Business Hub of the Village

E. Reid Woolen Mill

James & Elizabeth Reid arrived in Combermere from Admaston Twp., Ferguslea, ON. Jame’s father Ephraim was a descendant of Scottish weavers and emigrated to Ferguslea and started a woolen mill there. James and Elizabeth went up the Madawaska River and picked a location in Combermere to establish their own mill and located at this site. James was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1845, and Elizabeth was born July 1850 in Admaston Twp.

The Reid’s constructed a mill at this location in the 1880’s for the processing of the local farmers wool (number 1). James died before April 1891 leaving Elizabeth and their children Marion, Phoebe, Lizzie, Lornie, Louisa, John and Ross to carry on the business.

By the turn of the century, Elizabeth decided to move the business to Bancroft where railway access was close by. The business was outfitted with the machinery from Combermere. The business was located on Hwy # 60 towards Belleville and was two properties on left after crossing the bridge. Elizabeth died in 1914 and her body was interred beside James in Ferguslea.

McKay Grist Mill

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Combermere had a thriving gristmill for grinding farmers’ grain into flour. It was located at the corner of Farmer Rd and Mill St. The business was started and operated by James and Christine McKay. They were born in the mid 1850’s and had 6 children including: Robert, Lorne, Ethel, Doris, Henry or Harry and John. Farmers came to this facility from a wide area to have this work done.

Later, the family sold the business to the Cone family. They (Cone family) owned the mill (number 2) after the McKay family in the early 1900’s. It was located to the north next to Miller’s Post Office. On the shoreline it was a two story wooden building. In about the1930’s it closed down and remained vacant for many years when the building was demolished. A person can still see the stone foundation between Mill St and the shoreline.

Miller’s Post Office

The first post office in Combermere opened on September 1, 1865. Daniel Johnson, owner and operator of the Daniel Johnson – General Merchant store where the Valley Market is now located, was the Postmaster. Daniel resigned in July 4, 1884 and John Edward Hill Miller took over on August 13th. John worked as an assistant under Daniel Johnson for some time and then moved the post office to his home (number 3) on Mill St. Miller married Mary Louise Boucher about 1875 and they had five children – Morley, Mabel, P.H., Ozzie and John H. John remained as postmaster until his death February 12, 1934. The Millers lived upstairs and the post office was downstairs in the front of the house. At one time in the 1940’s, there was even a gas pump in front of the post office. Mabel Miller, daughter of John E.H. took over as postmistress after her father died and held that role until January 22, 1951 when she retired. She died on December 8, 1967 and never married.