Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Credit Valley Trail

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Credit Valley Trail is a proposed trail that will run from Lake Ontario to Island Lake near Orangeville, covering a walking distance of 113 kilometres.  It roughly follows the Credit River, one of the major waterways in the GTA.  As such it was home to a lot of the activity in the pioneer era.  The fact that the northern tip of the trail can be reached from midtown Toronto in just over an hour makes it ideal for a through hike because each of the sections is within a short drive of home.  Credit Valley Conservation and the Credit Valey Trail Committee have released a map showing the proposed route as well as 20 Heritage Destinations as a prelude to the official plan which is due this fall.  Hiking the GTA has visited all 20 Heritage Destinations over the past 3 years and presents the following summary of each of them to get you primed for the newest trail in the GTA. A link to a longer article with more pictures is given along with a photo from the article.  You don’t need to wait for the official launch of the trail to get out and see what’s out there.

1.) Port Credit

Where the Credit River empties into Lake Ontario The harbour has been active since 1834 for an industry known as “stone-hooking” where shale was collected from the lake bottom for use in construction.  Today the Ridgetown, a 100-year old ship, guards the entrance to the harbour.

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2.) Erindale

Erindale Park is formerly Erindale Lake from the days when a power generating plant was built in the small community.  The historic town retains many of its older buildings but the old hydroelectric dam in the park is an obvious attraction.  The view from the top of the dam gives a clue to the depth of the lake it created.

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3.) Riverwood

The Riverwood Estate has become a major park in Mississauga and features a 100-year-old stone mansion.  The estate also had the first swimming pool in the future city and has a cool set of stairs hiding in the woods.

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4.) Streetsville

The Hyde Mill in Streetsville was in business as early as 1840 and in 1906 was converted to become the first municipally owned power plant in Ontario.  Streetsville retains much of its historic character and still feels like a small town in the middle of the city.

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5.) Meadowvale

Meadowvale has a cultural heritage designation because of the number of historic buildings that it has retained.  The Silverthorne grist mill was demolished but the foundation and the raceways remain.

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6.) Churchville

Churchville developed around the mills that Amaziah Church built in 1815.  The community has one of two one-lane bridges that remain in Brampton.  This steel pony truss bridge was built in 1907.

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7.) Eldorado

Eldorado Park was originally a mill site that was later turned into a family park.  The Toronto Suburban Railway passed through the park and they turned the park into a destination for their passengers.  The park still has plenty of its historic character left to explore including the remains of the old dam.

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8.) Huttonville

John McMurchy’s woollen mill can be seen from Mississauga Road and was a major employer in the small community of Huttonville.  A powerhouse was built and the river dammed to ensure a steady supply of water to power it all.  The remains of the dam were badly damaged by Hurricane Hazel.

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9.) Norval

The town of Norval was home to several mills and was a stage coach stop on road between Guelph and Toronto.  The old mill dam still spans the Credit River.

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10.) Georgetown

The Barber Paper Mill stands beside the river in a state of ongoing decay while a developer toys with the idea of preserving the heritage buildings within the context of a new building.  Downstream the Barbers built a dynamo to power their paper mill.

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11.) Glen Williams

Glen Willimas was a local hub of textile manufacturers in the 1800’s with three knitting mills competing with each other.  The town is full of history and many of the old buildings house little shops today.

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12.) Terra Cotta

Terra Cotta Conservation Area has changed a lot over the years and today is more natural than it has been in many decades.  There is a 12 metre waterfall in the park along with several different trails to keep you exploring.

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13.) Cheltenham

The town of Cheltenham has several historical buildings remaining as well as their old mill.  Outside of town the Badlands have exposed the Queenston Shale which was exploited at the Cheltenham Brickyards.

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14.) Boston Mills

The town of Boston Mills has all but vanished and now the school has been converted to a morgue and stands in the graveyard.  On the edge of “town”, a number of old country club chalets have been abandoned and are rapidly collapsing.

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15.) Inglewood

Inglewood is a railway town in that it was built at the intersection of The Hamilton & Northwestern Railway and the Credit Valley Railway.  It retains much of its railway heritage as well as the Riverside Woolen Mills.

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16.) Belfountain

Like many communities, the town of Belfountain grew up around a mill site.  Later a park was built that featured an artificial version of Niagara Falls that could be viewed from a swing bridge.

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17.) Cataract

Mills were built at the Cataract Falls starting in 1858 and a community known as Churchville was started.  Soon the name changed to Cataract and by 1899 the mill had been converted to the production of electricity under the name of Cataract Electric Company.

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18.) Alton

Alton was an industrial centre in the late 1800’s with several mills lining Shaw’s Creek before it reaches the Credit River.  A few of the knitting mills remain in town and there are still dams with waterfalls at a couple of sites.

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19.) Melville

A mill with a mill pond along with the Credit Valley Railway and the Toronto Grey & Bruce Railway were enough to get the community of Melville started.  Today the former mill pond remains as well as ghost line of the TG&B.

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20.) Orangeville – Island Lake

The Credit Valley Trail ends at the Island Lake Conservation Area.  The property formerly belonged to the Island family but when the kettle lake was flooded a reservoir was created for Orangeville and a conservation area began.  Boardwalks and bridges allow you to walk an 8-kilometre trail around and across the lake.

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The proposed trail is not complete yet and may take some years to come to fruition.  We have another twenty posts of places that fall between the Heritage Destinations that the Credit Valley Conservation and Credit Valley Trail have identified.  Perhaps we’ll share them in a future post.

Google Maps Links for each point of interest are included in the stories.

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Boston Mills

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The community of Boston Mills was known by several names over the years including The Credit, Caslor’s Corners and Boston.  It was originally founded in the 1820’s as The Credit when the River ran through the only intersection in town.  By the 1850’s Hiram Caslor had built a saw, grist and carding mill and Caslor’s Corners was the common name.  The post office came to town in the 1860’s and the name Boston was selected, supposedly after the song “The Long Road To Boston”.

On the 1877 county atlas map below, the community of Boston Mills is shown simply as Boston.  Chingaucousey Road is yellow and Boston Mills Road is light grey.  The Credit River has been coloured blue as has a small tributary flowing through Robert Wilkinson’s property.  The section of the Hamilton North Western Railway that we walked is coloured green as are some sections of roads around Boston Mills that we walked along.

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A railway line runs up either side of the Credit River.  On the south side, the Credit Valley Railway made its way toward Orangeville.  This section of track is still active today between Brampton and Orangeville.  On the north side of the river ran the Hamilton & Northwestern Railway.  Most recently the Canadian National operated it until 1987 when it was closed and the rails were removed.  The right of way has been converted into the Caledon Trailway.  We parked beside it on Chingaucousey Road where there is free parking.  There are a number of abandoned chalets that served the Caledon Country Club from the 1960’s into the 1980’s.  One of the chalets can be seen from the parking spot.

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The Caledon Trailway also shares this path with the Trans Canada Trail.  It is a popular spot for cyclists, dog walkers, joggers and the occasional blogger.

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There are many side trails that run through the woods on the former Robert Wilkinson property.  We explored a few of them and ended up on the tributary of the Credit River that runs through the property.  The rail line runs high above the ravine floor and can be seen in the picture below as the straight line where the sky meets the ground.  The concrete culvert is a later addition.  The rail line originally crossed the ravine on a wooden trestle.  For stability and maintenance purposes these old trestles were often filled in by dumping gravel through the tracks until a mound was formed.  The culvert was added at the time that the trestle was filled in.

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The corner of Chingoucousey Road (formerly second line west) and Boston Mills Road (formerly 32nd sideroad) is bisected by the Credit River.  This allows one bridge to serve both roads.  The modern bridge was built in 1964 and the abutments for the former alignment can still be easily seen from the bridge.  The former road emerged directly in front of the gates of Boston Mills Cemetery.

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In May 1832 David Williams was struck and killed by a falling tree.  They took the bark from the tree and made a coffin out of it.  David was buried on a small hillside overlooking the Credit River.  Other local pioneers who needed non-denominational burial grounds were laid to rest alongside Williams.  In 1858 the plot of land was sold to the community by John Marshall for three grains of wheat representing the past, present and future.  In 1896 the cemetery was expanded by an acre and it grew again in 1908. There is a large grave marker shaped like a cross that identifies the Sinclair plot which remained private until 1921 when the cemetery went into perpetual care.  The picture below shows the gates to the cemetery.  They were built in 1931 as identified by the small stone marker on the right gate post.  1823 on the left gate post records the first burial.

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In 1969 the school property was sold when the school board started to amalgamate schools.  From the county atlas, it appears that there was a school on the south side of Boston Mills Road in 1877.  The one room stone schoolhouse was built in 1888 and is designated as Caledon SS No. 8.  When it was added to the cemetery it became a mortuary to store the deceased for the winter while they await burial in the spring.  The surrounding grounds have been used for burials making for the unusual combination of a schoolhouse in a graveyard.  There are stories of hauntings in the cemetery and claims that there are times when lights can be seen in the old schoolhouse.  Floating orbs and playing children can be seen along with an old priest among the stones in the old graveyard.

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Returning to the car we passed the farm that belonged to John Marshall in the 1870’s. The cemetery is located on the corner of this property which still has a well maintained century old barn.  Many types of farming no longer rely on the barn for storage and a lot of the ones in Southern Ontario have either fallen down or been removed so that the wood can be reused.

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Boston Mills was considered for recognition as a cultural heritage district but much of the early town has been lost.  The old schoolhouse isn’t even recognized as a heritage building as there are only three old schools in Caledon on the heritage register.

Google Maps Link: Boston Mills

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