Rebuilding history

Caledonia Mill

As both owner and construction manager on this project we may be wearing two different hats, but there is only one vision: to rebuild a piece of Caledonia’s history in a way that respects the present-day neighbourhood and repurposes the space for the future.

Owner: Riverside Properties
Our role: Construction management
Process: As part-owner of the project, Schilthuis has been involved from the beginning
Location: Caledonia, ON
Team: Kieswetter Demolition Inc., Invizij Architects, Filer Engineering Ltd., Seguin Engineering Inc., OMC Landscape Architecture
The wow: Taking the mill apart, piece by piece, and finding an original cereal box that would’ve been used to package product made at the mill. (It’s hanging in our office.)

No amount of money could save the Caledonia Mill, an iconic landmark built on the banks of the Grand River around 1853. After more than 150 years, three major additions and interior changes that had made the structure unsafe, the building was leaning towards the river and some of the walls were collapsing. When the community group that owned it gave up on their dream of restoring the building, they approached three partners (one being Schilthuis) to purchase it—and we said yes.

We couldn’t restore it—but we could rebuild it. After consultation with the local historical society, the mill was dismantled piece by piece, with artifacts, machinery and building materials being salvaged for reuse or display. On the inside, the building will be four-storeys of Class A office space, a use that ensured the quiet residential character of the neighbourhood would be upheld. On the outside, the building will look the same as the original, down to the hand-painted “Grand River Mills” and “Caledonia Milling Co.” signs on either side of the upper storey.

After a challenging approvals process (the CAO of Haldimand County and the mayor of Caledonia came out to support our presentation) and an OMB appeal, the project went out for tender in July 2018.