John A. Ellis was a store and property owner in the village, who eventually became involved in the lumber trade. He purchased the grocery business of James J. Power in November 1880, made large additions to the stock, and moved into the store built by Grise and St. Michel [FFG 27 Nov 1880; 2]. Ellis owned two wooden buildings on the west side of Colborne Street, next to the Scully block, that he rented to the Mechanics’ Institute and W.W. Blott. These buildings were burned in the great fire of April 21st 1884 [FFG 26 April 1884; 2]. This financial loss may have influenced the sale of the grocery business for Ellis sold his stock and goodwill to W.L. Robson and Johnston Brandon in December [FFG 27 Dec 1884; 2]. By April Ellis was replacing one of the buildings destroyed in the fire, a 20 x 40 foot wooden structure on the west side of Colborne Street that was “bespoken for the Mechanic’s Institute” [FFG 25 April 1885; 2]. It was finished by June.
Before selling his store, Ellis began to deal in grain, having rented “Mr. Jordan’s storehouse” [FFG 27 Sept 1884: 2]. By March 1889 his main interest was in lumber for he was running his own mill on the shore of Cameron Lake, turning out lumber and shingles “at a great rate” [FFG 8 Mar 1889; 4].
During the winter Ellis also operated an ice business, building a large ice house in the early months of 1890 . When the mill was closed during the winter Ellis would also hire men to cut wood in the north in the lumber shanties, to supply the mill for the summer season. Disaster struck when the mill was destroyed by fire on November 14th, 1890 [FFG 21 Nov 1890; 4], although the lumber and many of the shingles were saved. By November 1891 a new mill was under construction on the old site, and was finally in operation by June 1892 [FFG 17 June 1892; 4]. A new building and machinery were added in the spring of 1895 [FFG 12 April 1895; 4]. Ellis suffered further losses on Saturday October 2nd, 1897 when fire destroyed his lumber yard [FFG 8 Oct 1897; 4]. The mill was saved and continued to operate the following season. After this date it gradually fades from the local news and disappears from the directories by 1902.
Ellis also operated the steamboat “Dawn” and the palace barge “Chemong” but they were for sale in 1898.
Ellis had other concerns and interests; he was Reeve of Fenelon Falls in 1900, a post he held for three years and served two terms in the County Council. He also served on the School Board [Souvenir]. John A. Ellis died March 14, 1907, aged 65 years and was buried in the Fenelon Falls Cemetery.
Ellis is listed as a Fenelon Township Farmer in the 1891 Census.