The water power of the Mississippi at this point is excellent, and ever since the first utilization of a small portion of it by Boulton’s grist mill, various manufactories have been added along the banks of the stream. After the inception of the Brockville railway in 1853, and its completion as far as Carleton Place and Almonte six years later, the advantages of these water privileges became still more manifest.
It was not long before the interests already established here was widened. Those engaged in agriculture in this neighbourhood were also stimulated to greater things and began to reap better results. Almonte for a few years possessed an appreciable advantage in being the terminus of the railway system of the Ottawa Valley. From the north and to each side a larger tract of county contributed to its trade. James Rosamond who came to Carleton Place as a chair-maker and began a wool carding and cloth dressing business here with a partner about 1830, built a four-storey woollen mill in Almonte, moving his machinery and business there from Carleton Place in 1857 ahead of the railway’s arrival.
When the Brockville and Ottawa Railway (later the Canada Central Ry.) with the line opened in 1870 between Carleton Place and Ottawa passed into the hands of the Canadian Pacific syndicate, the importance of Carleton Place as a railway point became apparent. The extensive repair shops of the railway, established here in 1882 and employing at different times from 100 to over 200 men, with accessions to the town’s trade by reason of the railway traffic and the many railway employees outside the shops, were a large element in the town’s progress. In the five years to 1887, not yet incorporated as a town, the population has doubled to an estimated 3,780.
Municipal Affairs, 1887
The incorporation of Carleton Place as a village took place in October, 1870, with a population of 1,226. We now have about a thousand more people than most towns in the Dominion had when they designated themselves as towns by acts of incorporation. Our civic affairs are entrusted to a reeve, deputy reeve and three councillors. These at present are Reeve William Pattie (building contractor) Deputy Reeve, William Kelly, (retired hotel keeper), and Councillors James Warren (blacksmith), Alex Steele, (tinsmith and stove merchant) and Abner Nichols (planing mill owner). The clerk of the Council is A. R. G. Peden.
The following gentlemen comprise the School Board : Robert Bell, chairman, Rev. Duncan McDonald (of St. Andrew’s Church), Abner Nichols, William Taylor, (hardware dealer), Peter Cram (retired tanner), S. S. Merrick, (grain dealer), A. R. G. Peden (grocer), J. Dougherty, Colin Sinclair, (merchant tailor), David Findlay (stove foundry owner), and D. Breckenridge (superintendent, Gillies woollen mill).
One constable is employed – bur rarely required. We have an efficient fire department, a first class Ronald fire engine, a good fire station and good equipment. An ample supply of water for fire purposes is kept in reservoirs in those parts of the town not contiguous to the river. There are twenty-five regular members of the fire brigade.
Mills and Foundries
As a manufacturing centre, every years’ seen big improvements. Amongst our manufacturers we might mention first the lumbermen. In 1842 John Gillies entered into lumbering on the Clyde River and later on the Mississippi and formed a partnership in 1853 with Peter McLaren. An extensive business was conducted on the Mississippi River, with mills at Carleton Place from 1866.
The business was sold in 1874 to Peter McLaren, later senator. After another twelve years of expanding operations Peter McLaren sold it to James McLaren of Buckingham, lumberman and president of the Bank of Ottawa, and W. C. Edwards, M.P. Principals of the then formed Canada Lumber Company for a reported $900,000. Mr. A. H. Edwards became the resident director and manager at Carleton Place.
Boyd Caldwell and Son’s large sawmill, manufacturing lumber, shingles, and lath, has been an important industry. The senior member of the firm is one of the pioneer lumbermen of this country. He has been engaged in lumbering operations since boyhood, after he came from Scotland with his parents about 1821 and settled in Lanark County. The firm has large and valuable limits, the timber from which on the Mississippi has been manufactured at Carleton Place for nearly twenty years. Boyd Caldwell & Son have saw mills elsewhere in Eastern Ontario but their largest are here. Both reside in Lanark village, but have done much to assist the progress of Carleton Place. The two saw mills here cut about thirty-five million feet each season.
Moffatt & Company embarked here some thirteen years ago in the manufacture of sash, doors, blinds, shingles, a general planing mill business, and as builders and contractors. The parners, David and Samuel Moffatt and James Cavers, are practical men and the firm has done a large business, enlarging its capacity several times. Abner Nichols, for many years uperintendent for Peter McLaren, has a model planing mill and turns out sash, blinds, doors and shingles. He has a large experience as a practical builder and contractor.
Brown & Son
Horace Brown & Son, the latter, Morton, lately admitted as a partner, have one of the finest roller process flouring mills in the province. Their stone process mill also is operated to its fullest capacity, and for many years it was regarded as one of the best grist mills in this district. With the junior partner, who is a practical miller in every branch and a young gentleman of first class business qualities, there will doubtless be still greater things done by the Carleton Place Mills.
After John Gillies had retired in 1874 from lumbering, he built and equipped one of the most complete machine shops and foundries in Eastern Ontario. It is operated by John Gillies & Company and employs a large staff in the manufacture and principally of mill machinery and engines of every description. The company has the sole right for Canada of the Acme Coal Oil Engine.
Mr. D. Findlay & Sons manufactures all classes of stoves, hollow ware, etc. Their foundry is one of the industries that has grown up with the place and with the requirements of Eastern Ontario. Now with tripled energy they are pushing their excellent productions into distant territory, the demand having arisen from the good name their stoves have earned.
Mr. W. H. Wylie & Company’s Hawthorn woollen mill is a f sett enterprise, built about 1872 fro Abraham Code, and operated to its full capacity. A variety of tweeds, worsteds and a speciality of shawls are turned out. The demand distributes a large amount of earnings to the operatives.
John Gillies, Son & Company’s large 4 ½ storied woollen mill, four broad sett, sends out some of the finest tweeds, silken mixes and worsteds on the market. The mill was built in 1870 by the late Archibald McArthur and was bought in 1881 by the present owners, who have increased the output and improved the quality.
Brice McNeely’s tannery is one of the oldest in this part of the country. The proprietor manufactures leather of various kinds and is one of our substantial steady and increasingly prosperous men, with considerable real estate. John F. Cram, whose large wool-pulling establishment is well known in this section, manipulates a vast amount of sheep pelts in a year, his premises being one of the most extensive in Eastern Ontario. He also manufactures russet leather. Donald Munro, having severed connection with the other large wool-pulling establishment in which he was a partner and started in the same business on his own account, has by untiring perseverance and good equipment worked up a remunerative business.
William Willoughby, contractor who came to our town from Almonte a couple of years ago, at once proceeded to the manufacture of brick on a large scale here. Mr. Willoughby and his two sons George W. and Richard, associated with him, are practical men in masonry of every kind. Their contracts in stonework fulfilled during the past two years include the masonry for the new St. Andrews Church and for the iron bridge across the Mississippi here. William Taylor, whose business experience here extends over more than a quarter century, during the past season started a brickyard that is likely to be a most successful enterprise. Mr. Taylor, who does nothing by halves, will first make enough brick to build his own solid brick block on the valuable McArthur lots, Bridge St.
McDonald & Brown, woollen manufacturers, have a large trade in their special line of tweeds, etc. Their mill is run by water power, one of the best sites on the river. With a continuation of their prosperity for a short time they will likely increase their capacity. They do a large custom business.”