Ontario Travel: The Alton Mill – An Old Factory Becomes a Popular Arts Centre

Then we headed outside on the lower level into the Waterfall Courtyard. This space used to be a steam room and had a roof which had to be removed due to excessive damage. The walls were completely restored on both sides to create a flood-proof structure. This outdoor patio is used for private parties and special events and also holds interesting sculptures.

The Waterfall Courtyard is used for many special events

As a passionate architecture buff, I was amazed at the creative use of space that has turned the Alton Mill from a dilapidated factory building ready for demolition into a leading-edge creative and gathering place. It was wonderful to see that one of Ontario’s industrial heritage buildings has been successfully preserved and repurposed. Jeremy and Jordan Grant have made an outstanding contribution to Ontario’s heritage and art communities.

Artist Ann Randeraad shows us her stonework

After admiring the structure we headed back inside and I had a chance to meet some of the local artists who rent studios here. In a short time, the Alton Mill has become one of the premier arts destinations in the Greater Toronto Area. Pottery artist Ann Randeraad showed us her stonework and explained “raku”, an ancient type of clay work from Japan that is often used for tea ceremonies. Bridget Wilson showed us her hot glass items which consist of numerous layers of glass fused together. She often also incorporates silver and Svarovski crystals in her creations.

Bridge Wilson and her art

In one if the studios we met Wayne Baguley, President of Headwaters Arts, a non-profit organization that develops artists in the local region. He and his artist colleague Margi Taylor Self are heavily involved in promoting local arts events and in developing young artists. In September their organization will hold a fundraising event that will raise money for six arts scholarships in film, music, dance, theatre, the visual arts and literature.

Margi Taylor Self and Wayne Baguley of Headwaters Arts

We also stopped at Gallery Gemma, where Anne Marie Warburton creates and sells unique handcrafted jewelry, using gold and semi-precious stones. She also redesigns rings and sells one-of-a-kind pieces from artists from all over the world.

Anne Marie Warburton and her one-of-a-kind jewelry creations

There were so many artists to meet and studios to visit, and I wish I had had more time to spend time at the Alton Mill. But I had to move on to my next place of discovery: the historic village of Belfountain where I was going to visit the Belfountain Conservation Area.

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