Tag Archives: taxidermy

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

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

I was doing some research in the Almonte Gazette and came across this article in 1943. So what happened to all the taxidermists heads that used to be in the town hall. Just very curious?

The Homestead – a John Dunn story — Photo

November 23 1943

Word has reached Almonte of the death in London, Eng., of Miss Winnifred Dunlop Gemmill, elder daughter of the late Lieutenant Colonel James Dunlop Gemmill. She is the last member of a pioneer Almonte family which held a most prominent place in the life of this community for many years. Following the death of her father August 18, 1929, she came to Canada with the remains which were interred in the Auld Kirk Cemetery. Soon afterwards she returned to London, Eng., where she had resided ever since.

Her father, the late Col. Gemmill, was so far as is known, the oldest native of Almonte at the time of his death. He was 96 years of age and was a former commander of the old Lanark and Renfrew 42nd Regiment. The late Miss Gemmill’s mother was Katherine Murdoch Knight.

 Two daughters were born to this union, namely, Miss Margaret Edith Gemmill, the younger, who died in California in 1913 at the age of 31 years. The mother died in Rome, where the family had resided for some years and her remains were buried there. 

Col. Gemmill was a world traveller and his daughter Winnifred accompanied him much of the time. During his declining years she was his constant companion. Although away from Almonte for so many years Miss Gemmill kept up a constant interest in the community. She was a subscriber to the Gazette at the time of her death and occasionally wrote letters to this office commenting on items that interested her. 

Some years ago she gave tangible proof of her regard for the old town by donating to it a splendid collection of wild animals’ heads which were trophies of her father’s big game hunting expeditions in Africa and other parts of the globe. These specimens of the taxidermist’s skill were placed on the walls of the town hall and the council chamber and evoke favorable comment from visitors to that building. 

The time the war broke out, it is understood, was Miss Gemmills desire to return here but the dangers of crossing the oceans scared her so she never returned. The picturesque Gemmill home with its gabled windows, stands deserted at a point where Bridge and Country streets merge. It has suffered considerably at the hands of vandals and many people believe something should have been done to stop this nefarious practice.

The farm, consisting of some 100 acres, lies within the boundaries of the town and Miss Gemmill was one of Almonte’s heaviest taxpayers up to a few years ago when it was made impossible to transfer money from Great Britain to other countries. It is whispered about that Miss Gemmill’s will is a very interesting one indeed. Miss Gemmill died at her London home on Friday, Oct. 19th. 1943

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
30 Oct 1944, Mon  •  Page 13
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Sat, Nov 27, 1943 · Page 2

A stone cairn stands close to the heart of the town of Almonte. Erected on the lawn in front of the complex housing the Community Centre, the Arena and the Curling Club, a bronze plaque on the cairn states that the surrounding acres make up GEMMILL PARK, and that the whole acreage was donated to the Town of Almonte by Winifred Knight Dunlop Gemmill, spinster.

The Homestead – a John Dunn story

More than a century ago it was the 100 acre farm of pioneer John Gemmill where maple, oak, and pine competed for sunlight at the margin of the farm fields. This month’s column is an introduction to a significant white oak that grew on the Gemmill farm at field’s edge

Gemmill Homestead white oak

Unexpected Almonte
April 13, 2020  · 

This old water fountain is located in Gemmill Park, #Almonte. Enter the park across from the Esso, where the road entrance is, walk down that road and when you are parallel with highway 29, you will see this fountain on your right in the bushes. Was it placed in the park near its inception – sometime shortly after 1943?

In 1943, when the blitz raged over London, Winnifred Knight Dunlop Gemmill, last of the Gemmill family, died. In her will the Gemmill homestead properties were gifted to the people of Almonte for their recreation and enjoyment. I’ve heard that this area, at this end of the park, near this fountain, was a popular picnic spot during that era. Gemmill Park is still a wonderful park, with picnic spots, trails, water and washrooms… 🙂

Thanks Kathy for the photo and directional details
The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
28 Dec 1936, Mon  •  Page 8
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 May 1952, Fri  •  Page 17

1881 Census

Name:Winnifred Gemmill


Birth Year:1880Birthplace:Quebec

Religion:Canada Presbyterian Church

Nationality:Scotch (Scotish)


District Number:112District:Lanark NorthSub-District

Number:BSubdistrict:AlmonteDivision:1Household Members:

James D. Gemmill48
Catherin M. Gemmill32
Winnifred Gemmill1
Mary Brownlee35

Jessie Leach Gemmill -The “Claire Fraser” of Lanark

History of McLaren’s Depot — by Evelyn Gemmill and Elaine DeLisle

Next Time You Drive Down Highway 15–Gemmils

From Gemmil’s Creek to the Riel Rebellion

Orchids in Gemmils Swamp June 1901

Stuffed Frogs and Birds — Andrew Cochrane

Stuffed Frogs and Birds — Andrew Cochrane
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
25 Oct 1899, Wed  •  Page 5
THE CARD GAME RED SQUIRRELS victorian taxidermy stuffed mammal case novelty  | Taxidermy art, Taxidermy, Victorian

Andrew Cochrane one of our local grocers lived in Carleton Place, Ontario, in 1901. When Andrew Cochrane was born on September 18, 1857, in Oxford, Ontario, his father, John, was 59 and his mother, Mary, was 39. He married Elizabeth Campbell on September 8, 1886, in Lanark, Ontario. They had five children in 10 years. He died in 1935 in Edmonton, Alberta, at the age of 78.

Ottawa Journal 1899

His son Edwin Rathwell was born on December 21, 1889, in Almonte, Ontario. His daughter Ida West was born on August 9, 1891, in Lanark, Ontario. His daughter Eva Burnett was born on November 4, 1894, in Lanark, Ontario. His daughter Mary Mathilda was born on March 1, 1898, in Lanark, Ontario. His son John Campbell was born on June 17, 1900, in Carleton Place, Ontario. His son John Campbell passed away on October 30, 1902, in Lanark, Ontario, at the age of 2. His mother Mary Rathwell passed away on February 7, 1906, in Carleton Place, Ontario, at the age of 88.

Victorian Taxidermy

Name That Carleton Place Butcher? FOUND!!!

Local Women Wearing Hats– Photos Chica Boom Chica Boom

Shades of The Godfather in Dr. Preston’s Office in Carleton Place

The Curious World of Bill Bagg –The Deer Heads

Shades of The Godfather in Dr. Preston’s Office in Carleton Place



I don’t know about you but I have a difficult time with taxidermy. I realize in years gone by it was the norm to have dead animals around your home and on the walls. A few years ago I walked into a friends home to see he had his two late dogs stuffed and on top of the television. I was horrified.


However–when does replacing books and magazines with a taxidermy head begin in a doctor’s office? I love horses, so seeing a horses head on the wall would bother me– especially if I was 8 years old.  Carleton Place’s local veterinary Dr. McGregor installed a two headed calf on his wall one day and Dr. Preston on Bridge Street decided to follow suit. What did he put on the wall?

Dr. Preston had a horse head placed on his vestibule wall and announced to all it was the real horse from “Little Vic’s Colt”.  Little Vic’s Colt was the story of a race horse with a white star between his eyes and the son of Victory and grandson of Man o’ War. Some people laughed at Little Vic and said Little Vic was too small and too jumpy to be a race horse. But when a young boy from Harlem called Pony loved a horse more than himself, great things happened–like being a jockey. Doris Gates wrote the beloved children’s book and it was published in 1951.

So my question is? Where did that horse head in Dr. Preston’s office come from? Where did it go? Do I really want to know? And-they call me strange…..

Who did the taxidermy in Carleton Place?  Seems Pete and Jimmy Garvin did a  lot of taxidermy work in their spare hours. Samples of their work were all over town and some of their best pieces used to be in the High School. Word was some of it was still hanging around until it was torn down.


Photos and files from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum