James C. Bolton Era 1845 – 1855

James Cupper Bolton (James Jr.) Era  1845-1855

122 King Street East was built in the late 1840s as housing for mill workers by James Bolton Jr.

132 King Street East was built as worker housing by James Bolton Jr. around 1854. It sits immediately west of the oxbow.

  • James Cupper Bolton was 33 years old when he acquired ownership of the grist mill from his uncle George Bolton 1
  • He then proceeded to construct a much larger grist mill about 300 meters downstream. The new mill would be built close to the site of the 1830 log schoolhouse, immediately east of where Humber Lea Drive now crosses the Humber River 2
  • The steeper hillside location provided the necessary height for three run of stone.  However, relocating the mill was a massive undertaking taking at least 18 months and included hand digging a long mill race in the heavy clay soil 3
  • The final section of the mill race was tunneled through the hillside to the NW corner of the mill where a wooden flume channelled the flow to the water wheel 4.  Water exiting from the water wheel re-entered the original river course
  • But there remained the question of how to manage the flow from the river itself which would have separated the mill from access to King Street
  • James Jr. bought several lots from his brother Charles and led the river water away through what is now referred to as the oxbow 5. He also built a community ‘Bake House’ on one of these lots 6
  • The new grist mill, on a stone foundation, stretched up four storeys, its timbers supported by double sets of braces.  It incorporated most of the original mill structure but was over twice its size and had exterior basement access on the lower side of the slope 7
  • The mill was grinding grain by the fall of 1846 8 
  • On the original mill site along Mill Street, James Jr. built a saw mill 9.  Sometime later, a ‘Cloth Factory’, also known as a wool shoddy, was built by adjacent to it 10
  • James was not adverse to risk and with his astute decision to enlarge the mill he benefitted not only from the increasing local demand but also from Britain’s 1846 repeal of their corn laws which opened up the UK market to imported flour
1854 Prosser map showing the grist mill.
This photo taken from above the grist mill on the north hillside. The mill pond is visible in the distance and is held back by the 1842 wooden dam. A second smaller dam controlled the flow of water into the mill race which is in the foreground.
  • Through the late 1840s, demand continued to increase and in 1850 James Jr. enlarged the mill again, re-doubling its size 11
  • James also built a large cottage and stables along King Street East for his family, his wife Ellen Godbolt and their sons Martin and Lewis 12  13
  • The Crimean conflict in the early 1850s and the resulting blockade of Russian wheat from western Europe drove export demand for Canadian flour even higher
  • In 1855, James decided to sell out.  He left Bolton with his family and took up farming in the Township of Wallace, Perth County (east of Listowel) 14


And the buildings?

  • A second smaller dam was added in 1846 (see panorama of the river and millrace as well as the 1854 map)
  • The millrace, excavated by hand between 1845 and 1846, was filled in during the early 1970s, after the grist mill building was demolished in 1967.  The millrace together with the former mill pond became Bolton Mill Park, created through the efforts of the Rotary in the mid-1970s
  • Two early mill worker cottages, #122 King Street East and #132 KIng Street East still stand.  Both are marked on the 1854 map.
  1. Abstract Index to Deeds, Albion Township, Reels A&B, Region of Peel Archives at PAMA
  2. T.C. Prosser 1854 Map of Bolton
  3. James H. Bolton reprinted in The Story of Albion by Esther Heyes, Bolton Enterprise, 1968 edition, p.312
  4. McFall Family documents
  5. Abstract Index to Deeds, ibid.
  6. T.C. Prosser 1854 Map, Lot 31
  7. McFall Family information
  8. Elizabeth Godbolt, a letter written by Elizabeth in December 1846 but not mailed.  She was the daughter of Harriet Bolton Godbolt and John Godbolt, a niece of James C. Bolton Jr.
  9. Elizabeth Godbolt, ibid.
  10. Prosser’s 1854 map.  
  11. James H. Bolton, p.312
  12. ibid.
  13. Marjorie Bolton, Bolton Family Genealogy, 1979
  14. Abstract Index to Deeds, ibid. Sale of the property to Edward Lawson