A ‘magical’ landmark
BY TARA MACDONALD
Staff The rain didn’t wash out the festivities on Sunday as the Martintown Grist Mill held its last summer event of the season.
From early July until September, the Martintown Grist Mill comes alive with a farmers’ market on the grounds with tents for vendors and picnic tables for guests to socialize or enjoy a bite to eat. The site has been transformed into a thriving hub for local artists, authors and entertainers to gather, showcase their work and connect with the community. Visitors are also welcome to meander through the building learning about its history and importance to the region.
Located along the banks of the Raisin River, the landmark is a rare example of a mid-19th century grist mill. This being one of the last of its kind still standing in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, the old grist mill played a major role establishing Martintown and helping to develop the agriculture sector in the area.
After years of sitting vacant and left to decay under the pressures of time and environment, the historic
“My wife Silvia was one of the ones that worked like heck to save the mill,” said committee member Donald Thomson. “She died in 2015, but I know she’s be pretty happy if she could see the mill as it is today.”
The group, now known as the Martintown Mill Preservation Society Corp., has spent decades and countless volunteer hours restoring the site and breathing new life into the once thriving village.
“It’s not just about the mill,” explained Society member Brian Arberry, “it’s about the community. The village grew around the mill. We’re trying to bring that back.”
“It’s a magical site for artists,” said Society President John Smith as he pointed out the colourful work on display by artist by Laura Stevens who spent last summer as artist-in-resident and returned for the closing event with her delightful three-month-old baby. “I like the ambiance, preserving the culture, history, and helping to make the building available to local artists and the community,” she says. New this year, the Society also invited various authors from the area to set up their own booths and to present readings from their works.
Drawing former residents, friends, family and visitors from across Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry the site is quickly becoming a popular tourism draw for the region. While some come to explore the architecture of the site and inter-workings of early turbine-style technology, others seek to experience rural village life and connect with the community. Still others are attracted by one-of-a-kind art, locally-grown fruit and vegetables, freshly baked tarts and other desserts. No matter the draw, it seemed everyone was eager to fill their bellies with Somkid Delorme’s deliciously popular Thai spring rolls, available in vegetarian, shrimp or pork. “This is my third time this summer,” said Williamstown resident Joanne MacDonnell. “It feels so welcoming and I like the food, the crafts people and the history. The people here do a lot for such a small community.”
“Oh my God, I love coming here,” agreed Somkid Delorme of Somkid Thai Food. “People are very friendly and help each other.”
The Mill’s next open-doors event will take place October 31 when the site hosts the spook-tacular Haunted Mill event.
Brian Arberry and Jo Sweet have helped maintain the Martintown Mill as a traditional hub in the village. “It’s not just about the mill,” says Mr. Arberry, “it’s about the community. The village grew around the mill. We’re trying to bring that back.” Drawing former residents, friends, family and visitors from across SDG, the site is a popular tourism draw.
HOT ROLLS: Somkid Delorme of Somkid Thai Food serving Ethan Milberry and Michaela Buhr, both from Berwick.