GORRIE – The Maitland Mills Association informed Maitland Conservation recently that they would have to withdraw their proposal to remove and preserve the Gorrie (Maguire) Mill, citing too many obstacles.
“The MMA would like the members to consider the idea of allowing the artifacts from the Maguire Mill (machinery, tools, equipment) to be given to the Maitland Mills Association to be used for display in the Brussels Mill for public education and history of local mills on the Maitland,” Stewart Lockie, MC’s conservation areas coordinator, said in a report to the board.
MC members drafted the following motion: “That staff obtain quotes from two companies to selectively demolish the structure, salvaging reusable materials and that the Maitland Mills Association be permitted to have the artifacts from the mill.”
The hope is that the same company that is beginning the work on the Gorrie Dam will also do the millwork.
The Wingham Advance Times reported on this story in 2020. At that time, the Maitland Mills Association proposed to MC that the Gorrie Mill building be dismantled and moved to a new location and reassembled.
However, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Maitland Mills Association says many uncertainties impact their project.
MC presented to Howick council on July 21, 2020, showing the conservation authority's plans for decommissioning the Gorrie Dam and restoring the surrounding parklands.
“The proposal to remove the building from its current location was proposed because of its condition and location in the floodplain,” Lockie said. “If it were to be damaged or moved during a flood it could pose a threat to the downstream bridge.”
Lockie provided an exclusive look inside the old flour mill to the Wingham Advance Times to photograph the artifacts and the structure before it is dismantled. He told the newspaper that some of the items in the building were not original to this location. Still, most of the old machinery is and tells a story of the working conditions long ago.
Dark, dusty conditions and less than safe machinery (compared to today's standards) tell a story of the hard work that happened to make a simple staple like flour. Worn-out stairs depict the manual style labour that would have happened in the olden days when the Leech brothers, James and Nathanial, built the historic building.
The brothers built the mill in 1856, and the Township of Howick was laid out by the brothers in 1857 after great success with the mill, according to ruralroutes.com.
“The name on the plans was Howick Village, but all referred to the place as Leechville,” the website said. “When the post office was established that year the Leech brothers named the settlement Gome after Gorey in County Wexford, Ireland, hometown of their parents.”
The Gorrie Dam decommissioning is scheduled to begin in the next couple of weeks, and more will be known then as to the fate of the old mill in Gorrie.
, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times