Tag Archives: Edgeley

Edgeley – Ghost Towns of the GTA

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The community of Edgely was centered around the modern intersection of Jane Street and Highway 7. The first Europeans to settle in the area arrived around 1800 from Somerset, Pennsylvania. The northeast corner of the intersection had a hotel while the southeast corner had the general store which also had the post office from 1872 to 1960. A steam driven shingle mill was located on the northwest corner. A cider mill was located just south of the general store which produced cider, apple jelly and apple butter until it closed around 1900. Along with a community hall, there was also a blacksmith, dressmaker, a shoe maker, a wagon shop, a casket maker and two slaughterhouses.

In 1823 an acre of land was deeded to the Mennonite congregation in the Edgeley area for use as a cemetery and Meeting House. Jacob Smith Sr. (originally Schmitt) granted the land which currently is the most tangible evidence of the former community. After the Meeting House was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village in 1976 the cemetery wasn’t maintained and by 1985 many of the earliest stones were in disrepair. The city of Vaughan gathered them together into a cairn to protect them from further deterioration.

The Meeting House was built in 1824 and clad with horizontal board siding. It was used for 99 years before being closed in 1923. It was operational again for a brief period between 1963 and 1976 after which it was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village. It is the oldest surviving log Meeting House in Ontario and was built out of first growth white pine that was cut in the area of Edgely. Services were only held in the church every fourth Sunday because the pastor was shared with other Meeting Houses in the area.

The benches and wood stove inside the meetinghouse are original to the building. As per Mennonite custom, none of the wood was painted. The work was done by hand and even the nails that were used were forged by the local blacksmith. The total cost of the building, not including the stove was $221.

The drive shed was built around 1860 and used to store carriages while the Mennonites were attending services at the meeting house.

An archive photo from about 1900 shows the Meeting House, also known as Schmitt Meeting House, along with the original drive shed. This shed was replaced in 1916.

Edgley had two buildings that were used by the local farmers to butcher their livestock. It is a timber frame structure that is clad with board and batten siding. When it was built in 1860 there was no easy way to store large quantities of meat and so the local farmers would work together. One animal would be butchered, and the meat shared. When it came time to prepare another animal it would be provided by a different farmer. Once refrigeration became available this practice was no longer needed and in 1970 the building was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village and opened as a rabbit hutch.

Most homes and farms had at least one apple tree and some had a full orchard. The fruit was harvested in the fall and stored for the winter to provide food for the family. Edgely had at least one of these storage cellars and it has been preserved by moving it to Black Creek Pioneer Village. The cellar was dismantled and moved to the village over a 65-day period. Two sets of wooden doors were used to help insulate the interior so that the fruit would be better preserved.

Inside, the storage cellar is just eight feet long and seven feet wide. The fruit or root vegetables were placed in the wooden bins and covered with layers of straw for better insulation and to increase the storage life. The small vent at the back of the building could be opened or closed in order to regulate the temperature inside.

A single house remains from the community, and it is located just south of the cemetery on Jane Street. This style of architecture is known as Edwardian and was built sometime between 1901 and 1910. It is also sometimes referred to as “four-square” because of the four windows on the front of the house.

The former community of Edgely has been almost completely erased from the landscape and is being replaced by high-rise condos. Fortunately, the cemetery is still there to mark the hamlet and a few buildings are being preserved at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

Related Stories: Ghost Towns of York Region, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Elizabeth Stong, Pioneer Cemetery Cairns

Google Maps Link: Edgeley

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