As with the other grist mills in this series of blogs, I have focused not so much on the inner workings of the actual milling process but on the lives of the millers and their communities. Tyrone is such a quaint, historic village with a most unique mill and a tour of both is like stepping back in time to a more peaceful era.
Way back when Tyrone was still a hamlet, most of the County was still unbroken forests and the roads were only blazed trails. By the 1830’s one of the few roads (trails) in the area went south to nearby Bowmanville.
In 1846 this mill site was selected because of the abundance of water from Lynde Creek to power a saw mill. A grist and flour mill were added sometime later by James McFeeters. James later went on to become a mayor of the nearby town of Bowmanville, Ontario. Even at this early time Tyrone boasted two hotels and a tavern!
By 1852, Samuel Vanstone purchased this mill and it was later operated by his son Jabey. The Vanstones operated this mill until 1856 when Jabey bought the mill in Bowmanville.
Disaster struck in 1890 in the form of massive flooding throughout Darlington Township! This flood destroyed all bridges leading to Bowmanville except the Grand Trunk Railway bridge. Tyrone did not fare so well either, the mill dam was washed out and water from the mill pond flooded the mill site and blocked area roads for days. At it’s peak around 1900 the mill was producing forty to fifty barrels of flour daily.
The Tyrone Mill has been fully functional and commercially viable relying on water power for it’s grist, saw and flour mills since 1846. Robert Shafer purchased the mill in 1979 and thankfully continues the tradition.
Just east of the mill, George Emmerson bought the blacksmith shop and home from it’s builder Charles Trick in 1856. This shop burned to the ground in 1860. A Mr. Trenouth from Hampton later built the stone blacksmith shop that is still standing today.
Some other interesting stories from the Tyrone area:
– Robert McCullough apprenticed at the blacksmith shop with George Emmerson from 1888-1891. On hearing of Emmerson’s death in 1895, McCullough returned to Tyrone and bought the shop and house…the shop is still in the family name!
-Early on, Robert McLaughlin (1836-1921) constructed a horse drawn sleigh in his small workshop near Tyrone. This development led to the McLaughlin Carriage Co. in nearby Enniskillen and by 1869 had become the largest carriage works in the British Empire! By 1907 the McLaughlin Motor Car Company was relocated to Oshawa and by 1918 became General Motors, Canada. Robert’s son Samuel went on to become the General Manager of the Company.
Note: Just a short distance west of the mill, on Cons. Rd #7 there is a tiny roadside replica of the original workshop with the road-side facade enclosed in glass to show off three early carriages and a sleigh from the McLaughlin Carriage Co.
-A brother, John became a chemist and started the business The J.J. McLaughlin Co. “manufacturers of Hygeid beverages”. This product evolved into what we now know as Canada Dry the “Champagne of Ginger Ales”.
When visiting the mill, don’t be waylaid by the general store inside the front door with it’s aroma of fresh coffee and baked goods (especially the maple syrup donuts). Okay… check out the specialty milled flours, preserves, honey, maple syrup, apple cider, local cheeses and baked goods. There are so many other things to see here. So grab a coffee and wander up to the second floor to view the antique wood shop and admire the Muskoka (Tyrone) chairs. Take in the pond and it’s surrounding beauty. Return to the parking lot and check out the great selection of pine, cedar and specialty hard woods cut on the premises. On the east side of the parking lot there is a wood- fired ‘Quebec’ oven made from straw and clay from the mill property.
Directions to Tyrone Mills: Take Liberty Street north from Bowmanville to the intersection of Concession Rd #7.