Historic Sites of Manitoba: Gunn’s Mill Monument (RM of St. Clements)

Aboriginal people camped near the rapids above this site for at least 30 centuries before European settlers arrived, following the 1821 amalgamation of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company. The redundant fur trade employees moved to the Red River Settlement, where they either purchased or were granted two-mile-long plots, ranging from 188 to 330 feet in width. This river lot system, adapted from Eastern Canada, provided equitable distribution of hay and wood resources while the river provided transportation.

Many English-speaking retired fur traders brought their native families to settled in St. Andrews Parish, where an Anglican mission was established in 1830. The 1835 census showed about 70 families living along this stretch of the river. Most settlers had only a few acres under cultivation, supplementing their incomes with fishing, buffalo hunting, and contract work with the HBC. Under the terms of the 1870 Manitoba Act, most of these families were able to successfully establish title to their river lot farms.

This 1200-pound mill stone, found discarded in three pieces on this property in 2003, was part of a water-powered grist mill, established here in 1854 by Donald Gunn and his family. The Gunn Mill was one of nine water-powered and 18 wind-driven grist mills in the Red River Settlement. The two-storey mill structure depended on a water wheel to turn the two mill stones. A dam was used to create a mill pond but variations in water levels meant the mill could only operate intermittently. Steam power began replacing water and wind mills in the Red River in 1856. Gunn’s Mill ceased operations in the early 1870s, replaced by a steam-operated flour mill built at St. Andrews in 1864. In the 1880s, new roller process mills replaced grist mills. By 1900, there were nearly 100 flour mills in Manitoba.

This display was unveiled in November 2010 by the St. Clements Heritage Advisory Committee, with support from the Rural Municipality of St. Clements and the Manitoba Historic Resources Branch. The mill stone was donated by the Truthwaite family.

Gunn’s Mill commemorative monument

Gunn’s Mill commemorative monument (May 2011)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N50.08129, W96.93367
denoted by symbol on the map above


This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 14 February 2021

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