Leo Doucet remembers Dalhousie Mills

I remember 3 large sawmills in Dalhousie, all of them had burned, some more than others.

The first was known as the "PQ Mill" or simply "PQ" It was built where the C. I. L. Chemical plant is now located and had partially burned a short while before I was born. An uncle, Stanley Doucet, was employed as a watchman there until about 1944/45. My father also worked there and remembered some fellows read the war news (WW 1) during the lunch hours.

The mill was built near the water and slab wood in bundles had been piled about 12 feet high all along the beach and against the bank for about of a mile making a wharf. We often walked along the beach at the base of this wharf while on our way to and from a lovely beach just above the mill site. One could only walk on the beach next to this wharf while the tide was low and a few times when the water was only two or three feet from the wharf or when there were big waves we used to run as fast as we could so as not to caught.

Sawed lumber was piled to dry in a large field about halfway between the mill and the highway. Wood ramps about 4 feet high and wide enough to allow the passing of two horses and their wagon loads of lumber were built all over this field. I once asked my father why the wood was hauled on the ramps and he told me that the ground in the field was too wet and soft and the wagon wheels would sink too much. These ramps were all still there when I picked raspberries there from about 1936 on. The field was full of raspberries bushes then.

The second sawmill I remember was called the "Domill", why it was called Domill I do not know. It may have been spelled different from the way I have spelled it here. It was located about where the railway freight yards are located on the west end of Dalhousie but closer to the water than where the rail lines are. (were?). It is likely the mill where Mr. Doyle and my grandfather worked. This mill also had a wharf built of slab wood down on the beach but only about 8 feet high, during the big tides the water came up almost to the top of the wharf. This mill had burned well before my time and the site cleaned up except for the wharf which was in good condition in the 1930s.

The third sawmill was the Sidney Lumber Company Mill, the beautiful frosted and flowered glass to the mill's time office front door is now in the museum in Dalhousie. I saw it there last year. This mill burned in the Fall or Winter of 1928. My mother told me that she watched the mill burn in the night while holding me in her arms. We lived straight up from the mill on Victoria Street the distance of a city block away.

The location of the mill was on the shore where the Marina is now located. Mom said the heat was such that she could not stay if front of the kitchen window for more than a few seconds at a time because of the intense heat that radiated through the window. This mill also had a slab wharf, if fact the Marina wharf is exactly on top of the old slab wharf, the Town having simply piled large rocks over the much deteriorated slab wharf and piling gravel on top of that. This mill along with the PQ Mill had a large burner, about 15' diameter and 125' high steel stack for the burning of edgings, bark etc., which remained standing until WW II. The Sidney Mill stack was taken down in 1942 and cut up for it's scrap steel value. I watched as the CN locomotive was hooked to a steel cable tied around the top of the stack and then moved slowly forward until it pulled the stack off it's concrete base where it landed with a resounding 'WHOMP' amid a big cloud of dust. There had been some anxiety about this stack for a long time as boys used to climb to the top of the stack via the open steel ladder riveted to it's side and getting on to the walkway built all around the top what was by this time all rusted.

My father and grandfather worked there also. Dad who with others had been designated a fireman in the event of a fire at the mill told me several times that when they tried to unwind the two fire hoses from each fire cart they found that one hose had been wound on in one direction and the second hose had been wound on in the other direction and they couldn't get the hoses off and connected. He had no doubt the fire had been set. I believe the Sidney Mill was built or rebuilt on the site of yet another sawmill called "Moffat's Mill", but that's well before my time and I only remember my grandfather talking about the Moffats and their mill.