Have you ever wondered where the name Nassau Mills Road in Peterborough, Ontario came from?
You would never know that Trent University’s Symons Campus was once home to a bustling nineteenth-century industrial cluster, including the Nassau Mill (also known as the Red Mill).
The mill operation was a key point of industry in the area, and had a large impact on the surrounding settlement. Charles Weld, who published an account of his 1855 vacation tour, visited the mill shortly after its 1854 opening and recorded his impressions:
We visited the largest of these establishments about 3 miles from Peterborough. The machinery is on a gigantic scale. One hundred thirty-six saws were working with tremendous velocity, reducing huge logs to planks at a rate of nearly fifty an hour. Instead of using files to sharpen the saws, a powerful punching machine is employed, which cuts fresh faces on the teeth; a process combining greater efficiency with saving of time.
A portion of the machinery is employed for making lathes, beside plank-sawing. This mill, in common with others in Canada, works day and night, devouring 70,000 logs in the season of nine months; but, though the quantity of planks produced is prodigious, the demand generally exceeds the supply (Weld 1855:100).
Today, this formerly nationally-significant historic mill complex and associated structures have almost been erased from memory.
Join the Trent Archaeology Field School as we learn about the lives of the people who worked in and around the old Nassau Mills.