Photo above: Queen Street looking south from Mill – circa 1905
This past weekend was the anniversary of the date George Bolton purchased a 200-acre mill site along the Humber River. Just Sayin’ Caledon thanks the Albion Bolton Historical Society for kindly sharing this wonderful piece of history, and the photos, with our readers .
Saturday June 5th marked the 200th anniversary of the purchase, by George Bolton, of a 200-acre mill site along the Humber River. He was 22 years old. The site’s potential had been identified by Provincial Land Surveyor James Chewett as he surveyed Albion Township in 1819 and was part of 2635 acres of land in Albion Township that Chewett received as payment for his services. George Bolton’s subsequent grist mill was the catalyst for our community. Here is what we know about him:
George Bolton was born in 1799 and grew up in Tannington, Suffolk England, not far from the Worlingworth church where his birth is registered. He was the youngest of six children born to James and Judith Bolton and he was educated, as were his siblings.
Although thought to be a bachelor, George had had a disagreement with his father over an unsanctioned marriage that, in the end, did not last. Written out of his father’s will, George left England and travelled to Jamaica where he acquired capital working in the indigo trade.
When George arrived in Canada in 1821, he was joining his brother, James Bolton, 18 years his senior and one of the first to settle in Albion Township. James’ 100-acre farm lay close to the Caledon King Town Line and Castlederg Sideroad. One of George’s first tasks was to build a house, later described as a frame, roughcast building. He also selected and started clearing a site for his grist mill on the south bank of the Humber. He was guided by James, a skilled millwright, who helped him build his mill and construct a dam across the river. The mill was grinding grain by 1824.
The economic value of the area surrounding George’s property had been recognized and the survey reserved the 200 acres to the south for the Clergy and the 200 acres to the west for the Crown. In addition, 1000 acres on the tableland, immediately north, were given, as an extraordinary land grant, to a high-ranking military officer, Robert Loring, who lived in Kingston. This created challenges for mill access since surrounding road allowances were not cleared or maintained by these ‘absentee’ landowners.
George was known to be very hospitable to the many farmers who brought grain to the mill. He must also have had strength, resilience and endurance. He persevered and was successful, thanks to the ever-growing demand for flour.
His closest neighbours were niece Harriet Bolton and her husband John Godbolt who settled on land George sold to them, north of the Humber, well east of what is now Humber Lea Road. By 1830, there were fewer than 10 people living in a one-kilometer radius of Bolton’s Mill.
Around 1830, George provided land and a log structure for a school and in 1831, built a store at the NE corner of what would be King Street East at Mill. The following year, the government appointed George as postmaster and he housed the post office, named ALBION, in his store. In the early 1830s, two of George and James’ sisters immigrated to Canada, also settling in Albion Township: Maria Bolton Fuller and her husband Samuel. Rachel Bolton Godbolt and her husband George. George Bolton did not take sides during the 1837 Mackenzie Rebellion unlike James who fled to the US in the aftermath because of his vocal and written support of the uprising.
In 1845, after 23 years as miller, George retired and sold the mill, house and other property to his assistant and nephew, James Bolton Jr. He died on November 16, 1869 in Glenville, near Newmarket, on the farm of James Bolton Jr. and his wife Ellen. Efforts to locate where he is buried have been unsuccessful.