The following article was posted in the Paisley Advocate for the July 2021 publication.
In January, the 135 year old Stark’s Mill with its large dam, 30 acres, and 2 kilometres of Teeswater River frontage passed from Paul and Helen Crysler to Emma and Graham Cubitt. The current mill was built in 1885 and stayed in the Stark family for a hundred years, operating until around 1975. After years of sitting vacant, the Crylers purchased the mill in 2000 and spent the next two decades bringing it back to life while running their much-loved store, Nature’s Millworks.
The Cubitts discovery of Paisley started with their newfound love of canoeing; a friend suggested that they check out the Saugeen and Paisley with its amazing old mills. One thing led to another and now they are the proud stewards of this five storey gem of Ontario history.
Graham and Emma, her mum Cathy, and their springer spaniel Flora have come to embrace what we all love about Paisley: the friendly neighbours, the rivers, and the amazing turtles going about their spring migration to name a few of the highlights.
They have been busy clearing trails while documenting and learning about the animals that roam and the plants that grow on the property; all while connecting with local groups such as Artscape, the Treasure Chest, and their new neighbours.
The current activity buzzing around the mill includes fully renovating the existing residence portion to feature more of the historical elements, improve energy efficiency, and provide a welcoming space to share. This work includes transforming an old flour bolter – a tool for blending ground grain – into a large kitchen island, a sifting frame will become a large light fixture, and three former flour silos will now be used as very unique showers.
Later this year, they hope to renovate the first two floors into a five-bedroom suite to let out to groups as a retreat space, for larger extended families looking for a get away, or for individuals seeking seasonal short-term accommodation. Graham and Emma, in response to climate change, are shifting the heating systems from propane to super-efficient electric heat pumps with low-temperature water radiators. While they stabilize some basement structural issues and reveal the historic turbines and gears that ran the mill, they are also building a large rainwater cistern for flushing the building’s toilets.
Once funds and the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority allow, their vision is to renovate the third, fourth, and fifth floors, creating longer term accommodation to help meet the housing shortage in Paisley. The four-store elevator and silo building will be the final phase …but they don’t have plans that far ahead.
There’s a long paddle ahead for the Cubitts working with the various authorities, experts, and local folks to realize their rejuvenation dreams, but they are setting off with a lot of energy and experience. As they bring new life to the historic mill, follow their progress at paisleymill.ca, or on Instagram and Facebook.