Lewis A. Ross purchased his sawmill on the banks of the Cornwall Canal ( 70 Water St.) in 1882 from hardware merchant P.E.Adams. The 1901 “Freeholder Souvenir” relates “The buildings occupied…are arranged into separate departments for the manufacture of sash, doors, blinds, mouldings, builder’s supplies generally and packing boxes…Planning, grooving, tonguing and sawing are also executed…The mills throughout are illuminated with electric light. A huge drying kiln, in which all lumber used in the sash and door industry business is seasoned, is located north of the saw-mill.
Serviced by its own spur line off the Cornwall Electric Street Railway, the finished products, according to “The Freeholder” “are hauled over the street railway line to connect either with the Grand Trunk Railway or the Ottawa and New York.”
“Mr. Ross has established…the reputation of always having on hand a full assortment of lumber, both the raw product and the manufactured, including building timber. lathes, shingle posts etc…A large amount of custom business is done in the sawing and planning department, and each winter Mr. Ross purchases large tracts of woodland, the trees on which he has converted into logs and cordwood. He is also a large purchaser of logs and shingle bolts, buying from all parts of two counties, Stormont and Glengarry.”
The mill as depicted in the 1901 “Freeholder Souvenir.”
On March 19, 1906 the mill was completely destroyed by fire. Ross immediately started rebuilding and in six weeks and 3 days from the day of the fire he was back in business.
The new mill employed from 75 to 100 skilled workers.
As part of his business Ross was the building contractor for the stone Cornwall Post Office and the Rossmore Hotel.
In common with many 19th century entrepreneurs, Ross was involved in local politics and served on Town Council, Reeve and in 1897 Mayor. He also sat on the Boards and Works Commission.