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Why The Woolen Mill?

Here are two reasons we work here:

There are many motivations for having your business' home within the Woolen Mill. Firstly, you can't beat the location. We have local wildlife on the property (turtles, ducks), we can take lunch on the rocks in the grass, or take a stroll to the marina and back. There's even dock access so you could arrive by boat, if you have the luxury.

Waterfront property adjacent to park and walking trail.

Over 30 companies with which to do business.

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History of the Woolen Mill

A Bit of History

The Woolen Mill is a 19th-century building, and such structures were built to last. This four-storey red brick building was constructed in 1882 when a group of Kingston businessmen needed a place in which they could produce cloth. Erected on 'Farm Lot A' on a bank of the Cataraqui River known as the 'Inner Harbour', it functioned as a cotton mill for the Kingston Cotton Manufacturing Company, until about 50 years later when the City of Kingston purchased the property, intending for it to run as a woolen mill instead, under lease of the Hield Bros. of England. The mill thrived through and beyond the depression and the war. It wasn't until 1966 when synthetic fabrics gained momentum that the mill closed. Three years later St. Francis Developments took over and the building began undergoing renovations to section the open-concept building into office spaces for multiple businesses.

The mill has over 200 windows, 70 of which monopolize the North facade, which had the original singular entrance. The windows in the fifth floor of the rectangular tower were installed to replace two large double doors, which functioned as the only method of bringing large machinery and other materials into the plant. The most demanding job to have in the mill was a "mender", responsible for quality control of the fabrics. The large windows were essential to production, allowing bountiful natural light in order to properly inspect the fibres. The panoramic views from the top of the tower are breath-taking; of Kingston, of the causeway and the river, and the 1000 islands.

During its first century, the building was maintained through a continual refurbishing program, allowing the ancient structure to survive and become the historic building it is today. In 1883, a single floor extension was added for the growing demands of cloth fabrics. The major additions and renovations began in 1993, all the while keeping the building's natural character in mind. The 130-year-old wood floors have been well-preserved with many coats of oil applied over the century. During restoration, the brick has been only sandblasted and pointed, and no treatment was needed whatsoever on the impressive 12 and 16-inch pine beams supporting the roof. These were put in place to fend off the snow as the building was built upon British plans, the specifications for which were modified for our Canadian climate. The foundation, built from local limestone, for which Kingston is very well-known, averages a thickness of three feet wide. The recovery of the 100 foot high chimney was one of the most intricate projects of restoring the woolen mill, featuring challenging masonry and the complications of a post-tensioned structure.

Statistics

  • The Woolen Mill was originally built in 1882, making it 133 years old.
  • The longest-staying business was Dominion Textile Co., the original occupants, who operated for upwards of 50 years.
  • Second in line and a very successful business, was Hield Bros. of England, operating for 35 years.
  • The longest-staying tenant is the River Mill Restaurant, built in 1985.
  • The Kingston Whig-Standard used to take up the entire West Wing ground level, residing there since 1997.
  • Other notable long-standing businesses are Shoalts and Zaback Architects, Events & Management Plus, and the Boiler Room Climbing Gym.
  • The highest number of tenants at one time was 40 in the 80's under Wilf and Mary Eagle.

Occupants, Owners, and Tenants

The first occupant of the building was Dominion Textile Co., which manufactured cloth, and business boomed at first. In 1883 the single-floor addition was built to accomodate 100 more looms. The cotton mill functioned for nearly 50 years before succumbing to the oncoming depression. They endured for a while, but with little concern from the federal government (the Prime Minister called the unemployment crisis a "temporary seasonal slackness"), the manufacturing industry came to a grinding halt and the mill closed its doors. Thousands were laid off, evicted, and went hungry. Some children were excited to get a rope long enough to jump with for Christmas, and the province provided seeds that the residents were encouraged to grow for their families. Unemployment rates and tensions were high, and the municipal leaders seemed to focus on the tourism aspects of Kingston rather than alleviating the struggling work force. In order to create job opportunities and raise morale, a by-law was submitted by the manager of the Kingston Chamber of Commerce to lease the building to the Hield Bros. for an incredibly inexpensive amount (to attract their business), with the ability to purchase the property at any time during the five-year lease. In return the city placed on the Hield Bros. high-expectations for staffing and minimum wages, to be met by the time their business was fully established.

Even though the mill was returned to operation in 1931 with some reservations, the initial 50 looms couldn't meet production demands. The annual payroll steadily climbed, new looms arrived, and by the end of 1936, 150 employees were operating 130 looms. This kind of progress was remarkable considering that the world was still reeling to recover after the Great Depression. Hield Bros. experienced decades of success as a woolen mill creating job opportunities and enduring through World War II, all while maintaining full production force and keeping workers' morale high. In 1944 they exercised the option to purchase the property from the city of Kingston. The woolen mill didn't close until 1966, when synthetic fabrics came to the foreground of the manufacturing scene with the inventions of textiles like dacron, polyvinols and acrilics. Artificial silk (known as rayon) was the first to start this trend, and between 1949 and 1954 17 Canadian mills closed and reduced 43% of the working population to unemployment.

When St. Francis Developments of Montreal took possession of the property in 1969, they did so with the intention of converting it into a viable commercial space. However, they were unsuccessful in attracting lessees into this large, empty building at first. The structure had received no improvements or reconstruction since the day it was vacated by the Hield Bros. The majestic building had fallen from grace due to deterioration and heavy vandalism. It would be difficult to invest in upgrades when financial recovery was dependent on this abandoned property's rental income. It was fortunate that Kingston's Industrial Commission, established in 1960, had been working diligently to attract new industries to the city.

The first tenant in the mill was Kingston Spinners, a US manufacturer of carpet fibre, funded by the Ontario government's $475,000 Industrial Incentive Loan. Occupying about 40,000 square feet of the mill, Kingston Spinners brought the textile industry of Kingston back to life, operating out of the old mill for five years while they awaited construction of their own plant on Dalton Avenue. The resident manager of St. Francis Developments held the community in high regard, and after partitioning much of the first and second floors into more practical workshops, his diligence paid off and the mill was able to accommodate a growing list of tenants.

In 1983, Wilf and Mary Eagle from Montreal purchased the mill. Along with John Hanson of Ottawa and years of experience renovating Montreal buildings, the Eagles updated the mill into an "incubator" in which start-up companies could grow. Thanks to this economical rental space, many of these companies were able to flourish. This eclectic group of young companies became an integral part of the mill, and after a very successful open house in 1985 there were 31 tenants sharing this century-old space. It was this open house that moved Clark Day to build the River Mill Restaurant, one of the longest residents on the property, overlooking the Cataraqui River on the whole east portion of the first floor.

On May 12, 1987, The Woolen Mill was declared an historic building.

The eastern section where the River Mill resided had the only walls that had been insulated. Due to the cold and a thieving problem involving easy-access fire escapes and a flee across the adjacent river, the occupancy of the Woolen Mill fluctuated between a devastating 14 and promising 40 over the next decade. Unable to turn the property into a break-even - let alone profitable - venture, the owners decided to sell. Banks and financial institutions were involved, and the mill's ownership sat in limbo for a few years until the current owners, Abna Investments, came along in 1993.

Abna Investments assigned H. R. Doornekamp Construction Company to carry out repairs and refurbishing to the heritage building, all while keeping the authenticity of its original structure and features intact. With these ongoing improvements, their efforts and dedication was rewarded with a victory in Kingston's "Livable City Design" program in 2001.

To this day, the tenants of this beautiful waterfront heritage property share a real pride in the building and in Kingston as a whole. It is a wonderful place to work, being close to nature and wildlife, with views of the river, free parking, and a stone's throw from historical landmarks and downtown amenities.

Kingston Cotton Manufacturing Company

Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy governs the manner in which The Woolen Mill website collects, uses, maintains and discloses information collected from users (each, a "User") of http://www.thewoolenmill.ca ("Site").

Personal identification information

We may collect personal identification information from Users in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, when Users visit our site, fill out a form, respond to a survey, and in connection with other activities, services, features or resources we make available on our Site. Users may be asked for, as appropriate, name, email address. Users may, however, visit our Site anonymously. We will collect personal identification information from Users only if they voluntarily submit such information to us. Users can always refuse to supply personally identification information, except that it may prevent them from engaging in certain Site related activities.

Non-personal identification information

We may collect non-personal identification information about Users whenever they interact with our Site. Non-personal identification information may include the browser name, the type of computer and technical information about Users means of connection to our Site, such as the operating system and the Internet service providers utilized and other similar information.

Web browser cookies

Our Site may use "cookies" to enhance User experience. User's web browser places cookies on their hard drive for record-keeping purposes and sometimes to track information about them. User may choose to set their web browser to refuse cookies, or to alert you when cookies are being sent. If they do so, note that some parts of the Site may not function properly.

How we use collected information

The Woolen Mill may collect and use Users personal information for the following purposes:

  • To run and operate our Site We may need your information display content on the Site correctly.
  • To personalize user experience We may use information in the aggregate to understand how our Users as a group use the services and resources provided on our Site.
  • To improve our Site We may use feedback you provide to improve our products and services.
  • To run a promotion, contest, survey or other Site feature To send Users information they agreed to receive about topics we think will be of interest to them.
  • To send periodic emails We may use the email address to respond to their inquiries, questions, and/or other requests.

How we protect your information

We adopt appropriate data collection, storage and processing practices and security measures to protect against unauthorized access, alteration, disclosure or destruction of your personal information, username, password, transaction information and data stored on our Site.

Sharing your personal information

We do not sell, trade, or rent Users personal identification information to others. We may share generic aggregated demographic information not linked to any personal identification information regarding visitors and users with our business partners, trusted affiliates and advertisers for the purposes outlined above.

Third party websites

Users may find advertising or other content on our Site that link to the sites and services of our partners, suppliers, advertisers, sponsors, licencors and other third parties. We do not control the content or links that appear on these sites and are not responsible for the practices employed by websites linked to or from our Site. In addition, these sites or services, including their content and links, may be constantly changing. These sites and services may have their own privacy policies and customer service policies. Browsing and interaction on any other website, including websites which have a link to our Site, is subject to that website's own terms and policies.

Changes to this privacy policy

The Woolen Mill has the discretion to update this privacy policy at any time. When we do, we will post a notification on the main page of our Site. We encourage Users to frequently check this page for any changes to stay informed about how we are helping to protect the personal information we collect. You acknowledge and agree that it is your responsibility to review this privacy policy periodically and become aware of modifications.

Your acceptance of these terms

By using this Site, you signify your acceptance of this policy. If you do not agree to this policy, please do not use our Site. Your continued use of the Site following the posting of changes to this policy will be deemed your acceptance of those changes.

Contacting us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, or your dealings with this site, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This document was last updated on July 02, 2015

Resident Businesses of the Woolen Mill

Below please find a directory of the businesses currently residing in the Woolen Mill building. Select a tag to organize companies and organizations by their respective catagories, and shift+click the Load More button to view all listings.

Natural and Historical Waterfront Office Space

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Features of this pristigeous commercial office space:

  • Unlimited parking available
  • 2 Full service executive meeting rooms.
  • Food kiosk located in main foyer
  • River Mill restaurant located within for elegant lunches, dinners
  • Fibre optics available to any tenant unit
  • Climbing gym and workout facilities onsite
  • 10 minute walk to the heart of downtown Kingston and City Hall
  • Property borders the Rideau Trail with beautiful view of the canal
  • Public dock and launch adjacent to property

Contact Us

Resident Businesses of the Woolen Mill

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  • Architects
  • Athletics
  • Beauty
  • Cafeteria
  • Catering
  • Communication
  • Counselling
  • Dining
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Environmental
  • Financial
  • Health
  • Hvac
  • Insurance
  • Lawyers
  • Management
  • Massage
  • Media
  • Recreation
  • Technology
  • Default
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  • WDK is Kingston's Leading Full-Service Creative Studio capable of offering the best in Web Design, Search Engine Optimization, Digital Advertising,
    Read More
    • Media
    • Technology
  • BluMetric Environmental Inc. operates as one cohesive company with two groups, Professional Services and Water Systems, to provide a wide
    Read More
    • Engineering
    • Environmental
  • Caldwell Advisory is a financial planning organization that understands there is more to creating and maintaining wealth than performance alone.
    Read More
    • Financial
  • If you’re searching for a location in Kingston, ON, offering banquet, conference, and convention room spaces and services, consider River
    Read More
    • Dining
  • At Shine Catering, food is made from the heart and soul of owner Shawn Denard. Shawn has a love affair
    Read More
    • Cafeteria
    • Catering
  • Show Communications is an award winning multimedia exhibit design and production studio that specializes in communicating learning to the general
    Read More
    • Education
    • Media
    • Technology
  • The Ontario Lung Association is a registered charity that assists, educates and empowers individuals living with or caring for others
    Read More
    • Education
    • Health
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New to Kingston? Come visit the Woolen Mill!