Mille Roches

The Twentieth Century - Part 2

The pride and joy of Mille Roches was the hockey and skating arena that officially opened on February 8, 1936. Floyd Barkley, the popular local school principal, conceived the idea and quickly enlisted the enthusiastic support of the local townspeople. In October 1935 they formed the Mille Roches Arena Company and began selling shares to raise the necessary $10,000 for construction. It didn't take long. Construction began on November 1, 1935 and the building was ready for its first showing by Christmas, which consisted of skating and a hockey match.

The arenaThe popular Mille Roches Arena [ca. 1935]

The oval shaped arena had a high arched roof and a natural ice surface. It was 200 feet long and 90 feet wide and included dressing rooms, a refreshment booth, sound system, scoreboard and time clock. Mille Roches belonged to a small hockey league, which included the nearby villages of Moulinette and Massena, New York, on the opposite side of the river. In addition to being a busy and popular recreational facility, the arena offered part-time employment in the form of parking attendants, ushers and rink rats to many of Mille Roches' youths. The arena was situated on the south end of the village west of the paper mill.

As time went on businesses, such as the cheese factory, came and went or changed hands. By the 1930s, people enjoyed to hanging out and exchange stories at either Ross's or Windle's barber shop and pool room. Popular restaurant owner, Ev Bush, ran a busy taxi service between Mille Roches and neighbouring Moulinette. The McCall-Frontenac gas station, later a Texaco, sat on Highway 2, at the south end of the village. Mille Roches also boasted its own volunteer fire department. The community remained busy and prosperous until the Seaway discussions were revived.

By the early 50s things were beginning to wind down. After the paper mill closed, many of the workers relocated to Thorold, where they were offered jobs at the new plant. The powerhouse lasted until 1955, when it was demolished to make way for the Seaway construction. The post office finally closed in January 1958.

Of all the villages, Mille Roches lies deepest in the water - 40 feet below the surface. Its outline can still be seen under the right lighting conditions. The location has become a popular spot for divers, who have found the old turbines and other sections of the powerhouse and locks. Two brick homes, once belonging to Ezra Johnston and Hugh Warner, were moved to Long Sault. The Lapierre store was salvaged and restored and can now be found in Ault Park at the Lost Villages Historical Society. The village's name has been commemorated in a number of ways; a street in the Long Sault, one of the 11 islands that is part of the Long Sault Parkway and the Mille Roches Campground, one of several campgrounds operated by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission.