The Heart of a Village: The Story of Watson's Mill and Manotick
The Watson Years
1Harry was a ward of the Church of England, a "Bernado Boy". Bernardo ran an orphanage in England which brought children to Canada.
Upon his arrival from England on the Megantic, at the age of 16, Harry settled in Manotick Station. He was first assigned to Mr. Thompkins the Station Master at Manotick Station. and later worked at the Spratt store on Long Island. He lived with the Spratts as one of the family. Harry married Mr. Thompkins' daughter, Anna, in 1930.
Eventually, Harry worked for Alex Spratt at the Mill and later managed it for the Spratt family following Alex's death.
In 1946, he bought the Mill from Mrs. Spratt. The Dickinson House became home to the Watson family during the time they operated the mill. Harry and his wife Anna had five sons, Ron, Bill, Jack, Jim, Bob and one daughter, Mary. All were active in the operations of the mill at on time or another over the years.
Initially the mill was used to grind, clean and mix grain for local farmers. As the need for a gristmill declined, the Watsons used the mill as a sales office for farm machinery, fuel oil delivery service and trucking. In later years Watson rented the mill to the National Capital Commission, which conducted tours of the building in the 1960's. At one time he was approached by a potential buyer who wanted to convert the mill into an automobile dealership, but declined the temptation to sell. He really wanted the mill and the Dickinson house kept together and eventually sold it to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority in 1972.
Watson died in 1982, however many of his children and grandchildren remain in the area and continue to support the Watson's Mill, Historic Site.
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