Tag Archives: textile mills

Tears From the Old Gears of the Mills




Photo of interest taken by Lanark County Society Genealogical President Jayne Munroe-Ouimet– Photo took at the entrance to the Barley Mow in Almonte. Gears from one of the mills located nearby. Just not certain which mill. Anyone know?

Jeff Mills commented on the Lanark County Genealogical Society page yesterday

There used to be power generation in the Thoburn Mill. I’m thinking these gears came out of the mill at the time the boiler room was redeveloped. Stephen Brathwaite will know for certain. The rock garden was created by Ameila Ah you and Ed Lawrence.

Perth Courier, April 29, 1938

The Woolen Mills on the Mississippi

Reprint from the Ottawa Citizen “Old Time Stuff”

In an interesting pen picture of the many thriving woolen mills which dotted the Mississippi River from Innisville to Almonte in the 70’s and 80’s, J. Sid Annabie(?) draws attention to the fact that one of the pioneer industries was a blanket mill which operated above the bridge at Innisville by the late Abraham Code father of the late T.A. Code of Perth.

The initial purpose of this pioneer venture was the manufacture all wool blankets for the river travelers and shanty men on the upper Mississippi and its tributaries.  It was the largest industry in that district in the 60’s and 70’s and provided employment for many of the inhabitants.

Abraham Code was one of the leading figures in Lanark County.  He represented the county in the Ontario legislature.  After severing his connection with the industry some time in the 80’s he was appointed Inspector of Weights and Measures with headquarters in Ottawa.  He was a son of the late John Code who came to Canada from Ireland in the early ‘20’s of the last century and was one of the pioneer settlers of the Innisville district.

The Innisville blanket mill was destroyed by a fire in 1879 and in the following year Mr. Code moved to Carleton Place and commenced operation on the first steam mill on the Mississippi River at that point.  This old mill was constructed of stone and was five stories high, 70 feet wide, 100 feet long.  All of the looms and in fact all of the machinery was brought from Scotland as well as 20 families who were brought over to work in the mills and operate the complicated machinery.

Two years later, Mr. Code was obliged to sever his connection with the mill and it was taken over by W.W. Wylie of Almonte who continued the operation for many years.  Mr. Wylie took an active interest in the civic and military life of Carleton Place.  He was made captain and later colonel of the 41st Battalion of Volunteers and under him Capt. Joe McKay, Lt. Brown and Sgt. Jack Annable served.

In 1880, James Gillis built a stone woolen mill below the railroad bridge, taking the lower waters by flume for his power.  The factory was a success from the start and brought to Carleton Place many skilled workers. Bob McGregor was boom weaver, Sam Berryman was head of the finishing department and the drying house was under the supervision of Jack Clark.  Their high grade of worsteds were in great demand all over Canada.  This historical plant is still running and is being operated by Bains(?) and Innis.

Three miles further down the Mississippi at Appleton another mill was operated by T.C. Caldwell of Lanark.

With reference to Almonte, Mr. Annable says:  “Almonte was the most natural spot for water development.  William Thoburn established, I believe, the first woolen mill at this point.  Then Bennett Rosamund built the largest broad loom on the river and brought expert weavers from Scotland to work init.  Later he built his #2 mill and still later absorbed the Thoburn interests.  In the 60’s and 70’s the village and thus it soon became known as the woolen mill center.”


Want to see more? Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

Was Working in One of Our Local Mills Like Working in a Coal Mine?






About 4,000 weavers and artisans from the Scottish lowlands arrived in Lanark County around 1820. Because of the textile industry background of these settlers, Lanark County became the centre of the textile industry in eastern Ontario. Almost two dozen woollen firms once existed along the length of the Mississippi between Pakenham and Maberly. Carding (brushing/preparing) and fulling (scouring and thickening) mills augmented the wool industry and supported villagers in towns such as Clayton, Fallbrook and Maberly.


Almonte Mill-Photo-www.bytown.net

Letter to the Editor-Almonte Gazette 1879

Dear Sir,

Eleven hours of confinement in a factory is neither conducive to physical or mental
health, and surely both of these are of sufficient importance to be considered in the
decision of the question. I would therefore join in the appeal made to the employers of labour to assist in building up a strong physical and intellectual population in Almonte and Carleton Place. Let us relax the strain upon the one and affording more opportunity for the cultivation of the other, both of which objects would be secured by reducing the present fatiguing hours which make an employee’s day.

Textile Mill at Appleton, Ontario, Canada

Teskey Mills- Photo-www.bytown.net
Let our employers pass through the factories during the last hour of the present
day, and note carefully the many silent but expressive evidences that will surround
them. Nature has been and is strained almost to its utmost, and they will soon come
to the conclusion that the last hour cannot be a very profitable one.
Many of the employees are heads of families, and the early hour at which they leave
home and the late- one of their return prevent them seeing the younger
branches of their families oftener than once a week; thus the feeling of our nature
which should be the most carefully guarded and cherished, are stunted in their growth,
and harm is done to both parent of a child.



Hawthorne Mill Carleton Place

Some of us have bluntly introduced the wages question, but I think that may safely be left to the honor of the employers (and past experience proves that they are all honorable men) to be settled thus: -many of the employees work by the piece, and if, as contend, the reduction of the hours would not diminish the production, then it is evident there would be as great a demand upon the day hand; as now, and therefore having to do the same work, though in less time, they should be paid the same.

Perth Mill- Perth Remembered

In thus putting the matter I have appealed to the higher nature of the employers, but
still there is in us all a certain selfishness that is more likely to second an appeal of
this kind, it it can be shown that the parties making the change would not suffer by it,
and upon this point an ounce of fact is worth a ton of speculation.


A Friend


Photo by Linda Seccaspina –Mississippi Valley Textile Mill Museum

The writer, only known as ‘a friend’ was at one time in-charge of a manufacturer employing nearly one thousand, young and old in Scotland, and when he joined the hours were: six A. M. to seven P. M, with one hour for dinner.

After a short time he called the employer’s attention to the exhaustive nature of the employment, when kept up for so many hours. But as competition with other houses was keen, the employer was not willing to run the risk of reducing production. He however gave the writer liberty to try his views upon a small scale, and it was tried in this way:at nine and at four o’clock, twenty minutes recess were allowed.


Relate reading:

Babies in the Textile Mills

The Apple Does Not Fall far from the Tree — Virtual Tour of a Teskey Home

1844 Factory Act

R. W. Cooke-Taylor, the author of The Factory System was also an Inspector of Factories. In his book he explained the 1844 Factory Act.

The Factory Act of 1844 is an extremely important one in the history of family legislation. The Act reduced the hours of work for children between eight and thirteen to six and a half a day, either in the morning or afternoon, no child being allowed to work in both on the same day, except on alternate days, and then only for ten hours. Young persons and women (now included for the first time) were to have the same hours, i.e. not more than twelve for the first five days of the week (with one and a half out for meals), and nine on Saturday.

Certificates of age were to be granted in future only by surgeons appointed for the purpose. Accidents causing death or bodily injury were to be reported to these surgeons, who were to investigate their cause and report the result to the inspector. The factory was to be thoroughly washed with lime every fourteen months. A Register was likewise to be kept; in which were to be entered the names of all children and young persons employed, the dates of the lime-washing, and some other particulars. Certificates of school attendance were to be obtained in the case of children.