Mildmay is a community in the Municipality of South Bruce, Bruce County, Ontario, Canada. Mildmay is located northwest of Minto and south of Walkerton on Highway 9. Formosa lies to the northwest, and Neustadt to the east.
Mildmay is a very close-knit community of Christian English and German descendants. The Cheese Haus is a well-known store in Mildmay.
In 2007 Mildmay built a new medical clinic to house its new Doctor and Family Health Team professionals. Over $1 Million was donated by local residents and service clubs to fund this project!
Shortly before Christmas every year the town has an annual “Hanging of the Green” festival and parade to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas Season. This lighted night parade is a family friendly event that boasts of free apple cider, a live nativity scene, Rotary sausages for a price and offers kids a chance to meet Santa. Also, the choir from Mildmay Carrick Public School sing christmas carols in front of the post office. The parade consists of close to 80 floats and live bands. People from the surrounding communities come to Mildmay to witness this event.
Mildmay’s “Hanging of the Green” was one of the many reasons for placing 1st in their division of the Canada wide “Winter Lights Competition”.
Mildmay is home to the Mildmay-Carrick Public School. The school serves students from kindergarten through grade eight.
The town also has the Sacred Heart Catholic school. Sacred Heart is split into junior and senior divisions which overall cover from grades Junior-Kindergarten to grade 8.
[The title of Earl of Carrick was one borne by Robert the Bruce, and now by the eldest son of the Sovereign of Great Britain.]
Extract from the Report of County Valuators, 1879.
“This we found to be the best adapted township for stock and dairy farming of any in the county, on account of its numerous springs, and its soil, which is mostly loam mixed with limestone, which is better for grazing and root growing than stiff clay. There is a strip of very rough, gravelly land running through it, termed ” The Forty Hills,” which is very inferior land, but the balance of the township is mostly ordinary land. It has the best outbuildings of any township in the county, and has a large amount of village property. Its average price per acre is $35.25.”
Extract from the Report of County Valuators, 1901.
“There is a great deal of very good land in this township, and there is considerable quantity of the roughest land to be found in the county. The latter applies to the south-western portion of the township, nevertheless the settlers seem to be very industrious and prosperous, even in the worst sections. Land is selling readily and at good prices. The township is well watered with spring creeks, and stiff clay is not to be found. The facilities for making roads are good, gravel is abundant, and as a result good roads prevail. Buildings and fences are good and farms well kept and clean. Carrick has good railroad facilities, and is also close to the county town. The Elora Road, running diagonally through the township, causes a number of gores in each concession. The rate per acre is $39.13, of which the village property is $4.30 per acre.”
The township of Carrick was settled with greater rapidity than possibly any other township in the county. There were several reasons for this. The lands, being Crown lands, were to be had at a lower price ($1.50) than School lands. Then a rumor got abroad regarding the quality of the soil, to the effect that this township contained the choicest farm lands that were opened for sale in this district, a fact sufficient in itself to explain why settlers entered with a rush.
In 1850-51 A. P. Brough laid out the Elora Road from the north-west corner of Carrick down to the township of Maryborough, staking out the lots in Carrick on concessions “C” and “D” on each side of the road; the rest of the township was surveyed in 1852 by J. D. Daniel. Prior to survey several squatters had entered and taken up lands in the northerly part of the township. Among these were John Hogg, [As the first settler in Carrick, John Hogg deserves a short biographical sketch. John Hogg was a native of Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1844 he came with his parents, to Canada, being at that time fourteen years of age. The family settled in the county of Renfrew. In 1850 John Hogg came to Bruce. After working in the vicinity of Walkerton he, in the following year, squatted on land which, when the survey was made, proved to be lots 18, on concessions 13 and 14, of that township, for which lots he subsequently obtained a patent. On entering the bush, of money he had little, and his outfit consisted of little beyond an axe and a few necessary cooking and eating utensils. His bed was but a pile of hemlock brush spread out on the usual single-posted bedstead. (This backwoods bedstead was always found in the corner of the shanty, the walls of which supported three corners so that only one post was needed.) The staple article of his diet at first was potatoes. After he had grown wheat he had to take it to Durham to be ground. He relates that on one occasion, after a long and tedious journey with a yoke of oxen, he reached Durham without any money, so he could not go to the hotel for a meal. By and by a bag of his grist was filled up and he proceeded to relieve the pangs of hunger. The process of baking was as follows : The top of the bag was thrown down, exposing the flour, some water was poured into it and the two were mixed into a batter; this was kneaded roughly into dough in the form of a scone and placed upon the top of the stove used for heating the mill, and baked, first on one side, then on the other. It required the digestion of a backwoodsman to digest such an article of diet. Mr. Hogg took an interest in the municipal matters of the township and was deputy reeve in the years 1864 and 1865. He was prominently connected with the Walkerton Presbyterian Church. He was married in 1857 to Miss Bell, who survived him. His end came on February 1st, 1902.”] Andrew Hutton, Louis Fournier and John Toran-jeaii. These men squatted on their lots in the summer of 1851. Shortly after the survey was finished the rush to locate farm lots commenced. Although the lands were not in the market, and were not offered for sale until the “Big Land Sale,” held in September, 1854 [See Appendix K.] long before that date every lot in the township was squatted upon.
Early in 1853 the inflow of settlers into Carrick commenced. Prominent among those who took up land in the township in this year were Wm. Dickison, Edward Hickling, Wm. Thomson, who settled in the north-eastern part of the township; Angus, Robert and John McPhail, Samuel Clendening and his sons, Thomas, William and Charles; Robert A. Morden, Abraham Johnston, Charles, Thomas and Frederick Jasper, Alexander and Donald McKay, Robert Wills and Arthur Deacon, who settled nearer the centre of the township. The first settlers to take up land in the vicinity of Mildmay were Robert Young, James Grey, Thomas Liscoe, Andrew Dunbar and his son James, Joseph Young, Samuel Carr, Adam Johnston, James Clark, James Butchart, John Reddon and his brother-in-law, John Campbell, Alex. McLaren and Thomas B. Taylor. These were followed by John, Peter and Thomas Shennan, who settled at Balaclava. The south-western part of the township shortly afterwards received its pioneer settlers, among whom were Anthony Wynn, Thomas McMichael, Henry McDermott, George, John and Thomas Inglis, James and Adam Darling. It may be safely stated that all of the foregoing entered the county by way of the Durham Road, as the Elora Road was not chopped out until the summer of 1854, the work being done by Joseph Bacon, as mentioned in Chapter V.
Carrick is distinct among the townships of the county in having a large percentage of its inhabitants claiming either German birth or descent; in fact, in many portions of the township the German element forms the majority of the population. The first body of those of this nationality to settle in the county were those commonly called “Pennsylvania Dutch,” Mennonites in religion, who settled in the township of Saugeen. Carrick received the next contingent, who settled in 1853-54 in the vicinity of Formosa; these were largely natives of the southerly part of Germany or from Alsace. Prominent among them were Michael Fischer, Joseph and Michael Seitz, Andrew Zettle, Philip Hauck, Anthony Schumacher, J.P. (commonly known as “Baier Tony”), Michael Mosack and Charles Uhrich. This class of settlers had resided long enough in “New Germany,” Waterloo County, to acquire a knowledge of Canadian ways of farming, and as a class were well-to-do settlers. Others who about the same time settled in the eastern part of the township were Matthias Bickel, P. Binkle, Henry Evers, Peter and Jacob Eckel, John Bieman, John and Matthias Stroder and Henry Dahmer. In the centre of the township, in the vicinity of Deemerton, there settled Andrew, [Andrew built the first tannery and Anthony the first sawmill at this point.] Anthony and Thomas Diemert, Peter and Joseph Emel, John and Jacob Wiegand. The earliest German settlers in the vicinity of Mildmay were George, Frederick and Joseph Weiler, Charles Weis-hahn, Ernest, Frederick and Henry Zinn, August and Frederick Kleist. It is to the credit of Carrick that its inhabitants of varied races, different languages and diverse faiths have lived from the first with an entire absence of feeling as to race or creed, markedly attested all these years by the composite character of the Township Council and its officers.
The first assessment made in Carrick was in 1853. At this time Carrick formed part of the municipality of the United Townships in the county of Bruce. Carrick’s total assessment for that year was £373, and the amount of the municipal levy £2 9s. 9d. The rapid development in wealth of the township from this year may be seen by an examination of Appendix M. In 1854 the union of all the townships in the county as one municipality was dissolved, and Brant and Carrick as united townships became a municipality. [An effort was made in 1854 to have Carrick erected into a separate municipality, as the following extract from the County Council Minutes of Report of Special Committee on the separation of union of the townships in Bruce, shows:
”Petition of Thomas Liscoe and others praying that the township of Carrick be erected into a distinct municipality. We cannot recommend that the prayer of this petition be complied with, inasmuch as the gross assessment of the township, upon which county taxes are applotted, is only £330, and calculating the county taxes for this year at 2d. in the pound, the whole sum payable by this township would amount to only £2 15s. We respectfully submit that it is quite unnecessary that a reeve should be sent here, at a cost of £12 or £14 to the county, for the purpose of guarding the interests of this township.”]
Joseph Walker, of Brant, was the reeve of this municipality for the years 1854-55. In 1856 this last-mentioned union was dissolved, and Carrick commenced its separate municipal existence. The first meeting of the Township Council was held at Balaclava, at John Shennan’s tavern, on January 21st, 1856. The council consisted of Michael Fischer, Seth Rogers, Wm. McVicar, Peter McVicar and A. Diemert, James Gorsline acting as clerk at this meeting, which elected Peter McVicar as reeve. At the second meeting Edmund Savage was appointed to the joint office of clerk and treasurer, which position he held until June, 1872. In a footnote [List of reeves in the township of Carrick: Peter McVicar, 1856, ’57; Michael Fischer, 1858, ’59, ’60, ’61, ’62, ’63, ’64, ’65, ’66, ’67, ’73, ’74, ’75, ’76, 1880; Ignatius Kormann, 1868, ’69, ’70, ’71, ’72; J. Murphy, M.D.. 1877, ’78; M. Campbell, 1879; Wm. Dickison, 1881, ’82, ’83, ’84, ’85, ’86, ’87; John Henderson, 1888, ’89, ’90, ’91; George Lobsinger, 1892; Aaron Mover, 1893; C. Liesemer, 1894, ’95; James Darling, 1896; James Johnston, 1897; R. E. Clapp, M.D., 1898, ’99; L. Lintz, 1900; Moses Filsinger, 1901, ’02, ’03, ’04; Conrad Schmidt, 1905, ’06.] are to be found the names of those who have held the position of reeve of Carrick from the year 1856 to 1906.
The township of Carrick has certain natural advantages which have saved it from incurring large financial obligations necessitating the issuing of debentures. Being in a great measure free of swamps it has no scheme of drainage to provide for, and, unlike the township of Brant, to the north, it has no large streams to bridge, with the involved necessity of expensive structures for that purpose. The debentures issued by the township have been on account of the village of Mildmay, for the erection of a school building and to purchase a fire-engine, for which sectional assessments are made. The issue of debentures for the school building was $3,200, and for the fire-engine $4,000.
The settlement commenced by the three Shennan brothers at Balaclava seems to have been the first to have taken upon itself the form of a village. John Shennan’s tavern there was the first in the township, and the first store in the township was there opened by his brother. For a number of years Balaclava was a thriving little village and was the hub of the township, the municipal nominations and most of the Council meetings being held there. A Presbyterian congregation in connection with the Church of Scotland was there formed about 1861, which along with the congregation at Mount Forest formed a charge over which was settled the Rev. John Hay, a very gifted minister. A post-office established there in 1856 bore the name of “Glenlyon,” of which John Shennan was postmaster, his successor in office being William Hay. This office, after remaining open for about sixteen years, was closed in 1872. Balaclava at one time had a population of about 150; this would be about high-water mark in its best days. The reason for the decay of Balaclava was that in the contest for the position of the railway station Mild-may had the good fortune to secure it, as referred to in the following paragraph.
Mildmay commenced to take form as a village about 1867, when Samuel Merner had a survey made of part of lot 26, concession “C.” For the first half-dozen years the place was called Mernersville, although the post-office, which was established in 1868, was known as Mildmay. The first postmaster was Donald McLean, who also was the first merchant of the place. The three water privileges on Otter Creek, in or about Mildmay, have all been used to advantage. The first industry to which water-power was applied was a sawmill erected by Samuel Carr, near the present railway station. A gristmill is said to have been established by a man named Stewart late in the fifties; of this the author cannot affirm, but in 1867 there was a good grist-mill run by William Murray. The nucleus around which villages form in a new district is generally a blacksmith shop and an hotel. The first of each of these in Mildmay was started respectively by John Lenhardt and Charles Schiel. Before the railway had reached the county of Bruce there were established at Mild-may a woollen factory by Edmund Berry, and a pottery by I. Bitschey, besides grist and sawmills. Having these industries located, and also having good water-power for further industries, the village of Mildmay presented greater inducements to the railway company for the fixing of their station at that point than could Balaclava, and therefore obtained the coveted prize. Since the opening of the railway Mildmay has made very rapid progress, so much so that it is doubtful if there is another unincorporated village in the province of its size and activity; certainly it can rightly claim to possess a larger amount of trade than several of the incorporated villages within the county. It has its local newspaper, The Mildmay Gazette, established about 1893, a system of electric lighting and banking facilities, the Merchants Bank having established an agency there in 1900. No village in the county is more loyally supported by the surrounding country than is Mildmay, which fact seems to assure its continued prosperity.
Next to Mildmay the most important village in the township of Carrick is Formosa. Its situation is unique, being in a valley through which runs Stoney Creek, supplying water-power to the mills. In this valley there are places where low, rocky cliffs picturesquely intrude themselves upon the line of the highway, to avoid which the street has to forsake the usual straight line until the rocks are past. A settlement was formed at this point in 1854, but the village did not take form until some years later. John B. Kroetsch started a sawmill here in the fifties, which was the first industry of the place; some ten years later he added to this a grist-mill. The first store was kept by A. Schick, and the first hotel by John Kartes. The post-office was established there in 1862, the first postmaster being F. X. Messner. It is not too much to say that Messrs. Anthony and F. X. Messner were the leading spirits of Formosa for about thirty years as storekeepers and private bankers. In a footnote is given a biographical sketch of F. X. Messner which will enable the reader to see why he will be remembered in connection with Formosa as long as the present generation of the village are alive.
[Footnote: The death of Mr. Francis X. Messner, which occurred March 10th, 1906, removes a prominent pioneer and philanthropist. In 1862 he, with his brother Anthony, settled in the locality of Formosa, then a dense forest, and started several business enterprises, encouraging settlers and helping them to establish the homes they are now enjoying. An earnest promoter of Catholic education, he built two convents, one in Formosa and another in Walkerton. His philanthrophy was not confined to Bruce; he was ever ready to assist charities throughout Canada. He was most successful in business until an unfortunate enterprise caused him great losses and saddened the last few years of his life, owing to the fact that some of his friends were involved with him. Mr. Messner was a prominent Liberal, and on one occasion received the unanimous nomination in East Bruce for the House of Commons, an honor which he declined He is survived by his widow. —The Globe, Toronto.]
The inhabitants of Formosa are almost entirely of German or Alsatian birth or descent, and are members of the Roman Catholic Church. The church they have erected is by long odds the finest ecclesiastical building in the county. It is built of stone. Its dimen-tions are 160 by 60 feet, and its lofty spire, glistening in the sunlight, may be seen for miles around. During the erection of the building services were held in the old frame church erected some twenty years previously, the peculiar feature being that the new building was built around and about the old one, until at last but glimpses of it only could be had through the windows of the building which was being erected. This fine church was opened December 9th, 1883. The first church services at Formosa were held in the old log school-house, that stood on the site of the present school building. The first priest to be stationed at Formosa was the Rev. Father Stier. The Rev. Father Gehl is the priest at present in charge of the parish. After the church the next prominent building in the village is the convent, under the charge of the Sisters de Notre Dame. This building, the gift of A. and F. X. Messner, was opened by Bishop Farrel, October 20th, 1872. A boarding-school conducted by the sisters has been well patronized.
Some few years ago it was asserted that there were indications of the existence of coal oil at Formosa. An artesian well was sunk over a thousand feet deep, and at one time it was thought that they were on the point of striking oil. but only to be disappointed. Another well not far off was sunk with like result. A fine flow of water comes from these wells, which is all the unfortunate shareholders have to show for their expenditure. A German settlement without a brewery would be incomplete. This need was supplied to Formosa about 1869, when Andrew Rau built his brewery, which, under different owners, is still in operation. In a purely German settlement lager beer is partaken bf as one of the ordinary and necessary things of life. How much this is so has been evidenced at Formosa in days now past, where every Sunday morning, after hearing mass, the hotels were filled by the church-goers having a quiet mug of beer before starting on their drive back to the farm; and, strange as it may seem, the license inspectors did not think it advisable to enforce the law there in regard to prohibited hours.
Another of the villages of Carrick is Carlsruhe, which derives its name from the capital of the Grand Duchy of Baden, in Germany. Its location is elevated and healthy, and its inhabitants are said to be noted for their sociability. (Deutscher Anstand und Gemuetlich-heit.) A post-office was opened there in 1864, Ignatius Korman being the first postmaster and also the first merchant. His successor was Ernst Seeber. [Mr. Seeber filled the office of postmaster from 1869 until 1906, excepting four years which he spent teaching school at Neustadt. During this interim Albert Goetz held the office.] The Roman Catholic church in the village is one of the foremost in the diocese. It is modelled after the cathedral at Roermonde, in Holland, and is of the Romanesque style of architecture. It was built in 1873, at a cost of over $15,000. Its numerous stained-glass windows are artistic and worthy of inspection. The first resident priest was the Rev. Franz Rassaerts, M.I.H.S., a man of scholastic attainments and large-heartedness. His death occurred in October, 1886. The present incumbent, the Rev. J. E. Wey, P.L., possesses the affection and respect of his parishioners. There are in the village both a public and a Roman Catholic separate school. Carlsruhe, although not a populous village, has many of the luxuries of larger places, such as electric lights, two daily mails, and is connected with the outer world by both telegraph and telephone.
Otter Creek, although not a large stream, has been made the most of as a source of power. After driving the mills at Mildmay, it is next used to furnish power to the Saugeen Valley Roller Mill, now owned by Jacob Steinmiller & Son. This mill was originally built in the seventies by Wm. H. Clendening and Wm. Brown. He failed to make a success of it, and the mill passed into the hands of the Merchants Bank, who sold it in 1886 to Mr. Steinmiller. [Jacob Steinmiller came to this county from Germany, in 1867. His experience as a miller extends over half a century. He claims to have, in 1875, set up the first roller machinery in the province, the machinery being imported from Vienna by Messrs. Snider, of St. Jacobs.] Under his management the mill has obtained a wide-spread reputation for the high grade of flour produced. It was awarded a bronze medal at the World’s Pair at Chicago in 1893. It also carried off the Grand Prix at the Paris Exposition of 1900, and a diploma at the International Exposition at Glasgow in 1901. This mill has a capacity of 125 to 150 barrels a day. A large proportion of the flour Mr. Steinmiller grinds is exported. Further down the stream, near where it empties into the Saugeen River, George Harrington in 1862 erected a gristmill. This was run for about twenty-five years by different proprietors, when it unfortunately was burnt down, and has not been rebuilt.
One of the first congregations of any denomination to be organized in Carrick was that of the German Evangelical Association on the eleventh concession, which event occurred in 1855. The Rev. D. Dippel was one of the pioneer ministers of this denomination in Carrick; through his efforts, and those of other workers, not only this church was established, but also one of the same denomination on the seventh concession, and another in Mildmay. The Lutheran church on the eleventh concession was early organized. It is claimed that this was the first Lutheran congregation formed in the county. The first minister was the Rev. Mr. Wunderlich.
The farmers of Carrick were heavy losers by the failure of F. X. Messner in 1897, and of the Carrick Banking Company in the following year, many having deposited their savings with these two firms. These losses have been more than made up during the subsequent years of prosperity, for the farmers of Carrick are thrifty and successful agriculturists. With such characteristics as these we may always expect to see Carrick among the premier townships of the county of Bruce.