Tag Archives: Weslyan Methodist Church

Hornby – Ghost Towns of the GTA

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Beginning in the 1830s the area north of Oakville was opened for settlement and the community of Hornby found itself becoming an important stop on the trip into town.  Hotels were opened and in 1850 Trafalgar Road (7th Line) was planked as far north as Stewarttown with a toll station in Hornby.  However, by 1877 the railway had bypassed the town and Milton had been named as county seat.  Hornby began to decline back to a county village.  Today there isn’t much of the community that was named after Hornby Castle in Yorkshire but we went to see what could be found and photographed before it  disappears forever.

Hornby became stretched out along what is now Steeles Avenue to the point where it was referred to as Hornby and West Hornby.  Two cemeteries mark the eastern site of Hornby.  The Methodist church was originally located on Lot 1 Concession 8 on the corner of the William McKindsey lot.  On April 30, 1832 the land was sold to the Methodist Trustees.  The land actually belonged to Kings College until 1840 and so the indenture wasn’t registered until 1842.  The congregation built a small frame church and began a cemetery beside the church.  They soon outgrew the frame church and moved to a new location leaving the cemetery behind.  It has since been restored with the markers being gathered into a central location for preservation.

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in 1856 the Wesleyan Methodist congregation built a new brick building a little farther west.  This brick building was part of a preaching circuit that included Bowers, Munns, McCurdy’s, Omagh and Bethel.  In 1925 the Methodists and Presbyterians joined to become The United Church of Canada.  This building served the congregation until November 17, 1968 when it was closed and the parishioners joined with the Ashgrove United Church.  Since then the building has been used as the Hornby Townhall.  The spire with finial was built by Gordon Brigden at his machine shop in Hornby.

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The first church built by the Presbyterian Church in Hornby was a frame structure constructed in 1835 across the street from the Wesleyan Methodist Church on Lot 1 Concession 9.  Many of the founding settlers of Hornby are interred here and the cemetery remains active today.  The original frame church was replaced in 1878 with a brick structure.  The congregation did not choose to join the United Church and remained active until 1971 when it was amalgamated with Knox Presbyterian in Milton.  The church building was destroyed by fire in 1978 and arson was suspected but never proven.

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The first school building in Hornby was in a log cabin built in 1826.  It was replaced with a new brick building in 1870.  It operated as a school until 1963 when Pineview school was built on 5th sideroad.

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Samuel Brooks owned this one and a half story farm house in 1878.  The property changed hands several times until Frank Chisholm farmed the property through the middle of the twentieth century.  There have been multiple additions to the house over the years.  By the time it was assessed for cultural heritage in 2018 the structure was deteriorating and there was damage to the roof that had been covered over with plastic.

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There has been a fire at the home since then and there is little doubt that the structure will be demolished for safety reasons.  As of our visit the back door was open providing access to a very unsafe structure.  It will likely be removed for safety reasons.

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The drive shed on the property is in similar condition and the former farm will likely soon fall prey to the urban expansion that is spreading along Steeles Avenue.

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We had parked on Trafalgar Road where there is an entrance to the Halton County Forest.  After making our way through town and back up Hornby Road it was time to cut back through the forest to the car.  There is a cairn commemorating John Coulson who owned the property and bequeathed it to the county for reforestation.  The 89 acre tract was planted with white pine in 1959 and left to regenerate.

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A summers worth of growth goes into producing seed pods to carry on the family line.  The wild cucumbers have produced their edible seed pods, each one containing four seeds.  In the next few weeks the bottom of each seed pod will open up and drop the seeds to the ground below.

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River grapes have also come along nicely this year.  These wild grapes have been bred into our table grapes to help produce a strain that is resistant to our climate.  These grapes can be turned into a tasty grape jelly.

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We followed Trafalgar Creek part way through the Coulson Tract and came across a cluster of asparagus that has no leaves but there are still many seeds on it.

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There are still several early twentieth century homes and farms in the Hornby area. but the former community is in danger of being over run by urban sprawl.

Google Maps link: Hornby

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Huttonville

Saturday April 18, 2015

It was a beautiful sunny day with the temperature climbing to 20 degrees as we walked.  Hiking north on the Credit River from where we left off last week in Eldorado Park isn’t possible.  The river flows through Lionshead Golf Course which is considered to be Canada’s most difficult course.  The course extends across 520 acres all the way to Mississauga Road.  Huttonville grew around mills that were established on the Credit River at Mississauga Road.  Today the river through town is clearly posted as no trespassing.

When the area was first settled around 1820 it was called Brown’s Mills after the grist mill.  The locals also tended to call it The Wolf’s Den after the creatures who lived in the forests and hunted their livestock.  James Hutton bought the mills in 1855 and renamed them Hutton’s Mills. When he opened the town’s first post office the name Huttonville was adopted.

We parked on the small section of old Mississauga Road where Queen Street dead ends just above Huttonville.  There are a couple of abandoned houses rotting in the woods here whose pictures will be presented on our Facebook page.  We went for a walk along River Street where you can see the old mill dam in a few places.  We stopped to talk to the property owners who were tending their gardens.  They told us that Hurricane Hazel (Oct. 15, 1954) had done some serious damage to the dam.  They graciously allowed us access to take a few pictures.  The picture below shows the dam with the sluice gates on the right.  The dam has a distinct lean to it as it reaches out into the river.  It was built in 1923 it was the fourth dam constructed at this site.

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Sluice gates are the part of the dam used to control the flow of water out of the mill pond.  The miller wants to have a consistent flow of water to turn the wheel or turbine at a steady pace in the mill.  By raising or lowering the sluice gates he can continue to operate the mill at times of either high or low water levels in the river.  The sluice at Huttonville is an excellent example of how this worked.  The steel cranking system still stands above the gateway while the remains of some of the boards are in the bottom.  Behind this gateway is the head race that carried the water to the mills on Mill Lane.

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The American Bullfrog lives an average of 8 years in the wild. During the winter they lay on the mud at the bottom of the river.  They can’t dig in the mud like turtles do for the winter because they don’t actually hibernate.  Instead, they turn the body fluids in vital organs into glucose so that it doesn’t freeze.  If it gets too cold they will stop breathing and their hearts will stop beating.  When they warm up above freezing their bodies start to function again. As we were enjoying the old dam we saw many pairs of cormorants flying up the river.  Cormorants usually eat small fish but if one of them spots this frog sunning itself on the concrete of the old dam, this is one frog that won’t make it to 8 years old.

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In 1887  John McMurchy built a woolen mill that was powered by its own private powerhouse. Built of red brick it has since been painted over in a drab grey.  With a staff of 30-35 employees, the mill’s main product was socks.  During the first world war, it produced the socks used by the military.  After 65 years of production, the mill was closed in 1953.  The following year Hurricane Hazel would destroy its dam.

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The original signage still stands on the roof of the building facing Mississauga Road.  The cover photo shows the mill during it’s prime.

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A powerhouse was built onto the grist mill in 1885 by Hutton to power his mills.  It generated 100 horsepower of electricity and was considered an engineering marvel at the time.  Along with the mills, it provided power to Huttonville and Brampton.  When John McMurchy bought the plant in 1903 he increased its production to 300 hp.  It provided power to Brampton until 1911 when the town went onto the public grid originating at Niagara Falls.  It continued to be a personal power supply to the mills until 1953 when they closed.

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The historical photo below shows water flowing from the Huttonville mill pond through a shed where it is turning a turbine.  The little waterfall drops it into a settling basin before the tail race returns it to the river.

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Bloodroot is the white flower in the foreground of the picture below.  It is one of the first flowers in spring but it’s flowers last only a couple of days after being pollinated.  It gets its name from its blood red roots.  Sprinkled in among a sea of bluebells they bring the lawns to life for a short period each spring.

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James Hutton’s house still stands at 2072 Emberton Road, a short walk from his milling empire.

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Across the street from Hutton’s house he donated land for the Methodist Church.  In 1885 it was decided to combine the nearby congregations in Page and Springbrook.  The Page church was demolished and the wooden church in Springfield was moved to Huttonville.  It was placed on a stone foundation and extended by 10 feet.  Then a brick veneer was added to the outside. In 1925 it became a United Church when the Methodists joined the new congregation. Today it is rented on Saturdays by the Seventh Day Adventists.

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Beside the church stands this building which was likely the Queens Hotel.

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A truss bridge used to carry Mississauga road across the Credit near the end of Emberton Road. The foundations remain on the east side of the river but have been removed on west side for road widening.

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For more pictures of Huttonville, it’s mills and dam please visit us at:

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Meadowvale Cultural Heritage District

Saturday March 28th, 2015

This is a second part to the post Silverthorne Grist Mill – Meadowvale.

In 1805 the “old survey” was completed in which the native people sold their lands except for 1 mile on either side of the Credit river.  When the “new survey” was completed in 1818 the river was ceded as well and this opened the area up to settlers who wanted access to the river to build saw or grist mills.  John Beatty arrived in 1819 and was the first settler in the area.  Huge pine trees lined the hill sides but a grassy meadow lay around the river.  From this came the name of the town, Meadowvale.  From 1819 until the mid-20th century the town changed very little.  It remained centred around a triangle of streets wedged between Derry Road, Second Line and the Credit River.  As the city of Mississauga started to grow wildly in the 1970’s the people of Meadowvale started to worry that their small town would lose it’s historical charm. They applied to have the town formally recognized as Ontario’s first Cultural Heritage District.

The following is a look at some of the heritage buildings in the village of Meadowvale.  Others have been featured in the post Silverthorne Grist Mill.

Known as the “Hill House” this little home was built in 1840 and is one of the oldest homes in the village.  It has always remained a private residence belonging to the Hill family after 1896. The early Methodist church meetings were held in this house until the church was built in 1863.

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George Bell (no relation to the famous Blue Jay) was the town blacksmith and in 1844 he purchased land from mill owner John Simpson on which to build the first hotel in Meadowvale.   Bell Hotel was built across the street from the grist mill at 1090 Old Derry Road.  For awhile it was also known as Temperance Hotel.  The building is currently in use as residential apartments.

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In 1852 the Brick Hotel was constructed at 1051 Old Derry Road by Matthew Laidlaw.  The stacked open veranda was on the original building but was removed before 1900.  Guests would sit out here to enjoy the evening and get coated with dust from the street in front of the hotel.  The veranda was replaced in recent years.

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In 1857 Meadowvale got it’s first post master in the person of Luther Cheyne.  The post office was operated out of Silverthorne’s store.  In 1860 Cheyne built a home at 7053 Pond Street that was sold to the Farnells in 1890.  In 1920 it was bought by two ladies who opened the Apple Tree Inn tea room in the house.  When this closed in 1944 the house again became a private residence.

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Weslyan Methodist was the primary denomination in much of early Upper Canada.  The 1863 church on the corner of Derry and Second line has had a front porch, or narthex, added to it over the years.  There is a trim of yellow bricks around the top of the older part of the building that can be glimpsed behind the tree on the right hand side.  In 1925 the Methodist church joined 3 other denominations to form the United Church of Canada.  Today it serves the United Church in town.

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The 1870’s were a period of prosperity for Meadowvale while the mills were under the ownership of Gooderham and Worts.  This photo shows the Gooderham Estate as it looked around 1900.  The current house is featured in the Silverthorne mill post.

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Around 1870 Johnson’s wagon and blacksmith shops were built at 1101 Willow Lane close to the grist mill.  The original 1870 house still stands on the property as well as a grand old fashioned mansion that was built in 1999 in a style that fits the character of the village.  The wagon shop is featured in the cover photo and the blacksmith shop is below.  Notice the two windows in the second floor of the wagon shop.  Painted parts would be left upstairs to dry.

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In 1870 the Graham house was built next to the Methodist Church on land donated by John Simpson for a home for his daughter Elizabeth and her husband.  This is one of the more ornate homes in town.

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In 1871 a second school was built to replace the old one that stood at the corner of Barberry Lane and Second Line.  The first one had been built in 1851 and was used as a private residence after the new school was built.  Barberry Lane was originally named second street but was renamed after the Barbers who lived in the old school house.  The old school house was lost to a fire in 1974.  The new school was built just behind the Methodist church on land donated by the Simpson Family. It has served as the town hall since 1968.

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In 1879 the Credit Valley Railroad came to Meadowvale.  The chief financial backer was George Laidlaw who was responsible for much of the rail system in and around Toronto.  The picture below shows the CVR station for Meadowvale around 1905.

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The homes in the village were mostly built prior to the time of running water.  They would have had an outhouse for a washroom and a hand pump for their well.  Many of the homes in town still have their old pumps on the front lawn.  (Fortunately it looks like they all have indoor washrooms now making that cold winter trip a part of history as well.)

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Along Second Line stands this old post.  A reminder of the days when mail service was made to individual post boxes set at the end of a person’s driveway.

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Today people must go the a “super box” gazebo to collect their mail.  The mail gazebo is located on top of the ruins of the old mill. The old mixed with the new.  In the picture below the old mill ruins can be seen in the background behind the gazebo.

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Meadowvale is full of heritage houses only a few of which have been featured here.  It is a quiet community of narrow streets with no curbs or sidewalks.  A time capsule tucked in the heart of the city of Mississauga.

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