Cotton Comes to Magog
In a very short time, Moore found that the railroad could not be made to pay, and, faced with this problem, he began looking around for more tonnage. Eventually he decided that in addition to lumber and its products, he required an industry that would furnish a daily tonnage.
While on a political tour of the country, he came in contact with an Englishman, by the name of William Hobbs, who owned and operated a small cotton mill at Coaticook. Mr. Moore decided Magog needed a cotton mill. But as he began to gather statistics about it, he learned that there were already too many cotton mills in Canada, the majority of which were not paying. However, in gathering this information he learned that there was no calico printing plant in Canada. He decided that there should be one, and that Magog was the proper place for it to be located. So, again with the assistance of his friend Colby, he formed, in 1882, the Magog Cotton and Print Co., and persuaded Mr. Hobbs to come in with them.
Mr. Hobbs went to England, secured some capital and gave stock in the Company as payment for machinery. Magog had the only calico printing plant in Canada.
By this time Lake Memphremagog had become known as a summer resort. Sir Hugh Allan, the Molsons, and other wealthy Montreal families, bought land and erected buildings. Large hotels were built at Magog, Georgeville, Gibraltar Point, and Owl’s Head. The south end of the lake was patronized by New Yorkers, and the north end by Montrealers. These developments, plus the erection of the plant for the print works and cotton mill, brought cash into circulation in the community and the barter of one commodity for another partically stopped. Magog became the envy of the countryside.
Moore took full advantage of the opportunities offered. He sent clerks around the lake soliciting orders, which were delivered by boats. He operated delivery rigs in town and to points not met by the boats, and built up a profitable business which, if invested in securities would have made him a very wealthy man. But Moore had by this time only two main ambitions in life. The first was to represent the County of Stanstead at Ottawa. His obstacle here was that his friend, Colby, held the position, and Moore was loyal to his friends and country. The second was to build up a thriving community out of his native town. Politics cost him large sums of money, and cost him his investments in local industries – a big fortune for those days.
The first step made by the Magog Cotton and Print Company was to secure the site occupied by the Dominion Textile Co. Ltd., paying in stock of the company, $500 for the land intact as the mill property now is. Then the industries using water power above the site selected were bought up, along with any land on the south side of the river that would be flooded through the building of a dam. When work on the dam and dyke got under way, it was learned that Ralph Merry III had taken it for granted, in 1798, when he bought the land along the river, that the water rights went with it, but the British American Land Company stated they secured from the Crown the right to regulate the flow similar to those of all other power owners on the Magog River. Today this river ranks second as the most full developed water flow in the world, with only about seven feet of unused head between Lake Memphremagog and the St. Francis River.
At last, in June 1884, the company turned out the first piece of Canadian calico print. Success for this venture seemed assured, but opposition came from an unexpected quarter. Buyers in those days had their own sense of touch and the reputation of the manufacturer’s products. It was this second factor which was harming the Magog business. The quality was as good as the English goods, but the “old country” stamp was missing. Why, they reasoned, should they risk buying an unknown brand made in Magog, when the tried and tested British goods were stacked beside them.
Mr. Samuel Carsley, who operated the largest department store in Montreal at that time, become president. In a very few years the Company was in financial difficulties. Goods, as they were packed, were locked into a warehouse to which only the bank had access. The employees were not paid in cash and the company was sold to the Dominion Cotton Mills Company about 1899.
1887, Moore arranged to sell the Magog and Waterloo Railroad to the Canadian Pacific Railway, to be used in forming their trans-continental line. After the C.P.R. had laid out their road from Saint John to Montreal, it was found that the survey called for the line to pass seven miles to the north of Magog, with a spare line going into the town.
Moore called upon the C.P.R. officials, pointing out a condition of the deed of sale whereby Magog was to be on the main line. He was told that a heavy grade in the vicinity (a rate of ascent or descent at least as much as twenty feet per mile) would make this a much more costly proposition than was originally realized, and he was eventually offered a larger sum for the Magog and Waterloo Railroad, with this clause omitted.
It is certainly to Moore’s credit, that despite his recent financial reverses, this offer did not tempt him. He stood firm in his conviction that the best interests of the town would be served if the C.P.R. passed through, and in so doing the man who had put Magog on the map made certain it would stay there.