St. Catharines Heritage

John Hartig Photography

Morningstar Gristmill was first built in 1872, and is located on the south-west outskirts of St. Catharines. It has been a historical landmark of the community for decades. It is now run by a troop of volunteers who preserve the grounds and the artifacts of the old pioneering mill. It was built on land owned by Robert Chappel to process wheat, oats, barley and rye. It was constructed of native stone quarried from Beaverdams Creek to form the mill pond. The mill stones (flinty burr stones) originally came to Canada from the LaFerte fields of France and were brought over as ballast on ships planning to take back logs for sale in France. In 1875, the City of St Catharines Water Works Commission purchased property at DeCew Falls and constructed dams across Beaverdams Creek, interfering with the water supply to the mill. As a consequence, in 1878, the City of St Catharines was compelled to purchase the property from Chappel. This was the beginning of a long relationship between the City and the site that is locally known as "Morningstar Mill."

The City sold the property to Wilson Morningstar in 1883. Wilson Morningstar operated the mill until his death by heart attack in 1933. Morningstar's widow, Emma, sold the property in 1941 to Ontario Hydro who repaired the old turbine building. In 1961 Hydro leased the property to the City of St Catharines, and the next year Mountain Mills Museum was opened with Donald Robson, Morningstar's grandson, as the curator.

Ontario Hydro declared the property surplus and the City purchased the mill site in 1989. In 1992 the volunteer group "Friends of Morningstar Mill" was established and they began to restore and then operate the mill as an operating gristmill. At the start of the restoration project, much of the machinery and stones were as Morningstar had left them in 1933.

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Morningstar Mill Est. 1872

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