The Long Island Milling Complex
This picture, c1867, shows the beginnings of Manotick. The flour mill with the carding and cloth mill to its right are in the centre of the picture.
The Dickinson House is in the background on the left and the first sawmill is in front of the carding mill across the bulkhead from the flour mill. As can be seen there are very few other buildings in Manotick.
Note the lack of trees. The sawmill has been busy.
The Dickinson House in Manotick
In 1867, Moss Kent Dickinson built a large, two and a half-story clapboard building, facing and across an open green square from his grist mill. In choosing the building design, Dickinson, who was born in New York State, used a New England architectural style and placed it into an Ontario setting.
As originally built, the house was attached at the northwest rear corner to a previously existing 30' by 18' cottage constructed by Dickinson’s former business partner, Joseph Currier. In 1948, this portion of the building was moved to another lot and was later demolished.
Following its construction, Dickinson’s new building was originally used as mill offices, a general store and a post office. In 1870, Dickinson moved his family into the house, retaining the general store on the south side of the ground floor. The Dickinson family lived in the home and operated the milling complex for 60 years from 1870 to 1930.
Members of the Dickinson family contributed greatly to the growth of Manotick not only by running its major industry but also by participating in national and local politics, serving as postmasters, and helping to found and run community organizations.
Two other mill-owning families subsequently lived in the house - the Spratts and the Watsons. When the last private mill owner, Harry Watson, sold the buildings in the square to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority in 1972, he requested that the grist mill retain the name Watson's Mill. The house, however, has continued to be known as Dickinson House.
The Rideau Township Historical Society has operated the house and offered guided tours for the past nine years. The 2017 season will feature tours of the parlour, dining room, 3 bedrooms, sewing room, upstairs sitting room and a display of artifacts and tools related to the production of cloth.
The third floor will feature a special Canada 150 exhibit entitled "A Walk Through the Decades."
There will also be special theme weekends and events highlighting Manotick's heritage. So come and tour the house, listen to the stories of the people who lived there and learn about the early days of Manotick on the Rideau.