Silent & Still

Silent and still today, Caledonia’s Old Mill was once part of a great family business which existed for 72 years. Grinding wheat to produce flour, the Old Mill was also part of an important pioneer industry which brought one of the first factories to the village in its early years. The Scott family kept the Mill’s running in tip-top shape, and always made sure that the product was quality, and the consumer was happy.

             However, large factories and better transportation eliminated the need for small community mills, and shortly after the death of the second generation of the Scott family to run the mills in 1960; the family closed the Milling business in 1964. Ever since, the Mill has sat still and vacant, or has it?

             The Mill sits idle most of the year, collecting dust and stretched with cobwebs. It’s only visitors the squirrels and a few racoons that call it home along with the occasional volunteer who comes to walk the empty building to marvel at what once was the lifeblood of the village.

             More recently, however, the Mill has seen a large number of visitors over the winter months, but they aren’t coming for flour. Today’s visitors are the families who trek from far and wide to see the light display. This story is about one of those families, one who got to see a whole lot more than they expected.

             The Morrison family had piled into their car and gone out for their Christmas Eve drive, a tradition they honoured every year which involved driving the streets of town to find the house with the best lights. Since the display had begun at the Mill, they had always made the Mill lights their last stop as a final spectacle to see before heading home for the night. However, as they made the turn onto Forfar Street this particular Christmas Eve and pulled out onto the lawn in front of the mill, they realized that they were too late. The lights were off, the street and park were deserted and there was not a soul in sight.

            Just as they were about to drive away, they noticed a warm, flickering glow in one of the upper windows, and watched from their car at what looked like a man, tall and dark, pacing back and forth along the four upper windows. It almost looked like he was carrying a lantern of some kind, but those hadn’t been used for many years.

             When they looked back down, they saw an astonishing sight, at least a dozen farmers all in coveralls out on the loading dock. The property was bustling, wagons scattered the park, horses whinnied in the barns, and it looked like the entire building was swaying back and forth. Barrels and flour sacs with names like Peerless and Clover Leaf were being loaded out a side door and into wagons, and the noise, they thought, could likely be heard for miles.

But just as soon as it had started it all stopped, quite suddenly. The family sat bewildered in their car expecting someone to come out and say “Gotcha!” but the property sat silent, just as it had been when they first arrived. They pulled off the lawn and sped away down Forfar Street, not one of the occupants of the car turned to look back at the unbelievable scene that they had just witnessed.

             Some people say that when important parts of the past are left alone their past fades away and becomes forgotten. It is very possible that what the Morrison’s saw that night was the Old Caledonia Mill coming back to life to remind one of its many winter visitors of its importance as a community landmark.

            The Morrison’s have never seen anything as strange since, maybe it was just the eggnog? They still carry on their tradition each year, the only change: they make sure that they visit the light display early to be certain that they’ll be surrounded by other families!