Tag Archives: Mill Pond

Streetsville – Timothy Street

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The founder of Streetsville was born in New York in 1777 and emigrated to Upper Canada in 1801 after marrying Abigail Smith.  They lived near Niagara for twenty years and in 1818-1819 Timothy financed the survey of Toronto Township and was compensated with 4500 acres of land that would become the town of Streetville.  We decided to go and explore some of the legacy he left behind.  We parked on Mill Street beside his historic home.  The county atlas below shows how large Streetsville had become by 1877 when it was released.

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Timothy founded a milling empire and in 1825 built the house that still stands at the end of Mill Street near his mills.  He first built a grist mill around 1822 and soon added a lumber and saw mill.  He continued to expand by adding a tannery, distillery and clothing mill.  The brick house he constructed is considered to be the first brick house to be built in Peel County and remains the oldest one.  It is a story and a half and has been added to at least twice partly to accommodate the 12 children he raised along with Abigail.

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Timothy needed water to power his mills and so he built a dam across the Credit River just north of the mills.  He found a narrow place where an earthen berm could be built to retain the mill pond.  Originally the dam would have consisted of a wooden crib across the river that was filled with stones.  This type of dam required constant repairs, some of which could be quite dangerous.  Many millers lost their lives trying to save their mill dams from being washed away in the raging spring waters.

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In 1824 Timothy Street deeded an acre of his land to the Presbyterian Church for the purposes of establishing a Protestant cemetery.  Five of his own children would die in their youth and be buried in this cemetery.

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Timothy Street died an January 31, 1848 and was buried in the cemetery where his children were interred.

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From the pioneer cemetery the silos of the Barbertown mills can be seen.  The milling community of Barbertown was located at the Credit River and Eglinton Avenue.  It included what was the largest woolen mill in Ontario during the middle of the 1800’s.

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The trails along the sides of the Credit River through Streetsville form part of the Culham Trail and will eventually be part of the Credit Valley Trail.

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By 1890 the pioneer cemetery was reaching capacity and land for a new cemetery was donated to the town by Timothy Street’s daughter.

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A new study has found that squirrels use the local birds to help them determine if it is safe to go outside their nests.  Squirrels will listen to the tweets of birds in the area to help them understand if there could be red-tailed hawks near by.  When the birds are chattering away in normal fashion the squirrels go about their usual business of gathering nuts.  When the birds go silent the squirrels interpret this to mean danger and they take cover.

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The first high school in Peel county as built in Streetsville in 1851.  It was enlarged in 1877 when the two rooms in the front were added along with the Italianate tower.  It served as the school for 115 years before being converted to the town hall in 1966.  By 1974 it had been converted to be the local police station before its present tenant, the Kinsmen Senior Citizens Centre.

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Streetsville is one of the truly unique places where the city has surrounded a small town but failed to absorb it.  As a result Streetsville still has a lot of its small town charm and we have visited several times.

Further reading about Streetsville: Alpha Mills, Streetsville’s Forgotten Foundations, Hyde Mill, Barbertown

Google Maps Link: Mill Street Streetsville

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Palgrave

Saturday May 30, 2015

It was a day after my father’s 80th birthday and so the plan was to meet in Barrie to celebrate. The choice between driving up the 400 or leaving earlier and making a side trip was less difficult than determining where that side trip would lead.  In the end we chose to look at the Palgrave dam and mill pond.

Palgrave  was originally called Buckstown after the owner of the Western Hotel which was opened in 1846.  This name survived until 1869 when the post office was established and the name was changed to Palgrave.  Due to the large amount of lumber in the local forests this became an important industry in the early development of the town.

It is the season for moth and butterflies to be in their larvae or caterpillar state.   Inch worm is a term that is applied to the caterpillar of the geometer moth, a large family of 35,000 species. Ironically the word geometer applies better to the caterpillar than the moth as it comes from the Latin “geometra” or earth-measurer.  This is because the caterpillar has only 2 or 3 prolegs on the back end.  Their looping gait makes it look like they’re measuring the ground as they go along.

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Palgrave grew up around a saw mill and a grist mill.  These two industries were essential to the development of a community.  The saw mill provided basic building materials while the grist mill provided basic food supplies for humans and livestock.  A dam would be built to create a constant supply of water.  The mills are gone but the mill pond remains, complete with its own secrets.  In August 2011 a body was found in the pond which belonged to a 42 year old woman who had been kidnapped from her home in Brampton.  Raqual Junio was murdered by her estranged husband and her body dumped in the old mill pond.

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The view of the dam from below the waterfalls.

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The jack-in-the-pulpit plant exhibits a wide variance in size with this example being near the upper end of 65 cm (26 inches).  Identifiable by it’s flowers contained in a spadix and the hood drooped over top this was the only specimen in the immediate neighbourhood.  Once cooked or properly dried this plant can be eaten as a root vegetable.  The raw plant, however, contains raphides that are like tiny little needles that cause a burning sensation and possible severe irritation if eaten. The plant grows from the same corm for up to 100 years.

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On March 5, 1880 town lot 4 was sold to the Reverend W.F. Swallow for $70 for use as a church property. It had been the site of a store and saloon prior to that.  In  1882 they purchased lot 3 beside it for use as a cemetery.  Prior to this, Anglicans had to take their loved ones to Bolton for burial.  St. Alban’s Anglican Church was built in 1882 in the English Gothic Revival style that was popular at the time.  St. Alban’s retains it’s original bell tower and entrance vestibule.   The church was closed in 1996.  The cemetery was closed in 2007 and the remaining bones were dis-interred and moved to Bolton for reburial.  The church is now used as a saloon, as the property has come full circle.  The one story building on the left has been built on the site of the former cemetery.

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The Elm Tree Hotel was just one of the hotels in town but survives with it’s unique three point roof.  This hotel appears to have been built in 1878 after the arrival of the railway in town.  This spurred growth and the town doubled in size in a year from 150 to 300 residents.  Several other old buildings remain in town but there is little information available on-line about their history.

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The Elm Tree hotel no longer has it’s elm tree.  It was cut down to allow for the widening of highway 50 through town.  The picture below was taken in 1914 and borrowed from Wikipedia.

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Canadian artist David Milne lived in town from 1929 until 1932 and painted several scenes.  The painting Kitchen Chimney is in the National Gallery of Canada and the Elm Tree Hotel can be seen in the background at the left.  His painting “The Village” is also in the National Gallery and is used as the cover photo for this post.  St. Alban’s church with its bell tower can be seen at the left.

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In 1877 the Hamilton & North-Western railway was built through the middle of town.  The railway was later taken over by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1888 and ended up as a part of the Canadian National.  Passenger service ended in 1960 and the tracks were removed in 1986. The rail bed has since been turned into a hiking trail.   The trail can be seen in the picture below on the little rise where the wooden trail sign stands.

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The Primitive Methodists built their church and cemetery in 1878 on lots 17, 18 and 19.  Their cemetery remains and the church has served the United Church since it’s inception 1925.

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The Pan American Games are the third largest international multi-sport games in the world. Started in 1951 in Buenos Aires it now contains 41 member nations.  The games are played every four years in the summer before the next Summer Olympic Games.  Toronto is host to the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am games which run from July 10-26.  The dressage and jumping competitions will be held in Palgrave at the Caledon Equestrian Park.  We were able to stop by and have a look at some of the local horses getting warmed up.

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It is so nice to see the fresh green of the new growth on the ends of the pine tree branches.

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