The Mill Pond Trail is a 3.3 km long nature trail. Please enjoy but tread carefully. Watch for wildlife, poison ivy, steep slops, narrow sections and daily changes, especially in inclement weather. The Mill Pond is managed by the municipality with the cooperation and supervision of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.
- Picnic Benches
- Hiking/ Walking/ Running
- Electric Motor Only
- NO Biking
- NO Removal of Plants and Animals
- DO NOT Leave Cash or Valuables in Vehicles
- DANGER: Ice conditions on the pond are unstable and may very daily. Anyone using the pond for whatever purpose shall assume all risk of personal injury, loss or damage to property.
The pond itself is tranquil and changes from season to season providing excellent subject matter for photographers. It is in a natural setting of white oak, white pine and maple. Visitors may wish to simply enjoy the view looking south from the dam which was reconstructed in 2005 or enjoy a quiet walk in the cool shade. The century old pond and dam provide a setting for quiet enjoyment.
The pond and surrounding area offers a diverse collection of flora and fauna. The trees, which include black cherry and white oak, offer a home to many different species of birds. Ground shrubs such as raspberry bushes and dog weeds support various mammals including cottontails, raccoons and white tail deer. The pond itself, which boasts beautiful yellow water lilies, is inhabited by water fowl, turtles, bass and even some beaver - a rarity in south-western Ontario.
A Brief History
From before the beginnings of our recorded history, the area now known as the Mill Pond had an important role. The Neutral Indians kept semi-permanent settlements on the banks of the creek (as it was then). The remains of three sites have been unearthed. Present day Hamilton Road was an important Indian trail leading from Lake Ontario to the river crossing at Detroit. It was on this trail that Governor Simcoe and a young assistant named Talbot passed through in 1793.
Although there is no record of when the first mill was built, an 1810 map of the Thames River by the surveyor, Hambly, shows a pond on the site, indicating that a dam and sawmill would have been in place. At this time, Dorchester was known for its fine stands of cedar and white pine. The huge pines around the present day pond remain as the sole descendants of what must have been an impressive forest. Much of this forest was floated down the Thames to help build Detroit.
In 1828, a new England sea captain named William Cartwright was granted a parcel of land adjacent to the pond by Col. Talbot. Mr. Cartwright converted the sawmill to a grist mill and built a splendid Georgian residence out of Thames River stone just west of the Mill. To this day the house is still a fine old landmark. The Mill was built in 1853. At the turn of the century it was sold to local resident James Morris and remained in the family until the main building was destroyed by fire in 1964.
The wheelhouse, horse sheds and silo are the only buildings left standing. Evidence of the old mill can be seen in the remains of a turbine, flywheel and gears located on the east side of the main building. The building is currently rented and being utilized for two businesses; a health food store and an ice cream shop.
Stroll Along Nature Trails
The cluster of flora and fauna at the Mill Pond is a fine example of Carolinian forest right here in Dorchester. Park your car in the large parking lot off Mill Road and enjoy a hike around the entire perimeter of the pond along the nature trail. Stroll along natural paths, over wooden walkways and bridges. Enjoy the panoramic view from the lookout deck on the east side or perhaps see flocks of Canada geese land on the water as you watch from the unique wooden bridge at the south end of the pond. A new permanent wooden bridge was constructed in 2001 with the help of the "Elgins" Engineering Regiment from St. Thomas and replaced an old floating bridge. Evidence of a beaver dam can be seen adjacent to the bridge. The Mill Pond is truly a unique natural area located right in the Village of Dorchester.