My home town

It wasn’t until the British enacted the Constitutional Act in 1791 that Ontario would be known as the land upstream from the St. Lawrence River, or Upper Canada, and Quebec considered the land downstream from the St. Lawrence River, known as Lower Canada.

Almonte’s first settler was David Shepherd, who in 1819 was granted 200 acres by the Crown to build and operate a mill. The site became known as Shepherd’s Falls.

Almonte had many names in its early years. First named for its Scottish and Irish settlers, the town went by at least five different names in its early years. By 1855 the small town had settled on Waterford.

Juan Nepomuceno Almonte Ramírez (May 15, 1803 – March 21, 1869) was a Mexican soldier, commander, minister of war, congressman, diplomat, presidential candidate, and regent.

General Almonte was primarily a diplomat, and was in fact Mexico’s ambassador to the United States when open warfare erupted between the two countries. He was hastily recalled to Mexico, and served with distinction in the field against the invading US forces.

The opening of several woollen mills and the completion of a railway to Brockville, fostered the growth of Almonte, which by 1870 was one of Ontario’s leading woollen cloth manufacturing centres. Incorporated as a village in 1871, with a population of about 2,000, Almonte was proclaimed a town in 1880.

The Town of Mississippi Mills was incorporated on January 1, 1998, by amalgamating the town of Almonte with the townships of Ramsay and Pakenham.

Many years ago it was drawn to my attention by the grandson of Dr. John Dunn (our bygone resident historian) that having a railway passing directly through the centre of of a small rural town such as it does in Almonte is no footling achievement. Apparently the Rosamond woollen mill family were so influential that one of their members who sat on the Board of Directors of the Brockville & Ottawa Railway in Montréal wheedled the company to endure the expense of not only directing the railway off-course the intended target of nearby Renfrew County (where all the forest products were) but also constructing bridges to cross the numerous intermittent waterways. I know from having had my law office on Little Bridge Street (which passes under the railway when approaching the nearby Town Hall) there was a bridge built to accommodate the overpass. This is a relatively small bridge compared to the large stone bridge that follows immediately west to cross over the Mississippi River as it heads downstream to where the woollen mill generators once flourished.

Today as is our custom when visited by our housekeeper we removed ourselves from the apartment and undertook a leisurely drive up the Valley along the Ottawa River. After a purifying car wash at Halo Car Wash® naturally. It was a magnificent summer day!  Judging by the overall tranquillity many of the local inhabitants are in their summer resorts to profit by the silky weather.

I must note if only as a matter of record that the shrill droning noise of the cicadas is more and more popular every day as the summer begins to decline. It is a spellbinging sound. One to which I have always attached huge rarity.

Meanwhile I continue to translate these distinguishing marks. By what sorcery I haven’t a clue, life on this side of the river is for me inexpressibly pleasing. Not that this will explain anything, but a moment ago I received a telephone call from a former client who now lives with her husband in the nearby retirement home Orchard View lodge. She asked when she might see my tricycle (a matter we had previously discussed).  Before I could recall that she lived in the retirement home, I was going on about where she should park when she comes to visit me, and how I would arrange to meet her at the front door. Then it becamse clear that she used a walker, that she had no car and that she lived in the retirement home.  I therefore instantly changed plans by suggesting I ride the tricyle to her place tomorrow morning at ten o’clock.  This she seemed satisfied to accept.  Now I must confess the necessity to get myself out of bed and on the road before dawn!

Joking aside I welcome the appointment to get some exercise and to renew acquaintance with my former clients.  They are both remarkable people who have contributed much to the Town. I am uncertain about the precise interest of my client in the tricycle.  It may be that she has (as I do) a passion for mobility at any cost. She is not what I would call sylphlike so that too may have a bearing upon the choice of vehicle.

The boaters and rowers are like strokes of paint upon the glistening river.  It is the end of another day. Evening descends upon my home town.