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A Railway in the Village?

As early as May 1891, the Ontario, Belmont & Northern Railway (OB&NR), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Central Ontario Railway, received a charter to build a branch line to the iron mines in the Marmora area. Construction did not start for some time, and the 14.5 km line from Marmora Junction near Belmar (marked in red),  just south of the village,   to the Cordova mines was finally completed in July 1896. Later that year the branch was renamed to become the Marmora Railway & Mining Company.    As many as 24 trains a day ran up this line to Marmora,  from 1884 to the 1970’s. The Marmora Railway and Mining Company line,  later owned by the Canadian Northern Railway, eventually was consumed by Canadian National Railway.  While the Marmora Station now sits on what would have been this CN line,  its original position was on Station Road,  on the main Central Ontario Railway line to Maynooth.

Cameron Street was laid out on the bed of this railway,  as was Riverview Drive,  and parts of the track are  still visible  to the south  as  the extension of Cameron Street,  and in the north where it crosses Glen Allan Park Road.

In the rare photo below,  taken from the iron bridge that crossed the Crowe River,  you can see a train on what is now Cameron Street passing behind the houses on Forsyth Street.   Mrs. William Sanderson’s outfit in that same photo  dates the photo for us at about  1910.


Three hundred and fifty kilometers from Marmora,  on the shores of Lake Erie,  lies  the quiet little village of Normandale which finds its roots in iron ore production launched in 1815 by John Mason.  There he simply burned a mixture of charcoal and bog iron.  In 1821-1822 Joseph Van Norman, Hiram Capron, and George Tillson (after whom Tilsonburg was named)  took over and enlarged the works producing the famous Van Norman cooking stove, as well as iron kettles, pots and pans, and agricultural implements.  By 1846 the town plot had five streets,  a population of 300,  a grist mill and accompanying businesses.  However,  in 1848,  the timber was gone and the supply of bog ore had dried up. 


Well,  during those same years,  1821-22,  Marmora’s Charles Hayes was establishing the Marmora Iron Works,  which by 1823 was producing pig iron from ore in Blairton.  At the same time,  the Village had become a fully integrated self-sufficient  working community with 200 people.  He had built a sawmill and gristmill beside the waterfalls,  a bark mill to grind waste bark for the tannery and almost 35 houses, a school and adjacent forge and mill buildings. But for Hayes,  hard time hit and he left in 1824 he handed over the reins to his creditor,  Peter McGill.

Although suffering the problems of transportation and economic  bad times,  the Marmora Iron works limped along under the direction of several owners,  and in 1847, Joseph Van Norman,  who was looking for a new project,   purchased the Blairton property for $21,000.   Although he got the furnace going in 1848, and for a short time made sales at $30 to $35 per ton, carting the ore a distance of thirty-two miles to BelIeville, "over rocks and log crossings and roads so rugged that waggons were constantly broken", this venture too was doomed to failure, and Van Norman was forced to close the mine and works, losing everything.

As for Normandale, well, a few vestiges remain. At the foot of the hill stands the Union Hotel built by Mr. Van Norman and now fully renovated. Adjacent is a small building that served as his post office. His furnaces had fully disappeared until 1968, when they were discovered by Royal Ontario Museum archaeologists. One now stands in Upper Canada Village in Eastern Ontario while the other rests in the Eva Brook Donly Museum, north of Normandale on Highway 24.

Union hotel built by van norman and P.O.

union hotel today

Joseph Van Norman

long point lighthouse built by van norman


This photo on the left, found by Wayne VanVolkenburg at the Historical Foundation, presented a problem. When and where, in Marmora, did such a bridge exist, and whose house is that white one?

Taking a look at details, we can see on the horizon line a roof scape that is a little similar to modern Forsyth Street. Behind the trees on the left could be the St. James hotel (Havelock Auto parts now) and the old TD bank behind it. But it is not clear. On the left we also see a shed, four trees and six pieces of lumber over what seems to be a crib.

Time for comparisons with other photos……….

In 1910 we see the iron bridge is in place, the little shed by the water is there, and the shed on the right is similar in both photos, but no white house or bridge resembling the one above

But in 1932, plans were underway to relocate the iron bridge, blast through the rock and construct the #7 highway. To do so, a temporary bridge was constructed. Looking closely, you can see the four trees and the six pieces of lumber, and the white house, about which we have no information other than it stood where the baseball diamond is now. Mystery solved.

For more on Marmora bridges, CLICK HERE


Cordova Road at Beaver Creek by H. Oakman

A pioneer in Canadian commercial aviation and one of the country’s most noteworthy aerial photographers,  Harry Oakman, owner of the Peterborough Post Card Co., worked nationwide  often taking aerial and motel images, during the 1940s-1960s.   His cards are often distinguished by an Oakman logo bearing the image of an airplane at bottom right. Thanks to Ron Barrons, we have a few Oakman postcards in our collection.

 Mr. Oakman founded the Peterborough Municipal Airport, which grew from a 1950s airstrip which he built on farmland, purchased just south of Peterborough.   His postcard company produced approx. 200 million postcards. For his pioneer aviation efforts and Canadian tourism promotion via postcards, the Peterborough airport terminal was renamed as the “Harry Oakman Building” in 1999.

Oakman used custom-made cameras he designed which allowed him to fly and take photographs simultaneously. In the 1960s, he was commissioned by Brewer’s Retail to photograph every Ontario city and town which had a “Beer Store”; to this day, many framed, poster-sized prints from this series decorate “Beer Stores.” He was featured in a 1994 issue of Kegs and Cases, the Brewer’s Retail magazine.

Marmora’s beer store had such a photo which has disappeared. Any idea of its whereabouts?

Oakman was also a Canadian boat racing champion and a tool and die maker.  His photographic collection, purchased by an Oshawa cartography company, Map Art Corporation, is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

 Information from Vintagepostcards.org

A rare H. Oakman postcard taken at ground level

round Lake, Harts Lodge, a H. R. Oakman post card..jpg

the homestead of George Barrons,
where he and Lena (Steenburgh) raised their seven children and where Charlie
Barrons and Freda (Ellis) raised their four children. That's Belmont Lake in
the background.

Probably a H. Oakman postcard

Marmoraton Mine (5).jpg

Here is a second view looking north showing in the background the farms of Robert Kennedy, Charlie Barrons on the left in Belmont Township, Peterborough County and Bob Wiggins, John McGregor and George McGregor on the right in Marmora Township, Hastings County on the right.

Ron Barrons writes: Oakman also photographed many farms in the area including this of my father's farm on Vansickle Rd. It would be nice to see others from the area.

Deer Lake, now Cordova Lake., and dam

Marmora Village looking north


Marmora Village looking west, with crowe Lake

Al Danford wrote: The grist mill and several commercial blocks that burned are in the picture!

From Brian Bronson: Nice picture of my Dad’s garage across from the ole bake shop. Hulin’s Garage and Farm Supply as it was called. Now a vacant lot owned by Ron Moffat. Across from the grist mill was a car repair shop run by a man by the name of Trigger (Percy) Gunn The Gunn family were from Hazzard’s Corners.. At bottom left hand corner of picture is Kelly Mulrooney’s old barn that Mr. Danford used to fill with sawdust every fall. Kelly would get us kids to maul the sawdust away from the elevator. That’s what Kelly used to heat the blacksmith shop all winter. Glen Briggs made the ole shop into a residence, Don’t know who owns it now. My great Uncle Wes Hulin sold Kelly that lot., approx in 1933.


Bethlehem headquarters, Bethlehem Pa. May 2019.jpg

From 1951 to 1978 the Marmora iron ore pit was owned and operated by the Marmoraton Mine Corporation. Its mother company, however, was Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, where the company operated a massive furnace and mill.

Bethlehem Steel was once America's second-largest steelmaker, providing ships and armaments to the US military during World War II and helping to build the Empire State Building and Golden Gate Bridge. By 1972, the company was at its peak, employing 120,000 people, and building its new headquarters, the Martin Tower - a 21 storey high rise that stood as the tallest building in Bethlehem.

However, in 2001, the company went bankrupt, leaving the tower vacant and while attempts were made to find new uses for the tower, it was found to be uneconomical. On May 19, 2019, the Martin Tower was imploded.


To read more about the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Marmora, CLICK HERE


Springbrook Cheese Factory operated until 1952

In 1894, after long discussion , the cheese factory board of Springbrook decided to move the 1873 company from the spring and the brook on Lorne McInroy’s farm at Lot 8, Concession 9, Rawdon Township, to a more accessible location, 500 feet from the north east corner of the Springbrook intersection. There, the board members erected a fine stone factory which was to be crowned with fame.

It seems the cheesemaker, Wesley Thompson had been appalled for years that the whey, which still contained much butter fat, was fed to pigs! Being inventive, he skimmed off the cream of the whey and made a form of butter. Since no one was likely to buy this “pig feed” butter, it was retailed in a disguised form. Being a cheaper buttery product, it attracted customers who returned repeatedly for the wonderful spread. Thus was born the first whey butter in Ontario, and possibly in Canada. Today it is no longer disguised, but sold for what it is - whey butter.

You can read more about Springbrook’s history.



The collection of donations “in kind”  is an important part of the work at the Historical Foundation.  To actually hold the “piece of the past” not only links us to a time and place gone by,  but opens up a whole story of someone’s life.  We are reminded to think of the what,  the when,  the who,  the where and the why behind the item.

Recently we received from Bob Sweet,  (known to some as Sour Dough),  the bank account books and day books of  William Sweet’s bakery,  originally located at 1 Main Street,  at the NW corner of Main and Madoc Streets.  (Bob is the grandson of William)

There stood there a small frame building where Mr. Wilkinson,  the shoe maker,  lived. This wooden building,  built in 1875,   was remodelled by William Sweet into his first bakery, and ice cream shop later in 1908.   But in 1920, it burned down,   at which time,  Mr. Sweet and his wife, Emma Froats,  moved their bakery to 1 Forsyth Street,  known by many now as the Cassidy building.

The names in the Day books remind us of all the families  the Sweets encountered each day,  and which ones had the large families to feed.  For smaller families,  a half loaf could be had for five cents.

Bob Sweet, here with his wife, Barbara sweet, was hired by Bethlehem Steel as a mining superintendent in May, 1955, while his wife was hired in the accounting department.

His successful business,  which lasted until 1953,  sent him across the street each day to the Sovereign Bank,  first located in the last commercial building on the west side of McGill Street  (#9).  By 1908,  however,  Mr. Sweet had to carry his daily profits down to the bank’s new location at 32 Forsyth.  In 1908,  the Sovereign Bank closed its doors for the last time,  and opened the next day as the “Dominion Bank”.

After the death of William Sweet from typhoid,  on April 11, 1922, less than a year after the official opening of this building,   his children Arthur (1887-1975), Frank John (1891-1955) (both of whom suffered typhoid that same year)  and Jennifer 1903-1975) ran the bake shop until 1953.

Back row l to r...Bessie Sweet Tinsdell, Art Sweet, Bill Tinsdell......middle row Jenny Sweet, Ada Sweet ...seated Frank Sweet and Pal the dog......Bill Tinsdell had a.heart attack while picking blueberries with E. C. Prentice


Founded in 1927, with the end of prohibition in Ontario, Brewers' Retail Inc (The Beer Store) was owned at its inception by a consortium of Ontario-based brewers.( It currently operates as a unique open retail and wholesale system jointly owned by 30 Ontario-based brewers)

Although prohibition had proven to be unsuccessful, the provincial government still needed to placate angry temperance advocates and agreed that beer would be sold through a single network of stores. However, the government did not want to operate this network itself (as was done in some other Canadian provinces), and so permitted brewers to organize the Brewers Warehousing Company Ltd., which later became Brewers Retail/The Beer Store,

It wasn't until 1957 that Marmora had a beer store, and it was not to the pleasure of everyone. The Marmora Herald argued that drinkers will drive anywhere to get their beer, so it might as well be here, resulting in tax revenue and jobs.

So it was, on Feb. 25, 1957 that the Brewers' Warehousing Co. opened the store in the property they had purchased from Walkers South End Motors. With the auto equipment removed, a new cement and tiled floor laid and asphalt outside, a modern store was installed in the southwest corner where the garage office had been, and a cold room built A conveyor belt, a lift truck and an electrically controlled loading ramp added and in the spring, the building was stuccoed.

Its first manager was Frank High (who had been managing a Belleville outlet), followed by Cletus Green in 1968. "Clete", his wife, Thelma, and their twelve year old son, Larry, were from Arnprior, and moved to Deloro for Clete's new job. He had been an employee of the Brewers Retail for 21 years prior to relocating in Marmora. With all his experience in Arnprior as a Town Councillor, hospital boardman, Fire chief, and St. Johon's Ambulance Ottawa Corps Staff Officer, he became a valuable member of our community.



Email us at info@marmorahistory.ca or JUST CLICK HERE

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  • Norm Ellis:  I remember when you had to make out an order from and Joe Doyle would take it to madoc as there was no beer store ...

  • Ken Carroll:  I worked with Cletus for a year or so. He had quite an early life. He was a professional boxer, and travelled north when he was young. This guy was an amazing man and i enjoyed working with him at the beer store .


While writer, Horace Greeley, may have advised young entrepeneurs to head west, Mr. Daniel Dunlay, in 1892, looked east in Marmora, purchasing the property at the south-west corner of Highway 7 and Bursthall Street. There he built a double house and beside it, to the west, he had his blacksmith shop. (He was the same man who built 43 Forsyth and the Dunlay Block at 28 Forsyth , now the parking lot of Nickle's Drugstore, where he ran a carriage trade.)

In 1926, the double house was occupied Mr. Quong Lee's Laundry and in 1937, it seems Mr. G.L. Forrester, who ran a clock and watch repair business, was in the same block The property remained in the family until the late 1940's, when it was sold to Mr. & Mrs. Charles Kelly, who in turn sold it to British Petroleum fourteen years later.

The first agent for British Petroleum was George Lummis, followed by Vic Provost in 1969. The B.P. company tore down the double house on Feb. 9, 1972, to make room for a 20' x 20' storage building and office, built of steel and enclosed by a chain link fence. The business was a whole sale operation for the sale of regular and super gas, oils, diesel oil and lubricants of all kinds to farmers, homeowners, commercial, industrial and construction companies.


In 1983, Petro-Canada acquired BP Canada refineries and service stations, but the Marmora property was decommissioned in 1987. Trying to sell the property, Petrocan was directed to commence a remediation of the site and installation of groundwater monitoring wells. In 2004, a supplementary environmental site assessment was completed, resulting in tons of oil-tainted soil being removed and relocated in the landfill site for a fee.

The site still remains an empty lot.


Celia Murray writes: .Dan is my grandfather! He built the lovely brick house on Forsyth St (#43 )next to the Clairmonts lovely stone house...now a BnB!...that is where my mother, Rita Murray, was born and raised!

Below: The North side of the street. Here we see the July 12th Orangeman’s Parade, heading west on the now #7 Highway, with Charles Dunlay in the lead. The brick building is the O’Neill Building, housing the Hardware store of Joker Jones and Jimmy Potts, which later became the TD bank.

Next right is the Imperial Garage, followed by the Blacksmith shop of Charles Sr. and Eli Clairmont. (All now the TD parking Lot) At the far right, the Clairmont House i visible. This house was later moved North, opposite the Town Hall (11 Bursthall Street)

East of 4 corners North side.JPG


referred to as Car No. 2.  this  is the second of the two “intact”  blairton  ore cars that were pulled from the Trent in 1980 by Parks Canada, with the help of diver  Brian McCrodan.   (Car No 1 mysteriously “disappeared” in 1981, after being re-submerged by Parks Canada near Peterborough.)

In December of 2014,  we had presented the story of the 1881 fatal train crash that had resulted in five  Blairton Ore Cars ending in the river at Trent River.  Our story described the recovery of four of the cars - the work of mining engineer, Arthur Dunn of Ottawa,  diver, Brian McCrodan of Peterborough,  and staff of Parks Canada.  It was a grand event with hopes of an eventual  museum display.

But despite having gone to the trouble of restoring so many of the iron parts, enthusiasm at Parks Canada for the idea of mounting a comprehensive exhibit, telling the story of the ore cars waned.  Ultimately they chose to simply store the artifacts in their Service Centres. 

However,  this week we received the following letter from George Parker,  the expert on the Blairton Ore Cars,  who, along with his team,  created the replica,  which now stands on the shores of Cobourg,  as a tribute:

"I thought you might be interested to know that one of the ore cars is now on display at the Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.  It is being displayed in the same condition as when it was lifted from the water in 1980, except that the wheels have been cleaned up.   So it looks very different than the car we have on display here in Cobourg (which was made with new wood, and some new iron pieces as well).
It is quite appropriate that it should end up there, because Arthur Dunn was involved (as I understand it) in getting that museum started many years ago.   And without Arthur, the cars would probably still be underwater!   I visited the staff recently at the museum in Ottawa, to tell them more about the story of the ore cars, because they didn’t seem to get much information from Parks Canada when the car was handed over to them.  
On the same trip, I demonstrated the mine model at the National Train Museum (Exporail) in Montreal.    I asked the curator there, and he said that they have no intact railway equipment there as old as 1867. 

So it would appear that the ore car is now the oldest railway car in the country! 

George Parker

Famous Actor Influenced by Marmora

Rauff de Ryther Duan Acklom,  known professionally as  David Manners, was an  actor  born  in Halifax, Nova Scotia  on 30 April 1902,  the son of British parents,  Lillian Manners (of Royal descent)  and writer George Moreby Acklom.  

According to his obituary,  after graduation,  David's  jobs included foreman of a lumber camp.  It  has been said that he gained his lumber  experience  with the Pearce Lumber Company in Marmora ,  while enjoying vacations at  Crowe Lake. 

Manners originally studied forestry in 1919 at the University of Toronto, but he found it boring. There, he furthered his interest in theatre by joining the University's Little Theatre at Hart House.  Over his father's objections, he pursued a stage career and appeared in both Broadway and out-of-town productions. He went  to Hollywood at the beginning of the talking films revolution after studying acting with Eva Le Gallienne, even though she had remarked that he was "a very bad actor" after seeing one of his stage performances.  He adopted the stage name David Manners (Manners being his mother’s maiden name) because it was easier for audiences to remember than his own name, and fit on posters better. 

Under Running Laughter(1943), was a best-seller.

After the success of the film, "Dracula", Manners worked for several years as a romantic leading man, and was most often seen in a tuxedo in romantic comedies and light dramas. A lack of interest had Manners eventually abandoning films in 1936 and returning sporadically to the theater.

Most of his later years were spent painting and writing novels,  one of  which was entitled "Under Running Laughter.  The story concerns a young woman,  Brook Sand,  whose fortunes involve her with a strange family who are barons of a small Canadian Mill town the author named "Alexville"  The parallels  with Marmora and the Pearce family are obvious,  and his early life as a lumberman in Marmora  supplied the descriptive details he needed to write the book, with references to the Royal Hotel,  Mill Street,  various stores and even Belleville.

David Manners   died  in Santa Barbara, California 23 December 1998.


What do these five men have in common?  Well,  true,  they are all politicial leaders.

  1.  George Howard Ferguson - ninth Premier of Ontario (Conservative)  from 1923 to 1930.
  2.  Robert Keith Rae,  is a Canadian lawyer, negotiator, public speaker, and former politician. and 21st Premier of Ontario, from 1990 until 1995.
  3. Arthur Meighen  was a Canadian lawyer and politician who served as the ninth Prime Minister of Canada,  July 1920 to December 1921 and again from June to September 1926.
  4. Sir William Howard Hearst,was the seventh Premier  of Ontario from 1914 to 1919
  5. Leslie Miscampbell Frost was the 16th Premier from May 4, 1949 to November 8, 1961

SO?,  you ask.......but DID YOU KNOW that all these politicians had reason to come to Marmora?

In 1913  the Royal Hotel was very much the center of local activity. It boasted its three floors and a fine porch. It provided superior accommodations for visiting dignitaries, one of whom was  Prime Minister  of Canada, Arthur Meighen,   whose  pre-WW1 rally cries were heard at our Town Hall.

In  1914,  in an effort to recruit for WW1,  the  "Porter's Peace Picnic" was held on the Fair Grounds and about 5000 people attended.  Sir William Hearst, Premier of Ontario and Hon. T. W. McGarry, Provincial Treasurer were the chief speakers. Reeve R. T. Gray presented the Premier with an address. Marmora, with a population of 900 sent 114 soldiers to the war. Twelve made the supreme sacrifice, one gave his sight, three were amputation cases and five won medals for valor. 

Premier Howard Ferguson personified  Ontario in the 1920s: a mix of 19th-century values and 20th-century ambitions. As premier at the climax of industrialization's first great wave,  he travelled the Province's Town Halls,   encouraging  industry, protected by the tariff, and the development of natural resources. His government tried to create the climate and facilities conducive to private investment in Ontario's forests, mines and factories.

It was 1990 when Provincial  NDP candidate, Bob Rae,   answered the "Take No Trash" committee while campaigning,  and assured an audience at the Town Hall that Toronto's garbage would not be dumped at the Marmoraton Mine.  He subsequently became Premier.

And in 1952,  Leslie Frost visited Marmora for the  official opening of the Marmoraton Mine. He raised a red flag to signal the lighting of five thousand pounds of dynamite and the detonation was audible for thirty miles in every direction. He later  gave a speech at the Plaza Theatre.  

(Click on any words printed in blue to read more of Marmora History.)








Marmora c.1910 600dp.JPG

It was an exciting day recently when we came into possession of the above post card,  which we believe to be the oldest postcard we have of the east side of Forsyth Street.   Most interesting of all, however,  is that it includes the  only photo we have of the "Central Hotel",  the white building located just to the right of the horse and sled.


Well, taking a look at each of the buidings from right to left,  we see the Dominion Bank,  known to have moved into the O'Neil building in 1908.  Next door,  in the location of the Nickle's Pharmacy parking lot,  stood J.S. Morton's Drug Store,  which we know had vacated by 1914. That same year,  Phillip Marshall Sopha's livery business (see in this photo) was also replaced.  (The yellow building possibly  dates back to 1848 and still stands today as Cook's barber shop.)    

Heading further north,  we know the  white Central Hotel, located between the two large brick buildings,  and the Marrin's Drug Store above the driver's head, both burned down in the fire of 1914,  along with the third floor of the Royal Hotel,  as seen in the photo above the horse's head.

So far,  then,  the date of our post card can be placed between 1908 and 1914.  But looking into the history of the publisher,  Pugh Manufacturing Ltd. of Toronto,  we find  it was  between 1907 and 1912,   that they were  most actively producing postcards sent to them by the drugstores and general stores of small towns.  That places our picture, then,  between 1908 and 1912.  Taking an average,  we'll say CIRCA 1910!

Above:  Mr. Goad's  1893 map of the buildings on  East Forsyth Street,  indicating the Central Hotel lying adjacent to Shannon's  Hardware to the south,  unlike it's replacement, the brick building at 16 Forsyth,  now Savelle's Hairdressing Salon,  attached to the Marett building to the north,  now known as Possibilities.

Making Connections Results in Treasure

We take pride in keeping Marmora's history alive,  but one of the great benefits of our website is the connections that are made amongst our readers.

As a  result  of reading our feature on the Gilmour lumber company,  John Allore contacted us to let us know he had prepared a podcast on the subject,  which we posted.  Shortly thereafter we received the following letter from Mr. Allore:

"I love it when life happens like this:     A treasure I've long sought is photographic proof that my great-grandfather worked for Gilmour & Co.  I have family stories, but no evidence.

Within 48 hrs the following occurs: 

  1. I publish a podcast on Gilmour. 
  2. You put it on your website.   
  3. Someone in the Trent region listens to it, contacts me, and sends me a series of Gilmour photos.   
  4.  I scan through this train photo (attached), and there on the top of the train is my great-grandfather, Edward "The Boss" Allore.

Just amazing,  John Allore"

Then we got the rest of the story. 

"My best guess it that that photo was taken at Mowat / Canoe Lake (Location of the famous story of the death of Tommy Thomson) between 1897-1899.  My great uncle Wilfred was born in the bush in Mowat in 1899, so the family would have been there. Edward came to Trenton from Trois Rivieres in 1881 to work at Gilmour. (article at right) He started as a logger, then culler (sorter and grader) and finally worked as a head foreman. His wife, Mary Cormier was also at Mowat, cleaning bunkhouses and preparing meals.

When Gilmour went down hill, Edward started the Allore  Lumber in Trenton in 1903.  The company was sold to Beaver lumber in 1979.

Edward Allore, Gilmour Company - Copy.jpg

Click here if you'd like to hear John Allore's Podcast

"Reel" Time in Marmora


When it came  to motion pictures,  Marmora was not going to get caught standing still.  In April  of 1919,  the Marmora, Deloro, & District branch of the  G.W.V.A  (Great War Veterans Association,  predeceasor of the Legion) ordered the most up-to-date motion picture machine on the market at the time.  It was manufactured by the Motiograph Co. of Chicago,  and boasted having all the modern improvements - motor driven reels for a clear steady picture,  clear lenses and using considerable less electrical current.

The "Motiograph", first sold in 1908,   was the improvement of the "Optigraph".  The Optigraph was invented by Alvah Roebuck of Sears-Roebuck fame commencing in 1896. Roebuck set up the Enterprise Optical Company in Chicago the year before and continued to produce Optigraphs until about 1911. The company eventually became  the Motiograph Co.   

For more on music and entertainment,  CLICK HERE

The Marmora Postcard Collection

Post card collecting is one of three of the biggest hobbies world wide,  equal to  stamp and coin  collecting. Their popularity is explained by the wide range of subjects they cover,  but mostly because history itself can be tracked in postcards.

The pioneer era of post cards in Canaada  began on June 1, 1871,  when Canada issued a prestamped,  pictureless post card.  It was called a postal stationery card and was sold for one cent,  which included the card and delivery anywhere in the Dominion.  It allowed for messages on the back and only the address on the front.

The government had allowed small designs on the address side by 1897,  but in 1898,  the private mailing card was invented,  with only the address on the stamp side and a picture and message on the back.  It was not until December 1903 that the Official Postal Guide allowed a divided card with a message on the address side  and a photo or  illustration on the reverse. 


If you have local postcards at home,  consider sending us a copy to expand our  collection.  CLICK HERE

To view the Historical Foundation's Postcard Collection,      CLICK HERE

On Jan 3, 2019, Rosemarie (O'Neill) Menassas added:

Back in the early 50s. in the attic of our home at 93 Forsyth St, we found a Postcard album. A very ornate cover on it, and filled with postcards in slots much like early photo albums. We used to make airplanes out of them, and "fly" them across the attic. How ignorant were we of the value of such treasures! Wish I had that album today and I would send it to you!

The Gilmour Dynasty

Most people in Marmora,  when asked to think of Gilmour,  will conjure up images of exhausted sled dog teams taking a rest by the big bonfire at the Village of Gilmour,  a mandatory check point on the 150 mile Marmora Long Distance Challenge.  

But did you know  the origins of the village are rooted in the logging camps of the infamous Gilmour Company,  a family-owned industry that swept through Lower and Upper Canada,  cutting timber over thousands of acres,  feeding the the appetite of the shipping industry,  the construction industry and later the pulp and paper industry.  From Trenton,  foremen were sent out all through the Marmora, Madoc & Tweed areas,  and on to the Kawarthas,  Algonquin Park and  up to Madawaska, to supply and monitor the logging camps.

Video by Sean Scally of Trenton

After an inquiry by film-maker Sean Scally of Trenton,  we checked out the story of this  vast company only to discover it is worthy of  PHD thesis.  It is a family story starting in Scotland with Allan Gilmour (1775-1849) and members of  his mother's family, who formed the Pollack, Gilmour Co. of Glasgow and  supplied  the old country with ships and timbers. 

Placing his bets on the new world,  Allan sent out his brother, James (1782-1858) to widen the shipbuilding business , opening the Gilmour Rankin Co. in Miramachi..  Hoping  to soon retire,  he looked to his nephews to work on expansion- -William Ritchie & Co in Montreal,  Allan of Shott  (1816-1895) with the Gilmour & Co. in Ottawa, James in Montreal,   and Allan Jr. with the Allan Gilmour & Co., Quebec.  

What followed was a long history of family wranglings,  with  new  family partnerships and takeovers in response to retirements,  suicides  and deaths.  But in the end,  David Gilmour (1850-1920) who headed the Trenton operations,   left  for greener pastures in Buffalo in 1905, with the final closure  of the  Trenton mills in 1910.  It burned down in 1911.  The remaining  vasts assets of the company in Ottawa, in the hands of David's brother, John (1849-1212) ,  were sold off in 1921 to Gatineau Co., a division of Riordan Co. of Montreal,  whose main interest was pulp and paper.

You can read the  Trenton story  of "The Gilmour Influence"  by  Andrew McDonald.


The Naming of Paudash Lake

Before reaching Marmora,  the Crowe River will pass through three counties.  The river begins at Paudash Lake and exits southeast out of the lake under Ontario Highway 28 and over Paudash Lake Dam at the settlement of Paudash in Faraday Township, Hastings County. 

The lake was named in honour of the Indian chief,  George Paudash  member of the Chippewa (Ojibwa) Indians of the Hiawatha Reserve of Rice Lake and  last hereditary Chief of the tribe of Mississaugas situate there.  Each summer,  George Paudash   and his followers travelled up the Crowe Valley's waterways,  and frquented the area as their summer hunting-fishing territory.  Remains of their camps were found on Joe's Bay,  Wolfe Point and Old Portage.  As with the Eels Lake and Jacks Lake south of Paudash, it was the practice of early settlers - when the Indian presence still had strength - to name lakes after the apparent dominant Indian clan or extended family patriarch or chief. Jack's Lake was named after Jack Cow and Eels Lake after Eel Cow. It follows that settlers experienced the visits now and then of the Paudash family at Paudash Lake and that was how the name was established.

The name,  Paudash,  itself suggests the abundance of wildlife in those days,  "Paudash being the Chippewan word for "crane",  a symbol which dominates the Petroglyphs of Stoney Lake.

For more on the Crowe River,  CLICK HERE

Farming the Old Way

Ted Barrons standing on the threshing machine on left.  He was the brother of George Barrons and moved to Saskatchewan  in 1905.

Written in 1996 by Charles Barrons

Many settlers raised cattle and pigs;  the cattle mainly for the milk and the pigs for their pork.  Pork was preserved in a barrel with lots of salt.  When it was cooked,  it was put in an iron kettle and slowly boiled to remove the salt.  After it had boiled for a length of time,  the salty water was removed and the pork covered with pure water once again,  and allowed to finish cooking.

Settlers grew their own vegetables.  They were stored in a shallow hole in the ground,  covered with straw and dirt for later use,  and to provide seed for next year.  Some built root cellars of log or stone.

The flail

All work,  from clearing the land to harvesting, was done by hand.  The hay was cut with a scythe and raked by hand.  The grain was  sowed by hand and sometimes covered with a drag made of brush.  When the grain ripened,  it was cut with a cradle,  hand raked into sheaves and tied with a band made of the grain stalks,  and stacked.  It was then taken to the barn and thrashed with a flail.  This knocked the kernels of grain off the stalks.  The wind would then separate the grain  by blowing away the chaff.

The cradle used for reaping until mid 1800s

The invention of the threshing machine made harvesting of grain considerable easier.  It was powered with horses on what was called a "horse power"  with horses going around on long arms to turn the capsule,  which went to the machine with tumbling roads.  Usually four teams of horses were on it.  The sheaves of grain were fed into the open cylinder by hand after the bands had been cut .  The threshing machine separated the grain from the straw (which was usually stacked and used later as bedding for the farm animals).

Next came the steam engine which provided power for the threshing machines.  The engine was moved by horses from one job to another.  Water had to be drawn using teams hooked to a wagon.  Then came the more modern steam engine which moved under its own power.  The threshing machine had a self feeder and a blower.  This was followed up by a tractor for power. 


The most modern machine was the combine, some pulled by tractors,  others self propelled.  This meant that the sheaves of grain no longer had to be drawn to the barn to be harvested.  It was,  instead,  harvested in the field where it grew.  The kernels of grain were collected in a bin,  which was periodically emptied into a tank,  taken to the storage area and unloaded.



Ronald Barrons :  Threshing time was a great time when we would move from farm to farm. It allowed that we might know our neighbours in a working environment and appreciate them in ways that differed completely with chance meetings on other occasions. With those from Vansickle, who came to our community, this was especially enjoyable. And in return, I got to see their farms, that I would not otherwise see.    Mostly, my job was carrying the grain from the machine to the grainery (32 pounds per bushel) and might total four or five hundred bushels or more a day. It also involved the eating of a lot of dust thrown out by the thresher. Anyways, memories I cherish.

Chris McKee I remember going to farms with Charlie to thresh grain. he would hook up "big Bertha" his Case L to his thresher and a way we would go with me sitting on the fender.    The man on the left is Charlie Campion, my grandfather, wonder if that is his thresher as he did custom threshing for folks.

John Reynolds On my grandparents farm I was pretty small at the time. I remember stooking sheaves in the field. When the threshing gang arrived the meals seemed like a feast every day. When they were finished we would all head to the neighbours and do their crop. Fond memories, but hard work.

Bootlegging, Cordova Style

Cordova Mines has always prided itself on its successful mining and  its wide variety of community facilities - two churches, a first class school,  general stores (one owned by the mining company)  a post office,  butcher shops,  drug store,  bakery,  refreshment parlor,  livery stable,  Orange Hall,  shoe repair,  photographic gallery and a large company boarding house.

But that was not enough for "One-Armed Maloney",  who was trying to cope during the prohibition years.   With no saloon in town,  and plenty of thirsty miners,   John Maloney,  according to one newspaper article (no date),  found a cunning,  profitable career, avoiding the strong arm of the law.

The plug.jpg

"There is a building on skids beside the boundary line road (Vansickle Road) with "Jim Dandy" stamped clearly over the door,  but it is known as the "PLUG" where strong spirits are sold. (Real Whiskey),"  

"How the authorities in Havelock (Peterborough County)   get wind of this is a mystery.  They start for Cordova by horse and buggy, or democrat.  Word is received at the "Plug" via the grapevine that the authorities are on their way.  When they arrive,  the building is across the road in Hastings County.  Same thing happens when the Marmora authorities arrive."

For more on Cordova,  CLICK HERE.