Mayor Lowry on the future of Mill of Kintail

OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
Mayor Christa Lowry
September 13, 2019

The Mill of Kintail, a beautiful 152-acre Conservation Area in Ramsay, is a treasured jewel for many residents in Mississippi Mill.   Beyond the natural areas, the grist mill and six hiking trails, the Mill of Kintail which is owned an operated by the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, is also home to the R. Tait McKenzie Museum and the Naismith Museum.   Due to recent changes stemming from Bill 108, the Province has emphasized the need for Conservation Authorities to focus on their core mandate. For this reason, the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) is considering the next chapter for these two museums since they fall outside of core responsibilities.

The museums are housed in the restored studio and summer home of Dr. R. Tait McKenzie, sculptor, physician and recognized National Historic Figure.  The museum holds the largest collection of McKenzie’s sculptures and memorabilia in Canada. The Naismith Museum pays homage to the life and work of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of basketball. Both Dr. R. Tait McKenzie and Dr. James Naismith are native to Ramsay Township and were lifelong friends.  As boys, they played in the Mill and crossed the fields together to get to school.

Originally built as a grist mill in 1830 by Scottish immigrant John Baird, the Mill was in successful operation until the 1860s.  After years of neglect, the Mill was purchased by Dr. R. Tait McKenzie and his wife in 1930 and it became their summer home. In 1952, McKenzie’s widow, Ethel, sold the property to  Major James Leys who was instrumental in the Mill receiving heritage status.  He was also the founder of the R. Tait McKenzie Museum. In 1972, Major Leys gave the Mill and the contents of the museum to the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority who in return agreed to maintain the R. Tait McKenzie museum.

At a recent Policy and Priorities Committee meeting at the MVCA, board members and staff heard thoughtful and heartfelt presentations from members of the public regarding the future of the museums at the Mill of Kintail. The Board will be discussing the recent changes imposed by the Province and next steps at their meeting on Wednesday, September 18th. I encourage residents to stay informed by following news and information releases through the MVCA website or social media channels. Also please note, Councillor Bev Holmes and I sit on the Board of Directors at the MVCA and will advocate for opportunities for the public to actively participate in this important process.

The Board of Directors at the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority has been an exceptional steward of the Mill of Kintail property and collections since 1972.  As we move into this next chapter for the museums, I have every faith that the MVCA Board will continue to make decisions to ensure that the legacy of Dr. R. Tait McKenzie and Dr. James Naisimith will be respected and preserved for future generations. While change may be inevitable, let our collective goal be to shape this change into a positive, new opportunity to celebrate Ramsay and Canadian history.

Christa Lowry
Mayor of Mississippi Mills