There are plaques coming to adorn this post that has been installed beside the Mill, which will provide details about the history of the mill and pond. Some of the details are outlined below.
In 1820, John Deyell first financed the construction of a mill and dam at this location, having identified the pond as an ideal power source with a dam installation. It was the first commercial enterprise in the area. The outlet was welcomed by local grain farmers who up until then had to carry their grain on their backs to mills in Port Hope. James Deyell owned the property, where he operated Deyell’s Flour and Grist Mill, which at the time was the hub of the community. It burned to the ground in 1857, when it was sold to the mill’s namesake, Walker Needler, who already operated a substantial sawmill and grist mill downstream at Cedar Valley. Sawmills were a boon to the area, allowing homes and barns to be built from lumber instead of logs. In 1890, there were 20 sawmills operating in the area.
Needler built an impressive, three-story flour mill which was managed by his son George until 1911, when fire struck again, destroying the mill. Needler moved a portion of his existing mill at Cedar Valley to the Millbrook location to keep it in business. It is this portion that remains today.
The property was later acquired by Henry Attwool, who with his nephew added a sawmill in 1922, where farmers would bring logs to be cut into lumber for construction. The mill’s water powered turbine would spend half of each day sawing lumber and the other half milling flour which was sold under the White Rose label.
While regulations prohibit access inside the old mill, the plaques will remind us of its role in the evolution of the area from its origins established by homesteaders such as Sowden and Deyell, to its commercial peak with multiple banks and hotels lining King St., to its current status as an appealing home to a growing population.
By Celia Hunter