On Thursday, July 23, an Offer to Purchase Needler’s Mill was delivered by hand to the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority (ORCA) from the Millbrook & Cavan Historical Society. The Save the Dam Mill Pond Group is a component of the Historical Society, and has worked closely with the Historical Society Board of Directors to make this happen. The offer will be considered by ORCA on August 20 when their Board meets next.
The offer describes the intention of the Historical Society to fulfil the conditions of the Unsafe Building Order against the mill buildings by constructing a new foundation immediately west of the current grist (flour) mill; dismantling the ancillary buildings; and moving the grist (flour) mill onto the new foundation. Conditions in the agreement include a provision for use of the grist mill on its new foundation as a passive display site accessible to the public and a requirement that responsibility be assumed by ORCA for the penstock, removal of the old foundation and remediation of that site, and stability of the berm during and following removal of the buildings.
The sale is also conditional on a satisfactory lease agreement being reached between ORCA and the Historical Society. While the mill buildings were offered for purchase, the land on which they sit, and adjacent property, was not offered for sale.
The Millbrook & Cavan Historical Society has made this Offer to Purchase because, president Celia Hunter states, they feel strongly that the dam, the millpond and the mill are inextricably linked. The dam is there, she points out, because it was constructed to run a mill. Mills were the economic driver for the area and were vital to a way of life from the time Millbrook was first settled in 1820 until at least half way through the 20th century. Celia states that at one time there were 30 mills in what is now Cavan Monaghan Township; Needler’s Mill is not just historically significant on its own, but also represents this rich cultural heritage. She adds, “The mill stands as a witness to the power of water as a source of energy both then, now and into the future.”
Celia adds, “We did this on our own initiative, confident that we are supported by our community, near and far. We met with ORCA CAO Dan Marinigh and Board Chair Andy Mitchell prior to making the offer to purchase. We have received a total of seven quotations on the work required in the short term to meet the requirements of the Unsafe Building Order and put the mill on a new and firm foundation. The quotations on the work needed were a pleasant surprise, significantly lower than we anticipated. We can do this, with the community’s help.”
The Historical Society is optimistic that an agreement can be reached with ORCA. Celia reports that when that happens, they will be ready, with the Save the Dam Mill Pond Group, to launch a fundraising campaign for the work needed this fall.