NAME: Dawn Mills
COUNTY: Chatham-Kent district
CLIMATE: Average southern Ontario climate all year round. Fairly warm during the summer time, and the area receives snow fall and bitter-cold temperatures during winter months.
COMMENTS: Dawn Mills has a small, yet steady annual population of around five. The hamlet is very pretty and is kept in picture-perfect condition by the locals. Dawn Mills is not sign posted until you reach the limits of the community. The site lies 5 KMs east of Dresden, Ontario on county road 15, two KMs north of highway 21. On the west side on the road you will encounter the former hotel and a former residence, while on the opposite side is the former church and parsonage. You will notice that the church and parsonage face away from the present day highway as these two buildings rest besides Dawn Mills’ former main street, now all but a gravel track.
REMAINS: All original buildings at Dawn Mills are in great shape, although occupied. Evidence of foundations can be seen in the vacant lots besides one of the homes. Also, a well-maintained cemetery near the church and main street..

Like so many other small towns that had their beginning before the influence of the railroads, Dawn Mills had about thirty years of life from 1830 to 1860. It was never a bustling town having only a population of about a hundred residents. What gave the town some significance was the establishment of a sawmill, a gristmill, and a woolen mill. Prior to the mills, settlers had to take their grain to Detroit by canoe. There was a town plan of several streets but with a small population only a few businesses existed. The railroads began to make their presence felt in the 1860s and, as happened so many times before, drew businesses and other commerce from established towns to the railway centers. Dawn Mills still lives, but barely. Still standing is a former hotel and a few houses. Submitted by: Henry Chenoweth.

The town began in 1830 when W. Taylor and J. Smith erected saw, grist, and woollen mills here besides the Sydenham River. Early residents at Dawn Mills who had to transport their produce by canoe to Detroit welcomed the new establishments with open arms. An early road was built here near the Sydenham River which connected the once sleepy mill settlements. Dawn Mills originally had a town plan of six streets and several dozen lots. Dawn Mills, at one time was the proud home to a church (which remains to-date), a pair of stores and three hotels. Around that prosperous point in time Dawn Mills, with it’s population of 100 + challenged near-by Dresden for regional supremacy, and at one point was the township’s judicial centre. In the 1860s the rail road pulled into southern Ontario. Stations were built, and tracks were laid at the bigger (and also purpose-established) towns. Like many others in the region, Dawn Mills had her industries stolen and out-paced by the big businesses elsewhere. Soon, Dawn Mills became a good example of the modern southern Ontario Ghost Town. Submitted by Ryan J. Hill.

The old church and parsonage amongst the lush summer time greenery at Dawn Mills.
Courtesy Ryan Hill

The hamlet cemetery on a neatly-kept lawn on Dawn Mills' former main street, facing towards the highway
Courtesy Ryan Hill