Figure 1: Tay Township, 1878
In the middle of the 19th century good stands of hardwood and pine brought lumbermen to establish sawmills in Tay. In 1872/73 the Tanner Brothers built a sawmill on nearby Sturgeon Bay at Tanner’s Point. Huge log booms were towed in by tugs to be processed and shipped by schooner and, after 1875, by rail. A second Tanner mill (Figure 2 below) was built in 1901. The nearby area came to be known as Tannerville (now Tanners Beach).
The mill was gone by the 1920’s. Verbal accounts differ; some say it blew up or burned.
Figure 2: The 2nd Tanner Mill
The foundation for the mill boiler room (to the left in Figure 2) remains as the foundation for a nearby residence and wooden piles are still visible at several locations along the shore. The Bay still has many traces of log edgings, scrap timbers and several log boom anchors.
Figure 3: Portion of Mill Foundation
Figures 4 and 5: Former Tanner Residences, Built or Acquired c1900
Along the Tay Shore Trail, at the former site of mile 63.86 of the Midland Subdivision of the CNR, a siding was built to service the mill. To the south side of the former roadbed can be seen large pieces of limestone quarried there to provide a base for the siding.
Figure 6: Quarry for Limestone
Near this site on December 11, 1912, during a blinding snowstorm, a double-headed train from Midland came around the long curve to the West and rear-ended a standing train which was picking up cars of lumber from Tanner’s Mill.
Figure 7: Train Wreck near Victoria Harbour
The fireman on the front locomotive was instantly killed and the engineer who was trapped in the wreckage was badly scalded. The crew of the second engine was also badly injured. This accident was caused when a crew member of the first train did not go back to flag the oncoming train to stop.
For more detail on Tay heritage sites visit https://taytownshipheritage.wordpress.com
Crichton, Howard, Waubaushene
Dawson, George, Waubaushene
Facebook page: Victoria Harbour – A Mill Town: https://www.facebook.com/groups/178838795592368/
Leitch, Adelaide A.: The Visible Past, the Pictorial History of Simcoe County, The County of Simcoe, 1992
Porter, C.A. – A History of the Community at Sturgeon Bay, 1999
Tay Township Heritage Blog: https://taytownshipheritage.wordpress.com/
Tay Township Heritage Committee http://www.tay.ca/en/your-municipality/tay-heritage-committee.asp
Tay Township Heritage Inventory and Register