We live in a town with a history that goes way back. The places and buildings we see today have quite a few stories to tell.
This particular location, originally owned by the CPR – Canadian Pacific Railway (that few residents may know the location of) goes back a hundred years or so. It’s been a staging area for coal to trash, cattle to school buses, and who knows what else that didn’t get recorded back in the day.
Some of the earliest memories we received came from an older relative. Often those memories made us shake our heads in wonder as to how folk managed before technology. Yes, a simpler time, likely one that many of us miss (with rose-coloured glasses) regardless of age.
Here are a few memories that really throw us back in time, and for some, won’t seem that long ago:
The train tracks ran behind this building and continued to the right to the train station which was in the area of today’s alameda. The steam train would deliver coal to Almonte and dump the load in coal sheds in the CPR yard.
Alfred “Alf” Stanley would shovel the coal onto a horse-drawn wagon and deliver to households year round. Alf’s son, Allan (10) and later his younger son, Ross, both helped with the loading and delivery. They’d arrive at a customer’s house and open the coal chute. Allan would scoot down into the cellar and move the coals that Alf shovelled down the chute into the coal bin. You couldn’t see for the coal dust in the air, and it was almost impossible to wash the black coal off your hands, let alone your hair and clothes.
The yard also had stock pens available for local farmers who would bring their cattle for transport by train. This would leave behind a considerable “mess” that would be added to the surrounding land. Fertilizer, perhaps?
Ross Stanley later bought the land, continued the cartage business and added picking up milk from local farms. Ross didn’t have a tanker truck, but a dual-wheel truck with a closed-in wood box on back. Every morning he would lift and load many 88lb metal milk cans onto the truck, and then deliver and unload at the Almonte Dairy. This was across the street from today’s Olde Almonte Flour Mill on Main Street, where Canadian Hydro Components now sits.
Ross also added garbage pickup and brought the first “packing” garbage truck to Almonte. However, before that big investment, his employee, Ernie Bandy, would ride on top of the open truck to pack the garbage down and make sure no garbage flew out while the truck was moving. Just picture that.
And we arrive to present day with Peter, Ross’s son, who has been running the business for some time now. The tracks are gone, but the business thrives with the services they offer today. It is what it is, and is very much part of our history.
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An Artist’s Notes | * The Sketchbook Stories includes sketches made in a small notebook from a photo or on location, and are done in watercolour and ink. There always seems to be a story attached to them thanks to many local friends, Allan Stanley Jr. (son of the Allan mentioned in this story) and some of Allan’s relatives. Now and again Sketchbook Stories will be part of An Artist’s Notes.