Lanark Mills


Lanark Mills

Clyde Woolen Mills
  • Lot 2 George St.
  • Clyde Woolen Mills (Caldwell and Watchorn, proprietors; subsequently Boyd Caldwell and Co.) established a woolen mill in 1867.
  • The building was destroyed by fire in 1917. (the Glenayr Kitten Outlet Store was later situated in the Boyd Caldwell store).
Aberdeen Mills
  • Lot 2 George St.
  • William Clyde Caldwell, proprietor, built and began operating a woolen mill by 1890.
  • There was a fire at the mill in June 1901.
  • It was still operating under the Caldwells until 1930.
Glenayr Knitting/Kitten Mills (1935 – 1992)

Dave Markle started the Glenayr Knitting Mills in 1935, and in 1940 he purchased the Munro Mill in Lanark which at that time only had 12 employees.

In 1953 the mill was the backbone of Lanark, and some still called it the Clyde Woolen Mill. Markle made lots of improvements in the old mill, with new machinery now making men’s woolen socks, blankets, and motor rugs. In 1945 the Markle brothers bought the large two story stone building on the main street by the Clyde River and used it as a store. It also housed the former bank of Ottawa and after that the Nova Scotia bank.

The main part of this stone structure was built by Boyd Caldwell as a general store in 1860, and enclosed somewhere in that building is the original store built in 1850. Allie McIntyre was once the manager for many years and said the store once had carried over $30,000 of stock. T.B. Caldwell carried on the business until 1909 and then sold out to W.J. Robertson. When Robertson died the business closed.

Markle installed knitting machinery and they made fine quality men’s wear and ladies sweaters. The key man at the Glenayr Mill was Tom Kear who had learned the trade in Toronto. It now had 125 employees and in 1943 they began knitting sweaters and made colourful ski sweaters under the Hudson’s Bay brand. The mill worked at full capacity to turn out those famous Kitten cardigans and pullovers For a time both mills operated until the original plant was closed and attention was focused on the mill located in the heart of the village. In 1982 the company was still purring and Mr. Markle took over the former 5 cents to a dollar business to open yet another store.

The Kitten Factory at one time had a payroll of over $200,000 that turned over three times in local businesses before it left the village. In 1984 the Kitten Mill employed 200 people and had a sportswear plant in Toronto. Seventy-five of those 200 employees had been with Markle for over 25 years. His son Derek was superintendent in the Lanark Mill, and all the fabric was made in the Lanark plant. They also used to clear out the excess inventory through their store.

The textile industry lasted for about 170 years, but was finally defeated by the flood of cheap Asian imports into North America. The Kitten factory closed in 1992 and the buildings have remained vacant. (by Linda Seccaspina).


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

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