At their regular meeting on August 20, the Board of Otonabee Conservation (ORCA) voted to accept the Millbrook and Cavan Historical Society’s Offer to Purchase Needler’s Mill in Millbrook.
Historical Society president Celia Hunter and Angie McLean from the Save the Dam Mill Pond Group presented the offer to the Board, with a detailed timeline and plan to address the Unsafe Building Order placed on the property.
The Save the Dam Mill Pond Group operates as the Mill Committee of the Historical Society. Group members Angie McLean, Robert Jackson, Alex Bushell, Robert Ross and David Hobson have worked hard through the summer to gather information, obtain quotes and meet with contractors and officials, to ensure that the offer addressed the requirements and concerns of ORCA.
Historical Society president Celia Hunter was informed of the Board’s decision, which was made in Closed Session, by ORCA’s CAO Dan Marinigh in a telephone call after the meeting.
“This is possibly the most significant moment in our Historical Society’s history,” Celia notes, “because our initial mandate when the Historical Society came together in the late 1970s was to save the mill. Now, we will.”
Saving Needler’s Mill will be done in the context of the present and conform to the current regulations and by-laws, which means it will stand as an icon and tribute to what it represents: the heart, the economic driver and commercial centre of Millbrook’s agriculturally based founding and development. Under the present restrictions, the mill will not be an operating mill and will not be accessible to the public. However, the contents will be retained and the structure will be preserved and maintained, next to the dam and millpond.
The offer conforms to all the conditions set out in ORCA’s Request for Offers. Built in 1830 by Adam Scott and moved downstream to Millbrook in 1909 from Cedar Valley after a fire destroyed the mill on site, the Grist Mill will be retained. The auxiliary structures including the sawmill will be dismantled. The Grist Mill is currently on an unstable foundation and will be moved onto a new one just west of where it stands now. This relocation will facilitate the Millbrook Dam reconstruction and fulfill the requirements of the Unsafe Building Order placed on the mill by the Township’s Chief Building Official.
The Millbrook and Cavan Historical Society, with the Save the Dam Mill Pond Group, has undertaken this project because it recognizes Needler’s Mill as a vital heritage feature that must be retained. The first mill on this site was built by John and James Deyell in the early 1820s when Millbrook was first founded. At one time there were nine mills operating in the village alone and 30 throughout what is now Cavan Monaghan. Work to move the Grist Mill will take place this fall.