THE GILMOUR INFLUENCE

by Andrew McDonald and the Hastings County Historical Society  (1986)

One of Trenton's most prominent citizens during the 1860's and 1870's was a lawyer named Charles Francis. On three separate occasions he was elected Reeve of the community. The local newspaper once described him as "a wise legislator" and as an impartial magistrate who always remembered "that the honour and safety of Trenton was in the balance." (2)  Yet, Mr. Francis was defeated in the municipal elections of 1875. It was not a surprise to him  however. As he put it in a speech before the new Council in early of 1876;

"I claim that I have polled the large vote of 129 against an influence that no man could successfully withstand."

It was clear in his mind just what the influence was that caused his defeat and he went on to condemn the Councilbecause, as he put it,

"every transaction of late has had the mark of the Gilmour influence."

It was certainly a perceptive opinion for as the century drew to a close, no one had more influence in Trenton than Mr. David Gilmour, of Messrs. Gilmour and Company. As was noted in 1904, "the history of Gilmour enterprises is practically the history of Trenton." (5)     The Gilmour lumber operations were already the largest industry on the Trent by 1852. (6)    These operations however were just one branch of a much larger firm. The roots of the Company can be traced back to 1804 to the Pollock, Gilmour and Company of Glasgow, Scotland. (7) The firm profited from its interests in shipowning and as a Baltic importer. (8) The Napoleonic Wars cut off the Baltic trade however so the company transferred to Liverpool and began carrying on Colonial trade.(9)   They established branches in all major shipping ports of the British Empire. Each branch was called a "foreign house" and each was organized as a separate partnership to limit liability. These "foreign houses" traded independently but exported to the parent house which did the financing. (10)   In 1812, the firm opened up a branch at Mirarnichi, New Brunswick. (11) This was an indication of the change in the direction of the company from its original merchant business into shipowning on a large scale and into sawrnilling. (12)    By 1835, the parent firm was operating the largest fleet under the British flag, over one hundred ships. (13) The company also introduced the Abstinance principle which forbade the captain and crew of their ships from consuming alcohol while sailing. Between 1844 and 1856, the company lost only two of four hundred and six vessels sent to the St. Lawrence. (14)   

Alan Gilmour

 The most important of the "foreign houses" to Trenton's development was the Allan Gilmour and Co., of Montreal. Allan Gilmour was born in Lancashire, England in 1816 and came to Canada in the early 1830's at the age of seventeen (15)   He began working for the firm of Ritchie and Co., of Montreal which bought timber and sold supplies to lumber camps. (16)   Ritchie and  Co was also one of the "foreign houses" of Pollock, Gilmour and Co. (17)   When Mr. Ritchie retired in 1841, Allan Gilmour and his cousin James, who had just come over from Scotland, took over direction of the company. (18)  The expansion of the Allan Gilmour Co., was largely due to the nature of Allan Gilmour himself. He was a member of the Quebec Board of Trade (19) and was much more interested in becoming more involved in the lumber industry. He had earned his reputation as a shrewd businessman in Quebec one year when he went up the Ottawa River early one spring just as the river was beginning to flow. He was therefore able to meet the log rafts as they were beginning to come down the river and he purchased practically all that was uncontracted. He thereby cornered the Quebec market and all the other dealers had to go and buy from him. (20)  As another lumberman noted at the time;

"I am confident that if it were not for the laws of our country that Gilmour would be roasted by the (other)merchants." (21)

In 1842, the lumber industry suffered a setback when Great Britain removed its Preferential Tariff. As a result,
Canadian lumbermen had to compete with cheaper lumber from the Baltic region. The industry was also hurt by the development of iron hulls for ships. Two developments around 1850 however helped to improve the outlook for the lumber industry. In 1849, the Crown Timber Act was passed and this allowed for the issuing of licenses to cut timber on the ungranted lands of the province. (22) The most important development however, was the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States in 1854 . Canadian lumber was now exempt from duty so the large American
market became accessible. (23)

As a result of the improved economic outlook for the industry, Allan Gilmour continued to direct the Company towards a greater concentration on sawmilling. In 1853, he moved to Bytown (now Ottawa) and took over the management of the office there (24)  The firm was cutting over thirty million feet of lumber per year and employing between fifteen hundred and two thousand men by 1854.(25)     By this time, the Company already had sawmills on the Blanche and North Nation Rivers and had opened a large mill at Trenton. (26)    In fact, as noted above,
it was already the largest industry on the Trent by this time. (27)

Allan Gilmour himself was once described by an old employee as;

"a man of great force of character and inclined to get roused when anything went wrong in the mill without good
cause. He seldom spoke to the men except by way of passing greeting and did not have any dealing with them no matter what happened." (
28)

He became known as Colonel Allan Gilmour (even though he was actually only a major) during the Fenian raids in 1866. He was quite an art collector and considered by his peers to be a great connoisseur. In 1894 he published a biographical publication and it was called one of the best collections of pictorial art in Canada at the time. It included several by Kreighoff. (29)   Allan Gilmour was also the founder of the Bytown Curling Club in 1851 (30)(president 1851-1895)   and in later years played with Liberal Prime Minister Alexander MacKenzie. (31)  Besides curling, he enjoyed hunting, fishing, and his eighty-three foot steam yacht called the "Cruiser". (32)   In fact he spent part of the summer of 1881 cruising around the Bay of Quinte. (33)   The yacht was eventually sold to the Department of Fisheries in 1888.   Allan Gilmour retired in 1873 to a life of fishing and hunting. He also travelled extensively in Europe, visiting France, Switzerland, Belguim, Italy, Germany, and Austria. From there he travelled to the Middle East. He ascended the Nile as far as the Island of Philae and then went on to Beirut. From there he travelled by horseback to Sidon, Tyre, Acre, Jatbre Hebron and Bethlehem and then passed along the Dead Sea to Jordan. (35)

Steam mill on Ottawa River

Since Allan's cousin James had retired in 1857 (36), the company was run by John Gilmour following Allan's retirement. The 1870's proved to be hard times for the lumber industry however and the Gilmour Company suffered during these years. They had erected a large steam mill on the north shore of the Ottawa River in 1874. It was described as "one of the finest and most complete establishments in the world." (37)   Unfortunately the mill caught fire on June 6, 1875 and was totally destroyed. It was later rebuilt but the Gilmour's had picked a poor time to invest in new ventures. In 1876, the economic slump turned into a severe depression that  continued until 1880. (38)  By this time, the Gilmour branch seems to have had little connection with the parent house. In fact, while the Gilmour's had begun to concentrate on the lumber industry, the parent firm in Liverpool had increasingly shifted its interest into shipping.

The bad luck surrounding the Gilmour firm continued on into the late 1870's and it was not just in the field of
economics. The newspapers followed with keen interest the mysterious disappearance of John Gilmour in February of 1877.  Four Quebec detectives were involved in the search for him. The Trenton Courier reported that;

"The cause of the disappearance is enshrouded in mystery but it is supposed that the flight of Mr. MacDuff may have had a depressing effect upon his mind. Mr. MacDuff, one of their chief men, involved the company in a loss of $30,000 and suddenly left Montreal last week." (40)

The following week, the Courier reported that no trace of Mr. John Gilmour had been found and that "hopes of his even being found alive are given up." Several months later the newspaper informed readers that fishermen had "discovered the body of Mr. Gilmour floating down the river." The supposition is that he jumped into the open place made by the ice cutters." (42)

Following the death of John Gilmour the management of the company passed into the hands of his three sons; John, Allan,  and David and their cousin John David. They changed the name to Gilmour and Company.

The company continued to have problems however and by 1890 the company had a debt of nearly $700,000. This was the result of a number of factors. On August 16, 1883, the sawmill at Hull was totally destroyed by fire, a loss of over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. (45) It was not rebuilt (.46)    As a result, the company had a reduced production capacity. There were also lower profits as a result of the lower prices which lumber was bringing. The company also suffered from mismanagement. (47) A company memo singled out Allan as a major cause of this mismanagement. In fact, it was suggested that it was perhaps "better to let Allan go altogether.''(48)

Allan was also involved in a bizarre series of events with his brother John in 1887. The two were charged by a Father Paradis of stealing logs. The charge led to the arrest of both Allan and John though they were both immediately released on bail. The logs which they had been accused of stealing were in fact the same logs that they had previously accused Father Paradis of stealing. Allan Gilmour declared that "it was the most outrageous proceeding I. ever knew" and that the "matter has been pushed so far now that I will never stop till I get justice." (49) The accusation by Father Paradis was apparently found to be groundless as there is no further mention of the case in the Trenton newspapers except for the notice of an additional charge of forgery being laid against Father Paradis.

As a result of the problems facing the Gilmour and Company, particularly its huge debt, it was announced that the holdings of the Company would be auctioned off. (50)   This did not come about however. Instead, the partnership of Gilmour and Company was dissolved. Allan and David set up Gilmour and Company of Trenton while John and John David formed a new Ottawa partnership called John Gilmour and Company. (51)   John David soon sold out his interest in the new company to John Houghson, a prominent lumberman of Albany, New York. (52)   The new company, Gilmour and Houghson Ltd., employed about two thousand, five hundred men and had timber limits in excess of thirty-seven hundred square miles in Quebec, an area equivalent in size to one and a half Prince Edward Islands. (53)

Though Allan was to come to Trenton and run the operations along with David, he never became as involved as his brother. Quite possibly this was due to his previous mismanagement of the firm in the Gatineaus. (54)   He arrived in Trenton in April of 1893, but left for Ottawa the following December. (56)   While in the nation's capital he met with the Minister of Public Works to discuss dues on lumber passing through the Trent Canal. (57)   Allan then returned to Trenton with his family in May of 1894 (58)   though he spent some time with his brother David on a business and pleasure trip to the United States during that summer. (59)   Allan and his family left Trenton once again in October of 1895 and returned to Ottawa. (60)   He returned to Trenton once more in 1900. (61)   Like his father, Allan aparently took his own life. In 1903 the Trenton Courier reported that;

"Mr. Allan Gilmour of Ottawa shot himself in the head while handling his rifle in his own house on Tuesday evening.
Mr. Gilmour having resided in Trenton three years ago in partnership with his brother David, was a very fine man, of quiet demeanour and highly respected, aged 5." (
62)

David Gilmour's sister also came to a tragic end. In 1884 she was killed instantly when thrown from a horse. She
was married to Mr. Robert Gill, an inspector for the Bank of Commerce in Toronto. (63) 

The Gilmour operations at Trenton dominated the local economy for more than fifty years. By 1864, the sawmill at Trenton was cutting about ten million board feet per year. They would process three hundred and forty, eighteen inch logs in a twelve hour day. (64)    The company was also involved in shipbuilding at this time. During the summer of 1864,  a schooner was built which had a keel length of one hundred and fifteen feet, a breadth of beam of twenty-six feet and a hold of nine feet. It was named, appropriately enough, the "Trenton" . (65)

By 1869, the Gilmour Company had increased its production to as much as fourteen million feet per season and carried out further renovations that year in order to increase its production capabilities even further, (66)    A decade later, the sawmill was cutting over two hundred thousand feet of lumber every twenty-four hours. Gas lighting enabled the sawmill to continue operating through the night, thereby increasing production considerably. (67)  Over forty-two million feet of lumber was being cut in a season by 1879. (68) They were busy enlarging both of the Trenton mills during the winter of 1880 in order to increase their capability to cut fortyfive million feet the next season. This would provide employment to about four hundred men, making it "one of the largest
mills in Ontario." (69)

By the end of 1880, the Gilmour sawmills were again being enlarged. The company planned on hiring about five hundred men the following spring. (70)   They were also involved in building accommodation for their workers during this period. A newspaper account from the time described the mill as;

"a hive of industry such that every man has to be alive or his work will tell on him. The recent changes are so perfect that everything works like clockwork. Its operations are wonderful to the beholder,"(71)

A major setback to the Trenton operations occurred on May 18, 1881 when the old, larger mill was destroyed by fire. The estimated loss was over one hundred thousand dollars. Over three hundred workers lost their jobs as a result. (72) Fortunately the company was partly insured and they received a forty-eight thousand dollar settlement which they invested in a new larger mill, creating employment for seven hundred men. (73)     Meanwhile the smaller mill was kept running and created employment for about fifty men.  David Gilmour travelled to the United States during the late summer of 1881 and inspected the operations of several of the sawmills there. He then returned to Trenton and construction on the new mill began before the year was over. The new mill was lighted by electricity and was lit up for the first time on December 20, 1881.  (76)

The new mill was expected to bring about a great deal of prosperity in 1882 as the wages alone would amount to
fourteen thousand dollars a month during the summer. By 1883, the mill was completely rebuilt. (78)   The production capacity was increased by one-third. It could now produce about sixty million feet of lumber a year. The little  mill could cut eighty-thousand feet of lumber per day, plus about one hundred and fifty thousand shingles per day. The big mill could cut over three thousand logs a day, which meant about three hundred and fifty thousand feet of lumber, one hundred thousand lath and one hundred pickets, headings, and shingles. There were about six hundred men employed on the premises and over thirty million feet of lumber stored in the yard. There was also about ten miles of railroad track laid down in the yard and the company kept two locomotives and one hundred railway cars on hand. (80) The railway was directly connected to the GrandTrunk railway and with the Canadian Pacific through the Central Ontario Railway. (81)

The Gilmour Company also took measures to protect themselves from further losses due to fire. They invested in a stationary fire pump capable of pumping fifteen hundred gallons of water per minute and a steam powered fire engine called "The Monarch" which could pump six hundred gallons per minute. (82) Both were kept constantly steamed up for instant use in case of fire. A uniformed fire fighting company consisting of between twenty-five and thirty men was also kept on hand. During the Fall of 1883, the Gilrnour's installed a number of electric fire alarm bells, sixteen in all. (83) While most were placed in the mills, alarms were also put into a number of houses including Mr. David Gilmour's and those of his main foremen, including Mr. John Nicholson's and Mr. D. Clark's homes. (84)

The growth of the Gilmour industries resulted in a shortage of housing for all the required workers in Trenton. Long rows of houses were erected by the Company over the winter and spring of 1882-83. (85)    Land enough for sixty houses had been purchased the previous year. (86)    By 1886, the company owned and leased between seventy-five and one hundred tenaments for their employees. (87) The Gilmours also had a large whistle installed to wake up their workers in the morning. The local newspaper bragged that it could be heard for forty miles, (88)   They corrected themselves several months later however as they pointed out that it had been heard at a distance of only twenty-nine miles. (89) 

The lumber operations peaked around 1888 when the company cut between seventy   (90)   and seventy-eight million feet of lumber and as many as thirty-five million shingles. (91) The shingle mill itself was destroyed by fire in November of 1887 (92) rebuilt, and then gutted again in September of 1889.

The changing economic climate of the 1890's meant that lumber operations in this part of the province were no longer a paying concern. By 1893 (93) the annual out had dropped to thirty-eight

million feet per year.( 94) They still employed over eight hundred people, but mainly in the limits. Over twenty-five million feet of lumber remained in the stockyards. (95)   In order to stay competitive, the company spent over two hundred thousand dollars to improve waterways and over one million dollars to increase their produce. (96)   They also began to bring logs in by train during the winter when the rivers were frozen over.

Despite the efforts of the company to stay competitive in the sawmill industry, they still suffered from shutdowns.
In  January of 1896, for instance, four hundred men employed by the Gilmour and Company in their timber limits bordering on Algonquin Park were discharged. As the newspaper reported;

"the shut-down was unsuspected.  The cause assigned for the cessation of work is the huge stock of lumber on hand and the company's inability to effect sales in the 'Old Country'." (98)

As a result of the declining profitability of the sawmill operations, the mills were offered for sale during the summer of 1904. The increasing cost of getting logs to the mill was cited as the reason for the sale of the mill. (100)    The operations were bought by Messrs. Win. Gill and O.E. Fortune the following year. (101)   The big mill continued to operate for a number of years until it was closed and torn down in 1909. (102)

Even in 1904 though, the Gilmour Mills and Factories remained the largest industry in Trenton "both in extent,
enterprise and employment of men (103)   Despite the decline in the profitability of the sawmills, the Gilmour & Company remained dominant in the Trenton economy as a result of a number of diversifications over the years.

In 1900, the Canadian Journal of Commerce reported that the Company had "established the largest and most modern box factory in Canada with a capacity for using seventy-five thousand feet of lumber daily.” (104)   The Company had just received an order from England for half a million boxes, and another for twenty-five thousand. A factory had been erected east of the big saw mill and new machinery was put in place to produce cheese boxes, nail kegs, and baskets. The Gilmour Company was also involved in a new Company with capital amounting to two million. Sir W.C. Van Horñe, of C.P.R., fame, and Senator Cox were also involved in this new industry which was for the manufacture of patent lumber. Mr. David Gilmour held a patent for this article in Canada and the United States and elsewhere, (105)

By far however, the most successful of the diversification efforts was the door, sash and window factory. The quality of the work from this factory was recognized not only in Canada but throughout Europe. Messrs. Gilmour and Company began to consider building a sash door and blind mill as early as 1884. They planned on investing thirty thousand dollars and employing two hundred men. (106) By 1889 the money they had invested in new machinery for the factory had made it "the most perfect on the continent of America." (107)    The new factory
was driven by hydro-electric power from the new dam and had over forty labour saving machines and two drying kilns, (108)   It employed five hundred men. (109)

The doors were manufactured by special machinery and skilled mechanics and because of its imperviousness to climatic influences, its superior finish, lightness, durability andMmoderate cost was being placed in the finest buildings of Canada." (110)   Among those buildings were the Board of Trade building and Windsor Hotel in Montreal, and the King Edward Hotel in Toronto. Another order for four hundred doors for New York hospitals was received in 1905. (112) There was also great success in Europe. In 1895 a sample order of nine hundred panel doors was sent to England and this was soon followed by two orders, one for one thousand, five hundred doors and another for a thousand doors. The next year an order came from England for twelve thousand doors. While in England in 1903, Mr. David Gilmour secured an order to provide the doors for the new Canadian Pacific Railway Offices being erected at Charing Cross. (115)   By 1905 the Company had filled orders from Spain, France, and other parts of Europe through their London, England Agency, (116)  Over seven hundred doors were being turned out daily by 1900 (117) and by 1907 they had orders for four thousand hardwood doors and fifteen thousand pine doors. (118)

The great success of the door factory was directly responsible for the departure of Mr. David Gilmour and family
from Trenton however. In 1904 he purchased a large door factory in Buffalo, New York and another one five miles outside of that city. (119)   Soon after the purchase, the Gilmours left Trenton and took up residence in Buffalo. The door factory in Trenton continued to operate until the fall of 1910. (120)    Less than a year later, on July 11, 1911, the factory was totally gutted by a fire. (121) 

Besides the obvious economic benefits of Gilmour and  Company to Trenton, Mr. David Gilmour also made other important contributions to the community. At a dinner held by the Mayor and members of town council and Mr. Gilmour in 1886, the general tone of the speeches was that "the Gilmour interests and those of the town must harmonize and work together for the common good." (122)   There were a number of projects during the next few years that reflected this attitude. One of the projects which Mr. David Gilmour was involved in was the construction of the Murray Canal, In 1881, he was appointed along with two others to go and lobby for funds from the government. (123) He also spoke out against those who opposed the construction of the Canal. At a Citizens Committee meeting he spoke "forcibly on the conduct of citizens who were proving themselves enemies of Trenton by crying down the Murray Canal and everything connected with it." (124)


David Gilmour was also very influential in bringing the railway to Trenton. In 1883 he lobbied in Ottawa for permission to build a railway through Trenton. 125 He succeeded in his efforts and by 1886, the town was linked up to the Grand Trunk, Canadian Pacific, and Central Ontario Railways. (126)    In later years, the Gilmour's were using the railway to bring in logs to their sawmills during the winter months. (127)   Mr. Gilmour was criticized by some however since he was using gravel from Mount Pellion for his railway  tracks. As the newspaper noted, there was concern that this "natural beautiful feature be allowed to be destroyed." (128)

A further concern of David Gilmour was the conservation of our waters. In 190 he attended a conference at the
legislative buildings in Toronto on this very subject. (129) He was also a member of a delegation, along with Dr. Day,
the Mayor of Trenton, that went to Ottawa to protest a bill which proposed to build a bridge across the Bay of Quinte at Belleville. They opposed it on the grounds that it would affect navigation. (130)

By far however,  David Gilmour's greatest contribution to Trenton was his efforts to construct a water-power dam. He had first proposed the joint construction of a power dam by both Gilmour and Company and the Town of Trenton in September of 1880.  (131)         In 1885 Trenton ratepayers supported the proposal for the joint construction of a power dam by a margin of two hundred and forty to only sixteen opposed. (132) Unfortunately, Mr. Gilmour and the Town could not come to mutually satisfactory terms. In the original agreement, Mr. Gilmour was to receive twelve thousand dollars towards the construction of the dam, a bridge, and a traffic and foot bridge all in one. All parties agreed to this proposition but then Mr. Gilmour began to seek better terms. The town offered to give Mr. Gilmour eighteen thousand dollars. Later, the figure rose to twenty-three thousand dollars. The dam was eventually built in 1888 but the tesion between Mr. Gilmour and the Town Council continued. The Council felt "that they had gone farther in the direction of a compromise than they were justified." (133)   Evidently, there were many in Trenton that felt Mr. Gilmour was trying to gain too much through the deal. An editorial in the Courier in May of 1888 claimed that David Gilmour "had been treated too leniently."  (134)   The editor concluded that "it was not the power he wants, but to cripple the Town's interest and prevent rival establishments to his own in Trenton." (135)
The criticism of Mr. Gilmour had been going on for a number of years however. In March of 1885, there was a
particularly sharp attack by the editor of the Courier;


"To hear Mr. David Gilmour talk on Wednesday about his private rights, one was led to ask the question; when did Mr. Gilmour create the river for his own personal amusement? The dream of many who have located in Trenton long before Mr. Gilmour owned a foot of land in Trenton must have been rudely awakened. It is time Mr. Gilmour learned that Trenton
claims the river as its heritage and if he will improve it so as to get rich, thereby Trenton's citizens will help him, but if he pursues further the dog in the manger course then Trenton will improve her river and enjoy her rights independent of him." (136)


The criticism of Mr. David Gilmour certainly reached its peak over the issue of the power dam. Eventually the debate between Mr. Gilmour and the Town had to be settled by the courts in Toronto before Judge Boyd. 137 Nevertheless, were it not for David Gilmour's determination and financial resources, the project would not have been completed as early as it was. The construction began in October of 1885 and Mr. and Mrs. Gilmour drove in the first spike. (138)

The newspaper continued to be somewhat critical of the project, albeit jokingly. In January of 1886, the Courier
reported that "we were not aware of the fact until lately but we have been informed on good authority that every
time the water jumps over the darn it shouts "Gilmour, Gilmour, Gilmour." (139)   Later on, the paper also noted that

"Gilmour and Company have a large sign put up on the darn bridge. It is not every town that can boast of a $32,000  billboard." (140)

Though Mr. Gilmour's interest in the water power project gives the impression that he was mainly concerned with his business interests, it would be a mistake to conclude from this that he was not also a proud and dedicated Trentonian. When the new post office opened in 1888 he presented everyone of his employees with a shirt and hat for the occasion and paid full wages for every man who took part in the procession. (141) Mrs. Gilmour also showed her "kindly and active interest in the imposing and beautiful appearance of the Gilmour procession in the decoration of the fire engine with flowers from her garden and personally wreathing the wheels of the hose cart." (142)

This house was built in Trenton,  on Marmora Street)  in 1868 by local lawyer Charles Francis. Unfortunately he died at an early age and the house was taken over by David Gilmour. The house then passed to local physician Dr. McQuade who ran his office out of the building for many years. In about the 1960's the house was divided up into 5 apartments and rented out by a succession of landlords. The  current owners have dreams of restoring the house to its former glory.

The Gilmours also made several other contributions to Trenton. In April of 1881, they had telephone services
installed at the mill office and at Mr. Gilmour's house and office. 143 The newspaper later noted that;

"Messrs. Rathbun and Son have connected their office in Belleville with the head office at Deseronto by telephone. Should Mr. Gilmour carry out his plan of forming telephonic connection with Belleville our citizens would be able to chat with Deseronto occasionally." (144)

The Gilmours also provided the town with the use of their fine Fire Brigade in case of emergencies in the town. (145)
The Gilmour's also introduced electric lighting to the town. In 1881, they had six electric lights in operation. They
were Brush lamps, "each equal to 2 thousand candles and each will burn for 17 hours." (146) One was at the office, one at the residence and the others were in the mill. (147) The mill was lit up with electricity for the first time in December of 1881. (148)

It is not altogether surprising that Mr. Gilmour also became quite active politically in Trenton. He was elected
Reeve in 1881 (149) but was challenged by the claim that he only won because of his business connections. (150) Another election was held in the spring to clear up the matter and Mr. Gilmour was re-elected by an even larger majority. (1510  He then became chairman of the Finance Committee. (152) when Joseph Keeler, the local M.P., died in 1881, both Liberal and Conservative parties sought out Mr. Gilmour as their possible candidate. (153) Several years later, Mr. Gilmour became president of the Trenton Board of Trade.(15 He also served as vice-president of the Prince Albert Colonization Company. (155)


Mr. David Gilmour was also a very avid sports enthusiast. He particularly enjoyed hunting.   On one occasion he returned from a hunting trip with five deer.(156)   Another time he went on a hunting expedition with Mr. E. Cooley and Mr. A. Felion. (157)  Mr. David Gilmour also enjoyed a number of other sports. He  was the first president of the Trenton Curling Club, (158) a position that he held for a number of years (159)    In fact, in 1894,  he donated a site for the construction of a curling and skating rink. (160)   He was also president of the Rowing Club (161)  and donated one hundred dollars for the construction of a boat house in 1881.(162)   He also served on a committee which organized yacht races for the St. George's Church picnic in 1884.  (163)

David Gilmour also served as honarary president of the Trenton Cricket Club (164) and the Toboggan Club. (165)   He also appreciated a fine horse and in fact bought Rev. Father Walsh's fine span of Ethan Allan colts for five hundred dollars in December of  1887. (166)

Though actively involved in the community and with his business, Mr. Gilmour also made time for his family. His wife
Caroline was eight years younger than himself and was also born in England as he was.(167)   She was described as;

"a lady of very r etiring disposition, she was esteemed and admired for her kindhearted deeds to those about her,her philanthropy and unfailing good sense and judge t in the perplexing cares of life.  (168)

She was also a very attractive woman, a fact noted by the New York Times when she visited the New York area in 1885. The Trenton Courier reported that:

"The New York Times says: 'There are two ladies at the Long Beach Hotel who attract much admiration from their guests. They are strikingly handsome and pronounced. English in dress and appearance, their complexions are remarkably clear and beautiful and their figures are quite of the 'langtry' cast. One of these ladies is Mrs. David Gilmour and the other is her sister Miss Campbell. With Mr. Gilmour they are spending a few weeks at Long Beach. Mr. and Mrs. Gilmour are from Trenton, Ontario and Miss Campbell' home is in Montreal. They dress simply and in excellent taste. Miss Campbell is demure and charming and her modest ways have quite disturbed the easy repose of the Long Beach men."(169)

The Gilmours had  3  children. (170) The eldest, Caroline, though called Carrie, was born on Sept.  24, 1880. (171)  She later became engaged to Herbert M. Roblin of Buffalo. 172 The Gilmour's only son, David, was. born on April 17, 1886. (173)  Besides his father's name, Master David also shared his father's interest in hunting. At the age of ten, he went on a small hunting expedition with the son of Mr. A. Felion to Prince Edward County. Unfortunately they had a runaway horse and though they themselves escaped injury, they did a lot of damage to their wagon. Since the incident took place on a Sunday, the local newspaper was especially alarmed to learn of it and pointed that out in the next issue of the paper. (174) The Gilmour's third child, Hazel, was born on July 14, 1889. (175)Along with her older sister, Carrie, she attended a boarding school in Montreal beginning in 1896. (176)

The Gilmour's affluence also enabled hem to hire a number of live-in servants. The Assessment Records for 1895 show that eleven people were living at their residence at that time. Of the eleven, six were between the ages of twenty-one and sixty. (177)    One of the people may well have been a personal nurse that Mrs. Gilmour advertised for in 1887.(178)

 

Due to the nature of his business, David Gilmour was forced to travel from time to time. Whenever possible, he tried to mix business with pleasure and bring his wife, if not the whole family, along on the trip. He travelled to
Scotland with his wife during the winter of 1884. 179 The whole family left for Europe in November of 1893.180 They spent several months at Mentone, in southern France, where Queen Victoria was also spending the winter. (181)   The family also spent a number of their summers at Murray's Bay (182) and at the Lakeshore near Consecon  (183)  which they found to be "a delightful place for a summer outing. (184)  David Gilmour also visited the United States on several occasions (185)  and travelled to his lumber camps in his timber limits several times. (186)    In fact he had a private residence built in the woods five miles from the Gilmour Station on the Central Ontario Railway. This residence was comfortably furnished so that David Gilmour and his family could spend the winter of 1885 there where he could better supervise the cutting of logs. (187)

When David Gilmour first came to Trenton in the late 1870 s,  (188),  it was his economic interests which brought him. Some thirty years later it was those same economic interests which led to his decision to leave Trenton. As noted above, the sawmill operations had ceased to be profitable and were sold to Messrs. Gill and Fortune in 1905.(189)   David Gilmour  then began to concentrate on his patent door factory. His purchase of a door factory in Buffalo, New York and another five miles outside of that city led to his departure from Trenton in 1905.  (190)   The door factory in Trenton was kept open until 1910 and then remained closed until it was destroyed by a devastating fire on July 11, 1911.  (191)   At the time, the Trenton Courier summed up the significance of the fire:

"Some two years ago, the big saw mill was torn down and with the burning of this factory becomes the passing of Trentons greatest industry of a halfcentury. "

The Gilmour influence would no longer be felt in Trenton.

                                                        (Click here for bibliography and footnotes)

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST BY JOHN ALLORE =  WHO KILLED THE GILMOUR CO.  =                      Click the picture on the left

For more about John Allore's connection to the Gilmour Company,  click here

Dave Gilmour's  1900 Patent of Tongue and Groove Lumber       

Lumber Manufacture. Patentee : David Gilmour, Trenton, Ontario, granted ?th May, 1900 ; six years. Claim : As an article of manufacture, lumber composed of two tongued and grooved parts, the tongues having plain faces and the grooves having small lateral grooves, with the fibre of the tongues pressed laterally thereinto, substantially as described. in Method of Manufacturing Lumber.

Patentee : David Gilmour, Trenton, Ont.,, granted ?th May, 1900; six years. Claim : The hereinfore described process of forming lumber composed of two parts tongued and grooved to fit each other, said process consisting in first applying glue or cement, placing the two parts together with the tongues and grooves interlocking, and afterwards passing these parts so interlocked between heated rolls, longitudinally of the fibre of the lumber, and thus subjecting the parts to heat and pressure, successively from end to end, whereby the moisture is expelled, the surface condensed, and finished, and the parts united and welded together, substantially as described. 

Canadian Forest Industries 1901-1902

Four generations of Gilmours  (Sorry - no names)