How many people may have been living and working in Bruneauville, or ‘Old Fort’?

Jessie DrummondDid the lumber town of ‘Old Fort’ Thrive on the Broken Dream of Bruneauville?

From the early days of settlement in this area, there are many examples of town site plans that were created without the town actually developing.

In Sunnyside (north-west side of Midland), a place named Everton had been surveyed on lot No. 111, concession 1, Tay, in the year 1853, but it did not materialize.

As you are about to enter Port NcNicoll, on the left side of the road, the huge field had been surveyed with sidewalks even being made but this development never happened.

At Tanner’s Beach, near Sturgeon Bay, the plan for Port Powell, with street names, was developed but did not develop.

Through the record of the Drummond Island Voyageurs Migration, we know that a number of people settled at the location of present-day Sainte-Marie.

In 1873, Julien Bruneau registered a plan of subdivision (Plan #185) for Bruneauville on the west side of the Wye River in the West ½ of lot 16, Concession 3, ( John Raynor, Huronia Chapter of Ontario Archaeological Society blog February 1, 2012).

“Bruneau soon experienced a series of financial problems which resulted in his indebtedness. In 1874, he sold approximately fifteen acres of the west half of Lot 16 on the east side of the river to Sophia, wife of Alexander McDonald.” (Delaney and Nicholls)

“It would further appear from the historical record that some of the lots were sold to the British Canadian Lumber Company” (Raynor).

“Sophia McDonald sold the parcel (except one acre) to James Stabler Plewes…” (Delaney and Nicholls)

“… the acreage owned by Plewes on the west half of Lot 16, Concession 3 was developed as a mill site. A number of sawmills and houses were eventually located along the Wye river at Old Fort, the name given to the community immediately to the north of Sainte-Marie along both sides of the river.”

Would it follow that Bruneauville was a planned community but never materialized? In its place, perhaps, a substantial mill town, called ‘Old Fort’, developed (based on the fact that the largest schooner was docking for the lumber) and that the mill town settlement design may have roughly followed the proposed registration plan that Bruneau had envisioned.

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