Answer: Evicting property-owners and disabled seniors from their homes.
No one who has been in Almonte long will have failed to hear at least some of the history of 38 Main Street East – the erstwhile Almonte Methodist/Trinity United Church dedicated in 1887 and closed as a church in 1951.
The church building was sold in 1959, to the Dungarvon Company, which, according to historical references, raised the ire of neighbours with the noise from the manufacture of its industrial-sized snowblowing machines. Over the years, the original land it stood upon has been severed, transferred, traded and repossessed by the bank. Anecdotal reports say the former church building has also housed a fire engine, and even, for a brief time, hosted a ‘chop-shop.’ At some point in its history, the building was re-dubbed “Huddlestone Hall.”
Throughout these years little seems to have been done by way of maintenance of the building’s imposing stone facade, though a few renovations were made to the interior to accommodate offices, washrooms, etc.
In 1998, the building was purchased, re-zoned, and reconstruction begun to turn it into a single family dwelling. Due to personal circumstances of the purchasers, however, construction – and repairs – were halted and the building was allowed to lie fallow. No attempt was ever made by the Town to preserve this historically-significant edifice, or to bring it under the protection of a “Heritage” designation.
In 2003 the building, complete with large chinks in its mortar, and mud and aggregate pouring in through the lower floor windows from an adjacent laneway, was purchased by Mr Chris Loosemore, lately arrived from Lanark Highlands.
After a brief hiatus to bury his father, Mr Loosemore returned to town, and to his contracting business, and – eventually also juggling on-site care of his terminally-ill mother and overseeing her Manitoulin Island tea room – began his one-man, twelve-year-long odyssey to bring this piece of Almonte’s history back to health and usefulness. Ironically, the building currently stands within the Town’s new proposed Heritage Conservation District.
Due to a zoning dispute, Mr Loosemore has now been advised by the Corporation of the Town of Mississippi Mills that he, and a newly-arrived, disabled, and just-turning-senior tenant are to be formally evicted from the building, just as soon as the Town’s hired lawyers can be pressed into service.
If you’ve ever wondered how your local tax dollars are being spent, now you know.