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When We Used To Build Ships…

When We Used To Build Ships…

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Serious shipbuilding in Midland took its last breath in 1957. First begun in 1910 when James Playfair’s company  began building ships of all sizes the operation was an important facet in the town’s aggressive industrial complex. By 1928 there was very little  industrial except for activities Midland Foundry and a firm known as Fine Silk which eventually became Bay Mills. In 1941 shipbuilding operations were renewed with corvettes and trawlers being built for the Navy throughout WWll.

This part of Huronia  really first came to life in 1875 when Adolphe Hugel and directors of Midland Railway chose Midland Bay known back then as Mundy’s Bay as the terminus of their railway. A small collection of shanties on little plots carved out of the surrounding bush was called  Aberdar after a town in Wales.  With a saw mill in operation Midland began to grow as a lumber village with finished products shipped by three-masted schooners to Saginaw and other Great Lakes American ports. It was then when the Chew brothers arrived on the scene and built a very busy grist mill…..it was only then could one foresee the beginnings of a lucrative grain trade.

By 1864 Midland had its own town hall, a school with no fewer than three teachers, a wagon shop, stables, blacksmith and a newspaper called the Argosy. These were boom days Chew mills and Playfair lumber mills operating. On the scene next was John Dollar, a former employee of Coot’s sawing who opened a lumber mill of his own…early in 1900’s travellers visit Midland to see their first electric lights and walk on wooden sidewalks thus avoiding walking downtown in the mud.

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Years later they would visit Ruby’s Bakery and stare at one single light bulb that had never been turned off ever…….ever! We can be very proud of our forefathers, of Jesuits who came to the Heart of Huronia in the late 1500’s, eight of them martyred for their faith decades later….of railway folk, lumbering giants, grist mill operators and shipbuilders.

Our history is long, sadly our memories are often shorter when it comes to recalling with pride those who paved the way for us.

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When We Used To Build Ships…

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