The Old Traverston Mill

Ghost Towns of Ontario | Traverston

What remains today of these forgotten towns, is sometimes merely the charm of the landscape that attracted those early settlers.


LOCATION: Glenelg TWP (now West Grey), Grey County

Set amid the stony hills of Grey County, Traverston is typical of the many mill towns that sprang up along the tumbling waters of the Rocky Saugeen River. This area opened to settlement around 1850, and soon mills began to appear everywhere.

In 1856, the team of Schofield and Collier built a saw and grist mill at a water power site they called Waverly. Their plans were more ambitious than that. For around the mills, they proposed a proper town, laid out into lots and complete with an industrial sector that would include, in addition to their mills, a cabinet and chair factory and a machine shop. But if the historical directories showed that the fledgling town still contained only the original mills.

In 1865, they sold their holdings to John Travers, who established a post office and gave it his own name, which it bears to this day.

Ghost Towns of Ontario: a field guide, by Ron Brown

So many of these places, the railways came and by-passed altogether. All that remains today is the grist mill and a few storage buildings. There is really nothing left that suggests there was ever a village here. The mill was purchased in the 1970s and is now a private residence.

I looked up the Census Records for 1871 for a family in Glenelg Township, Grey County, Ontario, Canada and found 1 John Travers, wife Elizabeth, with a gaggle of young ones, youngest a Richard P. Travers at 2 months.This John was born in Ireland in 1836 he was 35 years old.

Quite the thing for an Irish Catholic family at that time to prosper and acquire such a profitable piece of real-estate. I wonder if this was them? I can almost picture those children perhaps playing in one of the many meadow streams, coming back all muddy, with big grins on their faces. Mom perhaps not so much. It would have been a hard life, back in those days. What they had, was all they had till the next time they could get into town – which would have been Durham.

Minutes away by a car today.

Yet, I know on those snowy, treacherous roads they would not be going anywhere over a hundred years ago – they would be home-bound almost the whole winter.

The following photos I took in May 2009, the year I moved to Irish Lake (a few km away).

This is truly a beautiful area. Lovely winding, tumbling roads with all sorts of hidden old pathways leading to now forgotten homesteads (if you know where to look) .

Links of Grey:
Visit Grey | Main
Visit Grey | Historic Sites Of Grey


Those Ghosts Of Grey [ from letters to mom]
On The Enchanted Klondike Of Glenelg

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5 thoughts on “Ghost Towns of Ontario | Traverston

  1. I helped build a cement flue to carry water from the sawmill to the grist mill at Traverston way back in the 50’s. Fellow came along from the Toronto Star and took a picture of us at work and put it in the paper. Wish now I had kept a copy. Owner of the Traverston Mill at that time was Tom Drolet. He also built a new restaurant in Markdale for Joe Koo, which now houses Scotia Bank.


    1. Oh wow…wonderful. I love that place…such a little hidden treasure. I used to live close by, over at Irish lake…we used to go walking nearby, at another abandoned site…Grey county is littered in these forgotten places.


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