John Muir worked as a mechanic for two years at William Trout's sawmill near Meaford,
Ontario (1864-1866). The factory burned in March 1866, destroying Muir's field journals
and putting him out of work. However, the naturalist remained friendly with the Trout
family and maintained sporadic contact with them for the remainder of his life. In his
correspondence Muir discusses his writing, commends Trout's mechanical abilities and
debates with him about Darwin's theories.