Watson’s Mill – Manotick, ON

Exploring Ottawa while we have the opportunity to be here means that we take advantage of the local sites just outside our doorstep.  One of those places is the quaint town of Manotick.   This town is quintessentially charming.  Founded in 1859 as a mill town, the town has preserved its heritage while adapting to the present day.  There are many darling windows to shop and dining options to choose from.

The purpose of our trip, beside sampling ginger bread from the Gingerbread Man, was to explore Watson’s Mill.  It is one of the few operating industrial gristmills in North America, demonstrating how a mill would have operated in the 1860’s. The tour of the facility is free and conducted by volunteers.  During our summer visit I was impressed by the teenage staff’s knowledge and delivery of the mill’s narrative.

There is no time limit on the length of a stay, so while the guys explored the mill, the girls and I played “mill” and cashier as well as other games in the kids corner.     Then, we tag teamed out and I explored with my son while my husband supervised.  The volunteer guides were on each floor to answer questions and made transitioning from passive observer to active tour participant easy.  In all honesty, the girls liked the mill toys the best and had a short attention span for the actual mill tools and process.  This was fine as the stairs made me a little nervous for toddler navigation anyway.

Like any good historical building, there is an infamous ghost that haunts the ground.  Ann Crosby Currier, a wife of just 6 weeks to a former owner, was flung against a wooden pillar after her dress was caught in operating machinery during a work celebration.  Her ghost is said to haunt the floor of her death. I did get goosebumps while walking around up there.  Coincidence?

By the time interest waned, we had spent over an hour in the mill.  We made sure to leave with a bag of whole wheat flour that gets milled every Sunday using the existing 1860 infrastructure, complete with an old fashioned flour bag.  Of course, three $1 huge freeze pops had to be purchased as well.  Best part: outside is a bridge that takes you across to a nature area.  We had plenty of time to eat our purchases in the heat before heading home.

**It should be noted that we did bake with the flour and it was delicious.  I highly recommend this as a day outing for a family visiting the area**

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