The Historic Millcroft Inn & Spa
When enjoying an elegant dinner on the dining room terrace overlooking the millpond, or when soaking up some relaxation at the Millcroft's polished Spa, it is hard to imagine what this site would have looked like in 1834. That was the year that settlers, beginning with Thomas Russell, began to clear dense forest along Shaw's Creek in Caledon Township. Beginning in the 1840s, several frame mills operated on this site, harnessing the power of Shaw's Creek to produce yarn and blankets.
In 1881 Benjamin Ward built a substantial four-storey stone mill - The Alton Knitting Mill - which would eventually become The Millcroft Inn. Although the massive beams for the building were Georgia pine, much of what we see today in the Millcroft Inn is a local product: the beautiful stone came from the quarries at nearby Inglewood and the mortar was processed at the Alton lime kilns. Just across a laneway from the mill was a handsome stone warehouse, connected to the mill by way of a steel catwalk manufactured by Dicks foundry in Alton. Ward's son-in-law, John M. Dods, purchased the mill, commonly know as the "Upper Mill," in 1892. The original power for the Upper Mill was a single water-driven turbine in the basement. The turbine was connected to the mill machinery by a series of pulleys and belts. However, as the water table lowered, Dods was forced to install a steam generator with a boiler powered by soft coal.
Running a knitting mill was not without its challenges. In November, 1889, dam breaks along Shaw's Creek created considerable damage in the mills and throughout town. And, in 1917, a disastrous fire gutted Dods' Mill. In the subsequent reconstructed building, the third floor became a water tower and sprinkler system that prevented similar loss to fire in the following decades. The Ward and Dods mill (later Dods Knitting Mill) became a nationally-known competitor of the Stanfield company, producing woollen long underwear, a valuable commodity in the days before central heating.
During World War I, thousands of Canadian and British troops were kept warm with Dods products. Owner John Dods was a leading citizen of Alton, known for this generous treatment of employees and involvement in charitable works. Both the mill and the man were integral to Alton's development. John Dods died in 1923 and the firm continued to run under James and Andrew Dods, and later, under lease to the Toronto Millstock Company of Waterford. In 1965, the mill ceased production and the contents of the building were sold. However, history was not finished with the property on the millpond in Alton.
The Millcroft Inn & Spa builds on the Dods' tradition of community development through involvement in local arts and tourism initiatives and leadership in the development of outstanding regional cuisine. More recently, the Millcroft Inn has created a European-style Spa and Wellness Centre that continues to reinforce The Millcroft's position at the forefront of the local economy.
Close to everything, miles from ordinary
Unique Meetings & Conference spaces, just an hour from Toronto.