BROCKTON – “We fell in love with it,” said Emma and Graham Cubitt, the new owners of the Paisley Mill.
They first saw the property during the pandemic, while on a canoe trip on the Saugeen River, and noted the mill was for sale.
“We love old buildings,” said Graham.
That, combined with the natural beauty of the area, and a location that’s only a 15-minute drive from world-class beaches and a short walk into a town that has all the basic amenities, made the Cubitts take a closer look.
Emma is an architect; Graham is with Indwell, a non-profit housing organization. They live in Hamilton but spend a lot of time in the area.
They had dreams of developing a space for a retreat centre, the expertise to do it, and the resources. And now they have the spectacular 1885 Paisley Mill.
Their website states: “Our aim is to provide short and long stay accommodation rooted in historical and ecological preservation – with a community focus.”
“It’s a paradise here along the Teeswater River,” said Emma. Her aim is to provide “flexible” accommodations suitable to both individuals and large groups.
Guests have included both local people and folks from all over the province. The furthest so far are from Texas.
To date, two floors have been restored, but plans are to continue with the process. Eventually, the goal is to make the mill fully accessible, with an elevator. The owners would be interested in hearing from the public about what they’d like to see at the mill.
Among the ideas the Cubitts are exploring is a “hundred mile feast” showcasing local food and art.
As they realize their goal of “sharing the mill with as many people as possible,” the Cubitts are striving to keep the mill “off the grid” as much as possible. Explained Emma, “We may not be able to harness the power of the river, but there’s the sun.”
The mill presently offers various types of accommodations including the Yurt – outdoor “glamping” for three-plus people, in addition to interior living space. Information on accommodations and reservations is available on the website – paisleymill.ca.
According to the Paisley Mill website, the first flour mill on the site was built in 1854 by John Valentine, who later sold the sawmill and grist mill to James Stark. The original grist mill burned to the ground in 1884 but was rebuilt the next year by barn framers. It stands five storeys high with a four-storey grain elevator next to it.
Each floor has two-inch thick tongue-and-groove maple flooring.
The sawmill operated until it was destroyed in the spring flood of 1929.
The flour mill remained in the Stark family until 1975, and sat vacant until 2000, when the property was purchased by John and Helen Crysler. The Cryslers retired in 2020.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times