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.
photo-Elaine Rothwell Hanna
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