Great Falls At Almonte Started Woollen Industry

A group of sketches of origins of the communities of Ramsay township concluded here with notes of scenes and events in the early years of the town of Almonte.

First named Shepperd’s Falls and Shipman’s Mills, the town of Almonte, until its industrial growth which started in the eighteen fifties, was a small village which gained the name of Ramsayville.  Then, with the opening of its first woollen mills and railway transportation, it grew in a period of about thrity years to take a place among the leading centres of the pioneering days of Canadian manufacture of woollen textiles.

Shipman’s Mills on The Great Falls

Rights to lands now forming the greater part of Almonte were granted in 1821 and 1822 to John Gemmill, James Shaw, then of Lanark village, and David Shepherd.  John Gemmill’s land ran from Highway 29 to include the exhibition grounds in the southern part of the present town.  The grant to the absentee owner, James Shaw, was a corresponding downstream section of the ninth concession, extending on both sides of the river as far south as the foot of the bay in Almonte.  It was not until late in 1822 that under the special requirement of building a grist and saw mill at the falls, the central part of the future town was located to David Shepherd, together with another separate hundred acres at the town’s northern or downstream side.  James Wylie, who had emigrated from Paisley in 1820 to begin business as a merchant at Perth, removed to Ramsay where in 1825 he leased and settled on the next northerly two hundred acres (conc. 9, lot 17), a Clergy reserve, which he later bought.

John Gemmill, a Scottish society settler of 1821 from Ayrshire and forbear of Lieut. Colonel James D. Gemmill and of John Alexander Gemmill, Ottawa barrister, was one of Almonte’s first merchants.  James Wylie (1789-1854) was a merchant, Rideau Canal contractor, postmaster, farmer, county agricultural society president and builder of the Almonte residence Burnside.  He was appointed in 1849 to the Legislative Council of Canada in the period of the Baldwin-LaFontaine reform ministry, when riots by opponents of its Rebellion Loses Act led to the burning of the Parliament Buildings of Canada at Montreal.  Daniel Shipman, prominent in the founding days of Almonte and of American Loyalist origin, came in 1823 from the Brockville district and acquired the central properties of David Shepherd.  He completed the building of the future town’s first mills when Shepherd had failed in his undertaking and had fled to escape the imprisonment which awaited defaulting debtors. 

A traveler of 1841 made this brief report of his impressions of the settlement at the falls:

“James Wylie, Esquire, a majistrate and storekeeper, has erected a fine house, his son (William G. Wylie) another.  About half a mile from this, Mr. Shipman’s spacious stone dwelling, his mills and the surrounding buildings, present a bustling scene.  There is one licenced tavern here, and a school.”

Mr. Shipman’s last residence, built in 1837, became the Almonte House hotel.  It was from this house that Daniel Shipman, a sturdy and outspoken reformer in the days of the Upper Canada Family Compact, had escaped from a night search by ten armed men of the Carleton Militia led by over-zealous Captain George Lyon, Richmond mill owner and distiller.  During the alarms following the 1838 Prescott invasion they had ridden from Richmond, at the top speed permitted by bad and devious roads, on hearing false rumors that Shipman was sowing sedition and secreting two men supposed to have escaped in the Prescott battle from the stone windmill fortress of the defeated invaders and rebels.

Pioneer Almonte Industries

The first carding and fulling mill of the community was placed in operation by Mr. Shipman’s father in law, Mr. Boyce; the first planning mill and wagon making shop by John M. Haskin, and the first tanneries by Thomas Mansell and Smith Coleman.  A three storey flour mill built on the east side of the upper falls in the eighteen forties by Edward Mitcheson was bought some few years later by J. B. Wylie, and James H. Wylie.  The Hon. James Wylie’s eldest son, William G. Wylie, a magistrate and township treasurer, had died at Havana in 1851 on his way to the California gold fields.

Industrial growth at Almonte began in larger proportions in the eighteen fifties with the building of the Brockville & Ottawa Railway Company’s line.  Before the railway from Brockville reached the Ottawa River in 1864 at Sand Point, it ran for five years to a temporary northern terminus at Almonte.  The town’s woollen manufacturing had its start with the opening in 1851 of a mill with one set of machinery by the Ramsay Woollen Cloth Manufacturing Company, a company formed under the new Joint Stock Companies Act with capital raised in Ramsay and Beckwith among some forty shareholders.  The village of Ramsayville at this time had a population of little more than two hundred persons.  The next summer a fire destroyed the new woollen mill, gutted Daniel Shipman’s nearby unfinished and uninsured new gristmill and destroyed his old mill.  The loss in this Mill Street fire, one of a number of similar fire losses of following years, was about 2,000 pounds  to the company and 2,000 pounds to Mr. Shipman.  Daniel Shipman at once rebuilt his mill within its standing stone walls.  The building, later owned by John Baird, finally was torn down in 1902.

Start of Woollen Enterprises

James Rosamond of Carleton Place, a shareholder of the short lived Ramsay corporation, then moved his woollen mill operations, the first in Eastern Ontario, from Carleton Place to Almonte as the founding of Almonte’s leading manufacturing enterprise.  He bought the site of the Ramsay Company’s mill and built a four storey stone building, later known as No. 2 Mill, which he opened in 1857.  Before its erection Samuel Reid and John McIntosh opened a small woollen factory in 1854 on the former site of the Boyce fulling mill.  James Rosamond, who lived until 1894, gave the management of his growing business in 1862 to his sons Bennett and William, who doubled its plant capacity and in 1866 admitted George Stephen, Montreal woollen manufacturer, as a partner.  He became Baron Mount Stephen, president of the Bank of Montreal and first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

The new Rosamond firm of 1866 began operations by buying the Island property of some sixteen acres and building its No. 1 Mill, then one of the finest in Canada.  Bennett Rosamond (1833-1910) was elected president of the Canadian Manufacturers  Association in 1890 and was Conservative Member of Parliament for North Lanark from 1892-1904.  He was president of the Almonte Knitting Company and in 1909 donated the Rosamond Memorial Hospital to the town.  He continued as head of the Rosamond Woollen Company until his death, when he was succeeded by Lieutenant Alex Rosamond (1873-1916).

A number of other woollen mills opened soon after the original Rosamond mill in Almonte.  Among the first were those of John McIntosh (1832-1904), a large frame building on the upper falls, and of John Baird (1820-1894) and Gilbert Cannon, all on Mill Street.  Sawmills, machine shops and iron foundries followed, including among the latter the foundry operated for a few years by John Flett (1836-1900).  A local real estate boom and flurry of inflated land speculation developed, only to collapse in a severe depression of the mid-seventies.  A fire loss of over $20,000 in 1877 destroyed the Cannon mill and the machinery of its lessee William H. Wylie, who moved to Carleton Place where he leased the McArthur (now Bates) woollen mill and later bought the Hawthorne woollen mill.  William Thoburn (1847-1928) began to manufacture flannels at Almonte in 1880 and became the head of the Almonte Knitting Company and Member of Parliament from 1908 to 1917.  Five textile mills in Almonte in 1904 were those of the Rosamond Woollen Company, William Thoburn, James H. Wylie Co. Limited, Almonte Knitting Company, and the Anchor Knitting Co. Limited.

Woollen Mill Party

In view of the claim that a people and its times often are best reflected in its songs, a Christmas Eve supper party given by the Rosamonds to their employees of 1863 may be worth recalling.  Its chairman was Thomas Watchorn, formerly of Carleton Place and later of Lanark and Merrickville.  A song by a member of the party was given between each toast after the supper, ending with the glee club’s Christmas carols at midnight.  The offerings of Mr. Hepworth, the principal performer, included The Cottage by the Sea, Dearest Mary, Little Tailor, The Factory Bell, A Merry Ploughboy, A Kish of Black Turf, Young Ramble Away, Stunnin’ Pair o’Legs, and The Sailor’s Grave.  Mr. Lowe offered Hard Times Come Again No More ; Mr. Douglas gave I’ll Marry Both Girls Bye and Bye, and J. Dornegan The Wedding of Ballyporeen.  The Irish wit George Bond contributed I’ll Never Get Drunk Again.  (George Bond, born in Carleton Place in 1837, was still singing in a celebration of his hundredth birthday by relatives and friends at his home in the Clyde Hotel in Lanark in 1937, when he “concluded the happy event by singing, in a fine clear tenor voice, When Billie Brown and I Slid Down Old Cram’s Cellar Door.”)  For the Christmas party of the men of the Almonte woollen mill, in the time of local recruiting and Canadian defense preparations which accompanied the progress of the United States Civil War, a fitting conclusion with the national anthem was guest Dr. William Mostyn’s The Banner of Old England.

Naming The Town

Almonte ended its changes of community names in 1856.  On the east side of the falls a section promoted by grist mill owner Edward Mitcheson had been given the name Victoria.  A bylaw of Lanark and Renfrew’s old district council “to define the limits of the Village of Ramsayville and Victoria, in the Township of Ramsay, and to extend the Act 12 Victoria Chapter 81 for the Regulation and Police of Unincorporated Villages and Hamlets to the Above Named Villages” was enacted in 1853 and renamed these combined limits as the village of Waterford.  The name most probably was taken from the town and county of Waterford in southern Ireland’s province of Munster.  There already was a village of Waterford in the Canadian province, and at the request of postal authorities  the name of the Ramsay centre was changed again.  The village population then was about five hundred.

The choice of a name of Spanish origin had a precedent in those which had been given to some of the townships of southwestern Ontario by Upper Canada’s Lieutenant Governor of the eighteen twenties, Sir Peregrine Maitland.  The Mexican general Juan N. Almonte had become his country’s ambassador at Washington and had gained his first fame in Mexico’s struggles to defend its territories from the encroachments of the United States.  An early source of his name, adopted by our town of almonte, may be found in Almonte, a village in the province of Andalusia in the southwestern corner of Spain.  It is near the Gulf of Cadiz and half way between the city of Seville and the town of Ayamonte.  Seven hundred years ago this part of Spain was raided often by the Moors, from whom it had been taken.  Near Almonte two centuries later a shepherd is said to have found a statue of the Virgin, hidden at the time of a Moorish raid.  The site of the find continues to be the place of a Pentecostal festival of the region.  Miracles ascribed to this statue of the Virgin, known as Our Lady of the Dew, include the escape of the inhabitants of Almonte in 1650 from a plague.

Almonte of Former Days

Lanark County’s Almonte was incorporated as a village of 2,000 persons in 1870 and as a town of 2,700 population in 1881.  It had somewhat more than 3,000 residents at each of the two next decennial censuses.  For record of its earliest township officers before its incorporation, references have been found as near the beginning of settlement as 1830.  Its first commercial bank, a branch of the Merchants Bank of Canada, later joined with the Bank of Montreal, was opened in 1869.  It gained a newspaper, the long-flourishing Almonte Gazette, in 1867, founded by William Templeman (1844-1914) who learned his printing trade with the Carleton Place Herald, went to British Columbia to found the Victoria Times, and became a member of the Senate, Sir Wilfred Laurier’s minister of inland revenue and the first Canadian minister of mines.

Almonte’s first Protestant churches, together with the municipal hall of the township, were located in the vicinity of the present Auld Kirk cemetery, more than a mile distant from the village community.  They were the St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland, completed about 1835 and still maintained in its original structural condition, the Canadian or Free Presbyterian church, built ten years later, and the Methodist church.  An Anglican church in almonte followed, and the parish of Almonte was separated in about 1860 from that of Carleton Place.  A Roman Catholic church built at Almonte in about 1840 was burned down more than twenty-five years later and was replaced by the present stone church building completed in 1876.  The Baptists built a small Almonte church and the township’s Reformed or Cameronian Presbyterians moved their place of services in about 1867 to the former Canadian Presbyterian church on the Eighth Line, later building their present church facing the Mississippi’s Almonte bay.

A number of the men whose names have lent luster to that of the town of Almonte, notably including pupils of Dr. Peter C. McGregor (1842-1916), Almonte high school teacher of distinction, are found to have had their youthful years coinciding with those of the present Almonte newspaper.  Among them were Dr. James A. Naismith (1861-1939) best remembered as inventor of the game of basketball ; Senator Andrew Haydon (1867-1932), politician, lawyer and author of the Lanark County history “Pioneer Sketches in the District of Bathurst” ; Dr. Robert Tait McKenzie (1867-1938), surgeon and sculptor, commemorated by an Ontario historical plaque at the Mill of Kintail near Almonte as well as by his sculptures (one is “The Volunteer,” located beside the Mississippi on the grounds of the Almonte town hall) ; Sir Edward Robert Peacock, born 1871, living 1961, financier, director of companies including the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, former head of the Banking firm of Baring Brothers and director of the Bank of England ; Dr. William Bennett Munro (1875-1957), American educator, historian and political scientist ; and Dr. James Mackintosh Bell (1877-1934), geologist, explorer, soldier and author, one of the noted descendants of the county’s pioneering Rev. William Bell.

Perhaps on a June night an imaginative viewer of the flood-lit beauty of the Almonte falls still might detect glimpses of the shades of Daniel Shipman, miller and loyal reformer, and the stern and affluent magistrate James Wylie – or of Scottish emigrants walking to John Gemmill’s barn for communion service – or of a band of Ballygiblins freed from the agonies of Ireland and gathered to the falls for mass.  The reflections of centuries of campfires and silent Indian portages past the falls probably would be lost.  The shadows below the falls might seem to hold a few of the host of bygone workers and employers of mills and shops ; or a crew of Scottish, Irish and French rivermen bound for Quebec City, pausing after the risks of breaking a great log jam.  And in the roar or rumble of the floodlit falls he might even hear the roll of wheels of farm wagons, mill carts and horse drawn carriages of a former generation crossing its stone arched bridge – or the rattle of a railway train with a high-stacked wood-burning engine as it drew to the northern end of its run from Brockville – or the shouts of crowds at lacrosse games and cricket matches, at the outdoor open polling of electors or in holiday parades and almost certainly a steady echo of the blows of The Builders, shaping the future of a new land.

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1910 Year of Great Fire Town Had 7 Automobiles, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 06 October, 1960

A series of local history notes recalling the first century of community life at Carleton Place is ended with the present recollections of events in this area in the years from 1910 to 1920.

Fifty years ago the town and district began to move out of the old-time horse and buggy days.  Its maturity coincided with the years of the First World War, when this district served its country well.  Among local municipal developments was the forming of a public utilities system, with the installing of waterworks lines in the town’s rock-ribbed streets and the transfer to public ownership of electric generating and distributing facilities.  Total industrial employment in the town continued with little change.

Seven Automobiles

1910 – The greatest Carleton Place fire of living memory destroyed about twenty-five buildings between Bridge Street and Judson Street, including Zion Presbyterian Church, the Masonic Hall, the militia drill hall, the curling rink and many homes.

Following the death of James Gillies, the Bates and Innes Company bought the Gillies Machine Works building and converted it into a felt mill.  The Hawthorne woollen mill was reopened by its new owner, the Carleton Knitting Co., Ltd.

There were seven automobiles owned in Carleton Place, including a Buick, a Packard, a Reo, Fords and a Russell-Knight.

Hospital building proposals were discussed at a town meeting and abandoned.  The cost of erecting and equipping a suitable hospital was estimated by a provincial official at $1,000 a bed, and maintenance costs at under $5,000 a year.

The Starland Theatre here was showing moving pictures of the Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Film Company.

The first Boy Scout troop was formed by William Moore.

George V became king when death ended the ten-year reign of Edward VII.

New Power Plant

1911 – Electric power was supplied to the town from the new 125,000 north shore hydro electric plant of H. Brown and Sons.  The firm’s old south shore generating units were maintained as a supplementary source of power.

Reconstruction of buildings destroyed by fire included Zion Church, the Masonic Building and a number of residences.

David Smythe, of Ferguson and Smythe, harness makers, was elected for the first of seven yearly terms as mayor of Carleton Place.

Waterworks Construction

1912 – Findlay Brothers Company commenced a fifty per cent enlargement of its stove plant. 

A public vote endorsed a waterworks installation bylaw.  Twenty-five thousand feet of steel pipe was ordered from Scotland.  The excavation contractor from Kingston began work with thirty Bulgarians, who were quartered in the old Caldwell sawmill boarding house in the town park, a dozen Italians accommodated in the Leach school house building, and a dozen Roumanians in addition to local excavation workers.

A town landmark adjoining the home of A. R. G. Peden on Allan Street was removed when the ruins of the large log house of Edmond Morphy, a first settler at Carleton Place, were torn down.  It was said to have been built about 1820.

The first rural mail delivery route from Carleton Place was started in Beckwith Township, to be followed by opening of a second mail route on the north side of the town in Ramsay township.

Town Clock

1913 – A town clock was installed on the Post Office.  James A. Dack, jeweler, was given charge of its care, and J. Howard Dack first started its 150 pound pendulum in motion.

Dr. A. E. Hanna of Perth was elected in a South Lanark by-election occasioned by the death of the Hon. John G. Haggart, member for the constituency in the House of Commons for a record continuous period dating from 1872.  North and South Lanark in the following year were combined for future Dominion election purposes.

A steel bridge replaced the wooden bridge across the Mississippi River at Innisville.

High school principal E. J. Wethey and nine high and public school pupils attended a cadet camp of over twelve hundred boys at Barriefield.  Plans were made to form a Carleton Place High School cadet corps.

First Contingent

1914 – The year which saw the start of world-changing events began locally with a mid-January record low temperature of 32 below zero.

The ninth annual spring show of the Carleton Place Horse Association was opened by the Hon. Arthur Meighen (1874-1960), Solicitor General of Canada, who said his grandfather was among the early settlers of Lanark County.

For transportation by gasoline motor power, there were twenty-five automobiles in the town and fifty motor boats on the lake when summer opened.  Ford touring cars were selling for $650 f.o.b. Ford, Ontario.  A resident was awarded damages for injury to a horse frightened by an unattended and unlighted automobile parked on High Street.

F. A. J. Davis (1875-1953), editor and publisher of this newspaper for nearly forty years, bought the Carleton Place Central Canadian.  He changed the name in 1927 to The Canadian.

The Great War began in August.  Within two weeks the town’s first dozen volunteers under Captain William H. Hooper, joined by volunteers from the Pembroke, Renfrew, Arnprior and Almonte areas, left Carleton Place.  Their parade to the railway station was attended by town officials, the Carleton Place brass band, the Renfrew pipe band and hundreds of citizens.  The send off ended in the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Guards were posted on railway bridges.  Local industries started producing war supplies.  Active service enlistments increased.  Food conservation began.  Women’s groups organized sewing services for war hospitals and shipped food parcels to the district’s overseas soldiers.  Belgian and Serbian Relief Fund collections were made.

Another pioneer home dating from about 1820 was removed when the original farmhouse of John Morphy, son of Edmond, was torn down.  It was the birthplace of the first child born to settlers at Carleton Place (Mrs. Richard Dulmage, 1821-1899).  In later years the old building had accommodated the night watchman of the Gillies Woollen Mills.

War Service

1915 – The municipal waterworks system, completed in the previous year, went into operation.  Electric lights were installed in the town’s schools.  The Hawthorne Woollen Mill, bought by Charles W. Bates and Richard Thomson, was re-opened and re-equipped to meet war demands.

War news and war service work dominated the local scene.  There were many district recruits joining the armed forces, reports of heavy casualties, the furnishing of a motor ambulance and the making of Red Cross Society supplies, industrial work on government orders, increase in price levels and some food restrictions.

The Mississippi Golf Club was formed and acquired the old Patterson farm and stone farmhouse on the Appleton road.

The Goodwood Rural Telephone Company was organized.  It let contracts for installing forty-four miles of lines in Beckwith and in the west part of Goulbourn township.

Recruits and Casualties

1916 – A local option vote closed the public bars of Carleton Place.

Patriotic Fund campaign objectives were oversubscribed.  The 130th Battalion, formed from the district, went into training.  Recruiting began for the Lanark and Renfrew 240th Battalion.  Some 125 men of the 240th visited Carleton Place on a training and recruiting tour, accompanied by a bugle and drum band and a thirty-piece brass band.  They were entertained by two nights of concerts and dances in the Town Hall.  Some wounded soldiers came home on leave.

The McDonald and Brown woollen mill, previously leased, was bought by the Bates and Innes company from H. Brown and Sons, and its machines were removed to other local mills.

Road shows performing in Carleton Place included two circuses, one of which disbanded here ; September Morn (a “dancing festival from the Lasalle Opera House, Chicago”) and D. W. Griffith’s great motion picture, The Birth of a Nation, which was travelling with an orchestra of thirty musicians.

Fire destroyed the Houses of Parliament of Canada, in a blaze visible from high observation points of this town.

The War Continues

1917 – The Lanark and Renfrew 240th Battalion under Lieut. Colonel J. R. Watt left for overseas service.  Heavy war casualties continued.  Memorial services were held for men killed in action.

The Hawthorne Mills Limited was incorporated with a capital stock authorization of $200,000.  Electric power was installed in the C.P.R. shops.

Increased horseshoeing charges, to fifty cents per shoe, were quoted in a joint announcement of fourteen blacksmith shops.  They were those of Duncan Cameron, Richard Dowdall, Robert Kenny, McGregor Bros. (Forbes and Neil), and James Warren & Son, all of Carleton Place ; Edward Bradley, William Jackson, Edward Lemaistre and William McCaughan, all of Almonte ; and George Turner of Appleton, George Kemp at Black’s Corners, S. Robertson at Ashton, Robert Evoy at Innisville and Michael Hogan at Clayton.

John F. Cram and Sons bought over eight thousand muskrat pelts in one week from district trappers and collectors.

Highly popular home front war songs ranged from “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, to “Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts for Soldiers.”

The Armistice

Another year of war ended in November.  Armistice celebrations commenced in Carleton Place at 4 a.m. when the news was announced by the sounding of church and fire alarm bells and factory bells and whistles.  Cheering, shouting and singing groups gathered in the streets.  A great bonfire soon was prepared and burning in the market square on Franklin Street.  In a long and noisy morning procession there were decorated automobiles, buggies, wagons, pony carts, drays and floats, one of them with a war canoe full of young club paddlers in action.  The Town Council and Board of Education paraded with the firemen and their equipment and with cheering marchers on foot.  Groups of young people had their own banners, flags, horns and other noise makers.  Celebrations continued until midnight.

Major W. H. Hooper, home after four years’ service including two years as a prisoner in Germany, was welcomed in a reception held outdoors.  Indoor meetings had been banned by reason of deaths from a world influenza epidemic.

The Hawthorne woollen mill, with two hundred employees, was enlarged.  Fire destroyed the Thorburn woollen mills in Almonte.

End of an Era

1919 – Members of the armed forces returned to Canada.  Over fifty from Carleton Place had lost their lives, together with similar numbers from all sections of the surrounding district.  A military funeral was held here for the burial of a young officer who had died overseas.

Roy W. Bates was re-elected for the second of three yearly terms as mayor.  The town’s electric power supply facilities were converted to public ownership under the Ontario Hydro Electric Power Commission system.

Three persons were killed when an automobile collided with a train at the William Street railway crossing.  Another local fatality was caused by a fallen live wire of a municipal distribution line.

In a baseball game at Riverside Park between junior teams of Carleton Place and of the Smiths Falls C.P.R. club, local players included Mac Williams, Bill Burnie, Howard Dack, Jim Williamson, George Findlay, Tommy Graham, Gordon Bond and Clyde Emerson.  The umpire was Bill Emerson.  The score was 15 to 14 for Smiths Falls.

In the Town Hall Captain M. W. Plunkett presented the Dumbells in an original overseas revue, “Biff, Bing, Bang,” with an all-male cast of returned soldiers at the outset of their years of Canadian stage fame.

Centenary Celebrations

One hundred years after the first settlers had come to occupy the site of Carleton Place, a centenary celebration of the settlement of Beckwith Township was held at McNeely’s 10th Line Shore on Dominion Day in 1919.  Among the thousand who attended was a representation of descendants of most of the township’s Scottish, Irish and English emigrants of a century earlier.  A few  elderly first-generation sons and daughters and many grandchildren of the district’s honoured pioneers were on hand to mark the day.  Speeches included a review of the township’s history by the Rev. J. W. S. Lowry.  Fiddlers and a piper provided the music for dancing.  A collection of pioneer household and farm equipment was on display.

At Almonte an Old Home Week was held in 1920.  The Centenary Celebration and Old Home Week of Carleton Place in 1924 was opened by the ringing of church bells and the sounding of the whistles or bells of the railway shops, of Findlay Brothers foundry and of the Bates & Innes and Hawthorne woollen mills.  The week’s programme was the result of months of planning and preparation for the return of the town’s young and old boys and girls from distant and nearby points.

Parades, shows, bands, fireworks, dancing, midway attractions, banquets, concerts, church and cemetery services, an array of athletic events and open house accommodation for renewing old acquaintances were all combined to fill the seven day programme.  The chief sports events were a number of baseball games, a football game, track and field sports, a cricket match, horse racing, an aquatic carnival, trap shooting, a boxing tournament and old timers’ quoit matches.  An historical exhibition of district relics, curios and heirlooms was shown.  The native son chosen to be chief guest of honour was D. C. Coleman (1879-1956), vice president and later president of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

These civic honours opened our area’s second century of settlement by paying tribute to those of the past who had paved its way.  The district’s centenary celebrations may be claimed to have reflected on a small scale something of the enduring viewpoint once recorded by a great English historian in the following thought: – “A people which takes no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants.”

Published in: on July 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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80 Buildings Once Erected Here Within A Year’s Time, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 25 August, 1960

About seventy-five years ago, Carleton Place reached the speediest single period of its growth. The present instalment of a summary of events in the town’s youthful years tells briefly of some of the developments that were in the foreground seventy to eighty years ago. It reaches the period of the first childhood recollections of this district’s present elder citizens.

The selection of Carleton Place at his time by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company as a divisional and repair shop point added a third main industry to growing textile and lumber businesses. Other principal manufacturing industries here, notably the making of stoves and machinery and grain milling, were all expanding. Revolutionary discoveries in telephone communication and electric lighting and in new types of industrial machines were being put into use in this area.

Building construction and the number of the community’s residents doubled within about five years. At the end of the decade, Carleton Place, with a population approaching only 4,500, was second in size to Ottawa alone in the Ottawa Valley. On the main line of the new railway to the west coast Carleton Place was the largest community between Montreal and Vancouver with the exception of Winnipeg. While the Carleton Place of later years may be found to have increased in wisdom and prosperity as measured by its way of life, its stature as rated by the conventional yardsticks of population and of total commercial activity has remained with relatively little change.

Working Hours

1880 – The idle Hawthorne woollen factory was bought by James Gillies of Carleton Place from its original owner Abraham Code at a reported price of $16,400.

A one hour strike fro a shorter working day by about fifty men at Peter McLaren’s sawmill was unsuccessful. Working hours continued at thirteen hours a day, from 6 a.m to 7 p.m., and twelve hours on Saturdays.

Lawsuits were under way between the rival sawmill owners here, Boyd Caldwell and Peter McLaren, based on McLaren’s efforts to exclusively control the passage of logs down the Mississippi at High Falls and other points.

The first annual regatta and sports day of the Carleton Place Boating Club was held at Carleton Park (Lake Park), featuring sailing, rowing and canoe races, the Perth band and baseball team, and oarsmen from Brockville and Ottawa. Its evening events on the river in Carleton Place were a promenade concert, an illuminated boat dispaly contest, fireworks and a balloon ascension. The Carleton Place brass band wearing new uniforms rode in a large carriage drawn by four horses to a concert and ball in Newman’s Hall which lasted until morning.

Indian Camp

1881 – St. James Anglican Church was rebuilt, the present stone structure replacing a former frame building. The building contractors were William Moffatt and William Pattie. Chairman and secretary of the building committee were Colonel John Sumner and Dr. R. F. Preston. The Rev. G. J. Low succeeded the Rev. G. W. G. Grout before the building was completed.

John Gillies of Carleton Place bought the McArthur woollen mill at the present Bates & Innes site from its first owner Archibald McArthur. The reported price was 40,000. W. H. Wylie, lessee of the McArthur mill, bought the Hawthorne woollen mill from its new owner James Gillies at a price reported as $19,000.

Several parties of Indians were encamped late in the year at the east side of the town and frequented the streets daily. An Indian war dance was held at a local residence.

Railway Shops

1882- A new railway station was built at the junction of the two lines here.  Exemption from municipal taxation was granted for the C.P.R. workshops being moved to Carleton Place from Brockville and Prescott.  Major James C. Poole (1826-1882), Herald editor, predicted the town was “about to enter upon an era of advancement and unparalleled prosperity.”

Boyd Caldwell & Sons river-men, when their log drive was blocked by Peter McLaren’s dam at the foot of Long Lake, cut a passage through the dam under claimed authority of the Ontario Legislature’s Rivers and Streams Act, which had been reenacted after its disallowance by the Dominion Government.  The ten thousand logs reached the Carleton Place mill in good condition after having been delayed three years en route.  Peter McLaren’s assertions of exclusive river rights which had been rejected by the Ontario Supreme Court were sustained by the Supreme Court of Canada.  The Caldwell firm appealed to the Privy Council.

Sawdust had become a local furnace fuel, according to Mr. W. W. Cliff, Central Canadian publisher, who reported :  Messrs. Wylie & Co. use about fifteen cartloads per day, the machine shop about four, and Mr. Findlay about one.  The sawmills of course regard it as their staff of steam life.

River Rights

1883 – The Bank of Ottawa opened a branch at Carleton Place, located on Bridge St. near Lake Avenue, opposite the Mississippi Hotel, with John A. Bangs as managaer.

The town’s leading hotel, the Mississippi, was sold to Walter McIlquham, formerly of Lanark, by Napoleon Lavallee at a price reported at $9,400.

In the Mississippi River strife between the two lumbermen whose principal mills were at Carleton Place, the Ontario Rivers and Streams Act was once more disallowed by the Dominion Government under Sir John A. MacDonald and was again introduced by the Ontario Government under Sir Oliver Mowat.  The last disallowance held fifty thousand Caldwell logs in the upper Mississippi near Buckshot Lake and forced the Caldwell mill here to remain idle.

The James Poole estate sold the Carleton Place Herald, founded in 1850, to William H. Allen and Samual J. Allen ; and sold the family’s large stone residence at Bridge Street and the Town Line Road to David Gillies, son-in-law of James Poole.  William H. Allen continued publication of the Herald for sixty years.  David Gillies, original partner and later president of Gillies Brothers Limited of Braeside and member of the Quebec Legislature, maintained his home here until his death in 1926.  Its site was the place of residence of six generations of the Poole family.

Divisional Point

1884 – Carleton Place became a railway divisional point.  A result was an expansion of the town’s population and of its commercial activities.  A large railway station addition was undertaken.

The McLaren-Caldwell lumber litigation ended with a Privy Council judgement upholding the Caldwell claims for public rights for navigation of logs throughout the length of the Mississippi River.

To make way for the building of a new flour mill the John F. Cram tannery and wool plant was removed to Campbell Street after fourteen years of operation on Mill Street.  Other building operations in addition to house construction included erection of the town’s Roman Catholic Church and a bridge by the Gillies Company at the lower falls.  The Council Chamber of the Town Hall was vacated to provide additional classroom accommodation for the Town Hall School.  A bylaw authorized the raising of $6,000 to buy a new fire engine for the Ocean Wave Fire Company. 

Electric Lights and Telephones

1885 – A telephone system connecting eastern Ontario centres including Carleton Place was established by the Bell Telephone Company.  Twenty telephones were installed in this town in the first year, all for business purposes.

A direct current electric lighting system was installed here by the Ball Electric Light Company of Toronto, including five street lights on Bridge Street.  The generator was placed by the Gillies firm at the Central Machine Works.  It was moved in the following year to a new waterpower installation opposite the west side of the Gillies woollen mill.

On Mill Street a four storey stone mill was built by Horace Brown, joined by a grain elevator to his former flour mill, and was equipped for the new roller process of flour milling.

Working hours for the winter season at the woollen mill of Gillies & Son & Company were from 7 a.m. to 6.15 p.m. with closing time one hour earlier on Saturdays.

Junction Town

1886 – The railway junction and divisional town of Carleton Place was a stopping point for the first through train of the C.P.R. to reach the west coast from Montreal.

The new tannery of John F. Cram and Donald Munroe was destroyed in a fire loss of over $10,000.

Abner Nichols’ planing mill was built at the corner of Lake Avenue and Bridge Street.

Indians who had camped for the winter at Franktown, selling baskets through the district, struck their tents and returned to the St. Regis Reserve.

The May 24th holiday was celebrated by a sports day at Allan’s Point (Lake Park).  Its baseball score was Carleton Place Athletics 16, Renfrew 5 ; and a no score lacrosse game was played between Ottawa Metropolitans and Carleton Place.  The practice field for the lacrosse and cricket clubs at this time was the picnic grounds of Gillies Grove below the woollen mill.

Canada Lumber Company

1887 – Peter McLaren sold his lumber mill properties at Carleton Place and upper Mississippi timber limits at a price reported as $900,000.  The buyers, the McLarens of Buckingham and Edwards of Rockland, formed the Canada Lumber Company.  It doubled the mills capacity, with Alexander H. Edwards (1848-1933) as manager here.  Peter McLaren three years later was appointed to the Senate, and died at age 88 at Perth in 1919. 

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was built on its present Bridge Street site donated by James Gillies, the congregation vacating its previous location in the old stone church building still standing at the corner of William and St. Paul Streets.

A bridge of ironwork on stone piers replaced the wooden bridge across the Mississippi at Bridge Street.  A brick and tile manufacturing yard, which operated for about fifteen years, was opened by William Taylor, hardware merchant.  A large brick manufacturing business of William Willoughby, building contractor, continued in operation.  The Herald office and plant moved to a new brick building at the south side of the site of the present Post Office.  A Masonic Temple was built, and a considerable number of residential and other buildings.

Reduced railway fares were granted for the fifth annual musical convention and choral festival of the Carleton Place Mechanics Institute, held in the drill hall at the market square, with guest performers from Boston, Toronto and other points.  The Institute’s officers included William Pattie, Dr. R. F. Robertson, Alex C. McLean and John A. Goth.

Published in: on July 30, 2009 at 3:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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