Campbellford, like much of Southwestern Ontario and the whole of the Midwest American Rust Belt, is strewn with building relics of what is not a too distant past – manufacturing plants and facilities that were vital to the community 100 years ago or even less.
Meet the Tannery by the Trent River right next to Ferris Provincial Park:
The Tannery Plant is really two buildings – the old power mill next to the Trent river water source has collapsed and has big willow tree growing within its brick and rock walls.Just to the South and West is the long finishing plant, 2 storeys high and still used as described below. But the Tannery is by and large a vestigial hulk – it had more vital days many decades ago as part of the Breithaupt Leather Co. Limited of Kitchener.
Tailspin tells the story – “The A.R. Clarke & Company was the largest leather and tanning company in the British empire operating a huge plant on Eastern Avenue in Toronto. In 1967 A.R.Clarke purchased the Breithaupt Leather Co. Limited of Kitchener. Along with that came their tanneries in Hastings and Campbellford. Those old stone buildings that sit along the banks of the Trent River, are all but abandoned. These massive structures are quite impressive considering the size of the towns they were in and must have created much employment.”
Having seen these abandoned manufacturing hulks many times in Port Hope, Hastings, Lindsay, Toronto, Brantford, London, Woodstock plus points both West and North in Ontario there is a certain melancholy to see once vital work places become derelict. And right nearby runs the Trent River channel over Ranney Falls in a fashion at least 20,000 years old, halted only by the Ice Age era of 45,000 to 28,000 BC.
Except for the homes and fences this is what the Trent River and Ranney Falls looked like 28,000 years ago:
[wowslider id=”48″] One suspects the icicles along the North shoreline might have been longer and perhaps a little more snow would be in evidence. The river carries a vitality and that is echoed in the Tannery.
What Abides in the Tannery Now
The south wing of the Tannery is still functional. It houses one or two offices, a residence and appropriately, an antique shop – A Winter’s Day which has bee featured here before. Here are some antique charms: