Tag Archives: sawmill

Whispers of Waba

Whispers of Waba
july 1970

An historic landmark — one of the oldest original sawmills in Canada — was levelled by fire (on November 30th, 1956). $30,000 damage was estimated for the machinery alone, not counting the buildings. There was no insurance. Origin of the fire unknown.

Handwritten brief notes by Peter Hessel re: bridge in Waba and some facts about the Waba mills . The bridge on County Road 20 (Highland Road) used to be called the “Cheese Factory Bridge”. The sawmill burned in 1956 (total loss) while Duncan E. Stewart and his wife were away in Ottawa. They rebuilt the next spring, bigger than before. In December 1968, this mill was sold to Edwin Kennedy (a US citizen), who operated it for 6 months, renovated it for 1 year, operated it for 2 weeks, before it burned down in 1970. He then built a large mill (with a large government grant). Kennedy operated that mill for 10 years (when the grant/loan became “forgivable”). Then he leased or sold it to a Canadian business (Bill Emo?), which went bankrupt in about 1981.

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
19 Oct 1970, Mon  •  Page 10

Waba Bridge

The bridge was closed to traffic on June 10, 1963 and torn out in January 1973.” It had been re-topped about 1943. The bridge pylons are still standing in 2001.

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
23 Nov 1898, Wed  •  Page 4
The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
28 Nov 1900, Wed  •  Page 8

Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives
Cheese Factories | Arnprior & McNab/Braeside

Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives
Cheese Factories | Arnprior & McNab/Braeside A

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
21 Aug 1895, Wed  •  Page 1

The Strange Story Of Adam Symes and Miss Jennie Graham

Oh Those Crazy Old Family Tales…

The Water Dragon of White Lake? 1936

The Doctor Dolittle of White Lake–Harry Brown

O.E. Rothwell Lumber Co. Lanark Village by Elaine Rothwell Hanna

O.E. Rothwell Lumber Co. Lanark Village by Elaine Rothwell Hanna

Prestonvale Baseball Team 1934
Back row: Bob McEwen, Mansell Horricks, Henry McFarlane, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford, Roy McEwen, Dawson Horricks
Front row: Ossie Rothwell, Billy Tullis, Lloyd Horricks, John Dickenson from Arlene Stafford

Hello Linda

I really enjoy your articles on Facebook.  With regards to the article about O.E. Rothwell Lumber Co. Ltd. I am attaching information about the lumber mill in Lanark which operated from 1946 to 2003 in the Village employing many local people over the years.

Hope some of this information will be helpful.

Elaine Rothwell Hanna

O.E. Rothwell’s introduction to the Forest Industry started by cutting cordwood in the winter and driving it to Carleton Place by horse and sleigh. In the summer months he was hired out as a farm hand to farms in the area of Ferguson Falls.

In 1936, Ossie, as he was known, hired four private sawmills known as Custom Mills. Two were situated in the Ferguson Falls area, one at Boyd’s Settlement and one at Brightside.

With the onset of World War II, Ossie in 1940 applied to join the Army. As a result of being in the lumber business he was refused entry because he was deemed too important to the war effort at home.

In 1942 Ossie purchased Christie Donaldson’s mill which he set up on the 9ft Concession of Lanark Township. This mill operated there for two years, then was moved to Clydesville for another two years.

In 1944 he purchased Waites Brothers mill with a Crown Timber Licence of 1600 Acres in the Ompah area of Mosque Lake and along with his own mill made one large mill from the two.

This mill was set up in 1946 on South Street in Lanark adjacent to the Clyde River. This was a seasonal mill and operated from April to the end of October. In the winter months a bush camp was set up on the Crown Licence which with logs cut there and private logs purchased locally supplied the mill during the summer period.

1956 saw the business being incorporated and becoming the O.E. Rothwell Lumber Co. Ltd. A planing mill was started in 1959 with equipment from Rothwell-Perrin Lumber Co. Ltd. in Portland, a Company which Ossie and Frank Perrin purchased in 1948 which was formerly Portland Lumber Co.

photo-Elaine Rothwell Hanna

Ossie was President of this Company until 1959 when he sold his shares to Mr. Perrin and some staff members when they started to build Pre-Fabricated houses. Construction of a new sawmill was started on the same site in Lanark in 1966 and started producing Lumber on August 28th, 1967. This automated mill used less labour and the average production was 3,000,000 board feet of lumber per year.

Two Dehumidification Dry Kilns with a capacity of 40,000 board feet were built in L976. This allowed some of the lumber being kiln dried to a moisture content allowing it to be used directly in the manufacturing of furniture.

Ossie retired in 1983 and the business was purchased by Don and Jeff Rothwell. Ossie passed away June 23d, 1985. A new planing mill was started in 1987, 20% of the production was company lumber and the remaining 80% was lumber from companies in Ontario and Quebec needing their lumber planed.

The 1990’s saw a boom in the hardwood lumber industry resulting in many companies building new mills with far larger capacities of production. As a result, in 2001,, with a surplus of hardwood lumber being produced in Canada and the United States and an offshore influence many mills were forced out of business. July 2003 saw the O.E. Rothwell Lumber Co. Ltd.being forced to close their doors.

The Prestonvale ball team in 1932, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford seated 2nd from the end, wearing a tie.
(other players unknown, but may be some of the same players as the 1934 team above)-from Arlene Stafford

photo-Elaine Rothwell Hanna


Rathwells and Rothwells —— O.E. Rothwell Lanark

Rothwell and Sheppard Genealogy Ferguson Falls

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

Samuel Rathwell Geneaology– Looking for Information

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 26- Mary Rathwell and Eleanor Ennis

The Leland and Rathwell Hotels on Bridge Street

Perth Planing Mill –The Second Oldest Lumber Yard in Ontario

Remembering John Drummond Sr. of Clayton

Remembering John Drummond Sr. of Clayton
The sawmill was rebuilt after the great fire at Clayton in 1875 when the mill and all the lumber piled next to it burnt.  1959 was the final recorded year of operation of the saw mill. Photo– 1955.

Almonte Gazette

November 24 1881

Another Ramsay Pioneer Gone to His Rest – On Monday last Mr. John Drummond, of Clayton, passed away to his final rest, at the very advanced age of 87 years. He was born near Stirling, in Scotland in the year 1794, and emigrated thence to the township of Ramsay in 1822, and was thus one of that band of hardy pioneers of whom but few are now living, whose steady perseverance, unceasing industry and strong common sense raised Ramsay to the position it long held as premier township of the county.

As an illustration of the difficulties met with by those men, and the manner in which they were overcome, it may not be amiss to relate the following anecdote of Mr. Drummond: During the summer of 1822 he unfortunately broke his axe, and set out on foot to Perth – 20 miles distant – to buy another. On arriving there he found that the merchants (or merchant) had none in stock, but expected a supply within a week.

This, however, did not suit Mr. Drummond, who started for Brockville , bought his axe and returned home, walking the whole distance! In 1864 he removed to Clayton bought the Bellamy property and rebuilt the mills, but retired from active life, leaving the management of the business to his son, D. Drummond, Esq. late Reeve of Ramsay.

Before the formation of county councils he took an active part in the management of local affairs, but since that time he has always declined public office and manifested little interest in politics beyond voting for and steadily supporting the Reform party at every election for a member of either House. Mr. Drummond was well known as an honest, industrious and straightforward man, and the esteem in which he was held was fully exemplified by the large number who attended his funeral, which took place on Wednesday to the Clayton cemetery.

From Rose Mary Sarsfield’s book

“Whispers from the Past, History and Tales of Clayton” sold out the first printing of 200 copies during the first week. If you want to purchase a book please email me at rose@sarsfield.ca or call me at 613-621-9300, or go to the Clayton Store, or Mill Street Books in Almonte.

Snippets– The Drummond Farm — Aida Drummond

Foley’s Mill —– Water Street Almonte

Foley’s Mill  —– Water Street Almonte
The City of Foley traces its roots back to the 19th century lumber barons and the four Foley brothers who settled in Benton County in the late 1800s. The brothers originally came from Lanark in eastern Ontario, Canada. Their Irish immigrant family made Lanark their home during the second administration of President Andrew Jackson during the turbulent 1830s. CLICK here

1945 Almonte Gazette

Some time ago The Gazette published the gist of a letter received from E. T. Foley of Pasadena, Cal., asking about the location of a mill his uncle owned in the vicinity of Almonte and wondering if a picture of it could be procured. Elsewhere in this issue is a letter from one of our out-of-town subscribers dealing with the matter at some length. Dr. J. F. Dunn and Wm, Young also gave information in regard to the mill mentioned by Mr. Foley which coincides with what appears in the letter. Dr. Dunn states that the Foley home was the first ,on the left past Hall’s Mills.

The original Hall, who operated the mill there, was married to a Foley and the house where they lived is now occupied by Mr, Cameron. Mrs. Shane of Pakenham was another Foley. The brothers, Timothy and Michael, uncles of E. T. Foley of Pasadena, after selling out the sawmill here to the Caldwell interests, went to the United States and became wealthy as railroad contractors. Those who recall the old sawmill think it extremely unlikely that any photograph of it will be in existence. It stood approximately on the site where Dennis Galvin’s portable mill was located up to a few years ago. In those day’s the art of photography was not what it is now and a building had to be of great public importance to merit attention of that kind

This has been received from one of The Gazette’s subscribers who prefers to remain anonymous:

The Editor, Almonte Gazette, Almonte, Ont.

Dear Sir: A recent issue of The Gazette makes reference to a letter received from Mr. Edward T. Foley of Pasadena, California, asking information about a saw mill which was owned by his uncle in Almonte many years. I am not acquainted with Mr. Foley but I presume he is a nephew of one of members of the original firm of Messrs. T. & T. Foley of Almonte who later became the firm of Foley Brothers well known lumbermen and railway contractors of St. Paul, Minn.

The Foleys had left Almonte long before my time but I had often heard of them. I believe there were five brothers, Timothy, Thomas, Michael, John and George (Tim, Tom, Mike, John and George). There were also several sisters, one of whom was married to a Mr. Hall after whom Hall’s Mills was named. There was a mill at that place but I do not think it is the one Mr. Foley has in mind. In my boyhood days there was a saw mill at the far end of Water Street just beyond the N.L.A.S. fair grounds. At that time the mill was owned by one of the Caldwells of Lanark Village but I do not think he was the original owner. I think I would be correct in saying that the mill had been built and operated for a while by the Foleys but afterwards disposed of to Mr. Caldwell.

The Foley home was on W ater S treet not so very far from the mill. Their’s was a corner property directly across from the fair grounds. The house, a frame building of rather ornate design, faced on a street the name of which I cannot re ­ call, but it extended from the exhibition grounds towards the C.P. R. tracks. On the Water Street side there was a high closed fence but it was not a crude or ugly affair, it was constructed of dressed lumber and was of neat design. There was no open gate but a closed door, apparently designed to ensure privacy. The door was not flush wi|th the fence but rather inset somewhat like a casement. Different times when passing that way I noticed what appeared like lettering deeply penciled in black on the frame of the casement. Upon closer inspection in plain capital letters: the name T. & T. Foley was disclosed. This, I believe, answers Mr. Foley’s inquiry. I am quite sure the mill on Water Street is the one owned by his uncle, and the house was the one the family occupied.

When I remember this house first, it was the residence of the late Mr. Robert Pollock. It is has beenmany years since I passed that way but the last time I did so, it was still in existence. As for the mill, I am not in a position to say. It was not large but was well built and unless purposely destroyed, some trace of it will surely remain. To digress a little, I might say that at the mill there were three piers built in the river just above the mill and extending from pier to pier were booms of squared timber, the idea of course, being to harbour the logs to be sawed at the mill and to prevent them from floating down the river.

Among the younger fry, the piers were spoken of as first, second and third and were great favorite places for swimming and diving. I recall one experience when, in diving I struck my head with such force on a sunken log, that I was nearly stunned. I consider myself lucky that I was not drowned. But to return to the original topic, I think that my recollections are fairly accurate and I hope may be of interest. It is quite evident that Mr. Foley would like to know something of the early beginning of the Foley Bros, and properly so. They were among the many Canadians who won fame and fortune in the U.S.A.

Yours very truly, First, Second and Third Piers

Author’s Note-

I had written about Henry Lang’s Barn a few years ago and remembered something about the Caldwell Sawmill. Sure enough this is what happened to it.

Almonte Gazette July 22 1898—The old sawmill opposite “island” (save the mark !) at  the N.L.A.S. grounds has been torn down and towed across the river to the farm of  Mr. and Mrs. Lang, where the the bulk of the timbers, etc., will be used in the erection of a barn to replace the one destroyed by fire.

Almonte Gazette September 2, 1898–That barn of Mr. Henry Lang’s will be an interesting one from the fact that its material has been mostly furnished by two  landmarks Mr Caldwell’s old sawmill and Mr. Cannnon’s shingle mill on the shore of the bay below the town—both, as well as the timber slides, having become relics and reminders to the present generation that in bygone years Almonte was a live lumbering centre. Read- Henry Lang and His Lanark County Magic Barn?

History of Foley - Railroad

Also read

The City of Foley traces its roots back to the 19th century lumber barons and the four Foley brothers who settled in Benton County in the late 1800s. The brothers originally came from Lanark in eastern Ontario, Canada. Their Irish immigrant family made Lanark their home during the second administration of President Andrew Jackson during the turbulent 1830s. CLICK here


The Sad Tale of the Foley Family–Foley, Harper, Sly, Bowes & Elliott

Foley House

Foley Almonte — Genealogy

Foley Mountain Conservation Area History Information

The Old Lionel Barr Sawmill Middleville 1941 — Laurie Yuill

The Old Lionel Barr Sawmill Middleville 1941 — Laurie Yuill

Play while viewing photos

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All Photos from Aggie Yuill’s photo album and shared by Middleville historian Laurie Yuill

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and the cutest one of all shot in 1937 below


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)


Edward Welsh – William Lee’s Sawmill


The Old Saw Mill Poem – Lanark County



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Saw mill, grist and shingle mill established by Isaac Currie 1860 on the Fall River. Maberly. Photo: Library of Archives Canada 1870

The Old Saw Mill – By the Mississippi River–by Unknown

In a little town so still

There’s a building old and battered

‘Tis the old saw-mill.

It is twisted, it is tattered

From the toil of many years

The walls are scratched and shattered

Yet it shows no sign of fear.

The carriage growls and grumbles

As it journeys to and fro,

And the engine howls and mumbles

Making all the pullies go.


Perth Remembered

The belts all need relacing.

And the track is out of line.

The saw should have refacing.

Ere it splits another pine.

The melting snow is dripping

Through the knot holes in the roof,

But the saw goes on a ripping

She’s still running that is proof.

The saw-dust chain is whining

How that edger saw does throb

But the boss looks quite contented


Perth Remembered photo-PENMAN’S SAWMILL MIDDLEVILLE 1910

For it’s still doing the job.

No matter what the weather

The work goes on the same

There’s no excuse for stopping

For the weather man’s to blame

What’s it matter if its raining.

What’s it matter if it snows.

There is no use complaining.

And so that’s the way it goes.



Caldwell Steam Sawmill in Wilbur-photo from Ruby and Raymond Blackburn


At the edger there’s a fellow

Who is working all the day

He wears a suit of yellow

And he’s drawing steady pay.

His name is Erwin Downey

And across the track from him

Is the faithful Ira Deugo,

Who is working with such vim.

Eric Needham, known as Kelly

Is the man who piles the slabs

He is one of our best workers



Yet he loves to stand and gab.

Joey Bowman helps the teamster

And is always in the way

Yet he does his best and that is worth

The very best of pay.

Wash. Sheffield from Arnprior

Is the sawyer of the crew

He pulls and shoves the levers

While tobacco he does chew

And our well known comedian

Who is anything but green


Perth RememberedPenmans Saw Mill Gang–Middleville

Is the man who twirls the can hook

His name is Lornie Steen.

The boy who saws the slabs in lengths.

Provides us lots of fun

His name is Gordie Belford

But we always call him Hon.

The fellow that I near forgot

Is always on the go

He follows two good horses

And he doesn’t dare be slow.


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Perth Historical Society Photo-Thanks to Brad Nichols, of Lanark, who advises that this is the former Caldwell Grist and Sawmill on the Clyde River in Lanark.

The horses too deserve a line

In this our loggers song.

The ever willing workers

Who are so true and strong.

And last of all the scaler

Who is the foreman too

Stands there all day and keeps the score

Of all the work we do.

He sees the boards come sliding out.

And always he’s the same

Through rain or shine through work or rest

Frank Needham is his name.

And here I end my story


Before Riverside park, there was Caldwell’s Saw Mill. Located approximately where the beach is now, this saw mill operated from 1869 to 1891. Photo- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

I hope you’ll think its fine

The story of the loggers

Who love the smell of pine.

Now if you plan on building

A barn or anything

Here’s where to get your lumber sawed

Just visit us next spring.



Related reading

Where Was Hunter’s Mill and Huntersville?

Memories and Mentions of Names in Maberly


thanks to the Sabourin Scrapbook

Before and After at Centennial Park




Centennial Park Carleton Place 2015–Photo by Linda Seccaspina- Photo taken  by Hawthorne Mill



In 1900 Abner Nichols & Son brought their season’s log drive down the lake to their newly opened sawmill at the riverside at the end of Flora Street; while two drives of logs, ties and telegraph poles were reaching the mill operated by Williams, Edwards & Company at the dam. It was destroyed by fire in 1939.

Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Both photos were taken from the same spot that I took the top picture from. Notice the two big trees on the right are still there.

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
07 Dec 1910, Wed  •  Page 1 .

Feeling Groovy by the Lake Ave East Bridge


Last night Kenneth Jackson told me on Facebook that there was a livery stable on Beckwith Street near the church parking lot. (St. Andrews) That reminded me of the find that Jennifer Fenwick Irwin from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum told me about a few weeks ago. Take a look at this map.


Photo-Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum-This map dates to 1868 with updates in red done in 1873. Rochester Street didn’t exist in 1868 “This has become the division line by length of occupation”. The name Rochester is penciled in red in the 1873 update along with “this part of Street laid out by third parties”.

Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum  The stream crossing under 12 Con. (now Lake Avenue East) had A BRIDGE! (at the corner of Beckwith Street). This stream still runs, mostly underground, but is visible in backyards along Argyle Street, and then again along Sussex Avenue.


This stream is why my home was named Springside Hall as the stream still runs under it (ask me about he basement floods in the very beginning) and down the hill  to a small stone pond at the bottom of my backyard (that someone needs to dig out before it’s lost forever) and then it runs into Argyle/ Lisgar Street.


Bottom of Lisgar/Argyle Street


Lake Ave East–Bridge was likely just over where the CPR tracks once were.

Did you know that the stream was once well used? Carleton Place resident Carman Lalonde told me that the sawmill that was on the southeast corner of Lake Avenue and Moore Streets used the stream, which used to be much wider, to clean things free from sawdust.

That sawmill was originally the site of W.A. Nichols’ Sons Lumber, and it became W & S Building Supplies around 1948.(Waugh and Snedden) Today is is known as Mac’s Milk, which remains on the site today (as simply Mac’s) was built in 1988.


Related Reading:

Where Was One of the Open Air Rinks in Carleton Place?

The Morphy Cram House — Springside Hall

Winter —Rochester Street Looking North– Before and After