Oshawa Public Libraries' Historical Images
LH0245 Empire Woollen Mill - Columbus

Media Type:
Item Type:
View of the exterior the Empire Woollen Mill in Columbus.
Just west of Columbus on a branch of the Oshawa Creek at the SE corner of Thornton Rd. and Columbus Rd. existed the largest mill in the entire area. Here, in 1835, the impressive, four-storey woollen mills of Mathewson and Ratcliffe were operated by a crew of 50, which was much larger than the other mills that dotted the landscape.

The men were brought in from northern England to work the mill. They resided in a boarding home and small cottages. In 1850 the company was sold to the Empire Mills Company. The area grew into a village that had a church, a store, a school, wooden sidewalks and by 1883, an electrical lighting system powered by the mill dam. It may have been the first of its kind in the entire area.

When a major railway was built well west near Markham the company moved. The old mill struggled under new ownership until 1890 when a flood washed out the dam. It was never rebuilt and the village died. A few old century homes survive; 2 cemeteries from the area survive: the Dryden Baptist Cemetery and St. Paul's Anglican Cemetery.
Date of Original:
ca. 1890
Local identifier:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.8967957237594 Longitude: -78.8679806826782
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Oshawa Public Libraries
WWW address
Agency street/mail address

Eva Saether, Local History and Genealogy Librarian

65 Bagot Street,

Oshawa, ON L1H 1N2

905-579-6111 EXT 5253

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LH0245 Empire Woollen Mill - Columbus

View of the exterior the Empire Woollen Mill in Columbus.