Almonte

WOOLEN MILLS OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY

Almonte

Penman Mill
  • Lot 19, Mill St, site of Almonte’s new post office.
  • Apparently, this was the site of a carding mill established by Isiah Boyce in 1830.
  • The property was sold to Daniel Shipman in 1846, although it is unclear whether the building still existed at this date
  • Later it was sold to Allan McDonald in 1847 and a carding mill was built in the same year.
  • Allan McDonald, John McIntosh and Samuel Reid operated the carding mill from 1847 – 1854 (although strangely the mill is not represented on the 1850 plan of Ramsayville).
  • 1854 – 1865 it was operated as a custom carding and woolen mill by Almonte woolen Manufactory under McIntosh and Reid, and after 1858, under McIntosh alone.
  • The mill was sold in 1866 to James Forgie who operated it as a carding mill from 1866 – 1869.
  • In 1869 the Forgie carding mill was moved from the former McIntosh building to a building immediately below on Mill St. The McIntosh mill appears to have been demolished by 1873 as it is not represented in a plan of Almonte in that year.
  • John McGuire’s Cabinet, Sash and Blind Factory (later called the Almonte Cabinet and Chair Company and then Almonte Furniture Company) was also operating on the lot from at least 1869 to1870 probably in the same building as the carding mill.
  • This new building was leased to Cyrus Bragg 1870 – 1871 for use as a custom carding and woolen mill – knitted goods were also produced.
  • James Forgie operated it as a carding mill again from 1871 – 1873.
  • Part of the lot was sold to Andrew Elliott in 1873 and remained in his possession until 1888. Elliott and Company ran a shingle mill here from 1879 probably in the former McGuire factory and by 1887 they were using the building as a “wease shed”.
  • By 1882 the other part of the lot was in possession of the Young Bros who built the Mississippi Mills Iron Works there and moved their operations from their former location on Water St.
  • The Elliott section was in the possession of James A Cantlie from 1888 – 1893. It is unclear if the mill was operating during this time.
  • It was sold to Donald Fraser and used as a knitting mill under his control from 1893 – 1898.
  • Subsequently, it was operated by the Almonte Knitting Company from 1898 – 1908.
  • It was sold to Penmans in 1910.

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM A LOCAL NEWSPAPER REGARDING PENMAN’S MILL:

March 1 –1926- Almonte Gazette

Penmans Limited has purchased from the town of Almonte a frontage of 30 feet on Mill Street. It adjoins the Penman Mill on the west side and extends back from the street front to within three feet of the Gilmour dam on the river, which was built last year. This new property will be used for the erection of a new scouring house as the old one is to be removed. This purchase has given great satisfaction in Almonte and is regarded as an evidence of the satisfaction of Penmans Limited with their investment in Almonte and evidence also of the good relations that existed between the town and the company since it established itself here.

The Penman mill will now be completely severed on all sides from other properties. It will mean the tearing down of the photograph gallery operated by D. L. Woods. The transaction was ratified by the Town Council and was expected additions to the mill would be carried out in the near future. The purchase price of the property was $ 1,000.

AUTHOR’S NOTE—The assurance that all was well between the town and Penmans was soon blasted. Not only did the company not build any more additions to the plant, except the scouring addition, but they pulled out of Almonte in the middle of 1930 and a year or so later threatened to pull the whole building down if the town didn’t buy the property and relieve them of taxes.

Penman’s closed operations in 1930. The building was used by other textile manufacturers until it was destroyed by a fire in 1957.

McPhee and King Carding and Woollen Mill
  • Located on the next lot down Mill St from new post office , Lot 20, Mill St
  • Archibald McPhee and William King ran the carding mill from 1864 – 1865, and operated a custom carding and woolen mill from 1866 – 1871
  • It was leased by John Baird and Company on 1871 who subsequently purchased it in 1879.
  • The Elmsdale Flannel Mill (James Wylie, proprietor) was established in 1881 and leased the building until the property was purchased by Wylie in 1897.  The mill was still running in 1910.
Golden Fleece Woolen Mill
  • (1865 – 1910) Lot 21, Mill St, former site of Peterson’s Ice Cream
  • Located on the site of Daniel Shipman’s grist mill, this mill was apparently called the Mississippi Valley Mills which burned in Jan 1862 and was rebuilt.
  • It was subsequently sold to John Baird in 1865 who operated woolen and grist mills on the site.
  • Gilbert Cannon and Thomas Watchorn operated the custom carding and woolen mill from 1865 to 1867 when Watchorn left for Lanark and Cannon continued the operation alone until 1870 when he moved to a new site in Almonte.
  • John Baird and Company operated the woolen mill from 1871 – 1896. John Baird also leased and then purchased the adjoining mills (Lot 20, Mill St)
  • The mill sold to James Wylie in 1897 who operated it as the Golden Fleece Woolen Mill past 1910.’
Thoburn Woolen Mill (1918)
  • 83 Little Bridge St, built on site of Old Brown Mill
  • This mill appears to have been close to the site of Daniel Shipman’s sawmill.
  • Known as the Almonte Woolen Manufactory, John McIntosh, proprietor, built his second mill on this site in 1862 and operated it until 1865. McIntosh declared bankruptcy in 1867.
  • It was then leased by the Rosemond Woolen Company for the manufacture of blankets in 1867 and was known as the Old Brown Mill.  It was then leased by Levi C Northrup from 1870 – 1872 when he retired from the woolen business.
  • Subsequently, it leased by John and Alex Hunter from 1872 – 1873.  They declared bankruptcy in 1873.
  • The mill was sold to John McGuire of the Almonte Cabinet and Chair Company in 1873.  The basement story was leased to Phillip Dontigny and William Reilly (and then William Reilly alone) who operated it as a custom carding and woolen mill from 1873 – 1874. (John McGuire operated a cabinet, sash and blind company in the same building as the carding mill on Lot 19 Mill St from 1869 – 1873 before moving his business to this mill).
  • It was then operated as a joint stock company, the Almonte Furniture Company, set up in 1875 and occupied the mill until it was destroyed by fire in 1877.
  • It was rebuilt but remained vacant until 1879.
  • It then became Thoburn Woolen Mills (estb 1880) under William Thoburn and Samuel Sheard (subsequently only William Thoburn) and was still running in 1911.
Victoria Woolen Mill (1857)
  • Lot 22, 7 Mill St
  • Ramsay Woolen Cloth Manufacturing Company (Grenville, Menzies, Shipman and Rosamond among the shareholders) was a woolen mill running on this site from 1851 and 1852. It burned in July 1852 . James Rosamond of Carleton Place, a shareholder of the short lived Ramsay corporation, then moved his woolen 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 story stone building, later known as No. 2 Mill, which he opened in 1857 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 woolen manufacturer, as a partner. He became Baron Mount Stephen, president of the Bank of Montreal and first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
  • In 1868, the Rosamonds attempted to establish a joint stock company to run the factory but apparently was unsuccessful.
  • The mill was sold to Andrew Elliot in 1869. The firm of Elliot, Routh and Sheard was established in 1870 (1870 – 1873). The firm was subsequently Elliot and Sheard; Elliott, Shirreffs and Company; and Elliott and Company. The firm operated successfully until 1888 and the firm also controlled a shingle mill on lot 19 Mill St 1879 – 1887.
  • It was no longer running as a woolen mill and in the control of James A Cantley of Montreal; may have been used however, by Rolland and Brothers for shoddy manufacturing at least in 1888 and 1889.
  • The Mill was sold to Daniel Shaw in 1893 and the Almonte Blanket Mill with John B Wylie and Daniel Shaw as proprietors occupied part of the building from 1894 -1902. The other part of the building was occupied by John Elliott and David Shepherd (John Elliott was former manager of Elliott and Company until 1888), shoddy manufacturers from 1891 – 1895; and then by Francis Scantlion, shoddy manufacturer from 1895 – 1902.
  • The mill was sold in1902 to Richard William Lee and Hirst Taylor, shoddy manufacturers and was still operating in 1911.
No 1 Rosamond Woolen Mill
  • Coleman Island, Lot 18
  • As James Rosamond was building the second Victoria Woolen Mill in Almonte, he realized that with the coming of the railway, the mills would be too small. He began acquiring property on Coleman’s Island near the falls which was occupied by a tannery and residences. Between 1857 and 1867 he acquired six parcels of land. The Coleman Island Mill was built in 1866 – 1867. The first building was a six story stone building, six wide by twelve windows long, centred by a tower.
  • In 1872 a three story dye house was added on the north end of the building and a 45 foot by 130 foot warehouse and a 40 foot by 45 foot counting house was added on the south. In 1887 a four story north addition was built connecting the dye house. Also, a four story addition was built connecting the main building to the counting house.
  • The counting house was demolished in 1880 and the south wing extended to Ramsay St.
  • The New Counting House
  • A new Counting House for the No. 1 Rosamond Woolen Mill was added to the west end of the warehouse in 1880. This complex is now the home of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.
The Red Mill (1882 – 1933)
  • Andrew Young started in the foundry business when he purchased Lot 18 on Coleman’s Island in 1868 from Bennett Rosamond ad built a foundry in partnership with John Flett.
  • Their foundry was located below the east side of the falls, on Bay St below Mary St. In 1871 the partnership was dissolved and John Flett took in John Scott and Charles Miller as partners in the Flett Iron Works.
  • James Rosamond purchased John Flett’s share in 1873 and in partnership with Scott and Miller renamed the plant the Almonte Iron Works. In1882, Bennett Rosamond purchased the land and renovated the buildings to become the Almonte Knitting Company Ltd.
  • Commonly called “the Red Mill” or just the “Old Red” wool socks and longjohns were made here.
  • This mill remained in production until 1833 when a great flow of ice pulled the back off the building into the fast flowing falls. The building was demolished in 1834.
Canon Mill (1870)
  • Located in the area known as “the Bay”, Lot F, at the foot of Mill St
  • This was the site of J.M. Haskin’s Cataract Grist and Flouring Mills.
  • The grist mill was leased by Levi C Northrup 1864 – 1868.
  • Cyrus Bragg and Levi C Northrup operated a custom carding and woolen mill adjoining the flour mill in at least 1867 and 1868.
  • William Tenant and Company (William Tenant and Robert Edwards) woolen manufacturers also occupied part of the complex in 1868.
  • The building burned on November 9, 1868.
  • The lot was purchased by Gilbert Cannon in 1869 and a woolen mill was built in 1870.
  • In 1871 the equipment was sold and the mill was leased to William Hamilton Wylie who operated it as a woolen mill until 1877 when the building burned.
  • The mill seems to have ceased operations in 1897.
Dontigny and Reilly and Woolen Mill
  • Located at Main St next to Wylie Grist Mill.
  • Philip Dontigny and William Reilly operated a custom carding and woolen mill at this location from 1872 – 1873.
Campbell Mill (1919) - Water St

The building originally was built in 1872 as the Almonte Furniture Com­pany by Messrs. Kirby and Bennett and was known locally as the Kir­Ben Building.

The factory operated for many years, then had financial problems. In 1887, James H. Wylie, who owned other mills in Almonte, installed a one set flannel mill in the building, added two more sets over the next two years, and called it the Elmdale Flannel Mills.

In March, 1919, Mr. P. J. Campbell of the Blakeney Woolen Company purchased the Kir-Ben building and started moving the looms and other machinery from Blakeney to the Kir­Ben building to produce flannels.

In March, 1928, a Saturday fire heavily damaged the building. The Almonte Gazette. reported that “spontaneous combustion in the dryer room’ was suspected as the cause. “An alarm was I given and the fire brigade did effective work and succeeded in confining the blaze to one department.” The damage amounted to $12,000. Later in 1928, the picture of the Kir-Ben building was printed in The Almonte Gazette with the following report below it. “Campbell Woolen Company’s Mill at Almonte which was destroyed by fire in a Monday midnight conflagration.

The loss is estimated by P. J. Campbell at $50,000, partially covered by in­surance.” The Campbell Woolen Mill ceased operations, the remainder of the building was demolished and the Company was closed a few years later.

I wondered whether there was any evidence left of the old Campbell Mill so I drove down Water Street to Brian Drynan’s Garage. Brian had found considerable evidence of the Campbell Mill while building his garage, house and other structures. The railroad siding to the Mill is still in place. He found stone foundation walls; a six inch cast iron pipe from the river to the Mill, thought to bring water from the river; and two large concrete slabs, one now serving as a base for propane tanks. (by Gerry Wheatley).

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY TEXTILE MUSEUM

3 Rosamond Street East
Almonte, Ontario K0A 1A0
Phone: (613) 256-3754
Email: [email protected]

Year-Long Hours

The Museum is open from 1-4pm Tuesday thru Saturday. This includes the Permanent and Temporary Exhibits as well as the Gift Shop.