article following is provided by that wonderful publication, the “Puslinch
Pioneer”, which for over thirty years has been dedicated to coverage of
(from the Puslinch Pioneer, v. 7, issue 9, May 1983.)
Mill is surely our township’s most well known landmark. Furthermore, it is a vital part of the area’s
historical heritage. “Annals of Puslinch
1850-1950” states that in 1829, Patrick Mahon, a native of
considering settling on land in the vicinity of what is now the
that Patrick Mahon did not trouble to register his title to the land until he
sold 27 acres to George McLean. Crown
grants were issued to George McLean on May 8, 1863 and to Patrick
and Barbara Mahon remained on the land at Aberfoyle all of their lives. Their children were John, Mary, Annie, James,
Mrs. John Foster, Barbara and Peter (1840-95). Peter
succeeded them on the property and also purchased another 250 acres, (L. 19 and
20, C.9). One hundred years
later, a descendant, Thomas J. Mahon, wrote the Aberfoyle section of the
history book, “Annals of Puslinch 1850-1950”,
published to commemorate the
was born in the highlands of
plentiful in this region, particularly virgin pine. George McLean and his friend Peter Clark were
1850, they owned L.5 C.13
George McLean then relocated at Aberfoyle, dug out the raceway and constructed that imposing two and a half storey building from brick made in the Morriston brickyard. The date of construction is variously reported as 1859, early 1860’s and 1868 and the length of time for which he operated it is stated as 14 years and 16 years. I think that it was built about 1862-3 and that George McLean was miller for 12 or 13 years. He called this the “Puslinch Mills” also.
“The Weekly Advertiser”,
June 28th, 1864.
(from the Puslinch Pioneer, v.7, issue 10, June 1983.)
of the Canadian economy, when the township was a pioneer district 130 years
ago, was wheat. Farmers sold the surplus
and drew some home for their own needs. Oats were
quite important to those of Scottish origin.
According to Mr. Thomas Mahon, the Aberfoyle Mill once had four run of
grindstones turning. (Two stones were a
run.) Two ran ground oatmeal, one ground flour and
another, feed. A LeFell
vertical turbine turned the millstones from a 600-foot sluiceway. In 1867, oatmeal from the mill was sent to
the International Exhibition (the world’s fair in
Twelve to fifteen men were employed at a time. Some of these men were James Little, Peter Clark (who became known as “Peter the Miller”), Donald Hanning, William Ross and Gregor McGregor. This “Peter the Miller” was not the same Peter Clark as the person mentioned in part one of this series, who, with George McLean, had built “Puslinch Mills” in Morriston, but was, in fact, his nephew, who later lived at Moffat. Five teams of horses were on the road picking up grain and delivering flour, oatmeal and chop.
George McLean married Ann Kennedy (born about 1836), daughter of Robert and Penelope (McPherson) Kennedy. According to the records of Duff’s Presbyterian Church, George and Ann had a family of six children: Peter Clark (b. Oct. 3, 1857), Donald George (b. July 26, 1859), Margaret Ann (b. May 12, 1861), Alexander James (b. Sept. 26, 1864), George John (b. June 27, 1867) and Penelope Grace (b. Apr. 11, 1869). More offspring may have been born after the family left the vicinity.
Fire destroyed the mill in 1866 but it was quickly rebuilt. After that time, no oatmeal was ground.
Gregor and Elizabeth McGregor and their two sons, John and Andrew,
emigrated from Inverness,
William McDonald leased the Aberfoyle Mill to the Houston (or Howson) brothers and the Nicolls for a short period, during which time it ran continuously day and night. Since the water supply was failing, they installed steam power. The small building on the north side housed the steam boiler. On March 3, 1885, R. B. Morrison bought it and placed his son, Charles, in charge of the business. On March 18, 1889, R.B. sold to John Hammersley.
Hammersley (1832-1908) farmed on
One of the
most exciting incidents in the history of Aberfoyle occurred either during the
partnership of Day and Hammersley or shortly thereafter. Mr. Thomas Mahon described it for a “
Hammersley married Margaret McLean (1867-1944), daughter of James McLean,
Aberfoyle storekeeper and, for many years, township clerk. Their children were: Emma H. (1890-1974) of
With an agreement signed on Aug. 1, 1908, Herbert Hammersley granted fishing privileges to William A. and George W. Clark, trustees of the “Good Times Fishing Club”, a group of Guelph and Toronto businessmen. They operated a small lodge on an island in the mill-pond until World War II. Thomas Mahon recalled catching a dozen trout in less than an hour when he fished in the pond as a youngster.
14, 1912, Herbert Hammersley sold to Gilbert MacEachern. Aberfoyle Realty bought it from Mr. MacEachern on Aug. 13, 1913 and sold it to James F. Murphy
of Freelton on June 5, 1915. Jim Murphy
did not grind any flour but sold-flour and prepared feeds and did chopping for
farmers. He installed hydro in the mill
in 1925. Wilfred Jay worked for
him. Jim Murphy would frequently give
children who accompanied their father to the mill a penny to spend at the
In front of Aberfoyle Mill,
(left to right) Tom Maltby,
Jim Murphy, Johnny Ord,
& Tom Maltby’s team.
Jim and Mary P. (Quirk) Murphy had one daughter. Miss Lenore Murphy (died Jan. 7, 1983) taught piano lessons and was in charge of the Aberfoyle Post Office for some years. Following Jim Murphy’s death in 1948, Mrs. Murphy sold the mill to S. Eugene Griffin who did business at the mill until 1952. Then, it lay idle, falling into disrepair.
History of the Aberfoyle Mill
(from the Puslinch Pioneer, v.8, issue 1, July/August 1983.)
On June 14, 1960, the Aberfoyle Mill began a new existence when it was purchased by F. Stanley and Marion L. Owens. Through the genius and foresight of Mrs. Owens and as a result of six years of work, the Aberfoyle Mill was not only preserved as a historic site but attained distinction as a fine restaurant.
Owens came to
In 1960, Stanley and Marion Owens set about restoring the mill as nearly as possible to its original condition. The turbine, the machinery and the sluice runway were repaired.
main dining room a large
The grounds around the mill were landscaped, thus turning a cedar swamp into a park. For a year or so this park was open for public swimming.
The Owens also started the “Aberfoyle Flea Market”, the renowned antique fair. After some time, their sons, Howard Fryer and Peter Owens, took over the flea market and moved it across Highway 6.
On Oct. 26, 1973 Marion and Stanley Owens sold to Bil-Lyn Co. Ltd. Both Mr. and Mrs. Owens have since died. Howard Fryer operates a restaurant in Mexico and Peter Owens, resident in Aberfoyle, is a balloonist and runs “Aeroblimp Co.”.
Pamela and Jorn Iverson are the present proprietors and the mill is widely acclaimed for its excellent cuisine and striking decor. Among its patrons is an international celebrity, singer Tom Jones, who dines here when appearing at nearby cities.
Other ventures have been made in recent years. A unique summer festival, “Art in the Park”, organized by the mill general manager, John Musicio, was held on the weekend of July 8 and 9, 1978. On Labour Day weekend 1978, a concert was hosted by disc jockey and television personality, Wolfman Jack. “Swingfest” was a rock revival show. The acts included The Duke Ellington Band led by Mercer Ellington, The Coasters, The Shirelles, The Drifters, The Glenn Miller Orchestra led by Jimmy Henderson, Dave Dudley and Ferlin Husky.
The Aberfoyle Mill has far surpassed its original purposes. Over a century after George McLean first ground grain into flour under these giant beams, we can enjoy the finest of food among the squared pillars of yesteryear.