Delight in Almonte’s textile history set to familiar tunes this November with original musical

Jean Coe is the young woman on the Playbill for Spinning Yarns: The Millworkers’ Musical. She was fourteen when this photo was taken. Her kids and grandkids still live in the area. – Submitted photo

Calling all musical theatre fans!

The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum National Historic Site in Almonte is presenting a new musical entitled Spinning Yarns: The Millworkers Musical. The play is written by Fern Martin and pays tribute to Almonte’s fascinating textile history. Mississippi Mills is celebrating its bicentennial year in 2023, and Fern Martin is helping to celebrate in a theatrical and community-oriented way.

Since retiring from Lanark County Interval House in 2005, Martin has written seven musicals – several of which are historical in nature. During a conversation with Lanarkist, Martin explained that she originally met with Kris Riendeau of The Humm and Michael Rikley-Lancaster of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in May of 2022 to discuss creating this play.

“As I researched the history, the information was astounding – so many twists and turns. It was an easy and fun write,” Martin shares. 

Martin also has a personal family connection to the textile mill. Her husband’s family moved to the area in 1955, and his father was a manager at the mill from 1955 to 1967. That is how she met her husband; the two have been married for 58 years.

The Rosamond Mill in Almonte was the largest textile mill in Canada and a producer of award-winning textiles. The Humm Online elaborates that the two-hour musical will cover over 100 years of local history, featuring “a cast of more than thirty characters and a suite of fourteen sets of original lyrics sung to the tunes of old favourites such as Downtown (Petula Clark), Proud Mary (Tina Turner) and Twist and Shout (The Beatles).” 

“I see this play as having four main ‘characters’  – the Mississippi River and Falls, the Rosamond family, the Millworkers and the Almonte Gazette,” Martin told Lanarkist.

While researching and creating the play, she explained that she came “to learn of the importance of the small town weekly newspapers. The Almonte Gazette was launched a few years before the Rosamond Mill was built and contained/revealed much of the history used in this play.

“The fact that most small town weeklies (and their staff) are disappearing is a tragedy,” Martin continued.

Fern Martin now lives in Victoria, BC, and unfortunately could not be involved in every step of the musical’s creation. However, she was able to attend the auditions and is absolutely thrilled with the exceptional cast of actors and singers, as well as the hardworking crew.  She will be travelling from Victoria back to Almonte in November to attend every show.

All performances of Spinning Yarns: The Millworkers Musical will be put on at Almonte Old Town Hall in November, 2023. The shows will take place on the evenings of Nov. 17, 24 and 25, and the afternoons of Nov. 18, 19 and 26. Tickets are $25 per adult and $15 for youth under 18. The event page notes that all proceeds from the amateur production will be donated to the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.

If you are interested in learning more about Almonte’s history in a musical manner, tickets are on now sale and can be purchased at or by calling 613-485-6434.

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