About Almonte Ontario
Almonte (pronounced "AL-mont" as opposed to the original Spanish pronunciation of "al-MON-tay") is a Canadian exurb and former mill town located in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario, Canada, in Lanark County. Formerly a separate municipality, Almonte is now a ward of the town of Mississippi Mills, which was created on January 1, 1998 by the merging of Almonte with Ramsay and Pakenham townships. Almonte is located 46 kilometres (29 mi) south-west of downtown Ottawa, at latitude 45.15, longtitude 75.12. Its population as of 2009 is about 5,000.
Almonte’s first settler was David Shepherd, who in 1819 was given 200 acres (0.81 km2) by the Crown to build and operate a mill. The site became known as Shepherd’s Falls. That name was never official, however, as Shepherd sold his patent after his mill burned down. The buyer of the patent, Daniel Shipman, rebuilt the mill and the settlement became known as Shipman’s Mills in 1820.
The majority of Almonte’s early settlers were Irish or Scottish. By the mid-1800s the town could boast thirty stores and forty other businesses. A textile town almost from the start, by the late 1800s it was the home of seven busy woolen mills. During this time of rapid expansion the town changed its name from Shipman’s Mills to Ramsayville, and then to Waterford. When in 1855 the newly-created Canadian post office pointed out there was already a Waterford in Ontario, the town needed yet another name change.
Relations between the United States and Great Britain had been antagonistic since the War of 1812. Border skirmishes between Mexico and the United States increased this antagonism. Mexican general General Juan Almonte had fought in these skirmishes, and by 1853 had become Mexico’s ambassador to the United States.
Since the people of Waterford mistrusted the U.S., and General Almonte had resisted the U.S., they decided to honour Mexico and the general by renaming the town Almonte. This makes Almonte the only town in Ontario—probably in Canada—named after a Mexican general. The name change appears to have happened in 1856, though the post office didn’t record the new name until 1859.
After the last textile mill closed in the early 1980s, Almonte no longer had a dominant industry. It has since turned its attention towards tourism. It offers museums and several historical spots, such as the home of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, and the Naismith Museum & Hall of Fame.