Farm building next to Hall residence©Copyright: Yvan Charbonneau
Halls Mills,located in the sparsely populated township of Darling, in Lanark County, got its start as a small mill settlement. The community was named after William Hall, who settled in the area around 1856 and went on to open a mill. Other early residents included Alex Watt and Thomas Murphy.
By the 1870s, Hall's sawmill, located on Lot 1, Concession 10, was in full operation. In 1883, Hall opened a post office and gave the community his own name. A school, one of only four in Darling Township, was located on Lot 1, Concession 9. By 1884, Halls Mills had grown to around 50 people. These included, John Abraham, David Barr, Archibald Boyle, James Kilgore, Robert Lett, Thomas Murphy and the Munro and Robertson families. Daniel Munro was the blacksmith. Hall went on to form a partnership with William H. Wylie of Carlton Place to embark on a combination of mining and mineral lands dealing. Whether the venture was successful is unknown as Hall reportedly passed away in 1885 or 1886.
Following William Hall's death, David Barr took over the post office and Hearn and Marshall took over the mill. The main commodity in Halls Mills was lumbering and the mill shipped out both lumber and shingles on a regular basis. The closest railway station was located in Almonte, about 17 kilometres away. By the mid 1890s, William Penman had taken over the sawmill and added grain threshing to the operation. Tena McLaren was the local schoolteacher.
Halls Mills continued to thrive and support a small population throughout the early part of the 20th century. By 1909, both David Barr and Robert Lett were operating grocery stores. Barr continued to operate the post office until the arrival of rural mail delivery in 1914. According to records from 1918, Barr was still a resident, along with the Munros and Robertsons. Other residents by that time included the Caldwells, the McGees and William Proctor. By the 1940s a small handful of people were still living there.
Today, the small house that William Hall built still stands and remains occupied. The house was reportedly the first frame house built in Darling Township. To the east of Hall's former home is another building that may have been the blacksmith shop or one of the mill buildings. Other than that, nothing else remains of this once prosperous lumbering settlement.