Saturday May 30, 2015
It was a day after my father’s 80th birthday and so the plan was to meet in Barrie to celebrate. The choice between driving up the 400 or leaving earlier and making a side trip was less difficult than determining where that side trip would lead. In the end we chose to look at the Palgrave dam and mill pond.
Palgrave was originally called Buckstown after the owner of the Western Hotel which was opened in 1846. This name survived until 1869 when the post office was established and the name was changed to Palgrave. Due to the large amount of lumber in the local forests this became an important industry in the early development of the town.
It is the season for moth and butterflies to be in their larvae or caterpillar state. Inch worm is a term that is applied to the caterpillar of the geometer moth, a large family of 35,000 species. Ironically the word geometer applies better to the caterpillar than the moth as it comes from the Latin “geometra” or earth-measurer. This is because the caterpillar has only 2 or 3 prolegs on the back end. Their looping gait makes it look like they’re measuring the ground as they go along.
Palgrave grew up around a saw mill and a grist mill. These two industries were essential to the development of a community. The saw mill provided basic building materials while the grist mill provided basic food supplies for humans and livestock. A dam would be built to create a constant supply of water. The mills are gone but the mill pond remains, complete with its own secrets. In August 2011 a body was found in the pond which belonged to a 42 year old woman who had been kidnapped from her home in Brampton. Raqual Junio was murdered by her estranged husband and her body dumped in the old mill pond.
The view of the dam from below the waterfalls.
The jack-in-the-pulpit plant exhibits a wide variance in size with this example being near the upper end of 65 cm (26 inches). Identifiable by it’s flowers contained in a spadix and the hood drooped over top this was the only specimen in the immediate neighbourhood. Once cooked or properly dried this plant can be eaten as a root vegetable. The raw plant, however, contains raphides that are like tiny little needles that cause a burning sensation and possible severe irritation if eaten. The plant grows from the same corm for up to 100 years.
On March 5, 1880 town lot 4 was sold to the Reverend W.F. Swallow for $70 for use as a church property. It had been the site of a store and saloon prior to that. In 1882 they purchased lot 3 beside it for use as a cemetery. Prior to this, Anglicans had to take their loved ones to Bolton for burial. St. Alban’s Anglican Church was built in 1882 in the English Gothic Revival style that was popular at the time. St. Alban’s retains it’s original bell tower and entrance vestibule. The church was closed in 1996. The cemetery was closed in 2007 and the remaining bones were dis-interred and moved to Bolton for reburial. The church is now used as a saloon, as the property has come full circle. The one story building on the left has been built on the site of the former cemetery.
The Elm Tree Hotel was just one of the hotels in town but survives with it’s unique three point roof. This hotel appears to have been built in 1878 after the arrival of the railway in town. This spurred growth and the town doubled in size in a year from 150 to 300 residents. Several other old buildings remain in town but there is little information available on-line about their history.
The Elm Tree hotel no longer has it’s elm tree. It was cut down to allow for the widening of highway 50 through town. The picture below was taken in 1914 and borrowed from Wikipedia.
Canadian artist David Milne lived in town from 1929 until 1932 and painted several scenes. The painting Kitchen Chimney is in the National Gallery of Canada and the Elm Tree Hotel can be seen in the background at the left. His painting “The Village” is also in the National Gallery and is used as the cover photo for this post. St. Alban’s church with its bell tower can be seen at the left.
In 1877 the Hamilton & North-Western railway was built through the middle of town. The railway was later taken over by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1888 and ended up as a part of the Canadian National. Passenger service ended in 1960 and the tracks were removed in 1986. The rail bed has since been turned into a hiking trail. The trail can be seen in the picture below on the little rise where the wooden trail sign stands.
The Primitive Methodists built their church and cemetery in 1878 on lots 17, 18 and 19. Their cemetery remains and the church has served the United Church since it’s inception 1925.
The Pan American Games are the third largest international multi-sport games in the world. Started in 1951 in Buenos Aires it now contains 41 member nations. The games are played every four years in the summer before the next Summer Olympic Games. Toronto is host to the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am games which run from July 10-26. The dressage and jumping competitions will be held in Palgrave at the Caledon Equestrian Park. We were able to stop by and have a look at some of the local horses getting warmed up.
It is so nice to see the fresh green of the new growth on the ends of the pine tree branches.
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Palgrave is my Mom’s home town. When I was a child she would regale me with tales of other-worldly intrigue. There was a haunted house on Maple Lane that on certain nights was unable to contain the demons within and they would get loosed upon the innocent townsfolk.
One of the more fearsome ones manifested itself as a bearded giant who brandished a whip and stood menacingly at the corner where Birch and Pine Avenues come together (Mom’s house was on Pine Avenue next to the church). Anyone wanting to get to Highway 50, the main road through town, would have to backtrack to where railway crossed Pine and follow the tracks to the station.