Monday November 24, 2014

Work starts on saving old mill

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The brick mill in Yorkton has a new roof, and work is being done on its windows to preserve the structure.

The old brick mill in Yorkton is undergoing a bit of a facelift, as work continues to revitalize the building into a tourist attraction.

Vern Brown with the Yorkton Brick Mill Heritage Society said the current work “needs at least $80,000” to complete, adding fundraising is moving forward. That effort has been bolstered by $15,000 from Heritage Saskatchewan, and $18,300 from the Painted Hand Community Development Fund.

“The rest of it we are raising locally,” he said.

The current work has seen a new roof put on the old mill.

“We changed the design a bit, changed the structure of it a bit,” said Brown.

While the design is slightly different, cedar shingles were still used to keep it true to the heritage nature of the building. Brown said that was one of the instructions coming from Heritage Saskatchewan.

“McMunn and Yates Building Supplies provided all the shingles,” said Brown, adding that was a significant help in terms of costs.

The new roof will help protect the building’s interior from further water damage.

There is also work being done on the windows, to fix broken ones, again protecting the machinery still inside.

Brown said the Society is taking it as a good sign the City of Yorkton agreed to the work, suggesting they must be willing to keep the building if they green-lighted the work.

That has the society looking beyond the current work to what might still be possible with the building.

While currently no one is supposed to go inside the old flour mill, Brown said the equipment of wheat milling remains inside. Although it is unlikely the machinery could be brought back to use, the Society hopes one day people can at least tour through the mill to see it.

“The equipment may never be used, but it should be shown,” said Brown. “… I’d love to be able to see us walk through the mill. All the equipment in there should be a good tourist attraction.”

Brown said the society also sees the old mill as being the core element in telling the story of “grain processing in Yorkton over the years.”

The brick mill was the first processor, turning area wheat into flour, and the tradition of processing has continued.

“There are now two canola processors, and an oat processing facility, and a flax processing facility,” said Brown.

While noting the Society has not yet approached the current processors with their vision, Brown said the combined story could be told with the brick mill as a logical place to create such an attraction.

“If we can get these people (processors) on board then that would be the next phase,” he said.

Of course more donations are also welcome to help with both the current project, and future plans, said Brown. Cheques can be made out the City of Yorkton Mill Restoration to receive a tax receipt.

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