A Photo In The Life Of

A Photo In the Life Of is a weekly photo blog written by Larry Lewis. Topics include photo opportunities, past and present, product reviews and other topics of interest to photographers and photo lovers.

Darnley Grist Mill, sometimes the story completes the picture

Sign outside the Darnley Grist Mill. Click for larger view.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when shooting urbex the story completes the picture.

When our group made the trip to Darnley Grist Mill near Hamilton, Ontario I had no idea of the historical significance of the region.

The area in and around Crooks Hollow, the town where Darnley Grist Mill is located, has been populated for over 6000 years. Originally it was home to a native tribe that the French settlers named the Neutrals. At it's peak, the Neutral Nation numbered 40,000 people.  This tribe completely died out by the year 1700 due to disease and a war between the First Nation tribes in the central Ontario region.

Moving forward to the early 1800s the area was named Crooks Hollow after it's most prominent citizen, James Crooks. This area became the industrial center of Upper Canada and was home to a saw mill, a cooperage, a general store, a blacksmith shop, a linseed oil mill, a carding mill and distillery. During the War of 1812 James Crooks constructed a grist mill to supply flour for making bread to help feed the British army. He named the mill Darnley Mill in honour of  his Scottish hero Lord Darnley. In 1826 the grist mill was converted and became Upper Canada's first paper mill. 

Fire gutted the building in 1943. It was never rebuilt after the fire. All that remains of the mill are the stone walls that stand today. 
The eventual death of Cooks Hollow was due to railways bypassing this once thriving business center.
If you would like to learn more about Crooks Hollow visit hamiltonparanormal.com. 

The images that are featured in this article were shot in August 2012. The only negative of the area was that Crooks Hollow Road, although scenic,  is very narrow and is lined by no parking signs.  A local citizen will let you use their driveway for $20. It makes me wonder if the resident is a native of Toronto! I chose to park on the side of the road on a straight stretch. The Crooks Hollow Meter Maids didn't catch me that day.
If you go shooting at Darnley Grist Mill make plans to shoot some additional surrounding attractions. The Mill is an interesting shoot, but it might not fill your day. Much of the old town has vanished, but I am looking forward to getting back to Crooks Hollow to shoot more of the remaining ruins and landscapes. Paula B has written a few articles on Ontario Ghost Towns and has written a good article on the area.

Enjoy the images.


A Photo In The Life Of is a weekly PHOTO blog on LARRYLEWISPHOTO.COM.   It is an evolution of my original blog A Photo in the life of  that began in 2006.  I hope to give a little context to my photography and maybe make a few new photography friends. To purchase a print visit Shop. If the image is not listed Contact Me for availability.