Small Town Charm: Almonte, Ontario

Falls at Almonte Ontario

The recent pronouncement by CTV that Almonte is one Canada’s top-rated small town destinations inspired Boomer Traveller to make the 45 minute journey from Ottawa to the town of 5,000 on the Mississippi River (no, not that one, the Canadian one).

Like most small towns in the region, Almonte’s original settlers in the early 1800’s were of United Empire Loyalist, Scottish and Irish stock. During the post War of 1812 period, while the US military was engaged in land-grabbing incursions into Mexico, Canada-US relations were rather poor. The town of Waterford (previously called, at various times, Shipman’s Mills, Ramsayville, and Victoriaville) was re-named in 1855 after Mexican General Juan Almonte to commemorate the general’s futile resistance against the US.

Almonte, on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Almonte, on the banks of the Mississippi River.
The Rosamond Woollen Mill, Canada’s largest 19th century textile mill, is now a textile museum.
The Rosamond Woollen Mill, Canada’s largest 19th century textile mill, is now a textile museum.

Over the last few decades this former wool mill town has reinvented itself into a boutique tourist town.

Gingerbread balconies on Main street
The heart of the town, Mill Street, is lined with antique and artisan stores and lovely Victorian architecture.
Old Town Hall in Almonte.
Old Town Hall in Almonte.
The former Almonte post office, designed in 1889 by Thomas Fuller the architect of Canada’s Parliament Buildings 
The former Almonte post office, designed in 1889 by Thomas Fuller the architect of Canada’s Parliament Buildings
Ontario Historical Plaque commemorating the Almonte train accident, December 27, 1942, which killed 39 people and injured 150.
Ontario Historical Plaque commemorating the Almonte train accident, December 27, 1942, which killed 39 people and injured 150.
Statue of James Naismith, inventor of basketball and the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.
Statue of James Naismith, inventor of basketball and the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.

Almonte first came onto Boomer Traveller’s radar last year when local chocolate makers, Erica and Drew Gilmour (founders of Hummingbird Chocolate) beat out more than 580 different competitors from around the world to win the prestigious 2016 “Golden Bean” award for their Hispaniola 70% bar. Being unapologetic chocoholics the highlight of our outing was a visit to the shrine of the best chocolate in the world.

The 2016 Golden Bean Award, for Hummingbird's Hispaniola, the best bean-to-bar chocolate n the world.
The 2016 Golden Bean Award, for Hummingbird’s Hispaniola, the best bean-to-bar chocolate in the world.
Each bar is trimmed by hand.
Each bar is trimmed by hand.

 

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