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Paisley’s Stark Mill faces an uncertain future

December 2020

All across the county, in small towns and the corners of bigger ones, many former mills still stand, and many of them have been restored and re-purposed into new commercial and residential buildings.

The early settlers of North America built mills in their towns, usually beside rivers that would provide power by use of a water wheel, to grind wheat into flour.

John Valentine built a mill beside the Teesewater River in 1854, using stone mill wheels to grind the wheat. Valentine’s Mill was not far from where the Canada North-West Railway line, later known as the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway, would be built through the town not long afterwards.

Valentine sold the mill in 1872 to James Stark

The original mill on this site was built in 1855 by John Valentine and was sold to James Stark in 1872. The original mill burned in 1884. The present mill was built in 1885, using post and beam construction. At that time, the stone mill wheels were replaced by steel rollers.

The Stark family also operated a saw mill on the property, but it was destroyed by a flood in 1929.

The mill ceased producing flour at the end of the World War II, but continued to operate as a feed mill. It remained in the Stark family for over 100 years, until it was closed in 1972. It sat empty for the next 29 years.

The derelict mill was bought by Paul and Helen Crysler in 2000. When Paul took early retirement from his teaching position at Upper Canada College in the spring of 2002, they restored the old mill and transformed it into an artisan craft store, with living accommodations above the store.

Nature’s Mill Works sold a variety of items, some produced by local artists and crafters, along with children’s books.

Sadly, after an 18-year run, Paul & Helen closed Nature’s Mill Works on 20 December 2020 and sold the mill.

It’s unknown what will come of the historic mill, but local pressure to maintain it is already strong.

Sources: http://www.deeprootstalltrees.com/PaisleyAlbum/Industry.shtml, https://www.naturesmillworks.com/zencart, https://millpictures.com/mills.php?millid=1100, https://www.ontfin.com/Word/starks-mill-ontarios-old-mills, https://www.naturesmillworks.com/zencart, https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/11/30/natures-millworks-closing-its-doors.html

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/paisleys-stark-mill-faces-an-uncertain-future/

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