The Village of Millgrove lies just west of Highway #6 North, along the Fifth Concession Road. It was founded by David Cummins (1806-1887), one of the three sons of an early Upper Canada pioneer, Daniel Cummins. 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 Cummins 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.”
1. The Grindstone Creek
A small white bridge and visiting ducks characterize the passage of the Grindstone Creek through Millgrove. The creek enters the village to north of the cemetery, continues eastward and crosses Highway #6 into East Flamborough. Today it is merely a small trickle of water, but in the days of the early settlers, a significantly larger creek provided them with one of their most important necessities – power. Several small sawmills, shingle mills and planing mills were established, including the mill owned c. 1852 by the well-loved Millgrove citizen John Warren Ryckman.
2. The Old General Store, 358 5th Concession 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 community gossip filled the walls of the old general store for hours.
3. The Greenland Home, 350 5th Concession West
This frame house, built close to the side walk 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 Lavern Greenland. In 1974 Mr. Greenland became the Ward Five Councillor when Regional Government was introduced in Flamborough.
4. The Old Parsonage, 353 5th Concession 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 building was later removed to another location and shortly after all services were held at the new brick Methodist Church 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.
5. The Millgrove Cemetery
The Millgrove Cemetery dates from 1841 when Albert Palmer sold one acre to the cemetery board for ,4. However, burials as early as 1837 were recorded indicating that the cemetery was in use before it was legally established. In the early years many people planted old-fashioned lilacs in the cemetery, and added iron-pipe fences and chains around many plots. After the cemetery began to look like a swamp, a decision was made to remove the lilacs, however a few of the old concrete posts that supported the iron fences can still be seen today. In 1914 Nellie M. McNichol erected a stone fence, including two swinging iron gates for the cemetery in memory of her father John Ira Flatt, a former member of the Provincial Legislature, and her mother Rachel Flatt. The Millgrove Cemetery has never been associated with a church, as it is a Municipal cemetery and continues to be used today.
6. The Cummins Home, 912 Millgrove Side Road
This historic home has been occupied by the Cummins family throughout the years, a family synonomous with Millgrove and the surrounding area. Daniel Cummins (d. 1854), the father of the first settler in Millgrove, David Cummins, is thought to be the builder of this house. The father of Daniel, Jacob Cummins came to Canada with his family in 1794, being one of the earliest settlers in Upper Canada.
This beautiful home was built about 1855 by Millgrove’s legendary Shipman Cummins, who among other things organized Millgrove’s first Sunday School. With his long flowing beard, he often appeared to the young in Millgrove to have stepped from the Old Testament. This former brick (now stuccoed) home was named “Maple Grove” and was also the home of Shipman’s son Edward T. Cummins.
7. The Millgrove Pond
Bullrushes and marsh-like vegetation is all that remains of a sparkling half-acre pond located across from the cemetery. The pond was dug to a depth of 22 to 3 feet by Shipman Cummins and stocked with valuable speckled trout. However, the Millgrove Pond never housed fish after a notorious poacher one night emptied the pond of Shipman’s trout. Nevertheless, the pond was still enjoyed by numerous skaters in the winter, and many families used blocks of ice cut from the pond to store in their “ice houses” until it was needed to cool the ice box where food was kept.
8. 366 5th Concession Road West
Burwell G. Ryckman, grandson of John W. Ryckman, a member of the 1st Cemetery Board in Millgrove, built this home in the late 1890s. One can notice the unusual gingerbread on two sides of the house are alike and resemble a fan, and the completely different gable at the front of the house resembles a sun. Along with the beautiful back verandah, this unique gable decoration adds to the charm of this home.
9. The Millgrove School
The first school in Millgrove was a one-storey frame building built during the 1840s and was situated on the farm of Charles Flatt. Students sat on benches around a sloping table which extended out from the walls. The second school was a short distance from the Grindstone Creek on Millgrove Side Road, on a farm owned by Andrew Carey. An American teacher by the name of Mr. Edson was the first teacher, followed by Mr. Berney and Mr. Bradley. Strict discipline was the norm as even Mr. Bradley’s amputated leg did not keep him from intimidating the young men who came to school during the off-season.
Around 1868 a one-storey brick school was erected to replace the former school, and as the population of Millgrove increased, a second storey was added. It was in this building that James Stewart conducted the Senior class upstairs as Principal around the turn of the century. He was renowned as a remarkable teacher as well as an active citizen who took a lively part in social and community events, he was also involved with establishing a Public Library at the School. The present School was built in 1915 and the vacated school building was used as a vegetable storage and was eventually demolished in the 1920s.
10. The Millgrove United Church
a) The Primary House
This old house was built by John R. Markle (1825-1885) and his wife Margaret Carey (1827-1920). It was the home of Walter Culbert during the 1930s and 40s when he served as Principal at Millgrove Public School. The house and lot were bought in 1964 and used as the minister’s study and became known as the Primary House when it was used as a Sunday School.
b) The Millgrove United Church
The first church services in Millgrove were held before 1848 in Millgrove’s first school building. In 1850 property was purchased in the heart of Millgrove to become the location of the New Methodist Connection Tabor Church. To the west of the crossroads on a slight hill another chapel was built c. 1848. The Ryckman Chapel was named in recognition of John Warren Ryckman who was largely responsible for the building and funding of this church. For quite some time these churches operated individually until 1881 when the two congregations joined and built the present day brick church on the original location of the Ryckman Chapel. The corner stone for the church was laid in 1881 and the first service was held on January 1, 1882. In 1924 the Millgrove Methodist Church became the Millgrove United Church and still serves the people of the village today.
11. 382 5th Concession West
This old home was a wedding gift from Charles S. Cummins, the builder of the house, to his son Edgar Cummins (b. 1865) and Jennie Markle. The property to the east of this home was once the location of an apple drying factory operated by Abraham Ryckman and later J.T. Swinton. It later became a grist mill in the 1920s, and in about 1950 a large fire swept through the building and destroyed it. Today a new home stands on this location.
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