The Old Stone Mill in Delta, built in 1810-11 by William Jones and Ira Schofield, is the earliest surviving example of a fully automatic flour mill in Ontario. In 1817 the mill was described as "unquestionably the best building of the kind in Upper Canada". It was built, using local stone and timber, following the design for an "Improved Merchant Flour Mill" (aka Automatic Mill) created by American inventor Oliver Evans. It follows the Evans' design but has several unique features such as acting as its own dam. The beauty of the exterior stonework and interior woodwork speaks to the skill of the millwright who designed and built it.
In 1963 the last owner of the Mill, Hastings Steele, deeded the Old Stone Mill to a group of four people in trust, for the sum of one dollar. Mr. Steele's prime concern was that the Mill should be preserved and would in time become a museum of milling technology. These four people founded the Delta Mill Society and, in 1972, the Society was incorporated as a Non-profit Corporation in the Province of Ontario.
The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada declared the Old Stone Mill at Delta to be a National Historic Site in 1970 (see: historicplaces.ca). The Old Stone Mill is the only surviving pre-1812 stone flour mill in Ontario. In 1978 the Old Stone Mill was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Follow these links for a more detailed history of the mill:
Please note that these documents are set up for double sided printing, so you'll see a few blank pages in the PDFs because of that.
Delta and Lyndhurst - Forged Together
The story of Delta and Lyndhurst are intertwined with connections to the Old Stone Mill. This relates to the first iron works in Upper Canada, the Lansdowne Iron Works National Historic Site in Lydhurst. The following articles present that story:
For a brief history synopsis of the mill we have a "A History of the Old Stone Mill, Delta, Ontario" by Professor Paul S. Fritz, 2000. This 36 page booklet is only $10.00 and is available for sale in our Mill Shop.
For a more detailed history of grist milling and the mill, including a full chronology of the mill (and millers), we have "A History of Grist Milling in Delta" by Wade Ranford, 2006. This 131 page book is available as a free PDF (see link above), or as a printed book for only $15.00, available for sale in our Mill Shop
For a very detailed look at how the mill was sited (located) and built in 1810-11, we have Building the 1810 Old Stone Mill in Delta, Ontario by Ken W. Watson, 2022. This 120 page book is available as a free PDF (see link above), or as a printed book for only $20.00, available for sale in our Mill Shop.
New is a book about how the mill became the heritage showcase it is today. From Mill to Museum: The Grassroots Preservation Effort for the Gristmill in Delta, Ontario, Canada by Thomas Jared Hayes, 2022, documents the period from 1963 when the mill was sold for $1 to four trustees, to 1973 when we celebrated our National Historic Site designation and the public was let into the mill for the first time. It is available in our mill shop for $20.00.
In the 1780s, American inventor Oliver Evans worked out ways of automating the production of flour with the introduction of new machines, integrated into a continous process, at a family flour mill on Red Clay Creek, Delaware. In 1790 he received the 3rd U.S. Federal Patent for his new process. In 1795 he wrote a book, The Young Mill-Wright and Millers Guide, describing his process for "the manufacturing of flour and meal". Another millwright, Thomas Ellicott wrote a section of Evans' book describing the building design for hosting the process. The book became very popular and there were 15 editions printed through to 1860. We have an 1832 edition on display in the mill.
You can view or download Oliver Evans' The Young Mill-Wright and Millers Guide:
A c.1905 photo (hand painted postcard) showing the Old Stone Mill, the Denaut Hall, an upper brick hall on top of a carriage shed, and part of the Jubilee block (background) in Delta. A couple of French burrstone millstones can be seen outside the mill (behind the gentleman to the left of the entrance door) - these weren't needed since the mill was operating using roller mills at this time. Operating French burrstones were restored to the mill in 2010.
photo by: Ken Watson
The old Town Hall is in the background left (red brick building), the Old Stone Mill is in the middle with the Blacksmith's Shop (formerly the Denaut Hall - the upper brick storey was removed c.1960) to the right.
The Delta Mill Society
Box 172, Delta, Ontario K0E 1G0
Tel: 613-928-2584 (office)