Leard's Grist Mill restoration continues to grind along
The Leard's Grist Mill in western P.E.I. looks almost brand new after a busy summer of restoration work for a crew through Skills PEI, even though the historic building is actually more than 100 years old.
'It's technology at its very oldest, you know, the old grinds and grist'
The second phase of restoration has been completed at Leard's Grist Mill in Coleman, P.E.I.
Located at the end of Leard's Pond near the town of O'Leary, the historic mill is looking like a brand-new building from the outside — even though it is actually 130 years old. The mill operated in western P.E.I from 1888 until 2012.
A crew of four workers was hired for 14 weeks over the summer to rebuild and repair the old mill, with some help from provincial training program Skills PEI.
"I've lived just up the road," said carpenter's assistant Kenny MacDonald.
"I grew up around here so I knew this place was here, I just never knew all this was in here for all these years."
The crew had its hands full working to repair the years of damage from time, weather and rodents.
They also rebuilt parts of the chutes and belts that once helped the machinery mill grain.
"It was a really good experience," said carpenter's assistant Ashley Rafferty.
"I really enjoyed figuring out how everything worked and looking at it, because I'd never seen the insides of all these machines," Rafferty said. "Whenever we opened one up it was like 'Oh so that is how it would do that.'"
The crew worked under the watchful eye of carpenter and site supervisor Jason Greenan, who said he was pleased with what the workers accomplished over the summer.
"It was great, when they started some of them hadn't even picked up a hammer before," Greenan said.
"I would be confident right now to put them on a carpenter crew working somewhere else."
Amid the clutter and debris the crew cleaned out, they also managed to find nuggets of history like an original sign for the mill.
"It is very rewarding at my age to see this," said Susan Dalton, a member of the mill's restoration committee.
"It's something we can pass on to the next generation and they can look at it and say 'Oh, look they did that for us and it must have meant a lot to them'. And it does, it does mean a lot."
The mill machinery has not run since 2012 and will still need some work to get it going again.
For many years, it looked like the building would have to be torn down.
John Robertson is a multi-platform journalist based out of Charlottetown. He has been with CBC News for more than a decade, with stints in Nunavut, Edmonton and Prince Edward Island. John.Robertson@cbc.ca Twitter @CBCJRobertson Instagram @johnrobertsoncbc