The construction of mills shortly after the arrival of the settlers in 1819 was essential to the existence of these pioneers. The various mills performed different tasks: turn grain into flour, clean the grain for the next year’s seed, saw logs into lumber for building barns and houses, produce woolen goods etc. In addition the farmers would earn income from the sale of their farm products.
Below are a collection of photos of some of the mills built in the communities of Esquesing Township. Many of the first mills predated photography and some of the original mills were destroyed by fire so the photos are of the second or even the third generation mills.
From the 1877 Halton Historical Atlas
The early development of Georgetown, Acton and the surrounding communities was largely determined by topography, industry and access. A good source of water power was the key to their development. Early entrepreneurs built mills on the Credit River, Silver Creek and Black Creek.
George Kennedy settled in the area in 1823 and soon afterward built his saw and grist mills at the meeting place of two streams near the present Mill and Guelph Street intersection. This was the beginning of the small settlement, Georgetown.
c. 1880 A view across the Silver Creek valley showing the Charles Kennedy Saw Mill at Wildwood (now The Watchtower property).
c. 1900 The Norval Flour Mill, built by James McNab in 1828 and later owned by Robert Noble from 1868 to 1920, had an excellent reputation for the quality of the flour that was produced. It was a very sad day for the whole community when the grand old Mill burned down in the winter of 1930. When the new Grist Mill was damaged beyond repair by Hurricane Hazel in 1957 the mill race was filled in to allow more parking space for the Hotel. Today Highway #7 is built on the site of the mill.
The Lawson Flour Mill of Stewarttown was destroyed by fire in 1907. Left: Walter Lawson sr., Bert Hill, Mrs. Walter Lawson sr., Jean Lawson (Mrs. Joe Hunter), Miss Hettie Lawson, Pearl Richardson and Miss Mary Lawson.
ACTON – The silos at the Acton Flour Mill on Mill Street West. DATE: 6 Mar 1985
c. 1891 The Empire Woollen Mill of John Newton in Limehouse was destroyed by fire in 1893.
Benajah Williams of Grimsby Township purchased the Muirhead property, Lot 21 Conc. 10 Esquesing Township (Glen Williams) and had a saw mill up and running by 1825 followed by a flour mill soon afterward. In 1839 Jacob Williams started a woollen mill. Other mills included Tweedle’s sawmill and William McClure’s sawmill.
Joseph Williams’ saw mill, later power plant, in Glen Williams was built in 1850’s. DATE: 14 August 1986.
Photo of the Williams Mill in 2016. It is a recognized heritage building.
This drawing of the woollen mills in Glen Williams is taken from the 1877 Halton Atlas.
c. 1891 Workers pose outside the steam saw mill of Thomas Gowdy in Limehouse. It was destroyed by fire in 1893.
c. 1891 A panoramic view of the Newton farm and saw mill and the stump strewn fields, with the Limehouse Presbyterian Church, flanked by evergreen trees, visible in the distance, on the 6th Line and 22 Sideroad.
c. 1850 This is a very old photo of the Hornby Farlton Mill.
A postcard of the Barber Paper Mills, Georgetown, and the Credit River. Georgetown, Ont. The card was produced by
R.H. Nixon, Druggist & Stationery, Georgetown.
DATE: c. 1910
The Georgetown Paper Mill in 1948 was a major industry to the community.