Bellamy's Steam Flour Mill
Upper Canada Village R.R. 1 Morrisburg, Ontario KOC 1X0 Photos by IMA's Judy Whiteside
Upper Canada Village, situated on the St. Lawrence River in what was once called Canada West, represents a typical rural 1860s riverfront village of approximately 500 people. The village covers 66 acres, and contains three mills, two farms, two churches, two hotels, and some 25 other agricultural, domestic and commercial buildings. Hours of operation are May 19 to October 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Special events are held throughout the season.
On July 27, 1984 the steam plant for Bellamy's Mill was fired up for the first time and on September 2 the remainder of the milling machinery was set in motion. The reopening of the mill was an important historic occasion and one which marked the beginning of a new phase in the development of Upper Canada Village.
The mill's first opening was in 1822 the pioneering work of Samuel, Chauncey and Hiram Bellamy, brothers and recent immigrants from Vergennes in the state of Vermont. At that time the township of Augusta was sparsely settled and backward compared to those on the St. Lawrence River. The construction of a grist mill in the township would have been seen as an event of considerable importance for the neighboring settlers the possible difference between success and failure.
Pictured in the engine room of Bellamy's Steam Flour Mill, Alden Place maintains the 125 year old steam engine used to power the mill. The mill operates on water and steam power provided by a reciprocating steam engine from the Henry Ford Museum collection. Upper Canada Village photo.
In the 1820s wheat was the staple crop of farmers in Upper Canada. Generally there was a good export market as well as a strong domestic demand, but a flour or grist mill was necessary to convert the wheat into a marketable commodity. Before the mill was built wheat was drawn twenty miles or more to mills near Brockville or Prescott across indifferent and often impassable roads. The construction of Bellamy's Mill would have had other benefits. Building provided work for tradesmen and laborers. The ensuing business conducted at the mill offered the enterprising a means to make a living storekeepers, hotelkeepers, and tradesmen were quick to set up shop. The farmers had the most to gain: their township became more desirable to settlers, their land more valuable and their farms more profitable. Rapidly a new community developed around the mill taking the name of the township, Augusta. Such a pattern was repeated across the province of Upper Canada.
Bellamy's Mill in 1822 consisted of the main structure now located at Upper Canada Village. It measured 40 by 50 feet and provided inside two pair of stones with which to mill flour and meal. In 1825 business justified the addition of a second pair and allowed the separate grinding of flour on finer textured stones.
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