Mills in Ontario, Xin Zhao

Over the past months, I have visited a number of the old mills in and around western and eastern Ontario. I photographed these different mills in the hopes of capturing their histories and their respective stories. I saw mills that have been in operation since 1819, as well as old-fashioned mills that have been transformed into restaurants and hotels. Although they have lost their original role, their unique architectural style has been retained. In the 1970s, various conservation authorities decided to tear down many of the old mills and un-dam the streams and creeks causing runoff and further degeneration of the streams. These obsolete mills, abandoned by history, also attracted me. Finally, I visited some modern mills.

As a person who did not grow up in Canada, the history of mills is fresh to me. When I explored the locations of the mills in the surrounding cities, I found that they were all built by the river. This unique driving form and geographical location may have promoted the development of the mills, and so the history of the mills here in Canada is not the same as in other countries.

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