STEAM POWER at Upper Canada Village

| November/December 1985

108 Garfield Aue. Madison, NJ 07940

Chief Engineer J. Alden Place was comfortably seated on a block of fire-wood in the boiler house of restored Sam Bellamy's Flour Mill all the while munching on a piece of pound cake and quaffing quantities of black coffee. I had just been admitted to his sanctum sanctorum by the miller for the area containing the mill's boiler and steam engine is, for their own safety, strictly off limits to the usual tourist. Having evinced an interest in things moved by antique steam power had, however, proven to be the password for gaining admittance. It seems that the original mill was built in 1858 and was powered by a vertical shaft water turbine. There followed, in that part of Upper Canada near Ottawa, a period of logging and agricultural development that affected the area water table to the point where the hydro powered mill was annually without water from July through September.

'Very mysteriously,' intoned Chief Placehe's also fireman, wiper and water tender' at Christmas time there was a fire that gutted the mill.' So, Sam Bellamy set off for Montreal right after the conflagration in search of replacements. It is then that he came home to rebuild his flour milling business with both a water turbine and with a steam engine for the dry months.

It was a water level problem of another sort that created the basis for what is now the living museum known as Upper Canada Village depicting the period between 1784 and 1867. How it all came about can best be told by quoting from the brochure provided to visitors.

'During the 1950's, a deep sea canal, from Montreal to the Great Lakes, and a major hydro electric plant at Cornwall, were constructed. The flooding which resulted from this project inundated eight villages, thousands of acres of farm land and the battlefield of Crysler's Farm, areas first settled by United Empire Loyalists in 1784.'

As a consequence, the Province of Ontario government established the St. Lawrence Parks Commission whose charter was the preservation of this heritage. The Commission has brought together a collection of buildings and objects of cultural importance in a site situated between Highway 2 and the St. Lawrence River for a distance of four miles. There are, in addition to the working farm and allied exhibits on 200 of these acres, memorials and marina and the like in an overall development about forty miles south of Ottawa. Operations began in June, 1961, with expansion and development being continuous today.