The restored grist mill©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko
Bedford Mills, as the name suggests, was a small milling hamlet, located in eastern Ontario. The lumber mill was built around 1832 by Benjamin Tett, a prominent local businessman. Tett added a grist mill in the 1840s.
By the 1840s, a small town had grown up around the mills. The village included a company store, boarding house and a few homes. Workers maintained accounts at Tett's store and their purchases were deducted from their earnings. Purchasing outside the company store was frowned upon. In 1848, the mill was replaced with a larger one.
By the 1870s, Bedford Mills was booming. Other enterprises including a second flour mill, a shingle manufacturer and a cheese factory. Commercial services were limited to the boarding house, store and restaurant, however a school had been added. The hamlet also included an Orange Hall. An Anglican church was added later.
Bedford Mills, like many other prosperous industrial villages, had the misfortune to be bypassed by the railway. Like many resource based communities, it was later hampered by depleted forests and poor farmlands. The mills finally shut down in 1916.
Bedford Mills remained popular with cottagers and regularly bounced back to life every summer. Today a few people continue to live in the area on a year round basis. The mill and power house have both been renovated and the church has been beautifully preserved.