Photo Source: Historical Atlas of Carleton County, 1879, by H. Belden and Company
August 9, 2013: Thanks to Taylor Kennedy for this terrific photograph of Watson's Mill taken on August 8, 2013. This summer has been extremely rainy and the water level at the rapids is high for this time of year. ... Al
February 11, 2003: (picture of plaque)
Thanks to Taylor Kennedy who provided the text for this page and to Joy Carroll who provided the images: (more to come) YOUNG BRIDES' SPIRIT LIVES ON! Source: Ottawa Citizen (sorry, can't find date)On the long and winding Rideau River, in the village of Manotick, an ancient stone mill still stands. The rush of the river over the dam sends up mist that whispers along the side of the building. The mill isn't operating as a mill any more. It's a tourist site, where people can wander through the building to see how flour was made and, in summer, a farmers' market flourishes. On the second floor, old machinery is still visible. By the window, near the river, a dark, metal pipe rises up out of the floor, a twisted gear at the bottom. It's a bit colder here than in the other parts of the mill -- a strange, blanketing cold that makes your hair stand on end. A woman died here, horribly. She didn't even have time to scream. A woman's agonized scream came down from upstairs, filling the turbine room with the sound of pain and terror. The mill opened on Valentine's Day, 1860, built by Joseph Currier and his partner, Moss Dickinson. They started business immediately, grinding grain from the area farmers. A year later, Mr. Currier married a young woman named Ann who was half his age. They had been married six weeks when he brought her to see his prized mill. Watson's Mill in Manotick is a tourist site where visitors can find out how flour was made in the late 1800s. The wife of one of the original owners died on the second floor of the mill. She was excited; she didn't know anyone in Manotick, and she really wanted to fit in her new home. The mill at that time was cramped and filled with working cogs and wheels, big equipment to grind the flour. Flour dust was so thick you could hardly see, and you could feel it every time you breathed in, a choking feeling. Mr. Currier and his young wife had just gone up the steps to the second floor, when her long skirt was caught in a rotating gear. Ann was yanked violently and thrown head-first against a wooden beam, dying instantly. She was only 20. Her husband was devastated. He sold his shares in the mill, and never returned to Manotick. Ann was buried in New York, where she was born. The mill continued to operate, and people soon forgot about the tragic accident. But in 1920, late one night, Ann woke up. It was the night of a sudden thunderstorm, and a driving rain pelted the old windows, streaming down the warping panes. Lightning flashed, lighting the gruesome pole where Ann was flung to her death. A fisherman on the river, caught in the storm, crawled in through the basement window of the mill to get out of the rain. Thick wooden beams and pipes criss-crossed the room, blocking his view of the stairs. The angry water thrashed around the turbines below his feet. Already cold from the rain, he didn't notice the goose bumps on his arms or the draft that suddenly came down the stairs from the second floor. Shaking himself off, he stooped to take off his wet boots, but a horrible sound stopped him cold. A woman's agonized scream came down from upstairs, filling the turbine room with the sound of pain and terror. His face white, the fisherman cried out and scrambled through the window into the rain, leaving the terrifying echo behind. After that, Ann was silent again, for 60 years. But in 1980, two boys were walking across the dam beside the mill, the old lamps along the pathway giving off a pale, yellow glow in the deepening twilight. As they approached the mill, they heard a noise from above, like someone falling. They looked up to see a woman in a long skirt, standing at the window watching them. They froze. The ghostly figure tilted her head, and the boys grabbed each other and ran. Keeping their eyes on the window, they saw Ann slip away, and then reappear in the next window, following them. Over the years, Ann has been seen more often. She's become possessive of her mill, and doesn't like things changed. If tour guides move anything, they'll come in the next day to find it moved back to where Ann wants it.
Her footsteps, pacing along the second floor, are getting louder. Some people say it's because she knows her secret is out, so she doesn't have to hide in the darkness anymore. But in the cold winter months, when the mill is closed to visitors, Ann gets lonely. She comes out, sometimes walking along the front of the mill, but mainly watching people from her favorite window by the pathway. If you walk by, late on a winter night, you can sometimes hear her low, mournful voice, calling to the people below. Source: Ottawa Citizen (image scanned by Joy Carroll) See also King of The Rideau (Moss Kent Dickinson) on our bibliography page.
And here's some general background information on saw and grist mills, also from Taylor:
GRIST MILLS AND SAW MILLSWhile Grist Mills presented the same problems as Saw Mills, the on-site presence of their owners kept them in better condition. One recurrent problem was the requirement that the Mill Dam was not to restrict the migration of fish. This condition was written into all Mill permits, but failed in it's own intent to preserve game fish. While these Mills would not seem very grand to our modern day eyes, they filled the real need of their own times. Saw Mills were generally small open sided sheds with an outside, under shot wheel. Grist Mills were also small but two to three story in height and somewhat more enclosed. Both types of Mills and their machinery were built almost entirely of wood. The under shot wheel is driven by the rush of water under it and it is much less efficient than the over shot wheel, since it required a much smaller dam and almost no mill pond, it was easier to build. Mill dams were most likely built from loose stones trees and underbrush and had a fall of no more than eight feet. The Miller's dues were set by the Legislature at a twelfth of the grain ground or the wood sawed. Being a miller may have been very profitable, but it was also risky and difficult. There was the danger to the Mill itself from fire from the friction of the large wooden cogs in summer and from flood in every spring. The Miller risked death or maiming if he fell or caught his clothing in the large gears. He also faced the hazard of having to crawl around the water wheel in the millrace to chip ice to keep the machinery running as late in the year as possible. A typical description of a Grist mill. The exterior was clad in radial sawn spruce, the roof was hand-split cedar shakes; wide pine flooring on the two or three floors and was fastened with wrought iron nails. 12 over l2 true divided light windows on the second and third floor if applied and all hardware used was hand forged as were the interior and exterior lanterns. The 55-foot chimney was brick, and the interior walls were covered with a plaster skim coat. The exterior undershot water wheel would measure 20 feet 6 inches in diameter. Some regulations would prohibit the construction of a dam necessary to power an overshot wheel. The wheel drives interior wooden gearing in the basement, which in turn drives a four-foot diameter gristmill stone on the first floor of the building. The wooden gearing is made of indigenous woods.
July 12, 2005:
Moss Kent Dickinson Plaque
May 30, 2008: Thomas Langrell, who later became Chief of Police for the City of Ottawa, was the general contractor for Watson's Mill at Manotick. ... Al
June 25, 2011:
2011 Events at Watson's Mill
March 7, 2015: Taylor Kennedy ("Eagle Eye") has found this interesting photograph at Library and Archives, Canada: The photo shows the saw mill and house of Moss Kent Dickinson and his family in 1871.
The next photo shows the Dickinson home in 1925 The following photograph from page 35 of the book King of the Rideau shows that there were, in fact, two mills, one on each side of the Rideau River at Manotick. Note the bridge which is still there, although thre is only the stone mill now.