James Wilson could be considered the
person who created Ancaster Village when he and his partner
built a gristmill in 1791 and sawmill in 1792. Wilson owned Lot
45 Concession 2 and Beasley Lot 46, both lots in a forest, miles
away from anywhere but with a stream running through them.
Wilson was a millwright and had the know-how to build a mill;
Beasley was a fur trader and had the money. These mills were so
successful that soon Wilson had built a store, a blacksmith's
shop, a tavern, and a distillery. In those days, workers had to
walk to work so Wilson had to build houses for his workers. Soon
this group of houses became a community around Wilson's
businesses, and the community was called, naturally, Wilson's
Mills. After 1795, because the village was the largest community
in Ancaster Township, it became known as Ancaster Village.
Wilson mills were located very close to the junction of
Rousseaux Road and Wilson Road in Ancaster. If you walk a little
way northeast along Wilson Street from Rousseaux Road, you cross
a bridge over the creek. If you look down from the right side of
the road toward the creek, you may be able to see the
foundations of Wilson's Mills. The mills burned down several
times over the years and were rebuilt at different sites. In the
1860s, they were rebuilt at the site of the Ancaster Old Mill
Restaurant at 548 Old Dundas Road between Ancaster and Dundas.
In 1794, Wilson sold his enterprise to St John Rousseaux and nothing much is known about him after that.