Archive | Preserving the heritage of flour mills

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Archives | ;serving the heritage of flour mills

Baluchon windmill in Saint-Paulin

< p class="e-p">Lower Canada once had some 250 flour mills operated by the force of water or wind. Today, you can count on the fingers of one hand the mills still in operation. Our archives bear witness to the destruction, but also to the efforts to restore and preserve these heritage monuments.

The first settlers brought with them the technological tradition of the windmill as early as 1675. Windmills were at the center of the seigniorial regime and of socio-economic life during the colony era.

The lords had the obligation to build a mill and the censitaires came to grind their flour there. interested in the state of conservation of old flour mills in Quebec.

Report by Laurent Bégin on the state of conservation of old mills in Quebec. Explanation of the mechanics of a windmill.

In 1974, there are 20 mills left, of which only 4 are in good condition. Most are falling into disrepair or have undergone more or less fortunate transformations.

The flour mills of the St. Lawrence Valley are of two types. The most common are the wind ones that take the form of a tower; there are also a few rectangular watermills.

Exploring a windmill in Verchères, Laurent Bégin explains its classic construction mechanism.

The mill was built in a cylindrical shape and a conical roof of cedar shingles overhung it. The walls were in masonry and the framework in wood. A long oblique rod was used to rotate the roof so that the wings were always in the direction of the wind.

Inside, on three floors, were: the spinning wheel, winch, grinding wheels and lift.

“The large toothed wheel attached to the shaft, itself driven by the outer wings… The vertical shaft in turn operated the millstones onto which the grains were dumped from the hopper and the flour reached the floor below . »

— Laurent Bégin

On August 7, 1996, journalist Paul Toutant traveled to the Charlevoix region of L'Isle-aux-Coudres for the Téléjournal . There, the mills stopped in 1948 were put back into operation by citizens from 1982.

Report by Paul Toutant on the restoration of wind and water mills in L'Isle-aux-Coudres.

The water mill on the island dates from 1825 and the windmill from 1836. Set in motion by the force of water and wind alone, they can produce 250 kg of flour per hour. Tourists are invited to visit them and even buy the flour produced by the miller.

Isle-aux-Coudres is the only place in America where there is a watermill and a windmill together on the same site.

The February 1, 2001 in Montreal tonight, journalist Gilles Sirois shows us a mill in very poor condition and hidden by a building in Pointe-aux-Trembles.

Report by journalist Gilles Sirois who talks with Claude Belzil, curator at the Atelier d'histoire Pointe-aux-Trembles who wants the city to restore the windmill.

Comment Could such a horror have been caused?, asks the journalist, looking at the unfortunate abandoned building which hides the old stone mill.

Claude Belzile, curator at the Pointe-aux-Trembles History Workshop, says that when the building that housed a funeral home was built, there was very little awareness of built heritage. It was the time when we destroyed and we built.

Daniel Groulx, of the management of the parks of Montreal, explains that the City decided to buy the building when the funeral home has put it up for sale with the aim of protecting and one day restoring the old mill.

The mill built in 1719 is the oldest Pointe-aux-Trembles building. It was in operation until 1833 and a dozen millers worked there.

Situated along the St. Lawrence River, the mill was used to grind the grain brought in by the French settlers, but it also served as a fortress in case of attack.

In 2007, after restoring the old mill, the City created a public space there where events are organized every year.

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