Exhibit explores Minto’s industrial heritage

A new exhibit at the Minto Heritage Gallery explores Minto’s industrial past.

The exhibit, which runs until Aug. 29, explores the story of the industrial past of Clifford, Harriston, Palmerston and Minto Township through maps, photos, historical information and artifacts. 

The early days in Clifford and Harriston saw the establishment of enterprises supplying the community’s basic needs; water powered sawmills, flour mills, grist mills and blacksmiths. 

Soon water power was replaced by steam power and a wide variety of products were manufactured to fill local needs and to ship elsewhere. Wagons, pumps, carriages, sleighs, farm implements, shoes, wool, wood products and furniture were turned out. 

Minto Township had sawmills and cheese factories, as well as the Drew brickyards. 

Palmerston was the “new kid on the block”, forming around the railroad station.  Soon it had similar industries as well as a large brewery.

As the twentieth century drew nearer, many industries failed due to competition from large urban firms such as Massey-Harris and Minto began to specialize in agriculture-related industries, including pork packing, flour and grist mills and creameries producing butter, cheese and ice cream.

During the early 20th century, further failures of industries – such as the Davies and Palmerston Pork Packing companies and the brewery and woodenware plants in Palmerston – left their respective communities with big buildings sitting idle. 

The exhibit charts the course of the often futile attempts to set up new operations.

Success stories through these years are also on display, including the Palmerston Creamery, Canada Packers, Harriston Stove Co., Harriston Casket Co., Watt’s Mill, Walkey’s Mill and the Co-Op.

Of special interest are the artifacts on display from the collections of Rob Purcell, Scott Vanner, Roy Charters, Doug Davie and John Bowen; all who share a passion for their community’s past.

Minto Heritage Gallery is located upstairs at the Harriston Public Library and the hours are  Tues. 7 to 9pm, Thurs. and Fri. 2 to 4 and 7 to 9pm. and Sat. 11am to 1pm. Visit mintoartscouncil.ca for more information.