Sawmills and Potteries

Throughout this part of Ontario, in settlement days, there were many sawmills established on small streams. With the clearing of the watersheds for agriculture, timber became scarce and stream flow became erratic; so sawmills were no longer viable. One such sawmill, on Yellow Creek, was located near the south end of the TTC Davisville Yards. This quote is from Henry Scadding’s “Toronto of Old”: (Going up Yonge Street) “Just after Deer Park, to avoid a long ravine which lay in the line of the direct route northward, the road swerved to the left (Lawton Blvd.) and then descended , passing over an embankment, which was the dam of an adjacent sawmill, a fine view of the interior of which, with the saw usually in active motion, was obtained by the traveller as he faired on. This was Michael Whitmore’s sawmill.” To keep sawmills going, it is obvious that streams such as Yellow Creek must have had a considerable flow. The forested watersheds before most of the land was cleared for farming, produced dependable flows of water on quite small streams for the early saw & grist mills.

Scadding goes on to tell, “As we reach again the higher land, after crossing the dam of Whitmore’s mill, and returning into the more direct line of the street, some rude pottery works met the eye. Here in the midst of woods, the passer-by usually saw on one side of the road a one-horse clay-grinding machine laboriously in operation; and on the other, displayed in the open air on boards supported by wooden pins driven into the great logs composing the wall of the low windowless building, numerous articles of coarse brown ware, partially glazed, pans, crocks, jars, jugs, demijohns, and so forth; all which primitive products of the plastic art were ever pleasant to contemplate. These works were carried on by Mr John Walmsley.”

For more information on brick making go to Brick Manufacture.