North Lanark
Regional Museum
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Our Collections

The North Lanark Historical Society is working to catalogue and digitize its museum collection so that the artefacts, photographs and documents are more accessible to researchers, visitors and museum staff/ volunteers. The museum is committed to preserving and sharing the history of Mississippi Mills with the community.

This page will introduce you to a selection of items from the collection. To learn more about a specific artefact or accession please contact staff at the North Lanark Regional Museum. The collection is available for researchers by appointment. For more information please call 613-257-8503 or email

This project was completed as part of the two projects which were funded by the Government of Ontario:
   - Digitally Preserving the Past for the Future, and
   - A Video Tour

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19th Century Schoolroom

Glass Plate Negative – Inside a 19th Century Schoolroom
NLRM 2012.55.20
19th Century

This rare photograph depicts the inside of a school house classroom in the late nineteenth century. A chalkboard and wooden desks are visible. This image was scanned from a glass plate negative from the Almonte Gazette archives.

Arithmetic Text

Public School Arithmetic Textbook
NLRM 2007.1.458
Published 1899

This textbook is indicative of the books used by students at the start of the twentieth century. This textbook in particular focuses on arithmetic, providing lessons and examples for students.

The inside cover bears the signature of Clarence Perrin, who presumably used the text. The signature is dated Aug. 16th 1902, and was used in Domville, Ontario, Canada.

The book was published in 1899 and cost 25 cents at the time.

Daily Register

Daily Register – S.S. #12

This daily register was typical to those used in schools through the 1920’s. This particular register was used in S.S. #12 Ramsay in 1926. The register recorded daily attendance at the school as well as any special events or activities. Each page records a month’s worth of attendance and gives attendance totals and averages at the bottom. Teachers would have used this information would have been kept for the school board. The book was supplied to both public schools and rural schools by a school inspector. This record was examined twice by J.C. Spence, who deemed the attendance record “satisfactory”.

Historical Atlas of Lanark & Renfrew Counties
NLRM 2013.1.327
C. 1880-1881

Ramsay Township Lanark County

This illustrated atlas from 1881 (reprinted in 1972) provides a fascinating look into Lanark and Renfrew counties from the late 19th century. Maps show the drastically smaller townships of Carleton Place, Almonte, and many more communities in exhaustive detail. Illustrations complement the maps with views of notable buildings, large estates, and prominent community members from the area. Also included is a beautiful two-page illustration of the parliament buildings as they appeared in 1879.

As well as expansive illustrations and maps, the atlas also contains written information about each county. This includes geological, topographical, and political information in addition to detailed history of the counties. Each township has its share of the spotlight as well, with the atlas detailing the prime industries, important community members, and much more. This atlas provides a unique and comprehensive look at the counties of Lanark and Renfrew as they were in 1881.

A digital version of the Lanark County map is available through McGill University.
Seelct the Lanark County map here

Burroughs Adding Machine
Burroughs Portable Adding Machine
NLRM 2013.1.113
c. 1920s

This mechanical adding device from the early 20th century is a feat of engineering and longevity. Still working perfectly today, it adds numbers with up to 7 digits instantly, solely through mechanics. Used in banks and for accounting, adding a long string of numbers was suddenly simple, error-free, and fast. The complexity required to support this seemingly straightforward task is enormous — a vast network of tiny levers and arms working together in the blink of an eye.

But perhaps what’s most remarkable about this machine is that even with such complex machinery, almost 100 years later it still performs its original function just as effectively as when it was new. The adding machine is set up at the museum for visitors to try out.

Early Cycling

Tandem Quadracycle Photo
NLRM 2013.9.55
c. 1930

This photo depicts a woman (Miss. Bellamine) with an unnamed young man on what appears to be an early bicycle at first glance. However, upon inspection this is actually a Coventry Rotary Quadracycle from 1885. When bicycles were just starting to take off, stability was a very big issue. In response to this, tricycles and quadracycles (4 wheels) gained momentum quickly in North America. This model is of note as it was one of the earliest quadracycles to incorporate bicycle-like foot pedals instead of foot levers.

Although it is not visible from this angle, there is a fourth wheel extending behind the machine, providing added stability. As bicycles became more stable, the quadracycle largely fell to disuse, however this photo from 1930 shows that if not as practical as they once were, quadracycles were still fun!

H.D. Gilmour's Cottage
Appleton’s Twisted Chimney
Digital Photo, Fall 2012
Donated by Sarah Bennett

This digital photograph from 2012 shows the once famous log cabin cottage in Appleton owned by the Gilmour family (left side of photo). Here is the full story, written by Kenneth Godfrey:

My grandfather, Harry D. Gilmour built this cottage, and put a 'beehive' shaped stone fireplace into one corner. He asked Beatty Hamilton, a well-known bricklayer from Carleton Place, to build its chimney, but literally with a "twist". Beatty was at first not pleased with the idea, as he feared that folks might think it a poor job on his part, but H.D. (who enjoyed verbal and visual jokes) prevailed, and persuaded him to build it as a spiral, and I think it stood for many years until a fairly recent renovation, and alas, the chimney (like many other unique quirks from the past) is no more.

Lyon’s General Store Lyon’s General Store
NLRM 2012.79.12.2
Taken by Malak Karsh
c. 1945-1946
Donated by Eleanor Wright and Irene Dunn Thompson

This captivating image of the interior of Lyon’s General Store in Appleton was taken by Malak Karsh, brother of the famed portrait photographer, Yousuf Karsh. Malak Karsh spent a week in Appleton in either 1945 or 1946, taking the opportunity to document Appleton’s mills and community with his beautiful photographs. During this week, Karsh stayed with the Hutchinson family, and as a thank-you Karsh gifted an album of photographs to the family. This treasured album contained select images of Appleton Karsh had taken during his stay, like this one of Lyon’s General Store. A copy of this album was given to two local residents, who recently donated it to the museum, providing a unparalleled glimpse into Appleton’s thriving community in the mid-1940’s.

Among his notable achievements, Malak Karsh became a celebrated photographer of the Ottawa region, even getting one of his photographs featured on the back of the one dollar bill. He was also one of the founders of the Canadian Tulip festival, and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1996.

These photographs provide an irreplaceable glimpse into Appleton of the 1940s. More of these images of Appleton by Malak Karsh can be viewed through our virtual exhibit, “The Mills of Appleton”, which is hosted by the Virtual Museum of Canada.

The virtual exhibit can be accessed here

Appleton before the Dam was Built
Appleton before dam was built NLRM 2012.19.3
Late 1800s - Early 1900s
Donated by Jim Lowry

Black and white photograph showing the Mississippi River at Appleton, Ontario. The woollen mill is featured on the left side of the photograph. The photo is from the late 19th century, early 20th century. The photo was definitely taken after 1880 when the three-storey addition was added to the woollen mill but before the construction of the dam in 1937.

The woollen mill was built in 1862 by Robert Teskey and was known as the Mississippi Woollen Mills until 1900 when it was taken over by Thomas Boyd Caldwell. In 1937, William Collie purchased the mill and petitioned to the Ontario Hydro Electric Power Corporation to have hydro brought to Appleton, Ontario. In 1937 a dam was built at Appleton to generate hydro-electricity.

In right hand corner the photo has been marked “MGF.”

Creamer Creamer
NLRM 2009.1.195
Donated by Dora Chapman

This creamer is a family heirloom that belonged to Dora Briggs (Cannon) Chapman, great granddaughter of William and Margaret Cannon who settled in Ramsay Township in the late 1830s.

Dr. William Cannon (B. ~1790 D. 1841) of Ireland was a surgeon in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). He subsequently served overseas in China, the East and the West Indies. Dr. Cannon and his wife Margaret (King) Cannon (B. ~1788 D. 1870) had eight children between 1816 and 1832. In about 1833 the family immigrated to Upper Canada and received a land grant in Belmont Township but then moved to Ramsay Township in about 1839 where he purchased the West and East half of Concession 7 Lot 12.

Teapot Teapot Ad Teapot
NLRM 2009.2.2
24.9 x14.1cm(dia)
Donated by Wilma Chapman

This teapot is a family heirloom that belonged to Wilma Chapman, great-great-granddaughter of William and Margaret Cannon who settled in Ramsay Township in the late 1830s. This teapot is very similar to a teapot found in the 1929 Eaton’s Spring & Summer Catalogue.

Almonte High School 1919
Almonte High School 1919
NLRM 2012.55.119
Donated by Sheila Babb and Ann E. Love

Almonte and District High School was opened in about 1876 in Almonte, Ontario. A.D.H.S. has produced many famous alumni including: Dr. James Naismith, R. Tait McKenzie, Sire Edward Peacock, Dr. Oliver Avison, and Dr. James Mackintosh Bell. Back of photo reads: A.H.S. 1919. Cameron, McF, Kirkland, Campbell, Ryan, Snedden, Williams, Allison, Wylie, Bowland, Taylor, (Robertson)

“Friends” 1918
Friends NLRM 2012.55.141
Donated by Sheila Babb and Ann E. Love

Back of photo reads: 1918. B. Plunkett, E. Boyle, W. Oliver, E. Young, O. MacF., W. Johnston, A. Wylie, M. West, F. Lundy. Seated – G. Johnston, E. Jameison.

Sheila Babb and Ann E. Love are descendants of the Teskey family that operated the Mississippi Woollen Mills in Appleton during the 1800s. They are also related to Wesley West who married Sarah Ethel Teskey in 1900. Wesley operated a general the W. West General Store in Appleton from 1892 to 1900, he then moved to Almonte where he opened the W.W. West General Store.

Wesley and Ethel had several children in Almonte including Ethel Muriel West who is listed in the above photograph as “M. West”. Muriel married R. Oliver MacFarlane who is listed in the photo above as “O. MacF.” R. Oliver MacFarlane was an avid photographer and there is a large collection of photographs at the museum from the years 1918 and 1919 when he was a junior and senior at Almonte High School.

Model of a Snake Fence
Model of a Snake Fence NLRM 2006.55.15
C. 1980s
Donated by Alex Bowes

Model of a snake fence made by Alex Bowes (1908-1993) of Lanark County. Alex first started making models of log fences when he was just twelve. This model provides an example of the “snake fence” which was typically used as a pasture fence where animals can graze all the way into the zigzags.

The North Lanark Regional Museum has a large collection of model fences made by Alex Bowes including examples of a: Block Fence, Snake Fence, Woven Wire Fence, Closs Fence, Bolton Fence, Indian Fence, Pole Fence, Basket Fence, Slat Fence, Patent Fence, Draper Fence, Stump Fence and Russell Fence. The models show various styles of fences still found across Eastern Ontario

For more information on log fences see Four Hundred Years of Log Fences, by Eugene Fytche. There is a copy of this book in the North Lanark Regional Museum Library.

Miniature Cast Iron Stove made by Eclipse
Miniature Cast Iron Stove made by "Eclipse".
Donated by John Drew in Memory of Mrs. Jeanette Duncanson Peterson.

Miniature Cast Iron Stove made by "Eclipse," patented July 30, 1895 (or possibly 1893). Miniature cast iron stoves were made by all the stove companies to be sold as children’s toys and to be used as models by salesmen.

This miniature cast iron stove was donated by John Drew of Almonte in memory of Mrs. Jeanette Duncanson Peterson. Jeanette was born in Scotland, lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and had an Irish husband. Jeanette used to play with this stove as a child.

S.S. #11 Ramsay
S.S. #11 Ramsay NLRM 2012.36.2.1
Donated by the North Lanark Historical Society

This photograph is of S.S. #11 Ramsay in Appleton, Ontario.

Appleton’s first school was a log building built in about 1828. By1854 there were 60 children attending the school and a larger building was needed. In 1856 a new two-room log building was built. Attendance quickly rose at the school from 78 students in 1860 to 104 students in 1864. As a result of this increased attendance a two-room red brick school was built for the Appleton students in 1879.

Appleton’s new red brick school operated from 1879 to 1969 when the local school were amalgamated and children began being bused to school in Almonte. In 1970 the building was leased by the School Board to the North Lanark Historical Society which began operating a museum. The museum officially opened on June 26, 1971 but the historic building finally fell to the ground during a fire on July 19, 1979.