Fonds F 150 - Gillies Brothers Company fonds

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Gillies Brothers Company fonds

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Reference code

CA ON00009 F 150

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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  • 1840-1991 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

9.6 metres of textual records
1 audio disc (15 min.)
17 maps and 1 volume of maps
1 plan
8 architectural drawings
9 technical drawings
131 photographs

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Archival description area

Name of creator

([ca. 1842]-1978)

Administrative history

Gillies Brothers Company was a lumber company which functioned from the mid nineteenth century to 1978, primarily in eastern Ontario.

In the summer of 1821, James Gillies and his wife Helen Stark arrived in Canada from Stirlingshire, Scotland, with their children. James was fifty-five years of age and his wife, forty- three. Five of their six children accompanied them: Janet, 21; John, 10; George, 8; Helen, 4; and Isabel, 1. The family settled on the west half of Lot ten, Concession five in Lanark Township.

The eldest son, John Gillies married Mary Cullen Bain in 1839, and in the following year received a patent to Lot nine Concession three of Lanark. Shortly thereafter, he built a saw mill on the land and began cutting lumber in 1842. This marks the origins of Gillies Bros. and Co. John Gillies kept the sawmill at Lanark operational for many years, shipping square timber down the Ottawa River to Montreal and Quebec for shipment overseas, and also sold sawn lumber locally and in the Kingston area. In addition to the sawmill, John Gillies expanded on the site and operated as well a grist mill, an oatmeal mill and a carding mill.

In 1853, Peter MacLaren became a partner of John Gillies and the firm became known as the Gillies and MacLaren Company. In 1862, the second timber limit was acquired by the company, the Gilmour Limit on the Mississippi River. To cut the timber for this second limit, a second mill was opened in 1866 at Carleton Place.

In the meantime, John Gillies eldest four sons had entered into the lumbering market. All four, James, William, John Jr. and David, entered into a partnership and bought the Steam Saw Mill, at Braeside, Renfrew County, along with the rights to the Coulonge Limit, in Quebec, on February 22, 1873. They formed a partnership, under the name style of "Gillies Brothers". The oldest brother, James, remained at Carleton Place and became senior partner and president of the new company, taking charge of sales, finances and general policy. Most of the other activities of the company were managed from the office at Braeside. In 1874, John Gillies decided to retire from the lumbering business. He sold his share of the partnership to Peter McLaren and used part of the proceeds to help his four sons, who were able to purchase from him the Braeside mill and holdings, and the Coulonge Usborne timber limits.

After a difficult beginning during the 1873 Depression, the new company grew steadily. Between 1887 and 1906, it acquired additional limits on both sides of the Ottawa River, on the Madawasca, Coulonge, Montreal and Schyan Rivers, and in Algonquin Park. In 1893, the Gillies Brothers Company Limited had been established under a Canada Letters Patent. The name was changed to Gillies Brothers, Limited in 1900, but the company remained a partnership between the four founders.

At the death of James Gillies in 1909, the company's office at Carleton Place was closed and all its functions transferred to Braeside. A few years later, in 1913, the company expanded its operation outside Ontario and Quebec by contracting for timber rights in British Columbia. Gillies did not itself exploit these new limits, but negotiated agreements to that effect with local lumbermen and lumber companies. The Braeside mill was destroyed in a fire in 1919, but was replaced two years later by a more modern facility.

Between 1914 and the 1929 Depression, the company acquired additional timber limits in the Coulonge, Petawawa and Temagami areas. After a temporary closure during the Depression, small acquisitions were made during the 1940's.

In 1945, the organization of the company was changed when Gillies Brothers, Limited ceased to exist and was replaced by a new, federally incorporated company, Gillies Bros. & Co. The exclusive ownership of the company by the Gillies family ended, with the distribution of shares to members of senior management.

Gillies Bros. and Co. was sold in 1963 to Consolidated Paper Corporation Ltd. (which later became Consolidated- Bathurst Inc. and still later Stone- Consolidated Inc.). Gillies continued to exist as a separate company within Consolidated-Bathurst for many years following, with the president's position remaining in the Gillies family until 1967. Gillies Bros. & Co. ceased to exist in 1978, when all the company's assets were officially passed to Consolidated-Bathurst Inc. However, the "Gillies" trademark continued to exist, and was assigned to a new company under the name of Gillies Inc. Lumber bearing the Gillies trademark continued to be produced at Braeside, but also in other mills located in Quebec.

Finally, however, the Braeside office that had formerly been maintained by Gillies was closed on July 15, 1990. The mill at Braeside was closed on May 1, 1992, following the imposition of new lumber tariffs by the United States.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of various materials created or received by the Gillies Brothers lumbering company between 1866 and 1979. Documentation about the company includes correspondence, timber limit records, records concerning properties owned by the company, shanty records, employment records, and financial records. Also included are records on a variety of media such as photographs, sound recordings, and architectural and cartographic records.

There are also several other small groups of records that document activities beyond Gillies Bros. These include financial and other personal records of various members of the Gillies family, records of a mill run by John Gillies which was a predecessor to Gillies Bros. and Co., records of Forbes Galena Mines Limited, and a small number of records that have been attributed to the firm of Carswell, Thistle and MacKay of Calabogie. These were all received by the Archives of Ontario alongside records of Gillies Bros., and have been kept as part of the same fonds.

Although the Archives of Ontario has acquired a wide variety of records from Gillies Bros., few of the series could be described as complete. Many of the series cover a small period of time very well but fail to reveal trends over a long period. The fonds is strongest with respect to financial records and to records detailing timber limits and the day to day production of the timber.

For a more detailed description, use this link to the Archives of Ontario's descriptive database:

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The records described in this inventory were donated to the Archives of Ontario in several accessions between 1976 and 1991. Most of the donations were made by Arnold Gillies Muirhead of Arnprior, Past President of Gillies Bros. & Co.


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Script of material

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Availability of other formats

A reference copy of the sound recording is available on audiocassette.

Restrictions on access

No restrictions on access.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright varies. See series descriptions for copyright statements.

Finding aids

For a more detailed description, use this link to the Archives of Ontario's descriptive database:

Associated materials

Two fonds located at the Archives of Ontario contain material closely related to the documents in this fonds. The first is the Madawaska Improvement Company Papers (F 137), which at one point was owned by Gillies Bros., and the Carswell & Thistle Invoice Book (F 1476).

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General note

Title based on content of fonds. Some administrative history information (to 1942)was gathered from Charlotte Whitton's, A Hundred Years A-Fellin' (Gillies Bros. : 1942). An annotated version of this text is available at the Archives of Ontario on microfilm B17. Please note that a ten-minute videotape from a broadcast of CBC Ottawa giving information about the final closing of the paper mill at Braeside, Ontario in May 1992 forms part of the collection file for this fonds, and may be consulted at the discretion of the archivist responsible for F 150. Please contact the responsible archivist for more details.

General note

Please note that a ten-minute videotape from a broadcast of CBC Ottawa giving information about the final closing of the paper mill at Braeside, Ontario in May 1992 forms part of the collection file for this fonds, and may be consulted at the discretion of the archivist responsible for F 150. Please contact a reference archivist for more details.

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Rev. June/12.

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