Moss Kent Dickinson was born in Denmark, Lewis Co., New York on the 1st of June 1822. In 1815, Moss’ father Barnabus and his uncle Horace started a stage line between Montreal and Kingston. The next year they obtained a three-year contract to deliver the mail between Montreal and Kingston, and Horace moved to Prescott to manage the business. Barnabus moved his family to Cornwall in 1827.
For his tenth birthday Dickinson’s father took him to see the opening of the Rideau Canal in Kingston. This trip would inspire his future career. In 1844 Moss, age 22, moved to Kingston. He purchased his first steamboat, the Rob Roy, plus a barge, and began his own shipping business known as “M.K. Dickinson Forwarding and Commission Merchant.” From this base, his fleet expanded and by mid-century included 16 steamers and 60 barges. He moved his business to Montreal in 1848 and to Ottawa in 1858-59. He sold his interest in the shipping business in 1869.
Dickinson and his business partner, Joseph Currier, built the sawmill in 1860, which was quickly joined by the grist mill, a woollen and carding mill and a bung and spile factory. The house built by Dickinson in 1867 across from his milling complex served as the general store and post office for the new village of Manotick. Eventually it became the the Dickinson family home when Dickinson and his children moved from Ottawa to Manotick in 1870.
In 1897, Dickinson passed away, but his children continued to own and operate the milling complex. In 1923, Alexander Spratt began to lease the Mill and its business from the Dickinson siblings. Five years later, Alexander purchased the Mill and in the early 1930s moved his family into the Dickinson House.