Tuesday 10 July 2012

Not a run-of-the-mill mill

Late last century I lived in east Toronto Danforth. I developed a special appreciation for this area. Unlike the overdeveloped downtown Toronto, where the past has been descecrated, east Danforth contains many historic structures that may have been adapted but are still evidently time travellers.

Perhaps none captures this more than 10 Dawes Road. According to Melanie Milanich, in "Dawes Road: a Shortcut to the Market and a Natural Resource Base" 10 Dawes Road was "A steam powered grist mill, built in the 1890s and originally called
Chalmer's Flour Mill..."

In 2009-2010 local business directories cited 10 Dawes Road as the property of Elizabeth Feed Co.

Click to enlarge

Normally I provide a detailed and erudite commentary that interprets the artefact for you. In this case I am not going to. Look at this building and trust your instincts. That cast cement base is clearly mid-late 19th century (that is, 1850-1880). All that corrugated sheet metal superstructure is clearly cladding covering a wooden mill that needed a new layer of protection. That headhouse on the top story is clearly where the works of an elevator are housed.

And there is NO WAY this is a steam mill. Where is the powerhouse? Where is the hundred foot smokestack?

Not entirely good news. Those lovely new french doors mark the commencement of the next renovation. One I predict will end with the structure transformed, re-clad, and unrecognizable.

We carry complete lines for
racing pigeons, budgies
and other birds
Best mixtures available
Race horses, dogs,
all other animals
Grits, Gravels, Flax

I have met with the owner and hope to have interior shots before the year-end.


  1. Hello,

    I am the son of the owner. We are currently trying to trace the history of the building. Any info or key contacts you can provide will help us greatly. We are for sure trying to develop the building by preserving as much of the history as we can. The interior is even more impressive and magical! We are turning the building into a vibrant centre devoted to the Arts in the East End.

    Mika Tremblay
    Project Manager

    1. Hi Mika, I live in Oz and have just stumbled onto this. I worked for Elisabeth Milling for many many years back in the 1960s. The business was owned by Alex Sheafer (no longer certain about this spelling) a very lovely & eccentric elderly Hungarian Jew who had lost his huge milling business in Hungary during WW2.The bldg had no running water or toilet, we had to impose on the neighbours. Winter was bloody freezing. The business mainstay was bird & animal feeds and supplying the race tracks in Toronto & Fort Erie. Good luck with this new venture.


  2. By the way, we know for sure that the building was a grain elevator as opposed to a steam mill. One full year of cleaning our grain from every corner attest to it. The upper section is a series of 9 silos in tic tac toe formation where tons of grain was stacked and resold. We also know that the railroad at some point in time passed right by our building. The rework of our street this summer pulled out sections of the old railroad.

  3. I used to go to the mill with my dad in the 1940’s. Dad raised homing pigeons and went there for their feed. It was an interesting place and I loved to go and went with him every chance I could. I was about 8-9 at the time. I believe the mill was called Chalmers Mill then. It seems a shame for it to go now but I’m glad some of it will be preserved.

  4. I also used to go there with my dad to buy sacks of bird seeds when I was a kid. My dad was a breeder. I came here to reminisce. Nice to know it's going to be preserved.