History has not recorded the early days of Mott’s Mills, but it is known that a homesteader, John Mott, built the first mill near his farm which straddled Hutton Creek, Mott lived in the area around 1820.
The Mott family is mentioned a number of times in Leeds County archives. Ruben Mott lived near Lyn, homesteading 100 acres of land on Lot 18 in the 3rd Concession of Elizabethtown. His patent for the land was dated May 19, 1802.
John Mott probably moved into the area north of Toledo in 1818. He developed his homestead eight miles north of Chauncey Bellamy’s Mills on Bellamy’s Pond, the hamlet later becoming Toledo.
At the time Hutton was a sizeable creek, capable of supplying power for half a dozen mills. Other than giving their name to the community, the Motts apparently did little to develop Mott’s Mills. By 1840, the Motts were gone.
Sam Robinson moved in and took over the grist mill, then erected a shingle mill. Charles Blancher developed a flour mill, and George Blanchard erected a saw mill.
The area was rich in timber, the sawmill and shingle factory operated at full blast until the early 1900’s. Then the timber reserves petered out, and the extensive lumbering in the hills left mile after mile of barren waste, Deprived of its natural sources for replenishment Hutton Creek dwindled to a mere trickle, which a person could easily step across.
Robinson also put up a carding mill, to card wool taken from Mott’s Mills sheep flocks. The saw mill used to handle such large logs that a cabin door was made from one wide plank.
The Robinson family left Mott’s Mills after a son drowned in the mill pond, and Sam Robinson died. There are no Motts or Robinsons left in the area
One by one the mills closed. Some of the buildings were lost to fire, others just collapsed from decay. Now only the foundations remain and they are thickly overgrown with weeds and underbrush.
Motts Mills also had a tavern, a tannery and a school. It was a stagecoach station for travellers taking the stage from Brockville to Bellamy’s Mills, thence north to Lombardy and on to Rideau Ferry and Perth. Country Road No. 1 now roughly follows the Perth Road route of the early 1800’s.
Cameron’s Cheese Factory was started near Mott’s Mills and served the area 40 years before being moved down the Town Line Road between Kitley and South Elmsley Townships. The factory was set up on the Kitley side of the road, about two miles west of Shane’s Corners and the old Shane’s School which still stands there.
In 1900, the road to the factory ran from Mott’s Mills through Careron’s Swamp, past the Cameron homestead and reached the Town Line Road near the Pattermore’s Farm. Subsequently, it was moved to the north side of the road, to Bill South’s homestead in South Elmsley.
Then, Silas Hitchcock bought it from the Camerons and operated the factory until the 1950’s when it finally closed for good.
When Mott’s Mills was established the only grist mill in Kitley was the John Livingston Mill near Frankville.
At one time Mott’s Mills probably boasted 400 people.
Generations of Mott’s Mills children were educated at the community’s old one room school, which closed around 1950. The original log school was built on Lot 21 of the 3rd Concession of Kitley. It was succeed by a frame building, which in turn was demolished to make room for a stone school built in 1906.
In its heyday, the school accommodated up to 80 pupils. When Mott’s Mills went into decline, the factories closed and the population dropped, thus greatly reducing school enrolment. After the Second World War, the decline was much more noticeable. All schools in the north of Leeds suffered setbacks and many were closed.
Shane’s School enjoyed an upswing in attendance during the 1950’s, when more people moved into the area. Further down the Town Line Road, Blanchard’s School suffered reverses and was closed in 1956. Pupils from Blanchard’s were then transferred to Mott’s Mills.
Pioneer Sam Hough was the original owner of the land on which Mott’s Mills School stood. The Lot no 21 in the 3rd Concession of Kitley was deeded to Hough on December 18, 1803. In 1816, the lot was sold to Sam’s son, Brewin Hough who in turn disposed of it in the following year to Micajah Purdy. It was probably in Purdy’s time that the first school was erected on the lot. George S. Scovil bought the lot in 1833, and that portion on which the school stood was deeded over to the area school board.
Blanchard’s reopened in 1961, operated for two years and closed forever in 1956. Motts Mills School also closed in the early 1960’s. Students from these two schools were then bussed to Jasper Public School.
The old Robinson home built probably 150 years ago still exists today. A modern concrete bridge holds back the waters of Hutton Creek, so that the mill pond which served the mills still exists today.
Below the dam, only a trickle of water tumbles over the rocks. The old rock dams of the days of Mott and Robinson have been swept away by flood waters over the years, and little trace of them can be seen today.
The Athens Reporter and County of Leeds Advertiser
Excerpts have been taken from this paper referencing the following hamlet for the years 1889, 1894 and 1895
Tuesday June 25, 1895 issue–
Last week Mrs. Geo. Nash re-visited Mott’s Mills, where she formerly resided, after an absence of nineteen years.