This historical monument dates back to 1783.
The first mill of the Lordship of Gentilly was built of wood in around 1740. It burned in 1773 and the current stone building was erected in around 1783.
Le Moulin Michel stopped being used commercially in 1972. However, it is still operational and stone wheels continue to grind buckwheat grain, which was once called “the flour of the people.”
A visit will allow you to appreciate the splendour of French architecture and the construction techniques that were used by our ancestors.
The Manorial System
Le Michel Moulin is built at the eastern end of the land that was once the Lordship of Gentilly.
At the time, the Lord managed and administered all activity on his land. Peasants (tenant farmers) occupying a lot had to pay a banality right to benefit from the services offered on the Lordship. For example, to use the flour mill, the right of banality was taken out of the bags of grain that peasants came to grind.
The manorial system ended in 1854, signalling the end of banality rights, which left only having to pay rent to the Lordship.
The Duty of the Lord to Tenant Farmers
The Lord had a duty to his tenants. As he depended on the crops and livestock that were grown and raised on his land, he had to ensure that farmers had access to necessary resources.
He would usually build a flour mill, a saw mill, bread ovens and provide the required personnel, such as a miller.
Because the mill belonged to him, the Lord was entitled to request a fee from the tenant farmers that lived on his land for services. The fee was an annual rent that was paid to the Lord.
Le Moulin Michel retained its name of a banal mill in reference to the banality fees the Lord charged under the manorial system
The Lords of the Mill
A total of 11 generations of millers succeeded one another at Le Moulin Michel, sometimes from father to son.
The first miller, in fact the builder of the first mill, was François Rivard dit Lavigne I.
Joseph-Gaspard Chaussegros de Léry rebuilt the current stone mill in around 1783. But the Grindler family was one of the most important owners of the mill, and were the first owners of the mill following the abolition of the feudal system in 1854. The Grindlers worked there and occupied the premises for 71 years. Other important families include the Leboeufs and finally Alfred Michel, the last owner of the mill from 1937 to 1985.
Former Owner: Alfred Michel
Alfred Michel was the last miller to operate the mill for commercial purposes and the last private owner of the site. He bought the site and buildings from the Leboeuf family in 1937 and ground grain until 1972. In addition to this main profession, Alfred Michel had many occupations related to his needs, including manufacturing and selling ice for coolers, growing tobacco and extracting honey from beehives. Interestingly, Alfred Michel lived in the western part of the second floor of the mill.
As Alfred Michel was the last to hold the title of miller at the mill, the City of Bécancour decided to name it after him. During the guided tour, you will see many objects that belonged to him and several photos. Alfred Michel was very helpful during the restoration of the site. Because of him, the machinery and tools were repaired according to traditional methods.