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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Walking the Streets of my Hometown IV - Old Rid

I'm reading When Giants Fall, by Gary Long and Randy Whiteman. It's the story of the Gilmour Logging Company,  a c.19 lumbering giant in eastern Ontario. Their Trenton operation was one of the world's largest in the 1880's.

I have often wondered about this Trenton building. I have a hunch  it's the headquarters of Gilmour Logging Co. A photo from 1900, on page 183 of the book, shows a tree-lined street with a single horse and buggy, and a building facade very similar. The book describes the headquarters on Dundas street, just 600 metres from the sawmill. The river is nearby, across the street from the building's sunny side. Good spot for a sawmill. An archival photo reproduced on page 40 of the book shows the massive mill and lumber yards occupying the eastern shore of the river mouth, just behind this building. (I'm including this photo to encourage you to purchase this outstanding local history book.)

Eleanor, Al and Ridley Purdy

What's this got to do with Al Purdy? His grandfather Old Rid, who features prominently in all of Al's work,  was a Gilmour logger.

"Trenton had been a lumbering town in the days before dams were built on the river, when sprawling log booms floated downstream and coal oil lamps lighted the houses. In my grandfather's era the Gilmour Lumbering Company provided much of the town's prosperity. Potash, lumber and squared timber were shipped outward by sailing ship from the rivermouth harbour in the nineteenth century....(p.32, RBS)

Hmm. Wonder if the current tenants would like a plaque?


  1. Baby Al looks a lot like the grown-up Al we all think of, to my mind!

    This post makes me think of a tiny and somewhat remote outpost of central Hastings County (pretty much the definition of The Country North of Belleville) called Gilmour. I wonder if the company was named after the hamlet (where doubtless there was lumber to be found) or (more probably, I imagine) the hamlet was named after the company. I have never been to Gilmour (though will visit as part of my Hastings County explorations), but went to school with some kids from there when their school – which was probably in Millbridge, another tiny hamlet – was closed and they were bused to Madoc Township Public School. That would have been a long bus ride in each direction; those poor kids.

  2. Katherine, you would enjoy When Giants Fall! I first saw it, and picked up my copy, on my last visit to Lillian and Gary at the Old Ormsby Mercantile and Gallery. I quote from p.77 of the book: "a hamlet that sprang up on the [Central Ontario Railway]line in the heart of the Gilmour [logging] limits in 1885 was named Gilmour Station in honour of the company that had been active in the area for so many years. The hamlet still exists but is now called simply Gilmour." Long and Whiteman also explain the origins of Gunter nearby. Two good friends of ours live in Gilmour.

  3. Gunter! Now there's a place name I haven't heard in a long, long time. There is so much driving and exploration to be done in the remoter parts of Hastings County…

  4. Just yesterday, on a junket to Wooler, I crossed Gunter Settlement Road. Wonder what the connection is?

  5. The Gilmour Logging Co. operated a logging line approximately 20 miles in length that still exists as a runs eastward off of the COR/CN line just south of Gilmour. There were tall trestles and rock cuts that carried the line to its' terminus at Grimsthorpe Lake. A turning wye was used to turn the locomotives so they could make their run back to the COR mainline headfirst - it can be seen on Google Earth.