Hillsdale Mill

To some, it may appear that I have become an UrbEx fan of the Gristmill as this is now the second post concerning these (for the first post, see HERE). I will admit that these old structures are not without their particular rustic charms. Today, we will have a brief look at the Rumble Gristmill, located in Hillsdale, just north of Barrie. This location was first brought to my attention by fellow explorer 'LostInTheWoods' last year.

Hot UrbEx tip: To locate a mill near to where you live, start by looking for a street called 'Mill'. (duh.)

The Gristmill in Hillsdale grew out of a necessity of the local inhabitants. The farmers needed a close convenient location to process harvested grains and cereals and likewise, the consumers needed flour and animal feed.

The mill was first constructed in 1869 on the banks of the Sturgeon River. Yup - You guessed correctly - this was a 'water-powered' mill.
It was purchased by the Rumble family in 1887 and has stayed in the family ever since.

The mill was improved and modernised several times in 1892, 1905 and again in 1910 to the design of the structure you see currently.
Although the building is now structurally unsound, many personal effects such as this soda-bottle. Fellow explorer 'tait' had discovered correspondence dating to 1925.

Also present, is a large amount of the original processing equipment. Here, within the basement is a belt-pulley. Notice the distressing lack of machine guarding which the Ministry of Labour may have something to say about.

Although a water flue was constructed at the Sturgeon river to power the water wheel, this source of power proved unreliable at times. The mill was modernised with the addition of a diesel power plant in 1962.

As the business end of the mill is pretty much located in a flood plain, it is not surprising that a high degree of damage had occurred here.
There were raccoon tracks in the wet sand near the structure . . . they were the size of a large dogs.

From this angle, the building is really showing a high degree of decay. There was no evidence of the remnants of any wheel within this structure. It could have rolled . . . down the river.

The wooden shingle siding almost appears as furry scales in this image. This wooden shake siding was hand-made and was probably a beautiful thing to behold back in the day. During the exploration, I was nervous that this material was suddenly going to com bust.

The Mill used to produce Lilly White pastry and bread flour in paper 7 and 24 lb. bags as well as canvass 100 lb. bags of breakfast cereals and animal feeds.

The Mill stopped production of flour in the late 1950's and only stayed with the feed line. The mill finally ceased all operations in 1989.

It is unfortunate that given the way things are deteriorating at the Hillsdale Mill, this structure may not be with us too much longer. It is uncertain that any concerted effort may be mounted to arrest further damage or even if it is now worth it.

The Coldwater Mill is a success story. The Coldwater Mill Heritage Foundation raised $52,000 over six months to renovate the historic Coldwater Mill, a heritage wooden gristmill built in 1834. The Mill now used as an archival and educational facility and has a restaurant.


Anonymous said...

I like the history that you post about these mills. They were integral parts of our province's past.

Yesterday, I explored a mill in Everton, ON:

CopySix said...

Great location and images phrenzee !
I guess I will have to make tracks to Everton soon before we loose this one.