Mille Roches

The Twentieth Century - Part 1

Mille Roches' peak period of prosperity took place from 1890 to 1910 when the William Davis construction firm was hired to enlarge the Cornwall Canal. Reconstruction of the canal involved damming the river and enlarging the areas around Sheek's Island. This created a headpond that became known as Bergin Lake, named after Dr. Darcy Bergin, the local M.P. A swing bridge that connected Mille Roches to Sheek Island was added. Michael Davis, William's son, built the dam. The enterprising Michael went on to form the St. Lawrence Power Company and construct a generating station that opened on October 24, 1901. The powerhouse contained four turbines and was able to generate up to 2.25 MW of power, enough to operate the lock and serve the village's needs until 1955.

In 1904 Michael Davis decided to expand his little empire even further. He, along with a group of Cornwall businessmen, built a small stone paper mill on the east side of the village, which they named the Cornwall Paper Company. Unfortunately for Michael, the company got into serious financial trouble and with bankruptcy looming, the company was sold in 1909 to an American Company from Kalamazoo.

The Kezar homeThe paper mill [ca. 1920s]

Over time the paper mill grew to become the mainstay of Mille Roches' industrial operations. The new American owners were highly dedicated and experienced. Not only did they manage to turn the mill's fortunes around, they also won a number of industry awards during the 1930s for their excellent safety measures. They continued expanding the plant and by the mid forties were employing over 100 millhands. The company was eventually sold to Provincial Abitibi who continued building the operation, producing paper from rags and recycled paper. The plant later became known as the Provincial Paper Company. Continued uncertainty over the village's future forced the company to shut down the plant in 1952 and relocate to Thorold where they had a more modern operation.

Mille Roches had a public school and three churches, St. George's Roman Catholic Chapel, Mille Roches United Church and the Emmanuel Pentecostal Church. St. George's shared a priest with the churches at Dickinson's Landing and Farran's Point. Although the closest Anglican Church was located in Moulinette, the church maintained a presence in Mille Roches in the form of a church hall. As with most early twentieth century villages, the churches were the community's most prominent buildings. The railway station was located at the north end of town. The village's main street, old Highway 2, was lined with businesses and the community was well regarded for its attractive homes. F. W. Doherty managed a branch of the new Sterling Bank.