Tag Archives: Cedar Grove

Ghost Towns of York Region

Sunday, June 20, 2021

York Region has many small communities that have shrunk from their late 1800s sizes and faded almost into oblivion. They have lost their industry, blacksmiths and hotels and usually their stores as well. We refer to these as ghost towns although in the strictest sense they aren’t really. This blog collects 7 of the ones that we have visited and arranges them in alphabetical order. Each has a picture that represents the community as well as a brief description. The link for each will take you to a feature article on the community which has the local history as well as pictures of any surviving architectural features. At the end of each feature article is a google maps link in case you should wish to explore for yourself someday. Future companion blogs in this series will cover the ghost towns of the Peel Region, Halton Region, and the City of Toronto.

Cedar Grove still has it’s historic school and Lapp’s Cider Mill but the real treasure is Cedarena. The skating rink operated from 1927 until 2015 and now it sits waiting for skaters who never show up.

Elders Mills formed around a crossroad and thrived for a couple of decades before it went into decline. Several of the original houses and the 1872 school house still remain. A couple of the houses as well as the school have been incorporated into new structures which has saved them from demolition. The homes on the farms around the town have been removed as the land has been cleared for housing.

The former community of Laskay has declined considerably and now the old Methodist Church is a home. A few historic buildings still line the street but the best preserved of all is the old Laskay Emporium which serves as an fine example of a country store and post office at Black Creek Pioneer village. Filled with period merchandise it is a real blast from the past.

Maple has grown into a larger community but there’s still lots of older homes and the historic train station to remind us of the small town that started in the early 1800s. There’s also this amazing log home built with massive timbers that hides in a woodlot on the edge of town.

Ringwood has a lot of abandoned buildings including this 1887 school house which has some interesting wood paneling on the front. At that time, the population was 300 but began declining almost right away until within a few decades there were only 13 students in the school.

Sherwood was larger than Maple at one point but quickly faded into a couple of churches and a few homes. Most of these have since been demolished in order to build a large train switching facility. The Zion Evangelical Church still holds services and has an extensive pioneer cemetery.

Every Ghost Town has its pioneer cemetery where you can check out the old grave markers and remember the people who lived there a couple of hundred years ago. Some even have markers or cairns for Indigenous Peoples who lived here centuries ago and are buried within the community. Teston has both types of burial grounds but neither is well marked and even the pioneer head stones are missing.

Compared to Toronto and some of the other surrounding areas, York Region has still got quite a bit of its pioneer heritage in place.

Other ghost town collections: Ghost Towns of Toronto, Ghost Towns of Peel Region, Ghost Towns of Halton Region.

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Lapp’s Cider Mill

 

Saturday January 12, 2019

The community of Cedar Grove has become a ghost town compared to the former glory days in the 1800’s when it was a industrious mill town.  All four saw mills and both grist mills have disappeared leaving only the cider mill.  Peter Lapp erected the building in 1872 with the idea of taking advantage of the abundant local apple crops.  Lapp started making apple cider but soon added other products such as cider vinegar.  Lapps Cider Mill is considered to be one of the earliest and biggest examples of this industry in Markham.   The building is starting to show signs of disrepair after sitting vacant for years.  The front canopy has begun to droop badly and several boards have fallen away.  However, a steel roof has been added in the recent past indicating that someone had plans for the building.

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Two small dormers with six over six windows lit the upper floor of the mill.  These small glass panes are mostly intact with one just small fracture.  Just below the main roof line a small set of windows is broken out which lets the weather into the building.

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The elevator shaft had three doors, one for each interior floor.  Small lightning rods can be seen on top of the elevator and the corners of the roof.  Lightning rods are designed to carry energy from a potential lightning strike through a wire and into a ground rod where it can dissipate harmlessly.  The north face of the building has a frame construction with tightly spaced boards.  On the west side of the building a layer of Insulbrick has been added.  This was likely done in the 1920’s when this asphalt siding was at the height of popularity.

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The west side of the building reveals something quite interesting.  The larger north end section appears to be a later addition.  This is suggested by the foundation which is made of precast concrete blocks that would not have been available in 1872.  This means that this end of the building was either raised onto the foundation or added after 1900.

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Ironically the plaque that announces this building is historically designated is attached just below the business sign that can only be partially read. Many of the letters have fallen off.  At Markham Museum there is another building known as Lapp’s Cider Mill.  It is a drive shed that was moved from a different Lapp property in Cedar Grove.  Lot 3 on the south side of Little Rouge Creek belonged to James Lapp who was the town blacksmith.  His blacksmith shop is now also on display at Markham Museum.  The press and other inner workings were moved from this building to the one at the museum where they are once again operational.

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The length of the hoist over the loading doors suggests that full orchard boxes of apples could be transferred from a truck into the mill.

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Two levels of loading doors with a provision for a hoist provide yet another access for snow and rain to enter the building.

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There is a set of ground level doors are at the south end of the building and once again we find more broken windows on the upper floor.

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It is truly a shame that this building appears to be slowly decaying.  You can read more about Cedar Grove in our story Cedar Grove – Ghost Towns of the GTA.

Google Maps link: Cedar Grove

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