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.
All are welcome to our gathering on Thursday, October 27, 7pm, in the Fireside Lounge at Centennial Place for a celebration of the bi-centennial of settler John Deyell's arrival in Cavan Township. From Forest to Farmland: The Surveying of Cavan Township presented by special guest speaker George Parker will explain how surveyors such as John Deyell helped shape the landscape and social constructs of our communities by defining how the land would be divided up and used in the new colony.
We will also celebrate the release of a re-print of Brief History of Cavan Township and Millbrook Village From the Year 1816 to 1937 by Mary Sloane Eakins, great granddaughter of John Deyell. This re-print has been made possible with the generous support of Galerie Q, Cavan and the Kiani Foundation. Copies of the book will be available for sale ($10) at the event.
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 of 2015 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. This summer a new foundation was poured and the mill has now been moved. There are several more steps in the process to complete before ownership of Needler's Mill can be transferred to the Historical Society, but we are almost there. Then exterior restoration will take place.
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.