While in Lanark County, Ontario a visit to Almonte was high on our list of priorities. With time to spare last Wednesday we ventured out to visit this gem of a town with so much history. Our primary focus was on the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum and we were not disappointed. I had visited the museum and gallery space in March 2010 while the Bayeux Tapestry replica was on display. What a feast for the eyes!
This time the gallery space showcased an exhibition titled “Trees” organized by Threadworks. Photography was of course not permitted but I am happy to report that an online catalog can be found here. Feast your eyes on these amazing textile works by artists from around Canada!
Moving to the second floor we were treated to an indepth tour of textile factory related machinery and information. Colin, the weaver, my spinning and dyeing background had us feel at home right away. My family (maternal great-grandfather in Germany) founded his textile mill in Wiehl, North-Rhine-Westphalia in 1899 – but all I remember from my childhood visits is noisy machines, dark spaces and many “Eintritt Verboten” (Entry for non-authorized personnel not permitted) signs. Moving through the large display hall with pickers, carders, spinning machines and plyers to various looms in a bright and clean environment was a pleasure. If you ever wondered how fabric is woven, this is the place to visit. Several TVs strategically placed around the museum hall may be activated by remote control (provided at the admissions counter) to walk the visitor through the individual stages of cloth production, from shearing sheep to finished woven cloth, including the dye process. Our time passed quickly.
While we drove through town to find the museum we caught a glimpse of the wonderful architecture of Almonte. A walking tour was a must! As you can see from my images today – the buildings are beautiful!. The falls behind the museum are a tranquil place to escape the intense heat and enjoy a little snack.
Refreshed we ventured into the downtown area to explore the main street winding between well preserved converted mill buildings, private homes and churches. We also came across Dr. James Naismith’s likeness. He was born near Almonte and is credited with the invention of basketball, using a soccer ball and two half-bushel baskets with the bottoms removed.
I truly enjoyed exploring Almonte in glorious sunshine. I gave my wide angle lens a real workout to capture the architecture of this Canadian gem in Lanark County. If you are interested in visiting this area make sure to add Almonte to your list – just in case you haven’t already… By the way, the Mississippi Valley Textile Mill is part of Doors Open Ontario during the weekend of September 8th. Fibrefest 2012 takes place at the same time. Anyone with a vested interest in textile history and/or architecture within driving distance owes it to themselves to check out the festivities! 35 + vendors, fiber arts exhibits, demonstrations and home-made refreshments promise to make it a great weekend! Have fun, bring your camera! I will be teaching in Prescott that weekend thinking of all the fun I will be missing!