LEADING GRISTMILLS AND SAWMILLS IN NINETEENTH CENTURY
ELIZABETHTOWN AND KITLEY TOWNSHIPS
published app 2005
The earliest mill builders in Elizabethtown and Kitley were United Empire Loyalists who brought at least some “know how” with them from the former Thirteen Colonies. Daniel Jones Sr. and Joseph Jessup, for example, had built and operated mills in the Colony of New York. Abel Coleman, a tanner from the Colony of New York, was familiar with gristmill construction, at least in principle. Tanners built and operated similar if smaller mills, in order to grind hemlock bark to make the liquid they needed to treat hides.
Elizabethtown and Kitley were not as well watered as some neighbouring townships. Lacking rivers, millers had to make do with small creeks with seasonal flow. Lacking deep, steep sided creeks for high dams, flumes, and overshot waterwheels, most millers had to make do with low dams, millraces, and less efficient undershot wheels.  Duncan Livingston, an early Kitley mill builder, met the challenge of a wide, shallow creek bed with a dam 12′ high and 100′ wide, a slanting flume, and a horizontal “tub wheel” attached directly to the upper or “runner” millstone above it.
The earliest gristmills in Elizabethtown and Kitley had only a single run of stones, with no mechanized, labour saving “conveyors,” horizontal and vertical, for continuous milling. They required much fetching and carrying, and other handwork. The earliest sawmills had only a reciprocating (“up and down”) blade. Logs had to be ratcheted into it by hand, and the last cut had to be made with an axe. Between the 1820’s and the 1840’s, however, local gristmills began acquiring “conveyors,” and local sawmills began shifting from reciprocating blades to band saws and circular saws with a semi mechanized feed and “take away,” over wooden rollers.
Mechanized milling made the lack of sufficient, reliable power a bigger problem than ever. In and after the 1850’s, millers in Elizabethtown and Kitley began replacing waterwheels with turbines  (which used water flow more efficiently) or steam engines. In 1851, for example, William Olds and Hiram Blanchard at Greenbush, with an adequate supply of wood for fuel, opted for a steam engine for their new gristmill.  (Steam engines would power three subsequent sawmills at the village.) In 1859 the Colemans at Lyn, with an adequate water supply, opted for turbines, five “Tyler wheels.”
But transportation had greatly improved in the province, and small scale rural focused mills were already losing markets to large scale urban focused mills. Few Elizabethtown and Kitley mills prospered for long in the second half of the 19th century. One exception was the big Cumming flour mill at Lyn, connected to the outside world by the Grand Trunk Railway, via a tramway a mile and a half long and eventually connected to its hinterland by the Brockville & Westport Railway. Another exception was the much  smaller Bellamy gristmill near Toledo, which served a still rather isolated area. For very different reasons, these two mills were among the few in our area that prospered into the 20th century.
The last, factory like mills in Elizabethtown and Kitley were neither as visually intelligible nor as picturesque as the earliest waterwheel driven ones. The latter, unfortunately, were the first to vanish.
R. Coleman and Co. Mills, Lyn, Elizabethtown
Location: con. 3, lot 27.
Abel Coleman built the first mill in either Elizabethtown or Kitley around 1787, a stone gristmill on what would be known as Lyn Creek, just back from where it plunged into a ravine.  An undershot water wheel powered its single run of stones (local granite). Crops failed in 1787, however, and so did the mill. Coleman bought back his mill c.1800, had it operating by 1805, and prospered despite rivalry from Joseph Jessup’s gristmill southeast at Lyn Falls.  Abel’s son Richard 1 built two successive wood frame mills on the old site (1820, 1838) on the Main Street of Lyn, and began eyeing water north of Lyn.  The Coleman’s were the only millers in Elizabethtown or Kitley who made a decisive shift from “custom milling” to “merchant milling”, from serving nearby farmers to manufacturing for sale to wholesalers. In 1859 Richard 1 and son Richard 11 erected a very large, five story stone mill down in the ravine, powered by five turbines (fed by an elevated sealed flume). It housed four runs of stones, a bark mill, and Canada’s first mechanized barrel stave factory (powered by a small steam engine).  The Coleman’s created extensive water reserves to the north, and built a tramway south to the Grand Trunk Railway. But the Coleman’s were financially overextended, and shortly after the death of Richard 1 (1861), lawsuits by owners of “drowned lands” precipitated Richard 11’s bankruptcy.
Early Brockville Mills, Elizabethtown
Location: various (see text).
Brockville was politically part of Elizabethtown Township until 1832. The village’s first mill, a wood frame sawmill, was built at the mouth of Buell’s Creek by Daniel Jones Sr. and William Buell Sr. in the early 1790’s. The village’s first gristmill was built somewhere farther up the creek by Buell in 1796. The second gristmill was built at the headwaters of the creek by Jones c.1805, his dam creating the earliest form of what became known as the Back Pond.  All three mills had undershot waterwheels.  Later gristmills would be built on the creek by, among others, Dr. Elnathan Hubbell (1830’s; mill bought in late 1840s by James L. Schofield, who replaced overshot waterwheel with steam engine c.1850) and Robert Shepherd 1852). The only survivor among these mills is Shepherd’s, which has housed a well known Brockville restaurant for many years.
Livingston Gristmill, near Toledo, Kitley
Location: con. 7, lot 26.
John Livingston built the first mill in Kitley, west of future Toledo, in 1798. A tall gristmill (probably of stone) on the bed of Marshall’s Creek, in a steep sided ravine.  The mill seems to have had a high dam, elevated flume, and overshot waterwheel. Customers had to cross a stone bridge to reach the upper, milling level. The mill operated until c.1820, and was eventually destroyed by a fire in the 1840’s. John H. Dayton built a woolen mill on the site in 1866; it burned in 1883. Mill ruins are thus copious but rather ambiguous in origin and date. The site is now closed to visitors.
Livingston / Soper Gristmill / Sawmill, near Frankville, Kitley
Location: con. 8, lot 17.
John’s brother Duncan built a stone gristmill a mile west of future Frankville, on the bed of a shallow creek tributary to Irish Lake, c.1804.  It had a very low dam 12′ high, slanting flume, and horizontal “tub wheel”, an ancient forerunner of the water turbine, common in France and the Thirteen Colonies, but unusual in our area. At some point Livingston seems to have converted his gristmill into a sawmill, with a reciprocating blade. The sawmill passed to Timothy Soper c.1814. It was probably a later Soper who equipped the mill with what is said to have been one of the earliest circular saws in Eastern Ontario. Local legend says the mill operated until the 1880’s (likely only from time to time). Most of the ruins were used to make crushed stone in the 1930’s. 
Kilborn Mills, near Toledo, Kitley
Location: con. 9, lot 26.
Kilbom’s sawmill was one of the most important in Kitley, if only because it operated continuously for a very long time. About 1823, Abel Kilbom built a wood frame sawmill and wood frame gristmill on Marshall’s Creek, some distance west of John Livingston’s by then abandoned gristmill. The sawmill had a single reciprocating blade, the gristmill a single run of stones.  They were likely powered by overshot wheels since Kilbom’s dam seems to have been a high one, high enough to create “Kilbom’s Mill Pond,” the earliest form of “Bellamy’s Pond” and modem Bellamy Lake.  The gristmill would eventually close. Kilbom died in 1853, and in 1855 the sawmill was sold to Chauncey Bellamy Jr., who operated it until 1890 (see below). There are no remains.
Pearson / Maud / Astleford Mills, near New Dublin, Elizabethtown
Location: con. 7, lot 17.
In their heyday, these two mills were very important to farmers in central Elizabethtown.  In the mid 1820’s Mr. Pearson, an Irishman, built a dam and stone gristmill northeast of future New Dublin, on a tributary of Mud Creek, and soon afterward a stone sawmill. Both mills were powered by undershot wheels,  the gristmill with a single run of millstones, the sawmill with a single reciprocating blade. It is said some equipment (millstones?) was imported from Ireland. Pearson sold his mills to Henry Maud in 1843. Maud sold his mills to James Astleford c.1850. Astleford closed the sawmill some years before 1873, when he finally closed the gristmill. Both mills fell to ruins, most of which had disappeared by the 1960’s.
Mott’s Mills, near Hutton, Kitley
Location: con. 1, lot 00.
In 1826 Abel and Hiram Mott bought a site on what would be known as Hutton’s Creek, in isolated but well wooded north central Kitley, and shortly built a stone sawmill. The shallow creek permitted only an undershot waterwheel, to drive a single reciprocating blade.  There may also have been a gristmill at the site early on (hence the plural “Mott’s Mills”); if so, it cannot have operated very long. In any case, the sawmill had many later owners, from Samuel Booth (1835), through Richard Olmstead, John and Abial Marshall, and George Nash, to Stephen Robinson (1860’s). Apparently at some early point, the reciprocating saw was replaced by a circular saw. At least by 1860 George Nash and Charles Blancher were operating a shingle mill nearby. The sawmill seems to have been closed in the 1870’s by Stephen Robinson’s son William.  The ruins of the sawmill were recently leveled as a hazard to children playing in the area. There is much stone rubble above and below the 1952 floodgates, likely the remains of the dam, millrace, and mill. The modem Hutton Creek Wetland behind the floodgates is very picturesque from spring to autumn.
Greenbush Mills, Elizabethtown
Location: various (see text).
Greenbush was in a rather isolated area with enough trees to supply a long succession of sawmills. James Olds built the first sawmill in 1834 (undershot wheel, reciprocating blade), southeast of the village, on a tributary of Mud Creek. He may have operated it with sons Samuel and William. It passed to Daniel Blanchard in 1862, and then to Thomas Smith, before shortly closing. In 1851 Hiram Blanchard and William Olds built a wood frame (?) steam powered flour mill (single run of stones, conveyors) to the north of the village. It soon closed because of costly mechanical problems. Amos Blanchard and Andrew and Thomas Cook (father and son) bought this flour mill in 1872 and seem to have converted it into a sawmill (circular saw). This sawmill soon passed to Samuel and William Olds, who operated it until it burned c.1900. John Edgely built a wood frame steam sawmill (circular saw) in 1903, on the site of the James Olds sawmill of 1834. It passed to John Hanna and Pearson White, burned in 1906, but was rebuilt by Hanna and eventually passed to L.B. Kerr. Alba Root built a wood frame steam sawmill (circular saw) in 1904, on the site of the Blanchard & Cook mill of 1872. Root’s mill burned in 1906, was rebuilt, and soon burned again. The dangers of operating steam engines in or near a sawdust laden atmosphere are readily apparent. There are no significant remains of any of these mills.
Bellamy’s Mills, near Toledo, Kitley
Location: con. 7, lot 27.
Chauncey Bellamy Jr. bought property on Marshall’s Creek, west of Toledo, from  William Brown in 1855, and also acquired the old wood frame Kilbom sawmill. Bellamy built a three story stone gristmill some yards below the dam and sawmill, with a wooden box flume on trestles to carry water from the dam to the gristmill’s overshot wheel (in the weather proof “wheel house” traditional in Canada and the northern United States), which drove a single run of stones. Bellamy gave the sawmill a new lease on life by replacing its reciprocating saw with a circular one. Eventually, he raised the water level behind his dam two or three feet to assure his mills’ summer operation, compensating at least one neighbour whose lands he “drowned” in the process. Well before Bellamy’s death (1908), his son George became general manager of both mills. Chauncey’s sawyer son James operated the aging sawmill until it closed ca 1890, while Chauncey’s son Warren carted finished lumber to customers as far away as Kingston. Around 1915, George Bellamy replaced the gristmill’s waterwheel and leaky box flume with a turbine and round water tight stone and concrete flume (bound with steel hoops). He sold the mill to Omer Arnold in the 1920’s. There were several subsequent owners, starting with Albert Drummond. The mill burned in 1955. All that now remains on site is the stone basin once behind the dam. 
Lyn Flour Mills, Lyn, Elizabethtown
Location: con. 3, lot 27.
This “merchant mill” began as the R. Coleman and Co. mill of 1859 under a new name.  When the Bank of Upper Canada seized the Coleman mill for debt in 1862, it appointed Richard Coleman II son in law and former employee, James Cumming, as interim manager. Messrs. Chassels and Rivers bought the mill in 1867, and continued Cumming as manager. Around 1875, he addressed the lingering deficiency in water power by supplementing the mill’s turbines with a large steam engine, separately housed. He finally bought the mill for himself in 1880, and shortly modernized all its machinery, most notably replacing the old fashioned millstones with an up to date roller mill for cost effective, high volume flour output. At least by 1893, steam had displaced all but two water turbines as the mill’s “prime mover. James and then his son Gordon operated the mill until its closure in 1933, during the Great Depression. What remained of the Cumming mills was dismantled in 2004, and the site was leveled in 2005. The Heritage Place Museum in Lyn has a rich collection of documents and images covering most of the mills’ history.
There were several types of mills in 19thcentury Elizabethtown and Kitley, but this account treats only gristmills and sawmills, the socio economically most important ones. At that, it treats only the earliest, most strategically located, and longest lasting of these mills. Its extensive notes provide a framework for future, more detailed studies.
The account is largely based on secondary sources. No apology is necessary for a reliance on Lockwood’s well researched Kitley, 1785‑1975 pub 1975. Unfortunately there is no equivalent for Elizabethtown. Goldie Connell’s Augusta pub.1985 contains much information about 19th century milling in Augusta Township that is applicable to adjacent Elizabethtown with little or no adjustment. But for basic information about Elizabethtown mills, one must still rely on the Elizabethtown Land Book Abstracts and Township Papers at the Leeds and Grenville Genealogical Society in the Brockville Museum and of course on documents in the Leeds Registry Office. This said, many important details about Elizabethtown and Kitley mills have been lost forever. We are lucky if we know mills were, say, wood frame rather than stone. Somerville’s knowledgeable description of the Coleman mills in the 1860 Montreal Gazette, and Loverin’s knowledgeable description of the Cumming mills in 1893 (Athens Reporter) are very unusual.
Abbreviations of main sources:
Beacock Fryer = Mary Beacock Fryer, A Pictorial History of Brockville (Brockville: Besacourt Press, 1986).
Blanchard = H.D. Blanchard, “History of Old Greenbush,” Brockville Recorder and Times, March 14,1930.
Clout = Karen Clout, Greenbush and Addison Villages: A Look at the History and Homes (New Dublin, Ontario: Heritage Elizabethtown, Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee, 1994; repr. 1995).
Connell = Goldie A. Connell, Augusta: Royal Township Number Seven (Prescott: Augusta Township Council, 1985).
Leavitt = Thad. W.H. Leavitt, History of Leeds and Grenville, Ontario, From 1749 to.1879, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some Prominent Men and Pioneers (Brockville: Recorder Press, 1879; repr. Belleville, Mika, 1980, 3rd printing).
Leung = Felicity L. Leung, Grist and Flour Mills in Ontario: From Millstones to Rollers, 1 780’s to1880’s (Ottawa: Ministry of Public Works and Government Services Canada, Parks Canada, Department of Canadian Heritage, National Historic Parks and Sites Branch, 1981).
Lockwood = Glenn J. Lockwood et al., Kitley, 1785 to1975 (Prescott: Kitley Township Council, 1975).
McKenzie = Ruth McKenzie, Leeds and Grenville: Their First Two Hundred Years (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1967).
Somerville = Alexander Somerville, “Travels in Canada West,” Montreal Gazette, October 10, 1860, repr. in Brockville Recorder, November 8, 1860
Ten Cate = Adrian Ten Cate and H. Christina MacNaughton, eds., Brockville: A Pictorial History (Brockville, privately printed, 1972).
1. Local historians have often seemed more interested in the UELs’ military exploits than in their civilian occupations. Even with a professional millwright in charge, men building a mill had to have a working knowledge of mechanics as well as sophisticated carpentry skills, especially when constructing a wooden waterwheel and wooden power train. There is a hint of a significant local “talent pool” in Leavitt’s terse comment “when the first [grist] mill was raised at Ogdensburg [New York], the Canadian settlers of Augusta and Elizabethtown went to that place en masse to assist.” (p. 155). Twelve miles east of modem Brockville, this gristmill was the first convenient alternative to the government built gristmill at Kingston Mills (1784), well over 50 miles southwest of modem Brockville. According to Franklin B. Hough, History of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties, New York, from the Earliest Period to the Present Time (Albany, N.Y.: Little & Co., 1853, p. 385), Nathan Ford, then of New Jersey, hired “about forty men” from Elizabethtown and Augusta to build a dam and a stone sawmill at future Ogdensburg in 1796. This sawmill then produced lumber to build the wood frame gristmill of 1797, which was also erected by men from Elizabethtown and Augusta. Ford was short of money by 1797, so the building of the waterfront gristmill may, as Leavitt seems to imply, have been a special sort of “bee.” I am grateful to Shirley McDonald of Morristown, New York, for information about both mills. I am also grateful to Doug Grant of Brockville for much information about Daniel Jones Sr. as a miller. At the National Archives, Ottawa, Mr. Grant discovered details about the large scale sawmill, with 14 reciprocating saws, that Daniel Jones Sr. built and operated with his father in law, a Mr. Wing, at Kingsbury, Charlotte County, New York, in the 1770’s; about Jones’s association (as millwright?) with Sir John Johnson and Joel Stone in applications for mill sites at future Gananoque, Upper Canada, in the 1780’s; and about Jones’s own applications for mill sites on the Rideau and Ottawa Rivers in the 1790’s (tel. con., October 27, 2005). For Coleman’s and Jessup’s milling backgrounds, see notes 13 and 14, below. Further in depth research will likely reveal that other UEL’s in the two townships had a milling background in the Thirteen Colonies. Dr. Elnathan Hubbell, for example, may have come from the eponymous milling family at Hubbell’s Falls, Vermont (now Essex Junction).
2. The building of nearby mills in immediately adjacent townships very likely limited the erection (or at least the long term prospects) of mills in neighbouring areas of Elizabethtown and Kitley (see note 10, below, and Appendix). But there were more immediate obstacles to the building of early mills in the two townships, lack of capital, transportation difficulties, lack of settlers to supply grain and timber for milling and to consume the resulting products. These problems were remedied as population increased (more rapidly in riverfront Elizabethtown than in inland, landlocked Kitley). But the lack of sufficient water power could be remedied only by new power sources. The latter lay some time in the future (see notes 6 and 7, below), especially in Upper Canada, which lagged the United States in socio economic development by well over a century.
3. Millers had long thought that overshot waterwheels produced more torque than undershot ones, but this superiority was not scientifically demonstrated until the Englishman John Smeaton, the “father of civil engineering” published his prizewinning comparison of power sources for mills (including windmills) in 1759 (Leung, p. 47). Smeaton proved that “gravity wheels” of his day (overshot, with buckets) used about 60% of available water power, while “impulse wheels” (undershot, with “floats” or vanes) used about 30%. The vertical breast wheel (with an angled flume projecting water at the side floats of a wheel) fell somewhere between the two in efficiency. Millers in Elizabethtown and Kitley Townships had to rely mostly on undershot wheels, because of the shallowness of the average creek bed. No example of a breast wheel has been documented for Elizabethtown or Kitley. The only documented example of a tub wheel in the two townships was at Duncan Livingston’s gristmill & sawmill in Kitley of c.1804 (see note 23, below). In general, torque increased directly with wheel diameter. Adapting diameter (and float or bucket width) to available water flow was one of the millwright’s main tasks, based more on an ancient tradition of trial and error and rules of thumb (“molinology,” from mola, the Latin word for mill) than on science and mathematics.
4. “Conveyor” systems for gristmills (horizontal screws, bucket or “cup” elevators, etc.) were invented by Oliver Evans of Maryland c.1782, and were becoming common in the American South even as UEL’s were settling in Canada (1780’s-1790’s). Leung (pp. 56-69) gives an exhaustive account of Evans’s innovations. His conveyors cut labour costs by half, and made very efficient use of brief spring and autumn “spates” because of continuous milling round the clock. But they also required extra power and were complicated and expensive to build, install, and maintain. The latter fact William Olds and Hiram Blanchard of Greenbush discovered to their cost as late as 1851 (see note 8, below). Evans’s system was adopted only slowly in Canada after 1800, but for various reasons it was not adopted at all in Britain until after about 1850 (Leung, p. 56). Cost apart, the main drawback of speedy Evan’s style continuous grist milling was excess capacity, which (given the money tied up in machinery) all but forced a shift from “custom milling” to “merchant milling,” from a service to farmers to manufacture for wholesalers. Such a shift would have brought rural millers into direct competition with their farmer customers to that point. It was not a shift that most rural millers seem to have been willing or financially able to make.
5. Water powered reciprocating (up and down) saws are much younger than water powered millstones. Primitive versions first appeared at Augsburg, Germany, in the 14th century. Although they required much handwork, they were a great advance over the laborious two man pit sawing that had for a long time been the only way to produce finished lumber. Somewhat more sophisticated sawmills reached North America early in the 17th century and proliferated in the Thirteen Colonies in the 18th. But being costly and sometimes inconveniently located, they did not entirely displace pit sawing. By the end of the 18th century, saw milling was ripe for “industrialization” (e.g., Daniel Jones Sr.’s 14 blade mill in New York in the 1770’s; see note 1, above). The key was a blade faster and more efficient than a reciprocating saw. William Newberry of London, England, patented the first band saw in 1808. Shaker Sister Tabitha Babbitt of Harvard, Massachusetts, is said to have invented the first circular saw for a sawmill c.1813. As band saws and circular saws were introduced in sawmills (1820’s), semi-mechanized feed (log chains) and “take away,” both over rollers, were introduced as a matter of course. Continuous saw milling was common in Canada by the 1840’s. The drawbacks of continuous saw milling were analogous to those of continuous grist milling, among them the high costs of building, installing, and maintaining the new equipment (partly but not wholly offset by reduced labour costs); and the excess capacity that all but forced a shift from custom milling to merchant milling (especially when steam engines freed millers to locate near a good road or railway rather than a good seasonal water supply).
6. The first practical water turbine was perfected in France by Benoit Fourneyron in 1827 (Leung, pp. 86-88). American inventors produced various versions in the 1840’s and 1850’s, some manufactured in Canada. One example was the “Outward Pressure” turbine patented by engineer John Tyler of Claremont, New Hampshire, c.1850, and soon manufactured under license at Gananoque (Somerville). In 1859, while the Coleman’s were installing their first five Tylers, five Tylers manufactured under license in Ottawa were installed in the Dickinson‑Currier
mills at Manotick (Leung, p. 86). A Tyler turbine that Orval Ladd recently rescued from the ruins of the Coleman mills is on display at the Heritage Place Museum, Lyn. Somerville’s vague description can to some extent be supplemented by direct observation, though the wheel has not yet been fully
cleaned. According to Somerville, water was led down from a sealed flume into a slowly draining water tank by a pipe slanting at a 450 angle and tapering from 20″ in diameter to 3.5″. Water jetting at a pressure of 22.5 pounds per square inch struck and turned curbed propeller blades affixed toward the lower end of the immersed vertical “spindle.” Atop the spindle was a large horizontal conical gear
that turned a large vertical conical gear. The meshing “teeth” were small hardwood slabs set into slots in the otherwise smooth gear faces, to eliminate metal on metal sparking in a highly flammable flour and sawdust laden atmosphere. Further gearing transmitted the now horizontal torque up to overhead axles and belt wheels that powered machines throughout the mill.
7. Leung notes (pp. 88-89) that “Steam powered flour mills were first established in Great Britain in 1783, in the United States in 1808 and, it is reported, in Upper Canada in 1823…. Available evidence points to the United States as the source of the first steam engines used to power grist and flour mills (and sawmills) in Upper Canada…. Up to the 1860’s the majority of mills were run by water power…. Lillie reported 41 grist mills (in Ontario) were impelled by steam and 569 by water in 1854.” Both McKenzie (p. 173) and Connell (p. 242) assert that George Longley of Maitland, a few miles east of Brockville, was the first miller in Upper Canada to use steam power, importing his engine from England c.1837. It is clear from Leung’s account, however, that Longley was by no means the first in Upper Canada, although he was perhaps the first in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. Most millers here and elsewhere in Canada were reluctant to shift to steam because the engines were expensive to buy and import, expensive to operate, and prone to various problems (see note 9, below). Even the “merchant mills” at Lyn did not receive a large steam engine as a “prime mover” to supplement its water turbines until c.1875 (Orval Ladd, conversation, Heritage Place Museum, Lyn, October 20, 2005).
8. See Blanchard. According to Clout (p.1) and Loma Johnston (tel. con., September 14, 2005), the high cost of maintaining conveyors as well as a steam engine and a power train (gearing, axles, belt wheels, etc.) forced early closure of the Olds Blanchard gristmill.
9. Somerville plays up the cheapness of turbines as against steam engines, but he plays down the significant capital cost of installing them. A turbine required a relatively high head of water (high dam), a water tight “hydraulic” flume, and special housing and gearing. This said, Somerville’s arguments against waterwheels at mid century, when compared with turbines and steam engines, were unanswerable:
The price of the (Tyler turbine) is $80 at Gananoque (where it was manufactured under license), or $100 if imported from the States. It is hardly liable to accident, and will last fifty years. A steam engine of the same power costs over $1,500, is liable to many accidents (e.g., breakdowns, boiler explosions, and fires), to premature decay, and has a large appetite for so many cords of wood a day. The latest, that is, the most recent, overshot (wooden water) wheel in use at Lyn cost $800, and was calculated to be worn out in eight years. When grinding bark, to make tanning liquid, it sometimes groaned and stood still, unequal to the weight of resistance (inertial friction of the stones themselves, and of the intervening gear train that translated horizontal torque into vertical torque), though its diameter was twenty four feet and its water force ample. The little merry going Tyler wheel drives the same bark mill, and has never indicated to the feeder in of the bark that it has had enough Economy of space, and absence of splashing and moisture within the walls of the flour mill, are other merits. The little Tyler, with its tank to preserve it from Canadian frost, occupies a square of ten or twelve feet… The overshot (wooden) wheel required a space equal to about half the new mill, and rotted itself and adjacent timber even then…. The Coleman barrel stave factory would have been supplied by a Tyler motion, had not a steam engine of 25 horsepower fallen in the way of the company at a low price.
10. Partly because inland transportation was difficult early in the 19th century, many mills in Elizabethtown and Kitley faced competition from nearby mills in adjacent townships. To the west, for example, were mills at Graham Lake (McIntosh), Temperance Lake (Judson), and Dickens / Glen Elbe (Bellamy Sr.), all in Yonge Township. To the east were mills at Maitland (Lemon, Longley) and North Augusta (Bellamy brothers) in Augusta, and at future Jasper (Haskins / Olmstead) and Merrickville (Merrick) in Wolford. But by mid century, c.1850, millers in Elizabethtown and Kitley faced an even greater challenge. Improvements in transportation, better roads and bridges, the advent of steamboats and especially railways had reduced the isolation that had long been the raison d’e^tre of many a small rural mill and were now exposing rural millers to competition from products of better capitalized, better equipped, and larger scale mills in or near major urban centers. (Local gristmills, for example, could not produce flour as cheaply as the big Ogilvie “merchant mills” in Montreal.) Contributing specifically to the decline of sawmills in Elizabethtown and Kitley were the exhaustion of the virgin forests of Eastern Ontario and the consequent shift of commercial lumbering to forests north of Lake Erie, both in the 1830’s (Connell, p. 85). Contributing specifically to the decline of gristmills were the loss of the Imperial trade preference for Canadian flour and crop devastation by the wheat midge (“Hessian Fly”), both in the 1840’s (Connell, p. 85). Later, when cheap Prairie grain began flowing eastward (1870’s), Leeds and Grenville had no large grain elevators (or associated port and rail facilities) to handle any significant “break in bulk” in this largely water borne traffic. With their forests long gone and their focus now shifting from grain growing to dairying and mixed farming, the inhabitants of Elizabethtown and Kitley (the latter with a population declining since 1851) no longer needed the great number of saw and grist mills that had dotted the landscape in the first half of the 19th century. Some gristmills very likely survived by increasing their production of livestock feed (Leung, p. 230). One of the few new flour mills in Elizabethtown and Kitley in the early 20th century, A. E. Cameron’s steam powered Island City Mills in Brockville, opened c.1903 and focused on grinding feed. The mill passed to H.T. Murray (under whom the mill shifted from steam to electrical power), then to G.D. Atkinson, and was finally closed in 1966. Several such mills opened and closed during the period; one or two continue to operate.
11. In 1853 the Brockville Recorder opined that a locally owned railway would greatly increase (local) production of sawed lumber for the United States market” (“The Brockville and Ottawa Railroad,” February 3, 1853). The possibility of importing timber was one reason why many Leeds and Grenville saw millers supported the Brockville & Ottawa Railway in the 1850’s, and the Brockville, Westport & Sault Ste. Marie Railway (the last leg intended to access forests north and west of Lake Superior) in the 1880’s. The B&O never got beyond Carleton Place (c.1860), and the B.W. & SSM never got beyond Westport (1888). But the crucial importance of railways to all mills is evident in Somerville’s account of the Coleman tramway between Lyn and Lyn Station “A branch line of rails, length one mile and a half brings railway cars all the way from Boston now that the Victoria Bridge at Montreal is opened (in 1859)…. A car from Boston brings a load of hides (for the Coleman tannery)…. The same car is loaded with one hundred barrels of flour (for Boston) at the mill door…. It is drawn over the branch, that is, over the tramway, to the Grand Trunk station, Lyn Station, by horses…. Whereas, before the Grand Trunk (that is, before 1856)… the barrels of flour were conveyed to Brockville, six miles, by carts on the common road, shipped there for Prescott by river, transshipped at Prescott for Ogdensburg, landed at that place, and sent by various routes, with several more changes of conveyance and stoppage…. The price of transit was much more than at present….
According to Orval Ladd (tel.con.October 13, 2005), the Brockville & Westport Railway bought the old Coleman tramway from James Cumming c.1890, and used the rails as part of the link the B&W built between its new station actually in Lyn and the old Lyn Station on the Grand Trunk to the south.
The Bellamy mills in North Augusta were equally reliant on Bellamy Station, which was on the B&O line in Elizabethtown, but there was only a well travelled “common road” between the mills and the depot.
12. The sawmills at Greenbush and Mott’s Mills were also among the rural mills that thrived on a measure of isolation, in pockets of remaining forest.
13. This account is based on David Wylie, “Lyn,” Brockville Recorder, November 10, 1859; Somerville; W. Jarvis, “Recalls Early Days of Nearby Village When It Was Thriving Community,” Brockville Recorder and Times, March 24, 1965; and McKenzie, pp. 25-26,168-169. Wylie and Somerville toured the new mills and seem to have interviewed the Coleman’s themselves. McKenzie (p.23) cites Somerville’s article as one of her sources. Orval Ladd of the Heritage Place Museum, Lyn, kindly provided valuable supplementary information (tel. con.October 13, 2005).
14. Joseph Jessup, who came from a prominent milling family in the Colony of New York, had a gristmill just above Lyn Falls by c.1805, and had added a sawmill and combing and carding mill there by 1815 (McKenzie, pp. 26, 168). But like many other mills in Elizabethtown and Kitley, Jessup’s lasted only a few decades.
15. For the wood frame mills of 1820 and 1838, see W. Jarvis, and photos at Heritage Place Museum, Lyn. In describing the Coleman’s very extensive waterworks north of their mill in the late 1850’s, Somerville, evidently charmed by his Coleman hosts, too casually dismissed a major factor in their downfall:
Until quite recently c.1855, the water power at Lyn could not be relied on more than three months in twelve. To redress this disadvantage the Coleman family, as a company of flour millers, tanners, saw millers and lumberers, purchased wild land running from Lyn, six, ten, and twelve miles inland. It was chiefly marsh and shallow lakes…. In the Spring freshets, the melted snow is gathered into those lakes, rising ten feet above the summer level, apparently to the distress of neighbouring farmers, and is drawn out during the year as required. At one of the sluices a two mile long canal was hand dug to conduct the stream towards Lyn, which otherwise would have found the St. Lawrence at Gananoque, where there are plentiful streams without it, a self acting (automatic) register records how much water has passed within any stated time. Lyn is provided with a working supply of water equal to the steam machinery of a hundred and fifty horsepower….
The Coleman’s in fact bought the mills at Temperance Lake and Graham Lake in Yonge Township (W. Jarvis, cited above). These mills had long been the focus of villages and were hardly “wild land.” Unfortunately for Richard Coleman II, several owners of lands he then “drowned” north of Lyn obtained sizable legal judgments against him and hastened his bankruptcy (McKenzie, p. 168). He committed suicide in 1868 (“R. Coleman Shot,” Brockville Recorder,“The Late Richard Coleman,” Brockville Recorder May 7, 1868).
16. Wylie mentions the four runs of stones. For other details, see Somerville.
17. The Brockville Incorporation Act of January 28, 1832 (reproduced in Beacock Fryer, p. 43) says only that St. Andrew Street divides the East and West Wards “until it intersects the rear or Northerly limits of the said Town” without specifying what the latter were. I am grateful to Doug Grant of Brockville for drawing my attention to the wording. The ambiguity of Brockville’s northern boundaries continued throughout the 1830’s, hence the mention here of the Hubbell gristmill, which operated in the 1830’s and 1840’s. Mr. Grant also provided information about J.P. Buell’s grist and saw mills on Buell’s Creek, near present day St. Lawrence College, and about D.B.O. Ford’s gristmill near the original site of Daniel Jones Sr.’s gristmill at the Back Pond (concession 3).
18. Leavitt, p. 188; Ten Cate, p. 18; and Beacock Fryer, pp. 25-26.
19. Leavitt, p. 197, Ten Cate, p. 18, Beacock Fryer, p. 26. Ten Cate cites a Buell letter of 1796: “I am going on with my grist mill as fast as I can and intend to get it going this fall.” Beacock Fryer tentatively suggests that this mill was northward on Buell’s property, at the head of William Street on Buell’s Creek. No mill appears on Buell’s maps of 1811 and 1816, but they show only the southern portion of his property. Favouring Beacock Fryer’s suggestion is the fact that Butler’s Creek flowed into Buell’s Creek just above the point she suggests, and would significantly have increased the seasonal flow in Buell’s Creek. Any trace of a mill at this spot would have vanished during extensive and intensive development of the area in the 1960s (bridges, culvert, Stewart Boulevard, houses, apartment buildings, etc.). However, there is another, perhaps stronger possibility. On September 21, 1961, Brockville Parks Commission employees engaged in “beautifying” Butler’s Creek between Central and Front Avenues unearthed some very old stone ruins, located in the ravine just below “Ferguson’s Falls” and not far above the point where Butler’s Creek flows into Buell’s Creek (“Stone Ruins Original Mill Serving District?” Brockville Recorder and Times, September 23, 1961, with photo). The ruins consisted of the lowest courses of a stone wall and what appeared to be a stone ramp. This site was originally on William Buell Sr.’s property. He may well have preferred the smaller Butler’s Creek to the larger Buell’s Creek for his gristmill of 1796 because its spring and autumn spates were easier to control, and less likely to damage his waterwheel and mill. But the very smallness of the seasonal flow of Butler’s Creek, and the site’s relative inaccessibility at the time, may also have doomed a mill at this point to early closure and abandomnent. In fact, Buell’s mill of 1796 seems not to have lasted very long. Whatever the case, the mysterious ruins at “Ferguson’s Falls” have long since disappeared.
20. Leavitt, p. 197, McKenzie, p. 26; Beacock Fryer, p. 26.
21. I visited the sites of the Jones-Buell sawmill, Buell gristmill (supposed site, north of the present day William Street Bridge, at Buell’s Creek), and Jones gristmill on October 20, 2005. All the sites seem too low lying to allow the building of a high dam and elevated flume for an overshot wheel. Only the Hubbell site, in a ravine on Buell’s Creek just west of the Perth Street Bridge, which I also visited on October 20, 2005, clearly would have permitted a high dam, elevated flume, and overshot wheel. We know Hubbell’s mill was water powered from the Census of 1851. James L. Schofield, who bought Hubbell’s mill c.1850, seems eventually to have replaced Hubbell’s waterwheel with a steam engine. In any case, a building designated “Engine House” appears on a map of the Schofield property in 1860 that Doug Grant of Brockville discovered in the Ontario Archives.
22. This account is based on Lockwood, pp. 150-152, with supplementary information from Myrtle Johnston (September 14, 2005). According to Lorna Johnston (conversation, Brockville Museum, October 5, 2005), the current owner of the site does not welcome visits. (John Livingston Gristmill)
23. This account is based on Lockwood, pp. 161-163, with supplementary information from Myrtle Johnston (September 14, 2005). The tub wheel, also called a “Norse mill,” was the main forerunner of the water turbine. The vertical axle of the wheel stood on a bearing, and the wheel itself was most often surrounded by a bottomless “tub” or high rim, to focus the water pouring down on it. With angled, propeller blade like floats, it did not need to be more than 6′ in diameter, and required only a low head of water (Leung, pp. 47-48). Another of the tub wheel’s virtues was that it could drive the upper millstone or “runnee’ above it directly, without a power stealing gear train to translate horizontal into vertical torque, thus to some extent offsetting its low power output. (Duncan Livingston / Soper Gristmill and Sawmill)
24. According to Lockwood, there are no significant remains.
25. This account is based on Leavitt, p. 117, and Lockwood, pp. 152-153.
26. Here as elsewhere, when guessing the equipment of early Upper Canadian mills, it is safer to err on the side of simplicity.
27. My guess that Kilbom’s mill originally had an overshot wheel is based on conjectured dam height, but also on the fact that the mill apparently had an overshot under its subsequent owner, Chauncey Bellamy Jr.
28. I am grateful for this account to Horton Astleford, descendant of the last owner of the mill, and the family genealogist and mill historian (tel. con., October 6. 2005). Pearson’s import of equipment from Ireland is mentioned in “Maud’s School Closes Down After Almost a Century,” Brockville Recorder and Times, July 14, 1965.
29. Even a cursory visit to the site on October 20, 2005 confirmed that only undershot wheels would have been possible there.
30. This account is largely based on successive entries in the Kitley Land Book Abstracts, Registry Division Leeds # 28, Leeds and Grenville Genealogical Society, Brockville Museum. I am grateful to Lorna Johnston for her assistance.
31. A visit to the site on October 6, 2005, confirmed that the creek bed is too shallow to have accommodated a high dam and overshot wheel.
32. We know that there was a circular saw in Stephen Robinson’s mill by 1861, from an account of a grim accident that befell one of his mill hands, Mark Boyd, on April 4, 1861 (“Fatal Accident,” Brockville Recorder, May 2, 1861). As Boyd was brushing sawdust away from the circular saw while it was operating, the saw snagged his glove and yanked him down headfirst. The sawmill’s longevity suggests it had acquired a circular saw many years before 1861. I am grateful to Myrtle Johnson for drawing my attention to the Boyd incident (tel. con., September 14, 2005).
33. The Nash-Blancher shingle mill is noted on Walling’s map of 1860-1861 (repr. McKenzie, Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Leeds and Grenville, Belleville: Mika, 1973, p. 68). It was far enough from the creek to suggest it was steam powered. There are no significant remains of it today.
34. Genealogist Lorna Johnson informed me (conversation, Brockville Museum, October 5, 2005) that William Robinson left for Western Canada in the 1870’s.
35. This account is based on Blanchard and on Clout, pp. 1-2, with important supplementary information from Lorna Johnson (tel. con., September 14, 2005). Writing in 1930, H.D. Blanchard said that “ninety years ago” (that is, in the 1840’s) Samuel and William Olds operated a sawmill that was “a water power affair,” sawing lumber “by an upright (reciprocating) saw.” This can only refer to their father James’s sawmill before its sale to Daniel Blanchard in 1862. It seems likely that the Blanchard Cook steam sawmill of 1872 had a circular saw, as the subsequent longevity of this mill under Samuel and William Olds suggests.
36. This account is based on Leavitt, pp. 119-120, 164, McKenzie, pp. 170-17 1, and Lockwood, pp. 153-159, with important supplementary information from Lorna Johnson (tel. con., September 14, 2005) and Myrtle Johnson (tel. con., September 14, 2005).
37. Lonaa Johnson (tel. con., September 14, 2005) says there are no mill remains.
Lyn Flour Mills
38. This account is based on Leavitt, p.100; Loverin’s “Lyn’s Leading Industry,” Athens Reporter, January 10, 1893; and McKenzie, pp. 168-169, with important supplementary information from Orval Ladd (tel, con., October 13, 2005). From a technological point of view, Loverin’s account of the Cumming mill in 1893 is even more informative than Somerville’s account of the Coleman mill in 1860. It is virtually an advertisement, but such is the nature of journalism.
39. Cumming’s reduction of the number of turbines from five to two is noted in the Athens Reporter, which adds that the two that remained had a combined output of 90 hp.
40. A visit to the ravine site on October 19, 2005, confirmed there are no remaining ruins.
Other Mills Patronized by Elizabethtown and/or Kitley Farmers,
Outside the Political Boundaries of Their Townships
As mentioned in notes 2 and 10 above, early on in the 19th century, when the scattered mills in Elizabethtown and Kitley presented transportation difficulties, some Elizabethtown and Kitley farmers gave their custom to nearer mills in adjacent townships. The obvious alternatives were in Yonge to the west, and in Augusta and Wolford to the east.
The mills listed below are only some of the leading alternatives, but they were the larger, longer lasting ones. Lord’s mills were admittedly small and short lived, but they are included because of his experiment with an inland windmill. Some entries are lengthy because most modem readers will be unfamiliar with the mills and mill sites at issue.
Mention must be made of J.P. Buell’s gristmill and sawmill near what later became the Ontario Hospital Farm, and D.B.O. Ford’s gristmill at the Back Pond. Though both were technically in Elizabethtown Township, they were strongly associated with nearby Brockville, and postdate Brockville’s political separation from Elizabethtown in 1832.
The Bellamy brothers and John McIntosh (see below) came to Yonge Township from Vergennes, Vermont, at much the same time. The Bellamy’s came from a milling family prominent at Vergennes and in Connecticut. McIntosh seems to have had some milling experience at Vergennes. He may in fact have been a professional millwright, and may well have known the Bellamy’s in Yonge as well as Vergennes.
Haskins / Olmstead Mills, near Jasper, Wolford, 1806 / 1807
In 1806 or 1807 a man known only by his last name, Haskins, built a gristmill on Irish Creek on the Wolford side of future Jasper. It is likely he had a milling background in the former Thirteen Colonies (United States). The dam Haskins built in 1806/1807 was partly of stone and partly of timber. He is thought to have added a sawmill a few years later. The gristmill likely had a single run of stones and the sawmill likely had a single reciprocating blade. The later swamping of the dam suggests that it was relatively low, and thus that both mills were powered by undershot waterwheels. Haskins’s mills were patronized by farmers in Kitley (who used Marshall’s Creek / Irish Creek and Irish Lake as their east-west “highway”) as well as by farmers in western Wolford. Haskins sold out to Richard Olmstead in 1820. Olmstead operated the mills until c.1830, when rising water in the new Rideau Canal backed up Irish Creek and over topped his dam. Olmstead petitioned the government for damages and was eventually granted 11,200 Halifax currency. His subsequent attempt to start another mill using the broken head of water at or near his old site was thwarted by the government, which had his new dam removed. Olmstead then briefly owned Mott’s mills in north central Kitley. Source: Lockwood, pp. 192‑193.
McIntosh Mills, Yonge, ca 1822
John McIntosh came to Upper Canada from Vergennes, Vermont, c.1820. He may have been a millwright. In any case, he lived for a time on the Jessup farm south of Lyn and built some sort of mill near Lyn c1841. Meanwhile, he hired. a man named Graham to find and clear a suitable mill site. Graham found a good site on a creek northwest of Lyn, which McIntosh bought, but Graham shortly absconded. McIntosh moved to the new site, and built a log gristmill with a single run of stones (locally carved). He soon added a sawmill with a single reciprocating blade.. Both mills were powered by undershot waterwheels. McIntosh’s mills were patronized by nearby farmers in western Elizabethtown as well as by farmers in eastern Yonge. The large millpond formed by his dam became known, ironically, as Graham Lake, while the little village that sprang up at the site became known as “McIntosh Mills.” McIntosh’s sons Joseph and John took over from their father. They demolished the old log gristmill and replaced it with a three story stone “flouring mill,” with Evans style mechanization inside. The brothers sold out to Richard Coleman in the late 1850s. Coleman had little interest in the mills, and permitted only limited operation of them. What he really wanted was Graham Lake water to power the large mills he was building farther south at Lyn in Elizabethtown (1859). “McIntosh Mills” languished for quite some time. In 1872, ten years after Coleman’s bankruptcy, George Tennant bought the former McIntosh mills and associated water rights. He updated equipment in the flour mill, replaced the sawmill’s reciprocating blade with a circular one, added machinery for making shingles and cheese boxes, and built tenements and a store for the many workers he employed year round. Leavitt says Tennant “caused the once dilapidated looking place to be a cheerful, busy spot.” Tennant’s mills eventually passed to T.E. O’Brien. After a fire in the gristmill in 1904, O’Brien sold the shell to Peter Flood in 1905. Flood reconstructed the mill, and he and his descendants operated it until 1971. In that year, rising complaints from Graham Lake summer cottagers (water levels fell when the mill was operated) forced the Floods to sell the mill to the Federal Ministry of Natural Resources. Determined local attempts to persuade the Ministry to restore the mill as a tourist attraction delayed its demolition until 1982-1983. There are no significant remains.
Sources: Somerville [ 1860]; Leavitt, pp. 112-113 (with illustration of Tennant’s mills); “Lyn’s Leading Industry” [Coleman reference], Athens Reporter, January 10, 1893; “District News: Yonge Front,” BrockviIle Evening Recorder, March 10,1897; Athen’s Reporter [notice of fire], November 16, 1904; “Villagers Mourn Demolition of Mill,” Brockville Recorder and Times, July 11, 1974; “McIntosh Mill Gets Temporary Reprieve,” Brockville Recorder and Times, July 16, 1974; “Government Re-Assessing Future of McIntosh Mill,” Brockville Recorder and Times, July 17, 1974; “No Funds Available to Restore Old McIntosh Mill and Private Groups Aren’t Interested in Project,” Brockville Recorder and Times, April 12, 1982.
Bellamy Mills, North Augusta, Augusta, ca 1822
Early in 1811 Daniel Dunham built a sawmill on concession 8, lot 34, on Mud Creek Kemptville Creek. It had a single reciprocating saw powered by an undershot waterwheel. Later in 1811 Daniel sold the lot to his son James. In 1821 James Dunham sold the rear half of lot 34 to the brothers Chauncey Sr., Samuel, and Hiram Bellamy. Originally from Vergennes, Vennont, these three men, along with their brother Edward, had lived in Yonge Township for the previous four years (perhaps as mill hands). By 1834, they owned the whole of lot 34, had a new gristmill in operation along with the old Dunham sawmill, and had given rise to “Bellamyville” (soon to be known as North Augusta). They gave their new gristmill one run of stones (carved at Brockville), and shortly replaced the old sawmill’s reciprocating blade with a circular one. Both mills were patronized by nearby farmers in northeastern Elizabethtown as well as by farmers in western Augusta.
Meanwhile, Edward Bellamy had left Leeds and Grenville to build mills elsewhere, and in 1830 Chauncey Bellamy Sr. had returned to Yonge Township, where he built mills at Dickens (see Bellamy Mills, Dickens / Glen Elbe, Yonge, below). Of the two Bellamy brothers who remained at North Augusta Connell writes:
“Samuel J. and Hiram, their sons and grandsons were influential citizens of North Augusta for decades to come. Family members were involved in pot and pearl ash works, cloth dressing, woolen and carding mills, a shingle mill, a tannery and a store as well as the saw and grist mills. Around these businesses gathered the blacksmiths, carpenters, coopers, tinsmiths and other tradesmen necessary to the operation of the mills [p. 257].”
The Bellamy mills in Augusta Township benefited indirectly but significantly from the building of the Brockville & Ottawa Railway (opened 1860). Bellamy Station was in Elizabethtown, and the road between it and the Augusta mills was an important lifeline to suppliers and clients. Various Bellamy mills burned in the second half of the 19th century, but they were always rebuilt. When the gristmill burned in 1863, the Bellamy’s used the opportunity to replace the mill’s waterwheel with a steam engine and to add more runs of stones. However, when the sawmill burned again in 1903, it was not replaced. The grist/flour mill passed to Edward and Thomas Eyre in 1877. Connell says: “With improved transportation, which brought unbeatable competition from the products of larger mills in urban centers, flour was no longer made and only custom milling of cattle feed was done. Harlow Place was the last miller to own the grist mill.” The mill closed in 1965. It would soon be dismantled and re-erected at Upper Canada Village.
Sources: Leavitt, p. 184; McKenzie, p. 170; Connell, pp. 256-258.
Lord’s Mills, Augusta, ca 1822
Charles Lord of Montreal bought land in west central Augusta in 1815 (concession 4, lot 24), but it was not until c.1822 that he settled on this property and built a gristmill and sawmill on the South Nation River that ran across it. He had a single run of stones and a single reciprocating saw, both powered by the same undershot waterwheel. For about five years, Lord’s mills served nearby farmers in east central Elizabethtown as well as farmers in central Augusta. But excessively high and low water levels on the South Nation be deviled his operations. Around 1827 Lord replaced his waterwheel as a power source with a wood frame windmill. His was not the first windmill powered mill in Augusta. Connell notes (p.86) that the first and perhaps only forerunner had been built by Ephraim Jones near the St. Lawrence at “New Oswegatchie” (Blue Church area) c.1786 and had ceased operation some time before 1805. In any case, once Charles Lord had installed the sails on his new windmill, they turned only long enough to grind about a bushel of corn and then stopped. Thinking the surrounding dense forest was blocking the wind, Lord cleared 500 acres of trees. The sails still refused to budge. It was now clear that the real problem was the height of the surrounding terrain. Running short of money, Lord abandoned his mills, sold his land, and moved to New York State. But the little community that had arisen in the area would always be called “Lord’s Mills.” Some years after Lord’s departure, when his mills were in ruins, John Hanna bought the site and erected a sawmill (circular saw) and shingle mill, powered by an undershot waterwheel. But he may not have solved the problem of the South Nation’s wildly fluctuating water levels. By 1870 the Hanna mill, its wheel developing 6.7 hp, was operating only half a month a year, to make wooden bowls. It closed shortly afterward. There are no significant remains.
Source: Connell, pp. 86, 239‑240.
Longley Mills, Maitland, Augusta, ca 1828
By 1828, two years after the English born George Longley had settled at future Maitland, he was operating a windmill powered stone gristmill (single run of stones) just west of the village, on the south side of the King’s Highway, near the St. Lawrence. To some extent it served farmers in southwestern Elizabethtown as well as farmers in south Augusta. But even this early it was primarily a “merchant mill,” grinding imported grain into flour for export to wholesalers elsewhere. Longley prospered, and expanded his mill’s capacity. However, while the sails of the stone windmill benefited from winds off the river, their operation was somewhat unreliable. Accordingly, around 1837 Longley imported a large 30 horsepower steam engine (likely from Britain or the United States) as the “prime mover” for the three storey stone flour mill he built south of the old windmill tower. The new riverside mill had four runs of stones for grinding wheat, two for grinding oats, and an elaborate Evans style power train and conveyor system. Said to have been the largest in eastern Upper Canada at the time, Longley’s mill was now almost exclusively a “merchant mill.” It had a large new wharf on the St. Lawrence to accommodate busy steamboat traffic in grain and flour. The old windmill tower was now used to store grain. After Longley died in 1842, a Mr. Hardy operated the mill under license from Longley’s estate, and then James and Robert Harvey. By 1854, the mill was in need of an extensive and expensive update. Instead, Longley’s executors closed it. Borst and Halladay purchased the mill building in 1863 and converted it into a distillery, but their business collapsed in financial scandal in 1865. Some distillery structures were dynamited in 1909. The windmill tower was reconstructed and stabilized in 1967. The remaining old outbuildings were removed in 1973.
Sources: Leavitt, pp. 75-76; McKenzie, pp. 173, 184; Connell, pp. 242-243; Dumbrille and Otto, Maitland: “A Very Neat Village Indeed” (Boston Mills: Boston Mills Press, 1985), pp. 37-41, 53-55, 63-64; Doug Grant, “Doug Grant’s History Album: Maitland Windmill,” Brockville Recorder and Times, December 11, 1999.
Lemon Mills, Maitland, Augusta, c.1830
Around 1823 Charles Lemon built a blacksmith’s shop and foundry on the King’s Highway, in what would become Maitland, a few miles east of Brockville. Around 1830 Lemon bought the remains of Hulbert’s burnt out sawmill and the still intact tannery on what soon became known as Lemon’s Creek, which flowed into the St. Lawrence just to the east of the village. Lemon shortly erected a sawmill of his own. Eventually he added a gristmill (undershot waterwheel, single run of stones) and carding mill. Unlike Longley’s “merchant gristmill” (see above), Lemon’s gristmill was primarily a “custom mill,” serving farmers in southeastern Elizabethtown as well as farmers in south Augusta. Lemon’s son, Charles Jr., took over the various businesses, and replaced the old gristmill on the creek with a large stone flour mill down by the river. A long flume running under the highway carried water from the old dam to power the overshot wheel of the new mill. Charles Jr. eventually sold out because of ill health. The flour mill had several subsequent owners, one of whom replaced the waterwheel with a steam engine. The mill seems to have operated past 1900, but was dismantled before the 1930’s. All utilitarian buildings associated with the Lemon family have long since vanished, except for the one in the village that once housed Charles Lemon’s original foundry.
Sources: Leavitt, p. 103; McKim, “Landmarks by the Riverside,” Brockville Recorder and Times, April 9, 193 5; McKenzie, p. 176; Connell, pp. 86, 242; Dumbrille and Otto, Maitland: “A Very Neat Village Indeed” (Boston Mills: Boston Mills Press, 1985), pp. 88‑89.
Temperance Mills, Yonge, ca 1830
Around 1830, as the Temperance movement was gathering strength in Leeds and Grenville, Rathiel Judson built a dam and gristmill just over the township line between Yonge and Elizabethtown, on a creek that fed what would become Centre Lake. Judson soon added a sawmill and a carding mill. His dam created a large millpond that would soon become known as Temperance Lake. Judson seems to have required all his employees to abstain from alcohol, as he did. Judson’s mills were used by nearby farmers in western Elizabethtown as well as by farmers in eastern Yonge. The village that arose in the area was first known as “Judson’s Mills” and then as “Temperance Mills.” Judson eventually sold his mills to a joint stock company that operated them as the Leeds Union Temperance Mill. In 1844 the company sold out to Henry Hagerman, who continued to require employees to be abstainers. Hagerman added a shingle mill and a cheese‑box factory. Around 1852 his mills were severely damaged by a heavy spring runoff. Hagerman repaired them, but when they burned two years later he was financially unable to rebuild them. Around 1855 Richard Coleman purchased the property. He had no interest in rebuilding the mills. What he wanted was Temperance Lake water to power the large mills he was planning to build at Lyn in Elizabethtown Township (18 5 9). “Temperance Mills” became a ghost town, and by 1879, according to Leavitt, the mills were “in a state of ruin.” All that remains is part of Judson’s original dam, now high and dry. Cottagers have dubbed two of the islands in the lake Whiskey and Soda.
Sources: Leavitt, p. 79; “Lyn’s Leading Industry” [Coleman reference], Athens Reporter,. January 10, 1893; McKenzie, p. 171; “Abstainers Gave Name to Temperance Mills,” Brockville Recorder and Times, March 26, 1982.
Bellamy Mills, Dickens / Glen Elbe, Yonge, c.1832
In 1830 Chauncey Bellamy Sr. left “Bellamyville” in Augusta Township (see above) and settled at Dickens in Yonge Township, two miles southeast of Athens. It seems to have been a return for him. As noted above, Chauncey and his brothers had lived and worked in Yonge between 1816 and 1820, before moving to Augusta. Chauncey’s son Chauncey Jr. had in fact been born at Dickens in 1818. In any case, by 1832 Chauncey had two mills operating on a creek near Dickens, a tributary of Wiltse Lake. His gristmill had a single run of stones, his sawmill had a single reciprocating blade, and both of them were powered by undershot waterwheels. Chauncey’s new “custom mills” prospered, patronized by nearby farmers in western Elizabethtown as well as by farmers in eastern Yonge. In 1835 he built himself a substantial stone house at Dickens (still extant, recently restored). Likely updating machinery from time to time, but still relying on waterwheels for power, Chauncey operated his mills until his death at Dickens in 1866. The inscription on his tombstone speaks of him as “emphatically a man of industry and toil.” His mills had several subsequent owners. In 1889 Dickens, by then renamed Glen Elbe, was given a station on the Brockville & Westport Railway, and the former Bellamy gristmill may have benefited to some extent. But by now, like most gristmills surviving in rural Ontario, it was focused on milling feed for livestock rather than milling flour for human consumption. Lorna Johnson, a Bellamy descendant and family historian, is certain that the gristmill, at least, operated into the 20th century. But she is uncertain of the precise date that it closed. There are now no significant remains of either the gristmill or the sawmill on site.
Sources: Leavitt, pp. 79, 164; McKenzie, pp. 170, 184; Connell, p. 257; Lorna Johnson, tel. con., November 23, 2005.