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O'Hara Mill News and What's New PDF Print E-mail



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November 29, 2014:   Looking for more to see and do at O'Hara? While enjoying the horse drawn wagon rides during our "Christmas at O'Hara's" event, be sure to watch for our new 1850 period Maple Syrup station in the sugar bush It can also be visited anytime... on a short walk on the Lois Wishart trail just behind the Visitor's Centre. Looking at the old photo below of just such a work station in O'Hara's past, you can see the use of the wooden hooks made from tree branches, and the large cast iron cauldrons. Looking at fires, smoke, and the work it took, one can appreciate just how much people loved their maple syrup!".

Maple syrup 2015 site

Maple syrup 1850 site

November 25, 2014:   New custom made wooden light fixtures have been installed in the stone puller building and a couple of the machinery bays. Picnic tables will be set up under cover here for the Christmas Event for those who would like to sit and enjoy thier food from the servery.

new lights

November 1, 2014:   Two of the machinery shed bays have been used for years to store lumber for projects, and in order to free up this space for some of our recent machinery donations, the back wall of the new stone puller building provided the perfect solution. Volunteers Dave and Ben have just completed this new lean to using recycled material. Looks great guys !!




October 28, 2014:   ....And work continues on the make over of the main entrance.

Main entrance work

....All done and it looks fantastic!!

entrance 01

entrance 02



October1, 2014:   Except for a few finishing touches, the stone puller building is now complete and the monster has been moved into its new home!!

Display shed

Puller in home

Sept.21, 2014:   The timber frame stone puller building is nearing completion with the application of some lovely old barn board on the east wall and gables. Newer board and batten is now being installed on the west wall to accomodate a viewing area and this will be stained to match the old.


Sept. 20, 204:   After lots of hard work, Volunteers have given our main entrance a fresh new look. Note that the gates and fencing have been moved back several feet to allow for more winter parking.

Entrance completed

August 29, 2014:   The last sheet of steel going on the new building. Everyone is excited as the stone puller will soon be in its new home!!

last sheet

Looking good

August 11, 2014:  All of the rafters are now in place. Just the strapping to go now and the steel can be installed.

Rafters up

August 5, 2014: First roof rafters going up !!

first rafter up

August 3, 2014: Last week saw the beginnings of the roof structure on the stone puller building. Gord and Dave now have all of the king posts up. These are knotched at the top to accept the ridge boards that run full length of the peak and against which the roof rafters are attached. Won't be long now before roof decking and steel are on.

king posts up

July 19, 2014:   All of the main timber framing for the stone puller/shingle machine building is now completed, as well as the timbers that will tie it into the machinery shed on the right. Nailing framework for the siding and viewing area are well along and you should see some rafters going up in the near future.

framing done

July 19, 2014:   Lots of new stuff happening at O'Hara mill, including a beautifull new stone base for our main entrance sign. The fence was also moved back several feet to provide for more winter parking.

limestone blocks

all done

July 18, 2014:   Ben, Ralph and Dave have been busy with these stretches of good weather. The fifth and final bent went up two days ago and a final corner timber is being installed. installed.

raising the last bent

Dave's grey Ford serves many purposes...including acting as an anchor point for the scaffolding winch when lifting a heavy bent into place.

Ford anchor

July 2. 2014:  The third support section (bent) is now up.

Third wall up

June 26, 2014: Despite a lot of wet weather this past spring, some progress is being made on the raising of the framework for the stone picker building.

Two walls up

October 10, 2013:

The west end of the north machinery shed has been rebuilt over the last 2 months with new footings and support columns installed and a new compacted gravel base put down as well. The old wall at the back has been replaced with a half wall which will both keep out the elements and provide much more light to the viewing area. This is the section that will blend in with the new timber frame stone puller building when it is built. See following story.

North shed done

October 29, 2013:

The concrete floating pad for the stone puller building is finaly under way. Due to the complexity of this phase of the building, and the unavailabilty of past volunteers who are well versed in concrete forming and pouring, this has been hired out to Al Fledderus from Smithfield. He and his crew were in this past week and have installed the formwork and will be back to pour and finish the concrete once it has been passed by the building inspector. Forms in below and concrete was poured the following week.

Concrete forms

Concrete pad poured

July 2013:   New Food Servery

This year one of our top priorities has been to look into how we can improve our capability to serve food and beverages to you, our visitors. Remember standing in lines on the hill by the carriage house that hot summer day last year for our Heritage Day?  Think about the volunteers working so hard in the sun and heat. We needed to provide better access to the serving area and to provide an area easier to keep clean, and provide protection to our volunteers.  The result, a new servery is being built which offers more shade, level ground and in an area off to the side of the main traffic areas during events.  We believe you will find that the design will blend in with its surroundings.  The goal is to be up and running by Heritage Day!  Look forward to serving you!


Food Servery under construction

Food 1

The new building was well enough along that it was made good use of on Canada Day.


As well as caring for the gardens and trails, Barb and Hazel have many other talents such as applying stain to the siding on the new food serving building. It's looking great and will be in full service for the Annual Corn Boil on August 15th. The electricty was hooked up by Gord Sommerville last Saturday and the new fridge donated by Smitties Appliances is on and doing a cool job.


Food servery 2

August 14. 2013:  After much hard work by several Volunteers, the new food serving building is now completed and ready for bussiness for the year's events.


April 23,2013:  The start of the Stone Puller building.

     Now that the snow is all gone and the frost is finally out of the ground, Dave and Gord have started laying out the perimiter for the concrete pad for the new timber frame building that will house the restored stone puller and the shingle mill. All of the drawings are in place and we've just received the building permit last week so things should start progressing in the next few weeks, after the blacksmith shop roof has been completed, thanks to the hard work of Robert Schamehorn and Dave Little.

Concrete pad layout


July 6, 2013

Update:  You will see that we have set work on this project aside to focus on the new food serving building.   We will be back at it. Stay tuned!



November 8, 2012:  The Blacksmith Shop foundation.

      For the last few years, snow melt and spring runoff has found its way under the north wall of the blacksmith shop and frozen into a sheet of ice on the floor. To remedy this, Dave has dug a trench just outside the old concrete footing and installed a "Big O" drainage pipe. It was also discovered that the bottom log had suffered severe rot from dirt migrating up against it. Dave has removed most of this and will be building up the footing with vintage limestone to replace that log.

BS shop wall


BS stone work


November 5, 2012:  The Blacksmith Shop roof.

     It was decided some time ago that all deteriorating shingle roofs at the Homestead would be replaced with black steel. We are, however, Making an exception with the now leaking roof on the blacksmith shop, one of only two older log buildings on the site. It is front row centre and much photographed so we wish to maintain its vintage look. We hesitated at first about the high cost ($1800.00) of purchasing cedar shingles, their suspect longevity, and the labor involved in installing them. One of our Volunteers, however, Peter Sporring, has offered to supply all the necesary cedar logs from his woodlot  at no cost and process these into the 7 square of material needed.


October 26,2012: Stone puller building.

      Today the last loads of gravel arrived and was leveled for the base for the concrete pad that will support the new building to house the stone puller and shingle mill. Construction won't start until spring 2013 on this project but we will keep you posted as to design and layout as that information becomes available.

Gravel base

October 24, 2012:

       Quinte Conservation Water Resources Staff arrived today to remove two of the stop logs in the dam. This reduces the mill pond levels by two feet for the winter months and helps prevent possible flooding during spring thaw.

QC staff remove stop logs

Stop logs out


October 10, 2012: Homestead maintenance.

      There's always something to do and fix around the Homestead complex. Many of the cedar shingle roofs that were replaced in the 80's have deteriorated and have started leaking. Due to the high cost of labour and material for replacing them once again, we have opted to use black steel, as on the saw mill and just recently on the carriage House roof this past month. Some would argue it's not "in keeping" with a heritage site, but we have to consider the long term protection of the buildings we've worked so hard to restore.


The Blacksmith shop forge:  The fire pot in our blacksmith shop forge has disintegrated and had to be babied along during demonstrations this past summer. A new heavy duty cast iron one (80 lbs worth) was  ordered from Thac Ironworks in Floradale ,Ontario, and this has been installed this past week. We also have a new addition to the blacksmith shop in the form of an antique hand cranked drill press donated by Tom MacDonald of Belleville. It was made by the Kitchener Blower & Forge Co., circa 1910, (same Co. that made our new Fire pot above)

old fire pot

The old fire pot

The new fir pot

The new fire pot installed.

612 drill press

 Restored drill press. Kitchener Blower & Forge model 612.


May 2012:

As of May 26th, the Covered Bridge over the mill pond dam has been completed just in time for the Grand Opening Ceremonies on Opening day this year. Check out the complete building of this structure on "Covered Bridge" on the main menue.

Covered bridge

Opening Day celebrations and Grand Opening of the Dam & Covered Bridge - May 27th.

Wow!!! What a reponse!!  All of the Volunteers involved were somewhat awed by the hundreds of people that showed up to see and appreciate the hard work we have all done here at O'hara Mill over the last couple of years, and especially this last few months.  The following are some of the many photos taken by Hazel Gill and others to commemorate the day.

Plaque unvieling

Dave little and Terry Murphy unviel the plaque for the new dam and covered bridge.

March to the stage

North Hasting Highlanders & 49th Regiment of Foot march to the stage for the Opening ceremonies.

Brian Moorcroft 01

Drum Major Bryan Moorcroft, North Hastings Highlanders. Also the boom operator for TimberMart on the bridge raising day.



As the Town Crier gets everyones attention, our speechmakers for the day wait their turn. At the mike is our M.C. & program co-ordinator Grant Ketcheson. From left to right is Lyle Vanclief, Terry Murphy, Daryl Kramp, Bob Sager, Todd Smith, Owen Ketcheson and Dave Little.

Gardening  ladies

The Gardening Ladies all decked out in their finery ready to receive the crowds.

The O'Hara Sawmill gets a new roof  -  October, 2011

            During the last days of applying the vintage limestone to our new dam, a major rainstorm occurred and our volunteers took shelter in the saw mill building. To not much avail, as the old and deteriorating cedar shingle roof had sprung leaks in several hundred locations. As soon as the dam was completed two days later, we started stripping the old roofing material and ordered new black steel, tarped the roof over and on October 17th we were able to install the new roof and complete it just minutes ahead of another rain event. There are some who would have preferred the use of cedar shingles again on some of the buildings we have, and will be re-roofing again, but we have to consider the long-term protection of much of the work we have done to interiors of these heritage structures. Cedar shingles are in keeping with the era but are four times the cost to install and last only a few years. The volunteers involved with preparing for and installing the new roof were Dave Little, Ralph Holland , and Walt Kincaid.


The Log School House gets a new foundation  -  Oct 14th, 2011

While waiting for the steel to arrive for the saw mill roof, Dave Little noticed that one corner of the old cement block foundation of our Log School House had crumbled away. Having enough of the limestone left over from the dam refacing project, Dave has been working away at rebuilding the foundation. As of this writing he is about half done and the results are quite appealing.

school house

The O'Hara Museum House receives a facelift  -  June, 2011

After many years and several coats of blistering paint later, some of it original to when the house was first built in the mid 1800’s, this was the year to give this old gem a facelift. Due to the high lead content, we decided to have it professionally removed and repainted as well. Many of the lower siding boards at ground level had rotted out completely and, thanks to Volunteers Gord Sommerville and Jim Wilkinson, these were duplicated and replaced. Dave Little repaired two of the better front screen doors and two new ones have been built so all four are now identical. These were all primed, painted and re-screened by Hazel Gill in her basement workshop.  The three old and disintegrating concrete front steps were the last to go. Gord, Jim and Ralph dug most of these out and reformed and poured new concrete. The easternmost of these new steps is also wheelchair accessible. During the following month, some of our gardening volunteers completed the painting of all the blue door and window trim and gave the front picket fence a fresh coat of white as well.

 The sawmill carriage feed shaft succumbs to dry rot after 174 years
 Winter 2010-2011

            In the midst of the last sawing demonstration of 2010, the large oak shaft that advances the log carriage through the saw parted company with its equally large wooden spoked feed wheel. 174 years of hard use and dry rot proved to be its undoing. During the ensuing winter months,we tackled the job of building and installing a new shaft. Many thanks to Paul Chisholm of Chisholm’s Mills for financing this project and to Clifford McLean of the Hastings Stewardship Council for procuring the necessary white oak planks required.

            The first thing to do was laminate these very heavy planks into a single beam of the right dimensions. These were then squared up on a portable band sawmill, taking off all four corners as well to speed up the lathe work that was to follow. Not being able to find a lathe large enough to accommodate such a large piece of timber, one was made on the bed of the sawmill and powered  with a Massey Ferguson tractor. This whole process took about half a day but produced an exact duplicate of the old shaft. Six new spokes were made using an old one as a pattern, and in the spring of 2011 all of these pieces were assembled at the Mill and lowered into place. Ten successful demonstrations during the summer of 2011 proved that this old mill is working as good as ever.

The broken connection

Dry rot where the feed wheel parted company with shaft.

The laminated beam






300 pounds of

laminated beam,

10"x10"x9 feet long





The home made lathe

The Home made lathe.

Turning shaft

Turning the shaft.

Fitting the original ring gears

Fitting the original ring gears. These are what drive the log carriage.

Fitting the old cast axle shafts

Fitting in the original cast axle shafts. A painstaking job to cut those slots.

Placing shaft

Lowering the new shaft into place.



Last Updated ( Dec 12, 2014 at 07:33 AM )