Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Industrial Revolution, Delta style

 In rural Ontario, we have a fine selection of nineteenth century grist and sawmills. It's estimated that there were some 200 of them in Upper Canada in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Some of the extant mills are fully restored, and doing the work they were trained for, thanks to the huge effort of volunteers and supporters. I could name the Madoc area's O'Hara MillThe Old Stone Mill in Delta, or Watson's Mill (the old Dickinson place) in Manotick.
 Mill of Kintail

Chisholm's Mill
Then there's the amazing Chisholm's Mill south of Madoc, family owned and operated since 1857.

Darling of photographers, painters, and folks who like beautiful lumber made by people who know and care.
working sawmill at O'Hara's Mill CA

I've written reams, both here and in County and Quinte Living magazine (check out their new website, btw) about mills. Mills as restaurants, pubs, shops, homes, museums...did I miss anything?

All this to say - we have a lot of mills to tell tales about.

on display at Delta Mill
And here's one I heard this summer. The book I'm showing below is The Young Mill-Wright and Miller's Guide, 8th edition (which speaks to its popularity) written by Oliver Evans.  This edition appeared in 1834, "with additions and corrections." But as early as 1795 Oliver Evans was advocating an automated mill technology which enabled a single worker to operate the complete grain milling process throughout a three-storey mill. A visit to the restored Delta mill - interpretive panels and a charming well-informed guide - revealed these wonders.
Old Stone Mill interpretive panel

 I'll quote from Paul Fritz, author of A History of the Old Stone Mill, Delta, Ontario:

"His automated technology called for three devices: an elevator, a hopper and a conveyor. The elevator consisterd of wooden or sheet metal buckets spaced about one foot apart on a continuous belt that would take the grain from the ground floor of the mill to the grain loft. There, a hopper rake in the loft would spread the grain and guide it to the central chute down to the mill stones for grinding into flour. The conveyor was to carry the grain horizontally throughout the mill."

And we're still complaining about technology taking people's jobs!

I still have a story or two to tell about Delta. The moral of the story will be - if you've never been, go.

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