Chapter 1 -
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
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.
Mr. D.A. Campbell
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. Wm. Rowan
Mr. A.R. McKay
Miss M. Jemple
Miss Eva Hayden
Miss Ella McMillan
Mr. H. Tate
Miss Olive Awrey
|Later Teachers from
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 -
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Hillsburgh Auxiliary Women's
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
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.
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
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
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
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