitting beside my computer.
Among the 100s of floral tributes that grazed the church her single flower revealed that it just didn’t take much for her to make a difference every day. Maybe she didn’t get to say goodbye and tell John how much his friendship meant due to the abrupt timing of his death. There is a lesson there as she probably didn’t need to say anything because her daily life was a kiss of love to all.
Three brothers and sisters remained after he died as well as his wife. Siblings A. J. Gillies, G. A. Gillies, D. A. Gillies, Mrs. W. J. Muirhead, Mrs. N. S. Robertson and Mrs. K. C. Campbell remained to carry on the Gillies traditions.
I imagined that in the end she was just someone who once bought a ticket to the world of being friends with John Stark Gillies. She is you and she is us and she endured the most painful goodbye of words never explained or said. But now I’ve come back again Why do I find it hard to write the next line? Oh, I want the truth to be said I know this much is true
A fire was discovered in the lumberyard of Mr. Peter McLaren about nine Tuesday night. At that time it was so small that it might easily have been quickly extinguished had the water been convenient.
The fire began in the extensive piles centre of dry lumber and it rapidly spread in all directions along with a section of ties and rails of the Canada Central Railway. There was scarcely anything could be done to stop its progress. Mr. McLaren telegraphed to Almonte, Arnprior, Smith’s Falls, Brockville and Ottawa, for the assistance of fire engines, and these places responded as quickly as they could.
The Almonte engine was drawn up with horses, their men being too anxious to wait the arrival of the train. They also had support from hundreds of local Carleton Place citizens helping where they could. The quantity of lumber in the yard, before the mills began cutting in the spring was roughly estimated at 13,000,000 feet, worth at the very least $100,000.
Nearly the entire yard was swept with fire, only a few piles being left standing at one end. Several houses, one owned by a section man were burned. The lumberyard was all but reduced to ashes and the engines remained over night to watch the burning debris, but their services were not required. Mr. McLaren only had insurance of $50,000 on his lumber and the loss was severe. The fire was supposed to have originated from sparks from the express train going north at noon.
The fact the fire broke out on a windless day was a good thing or the entire town of Carleton Place would have been destroyed. A lengthy business depression placed severe limits on the country’s prosperity. Western migration of the district’s sons continued, and began to reach the new province of Manitoba. Canadian courts determined that the blaze had been kindled by sparks from a passing railway engine, but the CPR appealed and the matter was not settled until the Privy Council in London held the railway company liable. The lumber firm’s loss was recovered from $50,000 in insurance and $100,000 in damages paid when court decisions holding the railway company responsible were upheld five years later in England.
Why am I documenting a planing mill? When I grew up as a child I lived next door to a lumber yard and down the street was the local sawmill. Some of my fondest memories are playing in that lumberyard and there is nothing like the smell of fresh cut wood.
Perth Courier, June 11, 1970
Perth Planing Mill
A few weeks ago, the Perth Planing Mill held its 120th anniversary celebration—this mill having begun operation in Perth when Alex Kippen founded the company in 1850. Mr. Kippen had attended school at Tayside in Scotland before coming to Perth in 1833. Between 1833 and 1850 he was the man responsible for the construction of the town hall at a cost of $10,000, the Bank of Montreal and many of the stately homes on Drummond Street.
The Planing Mill’s main function in those days was the manufacture of wood products mainly windows and doors. Custom lumber for farm work took up a large part of the business.
Alexander Kippen, son of Duncan Kippen, worked with the planning mill up to the time of his appointment as postmaster. It was then that the youngest son, also named Alex Kippen (and the father of Mrs. N.E. Sproule who still lives in Perth) took over the business.
When the youngest son of the founder ran the business he formed a partnership with William Allen who had a saw mill at the far end of Peter Street by the Tay River. The two worked together for some years with Mr. Allen shipping lumber up to the mill where Mr. Kippen and his 20 employees turned it into sashes and doors. Eventually, this partnership fell through and a few years later Peter Clement took over the mill. He ran it for a few years and then his son Bill Clement took over the operations.
25 years ago Bob McLenaghan began working part time at the mill. He used to deliver lumber by horse and cart. Soon Mr. McLenaghan went into partnership with Mr. Clement and later took over total operation of the planning mill.
There was only one serious and perhaps exciting moment in the long history of the mill. 20 years ago lightening struck the tall smokestack on Sunday afternoon. Fire was raging throughout the building when the doors were opened but the building was saved from any really serious damage by the fire fighters and others on hand.
Mrs. Sproule recollects her father checking the mill every evening for fire hazards. She said her father was very proud of the fact that they had no fires. Today the mill is still in the hands of Bob McLenaghan and his son John works at the mill as assistant manager. Mr. McLenaghan is proud of the fact that the Perth Planing Mill is the second oldest lumber yard in Ontario. The oldest is situated in southern Ontario.
The roots of Perth Planing Mill begin when Alexander Kippen commences a woodworking business at 44 Wilson St. west manufacturing sash, door and blinds, which then grows to include a planing operation.
Kippens Mill purchases 350,000 bdft of lumber at $14/thousand
P.W. Clement Purchases the Company and eventually changes the name to Perth Planing Mill. Continual advancements are made to facilities and operations, paving the way towards retailing
A Partnership is formed between William Clement and R.C. McLenaghan, and the business continues to evolve, primarily into a retail lumber and building materials (LBM) operation.
Under John McLenaghan the company grows to include a broader range of retail products, larger warehousing, modern delivery equipment, and a number of LBM industry banners
The current operation resides at 25 Lanark Rd. While the planer has ceased operating, the retail operations continue in a larger and more focused format. Now in its 3rd McLenaghan generation, PPM Supply offers indoor lumber storage, an exceptional delivery service, and a selection of products for those focused on
the business of residential, agricultural and light commercial construction.