Alvinston and Area History
As told by Jean Turnbull Elford in the book A HISTORY OF LAMBTON COUNTY
Press arrows to cycle pages
Page 1 of 3
Steel bridge was a proud addition to Brooke Township roads system, north of Alvinston
Alvinston owes its beginning to Archibald Gardner who built a grist mill there in 1837. The hamlet that grew up around it on the east end of the sixth concession of Brooke township was called Gardner's Mill. Gardner, a Scotsman, came to the locality in 1835 and found that the settlers coming in had no means of grinding their grain into flour except by pounding it by hand
Gardner was only twenty-three years old when he built his mill on the hill that faces Alvinston. He dammed the Sydenham River to provide power to run the two mill stones. It was the only grist-mill within a radius of fifty miles. Since horses were unavailable and oxen could not be readily guided through the bush, the settlers took their grain, or grist as they called it, to the mill in a bag strapped to their shoulders often carrying fifty or more pounds along a blazed trail through swamps and bush.
Later Gardner built a sawmill making available to them sawn lumber for their floors, doors and window frames instead of the split logs formerly used.
Gardner had his mills only a few years when Mormon missionaries converted him to what came to be known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. He was so enthused that he set out on foot and crossed the St. Clair River on floating ice to join Brigham Young, the Mormon leader, in Nauvoo, Illinois.
Later in the year 1846, Gardner's family and other converts chopped a road through the bush to the London Road and abandoned their homes to go to Nauvoo. From there they followed Young to Salt Lake City. In 1946, one of the stones from Gardner's mill was erected as a monument to them and Gardner beside the Nauvoo Road that they made, now called highway seventy-nine.
Gardner sold his mill to the Branan family who improved it and added more runs of stones. It continued to serve the Alvinston district until it was abandoned in 1874, though flour milling went on in the village until 1926.
Page 1 of 3
This page was updated by Ian McLean of the Alvinston Community Access Program, This page may not be re-used, duplicated, or retransmitted in any form without the consent of the Alvinston Community Access Program or the Lambton County Library System.