Abandoned Mill near Sudbury, ON

Everyone loves a good abandoned building, whether you are interested in exploring, knowing the history, or just curious about how the building is still standing.
Northern Ontario experienced a population boom in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and with it came an explosion of new industrial buildings, homes, services, and schools. As its population shifts away from certain areas and industries, it leaves a wealth of abandoned buildings in its wake. McFadden mill was one of those forgotten buildings, consumed by the forest around it and hidden, just waiting to be discovered.

What is McFadden Mill?

Deep in the forest of Northern Ontario lies McFadden Mill. We aren’t sure of the actual name of the Mill and are just going off of information that was passed down through my family. This old Mill sits on the banks of the Vermillion River just North West of the city of Sudbury.
This Mill has captured my family’s interest for years; a secret location passed down from generation to generation. It was first discovered (in our family at least) by my grandfather, who frequented the area for fishing. He soon took my Dad to this secret place, and after many years my Dad would show me.

The mill from across the river.

How To Find The Mill

Getting there is a whole day affair, but if you pack a picnic lunch and your fishing gear, it makes a great adventurous outing. This article goes into detail about how to find this abandoned Mill for yourself. Always come prepared for anything, and bring plenty of water and food and a charged phone and GPS if you are new and unfamiliar with the area. It is also essential to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Getting to McFadden Mill will require three different modes of transportation: a car, an ATV, or bike, and your legs! Although it is possible to drive to the trailhead and walk in, it is not advised as it adds significantly to the trail length.

For the sake of clarity, we will start our journey heading north from Lively, ON.

Traveling northwest on RR 24, you will turn right onto Highway 144 north towards Chelmsford.
Continue north; you will cross two large power lines; the entrance to the trail is on the left-hand side of the road, under the second powerline.
Once you have parked your car at the trailhead, you can bike, ATV, or hike down the trail, following the powerlines west.
Follow this trail straight until you reach a river; you may see other people fishing at this spot.
Continue north (against the flow of the river). The trail gets tricky as you will need to cut through some of the bush. This is not a well-defined trail; stick as close to the river as you can, keeping the river within earshot.
Continue north until you find the Mill!

Important Notes

No one knows just how old McFadden mill actually is; from the stone frame, we place it around mid 1800’s-the 1900s. Due to its abandoned nature, you should keep in mind that it is not maintained at all and can be dangerous to walk around. Teenagers have thrown parties here, so there may be broken glass and rusted metal.
There are also several large metal-lined pits around the Mill, full of various debris. Avoid them at all costs; if you happen to fall in, you will likely be severely injured and unable to get out. The rapids near the river are also quite strong, so if you are going to do any fishing, stay on the mill side of the river.

Enjoy discovering this old Mill for yourself, and remember to pack out what you pack in, practicing leaving no trace so that others may enjoy this area as well.

If you or anyone you know has any information on this area or the Mill, please leave a comment; my Dad would greatly appreciate it.

If you want to try out some other great hikes near Sudbury Ontario, click this link!


16 thoughts on “Abandoned Mill near Sudbury, ON

  1. Pingback: 10 Hidden Gem Hikes Near Sudbury – The Pineapple Backpacker

  2. Matti

    In canoeing down the vermillion a number years I came upon this site. In investigating what is left my conclusion was that this was an electrical generation station ?? Power was required at near by Creighton mine over 100 years ago.


  3. This was a powerplant that generated electricity for Sudbury? Locals told me it was in operation till the 30’s when it was abandoned. There was probably not enough flow in the Vermilion or a large enough head pond to supply continuous power through the year. Remnants of the wooden dam can be seen at the top of the rapids as well as parts of the wooden sluiceway. The metal lined pits are where the impellors for the generators were located. Good on you for bushwhacking up the trail beside the river. I went by canoe.
    There was a plan in 2011 to build a dam near this site as well as four other sites on the Vermilion. They would have been “peaking” dams that held back water for a day or two then released it at times of peak demand. Sounds practical but horrendous for ecology of the river. The river would have gone through continuous cycles of flooding and drying out. I was part of a group the opposed these and 19 other similar dams on 10 rivers in Ontario called ORA (Ontario Rivers Alliance). Link below. https://www.ontarioriversalliance.ca/10-ontario-rivers-protected-19-hydroelectric-projects/#more-6935
    It took 5 years using the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) to delay what was called “a done deal” but we succeeded and contracts lapsed.
    However recent changes to to the EPA by our current provincial government have left the door open to proponents to reactivate the proposals and succeed because previous requirements in the EPA for this size project are no longer required. Hopefully investors will remember the past and not support the plans.


      1. Carmen

        We, living there, always knew there were buildings there. I don’t remember a whole lot now. But I do remember spending hot summer days there. There were fishermen there most days getting dinner. Kids spent the day in the water. I biked to this place. So close to my home.


  4. John Haegeman

    What kind of a mill ? Impossible to have a sawmill there . Cannot begin to comment by email . You would have to mall me . 869-2394 .


    1. John Haegeman

      In the 1890’s he logged Waney timber along the Vermillion. Waney timber is like square timber, but not squared . These would have been sawn in Blind River .


  5. There were houses on the road on the side where the mill was. I went to school by bus and we would stop at one of the houses that had children. I don’t remember how many houses. Remember this is in the 60’s. But the name of the people living in one of the houses there was Daigle. Went to school with a Robert Daigle.
    To us kids, living around there, we weren’t afraid to swim there. It was a good place to grow up.


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