Mills of the Past Help Reinvigorate Area
A Journey into Cambridge
Industrial mills play an important role in the history of Cambridge.
Because of its location at the at the confluence of the Grand and Speed rivers, it was not long after the area's European settlement that industrialization began in Galt, Preston and Blair.
For ywears the mills were the lifeblood of the region. Then, they as economies changed the mills were neglected. Many buildings have been lost.
But thiose that remain are being reinvented and treasured for modern use.
An example is the place now called Cambridge Mill.
Now restored inside and out, this five-storey 19th century mill is home to is one of the oldest surviving industrial buildings in Cambridge. Today a restaurant, the structure, originally called Dickson Mill, tells the story of the city's manufacturing history and progress.
The original wooden building was constructed in 1842 by Robert Dickson, the eldest son of Galt’s founder, William Dickson. Requiring power for his mills, William erected a dam that created more energy than any other water power plant in Waterloo County. The dam provided enough power for a flourmill, sawmill and a wool factory.
Following a major flood in 1974, many riverside buildings were demolished and replaced by flood walls and berms. Dickson Mill survived the flood and remains an impressive reminder of what was once an unbroken row of stone mills and factories lining the Grand River.
Today, Dickson Mill is a well-known architectural landmark. The Ciancone family, owners of the Ancaster Mill in Ancaster, Ontario, purchased the Dickson Mill in 2008 and immediately began the extensive building and restoration process. In 2011, the mill was given new life as Cambridge Mill, a stunning riverside restaurant and special event facility.
Another mill that has found new life is home to the University of Waterloo, School of Architecture. A nationally and internationally respected design school, it is located in the historic Riverside Silk Mill in the old Galt neighbourhood of Cambridge, along the banks of the Grand River. The school's curriculum has been rated the greenest architecture curriculum in Canada. This fact can be seen in how tastefully the school has blended into the existing structure and its surroundings.
These are but two examples of how old mills have been modernized without losing the spirit and essence of their souls.