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Peter McCallum — From Brown and Wylie Mill Employee to The King of Mack’s No Rub Laundry Soap

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Peter McCallum — From Brown and Wylie Mill Employee to The King of Mack’s No Rub Laundry Soap

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
21 Nov 1936, Sat  •  Page 21

Peter McCallum was born in the township of Goulburn in 1859, a son of James McCallum and Esther MacKay, Scottish pioneer settlers. After serving an apprenticeship with the Brown Flour Mills of Carleton Place. He came to Almonte and the following year was married to the former Jane Moore McNeely of Appleton, a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Thomas McNeely.

Almonte in those days was a thriving textile town and as might be expected Mr. McCallum took up this work, serving for a time as foreman in the shawl factory of William Wylie and continuing for a number of years as an employee in that plant after it had been purchased by the late James Wylie and converted into a flannel mill.

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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 Jul 1952, Wed  •  Page 8

One department over which McCallum had control over at Wylie’s Mill was the dyeing and scouring of the woollens and it was there he conceived the idea of making a soap in tablet form designed to lessen the labor of wash day. After a considerable period of service in the textile plants, Mr. McCallum felt the urge to strike out for himself in a business of his own. He had secured a formula for making a new kind of laundry soap that was particularly effective as a water softener and after working on the idea for some time and improving it in various ways, he started to market his product.  In a crude way he sought to develop those ideas, evolution brought improvement and the result was the widely-used “No-Rub” products that found a market a market in all parts of Canada.

From a small beginning the business developed by leaps and bounds. Mr. McCallum’s son, John D., became associated with him and as time passed new lines of soap making were added and the requisite machinery installed. A lover of fine scenery he did much to improve the appearance of the town in various places. He was prime mover in constructing two miniature parks affording a fine view of the falls, one of which was completed only a week or so before his death.

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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
06 Sep 1950, Wed  •  Page 23

November 12 1936–Almonte Gazette

Mr. McCallum Reported To Be Making Good Progress In Hospital. People of Almonte and district will be glad to learn that Mayor Peter McCallum, who underwent an operation at the Civic Hospital, Ottawa, Saturday morning, is progressing favorably. Mr. McCallum went to the Ottawa hospital about two weeks ago to undergo treatment and after he had been under observation for some time an operation was deemed necessary. In the absence of the Mayor, Reeve W. W. Watchorn returned from the November session of Lanark County Council to preside at the last regular meeting of Almonte Council, Tuesday night. 

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Mack’s No-Rub, Cake….5 cents each-Almonte is also the modest source of Mack’s No Rub, washday friend of many a thrifty Canadian housewife. Who’s “Mac?” He’s John D. MacCallum who could tell you some interesting facts about the town’s popular lawn bowling green. Almonte is proud of its efficient house of mercy, the Rosamond Memorial Hospital, endowed long ago by the famous miller and members of his family, the latest gift coming from Mrs. Alex Rosamond.

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
21 Nov 1936, Sat  •  Page 10

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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
23 Nov 1936, Mon  •  Page 3

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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
23 Nov 1936, Mon  •  Page 3

historicalnotes

Their house was built in 1916 by Peter McCallum, a local businessman and local politician, serving Almonte as Chairman of the Roads and Bridges Committee during the 1920s and as Mayor of Almonte from 1931 to 1932 and from 1934 to 1936. Peter McCallum founded a company in Almonte known as Mack’s Laundry Specialty Company in 1908 and which became famous across the country from Halifax to Vancouver for its handmade laundry flakes and bars. They were known simply as “Mack’s Non-Rub”. The products were especially well known in Western Canada and in the supermarkets of the time; Loblaws, the A&P and Dominion stores all had standing orders for their Western stores. The factory and offices stood on Edward Street on a piece of land that ran between Water and Reserve Streets. The business closed when chemical bleaches and detergents were introduced. Peter McCallum moved to a smaller house on Country Street in 1937 and died a few months later. The house remained in the McCallum family, occupied by his son, John Duncan McCallum and his wife Madeleine until 1963. 

Mr. McCallum, who came from Carleton Place and his wife, Jane Moore McNeely of Appleton, acquired the property in 1916 and built on it the same year. Originally a much larger lot, successive sales and grants for other building lots have reduced the property to its current size of approximately 0.29 hectares (0.73 acres). The house sits well back from the street and contains mature evergreen and deciduous trees. The house is located towards the northeast corner of the lot, providing for lawns and garden to the south and west. On Country Street the boundary consists of an iron fence with stone gate posts and a cedar hedge.  From Mississippi Mills—

Karen Hirst— Was McCallum Soap Factory—side street off of Water Street was then called Edward Street, now McCallum Street. Maybe there was another soap factory on Water Street? No, McCallum Street off of Water Street. Was Edward when the soap factory was there but now McCallum—across from Agricultural grounds

During the Dirty 30’s in Oungre Saskatchewan, my father John Kerry recalls that Grandma Kerry used a ‘ No Rub Soap,’ that when used with their prairie alkaline water was the only soap to make a suds. Needless to say it was Grandma’s soap of choice! — the soap was ‘MacCallum Soap from the McCallum Soap Factory’.

Dad of course had no inkling at the time that the McCallum Soap Factory was located on McCallum Street,  just across the street from a future investment of his, in a little town called Almonte.

Barbara Joan Cook Karen Hirst I am sure you are right – I remember it being a rectangular building – black wood and it did not face onto Water – just one side of it. And oh …. the smells some days. I can remember holding my breath as I walked past it – good practice for those underwater swims.

More History on the Almonte Knitting Mills — Wylie Milling Company

Almonte in the 1950s

I will Wash Your Mouth Out with Soap!

What the Heck was Electric Soap? Chatterton House Hotel Registrar

As the World Turns in Carleton Place — Soap and Ground Beef

Who was Cody the Kid in Carleton Place? — Soap Box Memories