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.
In February, the subject of our Fireside Chat is "Memories of Main Street". Many businesses have come and gone over the years but some left lasting impressions. We will have a plan of the downtown core with photographs of every building taken at some time in the past 120 years, which should spark the memories of some and prompt the telling of a few tales! And be sure not to miss Peter's 'What is it?' feature! This event takes place in the Fireside Lounge at Centennial Place in Millbrook, and all are welcome to attend.
"March Masquerade", our gala fundraiser, is taking place on Saturday, March 25, from 7 pm, at the Legion Hall, Branch 402, Millbrook. Come for food, fun and farfare, with music, dancing, silent auction and surprises! Tickets on sale soon, $20 per person.
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 2016, 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 past summer a new foundation was poured and the mill has now been moved several metres to the west. The front porch has been rebuilt to meet code standards and the final building inspection has been completed. We look forward to painting the exterior in the late spring and celebrating this community's success in saving Needler's 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.