It’s clear from the moment you turn the corner into the driveway of The Arva Flour Mill that you’re taking a few steps back in time. The mill is tall and stately, and even though it has been well-maintained, you can tell it’s seen a lot of years!
As I pulled into the parking lot of the mill that’s been operating continuously since 1819, I was struck with a thought. I was parked in a space that had previously been a hitching post for a horse and buggy, then later probably a model T and I’m sure even a VW Beetle or two (punch buggy – no punch backs!). The people in those vehicles were there for the very same simple reason I was: to buy a bag of flour! Has life really changed that much from then until now? Not at the Mill. There, time seems to have stood still.
I stepped into the retail shop, and before I had a chance to stock up on all my baking supplies, Mike greeted me and offered to take me on a quick tour of the mill. He pushed through a swinging door into the heart of the operation. My jaw dropped when I saw the old belt-driven grinders, or as Mike calls them, “the new grinders,” as they were not original but added in 1903. They are so beautiful! The softly-worn wood and gears were all lightly coated in flour dust. I really had stepped back in time!
My focus came sharply back to the present as I heard Mike say that the mill is still partially water-powered. He explained somewhat regretfully that they still require the use of some electricity. Imagine that!
I picked up my camera and started snapping away. Mike began to fill some flour bags (this particular order will be heading to Australia!) and as he worked he explained the process of milling flour.
Mike represents the fourth generation of the Scott family to run the mill and he is still actively involved in the milling process himself. All of the wheat is sourced locally, most of which comes from less than 25 km from the mill. Mike explained that the Arva Mill is not just a small mill; they are an extremely small mill. The Scott family are milling artisans! Using traditional equipment, they are able to mill at a lower temperature using a slower rate of RPM (revolutions per minute). What does this mean to us? That their flour is all-natural and maintains all of its original nutrients and vitamins. It’s simply a better product!
I use Arva flour all the time; I love the way it bakes and tastes. I am particularly in LOVE with their pastry flour! It’s the secret to making the perfect apple pie. And to be honest, I’m kind of sweet on their packaging too! I leave my brown kraft Arva flour bags in my glass-doored kitchen cabinet, because they look so charming, and when I see them I’m reminded to bake more often!
The Arva Flour Mill offers a large variety of products including white hard wheat, whole hard wheat, organic, spelt, cracked wheat,and bran flours. I could go on and on, but I’m beginning to feel a bit like Bubba Gump. Arva supplies many of the finer dining restaurants in London, Kitchener, Toronto and surrounding areas, but you can get your own at the retail store in Arva (just outside of London on Highway 4) or at Arva’s on-line store.