The Nineteenth Century - Part 1
Adam Dixson, the first settler to arrive in Moulinette, was both energetic and ambitious. He settled on lands originally granted to one of his relatives, Sir John Johnson, and built a dam that ran from Sheek Island to the mainland. Now that he had plenty of waterpower, his next step was to establish a much-needed service, the area's first grist mill.
As a mill owner, merchant and contractor, Adam became extremely wealthy and highly successful. Around 1810 he built a magnificent mansion for himself and his family. He spent his final years preoccupied with the design, construction and financing of Christ Church, a labour of love that he donated to his tiny community. Dixson didn't live to see the completion of his final project. His funeral was held in the partially completed church in May 1837. The church was opened later that same year with Rev. G. Archbold officiating as the first minister.
Like Mille Roches, its immediate neighbour located two kilometres east, the exact origins of Moulinette's name have never been conclusively determined. Some believed the name originated from the French 'moulin' which translates into mill and was derived from the group of mills that dotted its shoreline. Others speculate it may have referred to 'moulinet', which translates into 'winch' and describes the windlasses used by the French to winch their boats along the rapids.
Moulinette's early settlers were mainly American born British military officers who moved to Canada in the 1780s following the American Revolution. They included James Forsyth, Jacob Summers, Barnabus Spencer, John Connolly and Brigadier General Sir John Johnson, whose lands were later developed by his relative Adam Dixson. In 1784 Johnson was appointed Superintendent-General of Refugee Loyalists.
In 1834, around the same time that Dixson was busy raising funds to build Christ Church, construction began on the Moulinette Methodist Church, on lands donated by the Reverend Stephen Brownell. A steeple was added in 1871. The church was renamed St Andrew's United Church when it joined with the United Church of Canada in 1925. Both churches, like most small village churches, quickly became the focal points of the community. In addition to functioning as houses of worship, they also served the important purpose of acting as meetinghouses and places for social gatherings and other community activities.
By the 1840s Moulinette boasted 100 residents. Its businesses included both grist and saw mills, a foundry, a carding machine, a store and tavern. There was also a cabinet maker and blacksmith. A brewery, built in 1840, burned down three and a half years later. Other early businesses, such as the Moulinette Woolen Mills, a woollen and carding mill owned by John and Croydon (Corrie) Woods, were actually located on Sheek Island, located directly across from Moulinette. The Woods Brothers home was adjacent to their mills.
During the early days, Sheek Island could be reached by a road from the village that went through a culvert and under the canal. It then connected to a roadway consisting of two bridges that crossed over to the island. This entire area, which included the Moulinette Woolen Mills, was flooded in the 1890s during the creation of Bergin Lake. After the flooding, the government built a roadway from the island to Mille Roches. The road connected to a swing bridge over the Cornwall Canal.