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Birge Mills

Introduction

Town site photo

The former schoolhouse

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

The small community that became known as Birge Mills began in 1843 when Edward Huxtable built a dam and sawmill. Huxtable passed away a few short years later and the mill was taken over and operated by the Birge family, relatives of the Huxtables. Their son Alonzo (Lon) along with Edward's young son James, learned their trade early and grew to become superb millers and businessmen.

By 1870, Lon Birge was a skilled millwright who had bigger things in mind. Over the next 10 years, he added a stone grist mill and grain chopping mill. His concept was to attract other tradesmen to the area and build a 'one-stop shopping' area for the local farm community. Over time the community added a blacksmith, tinsmith, buggy factory, shoemaker, and a group of small cottages for the workers. There were two churches and a school located in the immediate vicinity.

By the early 20th century business began to suffer. This was in part due to depletion of the local lumber supply, and also competition for the wheat market from the prairie provinces. Lon's sons downsized the milling operation and eventually sold the business to the Wheeler brothers. The mill was switched over to livestock feed and remained in operation until 1991.

Today a number of remnants still remain at Birge Mills. The original mill still stands and is now used a private home. Also standing are a number of other period homes and workers cottages. The school has also been converted to a private home. Both of the churches are still in use and continue to hold regular services.