Almonte (pronounced "AL-mont" as opposed to the original Spanish pronunciation of "al-MON-tay") is a former mill town located in Lanark County, in the eastern portion of Ontario, Canada. Formerly a separate municipality, Almonte is now a ward of the town of Mississippi Mills, which was created on January 1, 1998 by the merging of Almonte with Ramsay and Pakenham townships. Almonte is located 46 kilometres (29 mi) south-west of downtown Ottawa. Its population as of 2013 is about 5,000.
|• Land||4.41 km2 (1.70 sq mi)|
|• Density||1,077.4/km2 (2,790/sq mi)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT|
K0A 1A0 & K0A 4A0
Almonte's first European-bred settler was David Shepherd, who in 1818 was given 200 acres (0.81 km2) by the Crown to build and operate a mill. The site became known as Shepherd's Falls. That name was never official, however, and Shepherd sold his patent after his mill burned down. The buyer of the patent, Daniel Shipman, rebuilt the mill and the settlement became known as Shipman's Mills by about 1821.
The majority of Shipman's Mills' early settlers were Scottish and later Irish. A textile town almost from the start, by 1850 it was the home of seven busy woolen mills of Messrs B & W Rosamond. It was one of the leading centres in Ontario for the manufacture of woollen cloth. The construction of a railway line to Brockville stimulated the economic growth of Almonte.
In 1869, Almonte was a village with a population of 2000 situated on the Mississippi river in the Township of Ramsay, County of Lanark. It was a station of the Brockville and Ottawa Railway. By the 1870 the town had thirty stores and forty other businesses.
Origin of the name AlmonteEdit
During this time of rapid expansion the town changed its name from Shipman's Mills to Ramsayville, and then to Waterford. When in 1855 the newly created Canadian post office pointed out there was already a Waterford in Ontario, the town needed yet another name change.
Relations between the United States and Great Britain had been antagonistic since the Revolutionary War and later the War of 1812. Border wars between Mexico and the United States in the 1830s increased this antagonism. Mexican general Juan Almonte had fought honourably in these latter wars, and by 1853 had become Mexico's ambassador to the United States.
In the ensuing climate of Canadian mistrust of American territorial ambitions, General Almonte's name would have been well known to Waterford's citizens. Though there is no decisive evidence as to the final motive for the name change, it appears likely that Waterford saw Almonte as a "principled David fighting a Goliath interested in swallowing up all North America."
The proposed name change was accepted by the Combined Counties of Lanark and Renfrew in June 1855, although the post office didn't record the new name until 1859. Whenever the name may have been formally accepted, it led to Almonte being the only community in Ontario, and likely Canada, to be named for a Mexican general.
Almonte train wreck, 1942Edit
On December 27, 1942, a troop train rear-ended a passenger train standing in the station at Almonte. Thirty-nine people were killed and more than 150 were injured. This local genealogy page provides photos and a contemporary newspaper report of the wreck.
After the last textile mill closed in the early 1980s, Almonte no longer had a dominant industry. It has since turned its attention towards tourism. It offers museums and several historical spots, such as the home of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, and the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.
Almonte retains much of its 19th-century architecture. The former Almonte post office, designed in 1889 by Thomas Fuller (the architect of the Parliament Buildings), and the Rosamond Woollen Mill, the largest 19th-century textile mill in Canada, are both designated as National Historic Sites of Canada.
Almonte has a skate park and splash pad which is open to the public and is located at the arena.
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Events and attractionsEdit
Puppets Up! International Puppet FestivalEdit
The Festival attracted puppet performers from various parts of the world. The 2009 Festival included acts from Canada, the U.S. and Iceland. The Festival also featured buskers, musicians, clowns, magicians and dancers.
The festival's artistic director is the acclaimed Canadian puppeteer Noreen Young.
North Lanark Highland GamesEdit
The North Lanark Highland Games have been held annually in Almonte since 1982.
The Games feature traditional Highland sports and entertainment, and bring in about 6,000 visitors each summer.
The Almonte Celtfest has been held annually in Almonte's Gemmill Park since 1997. The festival's goal is to "celebrate and promote the Celtic heritage of the Ottawa Valley through music and dance."
Almonte has three elementary schools: R. Tait McKenzie Public School, Naismith Memorial Public School and Holy Name of Mary Catholic School. Almonte and District High School serves the town of Almonte and much of the surrounding rural area. The Almonte campus of the T.R. Leger School provides adult education and literacy classes.
The Mississippi River which runs through Almonte has no connection with the U.S. river of the same name.
- County of Lanark website Lanark County: Local Municipalities Archived 2010-08-28 at the Wayback Machine, last retrieved February 14, 2010
- Wheatley, Gerry. "David Shepherd was Almonte's first settler" Archived 2008-12-23 at the Wayback Machine, The Almonte Gazette, Almonte, February 26, 1992
- The province of Ontario gazetteer and directory. H. McEvoy Editor and Compiler, Toronto : Robertson & Cook, Publishers, 1869
- http://www.heritagefdn.on.ca/userfiles/HTML/nts_1_5686_1.html Archived 2012-04-03 at the Wayback Machine Ontario Heritage Trust Founding of Almonte
- Cosentino, Frank. (2000).Almonte: the life of Juan Nepomuceno Almonte, pp.4-5, General Store Publishing.
- "Troop special plows into local at Almonte", Globe and Mail, December 28, 1942, pg.1
- Former Almonte Post Office. Canadian Register of Historic Places.
- Rosamond Woollen Mill. Canadian Register of Historic Places.
- "2017 Festival cancelled – PUPPETS UP !". puppetsup.ca. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
- Puppets Up website, 2009