James Wilson

Miller, businessman, founder of Ancaster 

 

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James Wilson could be considered the person who created Ancaster Village when he and his partner Richard Beasley 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.

The 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.