Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | January 25, 2017

Fort Augustus by any other name

riverview_wind-mill_91-15-140-4by6-fxFrequently we are asked about Cornwall’s historic wind mill and whether or not it was located at Windmill Point (now the site of St. Lawrence College.) The name Windmill Point is rather recent; it began as an island that was later connected to the mainland.


The wind mill was not located at Windmill Point, but rather a few blocks north on a hill. A memorial plaque adorns the east exterior wall of the former St. Felix de Valois School, which is now the Windmill Apartments, directly south of the former mill. Residential houses occupy the actual site of the mill today.


riverview_windm-ill_postcard_85-17-24When Cornwall was first settled by the United Empire Loyalists in 1784, it was not practical to build water-powered mills due to the fact that they would have been destroyed by massive sheets of river ice in the January and Spring thaws, so two mills were erected outside of the Square Mile Town, one to the east and the other to the west.

riverview_wind-mill_have-neg-fxThe mill under discussion was a grist mill constructed in 1800. In 1838 it had outlived its usefulness as a mill and was converted to a block house by February of the following year, which proved useful during the Upper and Lower Canada Rebellions, but not beyond. The “fort’s” day books make mention of the place being known as “Fort Augustus”. In 1929 it was turned over to the Township as a small park by Bertha Colquhoun, stabilized by the SD&G Historical Society, becoming our first local Museum in 1937 and ultimately demolished by the Township in the summer of 1944, then being viewed as a safety hazard for youth playing there. Having failed to honour the terms of the Colquhoun donation (maintaining the park and fort), the Township was reminded of the need to either return the property to Bertha or to purchase it from her. They opted to purchase it in order that new housing could be erected.


The structure was about 35 feet high and 25 feet in diameter. Throughout this post are a series of photos of Fort Augustus. Some of the images are quite different; can you spot the differences and comment as to why that is?

Please post your comments below.

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