History of the Township of Reach
by Reverend R. Monteith
written in 1859 and published
in the Ontario Observer
THE TOWNSHIP OF REACH was
surveyed by the late Major Samuel Wilmot, of Clarke
Township, in the year 1809, and was designated Reach
after a Colonel of that name. Several farms were
deeded as early as 1811, but up until the year 1821,
there was not a single settler in the township,
all was unbroken forest. In the month of May that
year, Reuben Crandell, senior, had the courage to
invade its solitude, and to break it up on its primitive
He came by way of Whitby Township,
when that township had no village, and only a very
few clearances. The only settlers in the line of
Simcoe Street were Joseph Widdifield, who lived
on the creek about three miles north of the site
of Oshawa, and Joseph Wylie, an Indian trader, who
had settled on the 8th concession, a mile or more
to the southeast of the site of Raglan.
From the latter of these places
there was an Indian trail to Lake Scugog; but that
was the only path into Reach. So that when Reuben
Crandell came to the township with his two ox-teams,
he had to clear out all the way for himself, and
was occupied two days in doing so. The distance
might be reckoned eight or nine miles. The place
where he settled first was a little to the south
of Manchester, where he encamped for nearly a week,
till he raised and took possession of his shanty.
Finding, however, that he had
mistaken the position of the lot assigned him he
soon after removed into the lot now occupied by
Frederick Graham. There he erected two log houses.
One stands on the south side of the public road,
a mile to the west of Prince Albert. It was there
that the first white girl (Lucy Ann), and afterwards
the first white boy (Benjamin) were born in the
township. The Crandell family, in their crude log
home, lived and toiled in comparatively solitude
for more than two years before others began to arrive
and set up home.
The Crandells lived not far from
the local Indians, but this was no comfort or advantage.
The local band was influenced by cruel superstition,
and it was always feared they might rise up do them
severe bodily harm. As well as the Indians, the
family had to be cautious of the beasts of the forest
which were exceedingly numerous.
The township had several large
swamps and marshes, as it still has, these for a
large number of years, were infested with bears,
and still more with wolves; and the fury of the
latter may be well imagined when we mention the
following fact - one evening the sheep pen, immediately
in the rear of Mr. Crandell's house, was invaded
by a pack of wolves and it was found in the morning
that nine sheep were lying dead, with their heads
placed across each other, and the blood taken from
them at the jugular vein.
But the perils and exclusion thus
referred to were accompanied with many other disadvantages.
For miles there was no road whatsoever, and the
one on the front, which was one of the best in the
county, was not more than passable. Store goods
were also at a great distance, 18 miles off at least.
Flour and saw mills were scarcely nearer. Medical
help and mail communications were hardly to be thought
of; mechanical or tradesmen's labor was equally
unavailable. In short, at the time we are now speaking
of, as well as for many years afterwards, the settlers
had little communication with any of their species;
they were almost entirely dependent upon themselves.
And yet we have it from their
own lips that they were far from being unhappy.
We believe it, and can easily account for it. Living
simply and toiling moderately, they enjoyed a good
measure of health; they saw the forest diminishing
around them, and valuable crops rising in its stead;
with these crops to minister to their appetite,
and the wood they cut to give them fuel, they felt
that they were little indebted to their neighbors;
and the virgin beauties of external nature, together
with the incidents, of their wilderness life, conspired,
in no small degree, to diffuse among them satisfaction
1823 CLEARING LAND: The next clearance
that was made in the township was commenced in the
summer of 1823. It was made by John Rae, who had,
previously come into Joseph Wylie's place in the
Township of Whitby, but being merely a renter there,
he cleared a portion of his lot in Reach, and erected
on it a log house, intending to take possession
of the whole, as soon as his renting period expired.
The property, which belonged originally to him is
Lot 11, Conc. 2, and lies to the west side of what
is now the gravelled road. There were also other
clearances commenced the same.
William Wade for example, who
came in the fall, settled for a time on the front
of the 5th Conc. And near to him, on both sides
of the road were persons of the name of Jones, Hughes,
and Marvin. But these disappeared in a short time,
and fixed their abode beyond the township.
1824 THE PIONEERS: The
settlers who appeared next were destined to exert
a larger influence. These were Abner Hurd and Daniel
Dayton, who came together in the spring of 1824.
The former of the two built his original house to
the east of Prince Albert, on nearly the same site
where the present farm house stands, and in which
James McKinley now lives. The other settler pitched
his tent where William Boynton's tavern now stands,
and thus, though unintentionally, yet actually,
laid the foundation of Prince Albert.
It is also natural to state here
that as various settlers were now near one another,
they were drawn into frequent mutual intercourse;
and living as they did on the same concession line,
they gradually formed a bit of road, which in after
years was extended westward. But as yet there was
no road in a more important direction, we mean toward
There was, to be sure, a path
in that direction - namely from Rae's to Wylie's
place, which was not unfrequently employed by the
settlers. But that was a very circuitous route.
It was, therefore, resolved the following year to
shape out a road in a better direction, and the
resolution was acted on.
1825 THE ROADS: The settlers
united their energies together and formed a kind
of ox-road from Dayton's to Wylie's; and from that
there was a rather better road to the front, where
all their milling business was required to be done,
and from which, also, they obtained their store
goods, and their mail communications. In this year,
also, the first burial was made in the township.
It was the burial of John Rae, who died in Whitby,
but whose bones were laid in his own farm lot in
1826 NEAREST MILLS: In reference
to the year 1826 we have only one record to make,
and we make it because of its bearing on the township,
although it does not properly belong to it. Hitherto
the nearest mills to our spirited settlers were,
Joseph Gould's saw-mill in Uxbridge (which was not
easily reached) and Thos. N. Gibb's, south of Oshawa.
But now a saw-mill was erected much nearer-namely,
Fralick's, to the southwest of Raglan. This was
a positive gain for Reach Twp., and made it much
more easy for the settlers to secure lumber for
1827 MAIL ROUTES: Passing on
to 1827, we have matters of a different kind to
state. Somewhere in the course of that year letter-carrying
was commenced in the township; and not only in Reach,
but in several other townships lying to the north.
The system originated with Donald Cameron, a settler
in Thorah, who proposed to the settlers who lived
on the line, that, unless the Postmaster General
objected to it, a person might carry letters between
the front and the back townships, and obtain adequate
pay for his trouble. The idea was endorsed by the
settlers, and the Postmaster General gave his consent.
Kenneth Campbell commenced his travels, walking
to and from the front once a fortnight; and, besides
a fixed amount secured by subscription, he received
a small payment for the letters or papers which
he bore to the settlers. Let us add here, that the
nearest post office on the front was kept by John
Warren, as was also the nearest store, and was situated
a mile and a half to the east of what is now the
County Town (Whitby).
There were other signs of advancement
the same year. If letter carrying was then initiated,
so was the preaching of the gospel. Elder Marsh,
a Baptist preacher, was the first preacher in Reach;
and beginning, as he did, to break up the ground,
he continued his labours for some time afterwards.
But another gentleman of the same persuasion undertook
work of a similar kind, which calls for a more extended
notice. We refer now to Elder Scott, an agent of
the American Missionary Society, who desired strongly
to improve the condition of the Indians.
We have said already that in the
early days of Reach, the settlers were not far off
from Indians; nor were they. A considerable number
of the Mississauga tribe - the same tribe who once
lived on the site of Toronto - had encamped for
years on the side of Lake Scugog. And prior to the
year 1827, their character was extremely bad. They
were among the most degraded and filthy of all the
tribes. Men and women were addicted to drunkenness,
almost without exception; and so destitute were
they of all moral principle, that they were the
pests of the country, and the bye-word and scoff,
as well as terror of the inhabitants.
But during the autumn of this
year, they embraced the Christian religion, and
immediately gave the most satisfactory proof of
its holy tendency and benign influence. From a condition
unspeakably degraded, debauched and vitiated, in
almost every sense of the word, they became a serious,
moral, and pious community. These were the objects
of Elder Scott's philanthropy. Encouraged by the
happy change they had sustained, he endeavored to
advance them in various respects. He obtained for
them from Government a grant of 200 acres, extending
along the southwest side of Lake Scugog, where Port
Perry is now located. He yoked them partly into
agriculture, after they had cleared away the bush.
He also acquired them the means
of education. The person he employed for this work
was Aaron Hurd, the second, son of Abner Hurd, a
lad of only 15 years of age. Although young, Aaron
had shown considerable interest in the Indians,
and this, in the opinion of Elder Scott, fitted
him much for instructing their children.
1828 MORE SCHOOLS: In the course
of 1828, after a school-house had been built and
placed on the north side of his father' s farm,
he commenced his labours. The number of his pupils
varied from thirty to fifty, some of whom were more
than children, as old indeed as twenty or even thirty
years; and he laboured among them, not without gratifying
success, for the greater part of two years, when
the Indians removed to Mud Lake, and he commenced
a similar work in the neighbourhood of Rice Lake.
Of this devoted and hopeful young man let us simply
add, that he subsequently went to study for the
ministry, and in the midst of his efforts toward
that object, died at Middletown, Connecticut, U.S.A.
The Indian school of which we
have spoken was soon followed by another school
- the first in the Township for white people. Before
the winter of 1828 the settlers had erected a school
house for their children. It was made of logs, and
stood to the west of Prince Albert, on the knoll.
It is The first person who taught in it was a John
James Alexander Cameron Cull, although he did not
commence his labours until the summer following
the date of its erection.
We must also offer to two other
facts which took place in the same year. In the
month of February that year, the first grave was
made in Prince Albert. It was made for Mr. Reuben
Dayton, son of the settler formerly named, who died
in the front, but was laid in the original burying-ground
close to Mr. Ross's store. Several months after
that, an important public survey was made. Mr. Smallie
of Newmarket laid out the whole of Simcoe Street;
and the part of it lying in this Township is not
materially different from the ox-track which the
settlers had opened out three years before.
1829 NEW SETTLEMENTS: Settlers
were now increasing in the Township. A year prior
to the last date, John Ensign had laid the foundation
of Epsom, by settling on the site of that village.
And early in 1829 he acquired for his nearest neighbour,
Mr. H. Shaw. The same year Henry Walker settled
on the 4th Conc. to the south of Manchester and
the following year Thomas Graham and William Ashton
settled still further to the south. It was easy
indeed to multiply names, such as Harper and Silver,
and Dunholm, and Dwyer, and Hinckston, and Barbour,
and Buck, and some others who quickly appeared one
after another, and fixed their abodes in the same
1830 MILL DAM: At this
time an important step was taken which calls for
more than passing notice. We refer to the construction
of the mill dam at Lindsay, which has ever since
affected the waters of Lake Scugog. And as this
is a matter connected with our township, we must
speak of the former condition of the lake, and the
extent to which its waters were now increased.
Mr. Smith, in his valuable work
on Canada, says, Lake Scugog, or the larger portion
of it, as it at present exists, has been artificially
made. The formation of the dam at Lindsay many years
ago, raised the water and forced it back over the
land, thus flooding a large extent of the country.
From this cause the lake has not
been properly delineated on any map; all maps previously
published having been copied from the original plans
of the surveyors. At the time these Townships were
surveyed, the whole of what now constitutes the
southern portion of Lake Scugog was dry land. Now,
although there is much truth in this, it requires
to be taken with some abatement, especially the
first, if not also the last, statement of it. One
would suppose from these statements that before
the construction of the dam referred to, the area
of the lake was not one half of what it now is.
And to a certain sense it was not, for the larger
portion of it was little better than a marsh; hence
the propriety of the term "Scugog", which signifies
But its breadth was nearly as
great as it is at present; and as for its length
it extended southward to about the site of the new
bridge (Scugog Bridge). In summer, when the springs
were materially affected by the heat of the sun,
it was somewhat contracted; innumerable reeds or
marshy grass shot up above the surface, and the
shallow bark canoe of the Indian was not unfrequently
brought to a stop, unless it was taken along the
main body of water. But at other periods of the
year the size of the lake, (or marsh) was somewhat
different; it was more navigable; and its area was
also considerably enlarged. What was affected by
the mill dam at Lindsay was the adding of depth
to the waters of the lake, to the extent perhaps
of three or four feet, and thereby submerging of
those parts of the shoreline where it did not stand
much above the waters. Thus much as to Lake Scugog
up to the year 1830.
1831 BUILDING ROADS: Passing on to
the following year, we have several interesting
matters to notice. The Brock Road was then surveyed.
And very wisely so. For if settlers on the western
side of Whitby were to have connection with those
on the western side of Brock, the formation of such
a road was all but necessary. And besides, as already
shown, two persons had come, into Reach whose settlements
lay on the very line referred to, and it was reasonable
to expect that other settlers would soon come near
them. Though the road however was now marked out,
it was not built until years afterwards, and the
part of it which passes over the ridges was made
at a still more recent date.
The next matter connected with
the year was the formation of what was called the
"Scotch Settlement". Messrs Donald and Peter Christie,
and Messrs Archibald McDermid and Duncan McKercher
arrived in Reach in the month of October, and settled
down between Manchester and Utica. They came of
course by way of Simcoe Street; and in saying that
they came in wagons we wish to inform our readers
that conveyances were not improving in the township.
Indeed there was more than one
of the previous settler who had not got wagons instead
of ox-carts. But in most other respects things were
still unattractive enough. In summer as well as
in winter conveyancing was chiefly done with sleighs.
And though horses were not entirely unknown, their
number as yet was exceedingly small.
In the month of December the same
year a settlement opened up in the north, Solomon
Orser who came from Kingston with two steers and
a dog, and occupied twelve days with his journey,
commenced operations on the place where he still
lives, about four miles above Prince Albert, (Honey's
His earliest days were by no means
enviable; we refer especially to his dangers from
wild animals; with few visits from white men and
equally few from straying Indians, he had often
to listen to the cry of bears, and more often still
to the howl of wolves, many of which beset him on
both sides, but especially towards the extensive
swamp on the west of him.
Never-the-less, he was first rate
in the use of the gun, and he used it often with
much execution. He was also expert in the art of
fishing, and he had simple scope for that in the
neighboring lake. Indeed so well did he fish and
hunt for years that , with masquinonge and venison
and other such supplies, his table was probably
better provided than the tables of most of the other
Thus provided from some sources
and imperilled from others, he was by and by privileged
with new neighbors: and we mention them here, though
they came in at successive periods, to inhabit the
earlier settlements on the road northward. Eighteen
months after Solomon Orser, his neighbor Mr. Mark
became a settler. Next in order was Jeremish Orser,
then James Moon, to the south of the Nonquon, next
to Charles Black on the 14th concession, and lastly
Thomas Shaw on the 11th with others at later dates.
And now having come thus far with
our narrative we would make a few miscellaneous
statements. The township having grown ten years
old, had acquired a tolerable population according
to the census, 134 souls; and by this time a considerable
portion of land had been cleared, while several
pieces of road had been formed, and a few wagons
had appeared upon them.
Intellectual privileges had also
been acquired, in the way of education, but a system
of letter carrying, and in virtue of gospel preaching,
first by the Baptists and next by the Wesleyan Methodists.
Nevertheless there still existed many drawbacks.
If the wild beasts were at all diminished, their
thirst for blood was as strong as ever. Who can
doubt it, when somewhere about this period no fewer
than 22 sheep were found by Abner Hurd one morning
killed by a pack of wolves, and this but a few rods
from his present dwelling house.
It should be noted that groceries
were still far off, there was no nearer store as
yet than the one which stood on the Kingston road;
it is not then to be wondered at that for coffee
some of our settlers resorted to dandelion, or burnt
bread, that for tea they drew upon the hemlock tree
or sweet fern, and that as for sugar they depended
wholly on the juice of maple.
Nor were some of our settlers
materially benefited by the letter carrier; those
to the west were several miles from his line of
travel, and one of them has told us that on going
down to the front post office he found a letter
for him which had come out from the old country
more than a year before.
It is scarcely necessary to add
here that the price of grain was comparatively low,
and that money was a very rare article. And yet
along with these disadvantages, there were also
various sources of enjoyment.
Nature was productive, both in
respect of garden and field fruits: poultry and
cattle also thrived well; houses and roads and such
like matters were gradually improving; the cleared
fields were rapidly multiplying; society too was
always on the increase; and at almost all seasons
there was ample room for healthy exertion. These
and other corresponding causes, which cannot well
be put on paper, abated the drawbacks connected
with the bush, and made the settlers not a little
1832 ROADS NORTH: The next was
a very memorable year, though not in connection
with this township. It was in 1832 that Canada was
first assailed by Cholera, and assailed to a very
fatal extent: for many hundreds died in consequence.
But it does not appear to have visited Reach: at
least we have no record of any case of it, fatal
or otherwise. And neither do we know of any other
matter which transpired in the township that year.
But in 1833 hopeful operations
were effected in the northwest. In the month of
August that year Robert Wells travelled up the Brock
road, and settled on the rear of the 9th concession,
having no neighbor to the north of him in the township,
and his nearest neighbor to the south being three
miles distant. In that quarter however there were
signs of improvement: for not only was there a partial
road formed as far as Mr. Wells place, but the road
was occasionally passed over all the way into Brock.
And so at this time there was
a partial road from Epsom to Uxbridge: we say partial,
meaning of course that it was more than blased,
that it was even more than a bridle road, that it
was somewhat serviceable for ox-carts. It will thus
be seen that means of intercourse were gradually
multiplying, not only between settlers within the
township, but between these settlers and others
in neighboring townships.
And as might have been expected,
new settlers were attracted into Reach. The following
year, for example, Robert and Samuel Baird, and
George Patterson commenced work on the front of
the 14th, and a Mr. Adams on the rear of the 8th,
not to mention various, other persons who became
neighbors to these settlers in the years that followed.
1835 UTICA SETTLEMENT:
In connection however with 1835 there were various
other noticeable improvements. The embryo village
of Utica was then formed, for it was in that year
that the oldest house it ever had, was raised by
Duncan McKercher, hence the name "McKercher's Corners."
And now also was laid the foundation
of Port Perry. Like most other village foundations
in Canada, it was of a very humble foundation: it
was a small log house, and it stood in close proximity
to the lake, about the place which is now occupied
by the warehouse on the old wharf. There was also
another school commenced; though now designated
No. 6, it was the second that was formed in the
township, the schoolhouse stood on the front of
the 4th concession, and the first teacher was William
Nor was this year closed before
the township was visited by a Presbyterian Minister;
we refer to the Rev. R. Thornton of Whitby. He had
landed in the country two years before and now from
his place on Kingston Road he travelled back into
Reach, with a view to baptize a few children and
to preach the gospel of eternal life. On this occasion
he has travelled as far north as the Nonquon, and
he was met by a large party of Indians, who were
carrying a bark canoe between Lake Scugog and Lake
Ontario. This was a somewhat rare thing for these
latitudes, and if witnessed again at the present
day, it would probably be noted as a marvel.
After the Indians moved to Mud
Lake, the land which had been acquired for their
benefit passed successively into other hands. From
them it was purchased by Elias Williams, and afterwards
by Peter Perry, Esq, of Whitby. Mr. Perry was not
deficient in foresight; he looked on the land acquired
by him as offering scope for profitable business.
1844 PERRY'S PLAN: Situated
on the side of a large body of water, and not far
off from the front townships, he viewed it as an
excellent site for a village, where mills and stores
might be erected, and to which might be easily conveyed
the available lumber of the back country.
With these view he commenced operations
in 1844; in that year he caused to be erected a
dry-goods store, the store which is now kept by
Mr. McMichael; it was kept originally by Chester
Draper, who has now a place of business in Whitby.
And somewhere about the same time,
the first wharf and warehouse were erected at Port
Perry, together with a number of temporary houses
which were used by Mr. Perry's workmen.
Shortly after the erections now
mentioned, a thriving business in lumber was commenced
by several parties. In additioin Mr. Perry, the
principal parties were Messrs. Welch and Baldwin,
Cook and Calvin. These men commenced and extensive
business in the production of lumber and barrel
Connected also with 1844 there
were other notable movements. In place of the first
purchaser of wheat, who now disappeared, George
Currie arrived in Prince Albert. He was also the
agent of John Warren; and as well as improving the
store greatly, he gave an important impetus to the
wheat business. Indeed it might almost be said to
have commenced with him; and if other were afterward
enlisted in it, such as John Laing & Joseph Bigelow,
and Thomas Forman, yet still Thomas Courtice had
the chief merit of showing that a large amount of
business might be done and of stimulating all concerned
to the use of our rising villages for that purpose.
The erection of another school-house,
the seventh in order in the township was built on
the front of the 2nd Conc. It was designated School
Section No. 2 and it stands in close proximity to
the present gravelled road.
We have spoken repeatedly of the
gravelled road. All must allow that a good line
of connection between Whitby and Reach was exceedingly
desirable. This might be shown by various arguments
we would simply refer to the advantages of Whitby
harbour. - the claims of the villages immediately
concerned, especially Whitby, Brooklin, Prince Albert
and Port Perry, and the interest of the township
If these are worthy of consideration,
and were entitled to weight, the formation of the
road now existing was all but unavoidable - and
so the members of Government thought, as well as
leading local parties.
1845 PLANK ROAD:
In the year 1845 the Whitby to Port Perry road was
constructed and opened to the public. It was originally
a plank road the entire distance, and continued
so until recently when the planks deteriorated to
such an extent that a gravel road was laid down.
The road was constructed with Government money,
but was later bought by a private company who obtained
it for little more than half the original cost.
While this movement was going
on, new educational movements were also advancing.
Three additional schoolhouses were no erected -
one of them a little to the south of Mr. Orser's;
another scarcely a mile to the north of Epsom, and
another in the rear of the township, between the
13th and 14th concession. These schoolhouses were
much needed and the mental supplies which they furnished
to the young prepared them for the subsequent duties
of life, beside yielding them immediate entertainment.
1846 IMPROVED ROADS: Of
course the next year, 1846, evidence was afforded
that the township was progressing quickly. The mail,
instead of going weekly, as had been the case for
the last six years, commenced on the first of April
to be carried twice a week into and from Reach Township.
And now also, for the first time,
a medical gentleman settled in Reach. We refer to
Dr. Jonathan Foote, who had earlier lived on Kingston
Rd., but now took up his residence in Prince Albert.
The arrival of a doctor was a
great gain to the township, for although the area
was generally healthy at this time, it had not been
that way for a number of years. It was greatly liable
to ague and lake fever, and everyone who knows of
those evils knows that they usually huger long and
cause great bodily weakness, if they are not the
means of causing death. It was therefore advantageous
in a high degree that a medial practicioner was
now on the spot, such as Dr. Foote.
But leaving this matter we pass
to matters of a very different kind.
To this point there has been little
information regarding the settling of the centre
of the township, and for the best of all reasons,
because until this point, no settlers in it.
But now a change came. James Burnett,
one of our late councillors, undismayed by the drawbacks
of the bush, introduced himself to the front of
the 10th concession, and there commenced farming
operations. He was soon followed by other settlers.
Edward Asling, example whether
then or the next year fixed himself on the rear
of the 9th conc., and Mr. Smith who was the first
settler on the rear of the 10th conc., and laid
the foundation of Smithtown village, or as some
oddly call it Gimlet town.
We have mentioned Mr. Asling and
in connection with his name, that the first grist-mill
in the township was raised by him,, if not in 1846
it was certainly in 1847; and the steam engine which
he used in it was probably the earliest steam-engine
which came into the township.
But speedily after the mentioned
mill, there was also raised a new saw-mill; we refer
to the original of William Sexton's mill at Scugog
Village; it was raised by Samuel Hill, now in Whitby.
It then employed only one saw, and yet it did considerable
execution, and courted the employment of more like
agencies for cutting the immense logs of these quarters,
and thus increasing the growth of Port Perry.
1847 SAW MILLS: The very
next year, 1847, another saw mill was started at
the Port, by Danial Way and Thomas Paxton. We give
it a place in our order of events, because this
business has risen to high importance in the community.
The same year a school house was
erected in that neighborhood; we refer to the original
school-house at Borelia, no used by the Millerites
as their place of worship; and the fact of such
an erection then will indicated how the neighborhood
Indeed, not only was the Port
(Scugog Village) pushing ahead, but Borelia was
was coming into shape. The former, though only three
years old, having a store and two saw-mills situated
in a hopeful locality, drew to it rapidly a number
of people; and as for the latter, being situated
at the cutting of two important roads, it had even
already been endowed with a number of dwelling-houses.
There were also a few settlers,
a little to the west; so that altogether there was
room for a new school-house more conveniently situated,
and separate from the one at Prince Albert.
1848 MAIL STAGE: We come now to 1848,
when various important changes were effected - all
of them for the better and very decided evidence
was given that the township was thriving much.
Useful as the Post Office had
proved, it required the addition of the Mail Stage.
Many there were who had no horses; and even of those
who could boast of horses, there were not a few
who, in travelling to or from the front, now and
then were indisposed to use them.
Was it not exceedingly desirable
then that such a persons as these should have regular
means of travel on Simcoe St., while the mail was
being conveyed as well?
The carrier of the mail saw this;
and now that the road was materially improved, and
wagons were gradually multiplying on it, he commenced
his Mail-stage into Reach. The people on the road
were gladdened by the sight of it, and the moment
it arrived in Prince Albert, accompanied by the
sound of the driver's horn, numbers burst forth
into shouts of welcome.
Leaving Simcoe St., we pass on
to Brock Road and notice what was affected there.
Our readers will scarcely expect to be told that
the first churches that were raised in Reach were
raised on the line of the Brock Road, and yet they
were. We refer to the Presbyterian Church and Primitive
Methodist Church, the former on the 12th conc.,
and the latter on the front of the 11th conc.
We were quite aware of another
place of worship which was raised four years before,
namley the one which is used by the Baptists on
the front of the 2nd conc. But as stated in a previous
paragraph, that was originally intended for a school,
and was to used for some time.
To all intents and purposes the
two churches mentioned were the first that were
built in Reach Township. And it is interesting to
note, they were not raised in the neighbourhood
of the earliest settlements, nor in places were
villages were forming, but in extremely rural areas
were people did not settle for more than 12 years
after the front concessions were settled.
Crossing eastward on the 11th
conc. until we come again to Simcoe St., we find
there a small school house, which was also erected
the same year. It is often called the Nonquon School,
because of its nearness to the creek of that name.
Another school house was also erected, the one which
is situated near Cartwright, on the front of the
2nd conc.. So that up to this time there are 12
schools at work in the Township.
Before we leave 1848 we must note
the population figures, for a census was taken that
year. The number of people then residing in the
township was 2,475. This was 1,541 more than in
1841, only seven years before.
This surely was a gratifying increase,
an average increase of more than 200 every year..
It also gave unequivocal proof that the claims of
Reach were telling on the public and it warranted
the hope at some time that the township would flourish
more and more.
In connection with 1848 there
were three events of which deserve notice.
Up to that year the mail-carrier
had travelled no farther than Prince Albert; but
now he extended his labours to Colthart's Corners
(Manilla). The road was far from being good, and
of course he carried the mail on horseback..
Indeed so bad was the road about
that time, that one of our settlers in Prince Albert
was occupied the greater part of nine hours in travelling
a distance of about the same number of miles.
The same year another church was
erected in the township, namely, the Presbyterian
Church in the neighbourhood of Utica. It was not
completed for eight years afterward, but it was
dedicated at that time, and regularly thereafter
Before the fall of that year another
school-house was ready to provide educational service.
It was erected in the region of which we have to
this point said nothing - nearly due north of the
village of Uxbridge and about sixteen miles distance
from Prince Albert.
The distance to be sure, has been
latterly shortened; across the extensive swamp in
the north-west, an excellent bridge and an embankment
were constructed two years ago; but until then,
there was no possibility of reached the school-house,
or the region in which it stands, without intruding
on Uxbridge, or Brock townships
Notwithstanding the utility of
Simcoe Street, a feeling had obtained for some time
that a preferable road was not necessary.
The street was not only in bad
condition, but both in the upper part of Whitby
and in the front concessions of Reach it went over
very hilly ground.
1849 RAPID GROWTH: Palpable
proof was arising too that, as Oshawa had become
an important place, and Port Perry was rapidly growing,
extensive traffic was likely to ensue, not only
between these two places but from Oshawa harbour
up to the northern parts of Reach.
The anticipation new referred
to rested on various grounds. The constant increase
of agricultural produce; the accumulation of valuable
sawn lumber; and the extent of wheat purchases that
were being made in Prince Albert; all of them disposable
for use in the front, and from the front to distant
Influential parties saw this;
a company was formed for the construction of a new
road; and in 1850 the road which they caused to
be made, sometimes called the Nonquon Road or the
New Road, was thrown open to the use of the public.
We need not describe the course
which it takes, unless we say generally that it
leaves Simcoe St. a miles and a half north of Oshawa.
Then for a short distance it pursues a north-easterly
direction before turning due north untl it terminates
at Port Perry. From there is a common road of two
miles due north to Simcoe St.
We regret to add that in the neighourhood
of the lake, the road is sadly disfigured by deep
pitch-holes, which make it in the summer almost
impassable. But during the sleighing season, it
is easier for horse and better sheltered from the
wind than Simcoe St. What it actually cost we cannot
say, but we know that the estimated cost was £5,700.
While this road was reaching completion,
an important building rising in the township. We
refer to the Town Hall at Manchester. It's name
is explanatory of the object of it; it was not designed
to be used as a Court House, though courts are regularly
held in it now; like all other buildings of the
same kind, it was raised for the general business
of the township, for holding meetings of the taxpayers,
for conducting matters of election, for enabling
the Council to deliberate and pass laws, etc.
And as to the place in which it
was built we may say a few words in passing, especially
as we have said nothing hitherto.
When the village of Manchester
originated we can not absolutely assure ourselves,
although we know that the oldest house remaining
in it was built in 1846. It stands at the cutting
of the gravel and concessions roads.
The next oldest house is that
of Mr. A.W. Ewers; and the third oldest the one
which is now occupied by James Truax; both of these
buildings standing on the side of the gravelled
Of later years, the tavern was
raised and occupied by Mr. H. Fitchett; and hence
until the modern name was give it, the place was
generally designated Fitchett's Corners."
But after the place acquired a
bank; and gave decided indications in a village,
it threw off its primitive name and claimed the
imposing title of Manchester.
But we have other matters to record
of this year and one of them merits particular mention.
1850 TORNADO STRIKES: On
the afternoon of the forth of July, 1850 a storm
assailed the township of Reach which was so dreadful
and so rapid that describing it is near impossible.
The air of course was exceedingly
warm and even in the forenoon, most people were
beginning to image that something serious was brewing.
But after midday these prehensions
were greatly increased, the sultry nature of the
atmosphere and the ominous clouds in the north-west
making it next to certain that a hurricane was hastening
At length the crises came; flashed
of lighting and peals of thunder, succeeded as quickly
by rain and tempest, all arrested the eye and the
ear with a force and a wildness which cannot be
The scene was as terrible as a
tropical tornado; every mind was agitated by it;
every heart quailed before it. It did not continue
long, scarcely as long as ten minutes; and it did
not set on a large extent, little more that a quarter
of a mile in breadth.
But in the line which it took,
from north- west to south-west its effects sufficiently
appalling, standing trees and lying logs, houses
and mills and farm offices, cattle and flocks and
human beings, all being forced to own it supremacy.
On the farm of John and Margaret
Ianson, in the 10 conc., it wrought fearful mischief;
there it overturned innumerable trees, and beside
overthrowing the dwelling house, it killed the Ianson's
son 12-year-old John, and sister-in-law Mrs. Hunter.
The the south side of Lake Scugog
it was nearly as mischevious; a man by the name
of McLeod was killed by it, and it greatly thinned
the surrounding forest.
In other quarters it took up boys
and men from the ground, whirled them like tops
in the open air, and then at some rods distance
set them down on the ground again.
Fortunately enough it scarcely
touched Borelia or Prince Albert as it passed as
it were between them; but it left traces of its
fury in the neighbourhood. Abnur Hurd's sawmill
yielded before it and so did a host of trees immediately
adjoining the property.
And one of the most amusing things,
close to Borelia on the side of the 6th conc. there
stood a little cottage, with an open space between
it and the ground. The owner of it was away and
his wife, as the storm was approaching its worst,
naturally enough betook herself to the house of
a neighbour. She had scarcely reached the neighbours,
when her own house was blown away and tumbled down
on the other side of the public road.
We could tell of other effects
of the storm, but enough has been said already to
give and idea of its power; the like of it was never
seen before, nor since, at least in this township.
And we should add that although it was felt in other
townships, as in Brock and Scott and Cartwright
and Darlington, it appears to have reserved its
worst for Reach.
Passing on to other matters, let
us now say, that before this year had reached a
close the last of the school-houses now standing
was raised midway between Epsom and Uxbridge.
Our readers of course will infer
from this, that the section lying in that quarter
was later in being settled than most others; and
probably so, although we have not certain information.
The idea however, receives countenance from the
character of the fields and the style of the dwelling-houses,
the former of which are pretty stumpy, while the
latter are generally small and unpretending. But
the erection of the school-house was a great gain,
and augered will for the future of the inhabitants.
Before we leave 1850 let us simply
notice another matter. It was somewhere in the course
of that year that the village of Borelia was so
named; the name, was given by a stranger and given
as a kind of compliment to the people, just as the
phrase Aurora Borealis is used in reference to the
Northern Lights . But whether that is the right
explanation we do not know for sure. Indeed we are
are somewhat skeptical about it.
Certain we are on the other hand,
that the names of the rest of the villages in our
township (several of which were given at this time)
were taken from persons or places connected with
terra firma, not from any celestial phenomenon.
Leaving the matter of names, however, we proceed
to something more substantial.
1851 IMPROVED MAIL: In
the month of January 1851, mail delivery under went
a new change. After having run for nearly five years,
twice a week, it now commenced running three times
This of course was a great gain;
and there was ample reason for it. Not only had
the population grown into thousands, but the Post
Office in Prince Albert was as yet the only office
in the township.
It was therefore judicious in
a high degree - it was more, it was necessary -
to increase the amount of mail service, that the
many hundreds who depended on it might enjoy something
like adequate opportunity of dispatching and receiving
their several communications.
Little has been said to this point
about sailing on Lake Scugog. Up to the year 1830
Lake Scugog had scarcely an existence; as already
shown it was nothing more than an immense marsh,
with a strong creek (augmented by others) flowing
through it; and therefore except with an Indian
bark canoe sailing was quite impossible.
In reference to the next twenty
years, the case was otherwise; as the lake invited
sailing craft, so sailing craft was frequently on
it, sometimes in the shape of pleasure, sometimes
in the shape of social transit, and sometimes in
the shape of business.
But more particularly we ought
to mention that, owing to the rapid growth of Lindsay
and the rising character of Port Perry and Prince
Albert, there was carried on between these places
for a number of years, a regular system of goods
and personal conveyance. The vessels to be sure
were not large; they were merely scows, but still
they served their purpose for the time, and opened
the way for something better.
It was very easy to see however
that scows must now be set aside. The country on
all sides of the lake was filling with population,
and therefore with business; north of the lake were
other similar bodies of water, still more capable
of navigation; and the Fenelon Falls worthy of a
visit from the lovers of the romantic; and then
between Lake Scugog and Lake Sturgeon was the populous
town of Lindsay.
These and other considerations
had brought on the conclusion that a small steamer
must be put upon our lake. And now the well-known
Woodman, built at the Port and fitted with an engine
from the factory of Messrs Gartshore & Co., Dundas,
was launched away on the peaceful waters. After
being fully equipped for her mission, she set out
on her tri-weekly trips, and received in so doing
the applause of many on the shore.
Contemporaneous with this achievement,
was the erection of another place of worship; namely
the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Prince Albert.
It had long been needed, for as may be inferred
from our previous statements, the Wesleyan Methodists
in this locality had for years before presented
a considerable bulk, having had the benefit of preached
And it scarcely required to be
mentioned here that before they obtained a chapel
for themselves, they met in the common school-house.
This however was not to be adhered to. And both
for their own sakes and for the sakes of others,
it was well that they erected their place of worship
and formally took possession of it.
Somewhere also about this time,
an important Society was constructed again, which
for several years had grown default. We refer to
the Bible Society of Reach. Owing to a number of
causes, the township Society had lost ground and
ceased to exist. Now it was called into life again,
with much larger numbers to give it support.
1852 MORE MILLS: A steam
flouring and saw mill was built by John Cameron,
of Toronto, and carried on for some years before
it burned down. The mill stood were the railway
station was located, which is now Palmer Park.
It was during this year the 'New
Road' was built by the Oshawa Road and Harbor Company
to compete with the plank road. The contract for
building was taken by Patrick Terley. Two miles
of the road running through Port Perry were sublet
to William White, who built that much for $2 per
rod. At this time you could hire men for 50¢ per
In 1852 post offices were established
at Port Perry, Manchester and Epsom. Mr. Joseph
Bigelow was the first postmaster at Port Perry.
1853 DAILY STAGE: In 1853
another daily stage line between Port Perry and
Whitby was started by C.S. Jewell, the two lines
connecting with the steamer Woodman, and both lines
doing a large passenger business. So keen at one
time was the competition between the stage lines,
that passengers were carried between Port Perry
and Whitby for 25 cents.
This year John Cameron, who represented
the Port Perry Land Co., put up a fine big saw mill
and grist mill along the lakefront. The grist mill
was operated for a season or two by the Paxtons,
and later by a man named Johnston. The mill was
destroyed by fire in 1856.
As the town continued to grow,
Stephen Doty built a new mill at the west end of
the Scugog Bridge. It was run for some years, but
was not very successful as the machinery was of
a poor type. It was later bought by Joseph Bigelow
who refitted it with machinery and made it a going
concern. One piece of work done by this mill was
to cut the lumber for the fence along the railway
from Port Perry to Whitby. This mill was also laster
destroyed by fire.
1854 NAVIGATION COMPANY: The
Nonquon River Navigation Improvement Company was
incorporated in June 1854 with plans to constructing
a dam six feet high, above high water mark, across
the Nonquon River or Creek, in the 13th concession
of the Township of Reach, for the transmission of
timber down the river. The company, although incorporated
never did begin the project.
1855 CENTRE ROAD: Centre
Road was surveyed in 1855 by John Shiers. It was
a very difficult road to build as it passed through
considerable swamp. The route was so bad that many
declared that it would be impossible to build a
road there and the Councils at first refused to
make any grants for that purpose; but the settlers
along the proposed route were not to be put off
that way, and managed to drive a yoke of oxen over
the track, thus proving the feasibility of the road.
Jacob and W.D. Bowerman started
a woolen factory and planing mill along Water St.,
near the lake and operated it successfully for a
while. It was later sold to Joseph Bigelow, who
added the manufacture of flour barrel staves. When
the property was expropriated for railway purposes
the mill was torn down and removed to near the foundry
of Madison Williams, on Perry St.
BRIDGE: The next milestone in Port Perry's progress
was the building of the Scugog Bridge by the County
of Ontario in 1856, connecting Port Perry with Scugog
Island. Previous to this a ferry had to be operated
during the open season between Port Perry and the
Island to transort people and supplies. Building
the bridge was a big undertaking, due to a half-mile
stretch of water from shore to shore. Officials
felt building a permanent structure was considered
too big an undertaking at that time so a compromise
was made and a floating bridge was constructed by
John Bowers. Afterwards the bridge was filled in,
making a solid permanent roadway.
1857 FIRST NEWSPAPER: This
was the year that first issue of the Ontario Observer
was published with an apology from the publisher
after being delayed two days due to the late arrival
of material for the areas first newspaper. The paper
finally came off the press on Dec. 12, 1857.
The village of Prince Albert had
grown to a population of about 600 and a large commercial
section situated around the corners of King and
Talk about building a railway
into the community became a hot topic, a meeting
was held at the Town Hall in Manchester regarding
the Port Whitby & Lake Huron Railway. During this
meeting Prince Albert residents voting 340 in favor
of the railway and 158 against.
1858 NEW ROAD PROPOSAL:
In 1858 John Simpson of Bowmanville made a proposal
for a road from Bowmanville to Caesarea, and to
be continued with a bridge across to Scugog Island
He further proposed the road be continued north
through the centre of the Island where another bridge
would be constructed across the north end of Lake
Scugog to Port Hoover. He spent much time and money
promoting his idea but it failed to gain much support
and was eventually dropped.
In September, 1858, The North
Ontario Agricultural Society held its first exhibition
at Prince Albert.
In December, another railway meeting
was held at Neil Sinclair's Hotel, Borelia, with
one of the largest attendances ever. Abnur Hurd
was elected chairman and R.H. Tomlinson, secretary.
The proposed line would be laid down between the
Manvers Station, through Prince Albert and Uxbridge
to Marchell's Corner on the Northern Railroad.
1859 GRAIN CENTRE: By 1859
Prince Albert had become an extremely busy grain
centre, with immense quantities of wheat being brought
into the village processing by one a large number
grain buyers operating in the commuity. buyers of
wheat. It was at this time, 1859, that Prince Albert
was heralded as the second largest grain handling
centre in Canada!
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