Dale Costello–So happy the restoration of this timeless building will evolve into something which brings back vivid memories for those born and raised in Carleton Place. My heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Mr. Thorbjornsson and team in seeing through to successful completion. This historic building was on my path to the canoe club and passed by it thousands of times. Thank you sir.
Jeremy Stinson–If I recall correctly, that usually meant trespassing if that was on your path. Statute of limitations has surely passed, but I remember getting scolded for taking the direct (north side of the building) route.
Sometime around 1910, Colorado acquired a bell in 1894 by the C.S. Bell Company in Hillsboro, Ohio, and the historic bell weighed nearly 500 pounds. Its chiming could be heard across the tiny campus of Colorado Agricultural College and throughout most of Fort Collins, CO.
The bell rang every morning to announce the start of classes, and as you might expect on a college campus, students often gave into the temptation to pull the bell’s rope in the middle of the night, angering nearby residents.
Sometime around 1915 it was reported in the Rocky Mountain Collegian that the bell’s clapper had been stolen – perhaps by residents who had grown weary of the frequent and very loud noise. Students weren’t about to stop ringing the bell, however, and used sledge hammers and even an axe to make it chime. The Collegian reported in 1919 that the bell was permanently silenced when cracked by overzealous students and their hammers. The ruined bell, legend has it, remained in the Old Main Tower for years. One night – likely in 1919 – a group of at least four men climbed the tower and removed the bell. They managed to slip away unseen, but that is where their planning had ended. They didn’t know what to do with their prize and, scared of being caught, they moved the instrument to a nearby farm and buried it. That’s where it remained for the next 50 years.
By the early 1970s, the original bell had been all but forgotten. A select few members of a fraternity and its alumni were aware of the story but were sworn to secrecy. But when it was revealed that the farm where the bell was buried was on the market, action was required. The bell was exhumed and – for the first time in five decades – moved back to an off-campus fraternity house in Fort Collins. There it remained, hidden, for a number of years. In an effort to keep the bell safe, it was decided to move it again – this time out of state. The bell was no longer in prime form and although in still decent form it had a broken yoke. It needed to be refurbished and restored, but it was determined the bell could be rung again without fear of damage.
The bell will reside in a tower outside the Iris and Michael Smith Alumni Centre, which is connected to the new stadium. So all bell that ends bell. So what about one of our bells? Yes, in Carleton Place we had many bells that rang throughout town. The Town Hall bell, the MacArthur Mill bell and the many school bells that rang each day.
At the open house to the Hawthorne Mill yesterday there was a gentleman that brought Volundur Wally Thorbjornsson pictures from the removal of the bell tower from the building. Unfortunately he did not get his name or contact info as it was in the midst of giving the people that had lined up for access. Wally has decided to restore the tower to it’s former glory and would love to get information on where the bell is located today. Any and all leads are welcome.
It’s not the honour that you take with you but the heritage you leave behind.
It would be fantastic if it was found but, like our missing Ballygiblin sign that should be replaced I hope it has not been melted down. So if you know anything and would like to hear it ring again like the Renfrew Mill/Rencraft Fire Dept once did then drop Wally a line.
John Armour–I hope that they found my kite that I got wrapped around the bell, when I was 12 years old, (with Greg Wilson)
Ray Paquette–One of the “jobs” I had in the early ’60’s was a two or three day job I got to work for Charlie Baker of Almonte who had a contract to clear out the building pictured of all the abandoned but salvageable material that remained in the building from when it was a functioning woolen mill. Leigh Instruments which was expanding rapidly and which was housed in the former office wing of the plant was preparing to take over the remainder of the mill. It was this time of year and it was hot, dirty labour and I believe that Milt Phillips, my neighbour at the time, might have been behind Mr. Baker hiring me.
Llew Lloyd–I worked for my Dad that summer cleaning an degreasing all the beams . We then spray painted them and painted the floors . It sure brightened the place up . Ted Lemaistre told me he worked as a joe boy there all summer too . When it came time to get paid he was asked if he’d rather be paid in stock options . He and every kid at that time took the money . Mrs. Robertson was smarter.
Ray Paquette—And your final comment on the stock option probably explains why we are not independently wealthy and spending the summer following our favourite baseball team around the league circuit!!
Llew Lloyd--Now you’ve got me working again . I knew I had this photo tucked away somewhere . That’s my father , Llewellyn Wescott Lloyd in the foreground of a good pic of the Hawthorne Mill in the mid 30’s . The fourth floor and bell tower are still there , but when I zoom in I’m not sure if the Bell is . As I’ve explained in other posts, even though my name is David Llewellyn Lloyd I am known by both David and Llew because of a nickname ritual that goes back to my public school days . ” Ossie ” McNeely is the best example of this as all the McNeely boys ended up being called Ossie . Dot Smith somehow was ” overlooked ” .
Another Bell ~ By far the most pleasant feature in our busy town of Carleton Place is the number of bells, which at stated periods, ring out their various calls. A new one was this week placed in the steeple of Mr. Wm. H. Wylie’s woolen mill by. Mr. Bond, of Carleton Place.
Thorbjornsson is happy to announce the missing Hawthorne Mill bell has been located. It will be on display during Saturday’s open house.
The Hawthorne Mill tower is missing two stories, which came off in the late ’80s. Everything was taken to the dump except the bell.
“I had no idea there was a bell tower on the Hawthorne Mill building, until a gentleman came to our first open house and dropped off some pictures.” Thorbjornsson said.
The developer managed to connect with the fellow later on on Facebook, and “that family has been very active in doing research and giving me support in the search for the bell.”
Thorbjornsson said he immediately made the decision to rebuild the mill’s tower when he saw the pictures, which belonged to Bill and Carole Flint.
“Carole worked for Leigh Instruments for years and Bill worked for them as well,” Irwin explained. “That is why he was on site (in Carleton Place) the day they took the tower down.”
“I set myself on a mission that I wanted to find the original bell,” Thorbjornsson said. “I put a call out on social media, and I called a lot of connected people in town that I knew might have some information.”
He managed to piece enough information together to get on the trail of the bell, and it was not long until he found out Cameron McGregor was the contractor who removed the bell.
“I called him up, and he was a little guarded when I brought up the bell,” Thorbjornsson said. “However, I explained to him why I wanted to know and what my intentions were.”
It turns out DRS Technologies’ general manager at the time hired McGregor to take the structure down because it was not in good shape anymore.
“A lot of people and organizations were in touch with him and wanted the bell,” Thorbjornsson said. “So, he told Cameron to take the bell and hide it.”
The bell eventually found its way to McGregor’s hunting camp.
“Someone eventually recognized it,” Thorbjornsson said. “Cameron called up the general manager and asked what to do with the bell.”
“He was told to donate it to the local museum, which he did in the mid ’90s,” the developer added.
Unfortunately, the item was not catalogued until 2008.
All this time it has been in storage at the Neelin Street Community Centre (arena).
“The museum has a storage area at the community centre for big stuff,” Irwin said. “It was sitting there as an unidentified bell.”
“We pieced everything together relatively quick, and it was a huge relief for me to hear the bell was safe,” Thorbjornsson said.
“Jennifer and I started talking and we have come to an understanding,” he continued. “Lawyer Ken Bennett is working on the agreement.”
The bell will go back in the tower once it is reconstructed – on a long-term loan. However, it is still protected as the museum’s property.
“It is very heartwarming to see it put back,” Irwin said.
A general membership meeting of Local 103 of the United Textile Workers of America, A.F, of L., in Carleton Place unanimously rejected an offer of wage increases ranging from 3 to 5 cents an hour from the Bates and Innes Company and the Renfrew Woollen Company (Hawthorne Mill).
The meeting, which was attended by a majority of the employees from both mills, instructed the negotiating committees to continue discussions with the Companies for an increase commensurate with the increase in the cost of living.