Currie, Kaylin - Local Landscape Report: Peter Secord Grist Mill

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The Peter Secord Grist Mill, also known as the Old Mill, is a 18th century grist (flour) mill that was operated by Peter and his family. It is located at 137 Four Mile Creek Road, St David's, Ontario. It's location is historically and geographically significant as it is situated along Four Mile Creek at the crossroads of two very important trails, one of which was the Iroquois trail which later became Regional Road 81. The mill was built on land that was acquired by Peter in the late 1700's and he began farming on it with his family in 1780. In 1782 the government granted him money to build the mill with his brother James. It was completed in 1783. The mill itself was made of oak, three stories tall and had a stone basement. There was a leat, or millrace that diverted water from the creek, across the road, and up to the mill's waterwheel. The Peter Secord Grist Mill was the first grist mill built in the area and the second in all of Upper Canada. In 1814 the Americans burned down all the mills in St. David's except for the grist mill when they invaded during the War of 1812. This includes another one of the Secord's mills, a sawmill, that was situated south of York road. The mill has had may lifecycles over the years. It was operated as a mill until 1879 after which it was converted into an Inn which was visited by Marilyn Monroe in 1952 while she was filming a movie in Niagara. It was then purchased by the Bannister's in the 90's as a residential home. They renovated it, redid the landscaping of the property and made it into what it is today. The mill was officially included in Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act in 2003, where it was formally recognized as a significant landmark in the region.

LOCATION INFORMATION

Municipality: Niagara-on-the-Lake

Local area name: St Davids

Other identifying names or descriptions 137 Four Mile Creek Road, St David's, Ontario

Latitude: 43.15256

Longitude: -79.104283

The Peter Secord grist mill, also known as the Old Mill is an 18th century English flour mill that has been converted into a home. The Mill was the first of its kind built in Ontario and is the oldest of any mill in all of Ontario. It is located along four mile creek road and backs onto the Four Mile creek which was its water source during mill operations. The road was a significant native American trail system and the general area of Niagara on the lake and St Davids was an important area for native settlement and burial grounds. The mill is recognized as a heritage building by the Ontario Heritage Act. It is also seen as significant to the Secord family history as it was owned and operated by Laura Secord's uncle, Peter Secord, from who the mill gets its name. The mill has a long and exciting history surviving the burning of Niagara-on-the-lake and an attempt by the town to destroy the building in the late 1970's. Luckily it survived and is now protected as a heritage building. The mill is a private residence and is not open to the public.

MAP

Map 1: The Peter Secord Grist Mill


Map 2: a sketch of a map from 1840 with the Peter Secord Mill location marked with "mill"

ECOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL FEATURES - HYDROGEOLOGY

 
 

HISTORICAL FEATURES

 
 

Land Use History: Originally the land was owned by the crown when Peter secrod first petitioned Lord Dorchester to build a mill there. The Dorchester proceded build the mill in 1783 and allowed Peter to operate the mill, but he did not come to own it until 1796 by which time he had left the area of St. David's for Longpoint. Peter sold the both the grist mill and a saw mill he owned to his son David in 1798 who then sold it to his cousin Major David Secord (brother to James Secord Jr. who married Laura Secord) in 1799. The mill was operated by Major David Secord until 1820 and he sold it. The mill was operated by the new owners until the 1880's when it was sold again and converted into an Inn. It existed as an Inn for quite some time until it was purchased by the Bannister family in the 1990's and turned into a private residence. In 2003 it was formally recognized as a heritage building under the Ontario Heritage Act part IV.

CULTURAL FEATURES

 
 

LAND TENURE

The property is currently owned and maintained privatly as a private residence. There is no public access.

CONNECTIVITY AND CONTEXT

The mill was one of many that existed along Four Mile Creek and in Niagara on the lake. It was the first built in St Davids and as Niagara continued to be settled by Europeans many other mills were built along Four Mile Creek such as the Servos family mill. Saw mills were very popular in the area and Peter Secord also owned and operated a saw mill that was located in the heart of St Davids, a few minutes down the road from the grist mill.

LITERATURE CITED

Alberti, M. (2008). Advances in urban ecology. [electronic resource] : integrating humans and ecological processes in urban ecosystems. New York : Springer, c2008. Retrieved from https://proxy.library.brocku.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat00778a&AN=bu.b2099887&site=eds-live&scope=site

Benjamin Spicer Stehelin, 1840, Sketch of the Niagara District, map, scale 1:63,360, National Map Collection, Public Archives of Canada. http://hdl.handle.net/10464/10579

Grist Mill (a.k.a.Peter Secord Grist Mill). retrieved from http://www.guidetags.com/friends-of-laura-secord/e...

Lorne Kidd Smith. Laura Secord warns Fitzgibbons, 1813. c. 1920. Library and Archives Canada.

Miller, RJ. 2003. Old mill at 137 Four Mile Creek Road, Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (Part of Lot 91, Con. IV, St. Davids, formerly Township of Niagara), St. Catharines, Ont. : Robert J. Miller Land Use Planning Services, 2003. Viewed September 26 2018

Munro, Rob. Grist Mill (a.k.a.Peter Secord Grist Mill). Niagara Greenbelt Gateway Website. Accessed September 26, 2018. http://www.niagaragreenbelt.com/listings/69-mills/....

Our History. St. Davids Ratepayers Association. August 22, 2014. Accessed September 26, 2018. https://www.stdavidsontario.ca/our-heritage/our-hi....

Parnall, Maggie. Peter Secord Grist Mill C.1783. SPOOM Canada. Accessed September 26, 2018. http://www.spoomcanada.ca/Research/Secord/index.ht...

Petrie, Francis. 1997. Historic Landmark Faces Demolition Order. Niagara on the Lake Public Library. retrieved from http://vitacollections.ca/notlheritage/2737930/dat...


This Local Landscape Report was prepared by Kaylin Currie for the Brock University course TOUR/GEOG 2P94: Human Dominated Ecosystems on November 18th, 2018.

All copyrights for cited material rest with the original copyright owners.