Millgrove village, Part 3

Village social life

When the decision was made in 1874 to purchase the Methodist New Connexion Chapel at Clappison’s Corners, to become the Millgrove Village Hall, the transaction involved The Sons of Temperance Society.

The deed stipulated that certain immoral activities like “drinking, dancing or card playing could not be done within the walls.” Even with these restrictions, the little hall quickly became the center for the social life of the village.

In 1896, a second storey was added and later a basement. When excavation began, the workmen unearthed the remains of a boiler from Rev. Wilkinson’s grist mill.

The Farmer’s Club, The Literary and Debating Society and the Women’s Institute were among those who held their meetings and social events in the hall, with oyster suppers, tea meetings, concerts and numerous dramatic productions throughout the year.

Like all small communities in the township, Millgrove had a General Store, which sold everything that the villager might need – and more. Stored on shelves that stretched from floor to ceiling were bolts of cotton and calico, glass jars filled with lozenges, jaw-breakers and button candies with messages such as “be mine,” medicine for humans and animals with such frightening names as Burdock Blood Bitters, Lydia Pinkham’s Compound and Dodd’s Little Kidney Pill, as well as all the household and farming needs that one could imagine.

For the men of the neighbourhood, the store was the village meeting place, especially in the evenings, when they would gather around the pot-bellied stove telling stories and discussing the news of the day. For many years the store also served as the village post office with “numerous pigeon holes along the wall where the mail was neatly placed” after delivery by the stagecoach.

The history of Millgrove would not be complete without mention of the wonderful Family and Old Boys’ Reunions and the Garden Parties that were part of the community’s story from as early as 1880. The Weekly Times of Hamilton reported on one of the earliest known Garden Parties, at Elijah Binkley’s house in September 1887, which was attended by more than 300 people who enjoyed a baseball game between “a picked nine of the Bullock’s Corners and the Flamboro’ clubs against the Millgrove club” resulting in a narrow win by the visitors. The grounds were “illuminated with Chinese lanterns” in the evening and there was food and entertainment by a Hamilton brass band and singing by members of the Carey family.

Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at

This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 4 January 2008.


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