Carleton Place Heritage Properties

Carleton Place Architecture


Levine Store, c. 1850, 20 Bridge Street

The building at 20 Bridge Street is actually a 1987 reconstruction on original footings and according to original design. The first wood-frame building was erected in the 1850s, with the storefront added in 1870. It was destroyed during a fire in 1986. Features of note include the horizontal clapboard with vertical trim at corners and windows and the patterned elliptical stained glass window in the second storey of the false front, which survived the 1986 fire.


CPR Railway Station, c. 1922, 132 Coleman Street

Built in 1922, this limestone building is the third railway station to serve the Carleton Place community. Typical of stations built in the Ottawa Valley during this period, with deep-set windows, doors, and overhanging roof, it is only one of seven in region to survive demolition after passenger train service ended in the early 1990s. It now houses a daycare centre.

The history of rail in Carleton Place, however, dates back to the mid-1800s, and construction of the Brockville & Ottawa Railway. At that time, a number of prominent residents in Brockville hoped to capitalize on the potential mineral and timber resources in the region, and rail links to the Grand Trunk Railway along the Front were integral to that goal. Despite the generally flat terrain, progress was slow, due to insufficient funds, and construction stopped in 1859 when the line had reached Almonte. It wasn’t until 1867 when the line was extended north to Sand Point on the Ottawa River, just east of Renfrew, and it never did reach its original goal of Pembroke, where most of anticipated lumber traffic would be generated.


By 1881, the former tracks of the B&O formed part of the Canadian Pacific Railway system.



Old Post Office, c. 1891, 81 Bridge Street

Following Confederation in 1867, it was important that the new Dominion establish a strong, visible presence across the country, one that would inspire confidence in its citizens. One of the strategies was the appointment of a Dominion Architect, who would establish high standards for government buildings in cities and towns across the country and oversee their construction. This would also set a good example for the private sector to follow. The most prolific of these men to hold the post was Thomas Fuller (1881–96), who was responsible for approximately 140 public buildings, including the Carleton Place Post Office (1891). While each building was unique, displaying a considerable variety in materials and details, they tended to follow the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Carleton Place is a good example of the style, with its heavily rusticated masonry, heavy round arches often repeated, an arch and spandrel motif, and deeply recessed windows and doorways.

Improvements to the delivery of mail came in more ways than one. Prior to the arrival of the Brockville & Ottawa Railway, mail was transported on horseback/saddlebag, but by 1852, as the Carleton Place Herald reported, quantity increased to extent that courier had to “provide himself with a Carriage . . . This offers facilities for summer travelling before unknown in these parts as we have now a direct line of stages from Pakenham to Brockville three times a week.”

This two-and-one-half storey structure is constructed of New Brunswick red sandstone details and Perth stone atop a Beckwith limestone foundation. The clock tower, manufactured by John Smith and Sons of The Midland Clockworks, Derby, England, was added in 1913. The clock is no longer maintained.

It served as the Carleton Place post office and customs office until a new, more modest building was built in 1970. Today, this building houses offices and private apartments.


Town Hall, 1895, 175 Bridge Street

In 1890, Carleton Place had achieved town status and thus merited a new town hall, to replace the smaller structure that had been built when the community attained village status in 1870 (See Victoria School Museum). Designed by George W. King, of Toronto, it was built by Mathew Ryan, of Smiths Falls, at a cost of $26,000. With its rough stone, round-headed windows, semicircular arches surrounding windows and doors, towers, dormer windows, steeply pitched slate roof, turrets, and recessed central door with windows, it is a fine example of Richardsonian Romanesque, a popular style of the time. The three-sided (bay) tower originally housed the fire department, which used the tower for lookout and to dry hoses until late 1980s. Although part of the original plans, the clock was not installed until 1990 as part of the town’s centennial.

The restored interior features a grand staircase, council chambers with wooden panels and stained glass windows, and a second-floor opera hall or Auditorium that has been the scene of many community events and noteworthy performers, including Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who spoke here during the 1911 election.


Former Leland Hotel, c. 1850, 224 Bridge Street

Now the Carleton Hotel, this stone structure was originally two hotels, The Leland and Drader’s. Note the third floor with its metal cornice, which were added later, and false window.


The Bell House, c. 1830s, 233 Bridge Street

Built by a prominent mercantile family in the 1830s, this two-storey, Georgian-style house is distinguished by its unusual bell-cast mansard roof and dormers. These likely replaced the original gable roof following a fire.


Abner Nichols House, 274 Bridge Street

This one-and-a-half storey home shows the transition between Greek Revival (symmetrical facade) and Gothic Revival (steeper roof slope) that was popular in the latter half of the 19th century. The house makes a significant contribution to the architectural character of Bridge Street.


Hugh Williams House, 222–24 William Street

This house was the home of Samuel Allen, printer and co-editor of the Carleton Place Herald (established 1850) for a number of years. Note the elaborate woodwork on the front porch and the flower-patterned wrought iron cresting around the top of the bay window.


€€€John Bell Home, c. 1830s, 15 High Street

Built for John Bell, note the front door fan and sidelights and, on the west side wall, a coffin door in this excellent example of Colonial Georgian architecture.


David Findlay House, 49 High Street

In 1862, David Findlay started the Findlay foundry as a one-man business. Eventually serving, at times, an international market, it represented one of Lanark County’s industrial success stories during the nearly 125 years it was managed by four generations of the Findlay family.


David Findlay, a moulder, of Paisley, Scotland, emigrated to Canada and settled in Perth, in 1858. Finding that Perth had little work to offer in his trade, he moved to Carleton Place and started a small foundry in an old log barn with only $30 in his pocket. Findlay had to make most of his own equipment, including a stone-built cupola for smelting iron and a cupola blower. The latter was operated by teams of horses borrowed from neighbouring farmers, and hitched to a merry-go-round contraption. In 1876, Findlay began the manufacture of stoves. They were an immediate success, as the Carleton Place Herald stated in an editorial in 1879: “Since the cold mornings have set in we have given Mr. Findlay’s new stove a trial. With one or two sticks of hardwood, it will keep up a moderate heat all night, and can be used for either coal or wood.”


Joseph Yuill House, c. 1850s, 56 Front Street

Another excellent example of a 19th-century residence, albeit with some conflicting characteristics. Note the Gothic Revival roofline in the central gable; the veranda-portico, however, is a Regency feature found on few stone houses.


Rosamond House, c. 1838, 37 Bell Street

This Georgian-style home was begun in 1838 for James Rosamond, one of the first industrial players in Carleton Place. That same year, he built along the Mississippi near James Street what is thought to be the first textile mill in eastern Ontario to be operated by water power. While not designated, he also built the row house at 26–30 Bell Street for his workers.

The Victoria Woolen Factory started out as a carding mill, then was developed as a woolen cloth factory supplying, “Cassimeres, Sattinetts, Tartans, Plaids, Doeskins, Tweeds, Blankets, Flannels, etc.” (Carleton Place Herald, May 1851). In 1857, he left Carleton Place for Almonte, due to a dispute over water rights, where his family were instrumental in turning Almonte into the “Little Manchester” of Canada. He died in 1894.

The original limestone portion of this 2½ storey house was later modernized with a wooden addition; a window to replace the original entrance; and a main entry side porch addition (1901).


Victoria School Museum (former Town Hall), 1872, 267 Edmond Street

In 1870, the modest settlement of Morphy’s Falls had achieved village stage, so the community now known as Carleton Place built a town hall. It served its citizens as such until 1880, when it was converted to public school. Today, the first floor serves as the Victoria School Museum and Canada Veterans’ Hall of Valour.


Dr. Wilson House, c. 1845, 105 Bell Street

Considered the finest 1½ storey Ontario Cottage style house in Carleton Place, its features include an impressive entry, complete with elliptical transom, elaborate lozenge pattern in the sidelights and transom, panelled reveals, and a cross and bible door. It belonged to Dr. William Wilson, a surgeon and coroner in Carleton Place for 40 years.


€€€Gillies Machine Works, 1875, 150 Rosamond Street

Lumber was king in the Ottawa Valley during the 19th century, and John Gillies was one the industry’s crown princes. In 1866, he acquired the first saw mill built in Carleton Place and had it rebuilt to handle an annual capacity of 20 million feet of board lumber. At full operation, he employed 200–300 men a day in two 11-hour shifts. He also had mills in Lanark, timber rights on the Clyde River beginning in the 1840s, and later on the upper Mississippi covering 300 square miles, or the greater part of six townships.

In 1875, after selling his interests in the timber limits and ostensibly retiring, he built the Gillies Machine Works, which manufactured steam engines, milling machines and woolen mill machinery. Originally, the building stood four storeys high; the dormers were a later addition. Note, also, the circular windows at eaves and adjacent stone building, once a blacksmith’s shop. The bridge connecting the mills is known as Gillies Bridge.

On his death in 1888, John Gillies was lauded as “a man possessed of wonderful strength and energy. Many a story is told of his hardiness in the early days. Mr. Gillies was a man of retired interest and never would accept public office. He was in the rebellion of ’37–’38, when he went to the front with the volunteers. In politics he was a staunch Reformer. To charity he gave generously, and to his church and to Queen’s College, Kingston. His deeds speak for themselves.” (Ottawa Citizen, August 1888).

This operation was later bought by Bates and Innes Mills, for a felting operation.


McArthur Mill, c. 1871, 150 Mill Street

This five-storey stone mill with later brick addition was built in 1871 by Archibald McArthur, one of Carleton Place’s many early industrialists. In 1882, he sold it to John Gillies, who owned the machine works directly opposite; later, it was acquired by Bates and Innes. Originally, this woolen mill manufactured fine worsteds and tweeds, while Bates and Innes made blankets and cloth. Later still, it manufactured denim.

Note the waterwheel machinery on the west side. The gears that ran the turbine were fitted with replaceable wooden teeth.


Boulton Brown Mill, c. 1823, 45–49 Mill Street

The 30-foot drop in the Mississippi River at this point provided an ideal location for a grist mill, which Hugh Boulton built in 1823, sparking a community, variously known in the early years as either Morphy’s Falls or Boulton’s Mills. The site is now dominated by a five-storey roller process mill and elevator, which was built in 1885 by Horace Brown. This mill remained operational until the 1960s when sections were destroyed by fire. It has since been rehabilitated as luxury condominiums.

While Edmond Morphy had claimed the site first in 1819, Hugh Boulton, a United Empire Loyalist from Leeds County, was the one who really developed it. He soon added an oatmeal mill to the grist mill operation and was eventually succeeded by his son, also named Hugh. The site’s greatest notoriety during these early years, however, lies in it being the rallying point for a group of disgruntled young men and militia officers on militia day in 1824, when an abundance of drink, bad weather, and inactivity erupted into what became known as the Ballygiblin Riots—two weeks of fighting and friction before order was finally restored.

In 1870, these pioneer milling enterprises on south side of river were taken over by Horace Brown, who built a roller process flour mill, operated by H. Brown & Sons until 1929.

Take note of the millstone displayed across street, found during the mill’s residential conversion. It is carved out of solid granite, with a spiral pattern of recessed lines. Also, while not designated, there are several other buildings in the area connected to the mill: 33–41 Mill Street were all part of the mill complex and 38 Mill Street was home to mill owners for 150 years.