In 1852, Daniel McLachlin bought the water power at the mouth of the Madawaska and 400 acres of property at Arnprior where the Buchanan Brothers had once operated a grist mill and lumber mill. He rebuilt the mill and dam in 1853, had the village of Arnprior surveyed in 1854 and steadily expanded his operation. Prior to this, Daniel had been in partnership with his brother Hugh in Bytown (Ottawa), where they operated a store and grist mill. Early records also show that Daniel and his brother William delivered a raft of white pine timber to the firm of William Sharples and Sons (Quebec) in 1835.
McLachlin’s original mill in Arnprior was water-powered and contained one upright saw. McLachlin cut one board at a time from the square timber taken from the abundant supply of white pine and red pine along the banks of the Madawaska river. Eventually, a circular saw was added to the operation and when the Brockville and Ottawa Railway reached Arnprior in 1864, McLachlin was ready to supply the American market with sawn lumber.
In 1865, a new mill (No. 1) called “the big water mill” was built and the area around the mill was cleared for laying railway track and piling lumber. By June 1866, this new mill was in full operation and construction of Mill No. 2 called “the little mill” took place in 1867. McLachlin owned timber limits along the Coulonge, Petawawa, Kippewa, Black and Madawaska rivers. Annual output at this time was about twenty-five million feet of lumber and square timber, with an approximate value of half a million dollars.
In 1869, at the age of 59, Daniel McLachlin retired, leaving the business to his sons John H. McLachlin, Claude McLachlin and Hugh F. McLachlin. This is when the partnership known as McLachlin Brothers was formed. Daniel McLachlin and John H. McLachlin both died in 1872, leaving brothers Claude and Hugh Frederick to run the business. A year before Daniel McLachlin’s death, a steam-powered mill (No. 3) was built along the southern shore of the Ottawa river, east of the Madawaska. This mill burnt September 10 1875 but was rebuilt and enlarged in 1882. Mill No. 4 was erected further east along the Ottawa river ten years later. By 1893, the Ottawa, Arnprior & Parry Sound railway came through Arnprior which ensured transport to the expanding southern market.
In 1897, with the decline of the world economy, McLachlin Bros. offered the mills and extensive timber limits for sale by public auction through Russell House in Ottawa. Apparently, there were no buyers and the firm survived. In 1912, Dan McLachlin (son of H. F and grandson of Daniel) was responsible for running the family business when his father passed away. Unfortunately, by the early 1920’s the firm was in decline and the mills ceased operation in 1929. Mill No. 2 operated again to saw logs for shipment to the J.R. Booth Company between 1936-1938. Dan McLachlin became involved with other business ventures including the Dye & Chemical Co. Ltd. and the Metallic Manganese Company until his death in 1954.
Various sources list the birth date of Daniel (christened Donhuil) McLachlin as 1810, while research by descendent Hugh F. McLachlin (b. 1907) lists 1809 as his date of birth. All sources agree that he was born in the Township of Rigaud, near Pointe-Fortune, Quebec to parents Hugh McLachlin and Janet McLean who emigrated from Kilmallie Parish, West Scotland in 1802. Daniel was one of 13 children (8 girls, 5 boys) born between 1795 and 1820.
Daniel began working with his younger brother William in the timber trade around Pointe-Fortune in the mid 1830’s. In 1837, he married Maria Harrington and moved to Bytown (Ottawa) which was the centre of lumbering activity on the Ottawa river. He bought extensive lumber limits along the Madawaska and Indian rivers. He was the first to erect a saw mill and grist mill at the Chaudiere falls. He was also a general merchant at this time with his brother Hugh until 1855. Daniel McLachlin changed his name from McLachlan at an early point in his life but the exact date in unknown. When Daniel McLachlin moved his family to Arnprior in 1857, they lived in a stone house called “the hill” which overlooked the Ottawa river. Early photographs in the Macnamara collection show intricate hedges, extensive lawns and decorative gardens surrounding the house.
Maria and Daniel had 8 children; 2 girls and 6 boys between 1838 and 1854. Twins Jessie and William arrived in 1838. William died at the young age of 7 while Jessie lived until the age of 82. She married Jack Usborne, son of a successful lumberman from Fort Colounge, Quebec. Harriet McLachlin was born in 1840. She married Lindsey Russel, a McLachlin Bros. employee in 1862, and died in 1924.
Hugh Frederick was born in 1843. He and his wife Mary Champney married in 1879 and lived with their 11 children in the stone house his father had built. H. F. McLachlin died in 1912, leaving his first-born son Daniel (b. 1881 d. 1954) to run the McLachlin Bros. business and support a large, extended family.
John McLachlin lived between 1845 and 1876. Not much is known about his life or death. Daniel McLachlin (the younger) was born in 1848 but died one year after his brother at the age of 29. Claude, the last born son of Maria and Daniel McLachlin was born in 1854. He married two sisters, Norma and Mabel VanCortland and died in 1904.
Daniel McLachlin is acknowledged as the “founder” of Arnprior. He was responsible for its growth through the expansion of his mills and the hiring of hundreds of men to work in the bush and on the river drive each spring. A plan of the village by provincial land surveyor John A. Snow dated June 17th 1854, shows a timber slide and one mill on the east side of the Madawaska and lots laid out between Madawaska and Ottawa streets on the west side. Another plan done in 1885, shows the expansion of the village to twice the original size. McLachlin was known for his benevolence towards his employees and contributed to the social and political life of the town. He was elected as MPP for Bytown in 1851 but did not run again in 1854. He returned to politics in 1867 when he was acclaimed as Member of Parliament for South Renfrew. He retired from politics and the lumber business in 1869 and died February 6th, 1872.
These maps were donated to the Archives by Arthur McLean in 2003. The maps were in the basement of his law firm's building on John Street. Mr. McLean's father Alan McLean took over the law firm from Arthur Burwash who was the lawyer for McLachlin Bros.
Scope and Content
Series consists of 39 maps. Each individual item has been described separately in this database. 60 other maps were also donated by Art McLean in 1996
Several maps in this fonds are in very poor condition. Please handle with extreme care.
No photocopying. Photographic copying permitted.
See also: Daniel McLachlin fonds 1993-0011
See also: Art McLean fonds 1996-0067
See also: Daniel McLachlin (Texas) fonds 1999-0157
See also: Arnprior & District Museum collection 1993-0005
- Miscellaneous Documents #25, #26, #27 (Crown land grants in McNab township with free access to Madawaska River) and others
- Miscellaneous Document #43 (Real estate book of Daniel McLachlin 1873)
- McLachlin Family Series (various documents)
- Lumbering In the Valley (1924 thesis of George H. Cole)
See also: Charles Macnamara fonds 2002-0154
Inventory of The McLachlin Papers F 209 at the Archives of Ontario