Throughout the 1800s there were nine known potteries throughout Bruce County and included Kincardine, Port Elgin, Burgoyne, Chippewa Hill, Scone, Tara, Mildmay and Kinloss. By the turn of the 20th Century only one, Ignatz Bitschy of Mildmay, was still producing pottery. Represented within the Museum’s collection are four of the nine producers and include Cyrus Eby of Chippewa Hill, Tara Pottery, Kinloss Pottery, and Ignatz Bitschy of Mildmay.
Cyrus Eby settled in Chippewa Hill, Amabel Township, between 1871 and 1881. There he ran a pottery as well as farmed. It is not known how long Eby continued to be a potter, as he is listed on the 1881 census as a farmer and a potter, but the 1891 census lists him as a farmer, and there is no mention of the pottery.
The Kinloss pottery began in 1870 and was operated by John Brownscombe. Brownscombe had come from Durham County where he also had a pottery. After Brownscombe’s death in the early 1880s his son Samuel continued the business from 1882 until approximately 1892, when the operation was moved to Owen Sound.
Born in Alsace, Ignatz Bitschy was one of two known German potters who moved to Bruce County from the Waterloo area. Bitschy purchased 50 acres of land in the Mildmay area in 1866; today the northern limit of his property is Ignatz Street. Bitschy was a prolific producer with about twelve thousand pieces produced between 1870 and 1889. According to sources, pieces were produced by hand, with the raw material procured from a local man’s farm. Bitschy produced until 1903. Most pieces created by Bitschy were utilitarian in nature such as crocks, jugs and bowls.
The Tara Pottery began in 1867 and was operated by James McCluskie until 1884. According to information in the 1871 census, the pottery produced pots and pans and had two employees. There is also evidence that the pottery made bricks.