A village in rural Ontario with a picturesque mill and dam. The 1845 mill, 1861 octagonal cottage, 1881 Grand Trunk Railway Station are all restored. Also included on the tour is the site of the 1856 African Methodist Episcopal Church and restored cemetery and a 1916 Gothic Anglican Church featuring a Casavant organ and beautiful stained glass.
A tour of the Old Mill Village is not offered at this time, but was in the past, and featured a delicious home cooked luncheon served in Woodlawn, our 1861 Octagonal Cottage. The house was built in 1861 and was in danger of being lost to decay when a local citizens group became interested. The house was moved from Milldale and restored. Located at the west end of the village, it now resides on an historical site once occupied by a Quaker meeting house and between two genealogically interesting cemeteries. It is now used as an adult community center and is ideal for small family events.
In 1982 during the 175th celebrations of the community, a plaque was placed at the African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery to commemorate the Black Settlement of freed families who made their homes in this area. At one time the group was large enough to maintain a school and a church. When the slaves were freed after the American civil war many returned to the U.S.A., others left later for urban centers to find employment.
Saint John’s Church – This impressive gothic style building is the result of the generous bequest of a local family who came in 1845. The Bullocks invented the first carpet sweeper and produced them in a factory, which later became the Otterville Manufacturing Company, producing numerous items sold nationwide The Anglican church and rectory were built as a memorial to the parents Catherine and Edward Bullock. During a tour the organist is present to play the Casavant organ. The church contains many beautiful stained glass windows.
Otterville Mill – Built in 1845 by Edward Bullock
The mill is run by water power supplied by a dam on the river. The South Norwich Historical Society, on a lease basis, maintains this historic site and offers tours on request. A beautiful setting in the center of the village, the mill and its surrounding meadow is the site of an annual barbecue.
GTR Station Museum – The South Norwich Historical Society has restored this 1875 Station to its state as a 1881 Grand Trunk Railway station. The waiting room and office are restored authentically, the baggage room is an interpretation room for displays of the area’s history. Permanent displays feature railway construction of the 1880’s with many artifacts of all periods. The Underground Railroad and early Black settlement of the area is another highlight, plus the story of our early Quaker heritage.
The Blacksmith Shop is a replica of an early Springford Blacksmith Enterprise, whose owner also moved many buildings in the area at the turn of the 20th Century. This equipment, plus the first oil heating system for curing tobacco, provides interest to our visitors. The site is open to the public by appointment.
Otterville Park. Just north of the main corner, and through the stone gates, you access by foot-bridge, 10 acres of parklands graced with beautiful tall pines. This park, with its swimming pool, ball diamond, horseshoe pitch, tennis and basketball courts, and children’s playground, is a delight for family or company picnics. It is equipped and maintained by local volunteer groups, who with the Township of Norwich are responsible for the reservations of large groups.
Re-enactment photots of Fenian Raids.
( We are grateful for Topic links on Society history and Society Government, travel and reference museums is particularly strong, and a Wikipedia link is strong on recreation/travel. Visitors to this site, might enjoy next to visit a post on travelling to tour other Ontario museums.)