Tag Archives: mclaren

McLaren’s Phosphate Mine — BurgessWood Housing– Anglo Canadian Phosphate Company

McLaren’s Phosphate Mine — BurgessWood Housing– Anglo Canadian Phosphate Company
The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
10 Jan 1881, Mon  •  Page 1

In addition to his holdings in Virginia, Peter McLaren also had mining interests closer to home. In 1901 he acquired mines at North Burgess Township from the Anglo Canadian Phosphate Company which had abandoned work on the property a decade earlier when the market price of phosphates had fallen to unprofitable levels. Open trench pits had
originally been dug for extracting apatite49, but McLaren worked them for mica50. In 1910 he made the property and mines a wedding gift to his son William (1880-1932) and daughter-in-law Anna Gemmell McLaren (1884-1975). The mica mine went out of production again in 1923, but William and Anna continued to live on the property. Today the site is occupied by the BurgessWood housing development. Perth Historical Society

Phosphate rock is processed to produce phosphorous, which is one of the three main nutrients most commonly used in fertilizers (the other two are nitrogen and potassium). Phosphate can also be turned into phosphoric acid, which is used in everything from food and cosmetics to animal feed and electronics

Mining in BurgessWoodclick here
BurgessWood, a community on the northwest shore of Otty Lake, was once the site of active
apatite and mica mines. The following is excerpted, with permission, from “BurgessWood:
Evolution of a Community,” published by the BurgessWood Property Owners’ Association in

By the year of Confederation, 1867, Perth was a well-established town. But the north shore of
Otty Lake likely remained at least partly virgin forest, old-growth trees towering above the land.
Native people continued to camp sometimes around the lake, where they hunted and fished for
bass, perch, and pike. Logging had begun on nearby land owned by Perth businessmen, and
small-scale mining activities were starting up.

That same year, twenty-year-old Isaac Kenyon arrived at Otty Lake from Manchester, England.
Isaac’s father, Hartley Kenyon, owned shares in the mining operations in North Burgess (now
Tay Valley) township near Otty Lake. Isaac arrived to look into the prospects for his father’s
investment. Isaac Kenyon found work as an analyst for the mining company, operating a
geological laboratory. He boarded just down the road from the mine with the William Watts
family on what is now the Norris property on Otty Lake Sideroad.

The mining operation where young Isaac Kenyon worked extracted two minerals: apatite, a type
of phosphate used in making fertilizer; and mica, used in a variety of industrial applications, such
as electrical insulation and isinglass for oven doors. These two minerals tend to be found
together, along with others such as feldspar and quartzite.
The first recorded commercial shipment of apatite in Canada came from North Burgess
township. Over the years between the 1860s and 1920s, a series of operators leased or owned the
mineral rights on Lots 4, 5, and 6 of Concession 8 in North Burgess, in and around present-day

The mines were of the open pit type—narrow trenches that were normally shallow but could
occasionally run as deep as 100 feet. The mineral output was usually destined for export to either
Germany or Great Britain. The product was transported by scow from a bay on the north shore of
Otty Lake, now called Apatite Bay. From there it travelled to the lake’s south shore, then by
wagon or sleigh to Rideau Ferry, whence it was shipped to Montreal via the Rideau Canal.
Of the various operators, the Anglo-Canadian Phosphate Company maintained the largest
operation, employing about 20 miners on average. Eventually mica would overtake apatite as the
area’s main product.

In 1901, Senator Peter McLaren acquired the mining property lying within present-day
BurgessWood. The property had been idle for 10 years after the Anglo-Canadian Phosphate
Company abandoned it, because of a drop in market prices. Senator McLaren resumed mining
for mica and apatite.

Peter McLaren’s son, William, and William’s wife, Anna Gemmell McLaren, moved there after
their marriage in 1910 to assume responsibility for operating the mines. Many pits had originally
been opened for extracting apatite, but the main pit, a narrow open-cut trench 75 feet deep and
only 10 feet wide, was now being worked for mica.

The mining property included a large frame boarding house with bunks and a communal dining
room for the miners. There were also stables for the horses used in the mining work, and a
culling shed for trimming the mica by hand into commercially usable sheets. The culling shed
was located on what is now 1031 McLaren Road. The place was deserted every winter until the
miners came back to work in the spring.

Just to the west of the miners’ boarding house, the McLarens built a simple white frame home
and named it Forest Lodge. Eventually the McLarens added another log dwelling to the property
now identified as 1049 McLaren Road. Embedded in a hillside was a stone storehouse used to
keep food and possibly dynamite for the mining operations. Nearby were a stone drinking trough
for horses, a well, and a pump. These latter artifacts, as well as the storehouse, can still be seen at
present-day 1062 McLaren Road.

The mining operations came to an end in 1923, as the market for its product petered out.
While current-day volunteers were blazing hiking trails in the area, they discovered remnants of
the mica operations left behind by miners nearly a century ago. Alongside a long deep trench,
they found remains of barrels and buckets, with wooden staves and rusted iron rings partially
intact. There was also a piece of iron driven into a tree, part of a winch system for raising
buckets of mica out of the pit. These evocative artifacts of another era can still be seen on the

As well, an ore wagon was found on the old McLaren property in present-day BurgessWood,
near the couple’s two houses and the miners’ bunkhouse. As the developer of BurgessWood, Dr.
Grover Lightford donated the wagon to the Silver Queen mine at Murphy’s Point Provincial
Park, and members of the BurgessWood maintenance committee volunteered to restore it.

Similar mines in Lanark County

Otty Lake Mine
Location: Lot l, concession VIII, North Burgess township,
Lanark county.
Minerals Present: Apatite, mica, scapolite, pyrite, marcasite
Development: The mine was worked in 1871 by Edward Schultze,
in 1873 by Messrs. Morris and Griffin and in
1908 to 1910 by R. Mcconnell. The main opening
is 100 feet long, 15 feet wide and about 40 feet

Geology: Mica and apatite occur in pink calcite at the contact
of dark pyroxenite and dark biotite gneiss. The
mica crystals are badly crushed.
References: de Schmid (1912, p. 176); Spence (1920, p. 55)

Lot 2, Concession VIII
Location: Lot 2, concession VIII, North Burgess township,
Lanark county
Minerals Present: Apatite, mica, calcite, scapolite, wilsonite,
Development: This phosphate mine is reputed to be the first
worked in Canada having been opened in 1855. It
was worked in 1870 by R. Matheson of Perth who
opened a pit 60 feet long and 15 feet deep. The
property was acquired by Kent Brothers in 1907
and the largest pit was 60 feet long, 25 feet
wide and 25 feet deep.
Geology: Mica and apatite occur irregularly in pockets in
leads in light grey pyroxenite.
Reference: Spence (1920, p. 55).

Lot 3, Concession VIII
Location: Lot 3, concession VIII, North Burgess township,
Lanark county.

Minerals Present: Apatite, mica.
Development: Apatite was mined on this lot in 1870 from an
8-foot vein by Messrs. Ritchie and Jackson of
Belfast. A shaft was sunk to 30 feet on a 3-
foot vein and drifting was carried out in both
directions on the vein. Several smaller pits
were opened and about 1000 tons of apatite is
said to have been mined. The mine was worked
in 1908 by Kent Brothers of Kingston for mica.

Geology: The mica-apatite veins strike northwest and southeast and average 2 feet in width. Narrow bands of
pyroxenite separate the veins from the country rock
References: de Schmid (1912, p. 178); Spence (1920, p. 56).

Read-Otty Lake Settlement
Most of the following was taken from “A History of Otty Lake” by David E. Code, 2006. CLICK HERE
The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
22 Jun 1883, Fri  •  Page 1
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
22 Feb 1887, Tue  •  Page 3
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
22 Sep 1970, Tue  •  Page 11

Pioneer Mica Miners

25 years ago the late Miss Lillian Smith of Perth donated a now century old six ledger book to the Perth Museum.  The ledger was originally part of the American Mica Mining Company operating in North Burgess Township during 1864-65.  This pay roll lists the names of many well known district families.  To say nothing of showing the differences in wages paid miners 100 years ago and today.

The first name entered in the ledger is that of Thomas Stapleton, a blaster.  For the week ending September 24, 1864, Thomas received $5 for four days work at $1.25 per day.  Thomas McPharland, pitman, was paid $4.80 for a six day stint at 80 cents a day.  John McPharland, a dresser, worked one day that week for 30 cents.  For the week ending October 1, Owen Powers, foreman, was reimbursed to the tune of $7.50 ($1.25 per day).  G.N. Randall, superintendent of the cutting and directing, was paid $3.21 per day, definitely “top brass” earnings.  But he was still far from the class of engineer F. Poole (F. Poole and Associates) whose salary was $6 per day.  A. Castle, described as a “superintendent” was paid $1 per day and granted $8.35 in “expenses” from Montreal to the mines.  It may be that Mr. Castle was some sort of supervisor whose duties were dignified with a fine sounding title somewhat like discreetly referring to today’s garbage men as “sanitary engineers”.

One hundred years ago the company paid out an average of $219 per week in wages and salaries for 104 days work and a work day was ten hours long.  This means that the hourly rates were as follows:  blaster, twelve and a half cents; pitman, eight cents; dresser, three cents; foreman, twelve and a half cents; superintendent of cutting and dressing, thirty two cents; engineer, sixty cents.

In the interests of genealogy, a reproduction of the names in the list on the ledger is given:

Foremen:  Owen Powers and Peter Powers

Balster:  Bernard Berns

Pitmen:  Pat White, Peter White, Michael McPharland (#1), Michael McPharland (#2), Thomas McPharland, Francis McPharland, Lawrence Russell, Thomas Stapleton, Thomas Darcy, Michael Darcy, Owen McCann, Michael Carrens, John McNamee, T. Queen, Alexander Parks, Thomas Burns, Arthur Donnelly, Hugh McShane, Hugh Kelly, Michael White, John Ryan, William Whitelaw, James McLade (this could have been McGlade).

Striker:  Peter Martin

Balsters:  John Donnelly, Thomas Donnelly, Pat K. Morgan, Arthur Fagan, Thomas Drennan, Michael Hanley, Joseph Bennett, Henry Miles, Pat Quinn, Lawrence Russell, Owen Loy

Dresser:  John Stapleton

Related Reading

A List of Local Mines

The Greer Gold Mines — Historical Mining Claim Maps

The Life Times and Sinking of Black Donald Mines

Tales from the Mines —Kingdon Mine Part 3

Tales from the Mines —Kingdon Mine Part 2

Kingdon Mine Led Galetta Area from a Boomtown to a Ghost Town

Lost Mines — Clyde Forks Mine

When History Comes to You–A Visit from Middleville

Clyde forks Mine- Dualsport

Deed of Mines? Linda’s Mailbag — Amy De Ridder

Gold Mines and Disappearances

Is there Still Gold on Wellesley Island ?

Did Anyone Find the Lost Barrel of Silver Coins That Lies at the Bottom of the Rideau Canal?

What Happened to the Gold on the Ramsay 7th line?

Gold in Dem Dar Hills of Lanark

So What Happened to the Marble at the Tatlock Mine?

My Daddy was a Miner — was Yours?

The Mysterious Tatlock Mine

The Early Days of Working in the Ramsay Mine — Going Down Down Down

Looking for the Artist of this Carleton Place Painting-The Lime Kiln

A Giant’s Kettle in the Middle of Lanark County

Where Were the Miracle Salt Springs in Pakenham? I Love a Challenge!

Gold Mines and Disappearances

Carleton Place Then and Now–Bridge Street Series–Volume 16– Newman’s Ha

You Can Explore This Haunted Ghost Town For A Creepy Adventure In Ontario

Are you brave enough to visit after dark?

Once-Busy Graphite Mine Site Ottawa Valley “Ghost Town”–One third of the ore was new, coming from the support pillars of solid graphite left in the old workings.
The balance was being reclaimed from old tailings. Newer separation methods were getting values of 60 percent
carbon from what had been considered waste. Some $390,000.00 was earned that year.
The final cave in came on a Sunday afternoon in July, five years ago Jim Bridges had returned to the surface
of the Ross shaft, from an inspection tour of the sump pumps on the 300 foot level. The hoist man was
complaining of the heat, and wanted to swap jobs.
Down behind his general store, Jack Wilson was taking some dinner scraps to his hound, who had been trying
valiantly to make himself heard in Mount St. Patrick! Filling the dog’s dish, he whirled suddenly to the lake
where a mighty roar had begun. As he watched, a giant hole opened in the water, and what looked like Niagara
Falls began to tumble into the crater. CLICK for the rest here…http://www.bytown.net/blackdonaldmines.htm

Clippings Of the McLaren Case The Scandal That Rocked Lanark County

Clippings Of the McLaren Case The Scandal That Rocked Lanark County

If you read

McLaren Left it All to the McLeod Sisters–His Maids!


Daniel McLaren was William Muirhead’s uncle, the brother of his mother Agnes. He also was  a bachelor and very well to do. Mary McLeod and her sister Isabella were Daniel’s housekeepers and apparently upon his death when his will was read; he had left his estate to the McLeod sisters.

And so it began

 - on case. The action Is brought by consent by J....


Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 21 May 1902, Wed,
  3. Page 5

 - j er. I did not open the valise and I do DID IT...

 - II GO IP IN SMOKE Continued from Page Five. but...


 - as By all I I I a I Mc-Kerracher, McKer-racher...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 23 May 1902, Fri,
  3. Page 8
  4.  - 0VER- fit-too t : the Reifler- en the a...

 - Dis-positiop sub-sequently Mc-Laren'g i ' j...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 24 May 1902, Sat,
  3. Page 13



Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 22 May 1902, Thu,
  3. Page 2


  1. Clipped from

    1. The Ottawa Citizen,
    2. 03 May 1902, Sat,
    3. Page 9
  2. historicalnotes
  3.  - e l in I'erth thiw morning that i iot i ie...

    Clipped from Page 10 Oct 2. 1902

 - McLaren will case. Court of Appeal Decides That...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 03 Oct 1903, Sat,
  3. Page 5

So who won?

 - When the news reached town last evening that...

lipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 19 Nov 1903, Thu,
  3. Page 7


John A StewartJohn A. Stewart, McLaren’s nephew

In 1896 COL. A.J. MATHESON, became the proprietor and editor with CAPT. J.W. MOTHERWELL as publisher.  Both these worthy newspaper men have also passed to the great beyond.  In 1886 CHAS. F. STONE, fresh from Perth Collegiate, entered the Expositor as “printer’s devil,” and completed his apprenticeship in September, 1890, when he secured a position on the Deseronto Tribune, later on the Wiarton Echo and the Petrolia Advertiser.  In 1893, on account of the illness of Capt. Montherwell, Mr. Stone was offered the position of publisher and accepted it in March of that year.  Three years later, after Col. Matheson had received the endorsation of the electors of South Lanark to represent them in the Provincial Legislature, the control of the Expositor passed into the hands of Mr. Stone, who was its editor and proprietor until early in 1914, when he was appointed Collector of Inland Revenue.  His son, the late HAROLD E. STONE, who was killed overseas, published it until December 1914, when the Expositor passed into the hands of Mr. John A. Stewart. Perth Remembered


In 1900 a bottle of McLaren’s “old Perth malt whiskey” sold for 90 cents; 80 cents if you brought your own bottle. Today, an empty McLaren bottle with label intact sells for as high as $5 in antique shops across Ontario.  One collector of old bottles predicted in twenty years the price for these fast disappearing artifacts of old Perth would go as high as $15 each.  Full bottles of which there are still a few left just are not for sale at any price.

Despite the disparagement in prices now and in the old days, John A. McLaren, Perth’s whiskey king, managed to eke out a fairly comfortable living.  In fact, he became one of the town’s wealthiest businessmen and his product was known to hundreds or thousands of Canadians from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

John A. was one of the first liquor manufacturers to put out what is known as “mickies” (12 oz bottles) on the Canadian market.  The product came in amber with clear bottles the latter having a bluish tinge.

The McLaren distillery was founded in 1831 by Robert McLaren, father of John A. , who followed the traditions of the great Scotch whiskey manufacturers of his day, many of which are still going strong.  “Old Perth Malt” had a unique flavor due to wood being used in the malt making, rather than peat as used in Scotland and Ireland.  Its Canadian contemporaries were made in four days while McLaren was processed a full 30 days.

One of the wealthiest if not the wealthiest manufacturing establishments in Perth was the McLaren Distillery, located on what is now Stewart Park directly behind the home of Mayor E.S. Burchell on Market Square.  Opposite the mayor’s house stood the McLaren stables, which boasted more than 100 bulls happily thriving on the mash left over from malt making.

Stewart Park might well stand today as a monument to John A. McLaren as well as to John A. Stewart for it was from the enterprising “booze king” that the Stewart fortune and holdings were acquired.  Stewart, a relative of McLaren’s, was the principal heir in the malt maker’s will and himself became a national figure in business and politics.  He served as M.P. for Lanark and entered the Bennett cabinet as Minister of Railways and Canals.

When John A. McLaren died at the turn of the century, Stewart continued the operation of the distillery along with other enterprises including the Henry K. Wampole Company and later the Perth Expositor.  He was described as a shrewd businessman and opportunist as well as a master of litigation.

Perhaps Stewart’s finest display of legal finesse came with the handling of the McLaren will.  Although he proved to be the legal heir, it took a bit of explaining to the powers that be before the fortunes of his kinsman could be added to Stewart’s coffers.

“Old Perth Malt Whiskey has gained such a high reputation among the judges of fine liquor it is regarded as non-injurious and has become a household staple where other whiskies would not be tolerated” said the proponents of the day.

Unfortunately, despite the eloquent pleas put forth by the hidden persuaders of yesteryear, the Ontario Temperance Act disagreed and in 1917 “Perth Old Malt Whiskey” along with its imitators was banished from the Ontario market.  Prohibition had descended on the land and the whiskey sellers, the licensed ones at least, were left with empty shelves. Article from The Perth Courier– Perth Remembered

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.


Perth’s Millionaire Bachelor – Who Inherited His Fortune? — arlene stafford wilson

The Continuing Saga of Christena McEwen Muirhead—The McLaren Mill

McLaren Left it All to the McLeod Sisters–His Maids!

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 10- Code Family – I conjured to myself: “You will know me later!” And Peter McLaren did.

For the Love of Money-Gillies Gilmours and the McLarens


The Day Carleton Place was Nearly Wiped Out!

The Day Carleton Place was Nearly Wiped Out!



Site of the big lumber mill

May 1879

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.


Clipped from The Kane Weekly Blade,  05 Jun 1879, Thu,  Page 2


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.





Clipped from The Daily Review29 May 1879, ThuPage 4




Clipped from Fort Scott Daily Monitor28 May 1879, WedPage 1


Perth Courier, January 29, 1904

The Carleton Place Herald says:  By odds the most destructive fire which has visited Carleton Place was that of Monday afternoon, barring the destruction of the McLaren Lumber Yard in 1879.


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)




Connor Family Lanark Fire- National Media

When The Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror!- Volume 1- Part 2

The “Chosen Friends” of Carleton Place –The Fire of 1904