Article & image of Candace Cox by Bill Hornbostel
When Candace and Mitchell Cox moved to Castleton from Edmonton, Alberta in 2011, they had a plan. They wanted to create a new performing arts centre in an area that had none.
“We picked this area really carefully,” says Candace Cox. “Castleton is at this sweet spot between Toronto and Montreal, near New York, and there are tons of great acts in the area. We wanted a gathering spot – not just as a draw for the community, but also for performing artists, to make it the place to play.”
So they bought the old grist mill in Castleton and began to repair the building. There have been a number of obstacles to restoring the building, so in 2016, after consultation with the local community, they established The Mill at Piper Creek Arts and Heritage Centre, a not-for-profit organization, to bring performing arts to the area.
Their efforts have met with success in sponsoring events in and near Castleton.
Cox says, “We’ve done about ten events over a year; we’re aiming for around one a month. We’re able to create work for artists and fund-raise at the same time, while offering the community professional acts at an affordable price. Usually, we have a sell-out crowd, especially in Castleton.
“On February 3, we brought in Ron Sexsmith, our first big act, to Victoria Hall in Cobourg! It was a great success.”
The board of Piper Creek has plans for even bigger and better things, though: a festival for all ages called, Yarns From The Mill. Cox says, “Anything that we can connect to the words ‘yarns’ or ‘mill,’ we’re including in this festival!” Part of the festival will be a display of the fibre arts. “So we’re talking crocheters and knitters and spinners and weavers. There will be a large vendor alley, with both fibre art and fibre products for sale, plus hands-on activities and workshops.
Yarns From The Mill will also have a performing arts side. Says Cox, ‘Yarns’ might also refer to story-telling, or song-writing, or just a place for neighbours to gather together to reminisce. We’d like to interview locals about their memories of the Cramahe area, and particularly the mill.”
They are also looking to include demonstrations and workshops in the festival. “We want to weave in a real educational element, too, in an old-fashioned community-drawing way. We’re planning a sheep shearing demonstration, as well as working with Mark Turney at Diemo to get a piece of the old mill equipment up and running.”
Yarns From The Mill will run Sept. 21-22, 2018.
For more information about The Mill at Piper Creek, visit their Website: http://themillatpipercreek.ca/