Moiles Mills began as an extraordinary tale of a stolen mill, hauled over international seas from DeTour, Michigan. The mill, owned by the four Moiles brothers, was awaiting repossession by the company’s creditors for non-payment. The brothers were bound and determined to prevent that from happening. Thus they developed a beautifully orchestrated scheme to steal the mill, and haul it over to Canada, where it would be safe from seizure.
Once they arrived, the brothers chose a site on John Island in what was then prime timber land. The brothers should have made a fortune but it seems they were either extremely disagreeable or just lousy businessmen. Their relationships with their customers were poor, resulting in numerous complaints and lost clients, which likely explained their earlier problems in the US.
The Moiles established a townsite close to the harbour lined with houses for their employees. Poor business practices finally drove the brothers to sell the operation in 1903. Under new ownership, the mill prospered. Eventually, they expanded the townsite to include a school, store, dance hall, pool hall and a and a baseball diamond. At its height over 200 people lived in the community.
The mill thrived until 1918 when it burned down. The owners decided not to rebuild and eventually the Bell family of Sudbury acquired the property. The Bells went on to donate a large portion of the land to the YMCA to establish a summer camp.
Today the summer camp remains active. The site is off limits to all except for staff and campers. Fortunately the YMCA has made a dedicated effort to both preserving and archiving the community’s history for future generations to come. Learn more