The Mill at Campbellcroft, Ont.

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Is this a beautiful old mill? Not really, but it is rustic beyond belief! This little mill is located just south of Campbellcroft on a side road you may never have had any reason to travel, unless you were hiking part of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail located here. Okay, there is not much else to see but farmland and woods on this road. It is well worth the short drive down Grist Mill Road south of County Road #9 to find this quaint little mill at #7712.

Built in the late 1850’s as a planing mill when the village was called Campbell, after its owner Thomas Campbell. This barn-like structure was likely built for utility, not so much appearance. The mill buildings were constructed of thick beams and planks from old growth pine and cedar harvested from the property.

Hidden under that metal cladding you see today to protect the mill building from the elements for many decades, there must be a gem of a building. The use of available resources to build this mill would have been a logical choice for Campbell.   A lot of other mills utilized natural stone, limestone or bricks to build, depending what was available to them.

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According to various local histories, in the early 1800’s there were some thirty eight dams along the Ganaraska River’s headwaters from as far north as Osaca south to Smith’s Creek (Port Hope). By the mid 19th century the count was thirty eight sawmills and eighteen grist mills! Amazingly, at one time Campbell’s was one of three mills operating in the Garden Hill/Campbellcroft area.

This would be a good time to mention that under the name of Fudge’s Mill it was the last operational mill on the Ganaraska River and possibly Northumberland County. When listed for sale in 2011, Mr. Fudge noted that the mill was still basically intact. With the original old mill grinder and oat roller, the mill could be fully operational by a new owner.   A vintage 1950’s farm tractor sometimes used for auxiliary power from its power takeoff can still be seen in a field nearby.

In the late 1850’s the Port Hope, Lindsay & Beaverton Rail Road was constructed a stone’s throw away from the mill site at Campbell. The railroad crossed at the east end of the mill pond.  The station located near the south/east intersection of County Rd #9 and Grist Mill Rd. in Campbellcroft was originally called Garden Hill Station for many years. In 1916 the Midland Railroad rightfully, officially changed the name to Campbellcroft Station (usually referred to as Campbell’s).

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The first saw mill operated by the Campbell family was powered by a water wheel from the mill pond. Sometime later (early 1900’s) a water turbine was installed and the grist mill’s life began. The turbine was capable of generating hydro- electricity for the mill and some local homes. The locals still talk about a mill helper who was once pulled into the mill machinery here and killed.  The mill later became the Banister Mill and even later the Desalvo Mill.

In 1990, the mill property and the mill helper’s home were purchased by Bob Fudge, a former Port Hope Councilor. The mill was renamed Fudge’s Mill. Today the grand old mill house is located north of the mill pond and the one hundred year old mill helper’s home is located south of the mill pond, both now private residences.

The Fudge Mill specialized in custom grinding for animal feed, treating and cleaning grains for the local farmers and selling Purina cat & dog food. This mill was never a grain elevator meaning that grains were not stored or sold here. The mill pond is still home to heron, beaver, fish, otter and geese. In 2011, the mill was sold.

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Today, sadly, this forlorn old mill sits idle and the property appears to be used mostly by a local logging outfit.

Regards, Ranger.

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3 comments

  1. Hello and thanks for the writeup. I own the mill and am temporarily storing some logs in the yard. I use it as my workshop. The grain processing machinery was not operable when I bought it in 2013…it was a bit of a stretch on the part of the seller saying it was operable. Turbine valve is seized and the framework that supports the pulleys was rotten and collapsed. Someday hope to switch it back to a waterwheel and open as a living history museum. The seed cleaning equipment is running and in use as needed.

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment on your mill. Please keep us updated on your progress.
      2oldguyswalking team.

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  2. https://campbellcroftmill.wordpress.com/
    You may check out the Mill website to follow what is happening . Thanks!

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