Ontario's Historic Mills.


224 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55046-480-1
DDC 725'.409713





Reviewed by John R. Abbott

John Abbott is a professor of history at Laurentian University’s Algoma University College. He is the co-author of The Border at Sault Ste Marie and The History of Fort St. Joseph.


It is not hard to fathom why water-powered mills tug at our heartstrings. They engage all the senses: that of the distant past, of a long-gone technological era, of the everlasting quality of stone which has preserved so many of them. We associate them with wheat and other cereals, with the staff of life, with the clothes and blankets that covered our ancestors and the materials used in the construction of their homes and barns. They stand beside moving and often falling water, the source of life and beauty, representing all that seems good in the symbiotic relationship between man and nature. Those who have entered mills as operating artifacts will never forget the rumble of stones and whining of saws, the keen scent of freshly cut spruce, and the dusty, floury aroma of warm, freshly milled wheat.


A thing of beauty is a joy forever, as those who turn the pages of this book with its evocative photographs will attest. In the Introduction readers are made acquainted with the history and technology of Ontario’s historic grist, saw, and textile mills, the reasons for their passing into obsolescence, construction practice and architecture, and the present state of these buildings. Many are museums, some of them maintained in pristine operating condition and producing flour for sale in small quantities. Others have been or are in the process of being restored by local mill societies. A number have been turned into retail outlets, restaurants, upscale condominiums, and inns. Then there are the ruins that have their own appeal. Ontario is divided into five regions: central, eastern, western, Grand River, and the Greater Toronto, each with its own map. Pictures of the featured mills occupy a full page, opposite text which describes history and features, contains directions to the site, and gives, in a separate block of text, the name of the mill, where it is, when it was built, its current and original use, conditions governing access to exterior and interior, its photographic possibilities, and GPS co-ordinates. Other mills are briefly surveyed at the end of each chapter.


Fischer, George, and Mark Harris., “Ontario's Historic Mills.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/26559.