Morningstar Mill is a picturesque heritage site located at Decew Falls. The site backs onto the Bruce Trail, and is a popular picnic and photo location for residents and visitors.
Planning a get-together or searching for a location for wedding photos? Rental permits are available for this park for those purposes.
Please visit the Morningstar Mill website for additional information.
Victoria Day until Oct. 14, 2017
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Weekends: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., by chance or appointment
Free admission, but donations are welcome
May 27, June 24, July 22, Aug. 26, Sept. 23, Oct. 14
We will begin milling around 11 am. Please note that being able to mill is dependent on having an adequate water flow, please check our facebook page for confirmation and more details.
Morningstar Mill is a rural industrial heritage site owned by the City of St. Catharines and operated in partnership with the Friends of Morningstar Mill. It features a working grist mill rebuilt in 1872, and the home of the Morningstar family restored up to 1933.
Morningstar Mill is one of the few mills in Ontario that houses all its original equipment, and operates its millstones using the original water source. The mill provides a rare glimpse back in time to when moving water was still used to mechanically grind grain into flour.
Wilson Morningstar operated Mountain Mills from 1883 to 1933. He ground wheat into flour and chopped oats, corn, rye and barley into animal feed. In November 1892, a fire destroyed the interior of the grist mill. This gave Wilson the opportunity to update his milling operation with the latest equipment - a two-break three-reduction Greey Roller Mill system which produced white flour. At the time, roller ground white flour had become very popular for baking because it was whiter and finer than flour made with traditional millstones.
Wilson also purchased a grain cleaner, a corn cob sheller, an oat roller and an attrition mill for grinding grain into animal feed. About 1911, when a doctor told Wilson that whole grain flour was healthier than white flour, Wilson installed a pair of traditional millstones which produced stone ground whole wheat flour.
Stories of Wilson Morningstar and the sights and sounds of mill life have been preserved through early photographs, handwritten logbooks and letters, and the fond recollections of Wilson's grandchildren. Wilson's granddaughter, Lorna, recounts...'On the 3.6 acres of the property, there was more activity than just that at the saw mill and grist mill... across the stream where the saw mill stood was an orchard of apples, cherries, pears and peaches, and a large vegetable garden'. The Morningstars also had a carpentry shop, blacksmith shop and a 'barn, where a team of horses, a cow, chickens and pigs were kept.'
The Morningstar's home was built about 1895 by two carpenters from Thorold with lumber that Wilson had sawn in his sawmill. The house features scalloped clapboard siding, and ball and spindle gingerbread. When the house was first built, it was heated with wood in the spring and fall, and coal in the winter. Drinking water was retrieved from a well, and water for cleaning and washing was collected in a cistern. Wilson also produced his own electricity for lighting the mill and house from about 1904 - 1914. The interior of the house has been restored to 1932 and showcases many pieces of furniture that were owned by the Morningstar family.
By 1930, Wilson had gradually shut down his flour milling business. After Wilson died in 1933, Wilson's family continued to produce animal feed for local farmers on the occasional weekend for a few years until the turbine seized.
Wilson Morningstar and his wife, Emma, occupied the house throughout their lifetimes. When Wilson died, Wilson's oldest daughter and her family moved back into the house, and her children (Wilson's grandchildren) lived in the house until 1991. Wilson's granddaughter bequeathed the contents of the mill and house to the City of St. Catharines in 1994.
A milestone was reached in November 1996 when a volunteer group called the Friends of Morningstar Mill produced stone-ground flour using the restored water-powered turbine and Wilson's grinding stones. After 60 years of silence, Wilson's mill rumbled and the smell of flour filled the air.
Today, Morningstar Mill is one of the few mills in Ontario that houses all its original equipment, and operates its millstones using its original water source. The operation of the mill and the conservation of the buildings and property are made possible by the City of St. Catharines and the ongoing efforts and support of the Friends of Morningstar Mill and the community.
The Friends of Morningstar Mill (Friends) is an ad hoc volunteer group dedicated to preserving Morningstar Mill and interpreting its rich history. The Friends have been restoring the mill, its associated buildings and property since 1992. Over the years, the Friends have reconstructed the turbine (which originally powered the mill), rebuilt the turbine shed and constructed the saw mill. They have also provided thousands of tours of the mill and the miller's house to the public. New volunteers are welcome. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.