Ramsay Heritage Properties

Naismith House, c. 1850, Hwy 15

This fine example of Neoclassical architecture was the childhood home of Dr. James Naismith (1861–1939), internationally recognized inventor of the game of basketball. The verandah is a reconstruction, based on an early photograph.

Orphaned as a boy after his parents contracted typhoid fever, Naismith lived with his aunt and uncle in this house and attended school at Bennies Corners and Almonte. A poor student, he spent much of his childhood, when not working on the farm, outside playing catch, hide-and-seek or duck on a rock, a medieval throwing game that some think provided the spark for basketball. A talented and versatile athlete, he excelled in sports at McGill University, where he received a BA in physical education. He eventually became a phys-ed teacher at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he developed and introduced the game of basketball in 1891, one of the most popular games in the world today.


Mill of Kintail, Woodside Mills

This three-storey grist mill on the Indian River was built in 1830 by John Baird, of Glasgow, Scotland. However, it is better known as the summer home of R. Tait Mackenzie, a 20th-century sculptor, surgeon, and pioneer in physical rehabilitation, who, in 1930 transformed Woodside Mills into a studio and renamed it the Mill of Kintail. Today, the buildings and grounds are operated and maintained by the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority as an art gallery and museum, with walking trails and picnic areas throughout the 63 hectare property.

A military surgeon in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War I, McKenzie introduced a rehabilitation plan that revolutionized the treatment of the wounded. Many of the exercises and massage and hydrotherapy treatments he developed are still used by physiotherapists today. A gifted artist and promoter of sport, he often created pieces of athletic sculpture, a form that grew out of pieces he created to help illustrate his anatomy lectures, and supported the revival of Olympic competition, sitting on the International Olympic Committee. McKenzie also became world-renowned for his inspiring war memorials, including The Volunteer, in Almonte.


€€€Andrew Toshack House, c. 1860, Bennie’s Corners Road

Built by one of the earliest settlers in Lanark County, this neoclassical house has had few alterations since it was built in the 1860s. A stone house such as this would have been the second or even third house a pioneering family would have built, replacing much cruder structures made of branches or logs. The Toshack family owed its prosperity to a carding mill they built in the 1820s on the nearby Indian River.
€€€David Snedden Homestead, c. 1865, Concession 7, Ramsay

Built by a Scottish immigrant, this is one of the first three-ply brick buildings in the area. The bricks were made on site from clay found on the property. Note the carriage shed with its arched entrances.

The Sneddens were another early family to Lanark County, having been members of the Lanark Society settlers. They entered the square timber trade on the Mississippi River, taking timber down the Ottawa to markets in Quebec. They gave their name to the community that sprang up around their mills until the 1850s, when Snedden’s Mills was renamed Rosebank. The village outside Almonte has been known as Blakeney since 1874, when the post office was moved here from Bennie’s Corners.


James Black Homestead, 1852, Clayton Road

This home of coursed rubble was built by James Black, a one-time Ramsay township councillor and member of the local agricultural society. Note the fanlight transom and bevelled-cut stone quoins at the front corners.


Robert McLaren Homestead, 1832, 6th Line, Ramsay

This one-and-a-half rubblestone house with lighter stone quoins is the oldest, authenticated stone house in Ramsay Township. The centre gable, however, was  probably added in 20th century.


€€€The Auld Kirk and Auld Kirk Cemetery, c. 1834, County Road 16

One of the oldest of Ramsay’s churches, many township settlers are interred in its cemetery. The Kirk is still used for some memorial services and stands as a tribute to the area’s Scottish settlers and their descendants. In the wake of the War of 1812, Britain provided assisted emigration to 700 Lowland Scots in an attempt to alleviate worsening economic conditions at home. These settlers were given grants in the Perth Military Settlement, beginning in 1816. The scheme proved so successful that more groups were sponsored over the next five years, with settlers locating in the newly opened northern townships of Lanark County. By 1821, these townships, including Ramsay, had approximately 1,500 inhabitants each.


Tannery Schoolhouse, c. 1856, 8th Line, Ramsay

Also known as S.S. No. 9 or Hillcrest School, Tannery Schoolhouse is the only stone schoolhouse in Ramsay Township. In every other respect it is typical of an early, one-room schoolhouse, with three large windows on each side to take maximum advantage of natural light and a central door flanked by two windows.


William Houston House, c. 1840, Drummond Side Road

This Neoclassical post-and-beam house is notable for the fine quality of its construction and as an intact example of building technology of the period.


€€€James McLachlan House, 1842, Quarry Road

Home of Pastor McLachlan of the Reformed Presbyterian church until 1856. It is a typical Lanark County stone house in the Ontario Cottage style—one-and-a-half storeys with a centre gable. Note the fine collection of log and frame outbuildings. In the early days of settlement, the  various Protestant denominations built their churches in the vicinity of the Auld Kirk Cemetery on Wolf Grove Road (County Road 16). The Presbyterians were divided amongst several congregations, including St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland, which still stands, a Canadian or Free Presbyterian church, and the Reformed or Cameronian Presbyterians. The latter two used a structure on the 8th Line of Ramsay at different times, before building a church facing Almonte Bay on the Mississippi.


€€€Paul’s Lime Kiln, c. 1866, Rae Side Road

To build a stone house, you need only two building materials: stone and lime mortar. Therefore, Lime mortar is a 1866–1908, white limestone burned in this kiln to produce a powder constituent of mortar, used in the building of many local structures.


William Wilson House, c. 1840, County Road 11, Appleton

This simple frame house in the Neoclassical design was the home of William Wilson, a member of the municipal council for the Township of Ramsay (1850–52). Note the black locust trees, which are about the same age as the house, and the casement windows, which are unusual in a house of this style and period.



€€€Dr. Sadler’s House, c. 1850, Queen Street, Clayton

Once a flourishing commercial centre on the busy road from Pembroke to Perth, Clayton has many fine structures dating from its heyday in the late 19th century. Dr. Sadler’s house is a well-proportioned example of neoclassical design in the centre of the village, distinguished by its uncommon braced timber frame construction. Clayton was originally called Bellamy’s Mills after Edmond/Edward Bellemy/Bellamy, from Vermont by way of Brockville, who established a grist and saw mill on Indian River in 1823, which he later followed with a distillery and a carding mill. Bellamy, together with his three brothers, had previously established the mills that provided the catalyst for the village of North Augusta, as well as other mills in Leeds County. The Ramsay township community was called Bellamy’s Mills until the 1850s,  when the arrival of the post office changed the name briefly to Clifton and then Clayton (1858).


Clayton Schoolhouse, 1860, Queen Street, Clayton

This is an archetypal example of a one-room, rural school made popular by the Journal of Education for Upper Canada in the 1860s: “When practicable, the building should face south, with a dead wall to the north, and windows on the east and west.”


Ozias Banning House and Store, c. 1864, County Road 9, Clayton

This frame house was built in neoclassical style by Ozias Banning, merchant and postmaster in Clayton, c. 1860–1904. The windows and shiplap siding are among its original features.

By the 1890s, Clayton had become a flourishing commercial centre, with a tannery, cooperage, wagon maker, shoemaker, blacksmith, hotels, several mills, and more than a dozen merchants, including Ozias Banning. The fact that the main road from Pembroke to Perth passed through this village on the Indian River may help explain this period of prosperity. The Old Perth Road still exists in places, but is not fully maintained.


€€€More information is needed about the Appleton Schoolhouse, S.S. No. 11, 1879, John Bolten Log House, 1840, and the Gatehouse to Mill of Kintail, c. 1830 8th Line Ramsay.