The Precious Corners Glasgow Ghost Mill

The old Glasgow Grist Mill is now but a ghost mill as are most of the other mills mentioned in this post with the exception of Cobourg’s Pratt’s and Baltimore’s Ball’s Mill.  The Glasgow was located south of Precious Corners and about a half mile east of Bethesda on the Danforth Road, on the south side of the second bridge on this road.  The mill known as the Glasgow Grist Mill was built in the early 1800’s by Willis McKeys, a farmer who farmed the land here for some time.  The McKeys, F. and Willis and their families arrived in the area as United Empire Loyalist settlers and cleared a large parcel of land some of which was later owned by A. Bell, R. H. Holdsworth, W. Westington and a Cobourg Resident H. Rosevear.  The picture below shows the former mill and dam location on the south side of the Danforth Road.


The Glasgow Mill was ideally situated in a long narrow valley south of Precious Corners.  Located on a stream that rises from the north eastern hill of Hamilton Township and in the early days when the mill was built settlers would bring their grain to the mill in wagons drawn by oxen from many miles away and return home loaded with flour and chop which the miller had ground the grain.  The miller would occasionally accept grain as payment from the farmers and the mill here used a water wheel versus a turbine for motive power for turning the mill stones.  For many years the business prospered and Mr. McKeys eventually sold out to a Mr. Garrett.  The milling trade was in such a flourishing condition that Mr. Garrett payed a small fortune, $6,000 for the mill.  After some years, hard times (likely a mortgage default) fell upon Mr. Garrett and the mill passed into the hands of George E. Jones of Cobourg who in turn rented the mill to John Baker.  Mr. Baker with his wife and family resided at the mill for many years and were highly regarded in the local neighborhood.


Trouble soon pressed heavily upon Mr. Baker when his wife fell ill and died and John met with an unfortunate accident on the very night of her death, which resulted in a broken leg.  These misfortunes seem to have discouraged him somewhat  and he gave up the mill and he moved to the nearby village of Camborne.  The  last mill owner was John Boulton who carried on the business until a  massive flood sometime between 1864 and 1869 brought devastation to the local watersheds of the Baltimore and Cobourg Creeks, washing out many mills and bridges along the local watersheds.  The Glasgow Mill dam was almost completely washed out leaving very little trace of where it once stood.  Mr. Boulton now up in age could not face the prospect of rebuilding the mill dam.  In 1892 Mr. Boulton died and his wife moved away to live with her daughter.  The mill remained idle for many years.  The picture below shows the former mill pond location.


Thanks to Marie G. Raby and courtesy of The Cobourg World, 1987:  “The old mill was left to loneliness and ruin, presenting a forlorn sight to those who had been used to see it when the pond was full of water and the mill wheel turned busily all the time.  Forlorn indeed, the pond overgrown with nettles, bull rushes and willows, the mill silent, the huge water wheel deeply imbedded in mud and stones, portions of the stone foundation fallen away, windows out and doors off, revealing the great timbers that once in the grand old forest waved their green foliage in the balmy breezes of summer tossed their gigantic branches against the storming winter.  But dilapidated as it was the old mill that which recommended it to the eye of a stranger though the men of the township saw no value in it.  Dr. Corbett of Port Hope bought it and removed it to Port Hope some say to make a grist mill, others a glass factory.  Another instance of the absorption of trade that is going to Port Hope.  Farmers are drawing their grain through Cobourg and unloading it at the storehouses in Port Hope while Cobourg storehouses are empty.  Why is this, could not some enterprizing citizen of Cobourg have purchased the old mill and utilized it in some way to add to the prosperity of the town?  Of course where the farmer sells his grain there he spends his money and in consequence of the deflection of trade from Cobourg some of the old mercantile houses that have been in business in Cobourg for over a half century have been forced to close.  Is it lack of enterprise on the part of the town or is it merely the irony of fate?”  The picture below shows the bend on the Danforth Road where the mill dam and mill were once located.


The largest stream in Hamilton Township is the Cobourg Brook, formerly known as the Factory Creek and it has many branches, one which rises in Haldimand and enters Hamilton Township near the front of the 4th Concession.  The names over time have been known as Jones’, Henry’s, Ham’s and Harris’ Creeks.  On entering Hamilton Township from Haldimand Township it once powered William’s saw mill, shingle and carding mill.  It also provides water for all mills around Baltimore.  Near the rear of the 2nd Concession this branch was joined buy Solomon’s Creek north of the Dale Road (County Road 74) a short distance west of the former Cobourg and Peterborough Railroad abandoned right of way.

This stream rises near the rear of the 6th Concession and once powered Robert’s grist mill, Fisher’s Burnett’s and Cochrane’s saw mills and Dawson’s oatmeal mill as well as Solomon’s saw mill.  Another branch of this creek powered Lent’s grist and saw mills north of Lent Cemetery on Cornish Hollow Road and then provided the water power for the McKeys’ grist mill on the Danforth Road.  Another branch of this stream flows south from the 6th Concession north of Coldsprings through Spring Mills (Camborne) and was the power for the William Hore sawmill, tub and pail factory on Lot 20, Concession 4.  After the mill dam was destroyed in a major flood, Mr. Hore later erected a steam powered grist and flour mill which he leased to several different millers including R. Witherington.  When the steam powered mill was later destroyed by fire, the property was purchased by James Ford.  These two branches unite a short distance south east of McKeys’ grist mill and the two streams turn eastward and once powered a saw mill and later a distillery formerly situated near the old County Court House (Golden Plough) at the former village of Amherst north of Cobourg.

A dam across this nearby Creek north of Elgin Street was constructed to power the distillery by W. Hartwell in the 1830’s.  These streams then joined the main stream, which after being re-enforced by Solomon’s Creek, once powered the Leaderbough planning and carding, and Shoddy machine, White’s grist mill, Perry’s grist mill (Pratt’s), Hame’s mill, a carding and fulling mill, axe factory, and a large woolen factory before entering Lake Ontario.

An interesting note:  Another creek from a different water course near the boundary of Hamilton and Hope Townships had several branches north of County Road 2 and is today known as Gage’s Creek which once powered the now ghost mills of Bouskill’s and Dean’s sawmills along it course.

Regards,  Ranger.

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