The Russell Kin Club and the Russell Historical Society are working together to locate and salvage any heritage-quality bricks, which were made in Russell back when the village had its own brickworks. The old bricks will become part of the Kin Club’s Welcome to Russell signage project.
“We want to preserve the history of the Village of Russell in these new signs,” stated Ash Babber, sign project co-chairman.
“There were brick manufacturers in the Russell area, using local clay, since 1864,” stated Harry Baker, historical society spokesman. “For 100 years, from 1907 to 2007, more durable bricks were made using the red clay shale from the North Russell quarry. In the early 20th century, bricks made in the Village of Russell were shipped to Ottawa, Montreal, and New York City, on the New York Central Railway.”
Historian Wendall Stanley, in his book From Swamp to Shanty, noted that the Russell brickworks were an important part of the village’s history and economy. It was the most modern brick-making plant of its time, employed 125 workers at its peak production, and shipped out 50,000 to 65,000 bricks a day. Many local families trace their history to the skilled workers who immigrated to Canada from England, Scotland, and Ireland, for jobs at the Russell brickworks.
Any made-in-Russell bricks available for the Welcome to Russell signs project will become part of the brick foundations for the signs. Contact the historical society for information on how to donate bricks suitable for the project.