Say Their Names – Comment – November 2022

It’s a phrase that took prominence during the Black Lives Matter movement as a gesture to personalize black lives lost through racial injustice.  The practice has earlier roots, however.  For example, every year at the memorial event for the 9/11 disaster, the names of the almost 3,000 victims who died… Continue reading

Old Millbrook School and the Pineapple Quilt Block

The Old Millbrook School now boasts a quilt block. It is the latest addition to the Cavan Monaghan Barn Quilt Trails. The steering committee thanks the Township Council for permission to install the block. Barn quilt trails are now common across the United States and Canada. They beautify the landscape… Continue reading

Historical Society Invites You to Social Hour and AGM

It has been too long! (And coming from a group that likes to linger in times-gone-by, that’s saying something!)  The purpose of the Millbrook & Cavan Historical Society is to bring people together, to share interests in all the various historical aspects of Cavan Monaghan.  We hope those who share… Continue reading

A House Tells a Story

This Heritage house in town awaits some much-needed TLC.

From the outside it would seem that the Millbrook & Cavan Historical Society has been pretty quiet, if not dormant, over the past two years, but on the inside, the commitment to our mandate has meant we’ve been busy.  The wealth of genealogy records and expertise, along with the family histories that we preserve in our archives, have enabled us to respond to numerous inquiries that come in from all over the country and beyond.  The second printing of our Heritage Millbrook Self-Guided Walking Tour booklet has sparked interest in both our rich architecture and in the stories that go with the properties.  We are often asked about the history of some of the houses as new owners move in, and these are hard to chase down because most of the information being sought is oral history.  So, if you are a longtime resident of the area, what we would love to have from you are your stories!

One such story relates to a house on Prince Street in Millbrook, built in 1885 by David Chambers and designated as being of architectural significance in accordance with the Heritage Act.  As part of the research to create an educational display panel next to Needler’s Mill, describing the workings of the mill, the name of Henry Attwooll comes into focus.  Mr. Attwooll came to Canada from England early in the 1900s with his wife Mary Ann, daughters May and Ada, and his nephew Doug Sheppard.  Both Henry Attwooll and Doug Sheppard were millers by trade, and came to the Millbrook area to work.  Henry purchased Needler’s Mill in 1917, and Doug Sheppard became a full partner in the business in 1922.  Henry and his family lived in the house on Prince Street, overlooking the millpond.  Henry worked a full eight-hour day at the mill six days a week until about a year before he died at age 90, in 1959.  In the nearly 50 years that Henry served as a miller here in Millbrook, Needler’s Mill flourished as a producer of fine quality flour and cracked wheat porridge, with the adjacent saw mill providing lumber for the area.

The story of the house on Prince Street doesn’t end with the illustrious career of Henry Attwooll and his family.  In or about 1967, Jim and Elsie McMaster purchased the Attwooll house.  Their son, Ashton McMaster, recalls that the municipal water system had not yet been installed, and the water for homeowners on Anne and Prince Streets was piped under the pond from an artesian well up on Medd’s Mountain.  “It was fantastic water, “ Ashton adds, “summer and winter.”

Ashton also recalls the vitality of the downtown where his parents ran the Stedman’s store, next door to Lyle Nattress’ barbershop, from the early 1950s until 1979.  “My Dad always had wonderful salespeople in his store,” Ashton recalls, “and some with a sense of humour that just wouldn’t quit.”

Memories sparked by one house on a quiet street.  Appreciation for these stories and for opening a new chapter in the history of place gives hope to many of the heritage properties in this township as new owners pour time, energy and considerable resources into restoring them.  Thankfully, they recognize the value of keeping the stories going.  These memories also inspire the Historical Society to start planning an event for early fall, inviting the keepers of our local stories to come and tell a few tales of days gone by so that we can add new chapters to them.  Stay tuned!  We’ll see you in the fall.

By Celia Hunter

Barbie and Buddies put Brakes on the Blues

No winter blues for Barbie!  Celebrating her 63rd birthday next month, Barbie and her buddies are celebrating Valentine’s Day at the Millbrook Branch of Cavan-Monaghan Libraries, and while you can’t join them exactly – they are partying inside the Historical Society display cabinet – you can sure come and admire… Continue reading

The Installation of Historical Signage the Final Stage of the Millbrook Dam Rehabilitation Project

A formal presentation of the Interpretive signage installed beside the Needler’s Mill and adjacent to the Millbrook Dam took place on October 22nd. This installation is the final touch to the Millbrook Dam rehabilitation that was completed in 2019. The Millbrook and Cavan Historical Society contributed to the creation of… Continue reading

Don’t Miss Your Chance!

Just a reminder that the display of rare carpentry tools in the Historical Society cabinet at the Millbrook branch of the Cavan-Monaghan Library will soon be replaced. It is nearing the time when Peter and Anne Ramsay set to work on assembling a collection of vintage toys and Christmasy curios… Continue reading

Self-Guided Tour Brochure to be Released

Next week the Millbrook and Cavan Historical Society will begin distributing copies of its latest publication, a self-guided tour of Heritage Millbrook.  Thanks to the support of local businesses, this full-colour guide will be offered free of charge.  It will be available both locally, at participating shops and businesses, and… Continue reading

Re:  Take a Hike – the Millbrook Valley Trails

I read with interest the feature on the Millbrook Valley Trails, of which I am a huge fan. We truly do have a wonderful outdoor resource here, skillfully developed and maintained by committed and energetic volunteers with support from the township and Otonabee Conservation.  As one of those who likes… Continue reading