Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pioneer Cemetery Cairns

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Vaughan has embraced a program of repairing and maintaining their pioneer cemeteries. Many of these are still associated with places of worship and are being maintained by the congregation. Others mark the location of a previous church building that no longer exists. These are being restored in the form of commemorative cairns.

Presbyterian Free Church Purpleville. The Presbyterian church in this area was started in 1846 in the kitchen of Jane Lucas’ log cabin. A church was built around 1860 and the last person to be buried in the cemetery was in 1879. The church building was disassembled and used in local farm buildings and the cemetery deteriorated badly. It was the first of the Vaughan restorations having been completed in 1962.

Hope Primitive Methodist Church. Hope or Nixon’s Chapel was built around 1840 as a Primitive Methodist Church. In 1884 the various Methodist congregations joined together into the Methodist Church of Canada. When the United Church was created in 1925 Hope joined and became the Hope United Church. By 1966 the congregation had dwindled to the point where they decided to join the Maple United Church and the building was sold and dismantled. The cemetery was restored in 1963 while the church was still active on the site.

Kleinberg Wesleyan Methodist Church. Methodist congregations were formed in many small towns in Ontario with the Kleinberg one being founded in 1856. The church building was erected in 1859 but by 1869 was too small for the congregation. The Kleinberg Evangelical Lutheran Church was unable to maintain their building and so they sold it to the Methodists along with the burial grounds behind it. In 1925 when they joined the United Church a new building was constructed in town and the old one demolished. The cemetery contains members of both congregations and was restored in 1964 in the shape of a cross with a flower garden in the middle.

Old St. Stephen’s Langstaff. An Anglican Church was built in 1838 on a plot of land donated by one of the Keffer brothers of Sherwood.  The property was owned by a member of the Zion Lutheran Church, honouring a longstanding history of cooperation between the two denominations.  In 1895 they built a new church on Keele Street on the north end of Maple. While looking at the names and dates on the markers I noticed that there were a lot of tombstones marking the graves of people who lived less than a year.  From the days of the first settlers in North America until the mid-1800s about 30% of infants did not survive their first year. The cairn was constructed in 1965. More can be read about this church and cemetery in our feature post Pioneer Heartbreak.

Rupert’s Chapel in Sherwood. In the early 1880’s Adam and Ann Rupert lived on Lot 16 Concession 3 of Vaughan.  On April 23, 1939 Peter Rupert deeded an acre of land for the construction of a Wesleyan Methodist church.  The Methodists worshiped here from 1840 until 1870 when they opened a new building in Maple.  The church building was purchased in 1885 by the Sherwood Church of Christ (Disciples) which had been meeting in homes prior to that.  They used the building until 1925 after which it sat empty until it was dismantled in 1944. The tombstones were collected into a cairn in 1966. More about the town of Sherwood can be found in our feature Sherwood – Ghost Towns of the GTA.

img_5233

Fisherville Presbyterian Church. The only surviving building from Fisherville is the Presbyterian church which was built in 1856.  It was located near the north east corner of Dufferin and Steeles but moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village in 1960. The remaining tombstones were collected into a cairn in 1967. The story of Fisherville can be read in our feature Fisherville – Ghost Towns of the GTA.

img_5323-1

Pinegrove Congregational Church. This church was established in 1840 in a large frame structure that served the community of Pine Grove until 1864 at which time it was decided to build a new church on Islington Avenue. The old frame building was eventually demolished and the cemetery left until it was restored in 1968.

Cairn

Purpleville Wesleyan Church. Founded in 1840 this congregation met in homes until their church building was finally completed around 1850. The congregation remained small and by 1900 most of the remaining Methodists has either moved away or started attending church in Teston. The building stood vacant until being demolished in 1915 and the cemetery was restored in 1969.

Cairn

Edgeley Meeting House. The oldest existing church structure erected in Vaughan is the Edgeley Meeting House which was built in 1824. When the Mennonite congregation split in 1889 weekly meetings were discontinued. At first they were held monthly but by 1923 were discontinued. In 1976 the building was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village while the cemetery was restored in 1985.

Cairn

St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church. This is the only cairn presented here that is attached to a site with an active church congregation. The Upper Corner church was established in 1837 but erected its first building in 1844. A beautiful brick building was constructed in 1889 to replace the original and it remains in use at this time, although the congregation is meeting on-line due to Covid-19. Something the founders could never have imagined. The pioneer stones were restored in 1990.

Cairn

St. Paul’s 1889 church building.

Teston Wesleyan Church is an exception to this process of restoration. The congregation began in 1811 meeting in various homes. in 1845 they built a log church on the side of Teston Road. When it burned down in the late 1860’s the church was replaced with a new one at the main intersection in town. The early pioneers now lay in unmarked graves with no tombstones at all. Perhaps they are in storage for some later restoration project.

img_2798

There are several other restored cairns around Vaughan which will eventually be photographed and added to this collection.

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

Also look for us on Instagram

Lambton Mills – Ghost Towns of the GTA

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Lambton Mills has changed considerably since the days when it was a mill town on the Humber River, half in Toronto and half in Etobicoke.  It isn’t a ghost town in the classic sense because so many people still live there but the ghost of the pioneer community is still evident.  To explore we parked in the small lot on the west side of the Humber River at the end of Old Dundas Street.

Lambton

Dundas Street used to cross the Humber River on an iron bridge set on stone abutments.  When the new high level bridge was built Dundas Street was realigned and Old Dundas Street lost its bridge.  The old stone abutments have have been collapsing and there isn’t much left on the west side of the river.

unnamed (15)

Lambton Mills grew up around several mills and soon became home to blacksmiths, inn keepers and many mill workers.  North of Old Dundas Street you can still find the remains of the earthen berm that was part of the early mill dam in town.

unnamed (20)

The archive photo below shows the large mill that William Pearce Howland built on the south side of Dundas Street.  Howland went on to be one of the Fathers of Confederation and then served as the second Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

image1123_orig

A short walk south along the river brings you to the remains of an earlier dam.  This helps to mark the site of another mill.

unnamed (19)

Millwood Mills was built by Thomas Fisher on the west side of the river and south of Dundas Street.  It is shown on the historical atlas as G.M. for grist mill on the Fisher Estate.  The two story mill burned down in 1847 and was replaced with a five story building.  After Fisher’s death in 1874 the mill passed to his son who operated it for four more years before passing away himself.  In 1880 the mill was converted to steam and became eventually became a rope manufacturer named Canada Woolen Mills.  After a fire in 1901 it was permanently abandoned and now exists as a set of stone foundations in the trees.

unnamed (21)

 

Lambton House was operated as a hotel on the Dundas Road beginning in 1848 as a rest stop and watering hole for travelers and horses alike.  It served as a hotel for 140 years until closing in 1988.  The property has changed a lot over the years and high rise apartments now stand all around the hotel and on the former site of the mill.  The building itself has also changed over the years.  Looking above the rear door on the east end of the building you can see where there is a set of lines that form an upside down V below the roof line.  Lines like this can often be seen on older homes where a former porch has been removed.  In the case of Lambton House, the pioneer equivalent of a garage was attached at the back of the hotel.

unnamed (11)

The photo below from the Etobicoke Historical Society shows the hotel as it appeared a century ago.  The rear entrance on the side led directly to the drive shed where the horses sheltered.  It certainly is a more attractive hotel without the apartment buildings in the background.

Lambton House

Thomas Colton owned one of the two blacksmith shops on Dundas on the west side of the river.  It was here that he built his story and a half family home complete with a rounded window in the front gable.

unnamed (14)

The Methodist congregation in Lambton Mills needed a new church building and local architect Meade Creech designed and built one for them in 1877.  The first services being held on March 3, 1878 in the new brick building with Gothic architecture and a large rose petal window above the main entrance.  The congregation joined the United Church in 1925 and soon needed a new building.  The old one was sold and a new retail addition was put on the front and it was turned into a store.  The city of Toronto has over 4,500 properties on their heritage register.  This means that they cannot be altered without city council approval.  There’s another 11,700 properties that are heritage listed which means that although they have been recognized as having heritage value they are basically unprotected.  Developers must give the city 60 days notice of their intention to demolish a listed building.   From the vacant lot that now exists where the church used to be it seems those 60 days have passed already.

unnamed (12)

The house at 30 Government Road was built in 1870 for Harry Phillips who was the postmaster for the town.  This little house has a rounded arch window in the upper gable that is typical of Lambton Mills and a feature of Italinate architecture.  The four leaf clover motif in the bargeboard on the gable is also typical of the era.

unnamed (13)

John Berry took over running Millwood Mills in 1890 and two years later he built his house at 125 Kingsway.  The mill failed and in 1894 he moved to Quebec to run a textile mill there.  He returned to Lambton Mills in 1914 and became treasurer of Etobicoke in 1918.  He served as treasurer for twenty years, walking to Islington every day because he never owned a car.

unnamed (16)

A pair of historic homes stand at 7 and 9 Government Road where mill workers lived during the mid-1800’s.

unnamed (17)

Another historic home stands at 23 Government Road.  This simple one and a half story house has the Lambton Mills vernacular gable window with a rounded arch.

unnamed (18)

Lambton Mills has been totally surrounded with development but there’s still a large number of historic buildings on the west side of the Humber River.  A walk through the area reveals many old gems complete with beautiful gardens.

Also see our feature Old Mill to Lambton Mills as well as the story of Millwood Mills

Google Maps Link: Lambton Mills

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

Also look for us on Instagram

Marylake

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Sir Henry Pellatt was instrumental in bringing electricity to Toronto from Niagara Falls and invested in railways to accumulate his fortune.  He started to build Casa Loma in Toronto in 1911 and also purchased a large tract of land in King Township where he built his country retreat at the same time.  He honoured his wife Mary Pellatt by naming the property Lake Marie.

Pellatt built in stone and worked to match the feel of Casa Loma and that included having a set of stone gates right at the corner of Keele Street and 15th Sideroad.  This was the original driveway into the estate but since the lane was moved a few meters west a statue of  Mary has been installed in front of the gates.

Gates

The gatekeepers house was also built of stone and this little story and a half home was designed to compliment the mansion that was being built near the lake.

gatehouse

Henry Pellatt built an elegant estate home where he could relax with his wife and enjoy the country lifestyle.  He entertained the Eaton family and hosted riding and hunting parties for high profile guests including Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

House

The estate house features towers and a turret like his main home at Casa Loma.

Tower

Pellatt build a large barn out of bricks rather than the typical wooden structure found on most farms.  Everything about the barn was done on a grand scale including the two large silos which were topped with wooden cones.  Many windows have been broken and the cones have caved in but the long term plan is to restore the barn and possibly use it for events.  The front door to the barn is set in an alcove with a recessed pattern in the bricks above it.

door

Pellatt operated a dairy farm while he lived on the property but in 1935 he was forced to give up his estate.  In 1942 the Augustinians acquired the property for their monastery and they continued the farm operations.  They changed the name to Marylake.

dairy

The maintenance sheds are extensive but appear to be lacking in maintenance themselves.  The far end of the sheds has a small former office in it as well as being used for the current maintenance of the grounds.

Shed

The gift shop is located in a log cabin that has an extension on each end and a small entrance porch.  This section of the property was listed as belonging to T. H. Ince in 1877 and the central part of this cabin was likely built from the trees that were cut when the land was cleared.  Although the corners are tightly dovetailed, the logs themselves show the marks of being hand-hewn.

cabin

In 1945 the Augustinians held their first mass at Marylake and since then have continually upgraded the property to make it a site of pilgrimage for thousands of people.  The Shrine of Our Lady Grace at Marylake has three levels and is built of field stone collected on the property.  The building was completed in 1964 and features a 100 foot tower with a wall of stained glass windows.

Church

The Great Crucifix at the start of the Rosary Path is one of the newest features of the site having been completed in 2016.

cross

The Rosary Path was developed in 2014 with the ground breaking ceremony being held on September 6th.  The Rosary Path is 1.5 kilometres long making it the largest rosary in  the world.  A rosary generally has sets of ten beads known as a decade.  There is an additional large bead for each decade and including the beads that attach the crucifix there is a total of 59 beads on a five decade rosary.  The 59 beads along the Rosary Path have each been donated.

rosary

The beads are designed so that you can kneel in each one as you pray your way along the rosary.

bead

Along the Rosary Path is also a display of the fourteen stations of the cross beginning with Jesus being condemned and finishing with laying Him in the tomb.

empty

Marylake has become a place of pilgrimage for Catholics from all around the world and will continue to draw the faithful for years to come.

Google Maps link: Marylake

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

Also look for us on Instagram

Nashville Conservation Reserve

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Nashville Conservation Reserve is made up of over 900 hectares of land that was bought up by the Conservation Authority in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel there were plans to create several large flood control reservoirs.  The lands in this conservation reserve would have been developed into a large pond created by damming the Humber River.  Funding wasn’t made available and the property was left to passive recreational uses.

On a previous visit to the Conservation Reserve we had followed the old road allowance for Kirby Road and had not ventured too far into the actual park.  We returned to do a further exploration, once again parking at Kirby Road and Huntington Road.

unnamed

Structurally the bridge is in bad shape.  The steel reinforcement is exposed everywhere and large chunks of concrete have already fallen away.  The TRCA Management Plan for Nashville Conservation Reserve included a clean-up of the bridge in 2015 that removed a lot of the deteriorating concrete.  A similar bridge over the Humber River on Old Major Mackenzie Drive serves a single house on the one side of the bridge.  The City of Vaughan is legally responsible to maintain the bridge for the family that lives there.  It is estimated that it will cost about $800,000 dollars to repair that structure.

unnamed (9)

As we saw on our previous visit to the reserve the bridge no longer serves anything but pedestrian traffic on the Humber Valley Heritage Trail.  Kirby Road through this section was abandoned in the 1970’s and the bridge closed to vehicular traffic.  With the cost of repairs likely to be similar to the Old Major Mackenzie bridge it looks like the days of this bridge are numbered.  The official plan is to permanently close the trail on both sides of the bridge sometime in the next few years.  The view from below the bridge supports the idea that it should be removed before it collapses into the river and creates a flooding obstacle.

unnamed (1)

With the spread of dog-strangling vines and the subsequent decline in common milkweed it was feared that monarch butterfly populations could suffer decline.  It appears from personal observation that this year has been good to the butterfly population and there are plenty of examples to be seen every time we go out hiking.

IMG_8478

Just past the bridge and near the top of the hill we made a left turn to enter the northern loop trail through the woods.  Trails are marked with blue slashes and were all but deserted as we made our way along.

unnamed (7)

Northern Tooth fungus is typically found on Maple Trees where it grows in densely packed shelves from wounds in the tree.  Over time it kills the heart of the tree leaving it hollow and susceptible to being blown over in strong wind storms.  One of the trees along the trail has several large patches growing out of it but it appears that it is the only tree in the area to be suffering from this fungus.  Undoubtedly this tree has already been destroyed, it just hasn’t fallen over yet.

unnamed (3)

The carrots we enjoy at dinner time are cultivars of wild carrots, also known as Queen Anne’s Lace.  A cultivar is a plant that has been selected because it has a desirable trait that it will continue to pass along.  The trait that has been cultivated from the wild carrot is our domesticated carrot.  The flowers on Queen Anne’s Lace are white and clustered in dense umbels.  Among all the white flowers was a single plant which had all four or five umbels that were pink coloured.

unnamed (5)

Artist Bracket or Artist Conk is a bracket fungus that grows on trees where it decays the heart of the tree.  When they are young they are white but quickly turn darker as they age.  When the spore bearing surface below is scratched it forms dark lines that become permanent when the conk dries. Artists use these to create permanent pictures.

unnamed (6)

There were several small mushrooms growing in a cluster at the base of a rotting log.  Orange Mycena produces an orange pigment known as leinafulvene.  It has been shown to have antibiotic properties as well as being toxic to certain tumor cells.

unnamed (8)

Nashville Conservation Reserve is still largely unexplored and we’ll have to come back sometime to see what is happening with the old bridge.

Google Maps Link: Nashville Conservation Reserve

Like us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

Also look for us on Instagram

The Cober Dunkard Church

Friday, August 7, 2020

Jacob Engle was one of the founders of the Dunkard sect of Mennonites in Pennsylvania and in 1808 was organizing settlers in York County.  Meetings were held in homes for the first 80 years even though a large Meeting House was built at Heise Hill in 1877.  Gormley was about 10 miles away and people in the area west of Yonge Street continued to meet in homes for the next 11 years.  Sixteen families hosted the church including that of Peter Cober (green on the map below) and several different Baker, Boyer, Doner and Heise homes.  Mennonties and other Anabaptist denominations were known for their belief that anyone baptized as a child needed to be re-baptized as an adult.  The Dunkards were named because of their belief in “dunking” people through immersion.

Cober

In 1839 Peter Cober donated a small parcel of land on his property at Lot 12, Concession 2 in Vaughan Township for a cemetery.  Today it is known as the Baker-Cober Cemetery because the land was donated by the brothers-in-law Peter Cober and Michael Baker. Although it contains the remains of some of the first settlers in the area the cemetery is still active with the most recent burial being in 2010.  One of the truly unusual aspects of this cemetery is the pioneer styling of some of the recent burials.  They seek to keep the simplicity of the earliest buries including the tradition of reporting how long a person lived.  Today we tend to record birth and death dates.

In 1888 the congregation decided that it was time to build a permanent place of worship.  By this time the property had passed into the hands of George Cober.  He donated land south of the cemetery for the construction of a church.  Nicholas Cober constructed the building of white pine with no adornment.

The floor remains the way it was built without even the adornment of a coat of paint.  The benches and the stove provided a minimum of comfort and in the winter the congregants would sometimes sit closer to the stove.  On October 21, 1888 the first service was held in the new church but records from George Cober indicate that house meetings continued into 1896.

Peter Cober attained the position of Bishop in the church and conducted services in homes for many years.  It was Bishop Cober who introduced services in English in 1860.  Even as the German services were being replaced, the custom continued until 1916 of closing the service with a hymn sung in German.

The pioneers had to travel across roads that were often muddy or snow packed by horse and carriage.  A drive shed was added to give a place to shelter the animals during the service.  The Cober Dunkard church shed is the only surviving church shed in Vaughan Township.

They don’t park horse and buggy here as much anymore and so the space is in use for washrooms which are not provided in the little structure.  The cubicle that can be seen at this end of the shed is the ladies washroom while the outhouse for the men is at the other end.

George Cober was likely born at home on this piece of property in 1826, as was the custom at that time.  He continued to farm the property when his father passed on and in 1916 he passed on.  His burial service was conducted in the church that he donated the land for and then he was buried in the graveyard that bears his name.  I imagine that George saw relatively little of the world outside his community.

img_5072

In 1935 services were switched from every two weeks to just monthly and now the church can be used by appointment only.

Google Maps Link: Cober Dunkard Church

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

Also look for us on Instagram.

Maple Nature Reserve

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Maple Nature Reserve is 35 hectares of the Oak Ridges Moraine near Dufferin Street and Teston Road.  Much of the property was used as a Ministry of Natural Resources office complex including and old quonset hut that had been decommissioned and has since been removed.  Access can be had from four locations but I had decided to look at it on my lunch on Friday and so I parked at the lot beside the old ministry building on Dufferin Street.  I went for a brief walk and got my first ever picture of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo which assured that I would return on Saturday to see what other surprises the reserve held.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo are distinctive in their call and are hard to spot because they will stand still and even hunch down to try and hide heir white bellies.  They are helpful to the forest because they are one of the few birds that can eat hairy caterpillars.  They can eat as many as 100 tent caterpillars in a single meal.  You might also find them feasting in an area where there are a lot of cicadas.

IMG_8389

The ministry building is currently vacant with all the services, including City of Vaughan Archives, having moved to city hall.  It is just one of the buildings on the site that is awaiting decision of its future.  The trail down the hill from here leads to a larger parking lot and some washroom facilities.

For Saturday’s adventure I decided to park in the circle that can be found in the first driveway east of Dufferin Street on Teston Road.  This leads to the Arboretum Trail which loops around most of the northern section of the nature reserve.   The trails are wide but climb up and down the moraine and although sections like the Arboretum Side Trail claim to have steep sections they are quite manageable.

img_4952

At one point along the trail there is a cluster of Veitch’s Blue Globe Thistles.  These produce a flower head the size of a golf ball  and a few of them were starting to open.  Globe Thistles have lovely flowers considering the less desirable prickly leaves on them and have been imported for use as garden flowers.  This escape is attracting a hover fly that is coming in to look for pollen.

Where the East Don flows through the park there are a couple of old buildings sitting near a small pond.  These have been shuttered most likely awaiting demolition as the area is slowly re-naturalized.

It was a nice day for the Painted Turtle to crawl up on a log in the pond and start basking.  Water is a poor conductor of heat and so turtles will crawl up onto a log and soak up heat from both the log and the sunshine.  This allows them to regulate their body temperature to between 32 and 35 degrees celsius.  Basking also allows a turtle to absorb UVB which is needed for the absorption of calcium and it allows them to dry out causing leeches and parasites to fall off.

IMG_8396

South of the parking lot is the area that once held a quonset hut and parking lot used by the ministry.  Both have been removed and the area has been contoured to allow for pools to form when there is a lot of rain.  Known as Ephemeral Ponds the shallow spots also fill up with water in the spring when the snow melts.  They provide small habitats that are suitable for amphibians that come to eat the insects that abound when the ponds are full.  If you come at the right time you have a chance to see Spotted Salamanders in the ponds at Maple Nature Reserve.  The trails in this section of the park cross the Don River on a new foot bridge and boardwalk.

Scarlet Waxy Cap have a slimy cap with waxy gills and white spores.  They are sometimes referred to as Scarlet Fading Waxy Caps because the colour will fade to yellow as the mushroom ages.  They are considered edible but as always we leave the plants to do their natural cycle in the hopes that others will enjoy seeing them or subsequent generations.

With just over 3 kilometres of trails this is an area that can be completed in a single trip providing you do a couple of sections twice.

On your way to Maple Nature Reserve you may well pass the last church drive shed in Vaughan Township at the Cober Dunkard Church.

Google Maps Link: Maple Nature Reserve

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

Also look for us on Instagram

Goldie Mill Guelph

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Goldie’s Mill ruins in Guelph are part of a legacy that goes back to 1827 when David Gilkison built a sawmill on this site beside the Speed River.  Two doctors built a grist mill named Wellington Mills in 1845 but W. Clark and H. Orton lost their mill to a fire just five years later.  The mill was rebuilt in stone and given a new name, The People’s Mills.  After this new building burned in 1864 the land was bought by James Goldie.  He expanded the mill and completed a new stone building in 1866.  The Wellington Archives post card below shows the mill as it appeared in the early 1890’s.

08081

The Goldie family continued to operate and expand the mills until 1918 when they sold the operation.  It continued as a mill until the spring of 1929 when a flood washed out the dam.  The building was once again destroyed by fire in 1953 and has been left as a ruin ever since.  The picture below shows part of one wall.  The limestone that was used in the construction was all quarried and dressed on the site.  The masonry around the windows is quite impressive.

 

IMG_4799 (1)

Over the years the site added a cooperage to make barrels to ship the ground flour in as Goldie’s Mill became one of the primary producers in the area.  James Goldie was well respected and even served as the President of the Canadian Millers’ Association.  A foundry, tannery, piggery and distillery were all part of Goldie’s operations over the years.

IMG_4798

Industrial uses over the years have left the soils on the site with contamination and the work of the weather and the Speed River have created several sink holes.  For this reason the city decided to fence the site to keep the public out while they did further assessments.  It was found the most of the chemical waste on the mill site was about 0.75 metres below the surface but was somewhat less in some places.  The remediation plan includes adding a membrane where the soil is thin and then new soil and mulch.  This will fix the sink holes and eliminate any human impacts from the chemicals in the soil.  It is expected that the soil and sink hole repairs will cost $450,000.

IMG_4804

The building is also being stabilized and repaired so that it will be safe to use by the public.  The site has become popular for weddings which are expected to resume in the park in 2021 if the work is completed by then and there are no other delays.

IMG_4808

There are ruins on both sides of the Speed River and large sections of foundations are buried along the north and northwest sides of the building.

IMG_4811

The brick chimney sits on a foundation of cut limestone blocks.

IMG_4813 (1)

The 90-foot tall chimney is part of the heritage designation and has already been restored.  There is a plan to relocate a pair of Chimney Swifts to take up residence on Goldie Mill chimney.

IMG_4792

The remnants of the mill dam are in the river just upstream from the mill ruins.  The previous dam and mill pond were much larger than those left today.

IMG_4814

Across the street from the mill is the only other piece of architecture on Cardigan Street to survive from the 1850’s.  It was built in 1853 as a tavern and home for Bernard Kelly.  It was the common drinking hole for workers from the mills that operated along the river.  When Kelly died on 1882 James Goldie bought the place and rented it out as accommodations for some of his workers.  In 1911 the old inn was once again up for sale and this time it was purchased by the Stewart family who lived there until 1988.  It was eventually restored in 1996 to the original splendor.

IMG_4815

The picture below shows Kelly’s Tavern as it appeared in 1977, prior to restoration.  Notice that the door on the right has been closed and bricked in and all of the window shutters have been removed.  It has since been renovated and turned into four little apartment units.

1977

It will certainly be interesting to see how the restorations turn out and what has been done to preserve the building for future generations to enjoy.

The Rockwood Woolen Mill in Rockwood Park are also well worth a read and a visit.

Google Maps Link: Goldie Mill Georgetown

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

Also, look for us on Instagram

 

William T. Foster Woods

Saturday, July 18, 2020

William T. Foster Woods is located on Islington Avenue, just north of Major Mackenzie Drive.  The parking lot is easily overlooked and like the trails, completely underutilized.  This little nature preserve is named after a man who spent 36 years working in forestry, including a stint as Deputy Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.  At the time of William’s passing in 1989 he had been chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority for the previous 4 years.  William T. Foster Woods is located on the eastern part of the original homestead of Joseph Capner.  When Capner and his wife Charlotte arrived from England in 1830 they settled on lot 21, just outside of Kleinburg.  The 1880 county atlas below has their property outlined in green while Islington Avenue is shaded brown.

Capner

In order to claim the title for their lot early farmers had to clear at least 5 acres of land and fence it. The logs from the trees they removed were used to make the original log home and rail fencing.  The Capners raised 10 children in their first home.  In 1862 they got around to building the present house to replace the log cabin.  The bricks for the home were made on the property as were some used in the Kleinberg train station when it was built in 1870.

IMG_8255

I always think that people who take the time to put a date stone on their homes are showing their pride of workmanship.  Their expectation must be that it’s going to last long enough for people to appreciate the passage of time.  This one is approaching 160 years and looking fine for the age.

IMG_8256

From the parking lot there are several trails that you can follow, the first one being a circle around a large stone that bears a plaque in honour of William T. Foster (1925-1989).  This pathway is getting overgrown but it may just be that the strange times were living in causes a lack of maintenance.

IMG_4331

Many of the trees near the parking lot have been marked with little plaques that have been placed in memory of individuals.   Dog Strangling Vines and other weeds have filled the spaces between the trees and obscured the memorials.

IMG_8259

Wild parsnip has invaded the park and has taken over the fields under the hydro corridor.  This part of the trail needs to be hiked with caution because these yellow plants can cause severe burns if you get the sap on you.  Some people will still collect them because, like other members of the parsnip family, the roots are edible.

IMG_4334

The male black swallowtail has a series of pronounced yellow spots on the upper side of the wings.  They spend much of their lives on members of the carrot family such as parsley and Queen Anne’s Lace.  In their caterpillar stage they are bright green with bands and yellow/orange dots.  These butterflies are great pollinators and this pair was working its way through a patch of teasels looking for nectar.

IMG_8281

The picture below shows the female black swallowtail with her smaller yellow spots on the upper wing.  While the yellow spots may be smaller, the blue band between the yellow rows is much brighter on the female.  The cover photo shows the female under wing with its black dot in a red circle.  The picture also features a bumble bee that was just cruising in to check out the pollen on the teasel.

IMG_8280

Clavoroid Fungi is the name given to a group of ground forming fruit bodies that are also known as coral fungus.  These are considered choice edibles but the examples that we saw in the forest were a couple of days past their prime.

IMG_4458

Monarch butterflies were out in full force and there is plenty of milkweed in the area to support them.  Caterpillars should be out now but we didn’t see any.

IMG_8265

We didn’t explore the full extent of William T Foster Woods because it was simply too hot in the open areas.  After wandering through the wooded ravine we made our way back to the car expecting to return on a cooler day to investigate the rest of the area.  There are many trails some of which form connections to Boyd Conservation Area.

Google Maps Link: William T Foster Woods

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

Also look for us on Facebook

 

The Distillery District.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The story of the Distillery District starts in 1832 with the idea for a grist mill on the east end of York (Toronto) harbour.  James Worts had been a miller in Suffolk, England before moving to York.  He built a 70-foot tall windmill that was a prominent feature on the York skyline and started a milling business with his brother-in-law William Gooderham.  Together they started a business that led to the largest distilling operation in Canada.  However, disaster struck in 1834 when James Worts lost his wife in childbirth.  Distraught, he jumped in the well at the mill and drowned himself just two weeks later.  Gooderham adopted his children and raised them along with his own thirteen.  Among the adopted was James Gooderham Worts who would become his partner in the business.

Their position on the waterfront provided easy access to large quantities of grain and so Gooderham decided to use some of it to make whiskey.  The distillery began in 1837 and being an entrepreneur, Gooderham began selling the spent grain wash to local farmers as feed.  Over the next four years he set up 9 acres of cattle sheds on the east side of Trinity Street and started a dairy operation as well.  The company kept fantastic records and appreciated their own history and so they retained the original millstone that was shipped from England in 1832 and used at the windmill.

img_4222

The Toronto Archives photo below shows the distillery as it appeared in the 1890’s on a post card.  It gives an idea of the scope of the enterprise that developed from that humble beginning with a windmill and a millstone.

Captions/Presentation slides. - 1903-1982, predominant 1978-1982

 In April of 1859 work started on the first wave of expansion for the company.  They began to build the most ambitious industrial building in the city, up to that time.  Built of Kingston limestone it is 80 feet wide and 300 feet long.  One half is five stories high to contain the mill while the west end is a story and a half and contained the distillery.  Working with lanterns in a dusty environment creates a serious fire hazard and many grist mills burned down because of it.  Gooderham has his constructed to be fire proof and when it burned in 1869 only the interior was lost.  This was quickly rebuilt and it is said that the grain that fell from the upper floors protected the milling equipment below and saved it from burning.  The cover photo shows the south side of the building which originally faced the Grand Trunk Railroad Tracks.

IMG_4237

The Boiler House is known as building number two and it is attached to the north side of the mill.  It was originally a single story limestone building but it has been radically altered overt the years.  When the boilers were upgraded in the 1880’s the limestone wall was removed to accommodate the equipment and was replaced with the present brick structure.  Just behind the smoke stack is building number four which was part of a major expansion in 1863.  The boiler house was using 30 tons of coal per day to fire the 100 horsepower engine in the mill.  The ashes from all this coal were taken and spread around the neighbourhood streets leading to some of the best packed streets in the young city.

IMG_4226

Several buildings were added to the north of the mill and west of Trinity Street in 1863 including new offices, cooperage buildings and the four story rectifying house for the purification of alcohol.   The modest offices pictured below served the growing business until they were replaced with a new office building on Wellington Street in 1892 known as the Flatiron Building.

IMG_4224

David Roberts Sr. was the architect for most of the early buildings in the compound while his son oversaw the construction of the later ones.  They were also responsible for designing several Gooderham family homes as well as the Flatiron Building.  Although the buildings served a utilitarian manufacturing function, Roberts made sure to include some purely aesthetic features.  Most of the brick buildings were set on limestone foundations so they would tie in visually with the stone mill.  The Rectifying House still has its decorative cupola and patterned brickwork.  This design is known as “arcaded corbelling” with a saw-tooth surmount.

IMG_4201

In the 1870’s another round of expansion took place.  The cattle sheds on the east side of Trinity Street were torn down and replaced with new ones on the east side of The Don River.  The Pure Spirits building, tank houses and store houses were built on their former site.  The Still Houses featured in the picture below were used to adjust the proof level of the spirits to ensure a consistent 40% alcohol.

IMG_4217

A dozen Tank Houses were added throughout the 1880’s for the storage of copper tanks of whiskey and later some were converted to hold up to 5,000 barrels per building.  

IMG_4166

Tankhouse Lane runs from Cherry Street to Trinity Street and is lined on both sides by these storage buildings.

IMG_4169

A shipping building was added in 1883 to store cases and barrels of whiskey that were ready for distribution to the markets.

IMG_4184

Meanwhile, the cattle sheds continued to function across the river and fifty years of disposing of the manure into Ashbridges Bay had contaminated it to the point where it was decided to fill it in and it was turned into The Port Lands.  During the First World War the company converted to producing acetone for the military under the name British Acetone.  The picture below is from the Toronto Archives and is dated November 30, 1916.

Acetone

After the war was finished the temperance movement succeeded in implementing Prohibition.  The company survived by distilling whiskey for export, although much of it passed through Quebec where it was legal and back into Ontario.  In 1927 the business was sold to Hiram Walker and continued to operate in a lesser fashion until the complex was closed in 1990.  

IMG_4192

The entrance to the Rectifying House was deliberately made grand to allow light into the interior of the building but it also has some awesome woodwork.  Two wooden arches support a circular oculi.  The original windmill was removed after the factory was converted to steam power and the site partially built over with the Rectifying House.  The semicircle of brighter red bricks in the lower corner of this picture marks the site of the windmill that started the enterprise.

IMG_4228

Rather than being turned into a museum like Black Creek Pioneer Village the site has been developed into The Distillery District which preserves the heritage in a unique way.  The factory buildings are full of interesting shops and activities that bring new life to one of the most complete Victorian Industrial Complexes in Canada.  The map below provides some insight into what awaits visitors to the area.

IMG_4162

The view below looks east along Gristmill Lane with the Stone Mill on the right and the chimney for the boiler room in the background.  The Coopers Shops and Rectifying House are on the left.

IMG_4239

This is one historic site that definitely needs another visit when I can go into the buildings and look around.

Just across Cherry Street stands the Palace Street School which was built in 1859 and served the children of many distillery workers.

Google Maps Link: Distillery District

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegra.com

Look for us on Instagram

 

Schomberg

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Schomberg sits on the northern edge of the GTA in King Township.  The community got its start around 1830 when John R Brown emigrated from Pennsylvania to the area and settled on lot 26 in the 9th concession.  Three of his brothers also arrived in the area over the next couple of years, taking up adjacent farms.  The earliest name for the town was Brownsville but residents had to go to nearby Lloydtown for their mail so they applied for a post office of their own.  That was 1861 and the application was denied because there was already a Brownsville post office in York County.  The following year the name was changed to Schomberg, after The Duke of Schomberg, and the post office was finally opened.

An orange grain elevator stands on the side of Highway 9 close to Highway 27 that used to have the Shur-Gain symbol on the side.  Shur-Gain was introduced in 1937 as a brand name by Canada Packers.  They provided feed for animals and livestock.  Today there appears to be renovations going on at the old feed mill.

IMG_4003

Schomberg developed a little west of the road that we call Highway 27 today on a small given road.  The town retains many of its historical buildings and so I parked and went for a walk.  Although the Shur-Gain feed mill on Highway 9 might be better known to people who pass by on the highway there is an older feed mill in town.  In 1884 Anderson Tegart built the Schomberg Feed Mill on Main Street where it had direct access to the railway.  It operated until 1927 before it shut down.  Since that time it has housed a variety of businesses including The Scruffy Duck Restaurant which is still in business.  The cover photo shows the feed mill from the south view in contrast to the view from the north presented below.

IMG_4052

Beside the old feed mill is a small house built in the year of Confederation that belonged to one of the town doctors.  Harry E. Vaux would have served the community out of his home rather than some office in a clinic when he wasn’t visiting the homes of those who were too sick to come to him.

IMG_4012

Schomberg has done a great job of identifying their historic buildings.  Most of the buildings on Main Street and along Church Street have little plaques attached giving the date and historical uses.

IMG_4013

In 1905 you would have been able to walk into this building with the false front and purchase your family meat from Adam J. Smart who was the butcher at that time.

IMG_4007

The first commercial bank in Schomberg didn’t arrive until 1902.  That was the year that the Trader’s Bank of Canada opened a branch in town.  The bank was headquartered on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto and would later become part of the Royal Bank of Canada.  The Traders bank opened in the left half of the building featured below.  The right side of the building had a grocer and general merchant in it, Wm. Leeson McGowan was proprietor of the store in 1924.

IMG_4018

The Schomberg Agricultural Society had been meeting since 1851 and was very active in the lives of the local farmers who were served by the town.  Schomberg was well known for its produce and drew people from miles around for its farmers market.  In 1907 the Market Association was formed and they built a community hall which was used as a market.  In 1922 they added a second story to serve as a full time community hall.  The hall is currently being upgraded to make the second floor accessible and restore some of the worn out infrastructure in the building.

IMG_4016

At one time Schomberg had its own railway line, the Schomberg and Aurora Railway which was intended to open the successful produce markets up to a larger customer base from Toronto.  It connected to the Toronto & York Radial Railway with construction beginning in 1899 at Bond Lake.  The railway operated from 1902 to 1927 bringing people to town who would have visited the markets in the community hall.   A little pathway beside the community hall building leads into the fair grounds where I found a clever use for a repurposed shipping container.  By taking the ends out it has quickly become a covered bridge over a small waterway.

IMG_4051

It’s hard to say what will happen to the fall fairs across Ontario in 2020 with the threat of an ongoing pandemic but it might be fun to visit the one in Schomberg sometime.  The fairgrounds were pretty deserted on this hot morning.

IMG_4050

The Baptist church in Schomberg had stopped using their building and left it vacant on Main Street.  Meanwhile, about three and a half miles away a Presbyterian congregation had been meeting since 1891 without a building of their own.  In 1907 it was decided to purchase the old church and dedicate it for their use.  They held their first services in June 1907 and continue to meet there at the present.

IMG_4017

The archive picture below shows the old Baptist Church (now Presbyterian) and the community hall at the time before the second floor was added to the hall.  This is apparently from a postcard from the 1910’s.

Schomberg Community Hall Bill Foran_Super_Portrait

Fred and Emma Sparling ran a bakery and confectionery on Main Street in the 1890’s in this building with the cute little quarter round gable windows.

IMG_4022 (1)

Levi Denis was the town miller in 1875 and lived in this two story home.  The ground floor has five bays while the second story has only three sets of windows.  This lack of symmetry suggests that the second floor may have been added at a later date.

IMG_4045

Just around the corner on Church Street is the old home of one of the town blacksmiths. This story and a half house was built in 1891 for James A. Kitchen and has some interesting patterns in the brickwork.  James and Elmira had a son named Percy who served in the First World War and then returned to live with his parents in Schomberg where he also took up the blacksmith trade.

IMG_4046

Garrett Brown was one of the four founding brothers who started Brownsville and he built this house on Church Street in 1871.  He owned several businesses and opened the first bank on Main Street in 1885.  His bank didn’t face competition from the larger chartered banks until 1907 when the Traders Bank arrived.

IMG_4047 (2)

Church street continues out of Schomberg and into Lloydtown which is another interesting little rural community with a unique heritage.

Here’s the link to our story on the Toronto & York Radial Railway. and the one about Bond Lake.

Google Maps Link: Schomberg

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

Also look for us on Instagram