Last night I posted this old 50s ad from The Carleton Place Canadian I found in the files of the museum on The Tales of Carleton Place as I thought “50 cents to being an extra lady” was amusing.
Who was the Rencraft Fire Dept?
The Brigade was made up of Renfrew Woolen Mill workers. The Bates and Innes Mill had their own fire brigade as well. Most people refer to this mill as the Hawthorne Mill, but it operated as the Renfrew Woolen Mill (Hawthorn Mill) beginning in 1933– Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
Badge from Pete Harris
This photo appears to have been taken in the CP Council Chamber- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.
As I looked at the list of names on the bottom of the picture I noticed a familiar name. Fourth from the left on the back row is Lionel Bigras who helped save Margaret Violet King from downing the first time at the Carleton Place Hydro plant. It was nice to put a face to a name.
“In July of 1937 Carleton Place resident Wilfred Bigras saved the life of 6-year-old Margaret Violet King, daughter of Mrs. Clifford King. Young Margaret fell into the Mississippi River near the hyrdo plant about 200 yards from the town bridge early in the afternoon. Artificial respiration was practiced by Wilfird Bigras, employee at the Hydro plant, a cousin of the rescuer Lionel Bigras who dived 3 times in 15 feet of water to bring the child to the surface.”
A Carleton Place Tale to Send Shivers Up Your Arm — The Sad Tale of Margaret Violet King
Photo of the Construction of the Findlay Plant on High Street in Carleton Place 1901- The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. The brick construction was built on land sold by the Canada Lumber Company.
Sometimes we think things are really bad until we see times were just as tough years ago. In April of 1954 three industries were struggling. Bates and Innes Textile Mills were hurting, Renfrew Woolens had closed and Findlays was beginning to decline and would end up closing in 1974. In 1954 a total of $15,000 of week was being paid out in unemployment in Carleton Place that would last 313 days for each employee. Payments varied from $17.10 a week per single man to $24 for a married man.
R. Vernon McCarten of the Carleton Place Chamber of Commerce said,
“We can’t move our people out; we’ll have to move something in.”
D.D.Findlay president of Findlay’s Limited voiced his concern about the town. His firm had been making stoves since 1860 and had 319 employees on the payroll in 1953, but it had presently dwindled to 234. He attributed the loss to competition from the United States. Also use of coal and wood ranges on the farm had diminished as propane gas and electric stoves were becoming popular. Bates and Innes were getting very few orders and only operating at 2/3 capacity. Renfrew Mill closed down when the men went on strike putting 75 out of work. Findlay hoped that new business might come to town and pointed out the new 36 bed hospital was opening up and almost entirely paid for and half the cost of the furniture and equipment underwritten.
Some hoped the new shortening of Highway 7 might bring people to live in Carleton Place. The town however applied to the OMB for permission to spend $30,000 to buy 5 acres of land on the east side of town for industrial purposes. When the mills all finally closed it affected people who had never worked at anything else but textiles. There were three generations of Fergusons that worked in the textile industry, and what would their future hold now.
The Findlay Plant closed in 1974.
Bates and Innes ceased operations in 1963, due, in part, to the introduction of synthetic fibres.
Renfrew Woolen Mill closed that year.