James C. Bolton Era 1845 – 1855

James Cupper Bolton (James Jr) Era  1845-1855

122 King Street East built as housing for mill workers

132 King Street East built as worker housing to the west of the oxbow

  • James Cupper Bolton was 33 years old and, on assuming ownership, proceeded to construct a much larger grist mill about 300 meters downstream,. The new mill would be built on the site of the 1830 log school where Humber Lea Drive crosses the Humber River.1
  • 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.2
  • The final section of the mill race was tunneled through the hillside to the NW corner of the mill where a wooden flume channeled the flow to the water wheel.3  Water exiting from the water wheel re-entered the original river course
  • But there remained the question of how to manage the water 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.{note  [/note] He also built a community ‘Bake Oven’ on one of these lots
  • The new mill, on a stone foundation, stretched up 4 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.4
  • The mill was grinding grain by the fall of 1846.5  All the while, James Jr was also managing a General Store.6 .
  • On the original mill site along Mill Street, James Jr built a saw mill.7 And sometime later, a ‘Cloth Factory’ was built by adjacent to it, as noted on Prosser’s 1854 map.8
  • 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.

  • Through the late 1840s, demand continued to increase and in 1850 James Jr enlarged the mill again, re-doubling its size.9
  • James also built a large cottage and stables along King Street East for his family which included his wife Ellen Godbolt and their sons Martin and Lewis.10  11
  • 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)
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  10. Esther Heyes,  pg 312.
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