Needler’s Mill is the third mill to be located adjacent to the Millbrook Dam. Needler’s Mill was originally a part of what was the Cedar Valley mill, built by Adam Scott in 1830, and it was located several kilometers downstream from its current location. Needler’s Mill was moved to the current site after a fire destroyed the Millbrook Mill in 1909. The sawmill and flour mill were added some time afterwards.
Needler’s Mill continued to operate as a flour and grist mill and sawmill until 1974. The wooden turbine used to power the various pieces of machinery is still in place.
In 1967, Needler’s Mill and the Millbrook Dam were acquired by the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority (ORCA).
In 1980 residents and the municipality undertook a project to repair the structural integrity of Needler’s Mill. New concrete footings and piers as well as steel beams were installed. A new roof was installed at the same time.
Current Status of Needler’s Mill
The Needler’s Mill site features five buildings, including the flour mill, saw mill, machine room shed, wood storage shed and the deck and veranda.
In April 2015, concerns about the structural integrity of the Needler’s Mill buildings were brought to the attention of ORCA by the Chief Building Official (CBO) for the Township of Cavan Monaghan. In response, ORCA retained a structural engineer to investigate the concerns and to prepare a structural assessment of the foundation of Needler’s Mill and in the weeks that followed an assessment report of the timber framing of the buildings was completed. Both reports were submitted to the CBO.
On June 1, 2015, ORCA received an “Unsafe Building Order” as issued by the Township’s CBO, under the authority of the Building Code Act. The Order concludes that the buildings are unsafe and sets out the requirement that one of three options be undertaken by ORCA, as the owner, to permanently remove the unsafe condition. The Order also establishes a compliance date of August 3, 2015.
Having been declared surplus to the needs of the conservation authority by the Board of Directors, ORCA invited expressions of interest from third parties for the purchase and removal of the buildings (this being one of the Options as outlined in the Order). The deadline to submit an offer to purchase was Thursday, July 23, 2015.
The Board of Directors of the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority (ORCA) accepted the Offer to Purchase the Needler’s Mill from the Millbrook and Cavan Historical Society. The decision was reached during the Board’s regular monthly meeting held Thursday evening (August 20, 2015).
The Cavan and Millbrook Historical Society planned to relocate the flour mill on a new foundation in such a manner as to not impact the operation of the Millbrook Dam. The Society was required, as part of the purchase agreement, to have the necessary permits and approvals to undertake the work by October 15, 2015 and satisfy the requirements of the Unsafe Building Order by October 31, 2015. A land lease arrangement between ORCA and the Millbrook and Cavan Historical Society will allow the Needler’s Mill to remain at the Millbrook Dam site.
As of October 2016, the Needler’s Mill is on a new foundation! Upon final inspection by the Chief Building Official (January 20, 2017) all of the particulars related to the Unsafe Building Order have been completed.