Tara Ontario's Mill Started the Village Economy 

Tara Ontario's Mill Started the Village Economy and with the entrepreneurial and inventive genius of one man the community prospered!

One of the first commercial ventures to appear throughout Grey and Bruce counties was the mill. Around these mills, communities grew. The prosperity and size of the community often was a direct reflection on the abundance of power to run the mill. 

In Tara, a mill was founded in 1851 by John and James Tobey. In later years, under different ownership, the Tara mill would be the site of important innovations. 

The man behind the innovations at the Tara mill was W.A. Gerolamy, who arrived in Tara in the 1850s from Prince Edward County with his family. His father, George Gerolamy, opened a small fanning mill shop in Tara. In 1857, young Gerolamy purchased the Tara mill from the Tobey brothers. 

Gerolamy quickly proved his genius as an inventor. To improve the family’s fanning mill operation, he invented and patented a perforated zinc sieve process that led the Tara fanning mill to become one of the best in the county. 

His interest in inventing and the success of the zinc sieve process spurred Gerolamy on to new heights. He developed his original shop into a foundry 'and during the next few years expanded this operation to include the manufacture of more than 50 different farm implements. By 1900, the Gerolamy company catalogue listed fanning mills, a dozen different models of plows, hay loaders, side delivery rakes, straw and root cutters, crushers, speeding jacks, seeders and many other implements. 

What made Gerolamy's implements so popular were the innovations that he added to existing models. His inventive genius led to international recognition. On three occasions, at international expositions in Chicago, Paris and Philadelphia, Gerolamy’s inventions were awarded gold medals. Gerolamy was more than an inventor. He was also very adept at marketing. Not only were his catalogues intricate in their description of products, they were produced in large numbers to reach markets far beyond the Grey and Bruce region. As well he created a phenomenon called "general delivery days", a version of which would decades later become a standard in the automobile industry for promoting new car models. 

General delivery day was held each spring. At this event, buyers from regions far beyond Tara descended upon the small community. They were feted at a dinner hosted by Gerolamy and later they attended a parade featuring products produced by the company. As the entourage wended its way from the factory through town the crowd was serenaded by the citizens' band. 

Gerolamy was also responsible for another well-known Tara commercial institution. A few years after he bought the fanning mill in 1857, he purchased the general store from John Tobey. He changed its name to the Golden Lion. Like the wide success of Gerolamy’s other interests, The Golden Lion achieved recognition as a progressive shopping centre far beyond its immediate neighbourhood. 

With his death, the Gerolamy "empire" in Tara ceased operations in 1914. 

The information used in this article came from files held in the Grey County Archives.

A version of this article originally appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times on October 5, 2001

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Bruce County History

Bruce County history is rich with stories about the development of communities along the Lake Huron shoreline and shaped by memorable events and the people.

The "Battleship By-Election" was the result of a debate that embroiled all of Canada but was settled in a rural region of southwestern Ontario prior to the First World War.

Bruce Road 3: A Colonization Road linked prospective settlers to undeveloped Crown Lands and a new life.

British Peerage a Source for Township Names. It is interesting to check the origin of the names bestowed on pioneer places such as towns, townships and counties.

Chesley Ontario Welcomes the Krug Brothers who were looking for a place to make their future and their fortune. They were not only successful, but they made significant contributions to the social fabric of their adopted home town.

Billy Crawford: Pioneering Spirit Personified. If you take the time to consider the people you have met during your life you too may know or have known, someone with pioneering spirit just like Billy Crawford.

Frozen Rivers & Lakes can be Hazardous: Icy waterways offer many benefits such as ice fishing, but beware weak, or thin ice is not easily detected and can spell disaster.

Kincardine Ontario's First Settlers using a bit of savvy and some luck created a future for themselves and their families on the Lake Huron shoreline.

The Krug Impact on Chesley Ontario was immense not only in terms of the community's social fabric but with regards to community's economic growth.

Wilfrid Laurier: Despite the town's best efforts to make Wilfrid Laurier's visit a memorable occasion, it would be clouds of dust that would remind the Prime Minister of  the Lake Huron community.

Mildmay Ontario overcame competition from other communities to claim its spot in Carrick Township on an important settlement route to the Lake Huron shoreline.

Pioneer Diaries provide Interesting Information about many topics, but sometimes information about the weather can be quite surprising!

The pioneer settlement in Arran Township was completed in 1851. The survey crew had been impressed, by the cheap cost and the potential of the land, that two members of the team, George Gould and Richard Berford, took up plots of land. 

Port Elgin Ontario Started with a Storm. A ship forced to seek refuge from Lake Huron's stormy wrath signalled to one man the idea of starting a new community.

Southampton's early history was a time of identity crisis, and with a connection to an early Arctic mystery story. 

Southampton Ontario Suffered a Major Fire in 1886: The havoc was created by a furious high wind storm that spread the flames over much of the town.

Tara Ontario's Mill Started the Village Economy and with the entrepreneurial and inventive genius of one man the community prospered!

Walkerton Ontario: The Beginning of this Bruce County town is the result of the drive and determination of one man, Joseph Walker.