Maitland Mills Association now incorporated - Jan. 24, 2019
BY DENNY SCOTT
The Maitland Mills Association has now officially been struck after members and guests toured the two sites on Jan. 18. that the group aims to rehabilitate.
The association hopes to rehabilitate and maintain the former mill sites in Brussels and Gorrie, which will now are going to be called Logan's and McGuire's Mills, respectively.
The association passed its charter alongside a document outlining its constitution and bylaws after touring the two sites with Executive Director Rob Leverty of the Ontario Historical Society.
The group exists, according to Community Futures General Manager Paul Nichol, to give these mills a new lease on life.
In the week after the group met, Blaney was proud to announce that the Ontario Historical Society had approved the association’s incorporation on Jan. 16.
While Nichol won’t be part of the organization, he said the project is ready to be turned over to the newly formed association.
“There are some very, very exciting plans,” he said. “The idea for both sites is that they become living classrooms for tradespeople that want to develop skills in heritage renovations.”
Nichol said that building a modern house is significantly different than building a mill a century ago.
“It requires a distinctive set of skills, like masonry and carpentry,” he said.
Nichol said that this project represents the “last kick at the can” for the structures, especially for Logan's Mill.
“It’s in terrible shape, but it can be renovated,” he said.
Nichol’s assessment was supported by the fact that, during the tour of the mill on Jan. 18, visitors weren’t permitted past the threshold of the structure because the floor had become so compromised.
Nichol said that Community Futures Huron would be able to help the group with contracts and funding on the association’s behalf until it got on its feet.
Maitland Mills Association President David Blaney said that the first meeting went very well and that all charter members were able to attend except for Treasurer Doug Sholdice.
The association’s officers and directors include Vice-President Linda Henhoeffer of Gorrie and directors Charlie Hoy of Brussels, Rosemary Rognvaldson of Gorrie and Gerry Wheeler of Brussels.
Also in attendance at that first meeting was Leverty as well as Dr. Chris Cooper of Edifice Guild and Atelier. Cooper is a well-known consultant for heritage renovation projects who has done plenty of work for Huron East.
Cooper was in attendance to work with the group towards the heritage renovation learning project that Nichol referred to above.
The incorporation announcement was an important one, Blaney explained, as the Ontario Historical Society will now be able to help cut through the red tape involved with becoming incorporated, Blaney said.
“The Ontario Historical Society is the only non-profit [organization] in Ontario able to do that,” he said. “They can charter other organizations by themselves and handle the red tape. They incorporated us, and this information goes to the province so they can issue a corporate number to us, which is the final thing we need to become a non-profit organization.”
Blaney said that the next step in that process, applying for charitable status, is something that the organization may pursue, but it hasn’t been determined yet.
For the immediate future, the association will be focusing on the McGuire's Mill.
“The project right now is to stabilize the McGuire's Mill,” he said. “For a wooden mill, it’s in surprisingly good shape for how long it’s been empty, but it needs stabilization work.”
He said that while the Logan's Mill needs significant work, its exterior structure is in better shape than the McGuire's Mill thanks to work done by the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA), which currently owns both structures.
“The mills are property of the MVCA at the present moment and we are discussing with them the possibility that we could start a long-term lease for each site,” Blaney said. “In the future, we might consider a sale arrangement.
“The trick with that is, however, that if we or anyone else ever bought them, we would need to get severances because both sites are connected to other Maitland Valley property that they wouldn’t want to sell and we wouldn’t want to buy,” he said.
Once the McGuire's Mill is stabilized, the plan is to look at using it as a museum and learning site.
“It still has most of the equipment that would have be used there,” Blaney said.
Logan's Mill, however, will not be a straight restoration.
“We will be taking the second floor out completely and fixing up the first floor to become an open community space,” Blaney said, later explaining that meant a space whose use would be dictated by the community. “The space will have some historical significance, with some of the equipment from the original mill returned.”
Blaney said he has been informed that some of the original equipment for the mill is at the Huron County Museum in Goderich and that there have been “some suggestions” that it may be returned.
“The second floor is in very poor shape,” he said. “The mill itself is fine, but both the first and second floors are in poor shape.”
Blaney said he was fortunate enough to visit the second floor several years ago, but the MVCA prefers not to let people up there now.
The basement will also be maintained at Logan’s Mill, Blaney said, but won’t likely be open to the public.
“We’ve kicked around the idea of putting in see-through panels in the first floor so people could see through to the basement,” he said. “The basement is not an easy space to get in to, and there is only one door, so it can’t be used as a public space. The see-through panels would allow people to have a good look at how that particular floor operated.”
Membership in the association, according to its constitution, can be secured by writing to the organization and paying the annual fee. The exact process and price will be determined at a future meeting, Blaney said.
The board of the organization will host one annual general meeting and, according to its constitution, also meet during the first quarter of each year.
The association will next meet after it receives its incorporation number according to Blaney, likely in the spring.
For more information, contact Blaney at firstname.lastname@example.org.