Tag Archives: woolen mills

The Drought of 1871 and the Mills on the Mississippi River

The Drought of 1871 and the Mills on the Mississippi River



September 29, 1871 — written with files from the Almonte Gazettealmontegsmall

September 1871- with files from the Almonte Gazette

Dear father,

The water is getting very low in the Mississippi river, and although none of the Almonte mills have yet been short there is not much doubt they will be, soon, unless we have plenty of rain. All the mills, at Carleton Place are, we hear running within half time, or at very slow speed, and the large mills of Messrs. Gillies & McLaren are not doing half work.

We have not heard how the mills farther up or down the river are affected, but they must be all more or less short. Here, on Mondays, the supply of water is short, owing to the fact that no water is let down from Carleton Place Lake on Sundays. Something might be done to remedy this, were a tight dam made at the upper falls, so as to save the water on Sunday between here and Appleton. This would give sufficient to keep up the head of water until Tuesday, by which time the water used by the Carleton Place mills is down this far.


Mississippi Mills



What is wanted, however, and we are very much surprised that mill owners on the river have not already seen the necessity of it, is an organization with a view to improving the water supply of the Mississippi, by taking advantage of the numerous lakes on its head waters, in which, were suitable dams erected, a large supply of water might be stored, sufficient to keep every mill going at full speed the year round. The water powers on the Tay have been so much improved by the Government- dams erected for the purpose of storing water for the benefit of the Rideau Canal, that they have now an equal supply of water throughout the year, and logs, we learn, were last month, run through the slides at Perth as if it had been in June.

When such results have been accomplished on the insignificant Tay, there can be nothing to prevent those interested from doing the same on the Mississippi, which, with its numerous tributaries, drains a very large section of country admirably adapted, for the purpose of storing water for a supply in the fall. Messrs. Gillies & McLaren are now regretting they did not build their mills with a view to using steam power, and the Rosamond Woolen Co. are, we believe, already preparing to put in an engine to use when water is low.

This expense, and much annoyance and bother, might be saved were the surplus—water of spring stored up as we have suggested. Rivers no larger than this are utilized in the New England States in this way and to an extent very few of our mill owners have any conception of, and sums are paid per annum for a water supply which would astonish some of our slow going coaches. Were 2 or 4 of our mill owners on the river take such an initiative in a movement such as we have suggested—we have no doubt they would receive the support of the rest. I worry my job will be omitted tomorrow.

Have you read-What Do You Know About the Burnt Lands?




Artwork by Ralph Wallace Burton, Flour Mill, Pakenham, Ontario, Made of Oil–MutualArt.com

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


Low Water in Pakenham 1871– The mills at Pakenham are also idle, for a few days, from the scarcity of water in the Mississippi River. The water in the Mississippi is so low just now that most of our mills have been compelled to shut down.  If this was to continue for any length o f time it would have a serious effect on the business of the place ; but in all probability the scarcity of water will be but for a short time. If our millowners would only turn their attention to improving the water powers of Almonte, instead of disputing about their respective rights, we think that means could be devised whereby there would be sufficient water all the year round. Rosamond’s, Elliott, *Routh & Sheard’s, Forgie’s and Wylie’s mills, *Flett’s foundry and others, have all felt the effect, more or less, of low water. 1871

-*Andrew Elliot and his firm, Elliot, Routh and Sheard, purchased. Hill No. 2 from Bennett and William Rosamond Go. in 1870

-*Sawmills, machine shops and iron foundries followed, including among the latter the foundry operated for a few years by John Flett (1836-1900) Almonte



Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 16 Aug 1913, Sat,
  3. Page 1

Guess Who’s Coming to Almonte 1871 ?

A Walk through Lanark Village in 1871

Fire at Pakenham Woollen Factory with Town Directory

What Do You Know About the Burnt Lands?

Just last year this happened–Where is Merle Bowes? The Plight of our Local Farmers

When Crops Failed — Lanark County Went Manitoba Dreamin’

Halls Mills Ghost Town- Another W. H. Wylie Connection


Halls Mills


Town site photo

Farm building next to Hall residence– From Hall’s Mills Ghost Town©Copyright: Yvan Charbonneau

Seems William Wiley  of Carleton Place had connections in everything around the area. From and Almonte woolen mills to mines and sawmills. When I did research I found out that he had was part of a mining venture also.

From Hall’s Mills Ghost Town

By the 1870s, Hall’s sawmill, located on Lot 1, Concession 10, was in full operation. In 1883, Hall opened a post office and gave the community his own name. A school, one of only four in Darling Township, was located on Lot 1, Concession 9. By 1884, Halls Mills had grown to around 50 people. These included, John Abraham, David Barr, Archibald Boyle, James Kilgore, Robert Lett, Thomas Murphy and the Munro and Robertson families. Daniel Munro was the blacksmith. Hall went on to form a partnership with William H. Wylie of Carlton Place to embark on a combination of mining and mineral lands dealing. Whether the venture was successful is unknown as Hall reportedly passed away in 1885 or 1886.– read the rest at Hall’s Mills Ghost Town

Dawn Jones added:

 Interesting story. My brothers and aunts and uncles attended public school at Hall’s Mills in the 50’s and 60’s. The teacher at the time was Ida Guthrie. The school house still stands and was renovated into a house. My grandparents bought their farm ( a large property that extended from the 8th concession to the 9th concession of Darling Township from David Caldwell in the early 50’s.


Carleton Place Wins Prizes for their Wool!



Perth Courier, Sept. 17, 1880


Mr. W. H. Wylie, Carleton Place, received a special prize at the Toronto Exposition for the woolen shawls made at his factory. Messrs Boyd Caldwell and Son, Lanark, took first prize for Canadian Scotch tweed, and first prize for Cashmere at the Exposition.

Prizes for Woolen Goods—Among those manufacturers in Lanark County who carried off prizes at the Toronto Exposition now being held are:  Gold medal, for the Woolen Company at Almonte; and also Messrs Boyd Caldwell and Son, Lanark; and Mr. William H. Wylie of Carleton Place.


Historical Notes on Carleton Place Woolen Mills- from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum and The Perth Courier–Read the Perth Courier at Archives Lanark

Perth Courier, November 19, 1880

Mr. James Gillies, purchaser of the Code Woolen Factory, Carleton Place, was in town on Monday.

Perth Courier, August 5, 1881

Retiring—We are sorry to learn that ill health has compelled Mr. James Gillies of the Carleton Place Woolen Mills (Code’s) and the Braeside Saw Mill, to retire from business until has system recuperates. He offers his woolen factory for sale.

1900 – To supply serge for British army uniforms the Canada Woollen Mills expanded its operations here at the Gillies and Hawthorne mills.

1903 – The Gillies and Hawthorne woollen mills – recently working on overtime hours with 192 employees, after six years of improvements under the ownership of Canada Woollen Mills Limited – were closed.  The reason was stated to be loss of Canadian markets to British exporters of tweeds and worsteds.  The company went into bankruptcy.

1907 – Bates and Innes Co. Limited bought and equipped the former Gillies Woollen Mill as a knitting mill.  A Quebec company, the Waterloo Knitting Co. Ltd., similarly re-opened the Hawthorne Woollen Mill.

1909 – Bates & Innes knitting mill, after making waterpower improvements, began running night and day with about 150 employees.  The Hawthorne knitting mill was closed by reason of financial difficulties, and its operating company was reorganized as the Carleton Knitting Co. Ltd.



Ring Those Bells in Carleton Place– Wylie’s Woolen Mill


“Carleton Place July 31, 1885 from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

W.H. Wylie’s steam yacht “The Ripple”

(43′ keel, 10′ beam)

at Hawthore Woolen Mill, then operated

by W.H. Wylie.


Possibly W.H. Wylie sitting on fore rail.

On Fore Rail – A.R.G. Peden (Town Clerk)

Left on upper deck: Jim Burnie


Read the Perth Courier at Archives Lanark

The Apple Does Not Fall far from the Tree


Yesterday’s blog about Milton Teskey and the Chatterton House Hotel in Carleton Place got me wanting to know more, and for six hours I read about the village of Appleton. Many of our local townsfolk worked at the textile mills in Appleton, and many also lost their jobs there. It is part of our local history.



Three miles outside of Carleton Place is what the Otawa Journal called Appleton in 1969. The once ruins of the old Teskey mill built in 1862 that once dominated the landscape are now gone. Once upon a time it was called Appletree Falls. The village got its name from the fact that the early Mississippi River explorers used the banks as camping grounds and threw leftover apple seeds on the ground– which finally grew in abundance.

The Teskey family that came in the emigration of 1823 from southern Ireland obtained a 100 acre lot on the location then known as Apple Tree Falls. On the east side of the river you might have passed by the stone house known as Burnbank built in 1843-44 by Joseph Teskey and planned by his wife Margaret Cuthbert. This modified Scottish Georgian home is one of the only two known examples in Canada. The house was designed in two parts joined by a 4-door rectangular hallway meant to keep the servants separate. This was a common practice as in my home the two servants rooms were kept separate by a door that could be locked and a back staircase that led into the kitchen.


The name Burnbank was given to the house in 1937 by Miss Sheila Stewart, then owner of the property after her great great grandfathers home in Oban, Scotland. What is interesting about the house is that Mrs.Cuthbert Tesky copied the wood paneling and doors to those of Betty Washington’s house in Fredericksburg, Va.– which was the home of George Washington.



Mississippi Woollen Mills, four-storey portion built 1862, three-storey built 1880- CREDIT North Lanark Museum.  Photo below of the fire.




The two-and-a-half storey home, on the other side of the river was built by Robert Teskey. It is unusual because it was was built into a hillside with the bedroom(upstairs) windows at the rear being level with the back garden and lawn.


The Teskey family’s origins are interesting. They were Germanic in origin, the Irish branch of the family, originating in an emigration to Ireland in 1709 from the Rhine Valley and were assisted by Queen Anne of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1702-1707) who was the last Stuart ruler. I did not find out much after this about the Teskey family, only that Milton Teskey’s daughter Kathleen was a professor in Edmonton, Alberta. She came from time to time to visit relatives and friends in Fitzroy accompanied by her mother (1926)






Please visit the North Lanark Historical Society and North Lanark Regional Museum– without these Museums we would have no history

Museum Address:
647 River Road
Appleton, Ont
K0A 1A0

GPS co-ordinates:
  N 45° 11′ 14.0″        W 76° 7′ 4.5″
= N 45.18722 °        E -76.11792 °

Vintage Photo Credits: North Lanark Regional Museum

Newspaper clippings from the Ottawa Journal

New Photos- Linda Seccaspina


The Weekly British Whig
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
09 Nov 1922, Thu  •  Page 3

The Insane Spinster Ghost of Appleton Ontario

The Insane Spinster Ghost of Appleton Ontario

Legend has it that in the sleepy village of Appleton, Ontario there is a house that was once built in the 1830’s for an affluent husband and wife that has been haunted for years.

When the couple found they had extra room in the house they invited the husband’s sister to live with them. She was a spinster through and through and life was fine until their brother passed away leaving twelve children behind to raise. Her brother and sister-in-law told the children to call the spinster: “Mummy dear”.

In time the children slowly drove the spinster to insanity, causing her to have a premature death.

The spinster’s soul never left the home and in 1970 a young family bought the very same house for a “song”.

They were never told that the house was haunted but were enthralled that the home came complete with a cemetery with seven graves.

The family started to see things out of the corner of their eyes and noted a constant cold spiritual presence when their young daughter was in one of the rooms.

They assumed that the spinster was none too happy about another child coming into the home after being driven to an early death by 12 others.

Her heart was cold and she could not let a single child’s voice disturb her further in her never ending unrest.

As years passed, she left the family at peace when she realized she would not have to look after their child. Some nights they can see her spirit roam through the hollyhocks and hear the swish of her skirts. People swear they can hear her repetitive angry whispering as the ghosts of twelve children follow her calling her “Mummy Dear!”

True story told to me this weekend and parts can be found in the book Ontario Ghost Stories by Barbara Smith.

 Some people imagine Victorian women to have been prudish, reserved, and submissive to men—but many of the ‘spinsters’ who entered that competition were anything but. They were witty, irreverent, and proudly independent. I thought that was worth sharing.

The Lanark County Spinster Convention

Witchy Woman — Isabella Mary Rutherford Laidlaw

The Plum Hollow Witch 101 – Mother Barnes

We Know About the Witch of Plum Hollow — But Have you Heard About Mother Lajeunesse?

Mother Barnes– The Colonel’s Daughter in Plum Hollow

An Interview with the Witch of Plum Hollow–Mother Barnes— The Ottawa Free Press 1891

The Witch of Plum Hollow and the Blacksmith

My Grandmother was Mother Barnes-The Witch of Plum Hollow

A Bewitched Bed in Odessa

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

Plum Hollow Witch and The Mountain Man of Pakenham

Different Seasons of Witches in Lanark County

Local Miracle Story– Woken From a Ten Week Coma

The White Witch of Lanark County–Having the Sight

The Witches of Rochester Street

Hocus Pocus –Necromancy at Fitch Bay

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

The Witch Hollow of Lanark County

When Mother Barnes Made a Mistake? Beckwith 6th Line

The Witch of Plum Hollow Files- An Evening in Smiths Falls

Mother Barnes and the Missing Money of South March