Mr. Harry Nontell had the grand opening of his new dancing pavilion last Friday night and it drew a tremendous crowd. There were people there from all over the country and parking space had to be arranged for an adjoining field. ‘ The dance hall was converted from the former Blakeney cheese factory (read-Rosebank Cheese Factory) which stood on the shore of the Mississippi River near the north end of the bridge.
It was a substantial building and Mr. Nontell used the main part of it to put down a very fine hardwood floor for dancing. At the side is a refreshment booth and space for people waiting to dance. Pleasantly Located The location is a very pleasant one as the river is wide at this point said there are beautiful falls just below the bridge. Fishing is good in the vicinity and Mr. Nontell proposes to have boats for hire when he gets around to it.
Most of the work of turning the factory into a hall where entertainments can be held was done oy Mr. Nontell himself in the winter months, assisted by his son, Orville, who was home from the West. Harry is a handy man at work of that kind and the floor, fixtures and other alterations are certainly a credit to him. He has made arrangements with Charlie Finner and his popular Hayshakers orchestra to furnish the music. Not only is Charlie a wizard on the violin, but he has no peers when it comes to calling off for the squares.
The crowd on opening night was an orderly one and there was no rough staff in spite of its size. The only unusual incident we heard about concerned a well known young Almonte lady who stepped into a hollow where there was wet clay. She walked right out of her high heeled shoes arid had to wade to dry ground in her stocking feet. Being redheaded and possessed of a temper when riled, she is said to have used a naughty word as she waded back to fish out her pumps.
“Where are all the d—— Sir Walter Raleighs around here?” inquired the damsel plaintively. “The age of chivalry is dead.
In addition to a weekly dance, Mr. Nontell is prepared to rent the hall for private dances, entertainments and receptions. He already has it booked for a number of engagements. It is understood Mr. Nontell has rented the field next to his pavilion and will control the parking himself in future.
At Appleton a log slide guided the loose logs or booms over the log slide and into a log pond. Log booms were barriers formed by logs chained together with chains and log dogs that guided the rest of the logs down the river. The logs didn’t always stay in the booms and sometimes floated dangerously over the rapids instead of down the log slide.
The Mississippi River supported many lumbermen including Abner Nichols who operated a lumber camp at Wilson Bay on the Mississippi Lake and owned two mills in Carleton Place. From Wilson Bay logs were gathered in large booms and attached with log chains and then floated down the Mississippi River to his mills in Carleton Place.
The first cheese factory was opened in the former Snedden stone home on the hill but in 1932, a building was moved from Pakenham to the north end of the bridge where a farmer’s cooperative operated the Rosebank Cheese & Butter Co. until 1954. Then the building was converted to Nontell’s Dance Hall. This dance hall was an exciting addition to the community until it burned to the ground a few years later. — Marilyn Snedden
If you didn’t meet your dream boat tonight, there was always next week at the Dance Halls. These were wonderful places – full of hopes and dreams, full of music and song, full of youth and vitality, noise and energy.
Anticipation and hope lit up the dull days in between. Girls and boys, from all over the country, came to dance the night away. In the 1950s they waltzed and fox-trotted to the big bands and in the 60s they jived, huckle-bucked and twisted to the fabulous music.
We set off to the dance hall every weekend, hungry for excitement. When we arrived there it felt as if our world had gone from black and white to color.
In the cloakroom, we watched girls who had cycled in from the country remove their headscarves and raincoats. We watched as they backcombed their hair and applied their ‘battle red’ lipstick. Some men, in the 1950s, were known to rub goose grease onto their hair in order to style it. Later in the night, this melted under the bright lights of the dance hall. It ran down their faces and smelt terrible, I am told – for this was before my time.
Other friends remember the local carnivals, which took place in villages. Dances were held in a marquee erected in a newly mown hay field. The priest would come, armed with a blackthorn stick and hit the cocks of hay, behind which couples were engaged in ‘close kissing and embracing, repeated and prolonged.’
How can sitting on a sofa with a smartphone be compared with all the excitement of those dance hall days!
Carleton Place Canadian 1958
Classified Announcements for Dance Halls that issue 1958
Dancing Saturday Nights– Town Hall– Carleton Place–Music by CFRA ‘Happy Wanderers’ Admission-75 cents
Mr. Walroth, of Maberly, is in charge of the new cheese factory established this season at Rosebank. The inspector has pronounced the factory first-class in every respect. The farmers who promoted and carried through this enterprise so successfully are deserving of great praise ; but they will doubtless receive a more financial reward in the future.
Appleton J. B. Wylie Almonte.
Clayton J. Drummond, Sec Clayton. .
tl.X.L H. McCreary, Sec McCreary.
Mississippi Pride J. B. W T ylie Almonte.
Rosebank J. B. Wylie Almonte.
Rosedale J. B. Wylie Almonte.
Sherbrooke N. and S. Township.
Fall River Mrs. Jno. Palmer, Sec Maberly.
Lake View Miss L. Norris, Sec Althorpe.
Maberly W. Walroth Maberly.
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
18 May 1946, Sat • Page 6
The Windsor Star
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
27 Jan 1923, Sat • Page 26
NE 1/2, Lot 25, Conc 9, Ramsay Township, on the Mississippi River
Blakeney is one of the prettiest places anytime of the year– and especially in the Spring with the raging waters. The tiny hamlet was originally called Norway Falls because of the incredible Norway Pine trees. But, like most of the small towns here the name was changed a few times. It also became Snedden’s Mills because of the amount of industrial growth in the area and its historical beginnings with the iconic Snedden family.
Alexander Snedden became a militia officer and in 1855 gained the rank of Lieutenant colonel in command of the Ramsay battalion of Lanark Militia. His adjutant was Captain J. B. Wylie, Almonte mill owner. Around the Snedden establishment a small community grew at Norway Falls, known as Snedden’s Mills until in the eighteen fifties it was named Rosebank.
It was renamed Blakeney when the post office of the area was moved here in 1874 from Bennie’s Corners with Peter McDougall as postmaster. In the 1850s the name was changed to Rosebank, but similar to Carleton Place and its postal issue, the name Rosebank was already being used and it changed one more time to Blakeney. The nearby railway station continued to be called Snedden, and the name Rosebank also persisted.
Other early industries at Blakeney included a woollen factory, a brewery at the Pine Isles, a second sawmill and a tannery. A three storey woollen mill of stone construction operated by Peter McDougall, was built in the eighteen seventies. The flour mill at Blakeney continued to be run for some years after the turn of the century by Robert Merilees.
Did you know Blakeney once rivaled Almonte in growth? However the railway chose Almonte as their destination because of the Rosamonds and their textile mills and Blakeney lost the industry to their neighbour.
The Snedden family who came from Rosebank, Scotland, named the place where they settled Rosebank and it is still known by that name in that vicinity. Here the Reform Association conventions of the old District of Bathurst and of the United Counties of Lanark and Renfrew of the eighteen forties and early fifties were held.
Among the treasures this family brought from Scotland were brass candlesticks, brass curtain tics, pictures of Robert Burns, ‘the poet, and of Rev. Robert Burns, who was the Presbyterian minister in the kirk where the Snedden family worshipped, a chair worked in needlepoint, a small Brussels rug and a table cover.
A discriminating traveler of 1846 wrote of “Snedden’s Hotel, which is kept in as good style as any country Inn in the Province.” Another travelling newspaper contributor of fifteen years later added in confirmation: “Who in this portion of Victoria’s domain has not heard of Snedden’s as a stopping place? Ask any teamster on the upper Ottawa and he will satisfy you as to its capabilities of rendering the traveler oblivious to the comforts of his home.” Built in the 1840’s by Alexander Snedden, the white frame structure was well know throughout the Ottawa Valley.
“Who in this portion of Victoria’s domain has not heard of Snedden’s as a stopping place,” one diarist is quoted of commenting regarding the Inn. “Ask any teamster on the Upper Ottawa and he will satisfy you as to its capabilities of rendering traveller oblivious to the comforts of his home.”
Preceded by a log building which had been destroyed by fire, the frame building operated as a stopping place until the mid 1860’s. According to the book, one of the inn’s least welcome lodgers was the man infamously known as the villain of the valley, the notorious Laird Archibald MacNabb. The authors state that MacNabb would produce a 20 pound note to pay for his lodging and since there generally was not sufficient cash on hand to provide change, he would simply walk out and say that his account was settled.
Since its closure as an inn, the building has been utilized as a residence and is now home to Alexander Snedden’s great great grandson, Earle and his family.
The Snedden’s have retained many of the original features of the stopping place including the pine interior doors and the heavy front door that boasts a deep axe scar, courtesy of a drunken patron enraged at being ejected from the premises.
Earle’s wife Marilyn has been told that lumbermen used to “roll up” in blankets and sleep in the two large rooms in the downstairs portion of the house. One of the large rooms on the second floor, she says, served as a dining room while the stopping place was operating.
The original white pine boards on the lower level are now covered by hardwood. Until the change in the 1930’s, people were able to pinpoint the location of the bar through the cigarette butts on the flooring.
The Rosebank flour mill was built by four brother, Alex., David, Jimmy and Willie Snedden. A Mr. Henderson was the first miller. John Usher purchased the mill from the Snedden brothers, and after his death, John Merilee, who came from Fallbrook bought the mill from Mrs. Usher. This was in 1888.
There used to a number of thriving mills in Blakeney, but those structures have long since been demolished.The Rosebank Woolen Mill belonged to Mr. Peter McDougall. It was a large stone building, the ruins of which are still partially standing, and was powered by a large water wheel. It was erected in 1873 and in operation under McDougall until 1901. By 1905 it was being operated by Peter Campbell who purchased the mill in 1906. In 1906 it was sold to the Blakeney Woolen Company Ltd with George C Francis as president.
The Mississippi River turned below the bridge and divided into three parts before resuming its course downstream toward Pakenham. Three dams were built across the three channels to the two Islands formed by the division. One dam served the sawmill, one served the flour mill and one the woolen mill.
The sawmill was built by William Snedden on the north side of the river. The lumber companies, MacLaren and Caldwell, floated squared timber from the upper Mississippi and the Clyde Rivers down through Rosebank, so a “slide” was built below the Peter McDougall property, which ran the logs into what is known as the Bay, a quiet pool of water below the woolen mill.
The village brewery a frame building, was north-west of the woolen mill. The early brew master was Mr. Gomersall. Later the brewery was turned into a home for Mr. Peter McDougall, owner of the woolen mill, and his family who lived there until Mr. McDougall built a brick house at the foot of “Granny” Campbell’s hill. The McDougall house is still standing.
The tannery, also a frame building, was south of the woolen factory. William Reilly was the tanner. His two sons, William and Wellington Herman became doctors and practiced in Montreal as partners. (by Helen Theimer)’
It was not until the late 1860s that lovers of the “stanes” in the Almonte district formed a club and built rinks in the town, but at a much earlier date pioneer Scotch settlers gathered on the Mississippi river at Rosebank, four miles below Almonte, and had the time of their lives. They fished nicely rounded stones from the bed of the river, decorated them with fancy silver-mounted and ebony handles and then “curled” to their hearts’ content.
17 August 1870
It had been a dry spring and even drier summer. By mid August, little rain had fallen in four months, parching the fields and forests of eastern Ontario and western Quebec. On 17 August 1870, a work gang clearing a right-of-way along the Central Canada Railway between Pakenham and Almonte near the village of Rosebank set brush on fire along the tracks. It wasn’t the brightest of moves. With a strong wind blowing from the south, the fire quickly got out of control and spread into the neighbouring woods. Despite efforts by railway workers to douse the flames with water pumped from the nearby Mississippi River, it could not be contained. Racing northward through the tinder-dry forest, the fire sent massive columns of smoke into the air blanketing the region.
Almonte Gazette – Aug, 27, 1927. Read the Almonte Gazette here Robert Snedden Died Suddenly in his Office. Prominent Merchant of Pakenham Expired After Opening Up For The Day.
Belonged to Well Known Ramsay Family. Taught School before Entering Business In Almonte and Later in Pakenham. Mr. Robert Archibald Snedden, merchant of Pakenham, and one of the most prominent business men of North Lanark, died very suddenly this Thursday (25 Aug 1927) morning in his office shortly after 8:00 o’clock. While for some time he had not been in the most robust health, his condition was never regarded as serious, nor was it contemplated that his end was so near. Shortly after opening up for business for the day he suddenly collapsed and expired immediately. He was 58 years of age. Mr. Snedden belonged to one of the most prominent families in this district.
Alexander Snedden, his grandfather, was a noted lumberman in the early days. William Snedden, his father, was also in the lumber business for a time and owned the old sawmill at Blakeney. William Snedden was a power in the Liberal political circles in his day. The late Mr. Snedden was born on the family homestead on the ninth line of Ramsay. He was a graduate of the Almonte High School and was a schoolmaster for some years and many of the residents of that district will speak of his capable care of their education when he was in charge of the Rosebank School.
Photo from the 70s of a mill that once existed by rapids in Blakeney
Names on the map above: (also from the McGill Digital County Atlas Project)
Last Name First Name County Township Town Occupation Birthplace
Barker James Lanark Ramsay Farmer Ramsay Tp., Canada
Barker James Lanark Ramsay Farmer Ramsay Tp., Canada
Black James Lanark Ramsay Farmer; Deputy Reeve of Ramsay Tp. Glasgow, Scotland
Bond J.H. Lanark Ramsay Almonte Tinsmith Lanark Co., Canada
Bowland John Lanark Ramsay Farmer Wicklow Co., Ireland
Coffey John F. Lanark Ramsay Almonte Roman Catholic Priest Ottawa, Canada
Fumerton Archibald W. Lanark Ramsay Appleton General Merchant; Hotel Proprietor, Appleton Ramsay Tp., Canada
Galbraith Daniel Lanark Ramsay Almonte Member of Parliament Glasgow, Scotland
Gemmill James D. Lanark Ramsay Almonte Retired Merchant; Major of Militia Lanark Co., Canada
Gilmour John Lanark Ramsay Almonte Butcher Lanark Co., Canada
Gilmour William Lanark Ramsay Farmer Scotland
Kitson William Lanark Ramsay
Lang John Lanark Ramsay Farmer Ramsay Tp., Canada
Lynch D.P. Lanark Ramsay Almonte Physician and Surgeon Allumette, Quebec, Can
Marshall Robert Lanark Ramsay Farmer; School Trustee Lanark Co., Canada
McCreary Joseph Lanark Ramsay Farmer Ireland (McCreary’s Beach on Mississippi Lake?)
While the Meehan-Fenlon wedding party was driving from Rosebank to Huntley through the pelting rain of Tuesday evening the customary hilarity at such gatherings was being manifested by some of those composing the gay procession.
Mr. *Thomas Coady and Miss Meehan, sister of the bridegroom, were driving together behind Mr. Coady’s spirited team, and, the noise frightening the animals, without a moment’s warning they bolted out of the procession when opposite Mr. John Wilson’s, passing those ahead at a furious rate.
Mr. Coady was thrown out and Miss Meehan then pluckly took the reins but the horses coming in contact with an obstruction, the rig was overturned and Miss Meehan was thrown out, while the team ran seven or eight miles before coming to a stop.
They were found opposite Mr. Wm. O’Keefe’s homestead on the town line. The buggy was still upside down with nothing broken except the pole and the buggy top, the gear and body remaining intact.
Miss Meehan, drenched with rain, and with her arm and knee injured, was carried into County Councillor Hamilton’s residence, where her injuries were attended to. We are glad to learn that she is now little the worse for her exciting experience. Mr. Coady escaped with little injury.
8355-1898 John Lawrence MEEHAN, 28, farmer, Huntley Ont., same, s/o John MEEHAN & Catherine O’CONNELL, married Ann FENTON, 22, Ramsay, same, d/o John FENTON & Ann MANTEL, witn: Christopher MEEHAN of Huntley & Catherine FENTON of Ramsay, 11 Oct 1898 at Almonte
Thomas Coady– Raymond Patrick Coady-son
Anna Rose Nugent was born 15 February 1917. She married Raymond Patrick Coady, son of Thomas Coady and Mary Carroll. He was born 23 January 1917, and died 30 March 1975.
More About Raymond Patrick Coady:
Burial: Indian Hill Cemetery, Pakenham Twp. Lanark Co. Ontario
Child of Anna Nugent and Raymond Coady is:
John Raymond Coady, born 10 July 1943. He married Helen M. Farrell; born 02 June 1948.
Over the years, reports of ghostly apparitions on a fire road below Cowell College (Santa Cruz California) have prompted the area to be named Haunted Meadow. It was in that area on May 14, 1903, that young Sarah Agnes Cowell was killed when she was thrown from a buggy after the horse bolted.