The Millrace, St. Jacobs, Ontario
The millrace was constructed in the 1860s, alongside the Conestogo River, to serve the power needs of the grist mill owned and operated by Jacob C. Snider.
Today it forms part of the Trans Canada Trail, and provides a pleasant 3 km round trip walk from the Village of St. Jacobs to the dam on the Conestogo River and back. In addition to fine birding, it offers a view of Mennonite life, as old order boys may be seen fishing on the river, or properly attired girls toboggan down the slopes in the winter. Each season brings its own set of delights. Spring is glorious as the avian populations are swelled by arriving migrants and Fall provides a panoply of stunning Fall colours. In the summer many nesting species can be discovered upon careful searching and typical winter denizens are Black-capped Chickadees, Red and White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers and other typical species. Cedar Waxwings are easily found all year.
The farmers’ market in St. Jacobs is well worth a visit. It is open on Thursdays and Saturdays for most of the year, but is also open on Tuesdays during the summer. The village itself is filled with craft shops and other interesting stores, and is a magnet for tourists on the weekend.
At the Three Bridges Road end of the trail, Sundays bring a procession of Old Order Mennonites in a variety of horse-drawn carriages, on their way to a meeting house farther up the road.
In addition to excellent birding, St. Jacobs provides ample pleasures for non-birding members of a family, and is highly recommended to anyone visiting the area. We are fortunate to live close by and we enjoy walking the trail throughout the year.
A list of species we have observed there follows.
Species seen on the Millrace
Great Blue Heron
American Herring Gull
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
Black-throated Green Warbler
American Tree Sparrow