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Thank you Mrs. Thelma Gray for supplying us with your original manuscript.
Carmichael Family OnLine

Chapter 1 - Hillsburgh

Next to Eramosa, Erin is the oldest settled Township in Wellington County. The first settler, Nathaniel Rozell, came in 1820 and settled on lot 1 on the 7th line.

The following year, 1821, William How and his family came from Kent, England, landing at Little York (Toronto) where they picked up the deed to lots 22 and 23 in the seventh concession.

After reaching the Rozell home and spending the night, Mr. Rozell accompanied fire and Mrs. How to their holdings Arriving late in the evening, they threw brush up against a fallen tree to make a shelter. Next morning, work was begun on a crude shanty, which was completed in three days. Leaving Mr. and Mrs. How settled, Mr. Rozell returned home. Snow came November 9 that year and stayed until March; so it was six months before Mrs. How saw a white woman again. Their yoke of oxen and one cow had to browse all winter.

Mr. How being the pioneer of Hillsburgh, he started the first general store in a small log building just south of the later store.

Soon business increased and a larger store was built and a trading post set up where the settlers traded their produce for flour, sugar, etc., brought in from Oakville.

The second store is known to have been much larger than the third one There has always   been some dispute as to whether the name was spelled How or Howe, but Melvin Harper, a cousin of Will and Margaret who were the last to carry on the family store, says that the name HOW was in large letters over the front door.

The second store was destroyed by an explosion while Edward How was the owner. Gunpowder was kept in open kegs with Just a paper cover, and while a group of men were sitting around the stove, smoking and chatting, someone lit their pipe, carelessly tossed a lighted match and it started to burn the paper. Mr. How grabbed the keg and started for the door, but was too late. The explosion that followed blinded Mr. How in one eye and completely destroyed the store. The fact that counters ran the full length of the store on either side and held the weight of the fallen roof off the men is all that saved their lives. The store that replaced this one was smaller and after passing out of the How name, was owned by Harry Hall; and now his daughter, Marjorie, and her husband Henry Beatty, own it.

The settlement was at that time called Howville, but in 1823, a family named Hill arrived and settled on Lot 25 and one Nazareth Hill built the first hotel where Ed. Dymek's store now stands. He must have had varied interests, as it is also noted that he began the first Sunday School as well. He made the Nazareth Hill survey of the village and imposed his name upon the settlement. Thus Hillsburg (no "h" on the ending until many years later) was named for the Hill family and not for the surrounding hills, as many suppose. Ann Street in Hillsburgh was named after Mr. Hill's daughter, Ann.

The Police Village of Hillsburgh was incorporated in 1899, and the Village Trustees in 1967 are Carman Parkinson, James McLaren and John Graham, with John Clarke as Clerk.

Chapter 2 - Hillsburgh Schools

School Section No. 6

There are records to show that we had a school house in school Section No. 6 as far back as 1844.

This building was a small rough cast house situated on Main St. (seventh line) in the south east part of the Village and is now used as a residence where Lorne Wheeler lives.

In 1864 a new school was built south east of the first one. It was red brick, set on a stone foundation, and this foundation was built on flagstones four feet across. The brick was made on Mr. Wm. Barden's farm, and built by Campbell brothers.

Soon there were so many pupils it was necessary to use the Town Hall, which was situated where the Presbyterian manse now stands. It was used for the Junior pupils.

Soon it became necessary to build an addition to the front of the red brick school and was completed in 1878, and was used for the Juniors. The first teacher to take charge of this new room was Miss Annie McMillan, While Mr. J.W. Weeks taught the senior pupils. These buildings were heated by stoves. Later a furnace was installed. As far back as 1881 we find they paid $1.33 per cord for wood.

Teachers salaries varied from two hundred to one thousand dollars.

It was the custom in early days for the teacher to hold examinations each year. To this the parents were invited. They brought their lunch, which was eaten at noon. This was considered quite a social affair. The parents took great pleasure as their children recited their lessons.

This school is now used as a feed mill.

As time went on School Areas came into being. Six acres of land were purchased from Mr. Mungo Nodwell and a three-room school was built and opened on January 8, 1960. It was named the Ross R. McKay Public School as a memorial to Mr. Ross R. McKay who had been principal from 1911 for a number of years, then again from 1941 until 1959. He died January 6, 1960. He was a man of very strong principles and an excellent teacher.

The official opening was June 24, 1960 with Mr. A. Shepard as principal. S.S. No 11 closed in June 1960 and commuted to Hillsburgh via Mr. Tom Hope's bus with Mr. A.B. King as principal. S.S. No. 3 came in September 1961. Then a fourth room was added to the south corner. S.S. No. 12 and S.S.. No. 9 started to commute in January 1963 via Mr. Tom Hope's bus.

A two room addition and principal's office were added to the north sides making the Ross R. McKay a six room school. Miss Helen Akitt has taught continuously since 1930 until the present time, and has done outstanding work with the primary grades.

Salaries in 1967 are from five thousand Dollars to seven thousand dollars.

The Public school Inspectors were - Mr. James Kilgour 1865, Mr. George Summerville, Mr. J.J. Craig, Mr. L.P. Menzies, Dr. G.G. McNabb, Mr. W.R. McVittie, Mr.  S.D. Oakes, Mr. C.R. Whitfield 1967.

Early Teachers

Mr. McKenzie
Mr. McLean
Mr. D.A. Campbell
Mr. Cull
Mr. Donald Currie
Miss Annie McMillan
Mr. J.W. Weeks
Miss Barbara Rodgers
Miss Catherine Reid
Miss M. Reid
Miss M. Thomson
Miss Bessie Thomson
Mr. Law
Mr. Wm. Rowan
Miss Kelly
Mr. Henry
Mr. A.R. McKay
Mrs. Wilson
Miss Dewey
Miss Campbell
Miss Murchison
Miss M. Jemple
Miss Eva Hayden
Miss Ella McMillan
Mr. H. Tate
Miss Olive Awrey

Later Teachers from 1930

Mr. Gilillan
Miss Helen Akitt
Mr. L. Pike
Miss Pricilla Cook
Miss Lillie Toop
Miss Irene Jackson
Miss Edna Goodwill
Mr. Ross R. McKay
Mr. A. Shepard
Mr. A. King
Mrs. Nancy Sinclair
Mrs. Loretta Bradley
Mrs. Audrey McRachern
Mrs. Martha Bryan
Mrs. Susan Anderson
Mrs. Aurelia Rathbun
Mrs. Margaret Jackson
Mrs. Joan Hall
Mrs. Muriel Johnston
Mrs. Jean Reilly
Mrs. M. Robinson


Mrs. Mackie
Mr. Foster
Miss Joyce Caville

We regret any errors or omissions as all Registers were not available.

Everdale Place School

A private school under the direction of Mr. Allan Risers opened Sept. 1966 on the farm lot 23, 6th. concession Erin Twp. It is known as the Everdale Place school Community. It is a new approach to education for pupils aged twelve to sixteen years.

Chapter 3 - Hillsburgh Churches

The Union Church

A twelve foot square room in Erin Village was the first place in which Erin Settlers met to worship God. All the settlers looked to this place as their spiritual homage for a few years.

Some from Argyle and Islay, Scotland came to the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th. concession of Erin Twp. in the 1830's and would not forget the assembling of themselves together, so decided to erect a Union Church, joining with the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Anglicans in building a place of worship. This church was erected in the grave yard situated about the centre of the Village near where Mr. Edgar Huxley now lives. Records do not tell very much of this old church. A quote from the Hillsburgh Beaver in 1887 says, "A Bible class for adults every Thursday evening at seven - thirty in Union Church." It would be of great interest if we could outline the story of the people of various denominations who worshipped there who were able to unite in the work of the Sunday School, while they remained true to the convictions which they held as to their own peculiar views of religion.

Methodist Church

Little is known or remembered at the present time of the Methodist Church, but we know it was a large frame building on Church at. It was later turned into a double residence where Mr. and Mrs. A. McConnell and Mrs. John McFee now reside.

Baptist Church

On the 12th day of October, 1853 a group of Christians met and formed themselves into a Regular Baptist Church. The following Sabbath those who sat down at the Lord's Table as members of the church were: Elder Pickard, Deacon John Rott and Mrs. Rott, Deacon Robert Rott and Mrs. Rott, John Viner, John B. Awrey and Mrs. Awrey, Margaret Rott, Jesse Smith, and the clerk, George Henshaw.

The first church was erected in 1862 on a lot purchased from George Henshaw. The present church building stands on this original site and the first building is incorporated in the present larger structure. In 1891 a stone wall was built at the front of the church, hand rails on each side of the stone steps and a platform for ladies alighting from rigs .A church shed was put up 1866. In 1925 it was re-built. In 1949 the shed was sold to the township of Erin for storage purposes as it had outlived its usefulness.

During 1872 a report shows that the total membership was 104 with 16 people applying for baptism. This is the largest recorded membership in the history of the church. During that same year a Sunday School was organized with Mr. L. G. Oliver as superintendent. In 1949 a unified church and Sunday School service was adopted when Roy Awrey was superintendent. Haines Root followed and remained in that office for 18 years. The present superintendent is Charles Burt.

Many fine musicians have devoted their God-given talents to singing in the choir and congregation. A tuning fork was first used to lead the singing and in 1888 a reed organ was purchased for $105 and was used in services for over 65 years. Then it was replaced by a Hallman two-manual organ, and a year later, by a larger Hallman two manual electric with chimes. Mrs. Donald Matheson, the present Organist and choir director, has served in that capacity for a number of years.

The church is a sacred place; for souls have met Christ here, hearts have been lifted in worship, couples have been united in marriage, funeral serviced have been held. Christ, the head of the church, is the way, the truth and the life.

Ministers of the church are in order of service as follows; Elder Picard, Elder Reid, Elder Bates, Elder Grant, Elder McFadyen, James Anderson, Pastor Cunningham, Rev. A. M. McFadyen, A. R. Best, M.P. Campbell, W. J. Waddell, Rev. E. J. Haines, Rev. R. W. Kelly, W. R. Burrell, C. W. Dewey, Rev. M. E. Siple, Rev. James MacCormack, John Wood, Rev. James Cross, Rev. H.P. Humphrey, Rev. J. E. Pettit, Wayman K. Roberts, Elmore Young, John Fullard, Raymond LeDrew, Ronald Harmer, Mr. Hunter, Donald Sinclair, Paul Burns, Paul Smith, Leonard O'Neil, Murray Ford, Benson Jones, Archie Goldie, Gordon Swan, Kenneth Hillmer, and Paul Boughton.

Presbyterian Church

In 1840 the Rev. John McMurchy came to Canada from Scotland and came to visit his relatives who had settled near Hillsburgh. He conducted Divine service and dispensed the Lord's Supper to the people of Presbyterian faith in Hillsburgh. He thought of his Kith and Kin in Hillsburgh as sheep without a shephard. Through his influence the Synod of Canada Presbyterian Church, in connection with the Church of Scotland, sent in 1860 John Goodwill, a student at Queen's University, Kingston, to minister to the Presbyterians in the district.

A congregation was formed in 1860, a session elected and ordained. The first elders elected were - Angus McMurchy Sr., John McLachlan, Hector McVannel, and Donald Robertson.

Descendants of the McMurchy family have lived here during all the history of St. Andrew's Church until the present time.

In 1863 there were thirty - four names on the roll. In 1865 Donald Strachan came as a student, and in 1868 brought his family. He was ordained in 1868 and became the first ordained minister. He also started the first Sunday school around 1866.

Mr. Strachan's first wife Margaret Ravee, died in 1871, and is buried in the grave yard near the old Union Church.

The first to join the church were - Duncan McArthur, Mrs. Ronald McEachern, Mrs. Jas. Brown, Alex Gray and Jinnet McDougal.

The tuning fork was the only instrument of music allowed. In the spring of 1869 a meeting was held and it was unanimous that a new church should be built.

The contract price complete was two thousand dollars and the land bought from the estate of Robert Maw for two hundred dollars.

The Church was built and they called it St. Andrew's in honor of their Scotch ancestry, Campbell brothers were the masons.

In 1871 a congregation at Price's Corners in East Garafraxa Twp. joined with Hillsburgh to make it two charges. A large and commodious shed was built and paid for in 1907. After outliving it's usefulness was taken down in 1953.

In 1925 a vote was taken on Church Union, uniting the Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationilists. The majority being against union, the Presbyterians were allowed to keep their church.

In 1930 a basement was built under the church. The task seemed impossible, but under the able leadership of Mr. Dan Gray and much voluntary help the church was completely renovated and finished in 1931. For many years a reed organ was used. It was replaced in 1951 by a Minshall Electric and in 1955 by a Hammond two-manual electric organ with chimes. St. Andrew's has always been blest with musical talent and able organists to lead in the songs of Praise.

At the rear of the church a large kitchen and washrooms were erected in 1959.

On February 24, 1965, a disastrous fire completely gutted the Church. Plans were made immediately to re- build on the same site, using the old walls which remained standing. The congregation worshipped in the Community Centre until April 17, 1966, when the new church was completed and dedicated. The contractor was Mr. Perry Wilson of Fergus and the architect Mr. Murray Marshall of Richmond Hill. In 1966 the lot beside the church was bought.

Rev. Wayne Maddock, the present minister, came in 1965. He and his family live in the manse which was built about 1882. There are at the present time two hundred names on the roll. The Women's Missionary Society has carried on continuously since 1881. The session in 1967 are - Mr. Edgar Huxley, clerk, Mr. W.B.Sutton, Mr. Geo. Lacey, Mr. Wilbert McFee, Mr. Donald MacMurchy, Mr. J'no. Warden, Mr. Howard Barbour, Mr. Elmer Sutton.

Ministers are in order of service.

John Goodwill (student) 1860

Rev. Donald Strachan 1865 - 1876

Rev. Robt. Fowlie 1877 - 1880

Rev. W.C. Armstrong 1882   

Rev. J.J. Elliot 1891

Rev. M. McKinnon 1898 - 1901

Rev. B. Russell 1903 - 1905

Rev. R.J. Scott 1905 - 1919

Rev. F.C. Harper 1920 - 1922

Rev. Hare  1922-1925

Rev. Jac. Reidie 1926 - 1931

Rev. T.W.Goodwill 1932  - 1939

Rev. W.D. Turner 1940  - 1946

Dr. Geo. AitKen 1947 - 1952

Rev. Thos. Blakely 1952 - 1953

Rev. C.J. St.Clair Jeans 1954 - 1955

Rev. Geo. Wilson 1955 - 1959

Rev. Thos. Caldwell 1961 - 1962

Rev. W.A. Douglas 1964 - 1965

Rev. Hayne Maddock 1965 -


St. John's Anglican Church

No one seems to have any record when this fine old Church was built. Some are under the impression that John Byrnes had much to do with it. No services have been held for many years and it probably closed about 1918.

Former members were : Byrnes family, Mr. & Mrs. Wm. Donaldson, Lacey family, Mr. & Mrs. Lange, Mr. & Mrs. Wes Hoare, Mr. & Mrs. Harry Ellenton, Fitzgerald family, Mrs. Milloy, Mrs. Simpsons, Geo. Baldwin family, Oblander family, Leeson family, Mr. & Mrs. Duthie, Mr. & Mrs John Hurds, Mr. & Mrs. C. Cockburns, McNally family.

Organists were : Emma & Clara Leeson, Mrs. Geo. Baldwin, Martha Lacey.

Some ministers were : Rev. Rushbrook, Rev. DeArcy, Rev. Ketteson, Rev. Sparks.

Hillsburgh Christian Church

This church was built to replace the stone Church, on #17 sideroad at the 6th line corner, known as Erin Centre. As early as 1900, families in the northern part of Erin Twp. and as far away as Reading, in Garafraxa Twp. began holding Sunday evening services in the Hillsburgh Town Hall, and from this grew the desire for a church in Hillsburgh.

All through the winter and spring of 1906, members worked, first for financial support and then held bees, hauling lumber and stone, Rev. G. O. Black was minister , and the first board of Elders were: John King, Geo. Maltby and Hugh McMillan.

The Corner stone was laid Aug. 25, 1906 by Alex McKinnon, and the trowel, suitably inscribed and presented to him, in the possession of his daughter, Miss Edna McKinnon, Guelph. Tables were set for supper on Isaiah Awrey's lawn and a program followed the ceremony. Tickets for the supper cost 25 cents.

The building was completed and dedicated to the worship of God, on Feb. 27, 1907. Dr. Van Horn, minister of the Cecil St. Church, Toronto, spoke at both morning and evening services and in the morning the Presbyterian church loaned their building for a service as well.

The opening of the church was followed by a two week evangelistics meeting conducted by R. W. Stevenson, Provincial Evangelist. Miss Jessie Reid of Grand Valley, (the late Mrs. Norman Robertson) was guest soloist at both the opening and at many of the meetings the next two weeks. Miss Minnie McMillan was the organist.

Transportation by cutter and sleigh and February snow to be shovelled by hand, would probably prevent anyone from coming in this day and age, but we are told that the church was filled most of the nights for two weeks,

Much interest was shown in the new Church with its beautiful stained glass windows and inclined floor and a furnace and church kitchen was a real innovation at that time.

On May 2, 1948, one of the first electric organs in this area was installed. Mrs. Morgan Graham and her assistant, Miss Helen Akitt, were in charge of music at this time. After twenty-eight years as Organist, Mrs. Lancey Cheyne followed Mrs. Graham. On March 30, 1955, a church parsonage was bought on Ann Street and exactly four years later, the mortgage was paid off (March 31, 1959.) In November 1963, the interior of the parsonage was gutted by fire. Immediately, the church board set to work, and the following May, "Open House" was held with a good attendance. Some men from the other churches in town graciously gave of their time in the renovations, and this was greatly appreciated.

Within the last ten years, new communion plates have been presented to the Church in memory of the late Mre and Mrs. Joseph Thomson, by their family; a pulpit Bible by the Bryan family in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Bryan; Baptismal gowns by Douglas Gray and sons in memory of Mrs. Gray; and Bibles and Hymn books have been added in memory of departed members. On July 23, 1966, the members of the Christian Women's Fellowship presented gowns to the members of the choir.

Ministers following G.O. Black were W.G. Charlton, F.E. Heddon, Sam Woolner (lay minister.) In 1914, John D. Stephens began a seven-year ministry. E. Spring was followed by Maitland Watterworth. Then came A.L. Platt, V.J. Murray, H.L. Richardson, Halsey E. Wakelin, Thomas A. Gray, W.G. Charlton (for a second time), Bruce Stainton, Lloyd Dunn, Alastair McKinnon, Richard Knowles, Ernie Root, Norman Robertson, Neville Clayton, Ronald Pelham, John Vallance and Beverly Leslie. Beecher Parkhouse of Fergus supplied at intervals.

History of the United Church

Hillsburgh United Church was built in the year 1926. It belonged to the Erin - Hillsburgh - and Coningsby pastoral charge. The first minister was Rev. Edward R. Hall, who resided at the manse at Erin.

Church union came into being in June 1925. The Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregationalists churches throughout Canada saw a great similarity in their beliefs and after much study and discussion, these three churches decided to amalagate and form a new church "The United Church of Canada."

After church union a goodly number of families left the local Presbyterian church to become members of the United Church. At first church was held in the Town Hall, and also in a room in the building which is now Frank Gray's residence.

In the Eramosa district, church union was quite effective in the Presbyterian and Methodist churches there. The Presbyterian church was decided to be the United Church as it was more central. The Brown Methodist Church was closed, but became the property of the United Church of Canada. The congregation of the Hillsburgh United Church then negotiated and purchased this Brown Methodist Church of Eramosa. During the winter of 1926, by team and sleigh and hard labour, this church was completely dismantled - the lumber, windows and equipment (seats, pulpit and organ) were all transported to Hillsburgh. Mr. & Mrs. Duncan McConnell late parents of Roy and Arthur McConnell donated the tract of land along the river banks and during the summer of 1926, the Hillsburgh United Church was built.

The opening service was a community affair. Rev. Burnside Russell, a former Presbyterian minister here, came from his charge in Hamilton to dedicate the new church. Capacity crowds attended both services, the night service being held in the Town Hall. The following evening, the ladies of the church served a delectable supper to large crowds. Mr. Sam Gibson regaled the audience with violin music.

The first annual meeting of Hillsburgh United Church was held in January 1927. The first elders were Messrs. Alex Gray, Wallace Young, and Archibald Reid. The first stewards were Messrs. Alex Parry, Harry Tate, and William Orr. First organist was Mrs. Ed. Griner.

Ministers who have led the United Church through the years were Rev. C.J.P. Jolliffe; Rev. A.O.W. Foreman; Rev. Mr. Merner. Coningsby church was officially closed during Mr. Merner's pastorate in July 1938. The trustees of the Coningsby church kept it in good repair, and in recent years, it has been made into a fine mortuary.

Rev. Mr. Thomas and Rev. T.J.Rees followed Mr. Merner's pastorate. The mortgage of Hillsburgh United Church was burned during Mr. Rees's pastorate on Nov. 16, 1945, the late Mrs. Duncan McConnell and Henry Wheeler were participants in this act. Other ministers in the ensuing years were Rev. Mr. Pattison; Rev. Mr. Somerville; Rev. Mr. Muir and Rev. Mr. Norman. Rev. E.D. Snelgrove came in July 1956 and remained with us till Feb. 1966, a Period of nine years and eight months, the longest pastorate in the history of the church, At the Present time our minister is Rev. W. Howse a native of Newfoundland.

Chapter 4 - Hillsburgh Cemeteries

Pioneer Cemetery

The early settlers developed a good community where God was the centre of the home life, and the church the centre of the community, so naturally they looked for a peaceful quiet place to bury their dead.

The first record we have of a cemetery in Hillsburgh was about 1831, on a piece of land about the centre of the village which was then called Howville,  where the Union Church was situated. Many of the earliest settlers of Erin Twp. lie buried in this old plot. For years these old grave stones had been neglected and over grown with grass and weeds.

In 1954 Mr. Dan Gray and Mr. R.D. Nodwell were instrumental in having God's Acre restored. All headstones were uncovered from the grass and were embedded together at the front of the cemetery in a single, solid block of concrete.

Flowers were planted by the Hillsburgh Horticultural Society. Trees were plantd to the rear. The actual graves remain at the rear of the stones that used to mark those graves.

Of main interest is the one in memory of Hillsburgh's founder Mr. William How, who died February 21, 1854 at the age of eighty years. Another marks that of his wife Betsey, who died in 1858, age eighty - six years. Other headstones in the preserved collection were, Alexander Gray died in 1880, his wife Isabella, died in 1887; Richard Davis, 1862, his wife Jane died in 1858; the grandparents of Mr. John McFees; the wife of Rev. Donald Strachan,  first minister of St. Andrew's Church who died in 1871 and many others.

We find there was a small cemetery on the lot where the Old Methodist Church stood on Church street, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur McConnell and Mrs. John McFee now live, in the church building which was converted to a double house.

Huxley Cemetery 1884-1967

About 1854 Thomas Huxley obtained a crown deed of lot 29, seventh line Erin Twp. Later he purchased lot 28. In 1884 his seventeen year old son was stricken with a fatal illness. The lad had expressed a wish to be buried on a small hill on the farm.

The land was seeded to peas at the time. To grant his son's wish, Thomas Huxley took his scythe, pulled a small plot of peas and dug a grave for his son.

Many residents realizing the beauty of the site, expressed a wish to use the same spot fot the burial of their dead. So Thomas Huxley gave one acre of land for burial purposes.

So popular has become this burial place, that since 1900 no burial has been made in the original cemetery in the centre of the village of Hillsburgh.

In 1906 in the Town Hall, Hillsburgh, a meeting of the plot holders elected trustees, namely - Messrs. R.C.Nodwell, R.W.Tarzwell, and A. G. Parry.

In 1908 the plot holders were assessed three dollars for a large plot and one dollar and fifty cents for a small plot to raise operating funds.

Secretary - Treasurers from 1906 were : Mr. John Carmichael, Miss Marjorie Carmichael, Mr. A. G. Parry, Mr. H.C. Bowes, Mr. W. Beatty and Mr. H.N. Huxley.

A memorial service was held in 1936. The service was conducted by Rev. W.G. Charlton, music supplied by combined choirs of the Village Churches and Jack Burt's boys band of fifty members from Elora.

The Utility house was added in 1914 at a cost of one hundred and twenty dollars.

Additional land was added in 1941, and in 1958 increased to three acres. Perpetual Care was included in the price of a new plot in 1949.

The new fence was erected in 1960.

In 1964, sixty - four stones were shoved off their base by vandals.

In 1941 the cost of digging a grave was two dollars.

In 1967 it is twenty - five dollars.

To beautify the front of the cemetery the Horticultural Society provides plants and the Auxiliary Women's Institute cares for them.

Chapter 5 - Hillsburgh "Services"

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When the How's first settled in Erin Township there was no Post Office nearer than Toronto.

The next Post Office to come nearer was one situated about the middle of Esquesing and was kept by a Mr. Fyfe. The people then living in Hillsburgh and surrounding area formed a club and each member took his turn, on foot, to go for the mail, as there were no horses in those days.

Later, mail was brought from Georgetown, by a Mr. William Willis, using a span of mules. The Post Office was then located in How's store. After a few years the mail came to Alton and Mr. James Hanna carried the mail from from Alton to Reading, via Hillsburgh. Presently, mail arrives by truck from Orangeville.

Soon the main part of the Village appeared to be taking shape in the "Upper End," and the Post Office was transferred to Donaldson and Carmichael's store (now Jim McLaren's.) Mr. Donaldson ran the Post Office.

In 1911, after a change of Government, Angus McMurchy was appointed Postmaster and the office moved briefly to the Leader apartment building and then to the building now occupied by Frank Gray. Mr. McMurchy's daughter, Kate, was his assistant.

In March 1922, Alex MacDonald, with his wife Hannah as assistant, became our Postmaster. In 1924, the Post Office was moved to its present site. For a number of years the MacDonald's sorted mail twice a day as there were four trains daily. The Post Office had to be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. and their original salary was $59.00 a month. In order to add to his income, Mr. MacDonald and his brother-in-law, John Souter, began a chicken plucking business. Using a half-ton truck for pick-ups and renting a building about where Tony Wagenaarts Cement works is now, they dressed chickens and sold to Eaton's in Montreal and to a firm in Toronto. They would also go to the farms and kill and pluck for the farmers. When the MacDonald's retired from the post Office, Bert Awrey, with his wife Irene as assistant, took over their duties, June 20, 1958.

Rural mail delivery began in 1912 and carriers known to have delivered on route #1 were, James Somerville, George Barbour briefly, Alex MacDonald, Herb Beatty and now Mrs. Bert (Irene) Awrey. Route #2 was taken by George Tarzwell, assisted by his daughter Elsie, George Cheyne, Bob Ashley and now Thomas Hope.


Mr. and Mrs. Walter Huxley have in their possession, Vol. 1 No. 1 of a tiny paper called "The Bee' published September 27, 1881 by George A. Lacey, who is described as a loan agent, land agent, conveyancer, auctioneer and issuer of marriage licenses.

The first issue of "The Hillsburg Wasp" was put out October 8, 1881 and was priced at 3. It was a four-page weekly, measuring 9" x 12" and the "h" had still not been added to the name. The paper was described as a comic, literary and satirical journal. D.E. MacMillan was the editor and his first editorial begins, "No question has agitated the people of the Dominion to such an extent as the Canadian Pacific Railway...."

An 1887 copy of "The Beaver" shows that it was published every Tuesday afternoon by George A. Lacey in his office, "The Hut", Main Street. The 25-a-year subscription was strictly in advance. This issue lists a James Hurst as auctioneer and implement agent -- selling The Little Maxwell reaper, in the building across from How's store. The same issue tells of a monthly cattle fair being held. This was for the selling, not showing of cattle.

A 1915 copy names A.H. Steadman as editor.


As mentioned previously, Nazareth Hill built the first hotel where Ed. Dymek's store is. John Kirk had a hotel where Albert Falconer's house is. Before moving there, he had a large hotel where Murray Gooderham's stone house is. This hotel was burned.

The large brick house at the south end of the Main Street (formerly owned by Beatty and Tilcox families) was built as a hotel by Sam Leeson and was called the International Hotel. Later operators There B.H. Taylor and William Willis.

The Exchange Hotel was built, or at least the building bricked, by W.J. Dwyer. It is the only three-story building in Hillsburgh and the second story extends over a drive, that has always been known as "The Alley Way" and provides a short cut from Ann to Main Street. After the death of the first Mrs. Dwyer, it was rented to Frank Gale, Eddie White, Dick Backus and by 1902, Matt. Latham was the operator.

Having married again, the Dwyers returned and Mrs. Dwyer carried on. Fishermen from the Caledon Mountain Trout Club provided much business during the summer months. The Erin Township Council used the large front room as their meeting place. Next came Mr. and Mrs. Fred Coe. They began using a smaller room at the end of the hall for a dining-room and pool tables were set up in the former dining-room. When Mr. and Mrs. John Pye bought it, they used the small front room as a Coffee Shop and the present owner, John Tocher, is converting it into small apartments.

When Archie Currie discontinued the carriage works, the large brick building on the corner was sold to Henry How, who operated the Grand Central Hotel in it. Next, the building was owned by Donaldson and Carmichael and Mr. John McCarthy bought it from them about 1900.

Toll Gates

In order to maintain the roads, toll gates were set up at approximately eight mile intervals. Until 1885, James Trott kept the Hillsburgh toll gate which was situated on the seventh line below #22 sideroad (near Gaud's tannery) Usually, near each of these toll gates, a road house or hotel was set up where travellers could rest their horses and they could partake of liquid refreshments. Thus, the toll lost some of its sting.

The Main Street was paved in 1925 and nothing more was done to it until Cox Construction laid asphalt surface over the cement in 1963. At the same time the hill above town was cut down and hard top laid as far as #27 sideroad.

The first street lights were installed in 1924 and in 1959, luminair lights were installed on Main Street. In 1966, the present four-foot fluorescent lights were placed on Main Street and the former ones placed on the side streets.


Jimmie Farquerson lived and carried on a tailor business in the small house that burned when George Tilcox, Sr., lived there (near How's store, but on the east side of the street.)

Jim Torrie had his tailor shop in the present post office building. He and William McMillan, a clerk in Donaldson and Carmichael's store, later moved to Orangeville and established businesses still in operation there. After Torrie, came George Watson at the same location.

Jim Carmichael had his tailor shop where Mrs. C.C. Hamilton's store is and kept as many as seven busy helpers. Next came Andy Wallace and later, A.S. McGowan and when Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Hamilton bought it in 1928, it became a grocery store. After Nip's death in 1956, Mrs. Hamilton still carried on.

Liza Harding did weaving and made carpets in the building directly across from How's store.

Tannery, Shoe and Harness Shops

Gaud's tannery was situated on the seventh line Just below #22 sideroad. (A house and small pond is presently on the site.)

William Gaud did a thriving business -- employing as many as twelve men-tanning the hides of livestock, dogs, and wild animals which were in abundance at that time. They made and sold shoes; leather mitts; and harness.

One of these employees was William Fitzgerald, a man afflicted with club feet, who had to wear very special shoes. He later moved up street and ran his own shoemaker's shop, and repaired clocks. He must also have collected clocks as a hobby, because the walls were hung with clocks of every description, All kept wound and all TICKING. He lived where Fred Tarzwell now lives and his shop which was next door, has been incorporated into the main part of Gerald Bayne's store.

As more modern machinery came into use, John Ward opened a shoe repair shop in the Leader apartment building. Wes. Beatty took this over and ran the shoe repair in conjunction with his implement business.

Later, Ed. Lane bought the "Fitz Shop" as it was known, and the Beatty machinery, and set up shoe repairing there. He also added gas pumps, tobacco and ice cream, etc., and his generous servings in ice cream cones became well known.

When Ed. Lane died, Mel. Barden bought the shoe repair business and moved the machinery to the long narrow building directly across from his own house. This building had been used as a Chapel by the Scott Mission when they had their summer camp in Hillsburgh, and was moved to its present site when the Mission obtained more land in Caledon Township.

Peter Warden had his harness shop where John Warden's egg grading station is now; Len. Matthews and George Watson, one where Mrs. D. Reid's store is; and William Gordon operated the next one from the present Post Office building. Mel. Barden bought his business.


Before the day of cars, every town had need of someone with a stable of fast horses and "rigs" for hire. Salesmen coming in on the noon train would be driven to Marsville, or other points, and board the evening train again.

Ball teams needed transportation to neighbouring villages. Freight needed to be transported to and from the station, by dray. We, who just jump into our cars, can scarcely realize the importance of this service.

Wes. Faulkner kept his horses first in the small barn owned by Morrish Leader. The story is told of a break-in, at the Donaldson and Carmichael store, when jewellery, consisting mainly of men's watches, was stolen. The robbers escaped with one of Mr. Faulkner's rigs, boarded the train in Rockwood, and left the horse tied to a hitching post there.

Next came Will McLachlan who used the barn where Mel Barden now keeps his show horses. However, the barn at that time did not have the high circular roof that we are familiar wish, and George Barbour, the next owner, raised the roof, John McNally doing the work. Mr. McNally also built the former Presbyterian church shed, with its high dome-shaped roof. A number of out-of town contractors came to view this seemingly impossible type of structure.

After John McLachlan, came John Souter and Harold Morrison, briefly. But another era had just passed and horses were no longer needed.

Carriage Works, Blacksmiths

Archibald Currie had the red brick factory (now the Royal Bank) built in 1884 to carry on his business of building buggies, cutters, wagons and wheel barrows. He employed seven skilled workmen. There was a blacksmith in connection with his operations.

The Byrne family likewise operated a carriage works and blacksmith shop where Tom Hope's garage is. Mr. Hope lowered the two-story building after taking it over from Bob Sargent. A Mr. Hurd and Andy Oblander were their blacksmiths, and it is related that Mr. Byrne would fell a tree and make the charcoal, later used in the blacksmith shop. The family lived in the house beside the shop (Hope's) and when Mr. John Byrne retired in 1887, he built the large brick house, with a terraced lawn, as one goes up the Burg Hill, and called it "Review Villa." The unmarried sons, Bill and Jack, stayed on in the former home and it was known as "Uno Park." Jack was the painter and did fancy scrolls on cutters, buggies, etc.

Their business was of such an extent that they had their showroom across the street on the lot where George Lacey's house is now.

They also began to build farm implements and their cultivators sold at $30.

Duncan Campbell had a wagon works just south of How's store in the 1880's and a Mr. McGilvery made pumps in a building just north of How's store. He used a horse on a tread mill to run the lathe and auger.

Jim Geddes had a blacksmith shop where Dick Southon's house is, and made harrows. He was followed by George Maltby at this location. Later, Maltby moved to the shop at the corner of Mill and Ann Streets which Mrs. W.G. Currie bought and had dismantled in 1960.

After Maltby came Jim Morrison and they lived at the back of the shop. Meanwhile, Arthur Hart had been using the brick shop at the back of Bob Sargent's garage and he finally moved to the shop at the corner of Ann Street. Hart was the last to use the shop and aryone with show horses now needing shoes has to bring in a blacksmith.

Chapter 6 - Hillsburgh "Roads and Railway"


About 1860, the county assumed oversight of the road from Guelph to Brisbane, through Hillsburgh to Reading (corner of the 14th line of East Garafraxa and the Fergus-Orangeville road.) This gravel road was a great improvement over the old corduroy ones. (In the spring, these old log roads will still heave with frost, to give some idea how rough they must have been.)

Farmers were now able to haul produce to Guelph as well as Oakville~ but as crops increased, this became more burdensome and arrangements were begun to have the railway come through the Township. It was first thought to bring it north from Georgetown, but finally the line, called "The Credit Valley Railway", was completed from the Cataract Junction to Elora in November 1879. The first timetable book used at the Hillsburgh Station is dated January 20, 1880 and the agent's name is W.A. Munroe.

Other station agents were known to have been: Peter Ward, George Walker, William Little, Jim Russell, Ed. Griner.

Originally, four trains a day passed through Hillsburgh. Since the train stayed at Elora over night, the first train went East at 8:57 a.m., West at 10:50 a.m., East again at 5:55 p.m. and finally West at 7:03 p.m. By the time B.M. (Jerry) Cunningham took over as agent on April 1, 1933, train service had been reduced to two trains daily - one from Orangeville to Elora at 11:30 a.m. and returning about 5:00 p.m.

The station and grain elevator had burned in the fall of 1932 and the small station was built in 1933, shortly after Mr. Cunningham arrived.

Before leaving in 1943, Mr. Cunningham filled in at Erin Statlon, and Charles MacMillan acted as caretaker at the Hillsburgh Station briefly before William Rathbun took over his duties. From 1949 until 1958, Norman Cunningham (son of Jerry) acted as caretaker and handled the express, but when passenger service was finally discontinued in 1958, express came to the C.P. Express office beside Alex Duncan's barber shop, and he makes deliveries at the present time.

Weigh Scales

Since the first mills were situated on the small stream crossing from Ann to Main Street, so the first weigh scale was situated where the present rink is, and John Carmichael attended it. Later, a group of farmers formed a Co-op and built the large scale at the station. Dan McKinley and then Joe McMillan attended these scales daily. As shipping decreased, the station agent assumed this duty. By the 1940's the scale became too small to accommodate the large wheelbase trucks, and a small group of interested businessmen installed a new, larger scale which is still in use.


Soon trucks became more plentiful and it was realized that livestock could be gotten on the market much faster and in better condition by trucking, and in 1925 Bob Tarzwell bought his first truck and began this service. Bob Carlisle was also one of the early truckers In 1927, Wallace and Howard Barbour began their trucking and droving business and with the exception of a short period, when operated by Lin. Awrey, carried on extensive cattle buying operations, selling the trucking business to their nephew, Howard Awrey, in 1956.

Chapter 7 - Hillsburgh "Food Processing"

Mills - Flour and Feed

Aaron Wheeler came from Somersetshire, England, in 1824, and built a grist mill on the small stream at the entrance to the park. Later, this wfas sold for a woollen mill and a larger grist, Pour and saw mill built. Soon the Howts built a larger mill on 022 sideroad, and in 1846, Gooderham and Worts built a grist mill and cooper shop)where barrels were manufactured to contain the flour, with an entrance from the 7th line.

In later years, an entrance was run north to the Station Road. This mill burned in 1870 and the site lay idle until Awrey Bros. bought the property and built a stone grist mill about 1894. A cider press was also in this mill.

Donald McGill next ran the mill for about sixteen years, then Hughie McLachlan and finally Miles Bacon. With the advent of belt-driven choppers and finally electric choppers and hammer mills in the farmers' barns, the business dropped away. The mill is now used as a summer home.

Owners of the "Lower Mill' are known to have been the How Brothers, Bill Haines, Jim Barden, Howard Smith, Oswald Everdell, Dave Douglas who had the misfortune to lose an arm while operating his mill -- Charles Bellamy, Bert Awrey and finally, Brampton Milling and Farm Supply. In September 1960 they bought the old school and began to operate their feed business there in July of 1963, until January 1966, when they closed. However, Bob Cheyne and his father-in-law, Bill Reeve, opened again in March 1966 and operate wander the name of Hillsburgh Feed and Supplies Ltd.

Fred Royce had a flour and feed store where Mrs. D. Reid's store is, and built the grain elevator at the station. The United Farmers of Ontario (U.F.O.) were the fore-runners of the present Co-Op's and they took over the grain elevator at the station and the store from Mr. Royce. Next, Duncan McConnell took over the grain elevator and in 1926, Dan Gray and son, Bill, bought the elevator and also tile building which had housed the post office but was owned by McConnell and Bill, assisted by his younger brother, Frank, carried on a flour and feed business under the name of "Gray Apiaries." They also bought and sold potatoes.

Although not made in Hillsburgh, the office of Grayco Potato Harvesters Ltd. is in town. In 1945, Frank Gray and Ed Snider of Preston formed Gray-Snyder Ltd. for the building of potato pickers. This business now includes the manufacturing of not only pickers and two-row potato combines, but bulk boxes and digger chain. On October 21, 1964, Mr. Gray bought Mr. Snyder's share of the business and the following year the name was changed to Grayco.

As the depression which began in 1929, worsened, Gray's traded the grain elevator to a Mr. Wallace of Oshawa for two houses in that city, and Bill and Frank moved to Guelph to sell life insurance. However, in 1932, Frank returned to Hillsburgh and began the general insurance business which he and his wife, Thelma, carried on for thirty-two years, selling to McEnery Agencies, Erin, June 1, 1964. McEnery's at present have their office in the former Glassford Shop and George Lacey is in charge of it.

Bill Sutton opened a flour and feed business in the Gray building, using the larger of the two front rooms, but in 1939, moved to the building vacated by H.C. Bowes. In 1940, Lindsay Awrey bought the business from Sutton and in 1946, was joined by his brother, H.J. (Bert) Awrey, upon his return from the war. In 1950, Lin. left to manage a Co-Op store in Durham, and after the fire of October 11, 1957, destroved the building, Bert moved to the mill on 822 sideroad.


Prior to buying the grain elevator, Dan and Bill Gray had secured the forner Anglican Church and after putting a basement under it, had converted it to a honey extracting plant. During the sugar rationing of the war years, people would bring their own containers to be filled from the tanks. Seventy and one hundred pound orders were not unusual.

After Bill's death in 1944, the extracting plant and some of the bee yards which had extended from Elora to Weston, were sold to David N. Root, who still owns it.
Haldon Smith, also a bee keeper and bee inspector, lives in Hillsburgh.

Potato Buyers

Before the coming of the Railroad, only a few potates were grown , and were taken to Georgetown or Guelph for sale. In the fall of 1881 the first car of 210 bags (all in the neighborhood) was shipped to Toronto, by C. J. McMillan and son Fred. They were cattle buyers and appear to have been the first to buy and ship potatoes, using the cement building beyond the track as their warehouses

Fred Royce, and later the Co-operative, (U. F. 0.) and the McConnells used the underground potato cellar just East of the tracks. Bill and Frank Gray loaded from this point when they bought the business later.

In 1927, Wallace and Howard Barbour bought their first truck and set up a potato grading station in the building across from How's Store, where Cecil Foster lives. By that time, potato buyers were coming in, with trucks, from such points as Hamilton and Toronto and the death knell began to sound for the Railroad. However with Fred McMillan, Barbour Bros. and Grays all loading at the Station as many as 3,000 bags could leave on the night train.

Now, the local potato growers either have regular private customers or contracts to supply potato chip plants.

Chapter 8 - Hillsburgh "Medical"


In the 1890's and early 1900's the family doctor "was indeed a friend in need." He was called out to scattered farms and village homes in all kinds of weather, and his horse and cutter were a welcome sight. They worked cheerfully although they were inadequately reimbursed.

The first record we have of a Doctor was Dr. Burnham, who lived in the house now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Tarzwell.

Dr. J.H. Hamilton had a residence and office on the corner of Station Road and Main Street in 1886. He later moved to Erin Village.

Dr. Archie McKinnon who was coroner for Wellington and Dufferin Counties in 1890, died while here and is buried in Huxley's Cemetery.

Dr. A. Skippen married a local girl, a Miss Dyer, and moved to the U.S.A. Following him, Dr. George McKinnon, a son of Dr. Archie McKinnon, was here for a short time.

Dr. Allan Gibson came in 1895 and brought his bride, the former Harriet Irvine. He built the drug store in 1907, and they lived in the large house where the McPherson Nursing Mome is now.

In 1924 he sold his property and drug store to Dr. E.C.A. Reynolds, who stayed until 1946 when Mr. Ken Ferrier bought the drug store and the house.

Dr. B. Prior, Dr. Currie and Dr. Russell were here for short periods following this.

As there was no residence for a doctor, some of the business men of the Village decided to do something about it. Nine men put up a thousand dollars each; they purchased a lot on George Street and built a house and office. Mr. H.C. Bowes supervised the work.

Dr. Ross was the first doctor to live in the new residence. After his departure, Dr. Witton from Erin had an office for some time in Mr. Morrish Leader's apartment building.

In 1953, Dr. John Steer bought the residence. He sold it and gave up his practice here in 1966 to move to London, Ontario.

Hillsburgh has no resident doctor at the present time.

Drug Stores

John Sorby had a drug store in the small building where Gray's Locker was built. A Fred Himes worked for Sorby first and then began his own drug store where Glassford's Butcher shop was later.

In 1907, Dr. Allan Gibson built and used the red brick two-storty building that we know as the drug store. Dr. Gibson was followed by Dr. E.C.A. Reynolds and K.G. (Ken) Ferrier. In March 1949, Jim Gray bought the Drug Store, added six more stools to the lunch counter begun by the Ferriers, made a modern apartment in the upstairs and lived there. Mr. Gray was not a pharmacist, but he carried patent medicines, stationery and provided supplies to the local schools. The young people of the Community always poured their troubles into his wife Muriel's sympathetic ear. On June 1, 1966, Hugh Henning took over the business.

Nursing Homes

When the flu epedemic of 1918 struck, Miss Catherine Carmichael who had been nursing in Toronto, returned home to assist Dr. Gibson during the crlsis. However, she remained to do local nursing for many years. Mr. and Mrs. Francis McPherson have been carrying on a Nursing Home here since 1959. Before them, Mrs. Allan Adams had a boarding home for elderly people.


The older residents of Hillsburgh recall having teeth pulled by a Dr. Skinner who came one day a week from Erin and had his office over the present Post Office. Following this, Dr. James M. Abbott came from Erin, once a week, until his duties became too heavy. At about the same time, H.N. Rathbun, who lived on a farm at the corner of the 4th line and #22 sideroad, was doing dental work in his home. He also visited other homes to provide his service. Later, he and his wife, Rachel Awrey, moved to the house in Hillsburgh, now owned by Mrs. James Allan, and he had his office in the house.

In November 1925, Dr. Allan J. Buchanan opened his office above the store then owned by Charles Hall and son William. Later, he had offices, first upstairs and then downstairs, in the Morrish Leader apartments. In 1929, he moved to Acton, returning once a week to his Hillsburgh office until 19148. Using the Buchanan office, Dr. Bonar Bracken of Grand Valley came once a week.

In June 1950, John Hollinger took over the Buchanan office and served the area full time for two years. Since 1952, there has been no dental service in Hillsburgh.


An 1890 copy of The Beaver shows Tea Babe as having his veterinary office in Gales Hotel (Exchange.) Dr. Thornton had his office in a small building where George Hall now lives. He is also known to have lived in Mrs. James Allen's house and in Mrs. Stanley Hall's house. Charles ("Doc") Davis later carried on business from the house below the tracks where Bertha Everson lives and his main remedy seemed to be, "Give him salts and bran mash." Dr. Ashley, from Brisbane, (then Bristol) also served the area.


In the 1880's, John Viner, living where Ivan Gray's house is, made caskets. At an early date, a Mr. Rijnhart was undertaker.

D.H, (Dugald) Thomson had a furniture store and undertaking establishment where the Municipal Building is now. He may have introduced Credit buying, as we find on the back of a song book he put out, these words: "Don't wait till you have the money; ask for terms and you will find them easy." This building will be remembered as having a large sky light, and the wallpaper books were displayed under this lighting.

Next came Wilfred Turner, living in the stone house across the street. His son, John, is now an undertaker in Orangeville.

In May 1928, H.C. (Clifford) Bowes bought the business from Mr. Turner. William Bowes, his father, helped in the furniture store. In 1937, Mr. Bowes bought the large "Lacey house" at the corner of George and Main Streets, and in 1939 built an addition on the George Street side for furniture. He converted the downstairs of the original house to a Funeral Home and made an apartment over both. When he moved to the new location in 1939, the former store was sold to Bill Sutton to be used as a flour and feed store.

From 1952 to 1959, Clinton Swackhammer carried on the business, with our present Funeral Director, Dave Butcher, taking over June 1, 1959. With a growing furniture business, he has already had to enlarge his showroom at the back.

Chapter 9 - Hillsburgh "Commerce"


The first bank in Hillsburgh was a private bank, located where the post office is now, and owned by Alexander Richardson of Grand Valley. He came one day a week to Erin and one day a week to Hillsburgh. He sold to the Union Bank (1905) and it was still known as the Union Bank when it moved to its present location. It was while Mr. C.E. Hilton was Manager that it became The Royal Bank of Canada. Managers remembered are: Walter Duthie, Percy Robarts, Edgar Good, William Beatty, C.E. Hilton, Harry Richardson, (grandson of the first bank owner), Wallace Napper, Archie Pow, Hugh Oxley (1967.)

There have been two bank hold-ups. The first one was in 1944 when Mr. Hilton was manager. Late in the evening, three masked men entered the apartment above the bank and forced Mr. Hilton, at gun point, to go downstairs, demanding that he open the bank vault. He finally convinced them that the time lock was on for the night, and that even he couldn't open it. After taking about $25.00 from the Hilton's they bound their hands and left. This robbery was never solved.

On April 12, 1960, a bold noon-hour hold-up was staged, when about $4,000 was taken. Because Muriel Dymek had jotted down the car licence number and was able to give it to the police, the robbers were captured at Palgrave in less than an hour. The experience left Mr. Oxley and his staff of Isobel MacDonald, Iolla Roszell and Laverne Swift a bit shaken, to say the least.


Alex Hyndman (living beside the Disciple Church) was an early carpenter in Hillsburgh, and worked with a contractor by the name of John Bingham. In 1890 they were attracted to Toronto by a building boom there. After a slump, Mr. Hyndman returned and had a planing mill, operated by horse power, where the United Church is now.

Two brothers, Charles and William Smith, were stone masons and not only worked on foundations for houses and barns, but built several fine homes of cut granite. Mrs. Archie Wilson's and Howard Awrey's (Mr. Smith's own home) are two examples. Charles Smith also built many bridges -- the one on the Station Road being a fine example. Mr. Hyndman's daughter, Orpha, married Charles Smith in 1911.

E. and J. Rodgers were early stone masons also.

Mr. William Robertson, brother-in-law of the Smith Brothers, was a bricklayer and laid brick for most of the houses in town. So with Smith Brothers laying the foundations, Robertson and Puckering doing the bricklaying and plastering, Alex Hyndman the carpenter work, and a team of painters from Orangeville completing the job, houses were soon completed. The Royal Bank building having been built in the early 1880's is an example of their splendid workmanship.

Isaiah and John Awrey settled on Lots 24 and 25 in 1889, having purchased the property from Gooderham and Worts. They built the grist and cider mill and established a brick kiln in the hillside, just west of the mill. In 1894, using clay from their own farm, for the brick, they built the two large, red brick houses on the Station Road; also the business block now owned by McLachlan's and Morrish Leader.

A brother, Ben Awrey, built the residence at the station now owned by Jerry VanZoolen. The cellar of this house was especially Constructed for potato storage. Ben built Mrs. Thomas Keenan's house on George Street also.

John Awrey built the large cement building beside the C.P.R. tracks for potato storage. Bruce Morette has converted this into a furniture factory, showroom and residence. Their fine chairs and chesterfield suites are upholstered in the old Town Hall, also owned by Morette. Beginning operations in 1958, he now employs about ten men in the wood-working shop and eight for upholstering. It certainly is Hillsburgh's main industry, but because of the skills needed, much of the help is not local.

Having gone from log homes to large brick two-storey homes by the 1920's, William Somerville began building the smaller homes known as a storey and a half. There are at least seven or eight homes in town that he built.

Other carpenters have been James Suggit, Stanley Booth, Joe Hall, Albert Royce, Howard Graham, Jim Cheyne and Lancey Cheyne.

Being confined by farms on the East and a series of ponds on the West, building sites are very scarce.

Cockburn and Harrison ran a box factory and planing mill where Wayne Knight's house now is. Part of this factory was used for the back kitchen of the brick house later built on the site, and another part taken across the road to the lot directly north of the Town Hall.

In 1948 C.R. McKinnon bought the property directly south of the town hall and built a woodworking shop and lumber storage on the lot. He carries on a lumber and building supply business.

Tinsmith and Hardware Stores

One of the older tinsmiths was Robert Galbraith. Joe MacMillan and William Lawson had a hardware and tinsmith business where Mrs. D. Reid's store is, and Fon Nodwell, a general store and hardware in the Leader building.

In 1895, Duncan McConnell opened a hardware store in the building occupied now by F. Gray, then he moved to the brick building known now, for over fifty years as "McLachlan's." His brother-in-law, Wesley FauIkner, did the tinsmithing for him.

In 1914, he sold out to William McLachlan and the business is still carried on by Alex and son Bill, as W.A. McLachlan and Son. The car salesroom is adjoining the hardware store. After McConnell sold the hardware business to McLachlan's, Wes Faulkner started his own plumbing shop where Ross McFee's store is.

In January 1930, Roy and Arthur McConnell purchased the plumbing and hardware business from their uncle Wes Faulkner and carried on where Ross McFee is now. Jack FauIkner, who had been helping his father, set up shop where the Locker later stood.

In 1938, Art McConnell moved to a business elsewhere, but in 1948, returned, just when oil heating was being introduced and he and his son Stuart have installed most of these furnaces in the community.

From 1946 until 1951, Walter McFee was in partnership with Roy McConnell, later having an electrical supply store for about a year in the Everdell store (then owned by Mrs. James McKitrick, whose daughter, Jessie, used the smaller half of the store as a Specialty Shop, selling ladies' and children's wear.)

On December 1, 1954, Ross McFee bought the McConnell hardware business and he and his wife Lois added toys, dishes and gift items to their stock.


In 1887, the Erin Advocate mentions Johnston Smith as a Hillsburgh barber, but when most people think of Hillsburgh barbers, they immediately think of Billie Everdell who had the double store on the east side of Main Street, using one half as a variety store and the other as a Barber shop. The children of fifty years ago will recall the wonder of going upstairs at Christmas time to see "Toyland" in this store. When Mr. Everdell decided to reduce his stock, it took Bill Gray, the local auctioneer, one whole afternoon in the Town Hall to dispose of the store contents, there being everything from snow shoes and fishing tackle to fine cut glass dishes. For a time there were two chairs in this shop, and Howard Cox worked here. Mr. Everdell was also a great weather prophet and a later owner found dates, and the weather for those dates,   written on the wall of a small closet under the stair.

A. Jack Warden (not the present one) had a barber shop where Ross McFee's store is, for a short time. Mr. and Mrs. William Nixon (nee Nettie Awrey) lived in the apartment then known as the Awrey building, and their son Norman, had a barber shop and pool tables downstairs. Then came George Wheeler, husband of Bessie Awrey.

Jack Campbell next opened a barber shop where Jack Warden's egg grading station is and lived where Norman Somerville lives, on Ann Street. Next came Bill Grundy -- now in Erin -- and in 1940, Alex Duncan, our present barber, bought the business. He carried on in this location till it was needed for egg grading.

Then he bought a shop farther up Main Street beside the Municipal building.

Creamery and Milk Route

George Baldwin owned a creamery behind the present United Church and Awrey Bros. built a creamery on their property in the corner bordered by the C.P.R. tracks and the Station Road. This creamery was run by Elmer and Jack Madill and was destroyed by fire in 1906.

Since Will Hall's and John & Isaiah Awrey's farms were practically in town, people came with their pails for milk, prices being 5 cent a pint; 10 a quart, and 20 a quart for cream. The first door-to-door delivery was made by John Souter, then by Harry Hall and Sons. Waldie Steen and Sons were also delivering milk from their farm at the 8th line corner. Mungo Nodwell took over from Steen's; Bob Lang from Erin next; and then Fred Steen bought the Erin Dairy in 1944 and has been delivering pasteurized milk ever since. During the winter of 1942, a terrific snow storm closed the roads for days and the late Jimmie Miller pulled milk, on a toboggan up the track to houses with babies.

Egg Grading Stations

In 1944, before buying Hall's store, Harman Leader opened Hillsburghts first egg grading station in his apartment building His brother, Morrish, took it over in 1950 and gathered eggs on a regular route as well.

From 1964 until 1966, Murray Binnie operated the business which closed August 31, 1966.

 John Warden opened a second egg grading station in the fall of 1955 in connection with his grocery store. It still operates under the name of Hillsburgh Produce.

Butchers and Locker Plant

Early butcher shops appear to have been where Ross McFee's store now is. Butchers known to have been there were: Andrew Hunter, WilliamMullen, Norman and Jim Potter; and John Spedding. Spedding delivered meat to the farm homes, as did Thomas Boyle, who operated from the shop later known as Glassford's. A Mr. Gow had a fish wagon and made his rounds every Monday. His call of "Fresh Fish" could be heard a mile away (it is said.) Colin Robertson had a fish shop where George Tilcox's house is.

Fred McMillan then ran the lower Glassford shop, with Mac. Hollirger (father of John Hollinger who served here later as a dentist) as butcher.

Then, about 1914, Glassford Bros. Bill and Doug.--opened in the shop beside the Drug Store. Later, Doug. went to Toronto and Bill had a thriving business. When Bill's health began to fail, his wife, Margaret, helped in the store and later carried on alone, until after his death. In 1964, she closed the shop and rented the space to McEnery Agencies for an insurance office. Ed. Dymek bought the equipment and Mrs. Glassford carried on in the Meat Department of their store.

Arnold Rathbun opened butcher shops at two different times: about 1932, in Gray's building, and in 1939 n the building that joined Bill Sutton's feed store.

In November 1944, Frank Gray began tearing down the small attached building which had housed Jack Faulkner's tinsmith shop and was later used as a cutting room by the Erin Township Red Cross. With the help of Bob Mann and Joe Hall, he had a modern Locker plant ready for operation by May 1945. It was a low pressure system, with no overhead coils.

Alex Bessey hung the first quarter of beef in the cooler and he and his father, Leonard, (who had cut meat for the Beef Ring) cut many a beef for those who did not feel capable of cutting their own.

With the advent of Home Freezers and pressure of Mr. Gray's accounting, insurance and manufacturing business, the Locker was closed November 30, 1963.

Bake Shops

The small brick building on Jack Warden's lot housed the bake oven used by early bakers. No doubt they used the store to sell their wares. Joseph Grundy (father of Russell and Roy Grundy who had bake shops in Erin) was the earliest baker remembered. A man by the name of Switzer was thought to have been in partnership with him. Next came Jack and Fred Rice and then a man by the name of Steeper. Davie West was followed by his son-in-law, William Holt. The Holt's also had an ice cream parlor in connection with their store and sold groceries as well. The Holt family sold the business to John Hall and moved to Hamilton. Both Mrs and Mrs. Hall added to the musical life of the community.

When Mr. Hall moved to a business in Lucknow in 1938, he sold to his nephew, George Ellenton, whose daughter, Elinor, helped in the store. In September 1952, the present owners, Jack & Betty Warden, bought the store.

In October 1931, Mr. and Mrs. Bert Weeks and Bert Jr. moved from Alton and Mr. Weeks began baking in the coal-fired oven and selling from John Hall's store, and he also delivered to the farms. Bob Somerville drove the bread truck and later Bert Jr. About two years later, Weeks' opened their own bake shop in the downstairs of the present Leader apartments and the Weeks family lived upstairs.

When Harman Leader bought the general store from Mrs. William Hall, Jr., in October 1948, he installed a more modern bake oven in the building attached to the rear of the store, and Mr. Weeks baked there. However, a disastrous fire, in this section of the buildings in 1951 destroyed the equipment. The new gas-fired oven was placed in the store basement and when the store was sold in December 1955 to James McLaren, the bake oven was moved to the Leader apartments and continued in use until Mr. Leader moved to Creemore in 1957.


Chapter 10 - Civil Landscape

Parks and Sports

Hillsburgh has always been a conmmmity keenly interested in sports, and one dare not pick out any outstanding athletes because there have been so many. Before the present park was provided, boys gathered there for ball games. The field then belonged to the Donaldson and Carmichael farm. Later they played in a field on the Nodwell farm, just below the present Presbyterian Manse. A group of business men put up the $500 to buy the present park, and it was called Victoria Park, (jokingly called 'Sunburn Park" by many because of its lack of shade.) A race track was laid out and a small two-storey building was placed beside the tracks This building housed a booth below and a judges' stand, or bandstand, above. The judges' stand was reached by a set of outside steps.

 The Spring Horse Show, sponsored by the Erin Agriculture Society, was THE big event in the Park. This was the time for all the women to appear in their new spring outfits. We learn that the Horse Show was first held on the tract of land behind Albert Falconer's house, (this being a hotel at that time.)

Later, Garden Parties were held in the park with as many as three or four organizations holding a garden party in one season. Jimmy Faux was the best known of the entertainers. In 1927, the Women's Institute (then known as the Hillsburgh Junior Women's Institute) was instrumental in having a permanent platform, with dressing rooms, built in the Park for the sum of $100. They also helped build the swings and teeters. The stage and the bandstand have now disappeared and a new booth has been built,

The Park has also been the home of the Hillsburgh Rifle Club which is the oldest in Ontario. It was organized in 1888 by a group of teen-aged boys from S.S. #5 East Garafraxa who had been meeting on Neil McCormick's farm. Some of these boys were: Malcolm, John and Jim Milloy; Charles and Joe Dyer; Neil McCormick; Samuel, Robert and Will Nodwell.

In October 1948 when the Club celebrated its Diamond Anniversary, Charles Dyer was the only living charter member and was presented with a gold pin and wallet.

In 1964, Clarence Bryan and Alex Duncan organized a Junior Club for boys over twelve years of age and there are sixteen boys presently Carrying on the tradition of fine marksmanship.

Because of the great interest in ball, it was decided that floodlights would extend the playing season greatly, and in May 1950, with Tom Hope as President of the Business Men's Association, this project was undertaken. Six 50-foot poles were shipped in from British Columbia and the Ontario Hydro gave the local organization great assistance. Robert Saunders, chairman of the Ontario Hydro Commission, officiated at the turning on of the lights on May 24, 1950. The cost of $5,000 was raised on notes and paid off in a year and a half. The Hillsburgh Senior ball team was winner of the Tri-County League trophy for six years in a row (1957 - 1962), and the 1966 Girl's Team made a splendid showing. With ninety-two Junior boys registered for play in 1967, and a girl's team, and no doubt, the Senior boy's team ready to go again, baseball will not soon die out in Hillsburgh.

Awrey Brothers also established a Park at the end of George Street. There was a pavilion, band stand, and a wharf for boating on the pond. Sunday School picnics, etc., were held here. However, the pond was shortly sold to the Caledon Mountain Trout Club and this park was short lived.

Other sports that have been enjoyed, for short periods, were lawn bowling on Isaiah Awrey's lawn; tennis on Dr. Gibson's lawn, and shuffle board behind the bank. In the early 1930's, a tennis club was again organized and a court built where Lawrence Sargent's house now stands. It was lit for night playing. Funds being low and repairs needed, the court was sold to Frank Johnston, Erin, as a building lot, and the money used to place a playing surface in the north-east corner of the Park. This surface was unsatisfactory and no more tennis was played.

Horseshoe pitching was enjoyed in the 1930's, first behind Gray's Feed Store, and later behind Lacey's store. Horseshoe Pitching contests were held at all the Fall Fairs and Bill and Joe Hall were often among the prize winners.

One must not forget the many splendid plays staged over the years, the nights of practice providing a winter of entertainment. Splendid talent was developed and Mrs. Bert Weeks produced and played in many of these dramas.

Town Hall

We have been unable to establish the correct location of the first Town Hall; some remember Nomination Meetings in a building beside How's store and others believe it to have been on the lot directly north of the brick Town Hall and other where the Presbyterian Manse is. The next Town Hall was built in 1887. The Oddfellows and Workmen Societies were jointly responsible for its being built. It was a two-storey brick building, the second storey being used for the lodge room of the two societies. The general contractor was John McNally and he is said to have taken the contract at $1,000 and lost money. The contractor for the brick work was John Hunt and son, Brampton. The date stone is a work of art, showing, beside the name and date, two maple leaves and a beaver cut in the stone. In later years, the upstairs was used by the Orange Lodge, the Public Library, and the Hillsburgh Band. The last event believed to have been held in the old town hall was a card party by the Auxiliary Institute, and the Converted oil furnace smoked so badly everyone went home looking as though they had been at a threshing. It was sold to Bruce Morette in 1962.

Although the basement of the Township Municipal Building could be used for small gatherings, the need for a public hall was urgent. The village trustees held numerous meetings with the Township Council, but no headway seemed to be made. Finally, the Hillsburgh Community Association was formed, with Tom Hope as President, and work begun in 1962. The dressing rooms were torn from the front of the existing arena and the new cement block two-storey Community Centre was built parallel to the main street, with the downstairs opening onto the arena ice Surface. Toilets, dressing rooms, snack bar, committee room and fire hall take up the first floor, with a large dance floor, stage, cloak room and well-equipped kitchen upstairs.

At times, the cost of $44,000 seemed almost out of reach, but with a $10,000 grant from the Ontario Government and Erin township Council giving $5,000 to the Centre and $2,000 to the Fire Hall; $10,000 raised on notes at the bank; donations from the Lions Club; chesterfields and livestock donated for draws, as well as cash donations, it was soon brought to a point where the numerous dances and fund-raising events took care of the balance.

The Centre opened February 1, 1963, with over 900 in attendance. A hockey match and dance were held, with Rev. Death dedicating the building to the youth of the community.

By October 1965, the building was free of debt and had proved itself to be a wonderful asset to the community.


To provide ice surface for the children of the village, outdoor rinks are known to have been run by Patterson Bros. behind the present Dymek store. Alf. and Giff. Collins maintained one about 1907-08 where the present rink is. Billy Hornet had a rink in the park and Fon Nodwell had one between the creek and his hardware store on Main Street. The town ponds provided excellent skating and while Harry Tate was principal of the Public School here, he organized the first Skating Carnival. It was held on the pond with Alex and Flora McLachlan winning the speed skating events. Dr. Reynolds just having moved to town, Mrs. Reynolds was one of the Judges.

At a street dance held in 1925, $1,000 was raised toward building a Skating Rink. The committee formed for this tremendous project was Steve Huxley, Mungo Nodwell, Dr. Reynolds, Robert Barbour and Alex Mclachlan. They formed a stock company, selling shares for $10 each. Then, as now the people of the Burg got behind their undertakings, and with EVERYEODY helping, the arena was started late in October 1925 and was finished by Christmas. Elbert Loggan drew the plans on the back of a calendar and oversaw the work which was carried out by Billie SomerviIle and Ball Barbour with their local helpers. On opening night, Mr. Loggan decided to take a turn around the ice, only to fall and break an ankle.

When first built, the arena housed a Ladies' Rest Room, furnished with rockers, couch, etc. Soon it became apparent that the public was abusing these facilities and the space was used to increase the Rink Dressing Rooms.

In 1952, hockey regulations called for a larger ice surface and a 30-foot extension was added to the arena. This cost $3,000 and was handled by notes. The Business Men's Association took charge of this.

With men and women curling, and boys wanting to play minor hockey, the weather was becoming too undependable; so in 1966, an artificial ice plant was installed at a cost of $16,500. The Hillsburgh Community Association, with their President, Norman Cunningham, was in charge; but as usual, the local men turned out in large numbers to work bees, thus cutting the cost. The balance was financed by notes and donations, and by the end of the first season (April 1967) it was paid for.

1966-67 was the first season for minor hockey in Hillsburgh and 112 boys were registered. At the close of the season, two hundred sat to a Father and Son banquet served by the players' mothers. George Wheeler should be given much credit for organizing both Junior hockey and baseball.


Chapter 11 - After Thoughts


Although many of the stores have been dealt with in other chapters, the one owned by William Donaldson and John Carmichael seems to have played a major role in Hillsburgh's early life. They had a millinery shop upstairs and kept as mary as three women busy. Later, Millie Boyle, assisted by Myrtle Hall, had a hat shop where Jack Warden's egg grading station is. About 1910-11, Mr. Donaldson retired and Mr. Carmichael and son, John Jr., carried on, selling to Charles Hall later. Mr. Hall's son Bill assisted him in the store and they bought eggs which Bill took to Toronto by car. Shortly after the father's death, Bill was killed in a car accident at Brisbane corner and his wife, Luella, carried on until Harman Leader bought the business and building. Jim McLaren and his wife, Jean, are the present owners and have added a meat department to the former facilities.

Ed. and Wilson Patterson ran a general store where Dymek's are now, later moving to the Leader building.

H.J. Lacey started the first Lacey store in Frank Gray's building, moving into the store on the corner of Main and George Streets when Patterson's left. The building had been built by his father, George A. Lacey, and at this time, his brother George C. Lacey came into the business with him. Later, he carried on alone again until his sons, George and Garnets were old enough to assist. As well as having a well-stocked general store, Lacey's bought cream, eggs, and dressed fowl.

In 1929, George and Gar. formed Lacey Bros. and continued the business, selling to Ed. and Muriel Dymek in June 1956. Dymek's have also added a meat and frozen food department.

Dougal Reid bought the store used by the U.F.0. in 1923 and carried on a general store until he met his death in a stone blasting accident in 1934. Mrs. Reid, who is over eighty, lives alone and carries on her store duties as well as making numerous aprons and quilts for sale

Hillsburgh's latest store is the Variety store, opened in the Leader Apartments by Mr. & Mrs. Roy Brown, in December 1966.

Implement Agencies

Bill Everdell had one of the earlier implement businesses and carried on in the building formerly used as a box factory (where Wayne Knight's house is now.)

Later, part of this building was taken across the road to the lot where Duncan McDougall's house is now, and William Barden used it as the location for his implement and car sales business. Mr. Barden next used Bill Glassford's barn before buying the large barn on Ann Street fron Waldie Steen. In 1926, he sold this business to his son Melwood, who carried on an implement and farm supply business until sold to Jack Graham, the present owner, in 1960. Mr. and Mrs. Barden still have their hackney show horses.

Just prior to Mr. Barden's business, Charles Hall opened an implement business in the present Leader apartment. When R.R. Barbour and sister Mary Ann retired to Hillsburgh, he bought the implement business from Mr. Hall. Mr. Barbour also bought wool from a large surrounding area. After Mr. Barbour came John May, Barbour Bros., Wes. Beatty and Bill Sutton.

Garages and Car Agencies

Mr. James Russell, the Station Agent, had the first car in Hillsburgh. It was a Regal purchased in 1911.

Oddly enough, McLachlan's who have held the Chevrolet agency here for fifty-two years, had a Ford car first, which they secured from J.E. Smith & Co., Orangeville, in exchange for a horse and buggy.

However, while attending the C.N.E. in 1915, Mr. McLachlan saw that the Chevrolets had self-starters on them, and upon coming home, reported to his son Alex that they should be handling them. Alex immediately made the trip to their West Toronto office and made the arrangements. Later, when cars were produced in the Oshawa General Motors plant, it was quite an honour to be asked to make the trip to Oshawa to drive home a new car for McLachlan's. Alex McLachlan and son Bill carry on the business at present ard Elmer Reed has been in their employ since 1929.

In 1922, Bob Sargent bought the property Known as the Byrne Shop, from Ernie Ward, who had used it as a blacksmith shop. Mr. Sargent sold Durant cars and did garage work as well as having an implement agency. In answer to an advertisement, Arthur Hart came to run the Sargent blacksmith shop end boarded with the Sargentts till married.

Mr. Sargent was a very talented inventor but appears to have been about forty years ahead of the times, because in 1923, he invented a snowmobile, having two sets of runners and propelled by a gas engine and airplane propeller. The following year, using a car, he narrowed the wheel base, and with runners on front and wheels in the rear, there are those who remember making trips to Guelph in this vehicle.

About 1927, he made a snow plow, and with it mounted on Jack Irwin's gasoline tractor, opened the road from Hillsburgh to Brisbane. Heavy snow drifts caused the tractor gears to keep breaking so snow ploughing was given up for a number of years.

In January 1946, Sargent sold his garage business to Tom Hope, the present owner. The brick blacksmith shop at the rear of the property has been torn down and a heated steel shed built to house his two school buses. Mr. Hope and Norman Cunningham, with assistant drivers, Bert Awrey and Jack Graham, bring the children to the Ross. R. MacKay public school.

Earlier makes of cars sold in Hillsburgh were Gray-Dort, by William Barden, and Ross MacKay; Hudson-Esssx by Wes. Faulknen and the Maxwell by Charles Hall.

James Johnston built the garage where Ivan Gray is now, selling it to Jim Loghrin, and he in turn to Ivan., who opened for business January 1, 1960, after having served his apprenticeship in W.A. McLachlan's.

Johnston, owning the house directly north of the Baptist Church, then built a small garage on that property and installed gas pumps. When he moved to Fergus, he sold to Mr. Kurtz, and shortly they sold to Bud and Theda Jansen, who built the small lunch room and called it "Track-B".' Their son-in-law ran the garage. In September 1964, Bert and Evelyn Rodgers bought the property and operate gas pumps, snack bar and small dining-room. This is Hillsburgh's only dining-room at the present time. In 1966, Bert put billiard tables in the room adjacent to the garage.

Gerald Bayne and John Graham also supply gas to the motoring public.


Russell Cox (Cox Construction, Guelph) began in Hillsburgh, and Carl Dyer was in partnership with him for about a year. David Barbour as well as farming, built up the construction company, which was made into David Barbour and co. Ltd. in 1959. On January 1, 1966, he sold his equipment to Nelles Construction, Acton.

Real Estate

Real Estate agents seem to be fairly new to our way of life, as no one seems to remember who did it in olden days. Presently engaged (1967) in the business are Roy McConnell, Ernie Awrey, Dave Barbour and Mrs. Alice Boyd. After retiring from the farm, John McFee also sold real estate for a time. Until ill health caused him to give it up. Albert Falconer carried on an extensive business.


The young people who see nothing but combines in use today can scarcely realize that at one time every farmer must haul his entire crop into the barn and wait his turn for the local thresher to arrive. This operation went on into late fall. Early threshers were: George Tarzwell, William McMillan, James Suggitt, Jack Irwin, William Barden, and then Ed. Lane and Bert Price.

Painting and Decorating

Billie Cooper lived in the small building where Gray's later built the Locker and had his shop at the back of the former blacksmith shop at Mill and Ann Streets. He was especially noted for woodwork graining. Others who helped beautify Hillsburgh homes were, Billie Hornet, Fred Smith, Clifford Thomson, John Campbell, Doug Carmichael, and Henry Pounder. In 1966, Paul Tocher opened a paint store in the former Bill Everdell store. Although sign painting is his main business, he has paint, wallpaper and floor coverings for sale.

Bus Service

Until 1942, pupils wishing to go to Erin Continuation School were obliged to board in Erin all week, or find their own transportation to and from, each day. As a result, many parents thought this too expensive and children were kept home after completing Public School. When we see the endless fleets of school buses in operation today, we must remember that John (Mac) Maude of Orangeville pioneered this movement in Hillsburgh. Driving a large Packard car, he bagan making daily trips to Erin, with school pupils.

In 1942, Bill McLachlan, Jr. was among those first passengers. Later, Mr. Maude owned and operated the Royal City Coach Line bus from Orangeville to Guelph, making a regular call in Hillsburgh. Passenger trade declined, until now there is no bus or passenger train service out of Hillsburgh.

John Maude also owned the Royal City Transport which he sold to Stuart McKinnon in August 1952, he, in turn, selling to Overland Express in October 1959.

One of these school buses was involved in Hillsburgh's greatest tragedy, when on January 28, 1960, the Erin District High School bus and C.P.R. freight train were in collision at the crossing on #22 sideroad below the village. The ensuing fire took the lives of Kareen Awrey, Donna Jackson, and Gudrun Koch. Calvin Leitch, the driver, died later in hospital. One of the worst ice storms in history had disrupted telephone service just a few weeks before, and when pupils did not arrive home at the regular time, there were no phones in service to make calls. Even when the accident became known, area hospitals could not be called to ascertain the extent of injuries.

Fire Protection

In the 1920's the Village trustees bought the first fire equipment. There were two barrels of chemical mounted between two wheels and it had to be drawn by hand if the fire were close, or behind a small truck. Probably the last time this equipment was used was at the house fire in 1942 when Mrs. Mark Carmichael lost her life. It did keep the flames in some control until the Erin brigade arrived The present fire brigade are restoring it as their Centennial project.

When Bert Awrey's Feed Store burned on October 11, 1957, and it was feared more stores would be lost, there was great agitation for fire equipment, but not until the fire of February 24, 1965 that destroyed the Presbyterian Church and frame house beside it, was anything done. In the fall of 1965, the Erin Township Council, at a cost of $29,000, placed a fire truck and equipment in the two-door fire hall that had been built in readiness two years before. Ivan G. Gray was appointed Fire Chief, with Bob Cheyne as Deputy and Bob Evans, Jack Graham and Jack Leachman serving as captains.

In 1966 the Village of Hillsburgh bought a used oil truck and converted it to a water tanker for added equipment. Much credit should be given these twenty men who give of their time to answer calls so promptly.

Hillsburgh Band

1944, eight interested people turned out for practice at the home of James Tarzwell. He had not expected to take over the leadership of the band, but during the war years, difficulties were encountered and he set to work to build it up. At one time there were as many as 45 members in this band.

He also organized a Junior band, with the promise to junior members that when a certain degree of proficiency had been reached, they would be promoted. One of the band members was Fred McMillan who had attended the first practice of Hillsburgh's first band fifty years earlier.

The first outdoor appearance of the band was on May 8, 1945, when they paraded through the streets of Orton, Hillsburgh and Erin, Joining in the victory celebrations for Germary's surrender.

After four years, Charles Allen of Fergus took over Mr. Tarzwell's duties. Their navy blazers worn with grey flannel skirts and trousers presented a pleasing sight when performing at Garden Parties, jamborees, banquets, picnics and parades.

The band, sorry to say, has now disbanded.

Besides Fred McMillan, other members of the earlier band were William Everdell, Mr. Haines, R.D. Nodwell and Bill McNally. Their band stand was at the corner of Main and Mill Streets, about where the present telephone booth is.


The library has been housed in a series of locations. The first one remembered was at the back of Bill Everdell's store. Records of the present library show that it was established in 1922 and some of the first books were bought with money raised by presenting a play. Joe MacMillan was librarian and it was upstairs in the Town Hall. For a short period, it was where Jack Warden's egg grading station is, and in 1930, Mask Fred MacMillan became librarian.

About 1931-32 a small house was moved from the lot where George Lacey's house is, to the present site beside the creek on Main Street. After being given a stucco finish it has served the Community well, as did Mrs. MacMillan who continued as librarian until March 1, 1965, when the present librarian, Mrs. Ross Leitch began her duties.

Chapter 12 - Organizations

Hillsburgh Senior Women's Institute

The Hillsburgh Senior Women's Institute was organized in Stanley Park, Erin, on June 21, 1904. The first president was Mrs. J.C. McMillan, and the first secretary-treasurer was Miss Libby McMillan. Mrs. R.C. Nodwell was vice-president. She was also the first president of Centre Wellington District. For a short while, Erin and Hillsburgh held meetings alternately.

The 50th Anniversary was held in the Disciple Church, Hillsburgh, in June of 1954. Miss Ada Currie, a charter member, gave an historical address. We find that the ladies were very active in community activities, relief work for various causes, and trying to live up to their motto, "For Home and Country." During the first world war, they were knitting and sending boxes of treats overseas every month to the boys from this community. They were: William Nodwell, Harold McConnell, Robert McNally, Hugh McMillan, William Hornet, Ernie Royce, J. Huxtible, Howard VanWyck, Jack McLachlan, T. Tarzwell, Ed. Nodwell, Bernie Russell and Miss Marjorie Carmichael.

In later years, they supported and canvassed for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, as their main project.

In April of 1966, with many regrets, it was found best to disband, and so closed another door of history.

The last President was Mrs. John McFee, and the last Secretary-Treasurer, Miss Jean Sinclair.

Hillsburgh Auxiliary Women's Institute

This Institute was formerly the Hillsburgh Junior Moments Institute. The organization meeting, held January 18, 1922, took place at the conclusion of a short course in Domestic Science and Home Nursing held in the Christian Church basement.

The first executive chosen were as follows: President- Maude Orr; Vice-President- Gladys Nodwell; Secretary-Treasurer- Ida Wheeler (1st 3 months) and Margaret Dyer (remainder of the years) Directors- Florence Sinclair and Pearl McLachlan.

Charter members were: Maude Orr, Ida Wheeler, Margaret Dyer, Florence Sinclair, Lula Berry, Belle Delaney, Elsie Dyer, Gladays Nodwell, Flora McGill, Annie Burrows, Donelda McGill, Budah Barbour, Elsie Barbour, Clara Tarzwell, Nellie E. Jackson, Hazel Bryan, Pearl McLachlan, Elsie Thomson, Myrtle Hall, Elva McAllister, Vera Bryan, Fern Thompson, Edna Sutton, Jessie Lacey, Verna Gray, Alice Lush, Marjorie White, Irene McDougall and Jeannie Hall.

On May 15, 1947, the Silver Anniversary was celebrated with a special meeting and afternoon tea in the Christian Church basements Miss Florence Eadie from the Institutes Branch, Toronto, was guest speaker.

At about this time, members who had belonged for fifteen or twenty years realized that the name Junior" was becoming a bit ridiculous; then too, there was a group of young girls in the community to form a new Junior Women's Institute, so in June 1948, it became the Hillsburgh Auxiliary Institute.

The Institute aims to work for "Home and Country" and during World War II they were praised at a District Annual meeting for having given the most money of any area branch, toward war work. Since the Community Centre opened, they have given the window drapes and dishes to set for over one hundred. Their Centennial project is to be further improvements to the Centre.

The President for the first half of 1967 was Mrs. Hugh Oxley and for the 1967-68 year, Mrs. Oliver Somerville. Mrs. Mercer Jackson is Secretary.

Junior Institute

The Erin Township Junior Institute was organized on May 20th, 1948. The first meeting was held in Coe's Hotel. Elinor McKinnon (Barbour) was elected President and Mary E. Currie, Secretary-Treasurer. There were 18 members.

The meetings were held in conjunction with the Erin Township Junior Farmers and held in Hillsburgh and Ballinafad Halls and in the homes of the members.

It was an active group participating in County and Provincial competitions and Field Days. Many local community activities were sponsored including church services, plays, garden parties, dances, etc.

From this group, Mildred Parkinson was appointed a Junior Provincial Board Member of the Federated Moments Institutes of Ontario for 1951-1953.

The group disbanded in April 1956. Mrs. Dick Buckles was President and Mrs. John Reid, Secretary-Treasurer. Others holding office were: Mildred Parkinson, Jeanette Graham, Verna Beatty, Millie Robinson, Annie Leitch, Mrs. Gordon Gregson, Jean Sinclair, and Mrs. Earl Sutton.

Century Farms

MacMurchy Homestead Farm 1855 - 1967  Donald MacMurchy was born in Cantyre, Argylisher, Scotland on April 10, 1828, coming to Erin Township with his parents at the age of thirteen. He lived on the eighth linr, lot 23, until 1855.

He married Mary Green and purchased the farm above Hillsburgh, Concession 7, lot 26, from Alexander Grant, for $800. Interest on the mortgage at this date was 6%.

There were four sons -- Thomas, Norman, John and Charles; two daughters Mary and Rose. The log house was replaced in 1875 at an estimated cost of $1,500.

Charles MacMurchy, youngest son, married Fannie Reed in 1903 and took over the farm. There were four children - Helen, Donald, Olive and Norman.

In 1911, the present barn was built. Several years later, a Delco plant was installed to generate electricity until the Caledon Electric power came to Hillsburgh.

Donald married Mae Folliott of King in 1936 and took over the farm. There are three Children Robert, Charles and Mary.

A Smaller barn was built in 1963 on part of the original foundation.

Nodwell Century Farm  The Nedwill's (the original name) came from county Londonderry, Ireland and were Presbyterians. Loss of a valuable stock of horses by anthrax seems to have had an influence on their decision to come to America.

William Nodwell and his second wife, Letitia Dunn, with their family, landed in Quebec in the Fall of 1838 and are said to have traveled all the way to Erin in wagons drawn by oxen.

Coming to Toronto, William Nodwell looked at a fa rm on Yonge Street; also at the Henderson farm on the seventh line, west of Georgetown, but came on to lot 24, eighth concession, of Erin. It is believed he paid the same price per acre as that asked for the two farms he had looked at.

The first log buildings are believed to have been much farther in from the road- probably where the present grove of pine trees are.

Misfortune again struck, because within a year, the house and all its contents were lost by fire. He then sold the north-east half of the lot to Angus McMurchy and a new log house, barn and stables were built near the site of the present farm buildings.

A new frame barn was built in 1857 and added to from time to time. The large brick house was built in 1868.

William Nodwell, the original owner, died in 1845. His will, written by the late William How, divided the farm land between his sons Robert and Thomas. Robert bought 100 acres of land in East Garafraxa and traded it to Thomas for his half of the home farm, thus becoming sole owner of the homestead.

Robert's son, R.D., took over the farm operations about 1895 at the time of his marriage to Lillias Young. At this time, the brick house at the entrance to the lane was built for his parents and an unmarried sister to retire to.

R.D. and son Mungo carried on extensive farming operations, being especially well known for the growing of seed potatoes.

About 1926, Mungo assumed the farm responsibilities and he and his wife, Lillian Ferguson, kept a large dairy herd.

Since Mungo's death in 1963, his daughter Mary and husband, Dick Buckles, have rented the farm. This farm has always been known as "Homestead Farm."

Compiled by Matt Carmichael 2000-2001


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