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Then and Now: Midland's once-bustling harbour still provides idyllic views of Georgian Bay (6 photos)

The train no longer visits Midland and only one grain elevator remains from town's busy industrial days

As boaters and dog walkers alike enjoy the Midland Harbour as a pit stop for a dockside lunch and to take in the beautiful view of Georgian Bay; the murals covering the Midland Harbour building, as well as various locations in the downtown core, are a sign of what the area used to be.

In the early twentieth century, as highlighted by the Huronia Museum, Midland was a very busy area. Midland was selected as a station stop and terminus for the Midland Railway Corporation of Port Hope in 1871, attracting more people and providing easy access to the town.

Shortly after this, when the mill was completed, commercial shipping began at the Midland Harbour and the commercial sector and lumber operations grew.

Four mill elevators were built, the Town House (Midland), Aberdeen, Simcoe and Tiffin elevators; of which only the Midland elevator has survived, (now operated and owned by ADM Milling Company).

The shore was lined with mills for lumber, a grain elevator and a steel works; all of which required water in order to provide transportation for these services. While the docks were used for shipping and receiving lumber and coal; as well as to facilitate ice-cutting.

Tourists come far and wide to appreciate the Midland area, and the ‘wow factor’ was just as prominent in the mid-twentieth century; it was a tourist destination for cruise and passenger ships sailing throughout the Great Lakes.

These industries of grain, steel and lumber contributed greatly to the growth of the Town of Midland, attracting commercial fishermen, lumbermen and shipbuilders to the area.

As for the past few years, with certain exemptions due to the pandemic, cruise ships continue to stop at the Midland Harbour, encouraging tourists to support the small town.

The grain elevator consistently helps ensure it remains true to its earlier roots as a working harbour with various ships such as the Frontenac serving the town’s last remaining grain elevator.

Traditionally, the grain would be brought by train to Thunder Bay, and then transported to Midland on a ship or a train. This mill depends on ship transportation, and therefore the Midland Harbour is brought directly back to its roots.

Now home to seasonal and transient boaters, the Harbour has three piers on which residents and visitors of the area can enjoy a nice local meal after a quick walk down King Street, surrounded by the calming sounds of the bay.