Township of Gillies

About Us

HOW THE TOWNSHIP GOT ITS NAME

The Township of Gillies is named after the Gillies Family of Braeside, Ontario. Braeside is a village four miles west of Arnprior where Gillies Bros. & Co. Ltd. had operated a large lumbering operation since 1873 which was sold to Consolidated Bathhurst Inc. in 1963.

The Gillies family, James (1766-1851), his wife, two sons and four daughters immigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1821 and settled originally between Middleville and Lanark Village in Lanark County, Ontario. Four grandsons of the original pioneer, namely James (1840-1909); William (1841-1913); John (1846-1914) and David (1849-1926) formed the Gillies Brothers lumbering firm. Besides lumbering, several of the four brothers were interested in prospecting - particularly John and his son George (1872-1932). The two of them spent considerable time examining mining prospects around Thunder Bay before 1900 (Gillies Township area- thus the name of the Township).

For more information on the Gillies Family there is a book entitled "A Hundred Years A-Fellin'," by Charlotte Whitton, which was first published in 1943 and reprinted several years ago but still available in Ottawa book stores.

[Taken from an excerpt of a letter written to Linda Turk by Arnold Gillies Muirhead who is the great grandson of James Gillies (1840-1909)].

TOWNSHIP OF GILLIES – THE PAST

Silver was discovered in the area in the 1840’s and mines were opened along the Silver Mountain Road. By 1850, there was a townsite at the Beaver Mine, complete with school, homes, boarding houses, bank and stamp mill, all visible from the Silver Mountain Road. In 1893, the Township was opened for settlement, the Port-Arthur Duluth railway was ready for business but the silver mines had been worked out. Since the Township was full of white pine, lumbering and clearing of land for farming took over in primary importance and by 1901 a large influx of settlers had arrived in Gillies. Sawmills became a thriving business as the land was cleared and our two villages, South Gillies and Hymers, were established.

Each village had a general store, post office, church and school. Hymers, at one time, even had a bank and a doctor from New York City. The doctor missing the Broadway plays started a drama group in the village.

Photo provided by local Gillies photographer Amy Clarke

TOWNSHIP OF GILLIES
THE PRESENT

With the advent of the car and modern highways, Gillies’ residents began commuting to Thunder Bay for employment and goods and services. The Township has remained, however, the centre for area services such as a postal outlet, Whitefish Valley School and the Hymer’s Fair. We have local businesses such as Green Acre Variety Convenience Store and Gas Station, Rose Valley Lodge and Restaurant, Dreamfields Riding Stable, Mitchell's Autobody, a Bed and Breakfast, various small agricultural farms that sell beef, lamb, eggs and bedding out plants and there is still a lumber mill. And once again we have a drama group, “Milehill Melodrama”, housed by the Gillies Community Centre, which has provided entertainment to the community for many years.

TOWNSHIP OF GILLIES                THE FUTURE

It is expected that Gillies will continue to remain a small rural community with residents enjoying the advantages of living close to a large economic centre, yet being able to have their home in a country setting where they can continue to enjoy the peace, solitude and sense of community which initially drew them to this picturesque area.

TOWNSHIP OF GILLIES – LOGO

Freda Kamstra, designer of the Township logo, expresses the idea that Gillies is the place for a good life filled with golden opportunities. It depicts much of the natural beauty of the area – rock cliffs, green hills, fields and pine trees.
Characters such as the big pumpkin symbolize the Hymers’s Fair and the tracks symbolize the P.D Railroad

Website Builder