Balmoral Grist Mill

The Place: Balmoral Mills, Nova Scotia

The Treasure: Balmoral Grist Mill


Say it out loud, where ever you are right now. Work, bank, backyard, dockyard, daycare… Try it.


What a great word. It conjures the image of two massive stones grinding something down doesn’t it?

Wow. Okay that was lucky!

Opened by Alexander McKay in 1874 the mill is powered via waterwheel. Due to extensive renovations of it’s foundation and repairs to the dam the mill was shut down last year and closed to visitors but reopened this year on August 11th, the day we happened by.

Now there’s a good and bad side to being there the first day it was reopened. The down side is the mill wasn’t ready to produce yet. There was still a lot of assembling of the stones, waterwheel and so on to do.

The plus side, which to us outweighed the down side, is that we go to see the mill in a disassembled state – something that is very rare. We can always go back and see it in operation and we plan to.

We offered to just lift them in place for them but turns out it wasn’t the right time. The flexing will have to wait…

There’s also a series of cogs and, depending on which grinding stones they want to use, a smaller cogs is slid in to place transferring the power to the selected stone for grinding.


On the top floor, among other things, are the hoppers to feed the grind stones:

Beside the granite grinding wheels is room with a cast iron plated floor. Why? Well to roast the oats of course! Oats are put on this floor and the kiln on the level below heats up the cast iron floor, thereby roasting the oats – this alone would be worth another visit, imagine the aroma!

Which gets emptied in to a hold for bagging in the basement which also produces the occasional Treasure Bear:

Normally the mill produces flour that you can purchase in their gift shop. We were told it was unlikely that they’ll produce any flour this year but they still had some baked goods. 😉 We’d show you a picture but it’d just be an empty bag.. the baked goods didn’t last very long.

There’s a set of stairs down to the river side where you can get a good view of the dam and water wheel when it’s in place – for now use your imagination. 🙂

You will eventually be able to walk over the dam but the stairs on the other side are in need of repair.

The Balmoral Grist Mill is an important part of Nova Scotia and a place that everyone should visit.  It is a mechanical marvel and a glimpse at early industry that is still serviceable today thanks to the folks dedicated to preserving and running it.

Oh ya, if the Mill ever sold one of these in the gift shop we’d so buy it…

(look for more pictures soon on our facebook page: )

Here is the current weather and a map to help you plan your trip:

[forecast location="B0K 1V0" caption="Weather for Balmoral" measurement='C' todaylabel="Today" datelabel="date('m/d/Y')" highlow='%%high%%°/%%low%%°' numdays="7" iconset="Smiley" class="css_table_class" cache="true" width="100%"]



2 thoughts on “Balmoral Grist Mill

  1. Hi John and Steph,

    What a lovely surprise for us at the grist [say it out loud] mill to find THE bear and even better this great site and article! What fine, fine idea you’ve had to create this celebration of Nova Scotia. If you are back this way again take a moment to visit our sister museum, the Sutherland Steam Mill [ ] about 12 kms away. It’s a neat juxtaposition of two sides of Nova Scotia’s industrial revolution. The grist mill used water [although it actually wasn’t a wheel, but a water turbine] and the steam mill used … well…steam, which I guess if you think about it is water too, but no river or stream required.

    Darrell Burke
    Site Manager

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.