Tag Archives: wells

The Gemmill Well in Almonte 1951

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The Gemmill Well in Almonte 1951

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 ❤️

August 1951

Water coming from taps in the New England section of Almonte has an unpleasant taste and wears a yellow tinge, Town Council -was told at its regular meeting Tuesday .night by Councillor Walter Morton. He said he had heard complaints from several friends who lived in that part of the town and one of them had gone So far as to say the aqua pura had an evil smell.

He asked Reeve George Gomme, Chairman of the Waterworks Committee, if he could throw any light on the subject. Mr. Gomme said he had heard some talk of the kind but as the water was tested – periodically in the Provincial health laboratories, and as every sample came back marked A l, which is the purest classification, he could not see what more there was to do in the matter.

Mr. Gomme said that he understood the local medical health officer secured samples from various sections of the town including New England. One thing sure the water was pure for drinking purposes no matter what color it was or how it tasted. It developed that other members of the Council had heard talk of the water being brackish in New England. One man suggested that it might be iron. Another said he understood the water was at its worst when the well in Gemmill Park, which is practically a failure, was turned on.

This shaft led down into a dolomite rock formation and was practically abandoned so far as a good producer is concerned. The driller said that when dolomite is encountered it means the well will be a failure. However, as the water supply at that time was most precarious and as some water could be obtained from the dud, a small pump was installed and is used from time to time.

No one in the Council was in a position to say whether the well in the park was the culprit or not. Mr. Gomme said it would be an easy matter to have the medical officer, Dr. Fred Snedden, take his next sample from some tap in New England. But again, the Reeve pointed out that while the sample would likely come back from Toronto rating the purest classification possible that would not take a nasty taste out of it nor affect its color.

It was finally decided to send a sample of the water away for mineral analysis. A small quantity of water was taken from a tap in Mr. Harvey Scott’s residence and is now on its way for this test. The laboratory experts will no doubt be able to tell what is in the water and what makes it taste and look the way it does but whether they will be able to suggest a remedy remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gomme reported, the well at the corner of Hope and Euphemia Streets was practically ready for operation. There were still a couple of valves to be installed and a pump house to be built. It is believed this is a very fine well with lots df water. If present hopes are justified it may be the answer to the complaints of New England people about the quality of the water that passes through the taps.

When it is turned on it will probably be quite sweet and if the quantity is what most people think it will be no longer necessary to use the well in Gemmill Park.

also discussed at same meeting.

Need of new doors in the local lock-up was discussed by the Council. Opinion is a child could get out of th e cells as they are.

The municipality (the Town of Mississippi Mills) supplies drinking water to approximately 5,350 people in Almonte. There are five municipal wells constructed between 1948 and 1991 varying in depth from 38 to 79 metres.

Where does the water come from?

The municipal wells draw groundwater from the Nepean Sandstone Aquifer which is well-known for supplying a good volume of quality drinking water.

Drinking Water in Almonte –read here

Gemmill Park Skating Rink May Be Illegal–1947

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

The Homestead – a John Dunn story

Jessie Leach Gemmill -The “Claire Fraser” of Lanark

From Gemmil’s Creek to the Riel Rebellion

Gemmill Park Forest read click

The Community Wells — Water Water Everywhere?

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The Community Wells — Water Water Everywhere?

Before the waterworks system was introduced, it shows that the civic wells were a great source of trouble to the Councils of our areas. With the growth of the towns there were increasing demands from various parts of our towns for additional wells.

People began to tire of walking too far to draw their water and began to ask for wells closer to their homes. At first the civic wells were all “open” wells of the old oaken bucket type. When pumps came in people began to demand that the wells be covered over and pumps put in. There were good reasons why people wanted pumps instead of the buckets and chains.

The first was a sanitary reason. Mischievous people had a playful habit of dropping dead dogs and cats into the wells, and that wasn’t pleasant. The second reason was that a pump was much easier to operate than a bucket, and the people were beginning to get lazy. The third reason (and an important one) was that the open wells were dangerous. Now and again children fell into them. People were afraid to send their children alone to the wells. But, no child could fall into a pump, so pumps were preferred.

The Town Councils were also bothered by demands for wells to be cleaned out — and chains broke and the buckets were stolen. To cover an open well and put in a pump cost about fifty dollars. To dig a new well cost from $175 to $130 according to depth.

The towns were poor in the 1860s and 1870s and it was hard to find the money for the new wells or the covering of the existing ones. But then the towns had business places which required a considerable amount of water in connection with their businesses and they began to request that they be allowed to tap the wells and run pipes from the bottoms of the wells into their cellars.

One interesting thing was the wells was said to have fine water but the wells were never tested. They may have been, but there is no reference to the fact– nor complaints about the water. In those days, people were used to getting some dirt in their mouths from time to time. They drank out of delivery barrels from the hardware store which were seldom cleaned, and out of their own barrels which were frequently uncovered and subject to dust and contamination. But somehow or other they survived.

The days of the civic wells are gone, never to return, now that we have filtered water. But in the typhoid epidemic of the nineteen hundreds, the people were glad to use the new bored wells.

By the middle of the 1870’s, it was expected that a fashionable home in Carleton Place would have running water and an indoor bathroom.  This was generally accomplished by placing a large water tank in the attic which was usually lead lined — one reason the average life span was shorter back then.

One water pipe usually ran down to a boiler in the kitchen, where it could be heated.  Victorian bathrooms were virtually always located on the second floor and near the back of the house.  This served an esthetic purpose — Victorians definitely believed that bathrooms should be neither seen nor heard — and also placed the bathroom so that water pressure from the attic could conveniently supply the bathtub by pushing hot water up from the kitchen boiler.  The flush toilets of the era also worked off gravity, utilizing flush compartments that were placed as high as eight feet above the toilet, and activated by a long pull chain.

How did they fill the attic water tank in the first place?  Well, with a little luck, from rain water.  Gutters were used to funnel rainwater into the tank (which were built to hold as much as 600 gallons), and if the weather failed, the well-to-do could always depend upon wells and servants with buckets or hand pumps. Then there were the cisterns that are in our homes that I wrote about.

Carleton Place Waterworks
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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
29 Mar 1911, Wed  •  Page 2

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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
28 Jun 1912, Fri  •  Page 16

Did you know that when they laid the first water pipes in Carleton Place workers were brought in from Romania, Italy and the Baltic states? They all boarded at Leech’s School right next to Barker’s parking lot.

So it has been documented in a few places that there was a community well for years in Carleton Place on Queen Street. Jennifer Fenwick Irwin and I asked Duncan Rogers but he had no idea. So this week I went searching. I  initially thought it was at the bottom of Albert Street between Princess and Queen Street but then I drove up to the top by Coleman Street and I seriously think they were here as they were close to the C.P.R train station as mentioned in the newspapers.

There is also the fact that Mr McRae had his huge plof of Gladiolas in this space and if you look at the photo below this one the location is in the same spot and he the garden was so huge that he had water in a few locations probably from these old wells.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Benson McRae

2019

Photos from the McRae family.Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Benson McRae
Almonte Waterworks
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he Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 Aug 1919, Sat  •  Page 3
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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
14 Jul 1906, Sat  •  Page 3
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The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
18 Sep 1906, Tue  •  Page 9
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The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
04 May 1907, Sat  •  Page 19

A Record of Drowning — River Falls and Cisterns

Tales of the Cistern —- Jan McCarten Sansom

Cisterns I Have Known

Do You have an Archaeological Find in Your Carleton Place Basement?

Do You have a Hidden Room in Your Home?

“The Tim Horton’s River” Under my House.. Is That the Way To Fraggle Rock?

William Pattie — Built More Homes Than Any Other Man

The Body in the Well Mystery

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Photo from The Astronomer who Fell Into the Well

October 1867– Almonte Gazette

The Well Mystery

The adjourned inquest on the body found in the well last week was resumed Friday evening last when two witnesses- ones most likely to know something in connection with the strange affair we examined. But their evidence was only to the effect of rendering the strange affair more hidden and mysterious.

Not the slightest clue was obtained as to whom the body might have been in life, or how it came in the well and the coroner came to rest content with the adjournment and take steps to have the bottom of the well thoroughly examined so if there were any traces remaining they could be produced at the next meeting of the jurors.

No future evidence could be provided to solve the mystery of who was in the well and how he fell in.

 

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In August of 2016  a Redwater Alberta woman fell in an open well and struggled for hours to pull herself out. Trieva McBeth said she was walking her dog Loki in a rural area near Highway 643, and while in a secluded area, she fell into an open well that had been obscured by tall grass.

McBeth said she plummeted down the seven foot well – and hoped a passing driver would come to her rescue, but nobody did.

“I never want to have to scream like that again,” McBeth said.

Soon she could see the sky above darkening, and she knew she had to get out before the weather turned.

“I couldn’t get a grip with my feet and I’d just slip right back down, and every time I fell right down was when I came close to actual panic,” McBeth said.

Finally, she was able to use a nylon rope that was tied to a cement block to pull herself out.

“It was as tall as my hands could reach, I could never do that in the gym, I could never do a pull up,” McBeth said.

The whole incident played out over about four hours – and she hopes the well gets covered so the same thing doesn’t happen to someone else.

I cannot even imagine. I really can’t. It would be like running up a hill and never getting to the top.

 

historicalnotes

Perth Courier, December 3, 1875

Richay—Accidentally killed by falling from the lock gates at Smith’s Falls on the 30th   Jonas Richay, Esq., in the 68th  year of his age.

In another article in the same newspaper:  Lamentable Accident:  The people of this town (Smith’s Falls) were shocked to hear that on Friday last James Richey, farmer of the 3rd Line Bathurst, came to a terribly sudden end by falling into one of the locks at Smith’s Falls where he was engaged in the duty of tending to the locks.  It will be remembered that on Friday everything was covered with ice and it was by incautiously walking on the ice covered sills that he lost his footing, breaking his neck on the rocks below.  His remains were interred in the Methodist Cemetery at Perth on Sabbath last.

Abandoned Well Accidents

1998 – Midland, Michigan A four-year-old girl fell through the rotted wood cover of an abandoned water well while chasing a stray cat with her two-year-old sister in the yard of their Larkin Township home. She held onto a pipe in the well to keep from sinking into the 7 to 8 ft. deep water until she was rescued by her father, who had his wife and seven-year-old son lower him head-first into the well by holding his legs. The girl was in the well for about 10 minutes and was very cold, but fortunately she was not injured.

(Source: Midland Daily News, December 15, 1998)

 

1998 – Delaware City, Delaware A five-year-old girl was rescued within 20 minutes after she fell into a 42 ft. deep well at her grandparents home. The accident occurred when she stepped on a temporary fiberglass cover over the 2 ft. by 2 ft. well opening. She fell to the bottom of the well which had 2 to 3 ft. of standing water. Rescue personnel lowered a fireman into the well to retrieve the girl. She was airlifted to a hospital where she was later released.

(Source: Water Well Journal, March 1998, “Child Falls into Well; Is Rescued Unharmed”)

 

1998 – Buenos Aires, Argentina A five -year-old boy fell into a 59 ft. deep well shaft while out walking with his mother. He cried at the outset of the ordeal, but after whimpering for three hours, he fell silent. Thirty hours after he fell in, his body was recovered by workers using heavy excavation equipment and mini-cameras. The workers dug a second tunnel alongside the well and a passageway between the two shafts to reach the trapped boy.

(Source: Lansing State Journal, March 21, 1998, “Crews find boy’s body after 30 hours in well”)

 

1997 – Cockeysville, Maryland Six-year-old boy playing hide-and-seek with his brothers fell into 50 foot deep abandoned well. Rescuers pumped oxygen down hose to child who was standing in chin-deep water. Child rescued by lowering emergency worker with harness and back-splint. Boy airlifted to hospital for treatment of fractured leg.

(Source: Water Well Journal, July ’97, “Contractor Has Role in Boy’s Rescue from Old Well”, by Gloria Swanson)

 

1997 – Lenawee County, Michigan Two 10-year-old girls playing in yard fell though concrete cover 5 feet into a 25 feet deep, 4 feet diameter dug well. Mother tried to rescue children and also fell in. All three rescued by township fire department unharmed.

(Source: Newspaper article – Adrian Daily Telegraph, February 5, 1997 and report from Lenawee County Health Department dated 2/6/97)

 

1997 – Central Minnesota Well owner reported that his child, who was playing in the yard, stepped into an improperly sealed unsuccessful well. The child fell into the borehole up to his chest and caught himself with his arms. Other children pulled him to safety.

(Source: Minnesota Well Management News, Winter 1997/98, Vol. 17, No. 4, Minnesota Department of Health)

 

1996 – Mackinaw, Illinois Ten-year-old boy was seriously injured when he fell into an abandoned well at a park. After falling onto a concrete cover which gave way, the child plunged 40 feet to the bottom of an abandoned 103-year-old well. He broke both legs and an arm.

(Source: Water Well Journal, June ’97, “Children Fall into Wells” and Aqua Notes, newsletter of the Illinois Association of Groundwater Professionals)

 

1996 – King George, Virginia A third grader fell through a crack in the lid of his grandmother’s well and plunged 35 feet to water. After he fell, pipes under the water squeezed his legs, pinning them. Fortunately, he suffered no broken bones.

(Source: Water Well Journal, June ’97, Children Fall into Wells” and article in Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads newspaper)

 

1995 – Port Orchard, Wash. A construction foreman fell into an abandoned well at a site where a shopping complex was under construction. He plunged 20 feet into the well after stepping on rotted boards that covered the well. At the time of the accident, he was making preparations to seal the well. The local health department asked him to remove oil jugs and automobile batteries that someone discarded near the well. The worker was struck on the head by chunks of brick and crumbling plank and briefly knocked unconscious. He awoke in the water, not knowing how deep it was because he never touched bottom. He climbed out of the well by grabbing bolts protruding from the wall of the well. He was treated for cuts and abrasions at a hospital.

(Source: Port Orchard Independent newspaper, August 2, 1995)

 

1994 – Home, Washington A 7-year old boy was rescued after falling 40 feet to the bottom of an abandoned well, landing in two feet of mucky water. The boy and his 9-year old companion were roaming around a field when they came across an old shed. After entering the structure, which turned out to be an abandoned well house, they fell through rotten boards covering the well. The older boy caught hold of some piping, climbed out and summoned the help of a neighbor who tried unsuccessfully to reach the boy with a ladder. A firefighter who was an experienced rock climber, was lowered into the well to rescue the boy. The boy was in the well about an hour and suffered cuts and bruises. He was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released.

(Source: Gateway Newspaper article from September 21, 1994)

 

1991 – Hungary A 19-year old man falls to bottom of a 74 feet deep, 4 feet diameter well. After several attempts, he manages to climb out after being confined for nearly 24 hours. He was treated for a toe fracture, gangrene, lacerations, frostbite, and dehydration.

(Source: Readers’ Digest, September 1994, “Trapped in a Well”, by E. Kovats)

 

1987 – Midland, Texas 18-month-old girl falls 22 feet into abandoned 8 inch well (Rescued).

(Source: Lansing State Journal, October 1987, various Associated Press articles – This is the nationally publicized case involving toddler Jessica McClure. Years later, the dramatic rescue became the subject of a television movie.)

 

1986 – Texas 6-year-old child steps off school bus and falls into snow-covered abandoned well (Rescued)

 

1986 – Colt’s Neck, New Jersey 2-year-old boy falls 12 feet into abandoned 12 inch borehole in yard (Rescued).

 

1983 – Frascati, Italy 6-year-old boy falls over 200 feet into 16 inch abandoned well (Fatality).

 

1983 – Louisiana 10-month-old child falls to bottom of 40 foot deep 10 inch abandoned well (Fatality).

 

1981 – Texas 4-year-old child falls 260 feet into well (Rescued).

 

Alabama Deer hunter fell into 30 feet deep abandoned well – lands waist deep in muck and water and a loosened board falls and hits him on the head – crawls out by digging hand holds in clay walls with knife – drove himself to hospital – wood splinters removed from scalp.

(Source: Outdoor Life magazine feature called “This Happened to Me: Trapped in Hidden Well. A True Tale” by Steve Lovin, Aliceville, Alabama)

 

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 and now in The Townships Sun

 

 

Where was the Community Well in Carleton Place?

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By the middle of the 1870’s, it was expected that a fashionable home in Carleton Place would have running water and an indoor bathroom.  This was generally accomplished by placing a large water tank in the attic which was usually lead lined — one reason the average life span was shorter back then. One water pipe usually ran down to a boiler in the kitchen, where it could be heated.  Victorian bathrooms were virtually always located on the second floor and near the back of the house.  This served an esthetic purpose — Victorians definitely believed that bathrooms should be neither seen nor heard — and also placed the bathroom so that water pressure from the attic could conveniently supply the bathtub by pushing hot water up from the kitchen boiler.  The flush toilets of the era also worked off gravity, utilizing flush compartments that were placed as high as eight feet above the toilet, and activated by a long pull chain.

How did they fill the attic water tank in the first place?  Well, with a little luck, from rain water.  Gutters were used to funnel rain water into the tank (which were built to hold as much as 600 gallons), and if the weather failed, the well-to-do could always depend upon wells and servants with buckets or hand pumps. Then there were the cisterns that are in our homes that I wrote about.

well1

well2

So it has been documented in a few places that there was a community well for years in Carleton Place on Queen Street. Jennifer Fenwick Irwin and I asked Duncan Rogers but he had no idea. So this week I went searching. I  initially thought it was at the bottom of Albert Street between Princess and Queen Street but then I drove up to the top by Coleman Street and I seriously think they were here as they were close to the C.P.R train station. Or are they something else? Thoughts?

well3Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place