View from bridge left to right - gold processing plant, sawmill & sawdust chimney,  overpass to street with stone grist mill on Main St., boathouses

                                      THE PEARCE COMPANY         

                      "Fair dealing,  prompt and careful attention"

Entrance to Pearce Lumber Mill                      Tim Blackcommented:  My mother (Virginia Black) tells me that the man on the very left with the goofy hat and the apron is my great grandfather Allan McGarvey SR and cousin Turk McGarvey front row 4th from left with arm out and Jim Gordenier beside Turk

Pearce Lumber Camp

Pearce Saw mill and sawdust burner chimney

Base of the Sawdust burner chimney today

After the death of Thomas Peter Pearce on July 14, 1894 and with the pressing business interests in other matters, Thomas' brothers,   Josiah Pearce and Joseph Pearce,  who were directors and shareholders in the company,   turned running the Pearce Company Limited over to Frank Stanley Pearce (1873 - 1937) and Henry Reginald Pearce (1879 - 1959),  the sons of Thomas.

Marmora Herald March 21, 1907 - Pearce Co's lumber camp of which Ben Revoy was foreman, has broken up after 14 months of successful operation.



The greatest business in town was the Pearce Company and its mills. A virtual dynasty had been established by Reeve and Warden, Thomas Peter Pearce. He was nothing if not a consummate businessman. The Pearces built mills at Marmora in 1873 and their resourcefulness would lead them successfully into all sorts of associated businesses for over half a century.

The heart of the Pearce family business was always lumber. Companies before them had logged the vast wilderness north of Marmora, but none had done it so extensively or so well.  For decades the family company owned the land and family members dominated local government and society.

In 1897, Thomas Peter Pearce completed an extraordinary purchase. From its nucleus of mills at the Marmora dam, the company expanded to own over 23,000 acres in Hastings County alone.

Since the Ironmaster Charles Hayes lost it to creditors in 1825, the old Marmora Ironworks, (and the empire of forest which fed its furnaces) had gone through a series of less dynamic owners. Now it was the subject of litigation and bankruptcy. By action in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, the full holdings were taken from the Cobourg Peterborough and Marmora Railway and Mining Company and offered for sale. For fifty thousand dollars, T.P. Pearce bought the holdings, lock, stock and barrel.

In addition to the many thousands of acres in Hastings, Peterborough and Northumberland came "all the tolls, revenues, rights, power and privileges" of the railway, "from Cobourg to Harwood and on Rice Lake", "from Rice Lake to Peterborough", "from Peter- borough to Chambliss on Chemong Lake" and "from the narrows on the Trent to Blairton".

Add to that, 5 locomotives, 3 passenger coaches, 2 baggage cars, 45 flat cars, 132 ore cars, 5 lorries, a number of train station houses (including Cobourg roundhouse), many shops, one single and thirty-nine double dwelling houses at the mining town of Blairton, donkey pumps, barges and steamboat equipment, furniture, innumerable industrial tools and even "six hundred and ninety tons of iron ore (would not pay to move)", and it is easy to see that this was no ordinary purchase. It was a major transaction and, if managed right, it would be a major coup.


The pearce company logging stamp


Crowe River,  Pearce Lumber Mill  c 1907

View looking east across the river.  Note the angle of the dam,  the church at the top,  the grist mill on the right


WW1 soldiers on Crowe River,  with Pearce Lumber drivers


Ruins of the gold processing plant today 

Mrs. MacKechnie with "Jean"  and "Marjorie"



On the island east of the generating plant at the dam in Marmora,  the Hastings Mining and Reduction Co. established a gold processing plant in 1892,  having acquired the site and water power rights from the Pearce Co. The remains of the foundations can still be seen today.


Looking at the photo of Mrs. MacKechnie,  who is sitting on the west side of the river opposite the Pearce  Mills,  you can see the gold processing building and sawmill as shown in the sketch below, a page from the Bureau of Mines report, 1893-94.  The grist mill is visible in the distance behind the saw mill.  The foot stone of that building can be seen opposite 22 Main St.,  Marmora.

Click here to read Allan Stacey's comments on this site  and read his full report on inventor  Middleton-Crawford and the Crawford gold mill.

 1901,   Rendol Snell wrote in 'Mines & Mining in Eastern Ontario"

"This company was incorporated in 1893 under a special act of the Ontario Legislature, with powers to manufacture and deal in lumber, flour, woollen goods, and in addition the working and development of mines,  reduction of ores and general merchants.
They control the entire water power privilege at Marmora, and lease the village from 500 to 1000 horse power for lighting purposes. They operate saw, shingle and lath mills, sash and door factory, woollen and flour mills. The building material for the large mines in the Marmora district was supplied by this company.  In addition to their Marmora property, the company owns over 25,000 acres of timber and mining lands in the counties of Hastings and Peterborough, including the Blairton Iron Mine .  They also own many promising gold properties in different parts of Marmora and Lake, in Hastings and Belmont Township, in Peterborough, as well as some 200 acres of lime stone property in Marmora.
Among sales recently made by the company, include The Pearce Mispickel Mine to Cleveland capitalists, the Blairton Iron mine at head of Crowe Lake, purchased by the Canada Iron Mines Co. Limited, headed by Messrs. McKenzie and Mann. No mineral examination of their properties has been made which include deposits of mica, lead, gold, iron and copper. A systematic examination will be made in the near future. Responsible mining concerns wishing to secure desirable properties, would do well to communicate with the company. They are one of the wealthiest. and most progressive concerns in Hastings county. The greatest portion of their 25,000 acres is situated in the richest mineral belt in Eastern Ontario. 

The remains of the quarry north of st. matilda's church in the woods.

The stone quarry owned by the Pearce Company Limited is located in Marmora Village and comprises 200 acres of building and limestone. Most of the beds of this quarry produce a building stone of hard and durable character in sizes convenient for handling. The marketable output varies from 5 to 14 inches in thickness and Is practically inexhaustible. The stone splits easily along the bedding, and at right angles so that direction breaks with a clean fracture so that rectangular blocks are easily prepared.  The rock face work is very desirable.  A church constructed of this stone in 1826, shows that it stands the weather when sharp points and chisel marks have been retained without change during its 84 years of exposure. The colour has, however altered. The surface of the stone soon becomes whitened, but the alteration is confined to the surface only.   Chips from the old building show that the change has not extended beyond a paper thickness into the stone. Beside the church already referred to, an old building erected about 1822 by the Marmora Iron Co. is still standing and as far as the stone work is concerned,  is in excellent condition.
 In later years the stone has been largely employed locally; among important buildings may be mentioned the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in Marmora. The latter building is a fine structure erected in 1904.  The rock face work is excellent. The report on building and ornamental stones of Canada, VolumeI, by W. A. Parks, :BA., Ph.D.,  gives the crushing strength, lbs. per sq. inch, 37705 (the highest result for any stone referred to in this report).
For construction work and good roads purposes this stone should be very desirable. 'The planing mill and' yards occupied for manufacturing purposes In Marmora, Ont., comprise a number of buildings and sheds, equipped with modern machinery for the manufacture and storage of the goods handled. Upwards of 150 hands are employed in the mills and camps. Their limits are located in Hastings County. The trade extends over Ontario, and a portion of their annual cut is exported to the United States. The officers of the company are J. B. Pearce, President;  ? ? Pearce, Vice President; F. S. Pearce, Secretary Treasurer and Manager. They are energetic business men highly regarded by all who know them. The motto of this company is fair dealing, prompt and careful attention."

The pearce grist mill

On Feb. 16, 1911,  the Marmora Herald reported "The Pearce Co.  have secured the contract for all the lumber for the new Deacon Factory to be erected in Belleville."

Quarry beside St. Matilda's Church on the Crowe River.  This church  is located south of the quarry pictured above.


Sign at Millside Park,  Main Street,  Marmora

Sign made by clarence Logan of Havelock Ontario

Marmora Herald

Millside park on Ontario  Heritage Foundation poster

In 1998 the Ontario Heritage Foundation honoured 128 individuals in the third year of its Heritage Recognition Community Program,  Shown on the commemorative poster is Andre Philpot of Marmora at Millside Park.   Philpot, a founding member of Marmora's Historical Foundation and local archives,    

"was instrumental in the establishing of Ontario's Hastings Heritage Trail, as well as the preservation of the local railway station. He was also instrumental in publicizing the historical importance of the Millside Park as Ontario's first mining town in the early 1800's," 

the poster proclaims.   Marmora & Lake Council has zoned the three-quarter acre of land and is proposing to have the land value appraised prior to offering it for sale as land suitable for community housing.

July 23, 2004    


This letter is regarding a piece of designated Historical Land that has been somehow suddenly declared surplus in Marmora, Ontario. The property in question is one of the most scenic little lookouts in Ontario and is a major asset to in the tourism pie for this area. If a municipality wants to capitalize on  tourism, they must nurture it for it to grow. Taking one of the most scenic jewels (i.e. the lookout) and turning it residential for the benefit of a few residents is not what one would consider nurturing tourism. The parts that cracks me up is that,  according to Cathie Jones (of the Marmora Historical Society) and I quote The Community Press (July 16, 2004), "These lands were acquired about 20 years ago to preserve the memory of a very significant mill complex which is an important part of our past. Research was done on the site ... funded in part by the municipality and provincial grants. The foundations were stabilized and signed for public interest."

Technically, that sounds to me like this land has already been declared Historical Designation. If provincial funds were used to establish this land then that means that the people of Ontario have an invested interest in the land. You cannot just take an already established historical designation and plough over it. That land has the potential to be a cute little parkette. Just build the trails and the people will come. Marmora should be trying to acquire more waterfront parkland, not destroying it. In the long term, I think they should be looking at purchasing all those houses along Mill Street which offer a view of the river.This is what tourists want, that IS what they come to places like this to see - not development. That is what they are escaping big cities for.  There is lots of property for sale a lot closer to the downtown that could be good for a residential development. Like that building on the corner of Madoc and Main that is going to fall down any minute (the red brick one). There is absolutely no reason why they have to use one o of the cutest, most scenic little pieces of land in town for this purchase. It sounds to me that the current town council is a little bit developmental happy and if the decision has been made to make Marrnora a tourist destination then they want to be very careful with how they develop it. There is a lot of competition out there. Also, development on the waterfront is known to destroy the natural underwater aqua filters for groundwater runoff. The more natural your waterfront, the healthier your water is.

Sincerely, Elizabeth Moult, Recreation Graduate, Marmora





Millside parkette land declared surplus by Council. Now for sale       July 16, 2004




By  RoderickMacKay

The Millside Park property   under threat of sale by Marmora Municipal.Council,  is one which is adjacent to grounds of proven archaeological  and industrail lheritage importance:   The Pearce Mills and the prior  Marmora ironworks. Historical maps show that these operations extended over a wide area and included dwelling houses; a school house, and out buildings as well as the mill complex itself.  According to Dianne Newell, author of Mining in Old Ontario,  "the iron works was responsible for establishing a village; in effect an iron plantation and for the laying of the only road that stretched from the  settled front of Hastings County through to its northern shield region.  

Charles Hayes and others tried to wrestle profit and prosperity from the local iron deposits from 1820 until Canada's Confederation in the late 1860's. This site represents not just the history of the small village of Marmora, but the history of the entire region. Familiarity may breed contempt for the  importance of local history, but  we,  of Marmora,  are custodians of the heritage of provincial significance. I  ask council to consider the archaeological record which lies in the soil under and,  around the Millside Park site, a resource which,  under the Ontario Heritage Act,  belongs to  to all the people of Ontario.   Heritage is not just the remains of buildings visible above the ground.   It includes the physical remains of past activities within the soil layers which define the passage of time.

Some day it  may be the wish of our citizenship to have that buried heritage explored. We remind council that the archaeological record of the Marmora Ironworks/Pearce Mill site is a non-renewable resource which this proposed sale will destroy. Were all municipal councils like this one, perhaps all significant heritage sites, such as Stonehenge, The Tower of London, the Canadian Parliament Buildings, and our own Ironworks, would be turned into private development for the gain of their "thirty pieces of silver'.

Roderick Mackay is an Historian, Archaeologist and Crowe Lake Resident.

 For the Attention of Council
July 12, 2004
RE: The Sale of the Old Pearce MiII site

Dear Councillors,
In considering the disposition of the Pearce Mill Parkette, we would like to ask that Council assure that the area to the south of, and including the overlook, be preserved as a historical site.
These lands were acquired about 20 years ago to preserve the memory of very significant industrial mill-complex which is an important part of our past Research was done on the site by, Dr. Gray Graffam and others, funded in part by the Municipality and provincial grants, The  foundations were stabilized and signed for public interest. The present "footprints" and .foundations are associated with the Pearce Mills, but it is almost certain that the site was used as long ago as 1820 by the Hayes Ironworks. There are almost surely  artifacts worthy of preservation still to be discovered.
These concerns have been discussed with the Reeve and we trust that you  will find it possible to save this section from development.   Once lost,  this important site could not be regained.
Respectfully submitted,
Cathie Jones for the Marmora Historical Foundation


Julv 18/04
TO:Nancy Derrer. Editor The Marmora Herald

After reading last week's Marmora Herald have concerns about what is going to happen to the Old Pearce Mill Site Parkette and lookout near my house at 12 Main Street. Taxpayers have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to have the old stone foundations restored. a tarmac parking lot built. gardens and signage installed and a beautiful wooden lookout built.
This is the closest green space for many of us in the village, I have used the parkette in all seasons to dog walk (& scoop). to feed the birds and enjoy a few minutes of relaxation and reflection when time was limited,
Progress is important,  as is building our township's tax base, The two growth areas in Marmora are tourism and retirement care.  But I question if this historic site. which serves so many purposes, is the best location for our next retirement facility, There are many acres of river front and river view property in the village,  most hardscrabble sites,  which would benefit from development. Why should we hand developers this 3/4 acre site which is already developed and enjoyed by many.
The article in The Herald says many area residents have been approached by a councilor. Although I live within a hundred yards of the parkette. I haven't been approached and I take this opportunity to go on record as opposing the redevelopment of this historic site as the wisest. most logical and beneficial use of taxpayers' resources. Another affordable retirement home like the Dr. Parkin Centre - yes! Destruction of our historic parkette to do this - no!

Chris Faiers,  Marmora

M & L Council has no appreciation of history

The Community Press, Eastern Edition, July 23, 2004

Dear Editor: "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity," said the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. That quotation seems to fit the latest decision made by Marmora and Lake Municipal Council. Many of us in this community are proud and appreciative of the effort put forth by the chair of the local Heritage  Foundation. Without his many hours of work researching Marmora's past, restoring as much as possible foundations in these areas, recording this activity and placing informative signs at each location, many of us might still be unaware .of all that took place before our time in this interesting community. On walks about Marmora we see visitors showing much more appreciation of these markings than a lot of our local citizens. How many have actually walked about and read about Marmora's fascinating history? Has anyone ever approached you asking if you felt these places were valuable kept as they now are? Hopefully more citizens will let their feelings be heard (if they can find anyone who will listen) and ,show pride in this delightful municipality.

Wilma Bush, Marmora