Old Stone Mill NHS - The Delta Mill Society


A Chronology of the Old Stone Mill
compiled by Ken W. Watson

1793 Abel Stevens journeyed from Vermont to Canada and explores the area around Plum Hollow Creek in June. He petitions the government for land in that area in December 1793. He might have known about the area from his older brother, Roger Stevens, who settled on the Rideau River near Merrickville in 1790 and built the first mill there.
February 1794 Abel Stevens together with six families (his own and 5 others) journey from Vermont to the Delta area. They build a rough road from Brockville to the Plum Hollow area to allow passage for their oxen hauled wagons. The families settled on the upper parts of Plum Hollow Creek – Stevens petitions for all the land around Delta. They are squatters, surveys have yet to be done, no land has been granted. Stevens is after both the land around Delta, including the water power of the rapids, plus the Great Falls at Lyndhurst and the iron deposits in the area (his main objective in fact, one he was never to obtain) The iron and falls were previously known, they were first sought after by Edward Jessop back in 1784.
Summer 1794 surveyor William Fortune runs first survey lines into area what was to become Bastard Township.
March 1795 Stevens lists names of 24 heads of families who he has settled in the area (to reinforce his petition for land grants). His is identifying his location as Stevenstown in these petitions (likely in reference to the township, not a village). He notes in some petitions that he has brought in “mill irons” and is ready to erect a mill.
1795 surveyor Lewis Grant does initial surveys in the area (from Gananoque up to Sand Lake on the Rideau).
1796 sufficient surveying of Bastard Township is done by Lewis Grant to allow Stevens to be granted his land.
1796 Stevens is granted land on June 2, 1796 which includes the rapids between Upper and Lower Beverley lakes (he was granted 5 lots; 3 in area of Delta, 2 over the upper portion of Upper Beverley Lake, which nominally would have been 200 acres each, 1000 acres in total – but the land grant shows 700 acres due to some of the land being covered with water). At some point after this, Abel Stevens, or his cousin William Stevens, build a wooden sawmill at the rapids. The mill is noted in Grant’s 1797 survey as “Wm. Stevens Mill”.
1796-1798 at some point in this time period Stevens has a road built from Delta to Lyndhurst (he’s still after the rights to the Great Falls and iron deposits near Lyndhurst).
1797 Lewis Grant completes his survey of Bastard Township and produces a map – it is the first known map that shows a mill in Delta.
1797-1803 Stevens adds a grist mill to his sawmill (most likely powered by the same waterwheel).
1798 Abel Stevens and Mathew Howard have a road built from Lyndhurst to Kingston Mills (to the front road leading to Kingston Mills). This is part of Stevens’ continued effort to get the rights from the government to establish a foundry at Lyndhurst.
1799 there is an implied reference that Abel Stevens is in partnership with Nicholas Mattice in operating the mill (unsure of the exact business relationship between the two).
1803-1808 Stevens’ mill is leased to Nicholas Mattice. Shows as a grist mill with 2 runs of stones and a sawmill.
1808 there are now two separate mills operating in Delta. The second is owned by Abel Stevens Jr., on property his father sold to him in 1799 – located near Hicock pond on Foundry Creek (aka Cowans Creek, aka Robertson Creek).
June 1808 Abel Stevens sells his wooden mill(s) and surrounding property to William Jones for £375. It appears that the grist mill is still under lease to Nicolas Mattice who continues to operate it that year.
1809 Stevens’ old grist mill, now Jones’ grist mill, is shown being operated by Ira Schofield
1810 neither Jones or Schofield are shown operating a mill – however they are shown as operating a Merchant Shop & Storehouse. Speculation is that the old Stevens’ wooden mill burned down sometime prior (maybe late 1809) and this “sparked” the building of the Old Stone Mill. Anecdotal history has the Stevens’ wooden mill burning down twice. The truth is that the Old Stone Mill would have required extensive planning and a design by a qualified millwright.
March 1810 construction of the Old Stone Mill begins
1811 construction of the stone mill is likely completed sometime this year.
1812 the newly constructed stone mill opens – it has 2 runs of stones and a sawmill (wooden structure behind the mill – needed to be adjacent to get power from the waterwheel in the mill). Ira Schofield is listed as the miller (Jones got married that year).
1812-1817 millers show as either Ira Schofield, William Jones and Ira Schofield, or William Jones.
c.1815 a map shows the mill’s location as “Jones & Schofield”
1816 Stone Mills is referenced in a letter as having about 20 houses – an 1816 map shows 10 buildings in the “village,” including the Old Stone Mill.
1817 in the Statistical Account of Upper Canada for 1817 the mill is described as “unquestionably the best building of the kind in Upper Canada” That same account shows that the village of Stone Mills had 3 stores and a blacksmith shop.
1818-1819 miller shown as James Schofield Jr.
1820-1825 miller shown as William Jones.
1826 not operating
1830 marble cutting may have started near this time by Christopher Allyn who moved to Beverley c.1830. The cutter cut marble blanks for use as tombstones. The marble cutter was located in the wooden building housing the sawmill (see note for 1835).
1831 William Jones dies. Mill & property goes to his brother Charles Jones who then sells it (4 shilling) to William Jones’ widow, Amelia. Amelia sells it to Henry Jones (deed for that, £500, not deeded to Henry until January 1836).
1832-1834 mill leased to Edward Matson by Henry Jones. Shown only as grist mill (no sawmill listed for Matson – the sawmill was likely leased separately as the 1835 sale notice indicates).
1835 mill put up for sale by Henry Jones – a sale notice dated Sept 17, 1835 states in part “The mills consist of a Stone Grist Mill, 60 by 40 feet, three stories high, with one run of Stones in operation, and sufficient room to place one or two run more;- a large wooden building in which there is a Saw Mill, a Mill for cutting, and polishing marble, and a Carding Machine:- with Mill Yard and out Buildings; the last mentioned Mills are rented at £50 per annum, the lease expires on 5th March 1837; the Grist Mill is not at present leased or occupied; …” It is presumed that this is origin of the incorrect dimensions of the mill unless they were including the width of the buffer wall (~7’) – the stone building is 50’ x 35’.
1836 mill purchased by James and Amelia Macdonell (Amelia was the widow of William Jones). Not operating that year.
1837-1847 operated by James Macdonell with 2 runs of stones, except for 1838 & 1839 when he had 3 runs of stones. Sawmill reappears in the records in 1844 (likely leased to someone else prior to that).
1848-1849 James dies in 1847 and his wife Amelia Macdonell continues to operate the mill.
1850 Walter Denaut purchased the mill in February 1850. He pays of the mortgages on the mill and starts extensive repairs. The mill in 1850 is shown with 2 runs of stones and a sawmill.
c.1850s Denaut creates Miller’s Room on 2nd Floor.
1850s Denaut builds Denaut Hall, a brick hall as a second storey on top of a stone carriage shed beside the Old Stone Mill (today’s Mill Drive Shed). The design (a hall on top of a carriage shed) is a very typical design of the era, although later ones in the region were normally built as wooden structure. Date of construction is uncertain but prior to 1861 (it shows as a Hall on Walling’s 1861-62 map of Delta).
c. 1861 Denaut builds the Turbine Hall and installs two 48” Swain turbines. He builds a new wooden sawmill onto the back side of the turbine hall. The sawmill is powered by the downstream turbine.
c.1870s a smutter may have been added to the mill during the Denaut era (uncertain), replacing the original Oliver Evan's style grain cleaner.
1889 Walter Denaut dies (March) and the mill goes to his wife Carolyn. His son, James L.S. Denaut operates the mill.
1893 George Haskin buys the mill for $6,000 on October 5, 1893.
1893-1899 likely at some point in this time period, George Haskin installs the Roller Mill. The NHS designation uses 1893 as the installation date.
1899-1903 Haskin installs and operates the mill with a steam boiler (located in the north end of the turbine hall). It was likely supplemental power to the turbines (i.e. in times of low water).
1904 for reasons unknown the steam boiler is removed at about this time.
1913 Hastings Steele and James Huffman (brother-in-law) purchase the mill for $8,000 on March 14, 1913.
1914 Steele’s partnership with Huffman is dissolved (apparently Steele bought out Huffman).
1914-1921 Steele is in partnership with Omer P. Arnold
c.1923 a chopper (“Champion Grinder”) to make animal feed is installed.
c.1920s Drive shed is sold and a forge subsequently installed in it.
c.1920s Salt shed (to store salt for livestock) built between mill and drive shed.
1929 Steele installs a small dynamo in the mill when the Lyndhurst power plant is shut down by Ontario Hydro. Likely only lasted until Delta and Lyndhurst were connected to the Ontario Hydro grid (c. late 1929).
1939-1944 flour production ceased in this period. The mill was producing flour in 1939, but no longer in 1944. Some use a date of 1942 (splitting the difference) as the end of flour production, but the exact year is presently uncertain.
1949 last year the feed mill and sawmill are operated. Of note both were powered by the turbines which were still in operation. Steele continues to operate a feed store.
1960 the feed store is closed and the mill shuttered.
c.1960 second storey of carriage shed demolished by owner Gordon Gray and replaced with smaller wooden frame second storey.
c.1960 salt shed (between mill and drive shed) removed.
1962 new dam built upstream of mill by MNR. Mill no longer used as a dam.
1963 the old stone road bridge is demolished and replaced by current concrete road bridge.
1963 Hastings Steele deeds the mill, for the sum of $1, to four trustees: Mildred Sweet, Albert Frye, Elizabeth Robinson, and Robert Tuck. Steele’s wish was that the mill be preserved and become open to the public as a museum of milling technology.
1963-1972 the four trustees remain owners but form an informal Delta Mill Society.
1968 floor of wooden sawmill collapses – the superstructure of the sawmill had previously been removed (early 1960s?).
1970 The Old Stone Mill in Delta is designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
1972 “The Delta Mill Society” is incorporated in Ontario as a non-profit organization and given charitable status on August 17, 1972.
1972 on September 5, 1972, the mill is deeded from the original 4 trustees to the newly incorporated “The Delta Mill Society”. The incorporation allows work to start on rescue rehabilitation.
1972-1974 essential structural repairs (rescue rehabilitation) were carried out on the Mill - this project included general masonry repair, re-roofing with new cedar shakes, jacking of floors to level, replacement of windows, sash and glazing, and structural framing stabilization. Work on this started just after incorporation (Sept 1972).
1973 The Old Stone Mill receives its National Historic Site Plaque in July.
1973 The main floor of the mill is opened to the public (no access to turbine hall or upper storeys)
1974-1975 MNR reinforces sides of bywash (water bypass) with concrete. Part of buffer wall (in front of the turbine raceway) and wooden elements of original bywash removed.
1978 The Old Stone Mill is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
1985 The Old Stone Mill NHS is fully opened to the public as a museum of milling technology and industrial heritage.
1992 The DMS purchases the mill drive shed (from Fred and Jane Gray for $22,000).
1994-1999 Extensive archaeology and research is done in preparation for a large scale restoration program.
1994 (Dec) The DMS purchases the Old Town Hall (purchase of the land from the Corporation of the Township of Bastard and South Burgess, for $12,000 – building reportedly sold for $1).
1999-2003 the Old Stone Mill undergoes an extensive renovation program costing $1,171,920, about half funded by grants (Parks Canada Cost Sharing Program and an Ontario heritage grant) and half raised by The Delta Mill Society. Today (2021), with inflation factored in, that is equivalent to an expenditure of 1.7 million dollars.
1999 The Old Town Hall is turned into a museum (Museum of Industrial Technology) while the mill is closed for restoration (exhibits in mill moved to hall).
2000 The Delta Mill Society publishes a book “A History of the Old Stone Mill, Delta, Ontario”, by Paul S. Fritz.
2004 The newly restored mill is re-opened to the public on May 15, 2004.
2004-2007 extensive interpretive signage is added to the interior of the mill.
2006 The Delta Mill Society published a book “A History of Grist Milling in Delta”, by Wade Ranford.
2007 a wooden waterwheel (electric sump pump powered) is installed in the mill (cost ~$13,000).
2008 period milling equipment (a pair of burr millstones, vat and grain hopper, grain cleaner (Vac-A-Way seed cleaner), smutter and 14 foot long bolter) are purchased by the DMS from Rene Proulx who was using them in a demo mill in St. Sylvere, Québec (cost $35,000). DMS launches a “let’s get grinding” fundraising campaign to get these installed in the mill by our 200th anniversary in 2010.
2009-2010 new exhibit for the 3rd floor is designed and installed.
2010 the husk is rebuilt, the millstones and bolter (both electric powered) are installed. In October 2010 the mill makes its first stone ground flour in over 100 years.
2012 The Old Town Hall undergoes renovations ($104,000: accessible platform elevator, new washroom, commercial-grade kitchen and hall ceiling and floor renovations).
2017 The Delta Mill Society produces the document “Tour Guide Manual and History of the Old Stone Mill NHS” and makes it available to the public as a free PDF.
2018 The Delta Mill Society produces the book “Building the 1810 Old Stone Mill in Delta, Ontario” and makes it available to the public as a free PDF and as a printed book.
2020 Stabilized the Accordion Lath & Plaster Ceiling and re-roofed the Turbine Shed.
2022 Rehabilitated the Blacksmith's Shop ($40,000 project). Also produced a 2nd edition of the books "Building the 1810 Old Stone Mill in Delta, Ontario" and the "Old Stone Mill Interpretation Manual" (posted as PDFs on website and also as printed books)
2022 A replica hopper-boy is installed on the third floor of the mill near where the original hopper-boy was located.


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