28 hikers, including young children, embraced the winter weather at Harrington Pond on New Year’s Day for a 1km winter time ramble. While some walked, many others used snowshoes. Two white swans floated in the numbing cold of the Harrington Pond while we hikers did our best to enjoy the falling snow and ignore the temperature.
The hike was followed by a guided tour of the Harrington Grist Mill Restoration Project, courtesy of Harrington Community Preservation and Historical Association members Philip Kerr and Tim Van de Kemp. This project is the result of a 20-year community effort to restore the Grist Mill to its current state allowing it to open for public viewings. It is one of the few remaining structural reminders of the numerous mills that once dotted the Trout River watershed from the mid 1800s.
Mr. Van de Kemp told us that the original earth dam and mill were built in 1846. The resulting pond provided the needed water power. The Harrington Pond Mill served the milling needs of the rural community until the mill closed in 1966. He led our group on a tour of the restored two-storey architectural structure. He explained how the mill once worked, with local farmers bringing in their grain, chatting and playing checkers with the miller while the grain was ground by the mechanical equipment.
The earth dam at Harrington Pond provides a habitat for wildlife and a picnic and hiking ground for the public, but does not provide flood control. The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA), legal steward of the three-hectare pond and mill, focuses its energy and maintenance on flood control dams.
Association chair, Mr. Kerr, told the assembled hikers that a fund has been created to accept donations from the public. The fund’s goal is to pursue options to once again enable the provision of a water power source to power the Harrington Pond Grist Mill as a functioning educational site and museum.
After the tour, we hikers retired to a table laden with homemade cookies and treats, hot chocolate and tea, all courtesy of the hike organizers.