Thanks to the Friends of Morningstar Mill, there is now a fully restored 1872 grist mill beside beautiful DeCew Falls, a 22 metre (75 foot), waterfall. It is the only operating water powered mill in the Niagara Peninsula, and was one of the first milling operations to be powered by a water-powered turbine instead of a traditional waterwheel.
If you are out for a country ramble you can stop by the Morningstar Mill Living Museum Park anytime. There is a 1920s cottage garden, the Miller's House, the Blacksmith Shop, and the Mill itself, which has been designated as a provincial building of significant heritage value. Bring a camera, wander around, meet the volunteers if they are working on the property, and then enjoy a picnic in this lovely period setting.
In their book Exploring Niagara, Hans and Allyson Tammemagi write, "DeCew Falls cascades into a bowl-shaped amphitheatre just behind the mill. In days gone by, this was a popular spot to visit. There was a large spiral staircase leading into the gorge from 1890 to 1910." They suggest that this is "a good starting point for hikes. It is also a good staging area for bicycle tours south-ward into the Short Hills Provincial Park, St. Johns and Effingham."
The Friends of Morningstar Mill sell t-shirts, flour of many types, and bran and corn meal that they have ground and bagged at the mill. The stone-ground flour is made from the entire kernel of the wheat including the wheat germ, which is totally lost in most modern processing. That is why people add wheat germ to their cereal. The Friends flour is complete. What a treat to tell your friends that the fresh hot bread you just served them is made from wheat milled just as it was in 1872!
Volunteer Blacksmith John Bott said, "The kinds of grain we have at any moment are dependant on sales. We grind grains during open houses and when we are in need. We almost always have whole wheat which is the most popular flour. But people should give us a call on Tuesdays or Thursdays from 9:00 pm to 2:00 pm so they can make sure we have what they want before they drive out to the mill. The mill pond needs to be lowered during the winter so we cannot run that time of year".
During the school year tours are conducted for schools and particularly grade 3 classes who are studying Pioneer Living and grade 5 classes who study simple machines. The mill runs for these classes and there is sometimes a blacksmith on hand to demonstrate the making of square nails. There are several Open House weekends shown on the Friends of Morningstar Mill website under the Events - Dates - Hours tab, when visitors can actually see the mill running and watch the blacksmiths at their work.
Hours of this volunteer-managed facility are somewhat irregular.
Generally open from May 1 - Thanksgiving Weekend, on:
Most Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:00 am - 2:00 pm or 3:00 pm
Saturday, Sunday and holiday Mondays 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Closed July 1 weekend (volunteers participate in Sherkston Antique Steam Show).
Depending on the weather, volunteers may be present onsite before and after the above dates, so please feel free to visit.
A Spring Open House takes place each year, usually in late May. Check the Friends of Morningstar Mill website under the Events - Dates - Hours tab for dates and details.
Buildings are closed during the off-season. However, the site is open for self-guided tours year round.
QEW exit 49 to Hwy 406 and drive about 11 km
Right on St. Davids Road West
Left on Merrittville Hwy at the second stop light and drive about 1 km
Right on DeCew Road at lights, just before Lake Gibson and drive about 2 km
Right into the Mill's little parking lot beside the Beaverdams Creek mill pond
If you come to the three way stop at Cataract Road you have gone too far
Mountain Mills Museum pamphlet available at the museum and from the City of St. Catharines, Recreation & Community Services Department, 320 Geneva Street, St. Catharines L2R 7C2 Phone (905) 937-7210
Ministry of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Information Centre:
City of St. Catharines owner
Friends of Morningstar Mill manager
Free admission, however donations are gratefully received and go to the preservation of the site, all buildings and displays.
Donations of old tools, steel for the Blacksmith's shop, Canadian Tire money or money of any kind are appreciated.
If you are interested in helping, cheques can be made to Friends of the Morningstar Mill. If you would like a charitable tax receipt please send to the City of St. Catharines, Recreation and Community Services Department, PO Box 3012, 320 Geneva Street, St. Catharines, Ontario L2R 7C2
Wheelchair Accessible Washroom
2710 DeCew Road
St. Catharines, Ontario
L2R 6P7 Municipality City of St. Catharines
Friends of Morningstar Mill
22 Cliff Road
St. Catharines, Ontario
Tel (905) 688-6050
The nearby Bruce Trail "continues eastward, passes a large reservoir (Lake Moodie)which supplies water for the DeCew Hydro-electric power station, one of the oldest in Canada, and then wends its way to Brock University."
"Hiking westward from Morningstar Mill, you will gradually descend the Niagara Escarpment and enter into Short Hills Provincial Park. This is an interesting area where the normally linear escarpment has been broken into a jumble of hills and valleys."
- excerpts from Hans and Allyson Tammemagi's book Exploring Niagara