Monthly Archives: November 2016


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Caledon Township was surveyed between 1819 and 1820 with settlements beginning shortly after.  The town of Melville was founded in 1831 but was originally known as West Caledon after the church that was located on the southwest corner of Highpoint Sideroad (25th s.r.) and Willoughby Road (1st line west).

Jesse Ketchum Jr. saw the possibility for a mill and a town was born.  He built a dam on his property creating the mill pond that still exists today.  The concrete dam in the cover photo replaces an earlier wood structure that would have required constant maintenance. His father, Jesse Ketchum, had been a tanner in Toronto and had gotten rich selling leather to the government, whom he silently opposed in the rebellion of 1837.  In 1831 he had donated property for a school and a park in Yorkville, both named in his honour.  Jesse Jr. laid out the north part of Orangeville on lands owned by the family in 1856.  Then in 1859 he laid out an ambitious town plan for Melville on his property there.  Soon there was a tannery, possibly connected to the Ketchums, as well as a saw mill and an oat mill.  The town never grew the way Ketchum Jr. envisioned and eventually the tannery and mills all closed.


There is an Upper Credit Conservation Parking lot on Porterfield Road (2nd line west) south of town, near the train tracks.  From here a trail leads east following the Credit River.  A footbridge is provided to cross the river and then the trail divides but we followed it to the north, toward Melville.  As we made our way along the trail we could hear the approach of the Credit Valley Explorer as it was making a short run through Melville.  The picture below shows the engine as it is emerging from behind a small ridge.  The Explorer runs on the old Credit Valley Railway (CVR) right of way south of town.


To the early settlers a fence had no practical value.  Pigs and cows were left to forage all summer and were slaughtered in the fall.  By the middle of the 19th century farms were opened up enough that property lines needed to be marked and cedar rails were used, often in a zig-zag pattern.  These snaking fence lines wasted a lot of productive land and eventually they were replaced with straight fences. Fence wire was introduced in the 1890’s and steel poles came after WWII.  Snaking fences had one major advantage that kept them in use even after more advanced methods became available.  They were the only truly portable fences and farmers could move them to reconfigure their fields to meet changing needs.


Following the trail east along the river, you will come to a new fence where the trail loops back around.  This fence is running along the top of a berm in the field.  This berm is the former right of way for the Toronto Grey & Bruce Railway (TG&B) that ran through Melville starting in 1871.  This section of the line has been closed for nearly a century but the berm is still visible from Google Earth.  There isn’t much to see other than an obviously man-made hill in the field.  There are interpretive signs in the park but none about the railway. Yet, one can stand here and almost see the steam engines rolling into town.  The farmer has created a stone fence along the edge of his field where he sold a strip of land for the railway.  Every spring the frost lifts a new crop of stones to the surface of the fields so that the farmers have to clear the rocks before planting.  Stone fence lines across Ontario are the result of needing to dispose of these stones.


The CVR came into town in 1879 and it intersected with the TG&B just south of Highpoint Sideroad.  Known as Melville Junction it contained the station and freight buildings.  Today the junction has reverted to a farmer’s field and the old right of way for the TG&B is being kept open by a lawn mower.


In 1932 the CPR closed the section of TG&B line from Bolton to Melville.  A little south of Melville is the site of the Horseshoe Curve Rail Disaster where a train left the tracks in 1907 killing 7 and injuring 114.  From there the line passed through Cardwell Junction.  The portion of track between Melville Junction and Orangeville is still in use as part of the CPR line through town.  Between Highpoint Sideroad and Willoughby Road the tracks cross the Credit River on a bridge that replaced the original trestle.


This one and a half story cottage is the oldest remaining home in the village.  It was built around 1850 in what is known as the Georgian Style.  The 2 over 2 windows are likely replacements as most of the homes in this era had 6 over 6 windows.  The smaller panes of glass were easier to produce and transport without breakage.


Like all small towns, Melville had at least one hotel.  The large building on the northeast corner of town was also the post office.


According to the date stone, Caledon School Section 12 in Melville got a new building in 1871. Melville’s saw mill was doing a good business in decorative brackets for eaves and the local tradesmen liked to use them in pairs.


Italianate architecture was popular in Ontario between 1840 and 1890.  This style also tends to have the round headed windows and doors that can be seen in this example below from 1875.  Like many Italianate houses,  George Hillock’s home has heavy bracketing under the eaves with the ornamentation being paired.  Another interesting feature of the style is the Widow’s Walk.  This platform on the rooftop was often railed with highly detailed wrought iron.  The name comes from their frequent location on homes built near water and the suggestion that women would walk there looking out for their husbands to return from sea.  The fact that they often didn’t return made them widows.  It is, in fact, a variation on the cupola which is common to the Italianate style.


At the intersection of highway 10 and Highpoint Sideroad stands an abandoned house (red arrow on map). The preceding two buildings from the 1870’s were made of red brick with buff trim.  Typical of many homes in the 1850’s, this one is buff with red trim.  This farmhouse was built in 1859 by David Watson and has been covered in greater detail in a separate post which can be found here.


Google Maps link:  Melville

Like us at

Follow us at

Terraview & Willowfield Gardens Parks

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The headwaters of Taylor-Massey Creek were originally found in the area of Sheppard and Victoria Park Avenues. The area of the headwaters was approximately 150 hectares until the construction of the Toronto Bypass (401) was completed in 1964.  In order to reduce complications with the widening of the highway in the 1980’s, it was decided to divert the headwaters into Highland Creek.  As a consequence, the creek developed a new smaller source.  Now 18 hectares of natural springs mix with the polluted runoff of the sixteen lanes of highway that passes overhead.

When this area of Scarborough, known as Maryvale, was developed in the early-1950’s it was common to take the watersheds and re-route them through concrete channels. Taylor-Massey Creek begins in a collection of pipes and emerges from a headwall in the top of Terraview Park.  From there it used to proceed south in a curved concrete channel all the way to Ellesmere Road and beyond.  The parkland around these concrete channels was underused and the water in the channel often ran with ten times the city’s allowable levels of E-coli.  The picture below shows the concrete channel that the creek still flows through in the Warden Power Corridor south of the two parks.


In 1992 the Metropolitan Toronto and Regional Conservation Authority created the Don Watershed Task Force to develop an ecosystem approach to managing the entire watershed.  At the time The Don River was one of the most polluted in Canada.  When 40 Steps To A New Don was published in 1994 it identified Terraview and Willowfield Parks as a concept site to prove the plan for regeneration.  Any benefits to water quality that could be made at this end of the watershed would benefit the entire system. The  aerial photo below shows the concrete channel as it passes through Terraview Park and under Penworth Road where it continues through Willowfields Gardens Park.  This picture was taken from the 40 Steps To A New Don final report.



The plan called for the removal of the channel and renaturalization of the creek bed. Wetlands were developed because they act as a natural filter for suspended particles and contaminants.


The soccer field at Terraview Park has an underground filtration system designed into it. Now that it has been in operation for nearly 20 years there is some data and a cost/benefit analysis is being conducted to see if other such systems should be constructed.  Oil and water separators and sediment pools are used along with French drains and storm water retention facilities are all part of the design.  Today, the water is still not as clean as the city bylaws require and a sediment pool at the headwall where the water enters the park needs to be expanded or replaced.


When a concrete channel passed through the mowed lawns of the former parks there was little wildlife to be seen.  Today the two contiguous parks provide a welcome habitat in this part of the city.


Tamarack is a species of Larch tree that is native to Canada.  Although they have needles and cones like an evergreen they lose their needles every fall.  The needles take on a beautiful shade of yellow before they fall off the tree.


Along with the usual sets of swings and slides, the park also has a splash pad.  Water from the pad is filtered before it is let into the pond on its way out towards Warden Woods.


After leaving Terraview Pond the creek flows through a section of new growth as it heads south.  The sides of the new creek channel have armour stone on them in places where erosion is likely but there has been no attempt to keep the new shrubs and trees from growing in the channel.


South of Penworth Road Taylor-Massey Creek flows through a natural channel and into the newly created Willowfield Pond.  Where a lifeless concrete channel once existed a new aquatic habitat has been created.  Herons can be seen here in the summer hunting for lunch while ducks and geese find food among the marshes on the shore.  Muskrats have also been seen in the pond.


Northern Red Oak, along with thousands of other trees and shrubs, have been planted in the two parks.


Willowfield Pond has been designed with the local schools in mind.  There are observation stations where outdoor lessons are taught.  Students also monitor the water quality and help with planting programs.


Water flows from Willowfield pond into a peat bog which also acts as a final filter to remove contaminants before the water makes it’s way toward the Don River.


Water is still discharged directly into the creek but the local residents have removed their downspouts from the collection system.  By allowing the water to flow onto the lawn more of it is absorbed and slowly released into the creek which reduces flash flooding.


There is plenty of work left to be done at these two parks.  Sections of the parks that were intended to be planted with Carolinian Forest have yet to be started.  Phase III of the project was never implemented.  It called for the hydro corridor to be naturalized as well. The concrete channel was to be removed and the area around the new stream was set to be densely planted.


The renaturalization of these two parks won an award in 2002 from the Canadian Society of Landscaping Architects.

Google Maps link: Terraview Park and Willowfield Gardens Park

Like us at

Follow us at

David Watson House – 1859

Saturday, November 26, 2016

David Watson’s 1859 house on the corner of Highway 10 and Highpoint Sideroad is sitting, waiting for a possible heritage designation.  The 1877 Peel County Atlas shows the property on Lot 26 east as belonging to David Watson.  Centre Road has been coloured green on the map and is known as Highway 10 today.  Highpoint Sideroad, or 25th sideroad, has been coloured brown.  The house is marked with a red arrow and an orchard is shown between the house and the road.


Meanwhile, in spite of the pending heritage designation, it is in a state of deterioration and opened up in many places to the coming winter weather.  The picture below reveals that the window above the front door has been broken.   Many of Ontario’s earliest brick structures were made of yellow brick and accented with red brick.  Later the opposite pattern would come to dominate as red bricks became the more commonly mass-produced bricks. The buff, or yellow bricks came from clay that had less iron in it than the clay used for the red bricks.  These yellow bricks are very common in 1850 and 1860 South-western Ontario homes.  Notice the detailed pattern in the bricks below the roof-line.


The master bedroom looked out of the only forward facing window on the second floor. The brickwork around the window lintels is quite unique with its curving form.  A string of old Christmas lights  hangs from the trim.


The north side of the building faces toward Orangeville where the lower window on the front looked into the living room and the rear one gave afternoon light to the kitchen.  The use of red bricks for quoins on the corners of the building give the structure an increased appearance of being solid.


The rear window on the north end of the building has been removed showing the inside of the kitchen.  A doorway from the kitchen leads to the family room where the three bay windows once looked out onto an orchard and a small gravel road.


This view shows the kitchen cupboards and the place where the sink has been removed. The view in the picture below shows the doorway that leads into the dining room.


The cellar door has been broken open and recent animal and human footprints show that the place has had activity since the last snowfall.


From the rear, the house has some odd colouring to the bricks which suggests that the central back door may have had a porch roof over it at one time.  The upstairs has a bathroom on the right-hand end, above the kitchen.  It has a window which is slightly smaller than the second one which is in the upstairs hallway.


In the field behind the house stands the concrete remains of the silo.  This also marks the location of the former barn on the property.


The south view of the house shows more broken windows, two of them in upstairs bedrooms.


One of the points mentioned in the application for historical status is the picturesque location of the Watson house.  This view looking out across the Credit River illustrates this quite well.


Also located near this location is Island Lake Park which makes a great place for a visit with the family for an extended hike.

Google Maps Link: Highpoint Sideroad and Highway 10

Like us at

Follow us at

Maxwell’s Mill – Rouge Park

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Rouge Park was created in 1995 and covers over 12,000 acres of the Rouge River watershed. There are current plans to make it Canada’s first National Park in an urban area.  It has been home to resorts, cottages, and campers since the 1800’s.  Throughout the park are signs of the historical uses that the native people had for the land as well as the early settlers in the area.  One such place is the early grist mill that was built on the Little Rouge Creek.

There is a large parking lot on Twyn Rivers Drive near the concrete arch bridge.  Directly across the street from the parking lot are four stone pillars which mark the gates for the former Maxwell Mill.  The remains of the mill are on the curve in the road between there and the Little Rouge Creek.  The property originally belonged to David and Mary Thompson who sold it to James Maxwell.  The Maxwell grist mill served Pickering and area beginning in the mid-1850’s.  A sketch from 1855 shows Maxwell’s Mill as it looked at the time.


In 1929 a flood destroyed the mill pond dam and put an end to water-powered milling at this site.  The remains of the dam can still be seen on either side of the creek near the parking lot.  Access to both sides is available for those who wish to cross the bridge and follow the trail along the other side.  Extensive concrete walls can be found along the sides of the creek and concrete also is supporting the berm that once held the mill pond.


The Maxwell Bridge where Twyn Rivers Drive crosses the Little Rouge Creek has been named a heritage property by the city of Toronto.  It is listed as a concrete rainbow through arch, fixed bridge.  A through arch bridge typically has a portion of the arch below the road deck so that it appears the road passes through the arch.  This bridge does not have an obvious portion of the arch below the road deck.


Four of these stone pillars formed the gates for the mill.  Wood straps can still be seen on the pillar to the left.  A matching pair stands on the right, just out of this picture.


Close examination of the inner pillar reveals a forged steel rod with an “eye” hook on the end that once supported the gate.


The same storm that destroyed the mill dam in 1929 also filled the sluice up with silt. Since it was abandoned it has been further damaged by the large tree that is now growing beside it.  The concrete of the sluice has been cracked as the tree pushed it out of the way.


From the back of the sluice, you can see how little nature thinks of the concrete structure. The crank that was used to control the flow of water toward the water wheel can still be seen.


After its days as a mill were finished the building served several purposes.  In 1923 Clarence Purcell bought the farm around the mill to run as a hobby farm.  He also used it to raise his ponies.  At one time the main floor of the mill was converted to house ten pig pens.  Grist mills were noisy places filled with vibration from the turning mill stones. In order to protect the building from damage, there were often two separate foundations.  In the case of Maxwell’s Mill the stone foundation walls were double thickness.  The picture below shows a cross section of one of the foundation walls.


In 1954 Hurricane Hazel caused even more damage to the mill.  By this time the animals had been removed and the space was being used for storage.  In the early 1970’s a fire destroyed the mill and left only the stone walls remaining. The Toronto Region Conservation Authority bought the property after this as part of their flood prevention program following the hurricane.  Sticking out of the ground near the old water-wheel housing is the end of this drive shaft. This may have been attached to the turbines which replaced the water-wheel as the technology improved and water levels fell in the river.  Turbines could provide more power with less water.


The remains of the mill were listed as a heritage property in 2009.  After supplying energy to turn the water wheel, and later the turbine, the water was released back into the tail race through this opening in the wall.  The tail race then returned the water to the river.


In the woods just behind Maxwell’s Mill are the remains of an old vehicle.  This one is going to take a little more work to fix up than some of the ones seen on the tv show Counting Cars.


From the Little Rouge Creek to the Rouge River is a short walk along the Twyn Rivers Road. The bridge over The Rouge River has also been listed on Toronto’s inventory of  historic structures.  It is a metal Warren Truss Pony bridge made of 5 panels riveted together.  Just before the river passes under the road there is a large embankment on the east side of the river.  Two horizontal stripes of darker stone can be seen along the left-hand side of the picture.  While taking this picture I was surprised to smell rotting fish.  Near my feet was the remains of a salmon that had come upstream to spawn and die.


Rouge Park has much left to be explored.  Two previous posts looked at parts of the park. Toronto’s Only Suspension Bridge and Abandoned Passmore Avenue provide additional reading about sites in the park.

Google Maps link: Maxwell’s Mill

Like us at

Follow us at

Passmore Forest

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Passmore Forest is in the neighbourhood of L’Amoreaux in Scarborough.  It is named after Josue L’Amoreaux who lived between 1738 and 1834.  He was one of the first settlers in the area, arriving in 1808.  Josue was a loyalist, of French Huguenot beliefs, who fled to Canada after the American Revolution.  By the 1840’s there were two churches and in 1847 L’Amoreaux was given the designation of School Section #1 for Scarborough Township.  A post office was opened in 1854 but it wasn’t until 100 years later that the community was transformed into suburbia.  West Highland Creek is a tributary of Highland Creek which forms the eastern end of the Scarborough Bluffs.  The creek feeds L’Amoreaux Pond in a park known as L’Amoreaux North Park.


Passmore Forest is named after Frederick Fortescue Passmore who was born in England in 1824 and emigrated to Canada in 1845.  He served his apprenticeship under Sandford Flemming and was the draftsman on the St. Catharines Town Hall (1849).  In the 1850’s he listed himself as an architect, surveyor, and civil engineer.  Passmore is known for his survey of Scarborough township in 1850 and again in 1862.  There were 15 saw mills operating in the area by the early 1860’s and the amount of forest cover had dropped by 40 percent between the two surveys.  The cover photo shows one of the large pine trees that stand in the woodlot.

Along the side of L’Amoreaux lake, the trail passes this large wasp nest.  Nests grow in proportion to the size of the colony.  Nests will only be used for one season as only the fertilised female will survive the winter.  She will start a new nest in the spring in which to lay her eggs.  When the sterile females are born they become workers who tend the nest and see to its expansion as the colony grows.  Later in the year, the queen will produce some male wasps to fertilize the new generation of queen wasps.  These females will then seek shelter to survive the winter and start the cycle over again.


Near L’Amoreaux Pond there are two interpretive signs which tell a brief story about a native village that was found here in 2000.  When contractors were preparing to build a subdivision on the property near the pond they found native artifacts just below the top soil.  Experts were called in and before long a 2.6-hectare village belonging to the Huron-Wendat people was uncovered.  Eventually, 17 longhouses were uncovered as well as over 19,000 pieces of stone tools, copper beads, pottery and pipes.  Shells that likely originated on the east coast were found indicating that a vast trading network existed at the time. Estimates are that up to 1,000 people may have lived here for about 50 years.  No signs of fortification were found as there were no fence posts surrounding the village, one of about 25 villages on the north side of the Great Lakes that belonged to the Huron-Wendat.  The name of the village has been lost, but the dig site was named “Alexandra”.  This village was roughly the same size as the one uncovered at Crawford Lake.  There were no burials on the site and after the archaeological dig was completed the developers were allowed to go ahead and build single-family houses on the property.


A small footbridge crosses the West Highland Creek above a concrete catch basin.  The basin was full of plastic water bottles and other assorted garbage.  The trail leads from the water up a slight incline to Passmore Forest.


Thunderclouds contain small particles of ice that collide and cause an electrical charge to build up.  Trees and other objects on the ground can also build up an electrical charge and when the charge coming down from the clouds meets that of the tree an exchange of current takes place in what we call a lightning bolt.  This bolt of electricity is very hot, up to 54,000 degrees F.  This is about six times hotter than the surface of the sun and can burn the inside of a tree.  Many forest fires are started by lightning strikes.  The picture below shows the inside of a tree that has been struck by lightning.


River grapes have taken over a large part of the forest.  Their vines can climb to the tops of some of the tallest trees, reaching up to 115 feet in length.  These longer vines tend to have reduced fruit production with the younger, lower, vines having more grapes.


Another view across the pond in L’Amoreaux North Park.  The edge of the pond has a paved trail running around it with benches set at intervals for quiet enjoyment.  Ducks, geese and gulls were here on this day but herons are also common.


Passmore Forest isn’t large, as forests go, but it is a significant percentage of the old growth forest in this area.  F. F. Passmore lives on in the name of this forest as well as Passmore Avenue which has been abandoned in several places.

Google Maps link: Passmore Forest

Like us at

Follow us at

Ken Whillans Resource Management Area

Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016

The Ken Whillans Resource Management Area is an unique part of the Credit Valley Conservation network.  This is due to the fact that, along with conservation, they are also providing public access to fishing.  Bass, perch, and trout are all able to be caught during their respective seasons but the CVC recommends a catch-and-release program.  The park is located on the former Kidd property and has been used as a conservation area since 1954.


The resource management area is named after Ken Whillans who was the 46th mayor of Brampton.  He ran the city from 1982 until he drowned while on vacation in Prince Edward Island in 1990.  There is a link from the parking lot near the fishing ponds to the Caledon Trailway. The trail follows the old right of way for the Hamilton and North Western Railway.  Near where the trail crosses highway 10 there are four concrete culverts under the rail berm. These are old and starting to crumble but would not be from the original construction of 1877 as concrete was not in use for another 25 years.


Where the Caledon Trailway intersects with Hurontario Street (Center Road on the county survey) a 175-meter bridge has been constructed.  Just south of here the 1850’s hamlet of Sligo once stood near where the road made a switch back to ease the grade of the hill.  In 1857 about 50 people lived in the community where the road began its climb out of the Credit Valley onto the Peel Plain.  The post office closed in 1883 and the hamlet was lost to history except for the switch back which had taken the name Deadman’s Turn.  When the land was acquired in 1923 for the development of a highway, the switch back was left in place until 1949 when the road was straightened.  From the bridge, the trail continues east as it makes its way toward Cardwell Junction.


As a resource management area, they encourage visitors but not of the invasive species kind.  A brush is provided for you to clean your footwear to ensure you are not carrying pollen, spores, or seeds into the park.  Two ponds are located on the property.  One is known as Kidd Pond, after the original landowner, and the other is named Orchard Pond after the part of the homestead it covers.  The orchard can be seen as rows of dots on the county atlas near the larger black square that marks the home itself.  The Harvest Trail runs 2.3 kilometres around the two ponds while the Fisherman’s Walk extends for 300 meters between the two ponds.


Canoe, kayak and paddleboard rentals are available for $20/hour or $50 per day, once you make the $200 security deposit.  Fishing rods can be rented for $10 a day with a $20 security deposit.  A boat launch is provided near the parking lot.


Part of the control of invasive species that has become common throughout conservation lands in the GTA is the removal of ash trees damaged by Emerald Ash Borer insects.  It has left some of our woodlands looking rather thin but the loss of larger trees always means opportunities for smaller growth to succeed.  Planting programs are designed to replace lost trees with native species to help recreate a more natural local habitat.


Fishing is encouraged in the ponds at the conservation area.  Only children under 18 and seniors over 65 are allowed to keep trout, in their season.  All other people must practice catch and release or contribute their catch to the possession limit of the child or senior. Trout season runs from the fourth Saturday in April until September 30th.  Bass fishing is allowed during the season which runs from the fourth Saturday in June until November 30th.  All bass fishing is catch and release.  There are nine fishing piers plus the boat launch located around the two ponds.  Scattered in the branches around the fishing piers are the lost bobbers and lures that tell a story of fishing for trees.


The Autumn Meadowhawk is one of the later flying species of dragonflies.  The were formerly known as Yellow-legged Meadowhawks because they have yellow legs to go along with their red abdomens.  They are found along the edges of ponds in October and November.  This specimen was sunning itself on one of the boardwalks along the Kidd Pond.


The river grape, or vitis riparia, are growing in great abundance along the trail.  The grapes are particularly hardy and have been known to withstand winter temperatures of -57 Celcius.  They are also resistant to mildew and black rot which makes them of interest to domestic grape producers.  For over 100 years the genes of vitis riparia have been used to breed cold and fungal resistance into cultivated grape species.


The hoof of a horse is made of a material which is similar to a human toenail.  Although thicker and harder than the human counterpart it is prone to wear and damage in working animals.  Records from ancient Asia suggest that feet were wrapped in rawhide while the Romans had a type of hoof boot that they strapped on.  The idea of nailing a protective shoe to the hoof came around 900 AD.  Within 100 years it was common for a shoe with 6 nail holes to be used.  Iron was still a scarce commodity and so in the 11th to 13th centuries it was possible to pay your taxes with horseshoes.  Someone had been around the trails very recently and there were examples of horseshoe prints where you can see some of the nail holes.


The average dog produces about 340 grams of feces per day.  We have a stoop and scoop program in place for dog owners so our trails don’t become unusable.  A horse, on the other hand, produces over 22 kilograms of feces per day.  Why is this allowed to remain on our trails?  As a side note, horses are not allowed in the conservation area although they are welcome on The Caledon Trailway.


A small stream connects the two ponds on the western end and the trail continues to follow the shore of the Orchard Pond.  When you pass through the remains of the old orchard you’ll know that you are near the end of your trek.  From here the view back across the pond reveals the Niagara Escarpment and The Devil’s Pulpit at The Forks of The Credit.


Google Map link: Ken Whillans Resource Management Area

Like us at

Follow us at

Cardwell Junction

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Cardwell Junction came into being in 1877 when the Hamilton and Northwestern Railway (H&NW) made its way toward Barrie and intersected with the Toronto Grey and Bruce Railway (TG&B).  The TG&B was aligned east-west and was set on a berm to control the slope as the railway climbed the Caledon hills.  The picture below shows the berm as it exists today on the north side of the H&NW line.  The name Cardwell comes from the Federal Electoral District of Cardwell that existed from 1867 until 1903 when it was realigned into other ridings.


In order to allow the H&NW to pass under the TG&B a wooden trestle was built.  The wooden trestle was anchored on an abutment made of blocks of cut limestone.  Careful examination of the blocks reveals the tiny marine fossils that it is made of.  The earlier abutment is visible on the south side of the tracks where the rail corridor has been reclaimed for farming uses.  A dark stain in the field, perhaps from coal, shows where the line once ran.


The map below comes from the Digital Archives at McMaster University and dates to 1903. The TG&B had come under the ownership of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1884 and is shown as yellow on the map.  The H&NW had become part of the Grand Trunk Railway by this time and their property holdings are shown in green.  The two railways had been built using different track gauges and when the narrow gauge TG&B line was standardized in 1882 a connecting curve was built.  This allowed the construction of a shared station where passengers and freight could switch between the lines.  Notice how each company owned their half of the curve.  In 1903 the CPR had a single water tank where their end of the curve connected to the main line.  In 1904 they added a second tank, this octagonal one was a little larger than the first.


The Google Earth image below has been coloured to show the H&NW which runs just above the yellow line.  The TG&B ran just below the blue line.  They were connected with a curved track that can still be seen just outside the red line.  St. Andrews Road, marked as “road between concession iv & v” on the 1903 map, is crossed by both lines as it heads north.  An abandoned house sits just inside the connecting curve at the lower end.  The shared station must have sat pretty close to where the building with the blue roof stands at the mid-point.


The H&NW was operated by The Grand Trunk Railway before becoming part of the Canadian National Railway network.  The section through Cardwell Junction was abandoned in the 1960’s.  The former H&NW rail bed was purchased by Caledon in 1989 and has been repurposed as a hiking trail.  The Caledon Trailway uses 35 kilometers of the line to create a multi-use path.  The Trans Canada Trail, aka The Great Trail, was started in 1992 as part of Canada’s 125th-anniversary celebrations. When complete it will cover over 24000 km connecting the east, west and arctic coasts. Just over 20,000 kilometers are complete and the goal is to finish in time for next year’s 150th celebrations. My younger brother is commemorated at a pavilion in Calgary. This section shares the trail with The Caledon Trailway at Cardwell Junction. This was the first official section of the trail and Caledon East boasts the first pavilion on the trail.  Walking east from St. Andrews Road the TG&B bridge abutments are the primary reminders of the junction of the two railways.


The charter for the Toronto Grey and Bruce Railway was granted in 1868 with construction beginning the following year.  Passenger service to Orangeville was opened in 1871 with the line being extended to Owen Sound by 1873.  After being operated by the Ontario and Quebec Railway it was finally absorbed into the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1884.  The original trestle was replaced in 1925 with a new one set on concrete abutments.  The earlier abutments on the north side are hidden in the berm but they are still visible on the south side.  The north abutment on the TG&B has a date marker but it is badly worn and hidden behind grape vines for most of the summer.The portion of the line through Cardwell Junction was abandoned in 1932.


The view from standing atop the rail berm looking south along the TG&B.


This view from a similar position looks to the north where the water tanks once stood.  A brickyard was established at the junction in 1914 under the name of Bowlby Sand, Lime and Brick Company.  Located along the curve, they worked a clay deposit on the side of The Little Credit River until it was exhausted in the early 1920’s.


The view from atop the south abutment looking west along the H&NW railway.  This was a rare shot without people in it as the trail is well used by dog-walkers, cyclists, and joggers.


In 1893 Cardwell Junction had a population of 29 and by 1908 it had dropped to just 20. There are still houses visible on the Cardwell Junction curve but they are on private property.  From the hiking trail, one abandoned and slowly decaying house can be seen through the woods.


Bulrush, or cattail, seed hairs were used by some native peoples to line their moccasins with.  One Native American group used a word for the hairs that meant “fruit for papoose’s bed”.  It was also used for diapers, baby powder, and cradle boards.  It can be used in emergency situations to get a fire started.


On the west side of St. Andrews Road a gate now closes off the right of way from the former TG&B.  The rail allowance on the east side of the road is quickly being overgrown. Continuing west from here the rail line makes its way to the site of the Horseshoe Curve where a deadly accident occurred in 1907.


The trail through Cardwell Junction has an occasional railway spike showing through the fine gravel surface to help remind us of a bygone era.

Google Maps link: Caldwell Junction

Like us at

Follow us at