Old Stone Mill NHS - The Delta Mill Society

History

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


  • Abel Stevens, a British Loyalist from Vermont, settles here with several families in 1794 – drawn by the water power potential of rapids at Delta and at Lyndhurst. In 1796 he is granted the land that is Delta today and has a wooden sawmill built and later adds a wooden gristmill.

  • In 1808, William Jones buys the land and mills from Stevens. At some point after this, perhaps in 1809, the wooden mill(s) burns down – this may have sparked the need for a new mill (or Jones may have just wanted a better mill).

  • In 1810, William Jones, in partnership with Ira Schofield, has construction started on the Old Stone Mill. The 3 ½ storey Georgian architecture stone design is that of an Oliver Evan’s automated mill. The mill is built on solid bedrock, to the north of Steven’s old mill. A new channel from Upper Beverley Lake is constructed to the head of the mill. A wooden sawmill, adjacent to the stone mill, is also built. That sawmill may also have initially housed a carding mill. The Old Stone Mill, built using local stone and timber, is completed likely sometime in 1811 and is in operation by 1812.

  • The mill operates as a custom mill, taking 1/12 of the wheat from the farmer, returning the rest to the farmer as flour. The Old Stone Mill is the only grist mill in the area, leading to the development of Delta as a regional service centre (blacksmiths, inns, merchant shops, roads leading to Delta).

  • The mill goes through a series of owners and falls on hard times (heavily mortgaged). In 1850, a new owner, Walter Denaut takes over the mill. He invests heavily in renovations, bringing the mill back to profitability. In the early 1860s he builds the turbine shed and switches the mill’s power from a waterwheel to two turbines. He re-builds the wooden sawmill adjacent to the turbine shed. He also builds the adjacent mill drive shed (for horses and carriages). It is likely Denaut who switches the mill from a custom to a merchant mill, buying wheat from local farmers and selling it (locally and for export). He also introduced feed milling (producing animal feed in addition to flour).

  • Likely in the 1890s, the next owner of the mill, George Haskin, switches the mill from using millstones to using roller mills for flour production. This was a more cost efficient way of producing flour. The mill remains profitable.

  • The last mill owner, Hastings Steele, continues milling flour up until the early 1940s. The mill then continues to produce animal feed up until 1949. In 1949 both the feed mill and the sawmill stop operating. Steele continues to keep the mill open as a feed store up until 1960, when it closes.

  • In 1963 he sells the mill for $1 to four trustees, who then form the Delta Mill Society (incorporated in 1972). Rescue rehabilitation is done in 1972-74 by the DMS and in 1983 the mill is opened to the public. The DMS has extensive conservation renovation is done in 1999-2004 to create beautifully restored mill that we see today. High quality interpretation signage is also added. A waterwheel was installed in 2008 and in 2010, on the mill’s 200th anniversary, operating millstones were installed.

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Box 172, Delta, Ontario K0E 1G0
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Email: info@deltamill.org
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