The Village of Millgrove lies just west of Highway #6 North, along the Fifth Concession Road at the junction with the Millgrove Side Road. It was founded by David Cummings (1806-1887), one of the three sons of an early Upper Canada pioneer, Daniel Cummings. He and his wife Margaret Rymal arrived in 1826 and began to clear the land, and with other early pioneers such as Albert Palmer, Adam Begg, and the Carey and Ryckman families established a small settlement. It was not until 1835 that David Cummings legally owned the property, Lot 18, Concession 5 which cost him ,66 5s. Rich soil, fish-filled streams and woodlands filled with oaks and pines provided an ideal home for these settlers. Several mills were established along the Grindstone Creek which meanders its way through the village – hence the name “Mill Grove.”
Many of the old buildings dating back to pioneer days still remain in Millgrove. Careful restoration and additions to several old buildings may be seen, along with several excellent gardens filled with varieties of old Canadian perennials.
1. The General Store, 338 5 th Concession Road West
The centre of village life and a familiar sight to those who live in Millgrove, the General Store was built in the 1950s by Arthur Hyatt, a face often seen on Millgrove’s Senior Men’s Softball team. The building serves as a grocery store and post-office with a home on the second floor.
2. Perennial Garden, 328 5th Concession Road West
The owners of this attractive and well-tended lot were presented with an Award of Excellence in 1991, in recognition of their hard work and skill in maintaining an almost year-round flowering garden.
3. The Stone Barn, 328 5th Concession Road West
The name “Rat Tannery” has been attached to this stone building ever since Ed Sawell used the building to hang and tan pelts of local wildlife such as rabbit, squirrel, porcupine and groundhog. When the building was constructed in 1850, it served as a two storey field stone factory. It was similar to two other evaporators in Millgrove which bleached and preserved apples over burning sulphur.
4. The Tollgate, Highway #6
The remaining property leading to Highway #6 was the site of several long forgotten businesses including a blacksmith and a clock repair shop. Several innkeepers such as Peter McCullough kept an inn at this location c.1864-5. Also along this stretch of road was a tollgate, an important source of income used to maintain the road before it came under provincial jurisdiction.
5. The Flatt Home, 335 5th Concession Road West
This well-preserved frame house was built by Samuel Flatt (1839-1912) the local tax collector in the district. His grandson, Stanley C. Burnes, a sports enthusiast, who participated in many Millgrove activities, also spent his childhood growing up in this home. Behind stands a unique frame barn and stable built c. 1864. The peak slope and small doorway at the top that was used for hay is unusual, and is probably taken from the New England style of saltbox construction, and adapted in Millgrove.
6. The Palmer Home, 11 Binkley Court
This beautiful home built in the early 1870s was originally the residence of Albert B. Palmer one of the very early settlers of Millgrove. Mr. Palmer came to Millgrove as a school teacher, and a carpenter by trade. Upon arriving in 1841, he purchased the “Gore of Millgrove” (the triangle shaped property between the 5th Concession Road, Millgrove Side Road and the Highway) from the Crown. Shortly after he became the first Real Estate Broker in the area by selling off ten lots on the south side of his property to new settlers. Albert Palmer remained an active citizen in Millgrove until his death in 1874.
This small road from #6 Highway was named in honour of the Binkley Family. Elijah Binkley (1821-1898) was among the early settlers in the community. Nineteen children were born to him and his two wives. Life was not easy for the early pioneers and the story that he and his wife returned from the cemetery after burying two children to find a third had died in their absence was not uncommon.
7. The Rolph Home, 337 5th Concession Road West
This lot was sold by Joshua Worthington in 1862 for $15 to Emmanuel Rolph, who had arrived with his family from the Isle of Wight. A small frame house was built on the lot and occupied by the family. Later Oscar Crooker, Rolph’s son-in-law lived here as did William Rayner who was a meat peddler and had a hook in the place of an amputated hand. Today a newer home replaces the old house which was razed and replaced with the present home that served briefly as Millgrove’s fifth post office.
8. The Stewart Home, 2 Lewis Lane
A Butternut tree on the side lawn, an unusual gable window above the door, and a verandah that stretches across the front, characterize this frame house built by James Stewart, who came from Waterdown in 1895 to teach and hold the position of school principal. He was renowned as a remarkable teacher as well as an active citizen who took a lively part in social and community events. Stewart Lane, named in his honour, which runs beside the property, is no longer used today but remains as a foot path.
9. The Orr Home, 351 5th Concession Road West
About 1870, William Orr, a local builder, constructed this home for his family. Others who have lived there include William Tufgar, a former postmaster, and John Dalton, who like Tufgar took an active role in the drama presentations in Millgrove during the the early 1900s. Today one can see an old drive shed behind the house and notice the front door framing which is probably original
10. The Old Parsonage, 353 5th Concession Road West
This historic frame house was constructed during the early 1850s as a parsonage for the Tabor Chapel of the New Connexion Methodist Church. The property to the left of this home was purchased in 1850 by the church from Albert Palmer for ,10, and used as the site for the Tabor Chapel. The first settlers travelled to Rock Chapel for Sunday services. Tradition has it that the children walked barefoot through the 4th, 3rd and 2nd Concessions with their Sunday boots slung over their shoulders until the Chapel came into view.
A Meeting House was erected in 1848 and by the 1860s boasted over 50 members. Among the Class Leaders was Shipman Cummins, the local J.P. He is remembered as a “stern, puritannical and fiery pillar of the Methodist Church.” With his long, flowing beard, he appeared to the young of the time to have stepped from the pages of the Old Testament. The building was moved to another location and shortly after all services were held at the new brick Methodist Church built in 1882 (the present day United Church.) The parsonage was extensively improved in the 1940s, with added dormers to make a second storey, and a stucco coat applied over the original clapboard.
11. The Old General Store, 358 5th Concession Road West
This corner lot was not only the site of the Old General Store but also the location of several businesses and mills. Before it was used as a corner store it was purchased by David Cummins from Solomon Washburn in 1842 and operated as a small woodworking shop. It was later replaced by a blacksmith shop which operated until the lot was sold in the 1870s and a frame building erected to be used as the general store. On the neighbouring lot James E. Foster ran a small grocery store and post office c. 1880. The bustling corner store was also a social centre and meeting place for the men of the village. Memories of many evenings spent sitting around the large stove exchanging anecdotes and discussing community gossip filled the walls of the old general store for hours.
12. The Greenland Home, 350 5th Concession Road West
This frame house, built close to the sidewalk is believed to date from 1850. It is surrounded by an attractive and well-tended garden like so many of the early Millgrove homes. It was built prior to the arrival of Roger Maynard who was the local public school principal in 1881. Over the years it has been used as a retirement home of many residents including Fred and Laveen Greenland, and is today occupied by the Greenland’s son. Fred Greenland was the representative of Ward Five as a member of the Flamborough Council following its inception in 1974.
13. The Markle Home, 346 5th Concession Road West
The original occupants of this home were William Markle (1823-1899) and his wife Susanna Cummins (1826-1914.) Throughout the years it has been occupied by numerous other family members of the Markle family, and is today seemingly abandoned.
14. The Lewis Home, 1 Lewis Lane
Lewis Lane received its name as a fond reminder of the important Lewis family in Millgrove. This old house was built about 1850 by William Lewis (1820-1901) and his wife Mary Mercer (1824-1915).
15. 342 5th Concession Road West
Little is known about this old house built during the 1870s, even the name of the first occupants is lost. For many years it suffered neglect but following its purchase in 1993 the owners undertook a massive restoration and received an award in recognition of their commitment to an existing historical building.
Map of the walking tour:
The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society
Research and design by Lori Dodman
Photographs by Maurice Green
Layout by Robert Wray