Chambly Canal National Historic Site
The Langelier Mills wayside stop is an urban park in the city of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. This stop was inaugurated on November 27, 2009, in honour of Jacques Paul, a locally recognized photographer. Today, this spot is prime territory for ornithologists: during bird migration periods, it is not uncommon to see the Richelieu River carpeted with thousands of snow geese.
HistoryIn 1858, Charles Langelier filed a request to the commissioner of public works, signed by farmers from the area, for the building of a mill complex at the foot of the rapid. The complex was built and went into operation two years later. It consisted of a flour mill powered by the flow of the river,
a stable, a woollen mill and, later, a tannery. The flour mill was three storeys high: the ground floor housed the mechanisms for operation of the mill,
the second floor contained the millstones for grinding grain into flour, and the third floor enclosed the miller’s apartments. The complex operated at full capacity from 1860 to 1880.
In 1876, the sawmill of a competitor, Louis Bousquet, was rebuilt after being destroyed in the great fire of Saint-Jean. This time, it was equipped with steam power. This new technology was so efficient that, over time, it put an end to the activities of Charles Langelier’s mill.
The tannery held out longer than the rest: it was demolished in 1933 or 1934.
Quotation“Suddenly, the mill emerged, completely covered in flour. He greeted the people, said a few words to them and then, with the knowing touch of a connoisseur, he plunged his broad whitened hand into a bag overflowing with golden wheat, sized up the content, and found the “top-grain” wheat that was ripe and of the correct weight. Right away, he set the price for milling it […]. » (Lullin, pseudonym of Monseigneur Lucien Messier, Le Canada Français, Wednesday, August 6, 1975)
On a lighter noteCan you believe that, from the very first days of the mill’s existence, the complex and the road, less than 10 metres apart, were connected by a ferry?
Take a minute to think about it: a piece of this wayside stop was dug out so that a flat-bottomed board could dock there. Incredible, isn’t it?
Did you know?In historical writings and archives, we find little information on the Langelier family’s mills. It is due partly to the memories of family descendants and to witnesses who saw the mills operating that we can learn something about the history of the complex.
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