Description of Historic Place
The Old Caledonia Mill, at 149 Forfar Street West, was constructed in 1857 by James Little, and is one of the best examples of early Haldimand County economic ability. This large original building has a cedar shingled gabled roof with subsequent additions that remain true to the same construction ideas.
Haldimand County designated the site for its historical value through By-law 403/83.
James Little owned much of the land on the south side of the Grand River, outside the village of Caledonia, and began construction on a mill, in 1850. From 1850 to 1853, Mr. Little cleared the land, dug, and constructed the foundation. In 1853, the actual construction of the building began. It took the better part of three years and, in January 1857, the mill opened and began to process wheat into flour. Mr. Little operated the mill for four years, until April 24, 1861, when he sold it to J.B. Holden and John Scott. They were in the business of custom work and cash for wheat. They sold the mill, in 1869, to Donald McQuarrie and James Thornburn. In 1873, William Munro, who owned land adjacent to the mill, joined the firm, which was re-named McQuarrie, Thornburn, and Munro. The new firm purchased the Caledonia Mills, on the north side of the river, and joined it with their mill, Balmoral Mills, on the south side , to form the Grand River Mills. They were successful for several years, until the 1880s, when financial difficulties caused problems. The mills had a series of owners in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, until 1980, when ownership was transferred to the Town of Haldimand (now Haldimand County).
The mill's main building was built in 1857 and has been expanded over the years with many additions. These additions were built with the same mode of construction as the original mill building. The super structure is post and beam construction with balloon framing for the exterior walls. Pine siding covers the exterior and cedar shingles are on the roof. The wheat was ground between three revolving stones, into which grooves have been laboriously chiselled by hand.
Source: Haldimand County By-law 403/83.
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the Old Caledonia Mill include its:
- location along the Grand River
- well-preserved post and beam construction
- three grindstones, with grooves chiselled by hand
- additions to the main building