ST. JOHN'S WEST
| NAME: ST.
CLIMATE: Snow in winter
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Spring summer or fall
REMAINS: A few of the original buildings still stand including the one-room school house preserved as a reminder of what once was.
| St. John’s West was one of the early mill
towns of the Niagara Peninsula. Its beginning was in 1792 when Benjamin
Canby built a sawmill on the banks of Twelve Mile Creek. Soon after, John
Darling built a gristmill and later married Canby’s sister. That was
the beginning of St. John’s West as a settlement. It was not long
before other settlers began to arrive to form a thriving pioneer mill village.
Darling added another gristmill and then a woolen mill a few years later.
It is said Darling built Ontario’s first iron furnace in 1817 adding
to his dominance as the town’s leading industrialist. A large foundry
built by a Russell Rich followed that produced stoves, ploughs, and machinery
for woolen mills. In 1850, St. John’s boasted five gristmills, three
saw mills, a cloth factory and other industries.
Because the canals and railroads bypassed the town, the community stagnated. By 1926, St. John’s became a ghost town. A few of the original buildings still stand including the one-room school house preserved as a reminder of what once was.