The Millbrook and Cavan Historical Society is committed to preserving the stories and the artifacts, manuscripts and photographs that serve to illustrate the history of Millbrook, Cavan and the surrounding district in south central Ontario (Canada) for the present and future generations. It also seeks to inspire interest in the value of local history by keeping the stories alive.
From September to May each year, we hold regular 'gatherings' to learn more about our history and share stories. For the most part, we meet in the evening in the fully accessible Fireside Lounge at Centennial Place in Millbrook. Over the past eight months we have enjoyed a variety of presentations and conversations, from local recollections of one-room schooldays to the experiences of World War 1 Canadian Nursing Sisters. Over the summer, our program committee will be hard at work to line up an exciting and interesting series for the coming season.
One of the stories we are keeping alive right now is that of Needler's Mill. There has been a mill next to the Millbrook Dam since John and James Deyell built the first one in the 1820s. That grist mill established Millbrook as a community. The mill currently on that site - Needler's Mill - was built in 1830 by Adam Scott. It was moved to Millbrook from Cedar Valley, 6 km downstream, when the mill in Millbrook burned in 1909.
In the spring of 2015, two things happened to threaten Needler's Mill: the Conservation Authority, which has owned the mill since 1967, declared heritage mills surplus to the Authority's needs; and the Chief Building Official placed an Unsafe Building Order on Needler's Mill. To prevent the mill from being demolished, the conditions of the Unsafe Building Order had to be met.
The Millbrook and Cavan Historical Society negotiated through the summer with the Conservation Authority to purchase the iconic structure. The condition of the sale: the Historical Society must address the Unsafe Building Order and the requirements of the Conservation Authority by moving the flour/grist mill (the 1830 structure) onto a new solid foundation immediately west of its current location. The deadline for this move was originally October 31, 2015, but was extended to June 2016 because the Conservation Authority was required to undertake an archealogical assessment. The Historical Society estimated the cost of saving Needler's Mill at $90,000 and launched a fundraising campaign in September 2015. The response from the community and beyond has been enthusiastic and overwhelming - the funds were raised within two months. By late December, the grist mill had been lifted off the current unsafe foundation onto a grid of steel beams. In February of this year, the saw mill (built in 1922 and reconstructed in the early 1980s) and the machine shed were dismantled as per the conditions of the agreement. The saw and other components are safely stored. We are currently preparing for the work of building a new foundation and moving the mill.
More about us:
The Historical Society brings community members and visitors together on a regular basis to broaden and deepen our knowledge and understanding of the history of this area. We bring a variety of speakers to our gatherings over the course of each year.
We also answer all genealogy inquiries and help in directing those tracing family roots to relevant resources. A key local resource is 'This Green & Pleasant Land - Chronicles of Cavan Township' originally printed in 1990 by the Millbrook & Cavan Historical Society. We have reproduced this volume on DVD or a 2 CD set. The entire 465 page volume, including 130 family histories and Tremaine's 1861 map of the township showing landowners, is fully searchable in the DVD/CD format, and is available for $20 (plus postage) from the Historical Society.
Our newspaper indexing project is one of our major projects, as we work in partnership with the Ontario Genealogy Society. We have also embarked on an Oral Histories project.