Sunday, April 17, 2022
One of the most scenic mills in Southern Ontario is the Chisholm Mill in Roslin. As my work now carries me into this part of the province on a regular basis I look forward to exploring some of the local sights and sharing them with everyone. Perhaps, over time, we’ll be able to provide a little more content for those who live “around the GTA”.
The original mills on the Moira River in Roslin were known as Shipman’s Flour and Saw Mill and were purchased in 1857 by William Fraser Chisholm. They have been in operation ever since and carry on today as Chisholm Lumber. The archive picture below was likely taken in the 1920s or 1930s based on the fact that the old truss bridge is in still place and the original frame mill buildings are present.
Six generations of the Chisholm family have operated the mill since it was renamed after them. Originally, the saw mill was kept in operation cutting logs from the Chisholm forests upstream. They would cut logs on their own property and then float them down the Moira River to the saw mill.
A fire broke out in the feed mill in 1944 which destroyed the building. The mill and the dam were both rebuilt with the feed mill getting a small grain elevator. The archive photo below shows the work crew standing on the old iron truss bridge that was built in the 1920s. Framing is in place for the dam and the foundations for the replacement mill are seen on the left of the picture.
The dam and the bridge have each been upgraded several times. The first dam would have been made of an earthen berm and a wooden crib. The crib would have stretched across the river and been filled with rocks and would have needed repairs annually. Some time after 1900 the dam was replaced with a concrete one that requires much less maintenance and repairs. Earlier bridges were replaced with an iron bowstring arch bridge around 1900. A steel truss bridge was built in the 1920s which lasted for about 60 years. In the 1980s a concrete bridge was constructed and it continues to serve the mill and community. The picture below shows how the walls of the feed mill form part of the dam structure.
The feed mill has closed but an active lumber mill continues to operate on the site covering several acres behind the buildings pictured below.
The Moira River was in flood mode the day I stopped for these pictures and its easy to see how it could be quite dangerous in the Spring and after major rain storms.
The Chisholm family has preserved many antique pieces of equipment as well as hundreds of paintings and photographs dating back to around 1900. The three archive photos in this story were taken from their website where many others can be found. The image below is fairly recent but was taken at at time when the mill pond was drained and the back side of the dam was exposed.
The feed mill building is starting to show signs of weather damage and some holes are appearing in the roof of the building. The Chisholms are proud of their heritage and it’s possible that they will do what is necessary to keep the buildings from falling into complete disrepair so that they don’t become lost.
A series of old metal signs on the side of the building have been preserved as a record of the history of grinding and blending feed for the use of the local farming community. The Chisholm family has preserved the inner workings of the mill and part of the turbine system can be seen through the opening in the wall. The concrete wall of the building is showing the results of nearly 80 years of water and ice damage.
There is another sign on the building, this one warning swimmers to stay away. I notice that it has been moved since 2017 and it can be seen on the side of the mill in the archive picture above where the mill pond is drained. It is actually no longer beside the dam but the message is just as important.
This historic mill makes a great place to take a picture or sit and paint one, and it’s a beautiful scene in all four seasons.
While you’re in the area you can check out the Tiny Tweed Jail, which they claim as the smallest in Canada.
Google Maps Link: Chisholm Mills
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