Morningstar Mill history dates back to the 1800’s
Carla Mackie and Allan Veale presented an interesting history of the Morningstar Mill and the Morningstar family. The Morningstar Mill is a rural industrial heritage site owned by the City of St. Catharines and operated in partnership with the Friends of Morningstar Mill. The site features a working grist mill built in 1872 and the home of the Morningstar family. Decew Falls is named after John DeCou, an early landowner who built a stone grist mill after the war of 1812. The mill prospered until the building of the first Welland Canal left the mill without adequate water supply. DeCou sold his property in 1834 and over the next 30 years the mill fell into a state of disrepair. By 1872, Robert Chappell had built a new grist mill at Decew Falls called Mountain Mills but in 1875 the city of St. Catharines began work on their new waterworks and Beaverdams Creek was dammed just above Decew Falls. The St. Catharines Waterworks Commission purchased Mountain Mills to avoid damage claims.
With the completion of the waterworks and the Third Welland Canal, a consistent flow of water was restored and the mill was sold to Wilson Morningstar who operated Mountain Mills from 1883 to 1933. A fire in November of 1892 destroyed the interior of the grist mill but Morningstar took advantage of the opportunity to update his mill with the latest equipment which produced white flour.
The Morningstar’s home was built about 1895. Wilson produced his own electricity for lighting the mill and the house from about 1904 to 1914. By 1930, Wilson had gradually shut down his milling business. After he died in 1933, his family continued to produce animal feed for local famers on the occasional weekend until the turbine seized. Wilson’s granddaughter bequeathed the contents of the mill and house to the City of St. Catharines in 1994. In November 1996, thanks to a volunteer group called the Friends of Morningstar Mill, the mill produced stone-ground flour again using the restored waterpowered turbine and Wilson’s grinding stones. The mill is one of the few in Ontario that houses its original equipment. The interior of the house has been restored to 1932.
Our speaker at the October meeting will be Shirley Cooper from Bracebridge and the subject of her presentation will be “1812: The Age of Sail”.