Glen Tay Sawmill

Posted by on November 25, 2017 in Community & Family History, Featured Flag | 0 comments

Glen Tay Saw Mill

Compiled by Diane Miller Duncan, 2017. To readers of this blog: I am primarily writing from a ‘story’ perspective. For primary sources check out David Taylor’s paper listed below. If you can add more info to any of my posts please contact me.

Glen Tay Mills

The Glen Tay Sawmill was located north of the Tay River adjacent to the dam. Logs could no doubt have been floated across the river from the wood yard where it would be captured after floating down the river.

The Glen Tay Sawmill was located north of the Tay River adjacent to the dam. Logs could no doubt have been floated across the river from the wood yard where it would be captured after floating down the river.

The original saw and grist mills are believed to have been built by Abraham Parsall, an early settler, on the north side of the Tay River, Bathurst Concession 2 Lot 20 E1/2. When Parsall died in 1820, Joshua Adams purchased or was willed the property and operated the existing Glen Tay saw mill and grist mill.

On 14 July 1824, Joshua Adams acquired 100 acres from the Crown, Bathurst Concession 2 Lot 20 E1/2 south of the river to expand his businesses.

On 28 March 1834 Joshua Adams finally acquired legal possession of Bathurst Concession 2 Lot 20 W1/2 from Samuel Swan, after a lengthy court process resulting from Swans complaints about the impact of the mill pond on his land.

By 1851, the sawmill was producing 300K boards (or board feet?); the shingle mill 100 million shingles.

Franklin M. Adams and Alexander Richey are listed as a ‘Lumberer’, and Franklin, age 29, is living in the Adamsville area with his wife Charlotte and daughter Mary. Alexander Richey, age 25 is the son of sawyer James Richey. In 1861 Franklin Adams is listed as a weaver, probably associated with the woolen mill, involved in another of the various industries of the family. James Ritchey, sawyer, age 55, is married to Ann 44. Within Alexander’s household sons William 20 and Thomas 16, are listed as ‘laborer’ and probably worked in the saw mill complex.

John Ritchie age 58, mill wright, brother of Alexander, and Mary his wife, age 57 are also living in the community. John probably served all the mills, keeping the machinery working. In another household (boarding house?), William 22, George 19, and Robert Ritchie 18; and William Dobbie 20 are also listed as laborers but, given the family interest in the saw mill, probably also worked in the saw mill.

Effie Adams, in her writing about Ezra, her father, stated that the mills, or perhaps shares in the mills, had been sold several years earlier to Daniel and to daughter Elizabeth and her husband Henry Moorhouse who moved to Glen Tay before 1851. By 1861 Ralph Dodds was owner of the South portion of the Clergy Reserve, Bathurst Concession 2 Lot 21.

In 1861, Alexander Richey is again identified as ‘Lumberer’. Andrew Dodds, a recent arrival in Glen Tay from the family farm in Burgess Township, is listed as a miller and is associated with the saw mill. On the 1867 Morris Plan for sub-division of lots in Adamsville, the land purchased by Andrew, and where I believe he lived, is located north of the river, on right side of the ‘hill’ when facing south. His name no longer appears on Concession 2 Lot 20 or Lot 21 which are now listed under the name of Ralph Dodds.

Alexander Dodds is identified as a Lumber Manufacturer in the 1866-67 Fuller’s Counties of Leeds, Grenville, Lanark & Renfrew Directory.

On a map of Glen Tay Village, prepared in 1867 by John Morris, on the land purchased from Swan, a major portion of Bathurst Concession 2 Lot 20, immediately west of the Oat Mill, was identified as the ‘wood yard’. Logs could easily be floated across the mill pond for sawing.

When I was a child the wood yard was a large ‘open’ area with a flat rock surface, adjacent to where the edges of the mill pond would have been located. The rock, washed clean by spring floods from above the dam, were a wonderful place for childhood adventures. The boundaries of the original mill pond could be identified by the location of scrub growth found where there was some soil cover, probably due to accumulation of bark and chips from logs hauled ashore ‘above the dam’. Soil from the annual flooding by springtime river water would also be caught by the bank of the pond.

A newspaper report, possibly around 1870, states that “(The lumber) will all be used for local purposes. The firm cut 300,000 feet of 3-inch stuff, to be used in making Nicholson pavement, and rafted it … to Perth.

Apparently, money from the lumber dealership, Hargraves & Radford, was used in the reconstruction of the woolen mill after the fire of 1870.  The Hargraves & Radford lumber dealers are listed in an Insolvency Notice in the Perth Courier of August 14. In the sale to be held 2 October 1872 to settle the debts, the sawmill is included in the list of properties to be sold. When the mills did not sell, Henry Moorhouse bought back the mills for $25 over the mortgage costs – the grist and oatmeal mills, probably the woolen mill and part ownership in the saw mill.  Moorhouse acquired Alexander Dodds’ share of the sawmill when Alexander died in 1876.

On January 18, 1876, Thomas Allan (son of Francis Allen) advertised that he had leased the Glen Tay sawmill for a number of years, and, beginning in the spring, will do custom sawmilling, and offer lumber and shingles for sale from the site.

Years later, the saw mill complex which now included a planning mill, may have been operated by Frost & Wood.

Other Sawmill Interests of the Adams Family

Ritchie/Allan Saw Mill

During the same period while the Ritchie family seemed to be involved in the Glen Tay Saw Mill, another Ritchie family was operating the ‘Ritchie Saw Mill on Bathurst Concession 1 Lot 12, about four miles upriver from the Glen Tay Sawmill. This property was a Crown grant to Nathan Judson who married Elizabeth Ritchie in 1833. By 1842 they were operating a mill. Elizabeth’s brother William Ritchie later owns the mill and is followed by his son John Ritchie.

The Ritchie Mill was operated by members of the Ritchie family until 1913 when it was purchased by J.E. Carroll (Carl) Adams, who operated a retail lumber industry for 25 years until his death in 1960. His brother Joshua Evarts Adams worked at mill with him, both were grandsons of Joshua Adams.

Andrew Allan operated a custom cutting and planing mill on this site until the 1970s.

 Bowes Saw Mill

The Bowes Mill complex was located half way between the Ritchie and Glen Tay Saw Mills on the Tay River and included a saw mill. Archibald Fraser, the original owner sold to Abel Mott in 1833 and he in turn to Henry Glass in 1835.

 Joshua Adams purchased the mills in 1839, rebuilt the mill and operated the mills until 1843 when he sold it to Scott Elliott. Three Elliott brothers ran the mills – grist, barley and saw mills – until 1856.

John Allen then purchased the mills and operated them for ten years and then sold them to John and Samuel Wilson in 1883. James Laurie from 1883 to 1891 when he sold to Louis Badour who operated it until 1895.


The Mills of the Tay Watershed and Area of Eastern Ontario. David Taylor, 15 Oct 2016 found on

Glen Tay Then and Now. Barbara Jordan, 1997.

Diane Miller Duncan & JR Ernest Miller Papers.

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