TOS409 Dickinson House and Saw Mill, 1871 - The Other Side TV

Extra Research for Season 4 – Episode 9 – This Little One

Business partners Moss Kent Dickinson (1822-1897) and Joseph Merrill Currier (1820-1884) built and established Watson’s Mill in 1860, 7 years before Queen Victoria gave royal assent for Canada’s union on 1 July 1867. Dickinson and Currier also established and named the village of Manotick after an Ojibwe word meaning “island in the river.” A sawmill and carding mill were built but were later destroyed by fire.

 

Watson’s Mill (as it has been known since 1946) was first named the Long Island Flouring Mills, then the Long Island Mills, and even the Manotick Mills. In 1929 Dickinson sold the mill to Aleck Spratt. In 1946 one of Spratts’ employees, Harry Watson, purchased the mill and changed the name to Watson’s Mill. In 1972 Harry sold the mill to Rideau Valley Conservation. The workings of the mill were restored and it continues to grind out flour using the original grinding stones.

 

Even though Moss Dickinson enjoyed many happy years, Joseph Currier did not. Married around 1846 to Christina Wilson (1817-1858) he lost three of his four children (George Joseph [1845-1853], William John [1847-1853], and Ida Margaret [1852-1853]) within days of each other leaving his son James Everett (1849-1919). Christina passed away five years later.

 

Two years later Joseph traveled to Lake George, New York and stayed at the Crosbyside Hotel. There he met and fell in love with the owners’ 20-year-old daughter Annie Elizabeth and they married in 1861. Annie’s family are Mayflower descendants.

 

After a month-long honeymoon Joseph and Annie returned to Manotick where they were to celebrate the first-year anniversary of the opening of the mill. While on the second floor Annie’s crinoline got tangled up in a rotating turbine shaft which then proceeded to fling her into one of the supporting poles killing her instantly. Joseph was so distraught that he sold his shares in the mill to Moss Dickinson and moved to Ottawa never to be involved with the mill or Manotick again.

 

Joseph married his third wife Hannah Wright (1833-1901) in 1868 and built a home at 24 Sussex Drive for her which is now the official residence for the Prime Minister of Canada.

 

— Joanne Schiavoni

 

Photo credit: Dickinson House and Saw Mill, 1871. Library and Archives Canada, Mikan 3317748

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