Friday, 2 July 2010

A Visit to Watson's (Long Island) Mill in Manotick

While we were in Manotick we visited Watson's Mill; one hundred and fifty years old this year. Happy Birthday to Watson's Mill! A very handsome old stone building on Long Island in the Rideau river.

It's not too far off the main intersection of Manotick, and is directly across from a small public park (Dickinson Square) and the old miller's house. The house is open on weekends during the summer as a museum. Alas, we were not there on the weekend so had to content ourselves with just the mill.

The whole process of milling is described and illustrated very thoroughly inside, from the arrival of grain in bags when it was weighed on a scale built into the floor, on through to finished flour. Admission is free, although they would love to get a small donation.

Several of the old "elevators" for the grain can be seen in what look like oddly-placed support beams. They've been opened in spots and the wooden sides replaced with glass to show the little scoops that carry the cleaned grain up to the top of the mill to begin to be milled into flour.

Here's an obsolete piece of equipment, and aren't we glad? Smut, or fungus was once pretty much a given on the raw wheat, and had to be cleaned off before milling could continue.

A display of old spinning wheels in the open space of the mill's second floor.

Looking up from the turbines in the basement.

This piece of equipment in the attic raked and turned the wheat to cool it at a point in the proceedings when it would have gotten hot from handling, and needed to cool before being milled.

Outside, the mill-dam sends water through the turbines to power the mill.

And finally, the flour! Watson's Mill is still a working mill, one of only a handful in Ontario. They only mill every few weeks (their schedule is listed on their website) and on weekends you can buy bread made with the flour. I noticed they had a video on their site as well, about making bread using their flour. However, you can buy the flour any time they are open. I asked, and they do make a point of using locally grown wheat whenever they can get it, which is most of the time but not always. Naturally, we bought some. I'll post once I've used some of it.

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