The last time we moved was eight years ago when our house precipitously sold within a matter of weeks following its listing with the estate agent. The sale of the house in turn caused an avalanche of activity surrounding the so-called downsizing process as we prepared to convert our 4-bedroom dwelling of about 3,000 sq.ft. and associated belongings to an apartment one-third the size with minimal storage. Today we are convening with professional movers regarding the transport of our now elemental belongings to a new, even smaller apartment at an undetermined time (the new building is not yet fully constructed and the occupancy date is therefore uncertain).
The new apartment building is on a rise of land bordering the Mississippi River which links the Town of Almonte (to the south) and the Village of Appleton (to the north). The River has its history including the fateful night that Dr. William Mostyn drowned.
On the morning of Tuesday, March 29, 1881, the people of Almonte slowly became aware that one of their most prominent men was missing. Also missing was the son of another of the town’s well known citizens.
Search parties, under J. C. Stevens, who was a miller in Almonte, and W. H. Wylie, a woollen manufacturer in Carleton Place, started to drag the Mississippi River until first an upturned boat, then a fur cap and then, several days apart, two bodies were found, not far from a part of the river then known as Gleeson’s Bay, about a mile down river from Appleton.
On the previous Monday afternoon, Dr. William Mostyn, anxious to visit a sick patient in Appleton, and unable to use the roads because of their bad condition, finally got J. W. Manning, Jr., son of the celebrated Temperance worker, to take him in his skiff. In spite of a high wind and bitterly cold weather, they reached Appleton safely.
Dr. Mostyn visited his patient and James Manning conducted some license business with Mr. McArthur, a hotel keeper.
Manning, during the absence of his father, J. W. Manning, in England on a speaking tour, was acting as License Inspector for North Lanark. They were last seen at 4:30 p.m. by Adam Tesky, who accompanied them to the landing stage. Manning was rowing and Dr. Mostyn was sitting in the stern steering and paddling.
Dr. Mostyn was descended from a Welsh family who moved to Ireland in Cromwell’s time. He was born in Ireland in 1836 but came to Canada soon after with his family. They settled in Kingston, where his father was Inspector of Licenses.
Dr. Mostyn (in addition to being an Anglican who participated in the laying of the cornerstone of St. Paul’s Anglican Church of which over a century later I was a parishioner and a Warden) acquired an especial signficance for me when I was initiated into the local Masonic Lodge, a fraternity of which my paternal grandfather (whose symbolic square and compass constituted the fob to my pocket watch) had also been a brother. Mostyn was the first Master of our Lodge on May 24, 1861 (the antiquity of which by the way entitles Mississippi Lodge members to wear gold braid on their aprons). He was a bachelor (the leading member of the Anti-connubial Society), lived with his sister and was a man to be reckoned with.
As early as 1843, services were held in the Temperance Hall in Almonte by the Rev. Dr. Boswell. St. Paul’s was built in 1863, the cornerstone being laid by Dr. Mostyn, the mayor, on June 15, 1863. The land and most of the money to clear the church of debt were donated by Mr. James Rosamond and his wife, Margaret. St. Paul’s Church, Almonte opened on Easter Day, 1864 and was consecrated by Bishop J. Travers Lewis on June 29th of the same year. The stone rectory was built in the 1870’s. Between 1886 and 1889, the church was enlarged. In 1887, the transepts were added to the church. Bishop Charles Hamilton consecrated the addition to the cemetery in 1903. The basement of the church was renovated in 1951 and dubbed the parish hall. The centenary of St. Paul’s was celebrated on June 16, 1963.
We have had the privilege to befriend and work for Mr. Justice James Knatchbull Hugessen and his late wife Mary (nee Rosamond). In addition to having owned a splendid house on the River adjacent St. Paul’s Anglican Church they also latterly resided on Coleman’s Island not far from the historic Rosamond Woollen Mill (which has since been converted to condominiums alongside the water falls).
For those of us living in the Town of Almonte the River is celebrated for its cascading falls in Town and further below nearby in the Village of Blakeney (formerly Rosebank). The River also marks the site in Town of the agricultural hall and the fair grounds at which as of late the booming voice of Charles Reginald Gamble of C. R. Gamble Funeral Home & Chapel Inc. could be overheard officiating the annual highland games.
When I first came to Almonte in the summer of 1976 I recall swimming across the River from one side (Martin St S) where I lived at the time to the other side (the Almonte Beach) with my Yellow Labrador officially denominated with the breeder as Lanark Drummond Beckwith of Rosedale (aka “Lanny”). In the summer the water level is so low that it is possible to walk from one side of the River to the other. Nonetheless at peak season such as the springtime freshet the volume of water billowing downriver is sufficient to generate millions of dollars of hydro-electric energy at the Brian J. Gallagher Generating Station of which I was a Director 2000 -2012 reflecting my happy acquaintance with the eponymous namesake.
The new station, named the Brian J. Gallagher Generating Station (named after the former General Manager of Almonte Hydro who spent over 50 years with the company and was instrumental in the rehabilitation of the old station and the plans to construct the new lower falls station), came online on April 9, 2010, with a generating capacity of 4.6 Megawatts, nearly doubling the capacity of the old station. . Running the station are two 1700mm Kaplan turbines (re-used from the old station) and two 2300 Kilowatt generators. At full capacity the station uses about 36 cubic metres per second (cms) of water. We also send approximately 2.2 cms over the middle falls weir for aesthetic purposes.
We’re chuffed about the move to our new digs. These reminiscences have prompted me to consider the neighbouring boat launch perhaps to initiate an idle rowing habit along our beloved Mississippi River!