Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – October 8th to 15th 1959

The photos found in this blog post are the property of Huronia Museum, Midland, Ontario. Any reproduction for commercial use without permission is prohibited.  Any other distribution must credit Huronia Museum.  Please contact the museum with any questions you may have.  

Click on photos to enlarge.Willing hands hold old up a crumpled plywood barrier in front of Jory’s drug store, Midland, as a Midland officer and Dr. W. F. Neale assist an elderly woman injured when a car jumped the curb and pinned her against the barrier Thursday morning. Man in the foreground is Jack Valliear of Midland.

Pictured is a good half-ton of Bull Moose, strung up by the heels in Charlie Stewart’s yard on Frederick Street. Mr. Stewart (right) shot the moose while on a hunting trip near Hearst last week with Midland constable Ed. Armstrong. Though he’s never tried it before, Charlie was successful in “calling” this one out of the bush and up a logging trail within shootin’ range. It was the only one they were destined to get a shot at during their stay in the north. 

Brownies, Guides, Wolf Cubs and Scouts from district troops and packs formed the colour party for the annual church parade of North Simcoe youth organization Sunday. Here they are formed up by DSM Jack Brownlee prior to joining the main, procession forming up in the background. Midland Citizens Band led the marchers. 

There were trophies, crests and a big chicken dinner for Midland’s baseball Indians as they held their final get-together of the season at Bourgeois’ dining room Saturday night. Left to right are, front, “Buzz” Deschamp, Ricky Lemieux, Joe Faragher, “Bun” Deschamp, Larry Greene, Court Brailey, and “Red” Nicholls; back row — Jim Lemieux, Dean Healiotis, Fred Rutherford, Murray Yorke, Gord Dyment, Jim Wilcox, Harold Jackson, Brian Lemieux, Ken Hipwell. 

Hundreds of North Simcoe district children paraded to Protestant and Roman Catholic churches in Midland Sunday afternoon to attend special youth services. Explorers, CGIT and their leaders leave Town Park on their march along King Street and Hugel Ave., as the procession moves off to Knox and St. Margaret’s Churches. 

Cubmaster in the lead, this Wolf Pack steps out smartly as the procession moves off to Knox and St. Margaret’s Churches. 

Tossing the basketball through the hoop is one of six events in the National YMCA Hi-Lo athletic contest being carried out at Midland ‘Y’. Paul Downer tries his skill under the basket. Paul and Lynda Duggan have 12 of the points necessary to win a National Hi-Lo crest. 

Long awaited addition to Mountain School, S.S. 16, Tiny is expected to be ready for classes around the first week of November. Workmen are putting the roof on the new structure. Some renovations are also slated for the old school and the new entrance will be between the two buildings. The school has around 40 pupils, with two teachers on staff. 

Friday, as he celebrated his 90th birthday, Arthur Popple, Penetang, sat in the living room of his daughter’s home recounting anecdotes of both the Boer War and World War I as though they were events which took place only yesterday. Mr. Popple was talking to members of the Penetang branch of the Canadian Legion and Ladies’ Auxiliary who had come to present a gift to him and flowers to his wife. Arthur Popple was a charter member of Penetang Legion, and is now a life member. Born in England, Mr. Popple was apprenticed to a draper. “That’s the dry goods business to you,” he quipped. He started out to serve his apprenticeship in South Africa, and finding spare time dragging on his hands, he joined the militia. “It wasn’t the same as you do today,” he said. “We really worked at it with drill several nights each week.” About a year later, he was told unceremoniously one morning that he was in the regular army, and was ordered to report immediately for duty in the Boer War. He told of being bottled up for long periods in various locations, with little to do but sit and wait. It was at these times his superior officers would send him to various units to entertain the men by singing. He recalled meeting one man in St. James’ on-the-Lines Cemetery who remembered his singing in South Africa. When he was discharged and finally returned to the store in which he had been employed, he was agreeably surprised to receive an envelope containing pay from his employer for the entire 18 months he had spent in the army. During his stay in South Africa, he made several trips home to England to visit his relatives. He remembers that on one of these occasions he took passage on a freighter which was going to England by way of Australia, New Zealand and the Suez Canal. We didn’t know exactly what ports we would be calling at, for this ship would carry cargo to one port, and receive instructions there to go to another. The Journey ended four months after he had left South Africa. Finally tiring of South Africa,  Arthur Popple returned to England where he spent some time before deciding to try his luck in a new country called “Canada.” He and his close friend, Gilbert Milton, arrived in Toronto 48 years ago — “a couple of hicks from England who hadn’t the foggiest notion what they were going to do. “Old Gilbert and I walked out of the Union Station and wondered what we were going to do in this new land. As we wandered along the street, I saw an employment office and asked if there were any jobs. The man said we could have one in Penetanguishene if we got on the train the next day. Because he couldn’t remember the name of the place they were to go, Arthur Popple and Gilbert Milton probably became citizens of Canada in a shorter time than most people. At Union Station the next day, they were trying to buy tickets for “Penang” or some such place, when a stranger took them in tow. This man finally figured out they wanted to go to Penetanguishene, and after assisting them in this way, took them to his office where, after asking a few questions, he declared they were Canadian citizens. On arrival in Penetang, the pair discovered the job was connected with the Breithaupt Tannery, and neither wanted to have anything to do with it. However, they were prevailed upon to stay and worked for some time piling bark in the yard. Eventually, they heard there was a great exhibition taking place in Toronto, so they went to see it. At the conclusion of their visit there, they headed for Western Ontario where they worked for a time. Then Arthur decided to return to Toronto where he obtained temporary employment. However, Penetang must have gotten into his blood, for it wasn’t long before he returned and secured a job in the stove foundry. When World War I came along, Arthur was one of the first to enlist, serving with the Canadian forces throughout that conflict. After discharge, he returned to Penetang where he had left his wife and family. He continued in his job at the stove foundry until his retirement about 20 years ago. Arthur Popple took an early interest in the historical aspects of the Garrison Church, and there are few people in Penetang who can recall more of its history than he. His interest led him to “Lines” cemetery, and on this, he is almost an authority. Following his retirement, he spent a number of years as caretaker of the church and cemetery. He recalls with pleasure the time Viscount Alexander came to visit this area. Rev. R. L. McLaren called me and asked me to meet the Viscount, as he couldn’t be there himself. Lord Alexander was scheduled to spend five minutes there, but I got him so interested he spent more than 25 minutes and would have stayed longer had not some other officials arrived and reminded him of other places he was to visit,” Mr. Popple said. Possibly a part of Mr. Popple’s love of garrison history stems from the fact that he lives in one of the old pensioner’s homes — a log cabin “on the lines,” better known as Church Street. Mr. Popple has been married twice, his first wife having died about 26 years ago. She was an English girl he had met during his stay in Toronto. The couple had five children, four of whom are still, living: Arthur of Weston, Robert and Thomas of Penetang and Nellie (Mrs. Vic Grigg), also of Penetang. Another daughter, Rose (Mrs. Norbert Marchildon), died in Penetang several years ago. There are nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Arthur Popple married his present wife, the former Mrs. Jas. Thompson, about 19 years ago, and the couple still maintain their own home. As the Legion group prepared to leave, Mr. Popple reminded them that Nov. 11 would soon be here. “And I’m looking forward to being with you then,” he said. 

The first member of Midland YMCA to complete the six events of the National YMCA Hi-Lo athletic contest, Nancy Higgs shows considerable promise as a high jumper. Watching Nancy go through her paces at left are Carol Launder and Pam Ellison. To date, 65 boys and 11 girls of the local ‘Y’ have participated in the contest. 

Almost forgotten by even the oldest residents of North Simcoe is the old stone quarry at Port McNicoll. The area was once known as “Flat Point” because the huge, flat slate of stone found here. The old quarry is commemorated by an historical plaque located at Patterson Park, in nearby Paradise Point. The floor of this old quarry is stone, many feet deep.

Inscription on the historical plaque at Patterson Park, Paradise Point; Although Port McNicoll was not founded until 1912 as the eastern terminus of the C.P.R. Upper Lakes steamships, its limestone was quarried in 1630 for Ste. Marie 1, the western terminus of the 800-mile fur trade route from Quebec. Transported by water three miles along the shore of Georgian Bay and up the Wye River, the limestone was used in bastion walls, fireplaces and the altar base by French master mason Pierre Tourmente. 

Built by men from the conservation farm camp in Medonte, this new cement dam will control the level of Orr Lake. It replaces a wooden dam weakened by Hurricane Hazel five years ago. Although the official opening of the dam will be Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., a number of officials turned out to inspect the work on a rainy, gusty Thanksgiving holiday afternoon.


  • Car Pins Elderly Woman in Freak, Street Crash”; County Herald headline of October 9, 1959. A 66-year-old Port Severn woman is in St. Andrews Hospital as a result of a freak accident which occurred on Midland’s King Street about 10:30 a.m. yesterday morning. Police identified the woman as Mrs. Delima Boucher of Port Severn. She had both legs broken and suffered severe shock, it was stated. Acting Chief George Wainman said Mrs. Boucher was walking down the sidewalk and was passing in front of Jory’s drug store when the accident happened. The chief said Mrs. Anne Annand of 124 Bay Street was driving south on King St. pulled into a parking spot at the drug store. But Instead of hitting the brake pedal, her foot apparently struck the accelerator and the vehicle climbed up over the curb pinning Mrs. Boucher against a plywood barrier in front of the store, now being renovated, he said. A student driver, Mrs. Annand was accompanied by Eldon French of 277 Eighth Street, Midland, an experienced driver who had been giving her driving instruction. The chief said no charges against the driver are contemplated. The injured woman was treated at the scene by Dr. W. F. Neale, and was taken to hospital by Midland-Penetang ambulance. In the crash, a section of the plywood barrier was caved in. It is believed this factor saved the woman’s life.
  • 75-Mile-Per-Hour Gales Maroon Cottagers on Bay”; Many residents of Toronto and other Ontario centers, who own cottages in the Southern Muskoka or 30,000 Island area of Georgian Bay, were late for work Tuesday morning. In fact, a goodly number of them who had gone to their cottages for the Thanksgiving weekend were unable to get back to the mainland at Honey Harbour and other district centers because of high winds. “One person here who has a wind gauge said the wind reached 70 to 75 mph Monday,” said Dave Milner of Honey Harbour Boat Works. Mr. Milner is one of several men at Honey Harbour engaged in transporting cottagers to points, “Up The Shore” or providing facilities, fuel, and repairs for their boats.  About 90 persons from 25 cottages in the Honey Harbour area were marooned Monday, Mr. Milner estimated.
  • Clarence Woods, 40, veteran Port Severn guide, has been transferred to Western Hospital, Toronto, for treatment of eye injuries received in a hunting accident Tuesday. Mr. Woods had been leading a party of Americans on a partridge shoot near Lovering when the accident occurred. He was struck in the face by pellets from a shotgun shell, one of them lodging In his eye. Rushed to hospital in Orillia, Mr. Woods was treated by Dr. G. W. Hall of Coldwater. OPP Const. George Winter, who investigated, said the men in the party had gone into dense woods and were stationed roughly a hundred yards apart. Apparently, Woods and Johnny Flannex of Warren, Ohio, had narrowed the gap to about 60 feet. When a partridge flew up, Flannex fired at it with a .12 gauge shotgun. Mr. Woods was in almost a direct line with the blast.
  • Known as the founder of Balm Beach, Robert John Finley died at St. Andrews Hospital, Midland, Oct. 7. He was in his 83rd year. He is survived by his wife, the former Lillian Bate, a son Vernon of Guelph, and two daughters, Mabel, Toronto, and Greta of Barrie. Funeral services were held in Barrie Saturday with burial in Cemetery Barrie Union Cemetery. Born on a farm near Bobcaygeon, he went to Peterborough as a young man to learn the baker’s trade. Later he went to near-by Lakefield where he operated a grocery store and bake shop in partnership with another man. It was there he met Lillian Bate, whose father also operated a grocery store a few doors away. Married Sept. 20th 1899, Mr. and Mrs. Finley celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary last month. For many years a resident of Barrie, Mr. Finley made his first trip to what was then called Tiny Beach in 1922. There was only one cottage there at the time, and the road (now County Road 6) stopped at the top of the hill, half a mile from the water’s edge. Struck by the possibilities of the place, Mr. Finley bought an entire half concession along the waterfront and added the other half to his holdings the following year. This gave him around 135 lots on the mile-long stretch of beach. In his first year at the beach, Mr. Finley sold only one lot, but by 1926 things were starting to boom. He was glad to get $200 each for the beachfront lots then. You would be lucky to get a beachfront lot anywhere now for under $1,500 if there were any left to buy. Mr. Finley shared the credit of giving Balm Beach its present name with Tom Preston and Ernie Robins, both of whom farmed near Midland at that time. He also operated the first store on the beach and his name is perpetuated in Finley Drive, which runs north from the main centre of the beach. During his years at the beach, Mr. Finley had long advocated more fire protection and more life-saving facilities during the eight terms he had served as president of Balm Beach Athletic Association. Unfortunately, there are still no permanent fire fighting or life-saving groups at the beach, even at this late date. The main Finley cottage, one of several he owned at one time, was given the name “Ya-Quah-Mook.” an Indian name meaning the end of the road. Which it was when Mr. Finley built it. Now cottages extend for miles up and down the beach, several streets deep in spots.
  • Obituaries – MRS. AMELIA YON – Six grandsons of Mrs. Amelia Yon were pallbearers at her funeral, Oct 1, at St. Margaret’s Church when Rev. L. Petitpas officiated at the mass. Pallbearers were Andy Bell, Francis Thiffault, Robert Thiffault, Frank Arbour, Allen and Louis Brodeur. Mrs. Yon, who had been a resident of Midland for 67 years, died in St Andrews Hospital Sept. 29. Born in Michigan, the U.S.A. in June 1894, Mrs. Yon, the former Amelia Bodie, married Lewis Yon at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Mr. Yon predeceased her in November 1941. Mrs. Yon is survived by a son, Frank of Midland and four daughters. Mrs. Edna Brodeur and Mrs. Albert Thiffault (Ethel), both of Midland, Mrs. Henry Arbour (Kathleen) of Toronto and Mrs. Fred Moreau (Florence) of Detroit. A fifth daughter, Mrs. Olive Thompson predeceased her in June, 1956. Burial was in St. John’s Cemetery, Waubaushene. WILLIAM GILBERT ELMVALE — Sunday, 13, district people heard of the unexpected death of William D. Gilbert who died in Penetang General Hospital. He suffered a heart attack at his home and died shortly after his arrival in hospital. Mr. Gilbert was a life-long resident of this community. He was born May 18, 1887, the son of the late Charles O. Gilbert and the former Sarah Jackson. He farmed on the 8th line of Flos and later retired to make his home to the village. He was a liberal and a member of the congregation of Jehovah Witnesses. Surviving are his sisters Etta (Mrs. T. B. Patterson) of Calgary and a brother Albert of Cochrane. Nieces and nephews reside in Elmvale. The funeral was held Sept. 18, at the Bishop Lynn funeral home with Mr. Robert Alliston conducting the service. The pallbearers were Fred Drysdale, Robert Ritchie, Art Jamieson, Alvin Greenlaw, Bernie Pilon and Howard Brown. Interment was in Elmvale Cemetery. MORRIS MINO – A resident of this district all his life, Morris Mino died in Penetang General Hospital, Sept. 23, following a lengthy illness. He was to his 43rd year. Funeral service was held at the Bishop-Lynn funeral home, Elmvale. Sept. 26. Pallbearers were Elmer Lumree, Cecil Lumree, Reg Morrison, Jack Murray, Russell Marshall and Duncan Barr. Born in Medonte Township. Mr. Mino was educated at Hillsdale and on July 6, 1940, at Dalston. Ont., he married the former Margaret Clara Buchannan. After twelve years as a freight handler for the CPR at Port McNicoll, he became a farmer at Vasey. He was a member of Waverley Loyal Orange Lodge No. 389. Besides his widow, he is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Mino, a son, Murray Keith at home, Surviving brothers and sisters are Aberdeen of Moonstone, Mrs. Wm. Douglas (Leona), William and Eldon, all of Toronto. Mrs. Duncan Barr (Alemma) and Merelyn of Vasey. Burial was in Hillsdale United Cemetery.
  • TEN YEARS AGO THIS WEEK – Two Midland citizens reported seeing a vivid blue flash that lit up the sky northwest of the town for four or five minutes. Scientists said they believed the flash was caused by an exploding meteor. * * * At its October meeting, Midland council decided to take the necessary steps to dispense with the ward system and to increase the number of aldermen from four to eight, half- of whom would be elected each year for a two-year term. The question was to be referred to electors in a plebiscite at municipal election time. * * * Construction of a $60,000 drive-in theatre off Highway 92, west of Elmvale, was underway. It was expected completed by Easter. * * * Dortna Crooke, a Victoria Harbour girl, was named campus queen at Midland District High School. The selection of the queen climaxed a two-day football jamboree. * * * Penetang court of revision faced a total of 190 against assessments. At its first sitting, the court was able to clear only 12 of the appeals. * * * Miss Mae Hilditch, superintendent of Arnprior and District Memorial Hospital, was appointed the superintendent of St. Andrews Hospital, Midland. She was to take over her new duties Nov 1. * * * Midland Boys’ Band played the first of a series of concerts in an attempt to raise funds to buy better quality instruments. Adjudicators had stated that, if the band had better instruments, it might have attained higher standing in events.

An article from the Midland Free Press, October 1938;

Wye River Once Logging Stream—50 Years Of Storekeeping — Mrs. McRae’s Busy Life
By J. H. Cranston 
   For more than seventy years Mrs. Nelson McRae has lived at Wyebridge. She knew that lovely little village when it was the chief business hub of Northern Simcoe, when the farmers from twenty miles around brought their grain to be ground into flour at the Plewes’ grist mill, and when Midland was as yet unborn. In those days the Wye River was a noble stream down which huge logs were rafted instead of the placid little creek it has now become. Mrs. McRae saw Wyebridge grow from a tiny hamlet into a hustling village, and then gradually decline in importance while the new settlement on Mundy’s Bay, now Midland, aided by the fact that it had a fine harbour, increased in population and became the chief trading seat. Wyebridge is to Mrs. McRae, however, still the centre of the universe, just as it was in the days when she came there with her husband from Eastern Ontario away back in 1866. She loves the charming little settlement on the Wye with all her heart.
   It was a treat to chat with this remarkable woman concerning the early days in Wyebridge. Although in her 93rd year—she celebrated her 92nd birthday on June 4th last — Mrs. McRae’s mind is still keen. She amazes one by the quickness with which she recalls the names and even the initials of men who were in business in Wyebridge in the sixties, seventies and eighties. Possibly her remarkable memory for such details is due to the fact that she was the village postmistress for more than fifty years, and it was her business to know names both fore and aft.
OPENED GENERAL STORE    Cevila Ekins was the maiden name of this Wyebridge pioneer. Daughter of Edward Ekins, of Dickenson’s Landing, twelve miles east of Cornwall, she became a school teacher when she grew up and taught near Aultsville, in Roxborough and near Berwick. She gave up teaching to become the wife of Nelson McRae, Wyebridge, in 1866, where Mr. McRae opened a general country store on the west side of the street. Some years later he built the store on the east side now occupied by Mr. Rawn, and here Mr. McRae served the countryside until his death in 1915. Mrs. McRae, who had always spent as much of her time in the store as she could spare from her family, carried on the business until 1919 when she sold out to her son-in-law, Fred Lummis. The McRae store was during all this period the real social centre of the community. Here villagers and country folk came not only to buy supplies of all kinds but to get their mail, and gossip over the happenings of the district. When later the telegraph and telephone were added to the store’s equipment it was there the people gathered to hear the news of the outside world. On election nights the store was always jammed with partisans of both stripes, and many was the hot political argument that went on while the returns were being received over the wires. One could buy almost anything they wanted in the McRae store. A. G. Churchill, commercial traveller poet, who immortalized many of the businessmen of northern Simcoe in the seventies in his “Poetical Directory” had the following to say of the business house over which Nelson McRae presided. 

His grand supply on River Wye,
Is truly very splendid—
On shelves in store, from floor to floor.
And is politely tended;
Goods,  every kind that are designed for clothing men and women:
Keeps glass and delf upon his shelf,
All kinds of table trimming;
Keeps pork and flour that men devour.
Eggs, butter, cheese and fishes;
Keeps pepper, spice, salt, soda, rice
Mugs jugs and earthen dishes;
Keeps boot and shoe made clothing
For Tay and Tiny border;
Without fail, will handle mail,
And telegraph to order.

SUPPLIES TEAMED IN    All supplies for the store had to be teamed in from Barrie by way of the Crown Hill road. There was no railway north of Allandale for many years after the McRaes arrived at Wyebridge. “I remember my husband sending a lad of seventeen to team a load of goods up from Barrie,” said Mrs. McRae., “On the way back a barrel of golden syrup was dumped overboard into the snow by a sudden bump in the very bad roads. The boy was badly frightened and did not know what to do. He came home to tell us about it and said the neighbours had come and helped themselves to all they could carry away.” Mrs. McRae recalled that more than once the spigot on the molasses barrel in the store had been turned by mischievous youngsters and the contents allowed to run over the floor. It was a big job to get the sticky mess cleaned up. When asked if much credit was given to their customers Mrs. McRae answered: “Far too much. I still have a pile of notes two inches deep which are not worth five cents for the whole lot.” Merchandising had its attractions, however, and Mr. McRae on two different occasions branched out. He opened a store at Wyevale but disposed of it after a number of years. He also came to Midland and took over a building at the foot of Main Street owned by Captain H. Wisden, which had been run us a book store. He sold groceries and other lines of general goods. That was before the trains came to Midland. The venture proved a losing one, it was too much trouble going back and forth from Wyebridge to Midland. So after two years Mr. Rae closed the store and took the groceries to Wyebridge. 
STAGE TO BARRIE    “In the early days a stage ran from Penetang to Barrie and back again,” said Mrs. McRae. The outgoing mail had to ready early in the ing we received our incoming mail towards evening. The stage driver drove his team from Penetang to Hillsdale, where he changed to a fresh team. He went on into Barrie, picked up the mail, and drove back to Hillsdale, where he changed to the original team which had been resting there; he covered 64 miles every day.
   “What opportunity was there for enjoying a bit of social life in Wyebridge in the early days?” I asked Mrs. McRae. “Not a great deal. The farmers had to work too hard. The young people did manage, however, to get together for an occasional dance. A hall over the driving shed was the only public building which we had and there were held any public meetings or social gatherings which did not take place in the churches. At one time we had a skating rink in the village, which Mr. McRae erected. It was a building 40 feet by 70 feet, but it had to be abandoned and torn down because it did not pay. “Horse races used to be held on the main street, and there was plenty of excitement. Before Midland was chosen as the regular site for the Tiny and Tay Fall Fair it was held alternately in Wyebridge, Midland and Penetanguishene, and we used to have some very good fairs in our village. 
HOW MIDLAND GOT THE FAIR   “And how did it happen to go to Midland.” One year the annual meeting was held on a very stormy day here. A big crowd of Midland members came down to Wyebridge for the meeting. None came from Penetang at all, and only three or four turned up from Tiny and Tay. A resolution was put to hold the fair regularly in Midland, and when it carried by a big majority the members came down to our store and bought all the brooms we had. They went home to Midland wildly excited carrying their brooms and shouting that they had made a clean sweep.
    “You would hardly believe when you look at the Wye River that it was once quite a good-sized river. We had a boat and a boathouse on our own property. It was possible to go in a canoe all the way from Wyebridge to the Old Fort. There was a dam here at Wyebridge which provided power for the grist mill. A freshet carried away the bridge and destroyed the mill in 1912. There had been a very heavy rain and dams and bridges all the way up the river gave way. The waters of Mud Lake were higher in those days than they are today. 
     Mr. A. Kemp, a Toronto manufacturer, bought all the property from the Old Fort to the high water mark, except that belonging to Mr. Casselmen, and kept it as a private shooting preserve for his friends and himself. He built the house down near the Old Fort, where Mr. Beatty now lives.”  
LUMBERING ON THE RIVER   “There was a lot of lumbering down in Tiny Township in the early days, and all the big timbers were floated down the Wye River to the mouth of the Wye and either to Waubaushene or Midland sawmills. There was a sawmill at Wyebridge which was run by water power and was owned by John Lummis. It did not handle the biggest logs, however, but was operated mainly to supply lumber to the farmers. “What other industries were there in Wyebridge in those days?” “There was the grist mill run by James Plewes,” replied Mrs. McRae. It was down the river at a short distance below the present bridge, where the stream bends. The wheat was ground between large round stones. (Now in the side yard of Huronia Museum) The farmers from Elmvale, Medonte and Hillsdale districts and all the way north to Lafontaine came to Wyebridge to have their wheat ground. 
THE WOOLLEN MILL    “Then there was the woolen mill run by William E. Cronkhite. They did spinning and carding but no weaving. They sold cloth of all kinds to the farmers.” In the “Poetical Directory” of the district written by G. Churchill appears the following verse telling of the factory, which subsequently fell into the hands of the Wallaces, father and sons. 

“Where the Wye River does constantly
Swift cards, shears and spindles,
and shuttle do go; 
picking and carding, they spin,
weave and full—
shearing and pressing, yarn
-—colouring or wool;
Their late burr extractor is noble
and grand.
Exceeds all the possible picking
by hand.
If farmers wash sheep or their
fleeces all clean,
To pass the burr picker and carding
They hint to their customers
dwelling all round.
Will pick grease and card wool
for five cents a pound;
Cronkhite can dress up a regiment
of men
At his mills and his stores in the
Wye River Glen
Domestic and foreign, all kinds
That they need
Overalls, coating, broadcloth and
Pressed cloth and winceys for the
feminine train,
Stripes, changeable, checkered,
the figured and plain.” 

TWO BLACKSMITH SHOPS There were two blacksmiths in Wyebridge in the early days who are recalled by Mrs. McRae. They were Stephen Ganton and Peter McDonald. An idea of the kind of work a blacksmith was called upon to do in pioneer times is revealed in the rhyme written by Mr. Churchill with Blacksmith Ganton as his hero. Was the poet a prophet when in the last line he tells of the village smith making “many a thing” for -“the ear,” or was he only fitting in a word which rhymed with “bar?” Here are the lines: 

Will iron all, both great and
That runs upon the wheel,
On runners too, will set the shoe,
Of iron or cast steel;
All farming tools, in modern rules.
Will mend as well as make;
Makes and mends chains and
takes great pains
 If anything should break—
They will repair with best of care.
Will hinge with barn and gate,
On racehorse too will set the shoe,
Of very fine steel plate.
Makes strong grub hoe, pickaxe
and fro,
The canthook and mill bar—
Bolt, band and ring, and many a
For carriage and the car.
ONLY SURVIVOR    Wyebridge always had one hotel, and sometimes there were two. Zacharias Casselman was the proprietor of one of them, and his son, W. A.  Casselman, who still lives in the village, is the only one of today’s residents who was in Wyebridge when the McRaes arrived. Mr. Casselman was then a little boy of about three years of age.
   “Did you know Mr. James Playfair in the early days?” I asked of Mrs. McRae. I understand he used to work in the bush near Wyebridge when he was a young man?”  “Yes, indeed, I remember him. He was a clerk in a lumber camp nearby and he used to come into the store and do quite a bit of buying.”
   The Anglican Church was the only religious body holding services in Wyebridge when the McRaes arrived. The rector came from Penetang. The McRaes, as might judge from their Scottish name, were Presbyterians, but they attended the Anglican Church until Presbyterian services were established. “The first Presbyterian services were held in our home in the large room above the store,” said Mrs. McRae. “The first Presbyterian Church, which was built in 1870, was of logs and the minister was the late Rev. H. McKellar. Later we had Rev. Dr. Gilray, who conducted worship at Penetanguishene and Wyebridge. He was a student then. In 1875, Rev. H. S. Scott was our first ordained minister.” 
A ROMANTIC STORY   “If I were to ask you the most interesting person you know whoever lived in Wyebridge, what would you say?” “I scarcely know,” replied Mrs. McRae, “unless it would be Catharine Grant. She was the youngest daughter of a Scot, John MacDonald, a factor of the Northwest Company of Montreal, who fought for the fur trade of the Canadian West with the factors of the Hudson Bay Company. He became chief factor of his company, but when the two rival companies were amalgamated he lost his position. He came back to Ontario, then known as Upper Canada, and settled on the east side of the Penetanguishene Road, a mile north of Kempenfeldt Bay. “Mr. McDonald had married an Indian girl who had saved his life when it was in danger from some of her tribesmen and they were a very happy family. They gave their children the best education that was available. On his death, Mr. McDonald’s property passed to his youngest daughter Catharine. It consisted of 6000 acres along the Penetang Road which had been given him by Crown grant.  Catharine McDonald was taken to Glengarry County where she was given a good education and met and married Angus Grant. With her husband, she came back to Wyebridge and they took up farming on 200 acres on the east side of the village just south of the Wye River. Catharine Grant was a very fine woman.”
    Four members of Mrs. McRae’s family of six children are living. The living are Mrs. J. C. McMullen of Midland, Mrs. F. H. Lummis of Balm Beach, Mrs. E. H. English of Wyebridge and Miss Nellie McRae who lives at home with her mother.


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