Today's Visual Arts Centre is housed in what was once one of the world's premier cereal producing facilities. It was located on Soper Creek off of Simpson Drive in Bowmanville.
Timothy Soper's water-powered grist mill built of wood began in 1832. It was later converted into a brick-covered mill (after a fire) by The J. Mackey Co. Ltd. that produced quality "Cream of Barley" cereal. The cereal was well-known for its health benefits and this brand was world-renowned. The company had delivery trucks delivering to both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts- which was quite an undertaking in the 1920's considering the roads back then were of such poor quality. It was shipped overseas as well.
By 1924 a bird sanctuary was set up around the mill and northward by the mill's new manager, J. Morden. It became a camp, community park and preserve. This set-up eventually became the Bowmanville Zoo. The camp also acted as an advertisement for the cereal as it was aptly named "The Cream of Barley Camp-Nature Reserve".
Later, Alfred Shrubb took over operations. He was as famous as the cereal. Previous to his move to Bowmanville from England he was the world's top class distance runner, who set a world record in the early 1900s that lasted for decades.
By the 1950s Leo Berman took over the mill and all the equipment was removed leaving the mill lying dormant for years. In the 1970's it became a drop-in centre for youths and then in 1974 the town bought it and converted it into the Visual Arts Centre, which thrives to this day.
For more in-depth info check the link below, along with the youtube link to the musical piece written for the mill from yesteryear.