Tag Archives: ontario

Rosamond and Victoria Mill — Rosamond Journey from Carleton Place to Almonte

Rosamond and Victoria Mill — Rosamond Journey from Carleton Place to Almonte

The following article was published in 1954 in: “Textiles,” a leaflet published regularly by the Primary Textiles Institute of Canada, with headquarters in Toronto. When James Rosamond opened a wool cloth mill at Morphy’s Falls in the Ottawa Valley in 1845 it is doubtful whether he realized that he was founding one of Canada’s proudest, and later most unfortunate industries.

Rosamond moved the art of making wool textiles from the settlers’ home into an industrial plant and then for more than 100 years the industry developed with Canada, experiencing normal ups and downs but generally growing in stature. The Ottawa Valley remained the hub of the industry, but it spread out from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and the names of towns like Carleton Place (formerly Morphy’s Falls), Perth, Almonte, Renfrew, Arnprior, Appleton, Hespeler, Brantford) Lachute, Sherbrooke and Huntingdon became synonymous with fine woollens.

Through good times and bad the industry served the country well. Peak of operations was reached in the period 1948-1950. During World War II, mills provided millions of yards of Service fabric and in the immediate post-war era worked hard to meet the heavy accumulated demands they were expected to fill. The future was thought to hold promise. By 1950 the industry had some 16,000 workers in 200 mills and 146 communities and as a traditional Canadian industry was well established in towns where it was often the mainstay of the district. But then the industry became caught in an economic trap which had been set inadvertently fifteen years earlier, but which was only sprung by changing world conditions.

The stage was set in 1935 when the Canadian government, in the course of establishing tariffs on wool cloths entering this country from Great Britain, set a maximum duty to allow easy access to this market for a few English fabrics then considered to be in a “special” category. The blow began to fall about 1950 when increasing costs of raw wool, labour, chemicals machinery, etc., shoved most wool cloths into the bracket previously considered “special.”

The effective rate of the tariff on imports competing with Canadian cloths was greatly reduced and the duty no longer became anywhere near equalizing the wide differential in Canadian and English wages. The Labor Differential with most of their wool cloths entering Canada under a greatly reduced rate of duty English mills have been able during the past three or four years to take full advantage of their lower labour costs and shipments here have been increased in volume to take 40% of the entire market. Every yard of English wool cloth has been taken away from the Canadian industry and its workers.

Twenty eight mills have been closed. More than 6,000 people have lost their jobs and not all those remaining are working full time. Hardest hit have been Canada’s little “woollen” towns—in Renfrew the two mills that were the backbone of the town economy have closed, in Almonte employment dropped from 400 to about 45, at Carleton Place one mill closed and another is operating part-time, and in Huntingdon employment dropped from close to 700 to just over 200.

The story is the same almost everywhere. One of the casualties was James Rosamond’s historic business which was moved from Carleton Place to Almonte in 1857 and had operated there ever since. After being closed all last winter it now has 25 employees.

Mary Peden 1920s Carleton Place- Photo property Linda Seccaspina– Rosamond House in the background on Bell Street.The Peden Family- Genealogy– Peden Saunders Sadler
Victoria Woolen Factory (1830s)
  • The mill stood on river bank near James St. The Rosamond House (1838) which is still standing is at 37 Bell St.
  • James Rosamond operated a carding mill from 1838-1846 and then a custom carding and woolen mill from 1846 – 1857.

From the Carleton Place Walking Tour click — By the Carleton Place & District Chamber of Commerce


The Church Wardens of St. James Church here in 1845 were Catin Willis and James Rosamond, founder of the Rosamond textile manufacturing firm.

James Rosamond of Carleton Place, a shareholder of the short lived Ramsay corporation, then moved his woollen mill operations, the first in Eastern Ontario, from Carleton Place to Almonte as the founding of Almonte’s leading manufacturing enterprise.  He bought the site of the Ramsay Company’s mill and built a four storey stone building, later known as No. 2 Mill, which he opened in 1857.  Before its erection Samuel Reid and John McIntosh opened a small woollen factory in 1854 on the former site of the Boyce fulling mill.  James Rosamond, who lived until 1894, gave the management of his growing business in 1862 to his sons Bennett and William, who doubled its plant capacity and in 1866 admitted George Stephen, Montreal woollen manufacturer, as a partner.  He became Baron Mount Stephen, president of the Bank of Montreal and first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

The new Rosamond firm of 1866 began operations by buying the Island property of some sixteen acres and building its No. 1 Mill, then one of the finest in Canada.  Bennett Rosamond (1833-1910) was elected president of the Canadian Manufacturers  Association in 1890 and was Conservative Member of Parliament for North Lanark from 1892-1904.  He was president of the Almonte Knitting Company and in 1909 donated the Rosamond Memorial Hospital to the town.  He continued as head of the Rosamond Woollen Company until his death, when he was succeeded by Lieutenant Alex Rosamond (1873-1916).

A number of other woollen mills opened soon after the original Rosamond mill in Almonte.  Among the first were those of John McIntosh (1832-1904), a large frame building on the upper falls, and of John Baird (1820-1894) and Gilbert Cannon, all on Mill Street.  Sawmills, machine shops and iron foundries followed, including among the latter the foundry operated for a few years by John Flett (1836-1900).  A local real estate boom and flurry of inflated land speculation developed, only to collapse in a severe depression of the mid-seventies.  A fire loss of over $20,000 in 1877 destroyed the Cannon mill and the machinery of its lessee William H. Wylie, who moved to Carleton Place where he leased the McArthur (now Bates) woollen mill and later bought the Hawthorne woollen mill.  William Thoburn (1847-1928) began to manufacture flannels at Almonte in 1880 and became the head of the Almonte Knitting Company and Member of Parliament from 1908 to 1917.  Five textile mills in Almonte in 1904 were those of the Rosamond Woollen Company, William Thoburn, James H. Wylie Co. Limited, Almonte Knitting Company, and the Anchor Knitting Co. Limited.

The Rosamonds.

“For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see, Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would; Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails, Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales.”

Every age, of course, has its dreamers. The Vision which Lord Tennyson expressed in “Locksley Hall” was written in the year 1842. The words have a prophetic ring about them, and might lead the incautious reader to impute just a little less than angelic insight into Tennyson, and a great deal more that human dreaming.

Yet, today, four-hundred passenger jet-powered aircraft zip in magic argosies through the purple twilight, wings outspread to span the continent in a bound, like eagles beating the air currents over a mountain pass. Nuclear power is no longer a maverick, but submits tamely to the harness. Occasionally too, after successful splashdown, men returning from a two-week rocket trip to the moon are greeted and welcomed back on earth as only ordinary heroes. It is the succeeding age that learns that dreams never do match stride with reality.

James Rosamond was a businessman in Carleton Place, but he became a dreamer in Almonte. It was thirty years after the Scots and Irish had arrived in “the place with a falls on the Mississippi” as Peter Robinson described in, and then years after Tennyson’s “Locksley Hall” had been put into circulation, and only a few months before the suggestion was made that the village might be called after a Mexican general who was then prominent in the news of the day.

Three hundred people were living in the village situated above the falls in the Mississippi River. Daniel Shipman had a sawmill below the falls, and a square timber-making yard above. The place was usually referred to as Shipman’s Mills. The age-old roar of the river in flood as it went crashing through the gorge, this was the sound that sang in the ears of the inhabitants both by day and by night. Only when summer came in and the river subsided did the roaring cease, and in its place the sounds of settlement took over, the rasp and scrape of the saw, the snick snick of the broad axe, and the clank of chains holding the boom logs together as they lapped so slightly in the current of the river above the falls.

James Rosamond emigrated from Ireland in 1827, and, after getting established, he formed business interests in Carleton Place in 1832 which comprised a wood-working plant, a grinding mill, and a custom carding plant. In 1846 he expanded the woollen end of things by adding spinning machines, and in this way he was responsible for the start of the woollen manufacturing business in Carleton Place.

In 1851 he ventured capital to become a partner in another enterprise, the Ramsay Woolen Cloth Manufacturing Company. The company’s principal share holders were local people around Shipman’s Mill. Daniel Shipman, of course, was one of them, and James Rosamond now found himself partnered with a vigorous enterpriser, and the reputed founder of the place by the falls on the Mississippi.

They acquired a mill site beside the cataract and then erected a frame mill and set to work. Demand for woollen products was very good amongst the people on the farms in Ramsay and Huntley, the mill was the first woollen mill in the place, and the future looked good. Their venture marked the beginning of what was to become the major industry of the place for the next hundred years.

Disaster, however, struck a scant two months after the mill had been put into operation. Fire broke out. The mill was totally destroyed, and the company was forced by circumstances to close down. Two years later, in 1853, James Rosamond bought the site and prepared to rebuild on the same spot. Mr. Rosamond, however was from Ireland, and this time he resolved to build in stone.

That winter of 1853 was eventful in many ways. Circumstances were just right to make an ordinary business minded person become a dreamer, and an ordinary dreamer become a prophet.

The name “Waterford” had been proposed for this place by the falls, but another locality in western Ontario had already usurped the Irish place name for itself. John Haskins suggested another to Major Gemmill. Almonte. The name was proposed officially, was accepted and remained.

For fifteen years also the Rideau Canal had been in operation and traffic moved regularly over the route from Bytown up the Rideau to Kemptville, Burritt’s Rapids, Merrickville, and a place called Smiths Falls, and thence through the Poonamalee locks and the lakes of the Big Rideau chain to Westport, on to Brewer’s Mills, Seeley’s Bay, and over the height of land at Cranberry Lake before dipping down to Cataraqui and Kingston.

Oh the canal was a great improvement. No doubt about it. It opened up the hinterland between Kingston and Ottawa, but still, transportation was a problem. Everybody knew that. Everyone talked about it, but very few seemed to have any idea what to do about it. People in the villages along the Mississippi, and especially those at Almonte, needed a means of transportation to enable them to break out of the bonds of the primitive land. The bush and the river were holding them back. They needed roads.

That winter of 1853 they called a public meeting in Almonte. The need for something to be done about transportation, that was the idea that triggered the meeting. The people wanted to find out if it would be possible to build a macadamized road the Smiths Falls where goods and produce could be put aboard boats moving through the Rideau Canal. If they could get into the big markets of the United States by shipping through the canal, commerce would be stimulated and the village would go forward.

James Rosamond was at the meeting, and was doing a lot of listening. Someone asked what could be done about the number of Irish navies who had been hired to work years before on the building of the Rideau Canal, and had been footloose, many of them, in the country since the completion of the canal. Ostensibly they were looking for work, but, of course, anyone without regular employment was suspect.

James Rosamond knew the skills of the Irish. They could build in stone. They could build macadamized roads, and they could build stone woollen mills. It took only a moment’s glance to tell there was lots of stone in the area around Almonte, and it was quite suitable for building purposes. Perhaps the Irish could be put to work on the mill he had in mind, or on the macadamized road, or both for that matter.

The someone at the meeting dropped a bomb. Heavens, the man said, why waste time on a macadamized road to Smiths Falls? Why not build a railway? In fact, why stop at Smiths Falls? Why not build a railway that would go straight through Carleton Place, Franktown, Smiths Falls, Jasper, right on down to the Front, to the St. Lawrence at Brockville? A railway would prove much more valuable for trade than the canal; it would open up the American market far more speedily than anything else for the goods and products that would come from mills now building and to be built to run from the falls of the Mississippi at this place now called Almonte.

A railway? The very idea intrigued James Rosamond. To Brockville on the St. Lawrence? Now there was vision. This Almonte was a forward looking place, and these were forward looking people. Just my kind of people, thought James Rosamond. The meeting broke up, but Mr. Rosamond, Daniel Shipman and a few others remained standing outside the meeting hall, looking at the river, the conversation continued about this new dimension in transportation. The men in the group seemed to be strangely taken. Something had come over them. Here they had come to a meeting to discuss building a macadamized road to Smiths Falls, and now, without warning, they found themselves in earnest discussion about a railroad to Brockville. For a moment Mr. Rosamond wondered if the scope of the venture had got out of control; yet, no denying it, the railroad idea had a lot of merit.

James Rosamond found his focus after the meeting had changed greatly from what it had been before. The Railroad now intruded on his mind so powerfully that he found he could neither shake free of its grasp nor swing this thoughts back to the mundane things like woolens, macadamized roads and stone mills.

In the end the clump of men outside the meeting hall decided to break up their discussion and return to their homes, but not before they took one firm resolve, they would make a journey to Brockville to discuss the matter with friends there at greater length, and, if the signs appeared favourable, to find associates in the town on the shore of the St. Lawrence, and enlist their support in sharing in a grand design, a railway to link the St. Lawrence River with the Ottawa River through Almonte.

The Mills of Carleton Place -Victoria Woolen Factory to the Hawthorn

Rosamonds – The One Carleton Place Let Get Away

Letters from Bennett Rosamond — 1894- Adin Daigle Collection

Rosamond History– The “Damn” Dam Case 1870

More Photos of the Rosamond Water Tower

Pinehurst 1898 — The Rosamond Home — 8 Years After it was Built

Five Men That Tied up the Rosamond Mill 1907

The Mules of the Number 1 Mill?

The Drought of 1871 and the Mills on the Mississippi River

So Who Was Mary Rosemond/Rosamond?

Was Working in One of Our Local Mills Like Working in a Coal Mine?

Babies in the Textile Mills

The Rosamond Woolen Company’s Constipation Blues

Clayton Schoolhouses had No Insulation— Warm Memories

Clayton Schoolhouses had No Insulation— Warm Memories

Clayton Ontario History

A report card from Clayton School from 1912. Thanks to Allan Bellamy for sharing

In the fall of 1927, he arrived at the one-room schoolhouse as a 20-year-old fresh out of teachers’ college. He had no experience and 42 students spread out over Grades 1 to 8 to teach. “Sometimes I have no idea how I got through it,” Lloyd Sutherland, now 91, of Toronto said yesterday while attending the S.S. 4 Ramsay reunion in the Clayton Community Centre. “It was a lot of work, but I got through it.” By the next year, Mr. Sutherland had moved to a better-paying job in Pakenham in these early days of his 44-year career in education across the province, with a gap of four years when he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.

And even though he spent only one year at the school, Mr. Sutherland says the lessons he learned in the village of Clayton, about 60 kilometres west of . Ottawa on the Indian River, were among the most valuable in his career. “You had to be a master at problem-solving, and you had to be good with , your time,” he said. “There were all those kids and just me. It was some of the hardest work I ever did, but some of the most rewarding, too.”

Clayton Ontario History
April 19 ·
Effie Dunlop and Lloyd Sutherland 1925. Thanks to Fran Cooper for this photo.

Mr. Sutherland was one of about 100 former students, teachers and administrators who attended the reunion at the village community centre. They couldn’t hold it in the schoolhouse because it’s now a private residence. The village of Clayton is a collection of houses, cottages and businesses clustered around the eastern end of Clayton-Taylor Lake. It is rich in Canadian cultural and social history. Much of that history could be found in the two, one-room schoolhouses that made indelible marks on the memories of teachers and young Clayton residents who passed through their doors in more than a century of learning.

The first schoolhouse was built in1849 and a second, slightly larger one was erected in 1876 to cope with a deluge of new students. Now, 29 years after the village closed its last one-room school in 1969, former teachers and students remembered minute details as if only days had passed since their time at each of the two tiny schools. “In the winter, you always hoped you got a seat close to the stove because the further you got away from it, the colder it got and the building wasn’t insulated,” said Rose Mary Sarsfield, who attended one of the schools from 1952 to 1956 before graduating to the high school in Almonte.

Clayton School 1913-1914. Teacher Lottie Blair. If you enlarge, the names are there.–Clayton Ontario History

Many of the memories were sparked by a table with old notebooks, textbooks, a small chalkboard and newspaper clippings about the school. There were also a couple of report cards from 1933. One had straight As, the other was not so good. But what drew the eye were several pictures of children sitting cross-legged in front of a schoolhouse. One, from 1898, was particularly interesting.

Some former Clayton School teachers: Lloyd Sutherland, Sadie Gardiner, Doris Camelon, Evelyn Kettles, Emily Moulton, Dana Featherstone-Clayton Ontario History

Although the children were dressed differently some without shoes, some in waistcoats they looked like any group of schoolchildren today. One rapscallion, all but his head hidden in the back row of students, was even sticking out his tongue at the camera. The pictures spoke of a different time that ended in 1969, when rural one-room schools were closed across the province to make way for a new vision of education housed in larger schools in the larger centres of Ontario communities.

In Ramsay Township, 10 small schools were closed and many students including those from Clayton were bused to nearby Almonte to 1 pursue their education in single grades. It was an unceremonious end to a school that was once the pride of the village. Before the first schoolhouse was built, reading, writing and arithmetic were taught out of private homes. Clayton trustees borrowed $450 a overcrowded ‘ at hefty sum in 1849 to build their village’s first school, a debt that had to be paid back within three years. Soon, the one-room was overcrowded with students.

In 1876, a slightly larger school that measured 28 feet by 38 feet (eight metres by 11 metres) was built beside the original. “It had a cloakroom across the back where we could hang our coats,” remembered Ms. Sarsfield. “And bathrooms. There were two bathrooms at the back, one for girls and one for boys. “There was no running water.” At the smaller school, bathroom breaks were even less high-tech. One side of a bush was an outhouse for girls and the other side was for boys.

The next addition to Clayton’s school system was the hallmark of any rural school from that time period: a bell. In 1886, students, teachers and parents hosted concerts at which they charged 10 cents until they raised enough money to buy a bell. The final cost of the bell is unknown, but it hung at the larger school until closing. The bell now hangs at the front of the Dr. James Naismith School in Almonte, about 10 kilometres east of Clayton. During Clayton’s heydays in the late 1880s, there were some 140 pupils shared almost evenly between the two schoolhouses. The smaller building housed the primary grades and the larger one, the senior grades.

Clayton School 1949–Clayton Ontario History
Front row: Gary Hudson, Clarence Drynan, Louie Ladouceur, Howard Wark, Keith Drynan, Bruce Anderson, Leslie Ladouceur, John Bellamy
2nd row: Dawna Mather, Marion Drynan, Esther Wark, Margaret Godwin, Elizabeth Ladouceur, Anita Murray, Elizabeth Drynan, Isobel Wark
Back row: Russell Wark, Harold Barr, Norma Mather, Anne Rath, Dorothy Craig Reid (Teacher), Shirley Hudson, Alice Murray, Ray Rath
Thanks to Allan Bellamy for the photo and Fran Rathwell for having a copy with the names as confirmed by Dorothy Reid.

Teachers came and went. Their stints generally lasted two or three years. Margaret Bellamy, a longtime resident in the community, figures probably 100 teachers taught in the Clayton schools. “In the start, it was mostly men, but then mostly women by the end,” Mrs. Bellamy said. By the early 1900s, the village population couldn’t sustain a school for primary grades and a second school for senior grades. Down from historic highs, only 60 students attended classes between the two schools. In 1907, the smaller schoolhouse was taken down meticulously piece by piece and moved to Almonte, where it was rebuilt.

Heading into the 1960s, the wave of consolidation began to sweep through the Ottawa Valley as students began moving to larger schools in the region. By 1969 there were perhaps 30 students at Clayton’s remaining school. “Bigger was better, they thought. Truck them all to town and then they’ll all be in single grades. It was a sign of the times, I guess,” *Mrs. Sarsfield said. But for many at the reunion, bigger isn’t better when they reflect on the time they spent at the school. “A lot of people started their education in schools like S.S. 4 Ramsay,” Mr. Sutherland said. “And because they were small, people learned differently. The older students helped teach the younger ones. It gave people more of a sense of community you don’t get in larger schools. “I liked teaching in schools like that, but they’re gone now. Oh well, we’ll just have to remember.” The Fight Over One Room Schools in 1965!

Clayton schoolhouses had no insulation, but students’ recollections are warm arid fuzzy. Jake Rupert and Dawn Walton report.–CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada21 Jun 1998, Sun  •  Page 15

*Rose Mary Sarfield

Rose Mary Sarsfield
 There are still a few copies of my book available for those who haven’t gotten a copy yet, or as a Christmas gift to someone with ties to Clayton. They are available at the Clayton Store, the Mill Street Books or from me. rose@sarsfield.ca

Another House/School that Moved and Move

Norman Paul Talks About the Little Red School House- The Buchanan Scrapbook

So Which One Room School House Became a Pig Barn?

Suspended Teacher —Appleton School 1931 — Miss Annie Neilson

Ladies & Gentlemen- Your School Teachers of Lanark County 1898

School Salaries of 1918

The Fight Over One Room Schools in 1965!

Who Got What? The Will of William Gillies

From my personal collection

The Will finally was publicized in 1914

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
22 Apr 1914, Wed  •  Page 8

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
17 Apr 1914, Fri  •  Page 2

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

The Story of Henry Marshall and his Inheritance

Family Heirlooms and Antiques of Mississippi Mills — Golden Jubilee 1937

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 19- Code Family–“Michell was never known to have any money, excepting at or after tax sales”

The Missing Heir

The Case of the Missing $900

Kay McPhail — Lottery Winner– The Buchanan Scrapbook Clippings

Hal Kirkland –A Machine for Making Money

The Out-Of Luck Mr. Strang of Smiths Falls

Irish Sweepstakes 1948 Two Men Stood to Win 100,000!!

Those in charge of the Gemmill Park must erect WHAT??? You will not believe this!

So What Happened to Miss Winnifred Knight Dunlop Gemmill’s Taxidermy Heads?

Who Won the 1950 Austin Sedan?

The Gillies Machine Shops Fire 1906

The Gillies Machine Shops Fire 1906

Karen Phillips Curran
There has to be community will behind it or it fails. If the community cannot see the benefits of heritage then it fails.

Carleton Place HeraldMarch 27, 1906


The Gillies Machine Shops Sadly Damaged—Loss Very Heavy

One of the most disastrous fires we have had in Carleton Place for some time occurred this morning this morning in the machine works of the John Gillies Estate Co., Ltd., when the two upper flats were destroyed, with a number of the new launches—some finished and some in course of construction—all the wood working machinery and all the patterns and stock carried on the third floor were destroyed.  The loss is inestimable at this writing but it will not be less than $10,000 and is probably greater and is complete as the Company carried their own risk.  At least twenty men will be out of employment for a time and those of them working on the second flat have lost their tools as well.

The fire started about 8:35 and was caused by an explosion of gasoline in a launch that was about complete.  Master George Dougherty was operating the engine with a view to testing it, when a spark somehow got to the gasoline tank, causing an explosion that blew the end out of the boat and scattered the fire instantly amongst the flammable material in the shop.  Dougherty was badly scorched about the hands and arms and his face and neck were singed.  How he escaped worse injury is marvelous.  He also has a foot badly bruised.  The spread of the fire was so rapid that the man had to flee at once and it was no time until the third flat, where was stored the valuable patterns, finished in oil and varnish, was all ablaze.

The alarm was sounded at once and in a remarkably short time the fire brigade responded.  Two lines of hose were attached to the hydrant in front of the Canada Woolen Mills and water was soon playing; a third line of hose was attached from Brown’s pump and a little later two additional streams were thrown from the fire engine on the river bank.  A third stream was run from the factory later, making six in all but the fire being in the upper part of the high building and with so much material to feed the flames, made it difficult to handle and before the last spark was extinguished the best part of the roof of the building and the floor between the second and third flats were destroyed.

There were five complete launches in the shop—one was valued at $1,200—besides other boats partly built.  Whilst these are not completely destroyed, the loss is very considerable and the damage by water to the valuable machinery on the lower floors will also be heavy.

Mr. James Gillies, who is president of the company, has been in poor health for a week or two and is not in a position to give an explanation as to the loss or what action the company may take to restore the establishment.  Messrs. William and David Gillies are also at home, and witnessed the heroic work of the firemen and others as they struggled with the devouring elements.

Meanwhile the employees will devote their energies to protecting the plant and doing what they can to save the perishable material.

The disaster could scarce have come at a worse season, when the Company were busy with orders and everything was humming in the expectation of a busy season in the launch and engine business.

Much regret is expressed throughout the town, as the loss will be felt in more ways than one and it is hoped the company will see their way to rebuilding without delay.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
27 Mar 1906, Tue  •  Page 1

Arnold Gillies Muirhead – Gary Box photo
Arnold Gillies Muirhead who lived in Carleton Place 1907 aged 4 who was used in the John Gillies Estate catalogue of gasoline engines and motorboats made in Carleton Place–Public Archives photo
Austin B. Gillies with camera, child Arnold Gillies Muirhead beside Mr. David Gillies’ home on Bridge Street and Bridge Street. ca. 1910. Item.Copied container number: PA-059334-

Gillies Mill and Blacksmith shop ( used to be Bill Baggs home)– read The Curious World of Bill Bagg — The Gillies Blacksmith Shop

John Gillies was born in 1811 on Scotland. In 1822 he came to Canada with his father, brother, and sister settling on a bush farm in Lanark. His mother and remaining family came a year later. It was a hard existence for them, with the lay of the land making them struggle for existence. However,the frugality of a Scotsman, and the perseverance, overcame all obstacles. In 1836 Gillies struck out for himself and created a bush farm. In 1838 Gillies engaged in a lumbering operation and also wool carding and cloth dressing machines.

In 1875, John Gillies built a machine shop for his 20-year-old son, Alexander, on Rosamond Street in Carleton Place, right on the bank of the Mississippi River. Next door was the Blacksmith shop that was used for the machine shop.

In 1872 he disposed of his mill property and moved to Carleton Place. He still owned the lumbering enterprise with Peter McLaren. Gillies ended up retiring—sold his share to McLaren and established a foundry for the manufacture of mill machinery and steam engines. He erected this building in 1875 for that purpose. The building was originally 4 stories and they also used the blacksmith shop next door. He was also a senior member of Gillies Son & Co Manufacturers of woolen fabrics. At 77, he was like our local Mr. Tom Cavanagah and still running the show. Gillies made a specialty manufacture of Shipman and Acme automatic steam engines using coal for fuel. They had exclusive control of the patents on these engines in the Dominion of Canada.

The Mississippi River flows around McArthur Island and a man made channel for the Mississippi River was built and re-directed for the McArthur mill. The shocking part was realizing that another channel once lapped the back doors of the old Gillies Mill. Yup–right by the back door and through the late Bill Bagg’s adjacent property that was once the blacksmith shop for the Gillies Mill.

The company was known for their neatness, simplicity and cleanliness. They were also beloved for their many company “pleasure parties” so they would not have the annoyance a of labour disruption. They had many catalogues and circulars — none of which have been seen by the Carleton Place and Beckwith Museum. It was also added that their firms engines and boilers were exempt from government inspection.

In 1908 the town of Carleton Place loaned Messrs Bates and Innes ten thousand dollars extending over a ten year period of time and exemption from taxation except for school purposes to start the manufacture of knitted felt goods in what was known as gillies mills. After it closed it served purpose to many companies and no word if the town got their money back. Working hours for the winter season at the woollen mill of Gillies & Son & Company were from 7 a.m. to 6.15 p.m. with closing time one hour earlier on Saturdays.

When Bill Bagg bought that house (blacksmith shop) he found an open cistern/well inside his home and it had to be boarded up so no one would get hurt. That made me shiver and think of the film Silence of the Lambs.

The Pengor was also built in this building The Pengor Penguin presented to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip during their visit to Ottawa in 1964.–Kevin Percy said–They had less than a week to prep this for the presentation ! Photo- Kevin Percy–The Pengor company set up their assembly factory by the town yard in Carleton Place in the former Bates and Innes Mill on McArthur Island between the bridges. They initially planned to produce 100 Penguins a day and the maiden voyage of a red and white Penguin went into the mighty Mississippi River. Penguin being presented to Queen Elizabeth during visit to Canada and in front of the town hall.

Then it turned to Digital and Bluebell ( wrangler jeans)


They tried to turn it into condos and ran out of money.

Photo and text from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

The Curious World of Bill Bagg — The Gillies Blacksmith Shop

Before the Gillies House There was.. Fire 1873

The Gillies Fire Braeside July 4th 1949

Did You Know that Carleton Place had an Affiliation with Peg-Leg Brown?

Clipping of Hotel Cecil McDonald’s Corners- Hotel and Funeral Parlor

Clipping of Hotel Cecil McDonald’s Corners- Hotel and Funeral Parlor

The building at left says “Hotel Cecil”. Formerly The Glasgow Arms–which was rebuilt after a fire by William Locks and became Hotel Cecil. This is now (2020) a private home.
Note the illegible writing on the roof of the building across the street, which seems to end with ” . . . Store” Izatt postcard Charles Dobie

I wonder if anyone spent Canada Day at the Cecil Hotel in McDonalds Corners? Mr. King had the first hotels at McDonald’s Corners as early as 1853. William Jackson ran the hotel out of his residence until 1909 but then decided the undertaking business was a more profitable business. He initially bought Andrew Wilson’s business and then took over William Geddes business and William Jackson Jr., his son, took over the lock stock and barrel in 1940. The family also ran the rural mail out of McDonald’s Corners and the stage to Snow Road Station

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
02 May 1906, Wed  •  Page 1

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
30 May 1906, Wed  •  Page 4

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
28 Feb 1906, Wed  •  Page 8

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
24 Mar 1909, Wed  •  Page 4
The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
18 Mar 1908, Wed  •  Page 1

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
28 May 1913, Wed  •  Page 5

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
22 Apr 1914, Wed  •  Page 5

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
09 Jul 1919, Wed  •  Page 5

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
10 Jun 1914, Wed  •  Page 4
The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
07 Oct 1914, Wed  •  Page 1

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
21 Oct 1914, Wed  •  Page 4

Connie Jackson

Folklore has it that my Great-Grandpa was fighting the existing council to keep his liquor licence at the Hotel Cecil. When it was voted down he jumped up and heatedly exclaimed that he would bury every last one of them and stalked out of the meeting. He quickly converted his hotel into a funeral home and apparently kept his word😳. I always wanted to find the attendance to said meeting to see if there is truth to the story.

According to my father, William was the originator of the rural route service for the region.

Tales of Our Roots

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
02 Jun 1909, Wed  •  Page 1

The Family of
William Purdon & Elizabeth McDougall,
McDonalds Corners, Ontario

Back row, L to R: William H. Purdon, Violet (Purdon) Stewart, Duncan Purdon, Christina (Purdon) McIntyre and her husband Malcolm McIntyre, Mary Elizabeth (Purdon) Dahlka, William Purdon and Agnes T. Purdon.
Front row, L to R: Elizabeth (Lizzie) Clement, Elizabeth (McDougall) Purdon, Jim Clement (a brother of Lizzie), Jane (Purdon) MacDonald, Anna Jeannette Waite (on chair), Isabella (Purdon) Waite, who is holding Violet Erma WaiteCharles Dobie photo

Questions questions… Robert J. Stead — Boyd’s Settlement and Rathwell

Questions questions… Robert J. Stead — Boyd’s Settlement and Rathwell

Hello I have some questions for you…

What do you know about Robert J. Stead? He built the house at 109 George Street in Lanark. Robert J. Stead who was a photographer and his two twin daughters built this house and we would like to know the history of it. Does anyone know the history of the house?


Transcribed and submitted by Del Dunlop from LCGS

Death of Robt. J. Stead.
           After an illness of four years Mr. Robert J. Stead passed peacefully away at his residence in Lanark Village last Friday afternoon, August 22nd (1919). The late Mr. Stead who succumbed to chronic Brights disease, was born in Middleville seventy four years ago on the homestead now occupied by Mr. Harry Rodger. In 1865 he married Miss Malvina Millotte who with a family of six survives him, Robert and Mrs. C. Calhoun at home, Mrs. T. A. Mason in Lanark, Mrs. M. Cleave at Selkirk, Manitoba, Mrs. A. B. Adamson and Miss Edna Stead at Winnipeg, Manitoba. For over thirty years Mr. Stead was a capable photographer and bee-keeper in the Village and for a number of years served as a councillor. Later he was nominated Reeve of the Village of Lanark. Mr. Stead is one of Lanark’s oldest residents and was a man very highly esteemed and respected by everyone. In politics he was a Liberal and in religion was a staunch Presbyterian. The funeral took place on Sunday, August 24th at 2.30 p.m., from his former residence to Lanark Village Cemetery and was largely attended.
           In the 1871 census Robert J. Stead is listed in Lanark Village, aged 25. He is a photographer.
           Robert Stead is listed on the Militia Roster of 1871 as living in Lanark Village and being 25 years of age.
           When the last of the Gemmell line died in 1938, A drawer of glass plates was removed from their house at Pine Grove. These plates could only have been the negatives from the archives of the late local photographer Robert J. Stead.

Robert J. Stead was born in 1845.1 He was the son of Robert Stead and Margaret Dick.1
Robert J. Stead married Malvina Milotte on 25 December 1865, at, Lanark, .1
Robert J. Stead died in 1919, at LANARK CO. ONTARIO.1

Children of Robert J. Stead and Malvina Milotte

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
27 Aug 1919, Wed  •  Page 1

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
23 May 1900, Wed  •  Page 1

2. What do you know about Boyd’s settlement  in Innsville ontario.?

Perth Courier, October 24, 1946

History of Boyd’s Settlement

The following sketch was prepared by Mrs. Wesley Willows and Mrs. Earl Willows is an outline of the early history of Boyd’s Settlement in Lanark Township a few miles from Innisville.

A tribute to the past

A record for the present

A message for posterity

In the year 1815 a proclamation was issued in England which greatly affected the lives of many British subjects and the history of the new world.  This proclamation offered free passage to such natives of Great Britain as might wish to set sail for Canada for the purpose of settling there.  Free provisions as an inducement were also offered until such time as the land which they were given would produce enough to support them.  Besides this they were to be given ten pounds as a loan.  Each group of four families were to receive a grindstone, a cross cut saw, and whip saw.  To each family was given an adze, a hand saw, draw knife, one shell augur, two gimlets, door lock and hinges, scythe and snath, reaping hook, two hoes, one hay fork, skillet, camp kettle, one blanket for each member of the family.

This process was eagerly read by man in the old land. The old system of land holding was oppressive and the people knew little of freedom or equality.  As a result, the younger and more adventurous thought with longing of the new world.  It would appear that many who were friends in Ireland must have come to Canada within a short time of each other and gathered in communities together.

They landed at Montreal and came on to Brockville by steamboat or scows towed by oxen.  They probably crossed the Rideau at Rideau Ferry as that was the only crossing place along that part of the river.  It is likely that they also passed through Perth.

An ocean voyage took at least seven weeks and parcels and letters took a endless time to reach the new world.  The immigrants were crowded into the holds of ships and deplorable sanitation added to the discomfort and disease.  Ship fever broke out and took a heavy toll.  Of 100,000 immigrants coming to Canada, it is estimated that 5,000 died at sea and 20,000 after landing at St. John, Quebec and Montreal.

The original settlement of Lanark township was commenced in 1820 and was marked by a piece of paper nailed to a tree on the side of a street in the present village of Lanark.  On this piece of paper were the words “This is Lanark”.  In the same year Boyd’s settlement was opened to settlers.  The first home was begun by Sam Boyd, unmarried, who settled in the field now south of the present cheese factory house.  It was a square built house with a roof going up to a square instead of the usual ridge.  John Boyd, his brother, whose wife died at sea, settled where his great grandson Franklin Boyd now lives.  Henry Hammond and wife Margaret Boyd (sister of the Boyd men), settled on the farm now owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Crosswell.  Andrew Stevenson and wife Mary Boyd lived on the farm now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Ed Ventress.  Foster Stern, married Jane Boyd and settled on a farm on the town line now owned by Clifford Hammond.  George Code married Sara Boyd and lived on what is now Russell Willows’ farm.  This George Code is the son of the Code family which lived on the farm now owned by Oscar Ventress.  There were many brothers and sisters in the family and they make many an interesting story but we need only think of those who lived right here in the settlement.  Another brother lived on the present Munro farm.  The last Code on the old homestead was Thomas Nancable Code.  He was musical and conducted a singing school and led the church choir for many years.

There were also two Jackson brothers –one was Thomas Jackson who married Rachel Code and lived where Clifford Hammond now resides.  Some of their descendents are Robert of Vancouver, Judge Arthur Jackson who recently retired from the bench in Toronto and Bessie (Mrs. Sher. (?) Willows) of Calgary.  There are also Nellie, wife of John Tennant.  Lantrim Jackson married Erlen(?) Ennis and settled where Earl Willows now lives.  They were the grandparents of Mrs. Alfred Hammond, Colin and Wesley Willows—and many others too numerous to mention.

William and James Magee lived on farms later owned by William Bailey and now the property of William C. McCall.  It is believed that William D’Arcy Magee, one of the fathers of the Confederation, was a brother of these men.

The Wrights and Wellwoods lived on the 11th Line down near Mud Lake on land now owned by William S. Munro.  We have a story told by Thorpe Wright about the experience of his parents in crossing the water.  The vessel carried 341 passengers and no doctor.  Cholera broke out and 41 died and were buried at sea.  Mr. Wright was a tailor by trade and made the caps and gowns for students of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.  On the ship he sewed the dead bodies of the cholera victims up in blankets for burial.  Mrs. Wright fell ill and the ship’s captain was about to bleed her, which was the customary procedure.  Mr. Wright, who did not agree with this method of treatment, took his shears and fought off the captain.  His own treatment was to steam the patient.  This he did after he scared off the captain and his wife recovered.  The care of their infant child was thrust upon the tailor and he solved the food problem by preparing a mixture of powdered biscuit, sugar and water upon which the baby fed and thrived for three weeks.  The vessel, however, having hid one man, brought the epidemic to Quebec where thousands died and were buried in trenches on the Plains of Abraham.

After these settlers arrived, they found things were not as easy as they expected.  Provisions were not as easily obtained as promised.  The implements furnished were big and clumsy.  Even years later, when Henry Hammond had a daughter grown big enough to grow potatoes, she declared “it was a big enough job to carry the shovel let alone use it to dig the potatoes from among the roots of the trees.”  Mr. Hammond was the first to own a horse in the settlement and quite a novelty it was.  His son tells that he remembers the first dollar he saw.  It was obtained by shipping potash to England and the dollars were shipped back in payment.

Before coming to this new land, Sam Boyd was a teacher in Ireland.  It is also said that it was he who opened the first Methodist Sunday school in that part of Ireland.  After coming to Lanark township, he became a leader in the life of the community and it is believed that he may have been the first school master here.  When he came to this country, Sam Boyd left behind him a dear friend in the person of a young lady named Nancy.  It is said that he was quite sick and ailing much of his time until at last one day Nancy arrived from the old country.  After that Sam made a remarkable recovery and married his Nancy.

The first school was in the corner of the cemetery near Clifford Hammond’s fence.  It was the first school for miles around and as a result had a large attendance.  As many as 70-80 were enrolled.  The school was simply set down in the middle of the forest.  One day during the years when the school was under the direction of a school master named John Manley, a very fierce storm developed.  It was called “The Slash” because it ripped down a strip through the forest leaving a mass of tangled, twisted wreckage of trees, trunks etc., lying in its wake.  In the path of The Slash lay the school house.  When the storm subsided, Mrs. Lantrim Jackson hurried up to the school, terrified lest she find it in ruins.  To her surprise, she found the trees lying all around the school house but the building itself was not damaged.  Mr. Manley, a God fearing man, on seeing the storm sweeping down on them, dropped to his knees and prayed for Divine protection for the children in his care.  Later, John Manley became a preacher and was a minister in Toronto when 100 years old and died not so long ago.  He had gone to Toronto to be with other Manley families settled there—one of whom was the father of Laura Manley Secord of Beaver Dam fame.

The God fearing pioneers were not such as would leave their faith neglected in the new country.  In 1821 we find Rev. J.G Peale stationed at Perth and walking out to Boyd’s Settlement carrying his saddle bags on his back.  On his arrival he had services in the home of Henry Hammond.  From that time on services were held from shanty to shanty (as the homes then were called).  Then they met in the school house until the first church was built.

The first church in this district was built just inside the present cemetery gates.  The resolution passed at the time to decide to build a new church read in part as follows:  “we shall build a house of Divine Worship which shall be called the Jackson Street Methodist Church, 12th Concession Lanark, to be built of cedar logs 26×36 feet inside.  The building committee to be F. Stern, Andrew Stevenson, William McGee, and Thomas Jackson”.  Another resolution read as follows:  “The meeting house on the 12th Concession Lanark, be open for the Church of England, Presbyterian, Baptist and Quakers when not occupied by the Methodists”.

Much more could be told of the early history of Boyd’s Settlement, but it would make this story cumbersome.  However, in conclusion, we might say that in many communities, the earliest settlers thought that they required stimulants to give them strength for their heavy duties.  It was not so much in this settlement.  The earliest settlers of Boyd’s were a temperate class.  People who lived to bring in the Kingdom of God in their community and today we are reaping the fruits of their labors and that of their children.

What do you know about Abel Rathwell?

The only Rathwells I have are –The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 26- Mary Rathwell and Eleanor Ennis

Oh I forgot do you know anything about a Samuel Rathwell who lived on Clarence Street in Lanark– CLICK ON—Samuel Rathwell Geneaology– Looking for Information

You can try these three places…

Archives Lanark-

How To Contact Us

By Email at:

By Post to:
Archives Lanark
P.O. Box 20146
PERTH, Ontario
K7H 3M6

Or visit the Archives at
1920 Concession 7 Rd,
Drummond Centre

Lanark & District Museum


(613) 259-2575

Send message


Lanark County Genealogical Society


(613) 257-9482

Boyd’s cemetery

I was amazed that he knew of my family. It made me feel instantly at home. I rode over to the Boyds cemetery and visited with all the members of my family buried there. I sat there on a beautiful sunny day watching the butterflies flying around the headstones and I could feel their spirits. My great Uncle Edgar (my grandfather’s  youngest brother) had been buried there in 1991. I sat there for an hour contemplating. I then got on my motorcycle and rode in to Carleton Place. It had changed so much since 1981. I was determined to find your home if it still existed.

I knew that finding the railroad track was key to my finding Springside Hall. I found the track and parked my Harley and started walking. When I found your home I gasped. It was the home but it looked so different from my memory, the architecturally correct addition you had built was amazing. Of course the limestone fencing threw me for a loop. I walked slowly around the perimeter taking in the home. I stood at the front gate and admired your English garden and the front of Aunt May’s old home. I hadn’t noticed you gardening and when you stood up it startled me as I could tell I probably startled you. I uttered a quick hello and kept walking. An tall American standing and staring at a house in motorcycle garb could be disconcerting at the least. I went back to my bike and rode past your house once more. I told my wife I was a bit angry at myself for not asking the woman in the garden if you knew of my Aunt May and Uncle George. I am thankful to know that you do.

Kind regards,

Rick Finlayson  from-The Story of a Local Family -Finlayson- Richard Finlayson

Questions on the McCreary Settlement and the IXL Cheese Factory

The Ashton Hotel– Questions Questions Flemmings and McFarlanes

NO Questions Asked? The Ballygiblin Sign Update

The Disappearing Older Buildings — The Kitten Mill — Speech– Lanark Heritage Preservation Society

The Disappearing Older Buildings — The Kitten Mill — Speech– Lanark Heritage Preservation Society

Michael Rikley-Lancaster, executive director/curator, the Mississippi Mills Textile Museum-Lanark Heritage Preservation Society


A community-based preservation initiative

Thank you for inviting me last night- speaking about heritage is my passion…. this was my speech

In 1936 in an Ottawa Citizen column called Ramblin Reflections wrote that the historic old landmarks that reminded succeeding generations of what once was in our communities are disappearing and  will soon be numbered among the forgotten things. 

The razing of the century-old home of the once picturesque Laird o’ McNab in Renfrew county a few days ago shocked a goodly number of people into a realization that these treasure places of historic lore are crumbling back to mingle with the earth, whence they came. 

That old stone structure on the north shore of White Lake should have or could have been retained and maintained by civic, county or government agencies had not most people been content to sit idly twiddling their thumbs while others with a keener appreciation of the worth of these things wrote, spoke and kept the topic alive. 

The fast disintegrating fur trading post at L’Orignal, the famous old windmill on the St. Lawrence, the ivy-covered “auld kirk” atop the hill at Pakenham, the “Red House” at Perth, these and a goodly number more in this district are places venerated by the toil and sacrifice of those who laid well the foundation stones of the communities and it does seem a little like desecration to permit their walls where once was heard the vibrant voices of the idealistic community effort pass Into a state of complete neglect, dry rot and oblivion.

 Pretty soon there will not be one of those places of piquant historical charm to remind generations who come after what they owe to those that came before them. 

That was written in April of 1936.

Susan Berlin, Watsons Corners Lanark Heritage Preservation Society


To quote a million people or so in 2022 they feel the same way as in 1936. It’s a shame how little value is placed on local ageing buildings and how they only become prominent when the bulldozer is at the door.

This past year and a half I have witnessed  four demolitions by  neglect and I am sure that next year could see another one.. What is demolition by neglect? That’s when the owner becomes negligent in upholding his duty to maintain the property. I know how expensive it is to maintain an older home, but demolition by neglect may also be used by some property owners or developers  who either don’t care about the building’s condition or wish to raze a protected historic structure but can’t get permission to do so. 

One of the biggest stumbling blocks is always the same – the private ownership of the property. Now, you can usually get permission to tear down any historic landmark simply by sitting on it and watching it fall to pieces. It happens in every town and city, and is an all too common occurrence that historic preservationists seem to be helpless to fight now.

The Kitten Mill  property was first developed by Clyde Woolen mills in the 1850’s. It housed the Bank of Ottawa from 1899 to 1947. It was Dave Markle of Glenayr Knit who bought it then and turned it into the renowned Glenayr Kitten mill which produced woollen knits and in the 70s and 80s. It was a huge tourist attraction for the village of Lanark.

My life began in Cowansville, Quebec, an Eastern Townships mill town similar to most places in rural Lanark County. The last time I personally saw or spoke with any of my old friends was years ago, but we still remember Bruck Mills and Albany Felt.  Bruck Mills was the first silk mill in Canada, and it employed a lot of folks in my town. Bruck Mills also founded an Arts Centre that was very much appreciated by the local community and it was important. But just like everywhere else, the mills closed. When you lose a building, you not only lose a physical building but you lose the memories. An old building is like a show. You smell the soul of a building. And the building should also tell  you how to redo it.

In 2017 I had the chance to meet the heart and soul of the Kitten Mill at their reunion. I’ve never gone to a reunion before; not even high school, because honestly I’m always afraid that there’s going to be some incident similar to the film Carrie that I won’t be able to deal with.

I was honoured to be part of that former Glenayr Knitting mill employees reunion. Some at the reunion on August 7th at the Lanark & District Museum still had their original tools of the trade (scissors etc) from their former jobs whether it was knitting, dyeing fabric or sewing.

Was the reunion a sense of nostalgia, or just reminders of what had transpired years ago? No matter how wonderful and interesting the lives of the former employees from Tatlock, Watson’s Corners, McDonald’s Corners and even Carleton Place have been, there was just something endearing about this work reunion of the staff that most went home with a pay cheque of just 45 cents an hour.

John Foliot, Lanark–Lanark Heritage Preservation Society

In 1953 the mill was the backbone of Lanark, and some still called it the Clyde Woollen Mill. David Markle made lots of improvements in the old grist mill, with new machinery initially making men’s woollen socks, blankets, and motor rugs. In 1945 the Markle brothers bought the large two storey stone building on the main street by the Clyde River and used it as a store. The Kitten Factory  at one time had a payroll of over $200,000 that turned over three times in local businesses before it left the village in the year 2000.

In 2017 Feryn Donaldson was still Miss Kitten of Glenayr Knitting that day with her original 60s sash. She was voted in by her fellow employees and got an outfit to wear for special events as long as it was back by 5.

When asked if she became the “belle of the ball” of Lanark Village after she won her crown she laughed and said she was already married with two children at that point.

These women still remembered the muffins brought by some to work, perms that were given in the washrooms, and the fact that a few actually met their future spouses at that plant.  As one woman said:

” I moved to Lanark in 1947 and most of the people that worked in the mill became my friends. I lived here, my family lived here, and when the time comes I will die here.”

For most of the 20th century, Lanark and its Glenayr Kitten Mill was a hub for textile production in Ontario. Since its closure in 1997, the mill has sat abandoned. The Kitten Mill had an impressively no-nonsense integrity: no frills; no fuss; just good, sturdy value at a fair price. Just like the people and just like the sturdy no frills no fuss building that once proudly stood there in one piece.

So what do we do? There is no doubt it is difficult when it is on private lands. But, the most popular way to get rid of an older building now is Demolition by  Neglect: which I call a Loophole in Preservation. It’s what happens when a building  is neglected so badly that it falls down on its own, or becomes a public menace that has to be removed. 

Currently in Ontario, the only buildings requiring notice of a demolition application are on properties listed or designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. For heritage property, if a property is listed the owner must give the municipality 60 days notice of an application to demolish, in order to give the municipality time to consider and process a designation. 

If a property is designated, either individually or as part of a Heritage Conservation District, an application to demolish is decided by the municipal council. If the demolition application is refused, the owner has the right of appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). Of course, many or most historic structures are neither listed nor designated.

Other than the above exceptions, demolition permits are pretty much granted on the spot.  It’s not like people wake up one morning and say, “I think I’ll tear down my building tomorrow.” Such projects are planned well in advance. And it would be nice if the notice requirements included posting a notice at the property to alert the broader community.

If a town or city suspects that a building is subjected to demolition by neglect, then in addition to not allowing a demo permit, they also should ensure that a permit for new infill construction on that property will not be allowed. They would only be issued a permit for the repair and restoration of the building and perhaps that repair permit would be free of charge. 

Why not provide property tax incentives for improvements made to historic properties? Or allow small grants to homeowners wishing to do the right thing? A bylaw to adopt the Heritage Grant policy was passed by Carleton Place council on May 31. This the first time the municipality has had such a policy. It means if someone is spending $10,000 on improving their heritage property, they could be eligible for a $5,000 grant from the town to help offset the cost. What are we saying when we put a huge tower over a building of historic significance?

For those trying to conserve heritage property, it’s a game of whack-a-mole — no sooner have we jumped up and down to say stop, this one is important, then another crisis appears.We have to stop enabling bad behaviour  before the buildings of our past disappear in front of us.

Across the province most heritage advocates are volunteers, charged with finding and advocating for the province’s heritage. We are up against a well-financed building and development industry who may not agree and who have the ear of government. But I keep talking and fighting– you keep talking and fighting–  because this is our history. It is the only one that we have.

Just remember old places have soul. Just like the folks that worked at the Kitten Factory here in Lanark Village. Wherever a beautiful soul has been in people, in buildings— there is a trail of beautiful memories.

When I was 17- The Kitten- Glenayr Knitting Mills Reunion

How Much is that Kitten Sweater in the Window?

Stories from the Old Kitten Mill

Dim All The Lights — The Troubled Times of the Abner Nichols Home on Bridge Street

Stewart House Clippings and Memories

The House on the 511 — Thanks to Lanark Village Community Group

Putting Together Pieces About Historical Homes– John Moore’s House –Napoleon Street

The Carleton Place House That Disappeared

Documenting Houses –Before and After 41 Julian

More History on the Murphy Morphy McEwen House — Karen Prytula

The Storm of 1953

The Storm of 1953

August 1953

A freak electrical storm, accompanied by a veritable cloud burst that lasted for about ten minutes and then settled down to a tapering off rain, started a little after seven o’clock on Monday evening. The late afternoon had been oppressive with a humid heat that presaged a thunderstorm or perhaps hail.

 Dark clouds blew up from the Huntley Township direction and others from the southeast seemed to meet in an overhead area and then things got going with hair-raising flashes of lightning and ear-splitting peals of thunder. A few minutes after the storm broke and two or three crashes and flashes frightened people off their front porches, the fire siren was heard. The firemen had to turn out in the midst of one of the worst downpours of rain anyone can remember. 

The phone call to the fire station stated that the steeple of the Reformed Presbyterian Church on the Bay Hill had been struck by lightning and that smoke was pouring from its base. Firemen had water turned on in record time. They had to chop a hole in the wooden portion of the tower to get at the flames. The spire is covered with steel as is the roof. No great damage was done to the interior of the building as the tower was cut off from below by closed trap doors. 

The storm was accompanied by a high wind that uprooted trees, littered lawns with limbs and cut off the power in the southern side of the town where branches fell across the wires. A strange thing about the visitation is that on the north side of the river there was little or no interference with the light service but there was a black-out on the business streets. Those stores which keep open in the evenings such as druggists’ were dark except for the odd candle or flashlight.

Aug 1953

 In the O’Brien Theatre it wasn’t hard to live up to the ancient slogan “the show must go on.” In the days of the power shortage during the last war the Ottawa Valley Amusement Co. installed gasoline driven electrical generators in their four theatres. So all the local manager had to do was turn on the machinery and the audience which happened to have got there ahead of the storm, were kept entertained.

It seemed strange on the pitch dark street to see the O’Brien main entrance lights and the sign blazing out like lone beacons. It is said that in the Legion and Hotel Almonte beverage room the boys quaffed their beer by lantern or candle light which imparted a sort of Old Country atmosphere to the places that is not present under ordinary circumstances. 

A softball game was going on at the time the storm broke and those in the grandstand had a splendid view of the lightning as it flashed in the distance across the river, and sometimes too close for comfort. At least one member of the audience—a fireman—had to plunge forth into the deluge when the siren blew. 

A strange thing about the rainfall, which some middle aged people declare was the heaviest they ever remember, is that there were only a few drops at the Auld Kirk Cemetery on the Eighth Line while the Anglican Cemetery, half way out from the town boundary, was in the very wet zone. 

It is not known what capers were cut by the storm but it is known that it was not bad in Ottawa and while they had a heavy rain in Perth and other points in the county there was no severe storm. The maintenance staff of the Almonte Public Utilities Commission had to turn out in the midst of the downpour as did the firemen. They had a mean job but they got the lights on in the business section about 8.30, for which they deserve a lot of credit when the amount of damage to the wires over a wide section is taken into consideration. 

They went off several times after that for short intervals and doubtless the electricians had to work nearly all night trying to repair the damage. From the standpoint of power users on the south side of the

river, it was fortunate that the storm struck in the evening when motors and machinery were closed down. 

Several large trees on Country Street in front of the home of Mr. Robt. Smithson, town foreman, were uprooted. It is estimated he will get five or six cords of wood out of the trunks and limbs although there is no doubt he would rather have the trees standing where they were. A fine big maple was uprooted in front of the residence of Mr. Gordon Houston. 

The story is told of one merchant on Mill Street who was creeping around his premises in the darkness holding a flashlight. Suddenly he came in front of a mirror and yelled, “help, help, there’s a robber in here!”

The Human Seal or Polar Bear Comes to Carleton Place and Almonte

The 1947 Almonte Flood

The Storm of 1867

Updates on The Witch of Plum Hollow — Susan Fulford

Updates on The Witch of Plum Hollow — Susan Fulford

Mother Barnes– The Witch of Plum Hollow

Susan Fulford wrote:

Hi Linda, I came across your post on Facebook this morning with lots of articles on Mother Barnes, witch of Plum Hollow.  My cousin Doug McCarten posted a thank you.  One of the articles posted was titled “Witch of Plum Hollow Carleton Place Grandmother “.  I should have noted the name of the person who posted this but I didn’t. 

There are several errors due to the fact that there are two Amy Buchanans. Mother Barnes granddaughter was Amy Barnes Buchanan, daughter of Sam Barnes. She was born and raised in Smiths Falls.  Her father was a blacksmith and carriage maker and the family were quite well off.  This Amy was my grandmother, also grandmother of Jan McCarten Sansom and Doug McCarten, my cousins.  Amy Barnes Buchanan went to Queens University for a year and then became a teacher.  She taught at Snow Road.  She met and married George Buchanan, a farmer near Maberly. 

They had three daughters, Agnes, Hilda ( my mother ) and Amy ( Jan and Doug’s mother ).  When my mother was six ( 1917 ) George sold the farm in Maberly and bought a farm in Appleton ( now owned by Edith Clarke ).  He sold that farm in about 1923 or 24 finding it too hard to get labour after WWI.  The family moved to Carleton Place and rented at least two different houses, one on Flora opposite the end of McRostie Street and another on High Street.  The year they moved to CP, my mother Hilda,  started high school on Lake Ave., this school having been built the year before.


George Buchanan became an insurance agent and after all three daughters had left home, he and Amy bought the lovely stone house on Bridge St. opposite the end of High Street.  Daughter Agnes married Archie Colvin and lived in Connecticut, daughter Hilda married Lorne MacRostie and lived in Ottawa, and daughter Amy married Vern McCarten and lived in Toronto.  Amy and Vern moved to Carleton Place about 1949 to help George Buchanan with the insurance business as George had cancer.  They initially rented a house on Joseph Street and later bought the house on Bridge Street from Amy Buchanan.  Amy Buchanan lived in several rented apartments, the last one being the top floor of the brick house on Charles St. at the corner of Emily.

So Mother Barnes was the mother of Sam Barnes, Sam was the father of Amy Barnes Buchanan, Amy Barnes Buchanan was the mother of Agnes Colvin, Hilda MacRostie and Amy McCarten.  The three sisters were very close and the MacRosties and McCartens had Sunday dinners together often, either in Ottawa or CP.  The three families rented cottages together on Hay’s shore for several summers. 

My family MacRostie is also related to the McRosties of Carleton Place.  My grandfather James was a brother of Fred, Winnie McRostie’s father.  At some point, James and at least one other brother changed the spelling from McR to MacR.  We don’t know why.  I keep in touch with Winnie’s niece Joan, we are second cousins.

My children and Jan’s children are close.  Jan and I are five years apart in age, Jan’s daughter Diana and my daughter Stephanie are five years apart and Stephanie was born on Jan’s birthday.

Another coincidence – Mary and Wally Cook’s wedding attendants were Dr. and Mrs. Kendall, the parents of my friend Jane, whom I’ve known since grade seven at Connaught School in Ottawa and our teacher that year was Leta Andison of CP.

Sorry, Linda, I got a little carried away with the family history.  My grandmother Amy Buchanan was a teacher, I was a teacher and spent the first six years of my career at Caldwell School in Carleton Place and lived in Mississippi Manor next to the hospital, and my granddaughter is at Queens doing ConEd to become to become a teacher. 

John Morrow

1 day ago

I might note: the building at Black’s Corners is the Beckwith Township Municipal Offices; Goulburn is a few kilometres east (I believe), starting at Ashton.

By the way, Linda, you and I met once at a presentation about Mother Barnes at the Goulbourn building at Black’s Corners.  I was there with cousin Jan and daughter Stephanie.  Sue MacRostie Fulford  ( photo above I took)

Clipped from Vancouver Daily World, 18 Oct 1889, Fri, Page 1

This was posted on the Tales of Carleton Place yesterday by Jim Hicks and Doug B. McCarten said Jim Hicks it was extensively restored by the previous owner who just (I guess) sold it! She did a remarkable job! My family is very grateful to her for it had previously fallen into disrepair! She ran it as a museum dedicated to Granny Barnes memory. I wonder what will happen to it now? (home of the Witch of Plum Hollow)

The Plum Hollow Witch 101 – Mother Barnes

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

The Witch Hollow of Lanark County

When Mother Barnes Made a Mistake? Beckwith 6th Line

The Witch of Plum Hollow Files- An Evening in Smiths Falls

Mother Barnes and the Missing Money of South March

Mother Barnes– The Colonel’s Daughter in Plum Hollow

An Interview with the Witch of Plum Hollow–Mother Barnes— The Ottawa Free Press 1891

The Witch of Plum Hollow and the Blacksmith

My Grandmother was Mother Barnes-The Witch of Plum Hollow

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

Plum Hollow Witch and The Mountain Man of Pakenham

The Witch of Plum Hollow — Complete Story File

James Albert Evoy –CFRA, Ottawa –June 12th 1952 — Almonte Gazette

James Albert Evoy –CFRA, Ottawa –June 12th 1952 — Almonte Gazette

The following is a copy of the radio script entitled “Ontario’s , Patriarchs and Papers” which was broadcast over OFRB, Toronto, on June 4th and rebroadcast over CFRA, Ottawa, on June 12th 1952. It dealt with Mr. James Albert Evoy, Almonte’s oldest citizen and included an historical sketch of the Almonte Gazette; Mr. Evoy will also receive a crayon portrait of himself. This broadcast, and others in the series are sponsored by ’ the Cities Service Oil Co., Ltd., with headquarters in Toronto and branches in many cities and towns of Canada:

Jack: “In the north-eastern portion of Ontario, some 25 miles south-west of Ottawa, is located the community of Almonte, with a population just under 3,000. There is much of historical interest to be found in and around Almonte— and one interesting fact which comes to light immediately is that it had a newspaper even before Confederation.”

Doc; “Which would make it close to a hundred years old!”

Jack’. “Except for one thing, Doc —it didn’t survive. You see, Almonte’s first newspaper—The Express—was founded in 1860—but apparently it wasn’t a very successful venture, for it folded early in 1867.”

Doc: “The year of Confederation.” Memorable Year Jack: “Yes—and also the year when The Gazette was established by William Templeman. Mr. Templeman’s publication was entirely “home-print” at the start—but, profiting from his earlier newspaper experience, he gradually developed an interesting weekly with strong local appeal. Some dozen years later, seeking fresh fields to conquer, he left for the West Coast and founded the Victoria “Times,”—and eventually ‘he became a Senator and a minister without portfolio in the Laurier Cabinet.”

Doc: “And I suppose while he was covering himself with glory, Almonte struggled along without a local newspaper.”

Jack: “Not at all. Before he left Almonte, Mr. Templeman sold the Gazette to two bright young men on his staff—James McLeod and W. P. McEwen—and they carried on the publication for another dozen years. Then, in 1901 McEwen was appointed to an important position by the Ross government of Ontario—and McLeod continued the Gazette by himself. In 1918, he sold out to James Muir, who published the paper until 1930.” Late Jas. Muir

Doc: “Another dozen years. That’s getting to be a significant figure in the history of the Almonte Gazette.”

Jack: “I hadn’t noticed, but you’re right. Anyway, the coincidence ends right there—for Muir sold the Gazette to A. S. Hanna, and he has continued as publisher to this day, which makes a total of some 22 years. Mr. Hannah previous experience with both dailies and weeklies has enabled him to establish the Gazette more firmly than ever. After 85 years of continuous publication, the paper now enjoys its greatest popularity to date, both as a source of news and a medium for advertising. Cities Service congratulates the Almonte Gazette on its long record of achievement, and its development from pioneer to progressive home-town weekly!”

Doc: “You know, Jack—Almonte’s patriarch has been there almost as long as its paper—almost 80 years, to be exact.”

Jack: “Surely, Doc, he’s older than 80!

Doc: “He surely is! Almonte’s oldest resident will be 94 next September 10—and his name is James Albert Evoy—Albert to his friends. Not that I can claim to be a friend of his—but Albert was born in Carp, Ontario. When he was 15 his family moved to Almonte— presumably because it offered better business opportunities.”

Jack: “Any specific type of business?”

Doc: “Well, Mr. Evoy Senior was a shoemaker—and Albert learned this trade, too. He became an expert at it, and has made it his life work.”

Jack: “I certainly hope that remark doesn’t mean Mr. Evoy is still working!”

Doc: “Oh come now, Jack— surely at 93, the man has earned his rest! Mr. Evoy is retired now, naturally—but happily, is remarkably well’ and is up and about every day. And, by the way, his wife is also in good health and still able to help with the housework. Mrs. Evoy is the former Annie Lang of Fitzroy Township.”

Jack: “Have they been married long?”

Doc: “Sixty-two years! And although they lost a son in the first World War, they still have a fairly sizeable family—three sons, two daughters and four grandchildren.”

Jack: “Which makes Mr. Evoy a patriarch in the real sense of the word.”

Doc: “And provides him with considerable pleasure, I’m sure. By the way, I should mention that Mr. Evoy and his family lived in Arnprior for some time—but apparently Almonte holds the stronger place in their affections, for they finally settled there. And although Mr. Evoy is rather a quiet man, and has given most of his time to his work and his family life, he is well-known and well liked if and around the town. So I’m sure there will be many neighbours and friends who will be pleased that he has been singled out for this tribute on our Cities Service Program.”

Jack: “We’re happy to salute James Albert Evoy, the grand old man of Almonte, and to announce that the well-known Canadian artist, Egbert C. Reed, is now working on a life-size charcoal portrait of Mr. Evoy, which will soon be presented to him.

Died 30 Sep 1952 at about age 94 in Almonte, Lanark, Ontario, Canada

James Albert Evoy who spent his entire life in the building trade here, died at his home In Almonte on Tuesday at the age of 94. He came to this town as a young man and set up business as a carpenter. Born In Huntley township, he was a son of the late William Evoy and his wife Catherine Shore. In 1896 he married the former Annie Lang of Fitzroy. A son William died in the First World War. Surviving besides his wife are two daughters, Mrs. H. Christopherson, Arnprior; Mrs. J. Dontigny, Chalk River; three sons in Almonte, Allen, Roy and Fred; one brother. George of Ottawa, four grandchildren and, five great grandchildren. The funeral will be held from the Comba funeral home Almonte, on Thursday with service in the parlors conducted by Rev. H. C. Wolfralm of Almonte United Church. Interment will be in the Auld Kirk cemetery.

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