Friday, August 31, 2018

Every gentleman has written his obituary

Yesterday morning as we bicycled along Country Street and back through an old part of Town we saw a relic house being demolished on Ann Street. The project was attended by Doug McIntosh of Neilcorp Homes. We stopped to chat. I asked Doug whether he had written his obituary to which he replied, "Yes, I have a Will".  I clarified by saying, no I meant an obituary - because in the end he is likely the best person to render an account of what he has done. I later enquired whether there is anyone in his family who could undertake the duty of a ghost-writer to render a history of Doug's business accomplishments (to which he responded no).  Doug told me that he and his partner Robert Dick had recently bought a large parcel of land on the outskirts of Arnprior where they propose to build a 400-unit residential subdivision. He said there was also another enterprise in the wings in Carleton Place. This naturally adds to the success of his Metcalf Fam and Riverview Estates ventures in Almonte on the two sides of the Mississippi River.  Doug is the son of Alan McIntosh, after whose father Neil the company is named. Doug's mother is Christine McIntosh. They all have roots in the Village of Clayton.  Years ago I acted for Doug and his brother Keith in the exercise of a "shot gun" clause of a shareholders' agreement whereby they forced the buy-out of shares owned by another former shareholder.  It marked the beginning of what has since become a remarkable home construction business in the area.

Ann Street characterizes a good deal about Almonte and its entrepreneurs. Only last week for example I stopped there to talk with George Yaremchuk who owns one of the historic apartment buildings on Ann Street adjacent the former Church Street School (now also an apartment building).  George - like most of the successful businessmen in Almonte - had his shirt sleeves rolled up to attend to some plumbing problem. It is a metaphor for what typifies the success of local businesses. George has a romantic relationship with Jill McCubbin who is currently a municipal councillor. She and her former husband owned a book store on Mill Street which continues to be extremely popular.

On the two ends of Ann Street are other properties owned and operated by similarly successful businessmen - a large well built apartment building owned by Ray Timmons (former chief executive officer of the Almonte General Hospital and brother of Gordie Timmons who owned Timmons Clothing on Mill Street, formerly Carson Johnson's long standing haberdashery). At the other end of Ann Street at the corner of Church Street is the funeral home of C. R. ("Reg") Gamble; and nearby on Elgin Street is the former residence of John H. Kerry whose popular funeral home was located close by before being purchased by Tubman Funeral Homes (who also bought the associated Kerry funeral business in Carleton Place). Both Reg Gamble and John Kerry continue to own numerous properties throughout Almonte, residential and commercial. Ann Street was also the home of Norma McQuacker who - like Karen Hirst (John and Marion Kerry's first-born child) - distinguished herself for many years as a model nurse in the community.  Karen Hirst is married to Ken Hirst who is the brother of Geoff Hirst, former manager of Bank of Montreal in Almonte. It was Geoff who gave me my first business loan of $10,000.

For as long as I can recall (since my arrival in Almonte in 1976) Ann Street has also been the home of John and Mary Lou Souter.  Mary Lou has distinguished herself with others such as Fern Martin and Janet Duncan in the operation of the Hub ("Almonte Community Coordinators").

John Kerry's daughter-in-law Jo Anne Kerry is the daughter of Fred Larose who I am told arranged to move a large steel safe up the stairs into the law office of Raymond A. Jamieson, QC on Mill Street (a property now owned by Reg Gamble).  When I came to Almonte in 1976 I first worked for Michael J. Galligan, QC (son-in-law of Senator George K. McIlraith who was Counsel to the law firm at 100 Sparks Street in Ottawa where I initially worked after being called to the bar in 1975) and Alan D. Sheffied (now a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario). In 1978 I bought from Galligan & Sheffield the lease and law office paraphernalia of Raymond A. Jamieson, QC.  In or about 1980 I removed the practice from Mill Street to 77 Little Bridge Street.  David Drummond and his brother Gilmour ("Gib") Drummond ("Drummond Bros Building Movers") dislodged the old safe from the second-floor office window to Little Bridge Street.  My new office was located next to "Baker Bob" (Bob Graff) who has become part of the Almonte landscape.  One of my first residential tenants at 77 Little Bridge Street was Laurie Cole whose family owns Pinecrest Cemetery in Ottawa.  Laurie owns Cole Funeral Home in Carp, Ontario. Laurie is the sister of Kim Cole who formerly lived on Upper Dwyer Hill Road where she hosted the annual "Ottawa Hunt".

Raymond Jamieson, QC is the father of John Jamieson who owned First Air (formerly Bradley Air Services in Carp, Ontario). John reportedly sold the company to the native Indians for in excess of $15M.  Another stalwart member of the legal community - C. James Newton, QC (who later became Crown prosecutor for the County of Lanark and then a Judge) - lived on Elgin Street across from John Kerry.  John Kerry lived next door to Stewart Lee who ran Lee Pro Hardware on Mill Street for many years nearby Kerry Furniture.  Stewart later moved the hardware business to a larger modern location on Ottawa Street, what was then the edge of Town but which has since become a busy commercial environment.  Across Ottawa Street from Lee's former hardware store is Levi Home Hardware, the creation of John Levi who was formerly Mayor of Almonte.  John Levi's son Tommy now runs the business.  The Ottawa Street businesses are home to two large shopping centres on either side, one built by Gord Pike (who like Lee transferred from Mill Street in downtown Almonte), the other built by Wilson Bassile (who with John Levi initially owned what was once Howard Sadler's farm and which is now a residential subdivision).  Gord Pike's initial grocery store on Mill Street was owned by Johnnie Erskine who was extremely well liked.

Evelyn Wheeler, Barrister &c., also began her legal career in Almonte by working for Michael J. Galligan, QC.  She subsequently opened her own office on Mill Street. Evelyn is the first female lawyer in Lanark County.  She is effectively the successor to many of the historical law offices in Almonte, including Galligan & Sheffield, Jamieson, Newton and my own.  Evelyn's husband Duncan Abbott was a long-time lawyer in Pakenham where he was as well a municipal councillor, a duty he continues for Mississippi Mills (the 1998 conglomerate of Almonte, Ramsay and Pakenham).

Also on Mill Street are the businesses of Leonard Lee (of Lee Valley Tools fame) and the Superior Restaurant (formerly owned by George and Terry Charos who continue to own other commercial properties in the immediate area).  At the top of Mill Street is the very grand stone building owned by Brian Gallagher.

Brian was most notably the General Manager of the Public Utilities Commission which in 2000 was divided into Mississippi River Power Corporation (MRPC) and Ottawa River Power Corporation (ORPC) distinguishing the generation and transmission features of the utility. MRPC (which built the new generating station named after Brian Gallagher for upwards of $20M) is now operated by an alternating Board of Directors (whose first president was Desmond Houston, former Clerk of the Town of Almonte) and spear-headed by the extremely accomplished Scott Newton as General Manager.

The new president of the MRPC Board is Paul Virgin who in addition to having been active with the Almonte General Hospital Foundation was also president of the Mississippi Golf Club in the Village of Appleton. Paul's father Jack Virgin (and his wife Florence) ran a successful insurance business on Church Street not far from where John Kerry, Stewart Lee and Reg Gamble had their businesses.

Mill Street wouldn't be what it is today were it not for the tireless work of Stephen Brathwaite (whose brother John was famous for "Brathwaite Kitchens" and whose sister Noreen Young, OC is famous for the puppets in "Under the Umbrella Tree"). Stephen is primarily a successful artist who among many other things is behind the Strathcona Park play structure on Range Road in Ottawa and the centennial glass models at Ottawa City Hall. Stephen and his business associates have cooperated with forward-thinking local architect Peter Mansfield.

Not all famous personages of Almonte have exclusive business backgrounds.  Credit for the Elizabeth Kelly Library Foundation for example belongs to Louis Irwin who (in addition to maintaining long-haired cattle on his farm in Ramsay Township) had the foresight to institute the trust with the help of Robert Wilson, CA.  The trust elevated the maintenance of the public library from dependence solely upon government grants.

We have also been afforded the privilege of having among our populace such distinguished Canadian personages as Lt. Gen. Bob Morton (whose father Stan Morton was in business here almost as long as John Kerry; and whose wife Pat Morton is the daughter of John Sutherland, long-time local school master); Lt. Gen. Ken Thorneycroft (whose daughter Sandra Wickware and her husband Bruce also live in Almonte); and Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie.

No comments:

Post a Comment