Blind River, Ontario






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Above center picture is the Old Mill Motel now, the picture at the bottom is the site of the the saw mill in Blind River

   The shores of Lake Huron had been charted in 1815 and lighthouses were built in mid-century, facilitating the movement of sailing ships throughout the Great Lakes. In the 1870's, steam power became the prevalent mode of transportation in the area.

Tantalizing reports of pure copper being in the possession of area's Ojibwa were made as early as 1670, but it was 1847 before the Montreal Mining Company took control of land in the Bruce Mines Area and began mining operations there. This Created an immediate need for steady supplies of mining timbers and lumber. Joseph Salvail (often spelled Silvoy in historical accounts of Montreal entered into an agreement with the mining company to construct a sawmill in order to fill the mine's needs.

The first sawmill in the area was built in 1853 when Salvail selected the area at the eastern outlet of the Blind River (across from where the Old Mill Motel is today) over sites closer to Bruce Mines for his enterprise. The Blind River site was attractive because dams could be constructed at both the east and west river outlets, thus creating a log storage pond as well as water power for the sawmill.

Since the east and west river outlets will be referred to repeatedly, here is an explanation of their location. The east outlet is where the Blind River enters the North Channel immediately south of the railway and highway bridges between Wood ward Avenue and the traffic lights. The west outlet is at the western edge of town, where it flows via a culvert south through the causeway near the reserve boundary. It enters the North Channel in the vicinity of the Blind River marina.

Salvail logged in the immediate area of his mill, in Cobden and Striker townships, and the timbers and planks he produced were transported to Bruce Mines via the North Channel by flat-bottomed scow.

    The labour force for the new mill was largely recruited from the nearby settlement at Mississaugi. To house transient workers, Salvail erected a small boarding house and supplied material for the construction of a few private dwellings. This first industrial venture, together with it's little settlement, was known as "Le Petit Moulin".

    In 1869, the Salvail mill was purchased by two experienced lumbermen, Joseph Williams and Peter Murray of Goderich, Ontario whose efficient operation of the facility enabled them , in 1875, to commence the construction of a new mill and embark on substantial improvements to it's associated infrastructure.

By this time, the depletion of the highly valued white pine in the Ottawa Valley, southern Ontario and Michigan, had timber harvesters looking to the north to supply the continuing heavy demand for wood. The Blind River area had all the right ingredients.access to a vast hinterland of prime, virgin pine forest the availability of the rivers, channels and lakes for the transportation of the logs to the mill, and direct access to the North Channel for easy shipping of sawn lumber to market.

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Hwy 17 & Woodward Ave. Blind River, Ontario Canada, P0R 1B0

(705) 356-2274