Millstone where the Grist Mill once stood, Rossal Croft in Rogart:
Click to enlarge [jpeg:29K]
[Janet MacKay photo: 1983]
Grist Mill at Balmoral Mills:
Still a Working Mill
As the 1700s gave way to the 1800s, James MacKay operated a grist mill in
Rogart (Sutherland, Scotland). By 1830, his son John had built a grist
mill in Earltown, Nova Scotia; by 1875 his
grandson Alexander had built a grist mill at Balmoral Mills. Today, more
than a century later, the Balmoral mill is still a working mill.
In Scotland and in Nova Scotia, these and other grist mills relieved the
tedious grinding of oats and wheat with heavy hand mills. One hand mill
has been retained in the Balmoral grist mill, showing contrast in ease of
Archie MacDonald, the last owner of the Balmoral mill, retired in 1954.
The province, realizing the value of grist mills in the early development
of Nova Scotia, acquired the mill as part of its museum complex. Operated
by local millers, the mill continues to grind oat, wheat and other grains.
Electricity, rather than water pouring over the dam, drives the water
wheel but little else is changed. Visitors are invited to view the
complete process, on the three floors of the original mill, and are
transported back to life in an earlier era in the Scottish hills of
Since the Scots arrived in Nova Scotia, mothers have fortified their
families with porridge of oats from this and other grist mills, and with
bread made from the flour ground there. A small interpretive centre
adjacent to the Balmoral Grist Mill, offers small bags of oats and flour
ground in the mill, at reasonable prices. Fudge and oatcakes are found
Water wheel at Balmoral Grist Mill, from below the dam.
Click to enlarge [jpeg:31K] [Janet MacKay photo: 1978]
Across the Matheson Brook is a park area, with steps leading down to the
walkway across the dam to the mill. Other than a parking lot and picnic
tables, the woods are untouched. "Archie's well" offers hands-on
experience in operating the pump to bring fresh, cool drinking water to a
cup under its spout.
The admission price is right -- it's free! A pleasant afternoon or entire
day can be spent at this oft-photographed mill, nestled down by the bank
of the Matheson Brook in Balmoral Mills. It's found, two miles off
highway #311; further south, and only a few millstones along highway #326
at Earltown, is a white bridge, the site of the
grist mill built in the 1820s by John MacKay 'Miller,' father of Alexander
MacKay of Balmoral Mills. History remains alive here, offering
experiences the entire family will enjoy.
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