Ball’s Falls


Photo of the mill
The original grist mill built by the Ball brothers
©Jeri Danyleyko

In 1812, the British government rewarded loyal officers, John and George Ball, with 1200 acres of land. Payment for loyal services rendered during the war typically came in the form of generous land grants. The more combat experience they had, the larger the land grant. As an added bonus the land included not one but two waterfalls. Anticipating the great opportunities that lay ahead, John and George lost no time going into business.

Glen Elgin was the name they chose for their tiny empire. They started with a grist mill at the lower falls. Then they added a sawmill at the upper falls. Further up on top of the hill, a woollen mill. The woollen mill became famous for its fine kerseys, cashmeres and flannels. The secluded boarding house, located close by, was home to the all-female staff who spun and wove the fabrics. John and George named their little empire Glen Elgin. At first the business flourished. That was until the Great Western Railway bypassed the tiny village in the 1850s.

Although Glen Elgin slowly died as new industries located closer to the railway, luckily the old wooden grist mill and the Ball homestead survived. The conservation authority preserved both the mill and homestead. To provide an impression of the original townsite, they trucked in a cabin, barn and church from the surrounding area to complement the mill. The conservation authority recreated the pioneer town on the former village site in the newly named Ball’s Falls Park.

In addition to the restored buildings, the site contains debris and old cellar holes from the original townsite. In addition to the restored buildings, debris and old cellar holes from the original townsite are still intact. Visitors can enjoy a well-marked walking tour of the original community.

How to get there

Ball’s Falls is located in the village of Vineland about an hour’s drive southwest of Toronto and just north of the city of St. Catharines. Take exit 57 from the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way) and travel south on Regional Road 24 to the intersection of Regional Road 8. Then follow the signs to the Conservation Area.

View Ontario Ghost Town Map in a larger map

Nearby centres: Vineland, 2 kilometres and St. Catharines, 11 kilometres

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