Country Mills, Part One

This post is about several local grist and saw mills (plus a cider mill) from Bowmanville to Belleville, Ontario that still exist and are historically designated today The town and village locations and a short history of their current and past use provide a quick reference for history and photography buffs. The ‘2oldguys’ have met and gathered a lot of valuable of historical information from many of their owners.

Ball’s Mill  located in Baltimore, was one of the first settlements in Northumberland County, with thirty eight acres of land on the Baltimore Creek, at the north east corner of the Harwood Road at County Road #45 and McDougal Road.  Most of this land is now a Ganaraska Conservation Area.  This Classical revival style clapboard grist mill is preserved under the Preserving Ontario Architecture Program and designated as a historical site by the L.A.C.A. by Hamilton Township and the Province of Ontario.  Lambert Stevens built a carding mill on this site circa 1846 and later a flour mill was added by William McDougal.  From 1884 the grist mill was operated by three generations of the Ball family until 1971.  The raceway from the mill pond powered the water wheel and grinding stone under the mill until 1906 when it was replaced with a steel turbine.   

Pratt’s Grist Mill, 990 Ontario Street Cobourg was originally named Perry’s Mill.  Today this former mill is best known as the Mill Restaurant and Pub.  It is thought that Asa Burnham might have run a mill at the mouth of the Factory Creek and sold his property at the north east corner of Elgin and Ontario Streets to Ebenezer Perry.  The original mill was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in the 1850’s of brick construction.  In 1864 a heavy rain burst the millpond dam causing severe flooding downstream.  In 1870 a Mr. Poe added a plaster mill to the site.  Note:  In 1841, the first two waterwheel patents were granted to Harvey Tripp and George Rogers two local farmers.  The wheels powered the millstones by water from the millpond.  In 1942 a fire again almost destroyed the building but the brick walls were saved.  An original millstone was saved and relocated to the Barnham House garden in Grafton.  Around 1889 Akex Pratt purchased the mill and operated it until 1986. 

The Cream of Barley Mill located in Bowmanville at 143 Simpson Avenue underwent several name changes over the years from the Ontario Mill, the Soper Mill, the Caledonia Mill and the John MacKay Milling Company.  A Scottish immigrant John MacKay known as the “Barley King of Canada” bought the Caledonia Mill in 1914 and produced barley goods, flour and and animal feed.  This mill became the  home for a new and popular cereal called ‘Hot Cream of Barley’.  In 1904 , the wood frame mill was destroyed by fire and was replaced by a brick structure.  In 1964, the local Rotary Club purchased the building and began renovations on the mill.  In 1973 the mill and property were purchased by the town of Bowmanville and the Architecturally Protected building became the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington.

The Vanstone Mill of Bowmanville is located at 116 King Street East, originally named Darlington Mills was named after Charles Bowman and later Bowmanville after the local resident.  John Burke operated the grist mill and saw mill on the west bank of Barber’s Creek.  In 1852 he purchased the mill from Samuel Vanstone.  The mill was operated by Samuel’s grandson until 1975. 

Fowld’s Mill, this is one of the Ranger’s favorite mills.  Located at 50 Front Street South in Hastings, the Municipality of Trent Hills, Northumberland County.  The mill was built on the Trent-Severn Waterway.  The village was originally named Crooks Rapids.  Henry Martin Fowld arrived in the village from the hamlet of Westwood (Keene) and built a stone grist mill and woolen mill and he later named the village Hastings after a child-hood friend Lady Flora Hastings.  By 1910 the mill dam water was producing hydro electricity which was used to power the nearby Breithaupt Leather Company.  For years after, the mill was still capable of electrical power generation from its millpond even after the tannery was closed.  

Stockdale Mills, were located in the village of Stockdale which was known as Powell’s Mills in the former Township of Murray.  This property was the site of a carding mill, gristmill and a saw mill on Cold Creek and shared a common millpond and dam on the property once owned by M. Ruttan.  From around 1890-1919 John and Cordelia Williamson operated the Saw Mill.  According to Walter Twiddy one of the most recent owners, in 1919 the Stockdale Saw Mill, formerly known as the Twiddy Sawmill was operated by three generations of the Twiddy family, Walter E., Richard W. and Walter B. Twiddy.  The Stockdale Grist Mill sometime later added a cider mill to the site.  Thanks to a reader’s comment Patricia, the Grist Mill was last operated by the Clinton Cox Family.

King’s Mills were located at Wellman’s Corners on Squires Creek in Stirling.  Former names of the hamlet were:  Fidas Mills, Seldon Mills, Rawdon Mills and finally today’s name Stirling.  It is believed the grist mill was built in the 1850’s by Robert Parker.  Later Parker’s widow deeded the land to Joseph Hogle.  Joseph later sold the saw and the grist mills to several later unknown owners.  Lloyd King was the latest to operate the unusual but attractive brick mill until 1971.  At this time the property was acquired by the Lower Trent River Conservation Authority and the property is now a protected wildlife sanctuary.  The old Grist Mill building is now protected as well and is the home to the well known “Big Brown Bats” colony.  Note:  The empty mill is closed to human entrance for obvious reasons.

Several other interesting local mills include:  Hope Sawmill (Lang), Purdy (Castleton), Woodley’s (Hayden), Tyrone (Tyrone), Needler’s (Millbrook), O’Hara (Madoc), Westwood (Westwood), Myer’s (Belleville), and the Lonesdale Mill (Lonesdale).

Regards,   Ranger.


  1. ingrid kern · · Reply

    Just read all the entries in “Country Mills, Part One”. Very interesting to us ,as these are small towns or areas we visit regularly on our Saturday “Covid” drives. Your information about all these mills makes these places come alive for us. Thank you, and Happy Spring.


    1. Ingrid, thank you for the great comment. We love to hear from our readers, hope you have great Spring as well.
      Regards, Ranger.


  2. Eric May · · Reply

    I remember going to Vanstone’s mill when it was operating as a feed store. a few years later the dam washed out.


    1. Eric, thanks for the comment. We love to hear our readers comments.


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