I have received a ton of feedback and email on a blog that I wrote 08/05/09... that blog has had hundreds of thousands and maybe millions of "hits".
Most recently, I got this message from a fellow named John:
"You don' t mention Gooderham or Irondale:: Irondale maybe tiny but it has quite a history of the mines. At one time it was a busy place:
I went to school there from 1943 to 1948 then moved back to Toronto."
I spend a lot of time answering emails from my blogs and today, I thought I would share my response.
I didn't mean my 2009 blog to be totally inclusive of every ghost town in Ontario... but over the years, it's gotten a lot of attention. Like you, many people mention communities that were overlooked in that particular blog and, when I get their messages, I am reminded how important it is that share our history.
The following article from the Toronto Globe & Mail mentions Irondale and some of the other communities that were once going concerns (largely due to the IB & O railway):
Many Fished From Windows Of the Train
Special to The Globe and Mail
Bancroft, March 10, 1960—This is not Bancroft’s year. The Canadian national Railways is closing the 53.7 mile Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa branch line from York River crossing to Howland Junction at the end of March. This news followed an announcement in January by officials of Canadian Dyno Mines that its property would be closed at the end of June. It is one of the three producers in the Bancroft uranium camp. Both the mine and railway decisions are the results of retrenching economies.
The mine’s closing will tighten the belts and crimp the pocket books of the come-lately mining people. But the end of the railway service touches the hearts of four generations of Haliburton district residents.
Not many old timers are left who recall the building of the IB & O in 1880. Their tales of early days on the Pike, however, and
its subsequent operation are folklore stuff that dim the derring-do of Casey Jones.
What Ontario railway, Haliburtonians ask, has a built-in 10 per cent grade with a two-mile terraced slope? Where else could passengers fish for bass from the colonial-style coach windows in the brawling Burnt River that coils close to the tracks in a dozen places? The counting of deer and moose by train crews is too commonplace to mention.
The east-west I B & O joins a north-south railway extension line at either end: the Howland Junction to Haliburton village line;
the York River to Wallace line. Lumbering and mining produced enough early revenue on the I B & O without extending the line to Ottawa, as the original charter title suggests. During its busiest 60 years the I B & O helped spawn 11 settlements along the line, all with unusual names: Furnace Falls, Irondale, Maxwells, Gooderham, Tory Hill, Ward, Wilberforce, Mumford, Highland Grove, Baptiste and Hughes. The terminal stations at York River and Howland are but small single buildings.
Mines along the line were opened and closed. Lumbering bared the forest and in recent years trucking has eaten in the rail haulage of pulpwood until there is little or no reason for the line being continued. A suggestion in the CNR Trainman News that the line could be used for weekend sightseeing trips is unlikely to be put into practice. The I B & O railway will make its last
trip on March 31.
Gooderham is built along Gooderham Lake, bordered on the south by the Irondale River and Pine Lake to the north, located on a now defunct railway line, the IB&O Railroad, which has been since converted into a trail network. Settled in 1873, its main industry has been logging. Today, M. W. Hunter Lumber Ltd. is the only major sawmill left operating in the County. In the 1950’s Gooderham had 3 General Stores, a Barber Shop/Confectionary Store and Mountain View Lodge. It was also home to the famous Skyline Dance Pavilion, where, on a Saturday night, people came from all over to enjoy dancing to a live band.
Hill is so named because, it is written, when Alexander Niven, Liberal Candidate, came electioneering to the settlement, it did him little good as he received only one vote. In exasperation, he said to John Anderson, “Jack, you get the Post Office you have wanted for a long time and you had better name it Tory Hill!” John was appointed the first postmaster, and subsequently named the village Tory Hill.
Wilberforce was once a much larger town. It was established as "Pusey," a station on the Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa Railway (IB&O), and named for railway president Charles J. Pusey. This little railway had initially been built to carry iron ore from open pit mines in Irondale. With or without the railroad, Wilberforce was destined to become a settlement and is home to Ontario's first Red Cross Outpost.
0s and 30s Brown's Mill operated in the area, using the IB&O to transport product via Ward's Siding.
Highland Grove was once a thriving community that supported three stores, a cheese factory, a blacksmith shop, two schools and two churches. Beginning in 1890 the IB&O railway served the transportation, supply and communication needs of Highland Grove’s residents and businesses (the hamlet’s first telephone was installed at the railway station). A Post Office first opened in 1897. Elmer Hughey, one of the earlier postmasters explained that Highland Grove was so named because it boasted the highest point of elevation in the County. On one side of a nearby hill, water flows in the direction of Haliburton and on the other toward Bancroft's York River.
Hughes Hughes Mill or Hughes Siding was where logs were processed and shipped via the rail depot once located on Baptiste Lake's south shore. It is currently the location of Baptiste Lake Marina. When the IB & O Railway reached Baptiste Station, the William Hughes Mill opened on the lower basin of the lake, it became the Jennings and Kin Mill in 1914... the Jennings & Bailey Mill in 1914 and in 1921, Whitney Martin joined the firm. Bailey bought out Jennings and Bailey moved to Haliburton to start a mill. Martin and his brother, Garfield purchased the company and formed Martin Brothers Lumber Company, in 1930.
William Mulcahey was the first non-aboriginal resident on Baptiste Lake. He owned much of the property that is currently known as the village. His beautiful home is now the main lodge at Birch Cliff Lodge.
By 1900 the IB&O railway had a stop at the shoreline on the south shore of Baptiste Lake, on his property. By 1904, tourists were coming to see the village. Mulcahey built a general store on the hill overlooking the train station. He provided a dining room for loggers, trainmen and travelers and boarding rooms above the store. He built boxcar cabins nearby for overflow guests. He sold the store in 1917, to Hiram and Elizabeth Grant. The Grants, and their daughter Mabel ran the store and post office for years before selling it to Bruce Montgomery in 1984. Bruce and his wife, Roberta, operated Grants Inn until 2001. The store was demolished by the new owners George and Susan Poulton, who constructed a new building in its place.
The first church was built in 1920 on property donated by Mr. Neil Bowen on the hill but it was too large with a very high ceiling and difficult to heat in the winter. The yard was okay for horse and buggy but not suitable for cars. In 1942, St Matthew's was constructed on property donated by Mrs. Hiram Grant. The windows, floors, pulpit and chairs, wainscoting, pulpit railings, box-stove, furnace and bell were taken from the first engine (the Old Mary Anne) to run on the IB & O Railroad.
In 1961, a church hall was added, connected to the main building.
The lake was originally known to the pioneers as Long Lake and renamed Loon Lake. It was known to the native people at Kaijick Manitou meaning Cedar Spirit). It was renamed in honour of Algonquin Chief Jean Baptiste, who is believed to have been the first permanent resident, arriving from Lake of Two Mountains (near Montreal) in the early 1800s.
histle stop on the Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa Railway, this small village also housed a roundhouse to transfer train cars from the main CNR line to the I.B.&O. line.
Howland Junction was a flag stop on the Victoria Railway, the first stop north of Kinmount and originally called Kendricks- so named for an English remittance man (Sterne Kentdrick) who was an early settler along the creek that empties into the Burnt River at this locale.
Here, the Great IB&O met its terminus where it joined the Victoria Railway. Apparently, the remnants of the roundtable can still be found in the woods, near what is left of the old station.
The station burned in 1917 and was replaced with a small waiting room.
Howland Junction never had any stores, churches or schools... but rumour has it that Sterne Kendrick may have buried a hoard of gold somewhere along the creek.
Mumford (Harcourt) also known as Kennaway
Kennaway created its farms out of the piney soil of the Canadian Shield. Surrounded by forest and lakes, the village was relatively isolated in the area, approximately 10 km away from Wilberforce, a larger town to the southeast.
Irondale est. 1870
n was discovered in 1870, Irondale was actually known as Devil's Creek. The community consisted of just a post office and a few residents.
The prospect of iron in the district was attractive to a Toronto lawyer by the name of Short, who opened the Victoria Iron Mine in 1875. He ran out of money in short order, pardon the pun.
In 1878, a second Toronto investor, M Miles, an Irishman, too over. He formed the Snowdon Iron Mine Company, building six and three-quarter miles of single track which ran from Howland (north of Kinmount) to Irondale, on the south shore of the Burnt River. He spent $60,000 and was able to ship several cars of ore before he went bankrupt.
Chicago business men, Parry & Mills spent $200,000 on a smelting furnace in what is now known as "Furnace Falls" and sold it to Charles Pusey before it burned down.
Irondale, may be considered a ghost town by some today, but was once the site of a large iron-mining operation and the focus of various roads and railroads. Charles Pusey built the Irondale Church ( in 1887 or 1889 depending on which account you read) for his wife, at 1019 Elm Rd, just off Salerno Lake Rd . In 1901 it was donated to the community by railway president Charles Pusey. It was sold to the St John's Anglican diocese for $50 in 1901.
Henry Stark Howland was an American who arrived in Canada around 1840. He was a founding director of Canadian Bank of Commerce then 1875 first president of Imperial Bank of Commerce —ironic twist, both banks later merged as the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in 1960. Henry partnered with Charles Pusey on some mining sites and the railroad promotion and construction.
I like this little news piece:
HAND CAR BEAT TRAIN BY HOURS TO STATION Impatient Passenger Preferred Travel By Man-Power
Toronto Star Tuesday, April 16, 1935—
The Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa railway, which runs from here through Haliburton county to Bancroft, met with the crowning indignity of its career on a recent trip. West of Howland Junction a coach jumped the track and was put back on with the aid of passengers.Reaching Tory Hill,the engine developed a bad cough and finally a cylinder gave out. The drew started to coax it on. This was too much for one passenger. He sighted an assistant road foreman on his hand-car a short distance up the track and reportedly jumped from the train and hopped on the car. The train was five hours later; the hand-car arrived two hours earlier.
As Canadians we are used to being teased about saying "Eh"... but there are plenty of other things that set us apart from other English speaking cultures.
As a Realtor... I constantly run into the term "Hydro". To a Canadian, this means our hydro/electric power- the stuff some British colloquially call Lecky. With our current monetary exchange favouring the Americans, we see a lot of them these days- and they think we mean water when we talk about hydro.
Another one is eaves trough- the Americans call them gutters.
We have bachelor apartments- not studio apartments.
In Canada we have Fire Halls, not Firehouses or Stations.
We wear toques or tuques in winter- not beanie hats. In summer we wear runners, not sneakers. And we carry knapsacks, not backpacks.
Some of us eat peameal or back bacon- not Canadian Bacon. Pogos not corn dogs. We also order things "all dressed", meaning we'd like a lot of garnishes- like a baked potato with butter, sour cream and maybe even some cheddar or chives. We have icing sugar- not powdered sugar and we use coffee whitener not coffee creamer. We frequent chip trucks- not food trucks. And we feed our babies Pablum not cereal. We also like to eat freezies in the summertime- frozen sugar water with various flavours that comes in a long plastic tube.
We have chocolate bars, not candy bars and we wipe our mouths with serviettes, not napkins. We have brown bread, not whole wheat.
We have Shreddies- not Chex; Smarties- not M&Ms and candy floss- not cotton candy and we have butter tarts.
We love our Joe Louis- which are similar to Twinkies but WAY better.
Rockets are small candies stacked in a roll and packed in clear plastic twirled on each end. They kind of taste like flavoured chalk.
We have chips, which can be either French fries or potato chips.
We use dishcloths to wash our dishes and tea towels (not dish towels) to dry them.
Midget is a level in amateur sport for kids about 16 years old. Our kids do school projects with pencil crayons, not coloured pencils.
Our one dollar coins are called Loonies. Our two dollar coins are called Toonies. A five dollar bill is a fin.
A lot of our people go on "pogie" seasonally- that's unemployment.
We wear housecoats, not bathrobes and we sit on chesterfields, not couches or sofas.
We buy liquor in a mickey- which means 13 ounces or twenty-sixers (not fifths) and two fours of beer (meaning 24 packs). Then there's the almighty forty-pounder or sixty-pounder which refers to the 40 or 66 ounce bottles.
We have Beer Stores and buy the hard stuff at the LCBO and we drink rye and ginger.
Some of us have Molson Muscle, not beer-bellies.
Our bank tellers stand in wickets- not behind counters. They wrap bundles of money with elastics not rubber bands.
We have Robinson Screw Drivers- not square heads.
We write in Scribblers, not notebooks.
We say "give'r" meaning make the effort and we "turf 'em out" when we want to evict someone. We tell someone to "fill yer boots", meaning "whatever floats your boat".
We have gotch or gotchas, not briefs or tighty-whities. And we use the washroom not the bathroom or restroom.
In Canada, college is something quite different from University.
We have Francophones whose first language is French.
We love hockey and go to an arena to watch it. That's once we've made our way through the lineup. We wait in line. And our hockey players wear sweaters, not jerseys.
Pretty much every snowmobile is still called a Ski-doo. We measure our speed in "klicks" or kilometers per hour.
We call the USA the "States" and we may call anyone from the states a Yankee, regardless of where they are from... and we don't mean anything derogatory by it.
It's a crazy time for Real Estate in Ontario. Recent industry polls indicate the market isn't going to cool down and most people are highly optimistic about the economy right now... so there are more people interested in buying. Industry colleagues are pulling their hair out... they're nervous that people are getting caught up in bidding wars and paying too much for properties... but business is brisk and pundits are telling us to get used to it.
Most of the time, though, prospective Buyers are looking at comparable listings and making well-informed decisions. It's a lot easier to do that in cities, in subdivisions, where homes are very similar.
We don't have that luxury in cottage country. Seldom do you find two properties that are very much alike.
I often think of my first Real Estate Classroom... a couple of decades ago... and the instructor told us that there were several different values for property- the value assigned by way of the tax assessment, the value the owner sees, the value a buyer will acknowledge, the value a bank perceives (appraisal value) and the replacement value that an insurance company will place on a property. Then, there's what we call Market Value- that amount which an informed Buyer will pay for a specific property, when exposed to a fair and open market.
Many recent prospective Buyers have prefaced their interest in a property by saying, "We're not interested in getting into a bidding war". I have no doubt that quite a few of the people who get tangled up in a bidding war come out of it with a certain amount of Buyer's Remorse.
A good Realtor will ask their prospects to pre-qualify for a mortgage and then stick to their budget. Lately, I have seen a lot of Buyers inch up very close to their limits, with their hearts set on a place. Then, we wait for the bank's appraisal. And this year, we've seen a great number of appraisals that have been shockingly below the agreed price.
While this isn't a problem for some people, it is for most- especially first time buyers who are both anxious to purchase a home and nervous about finances. Banks are obviously being slightly more cautious about properties. For the first time in my career, I've heard the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp come back saying that they aren't prepared to lend on a particular property because it is dated- and they were talking about décor.
Dated? We're in cottage country here. We've got 100 year old farms. In most cases, they've got updated wiring and plumbing but they may have old cabinetry or old panelling on the walls.
Most people like to avoid bidding wars but it's getting more and more difficult. In cottage country, we don't see it all that often but the market is pretty hot here and prices are good, so it is cropping up more and more.
I've been bitten by Realtors who don't understand the process of dealing with multiple offers on their listings. It isn't and it's very upsetting for my Buyer clients who don't understand why we weren't told they were competing. All parties with an interest in a property are supposed to be told there are competing offers. The Seller's representative is also supposed to inform Buyers about the number of offers submitted, if any have been prepared by the same brokerage that represents the Seller and whether or not any have special commission arrangements.
Special commission arrangements? Ah... that means, for instance, that one of the sales representatives has offered to reduce their commission if their clients' offer is accepted.
The whole thing is meant to level the playing field.
A new form (801) has been created in order to track competing offers and some brokerages are insisting that they are used with every Agreement. Others, not so much.
I'm preparing them with every offer... once bitten and all that.
It's a busy real estate market... and with busy markets Realtors need to slow down and THINK.
Many Realtors rely upon what is known as a Sellers Property Information Statement- SPIS for short. It's a document meant to provide disclosure about the subject property. The Ontario Real Estate Association advocates use of the form and some brokerages make them mandatory, while others think them voluntary.
The SPIS is a confusing document because it's most suited for people who are selling the home in which they reside. For instance, an estate can't really comment on the operation of the home, since the executors often have no first hand knowledge. Some lawyers advise Sellers not to complete a SPIS, even if they have been living in the home. Why?
When Sellers complete a SPIS, they are to provide information to the best of their ability and the SPIS isn't meant to replace due diligence on the part of the Buyers' representative. Some Realtors bank so heavily on the information provided in a SPIS, they include it as a schedule to an Agreement for Purchase and Sale. The problem is, the information provided may not be what it seems.
What happens in the case of the little old lady who can't get down the basement stairs, but to the best of her knowledge and belief there is no water leaking into her basement? In most cases, signs of water leaking into a basement can be readily identified- but not in all cases. If a prospective Buyer of that house has a home inspection and their home inspector doesn't see any signs of water leakage but it leaks in the spring- who is responsible?
...and this is a simple scenario.
The SPIS is a complex document, several pages in length. Some of the questions are technical and a lot of them can be confusing to the average person. A couple of years back, the Ontario Real Estate Association created another form which is supposed to explain the whole SPIS thing to Sellers.
So much for a paperless society.