The Mills and Millers of Puslinch
In the year 1856, Messrs. George
McLean and Peter Clark, both natives of Puslinch, built a mill for the
manufacture of flour and oatmeal. It
was of stone construction and stood on the northeast side of the
After his mill at Morriston was
burnt in 1859, George McLean moved to Aberfoyle and bought a property on
which a steam sawmill owned by a Mr. Fraser, already
stood. Here he built a mill of brick
for the manufacture of both flour and oatmeal. He put up a dam and dug out raceways to
make use of the flow of two or three creeks which ran through his land. A kiln for drying the oats was also built,
separate from the main mill. Four run
of stones were installed, two of these for oatmeal, one for flour, and the
fourth for chopping feed for farmers.
The business soon grew to be a prosperous one, twelve to fifteen men
being employed. Five teams were on the
road constantly, some drawing oatmeal to Guelph for rail shipment or for
local use, and some travelling to Hamilton with flour and oatmeal. The return loads from the latter place were
usually groceries or other freight for storekeepers along the road. From
Mr. Little, like all millers who used
good wheat and took great pains in the making of flour, had little patience
with complaints about the quality of it.
One day an irate farmer came to the mill with a bag of flour,
declaring that it was utterly unfit for baking into bread, and asking that it
be changed for a better article. Mr.
Little indignantly refused to do any such thing. Mr. McLean, who was standing by, said to
him, “Jimmie, you had better do as he wishes.” But Mr. Little more firmly declined,
saying, “I’ll no change it for you, Mac, or ony ither mon.”
About 1868 or 1869, fire again
visited Mr. McLean and destroyed his mill, but still undismayed, he quickly
rebuilt. He did not install any
oatmeal machinery, but confined the mill to making flour only. Not enough oats could be got locally to
keep going, and the extra expense of teaming oats from
He carried on for some three or four years and then sold out to William McDonald and Company. Mr. McDonald had been in the sawmill business previously. As the water supply was falling, they put in steam power, to help out. After a few years’ occupancy, the firm leased the mill to Howson Brothers, two young men and good millers. They remained but a short time and are now in the same business at Wingham.
Mrs. William McDonald, in the absence of her husband, kept the plant going. R. B. Morrison, general merchant of Morriston, was the next one to own the place, having taken it over in 1889. His son Charles was put in charge. In 1892, John Hammersley, a well-known farmer of Puslinch, bought it and later passed it on to his son, H. T. Hammersley, who ran it alone for a short period, subsequently taking a partner, T. D. Day, a practical miller.
The mill heretofore was using
stone, but to keep up with the age, the roller system was adopted. About 1896, Mr. Day retired and Mr. Hammersley became once more the sole owner, but only
until the end of 1912, when he disposed of it. Some prominent fishermen of
When the flour and oatmeal mill at
Aberfoyle, owned by George McLean was burned in about 1868, he rebuilt it,
but only as a flour mill. Having a
fine oatmeal trade, he wanted to retain it, but Aberfoyle was unsuitable for
such a business. Not enough oats came
from the local farmers to keep his mill fully employed, and teaming expenses
In 1830, The Canada Company sold
this site to one Andrew McVenn, who built a
distillery there. Mr. McLean now
fitted up the old woollen mill for the manufacture of pot and pearl barley,
cornmeal, and oatmeal. Four run of
stones for the meal and one special barley mill were used. Since his oatmeal had won the gold medal
and diploma at
Big Oatmeal Trade
The firm of John F. Tyrell, of New
York, handled all the oatmeal that was sent over the border, and as they
required much of it put up in one-pound packages, Messrs. A. R. Davis and
Harry Murton, under the name of Davis and Murton, took the contract for doing the packing. They rented space in the building on
In 1872, George McLean gave up the
business, and some time after was appointed manager of the Guelph Lumber
Company, which was formed to operate a timber limit at Parry Harbour, near
Parry Sound. Several prominent
Mr. Harry Murton took over the lease here and ran the business until the winter of 1881-2, when he moved to a new plant.
The mill was later occupied by Mr. Murray and then by Messrs. Cartledge, but as a cereal mill its career ended when Mr. Murton left it.
Mr. Harry Murton
left the Puslinch Mills property in the winter of 1881-82. Some time previously he had bought a piece
of property near the present C. N. R. passenger station and erected a
building of stone and fitted it up for manufacturing oatmeal and split
peas. Mr. Little, the miller, of
course, came along too, and with him, his son David, who had entered the
lower mill as an apprentice at the age of fifteen. He soon became able to operate that plant
alone, and usually had charge of it on the night runs. He is now living retired on
Mr. Murton did a thriving trade at his new plant, but found that in making the two cereals, it was inconvenient, for the arrangement of the mill did not permit of the making of both, side by side, and to do so alternately week about, on the one line, proved unsatisfactory. Therefore the manufacture of oatmeal was discontinued.
Mr. Little died October 1st 1913, in his 85th year, having been upwards of sixty years engaged in milling. Mr. Murton died in July 1919. After this, the business was changed into a limited company, under the name of H. Murton Limited and was managed by Mrs. Murton and her son, Mr. A. Shepherd, and on the death of Mrs. Murton, he became the sole manager. Mr. Shepherd died recently and the mill is now being conducted by his widow.
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