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Touring the Countryside

Hello, again!  It is now the end of week six of the cultural mapping project, and things are starting to take shape.  I was lucky enough this week to go on two driving tours and mark down all of the exciting things that I saw.

On Monday morning, Mr. David Crowley stopped by the office to identify where some of the old schoolhouses were on a map.  After seeing how many there were, it was decided that we would go on a short tour in the afternoon and visit a few of them on the way to Fallbrook.  Mr. Crowley was a huge help in figuring out which of the modern houses had once been schools. 

I also had the opportunity to spend the morning with my grandfather and his brother on Thursday.  We met up bright and early and ventured out on a very extensive tour of North Burgess.  My family first settled in the area in 1842, so my grandfather and great uncle know a lot of very interesting stories. 

The tour began by travelling up the Scotch Line and visiting places such as the Allan property and the Ritchie Mill.  I thought that the Ritchie Mill ruins were beautiful, although, it’s sad to think that what was once a major business in the community now sits forgotten beside the water. 

After hearing about all of the old buildings on the Scotch Line, we headed to Stanleyville where I was told stories about attending school at the SS No. 2 North Burgess.  I loved how every place we went had a story, either from my grandfather’s time, or his father’s generation.  Even now they still remember who lived where and what events went on. 

I was able to see the Stanleyville cheese factory as well as the Black Lake cheese factory, and the property where the man who once owned them both had lived on.  It’s amazing how much my grandfather and great uncle knew about the area and the memories they were willing to share with me.  I highly recommend that if you know anyone who has lived in Tay Valley Township for a long time that you ask them to share their stories with you (and us).  You will be amazed at how different it once was.

If you or anyone you know has information regarding heritage and culture in Tay Valley Township, please contact me at the Tay Valley Township offices.



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Tough Decisions

Welcome to week 5 of the cultural mapping project!  Although this week was a short one, there was still plenty to do.  On Wednesday morning, local history enthusiast Susan McDougall stopped in to discuss the project.  Together, we evaluated most of the locations on my ever-growing list and even added a couple more. 

While we talked I learned about a few features in Tay Valley Township that I had never heard of before.  Susan told me about a local swimming spot that is located close to an old mill.  She also informed me that Tay Valley Township once had its own ski hill.  The hill was located by Norvic Lodge by Christie Lake and was frequented by the Ski Club.  It’s strange to imagine that a ski hill could have existed so close to home! 

Our meeting was very productive and I was given a few leads as far as who to contact about more specific locations.  It’s great to sit down and talk to locals since they always seem to either know the story themselves or who to talk to if they don’t. 

On Friday, a meeting was held to discuss what goals we have for the project this summer.  Since the list of locations is at a massive number of around 340, we decided it was time to narrow our focus for the next couple of weeks.

We decided on around 25 heritage properties to focus on for the summer and didn’t eliminate any of the cultural assets, since they are easier to locate and document.  Some of the heritage sites that we will research this summer include the Allan property in North Burgess, the Adam mill in Bathurst and the Laidley cemetery in South Sherbrooke.

If you or anyone you know has information regarding heritage and culture in Tay Valley Township, please contact me at the number provided below.



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Scotch Line School and Cemetery

It’s now week four of the project and I’m still as busy as ever!  On Tuesday afternoon, David Taylor stopped by to discuss the local mills.  For a few years, Mr. Taylor has been researching the old mills in the area with a focus on the Tay Watershed.  Seeing as he knows much more about these mills than I do, I figured he would be the perfect person to meet with to discuss them.  During our talk, many other landmarks were brought up and some holes in my research were filled.  David had many helpful ideas that will be put to use in the near future. 

The next day, Wednesday the 27th, Noelle Reeve and I drove out to the Upper Scotch Line.  There we met up with Rod Woolham, the Secretary Treasurer of the Scotch Line Cemetery.  Rod contacted me early in the week and asked if I wanted to see the inside of the old schoolhouse which is attached to the cemetery; of course I jumped at the idea.  The Scotch Line School was built in 1856 and continued to hold classes until May of 1968.  It is a beautiful stone building and I loved looking at the old books, desks and photographs inside. 

The cemetery, which sits right beside the school, was bought in 1886; however, around 10 people had already been buried there before the purchase.  Some of the graves even date back to the 1820’s!  A group of 24 local men paid the original purchase price of the land which amounted to $75.  The cemetery has seen quite a few additions to the half acre of land which was first bought.  After buying a few strips of land here and there, the last addition was made in 1968 with the purchase of the school property.  If you’re ever driving on the Upper Scotch Line I definitely recommend that you stop a moment to look at the outside of the school and at some of the old headstones, they’re very interesting. 

On Friday, I spent the morning at the Lanark County Archives.  This was my first ever visit to the Archives and I doubt it will be my last!  A very kind woman helped me search through the old land records for South Sherbrooke and North Burgess.  Together we traced the passing of hands of two schools.

The first school was located in Maberly on lot 14 of concession 9.  Although the 1880-1881 Atlas shows a school on this lot, the earliest mention of a school that we could find in the records was in 1960.  The other school that we traced was the SS No 2 North Burgess located on lot 15 of concession 9.  This school’s records were much easier to follow.  It appears as though the land was sold for the purposes of a school in 1857.  The school then sold the property to someone else in 1967, which seems to fit in with the closure of other school houses.

If you or anyone you know has information regarding heritage and culture in Tay Valley Township, please contact me at the number provided below.



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Bowes Mill Tour

Hello, everyone! It’s been fun telling you about what I’ve been up to and hopefully you’ll continue to follow alongside me as I work on this project. Today I’d like to tell you about a very interesting meeting that I attended recently. The Perth Historical Society organized a tour of the Bowes Mill before their meeting at EcoTay, both of which are off the Upper Scotch Line. I was worried that I would have trouble finding the mill, however, as I made my way up the road, dozens of cars came into view. That certainly made it easier to spot!

There was a great turnout for the tour of the historical Bowes Mill and museum. I can’t believe that this was my first time visiting the mill, considering how close to home it is for me! Through my research in this project I’ve come across information on the Bowes mill, which I find very interesting. The mill has been around since the 1820’s and has passed hands a few times.

It was originally a sawmill, however a grist and barley mill were added to the operation over time. The mill was even the first to generate electricity for the town of Perth and did so from 1896 to 1922! Later, it was decided that the property would serve its original purpose as a mill, and did so until the 1950’s when it turned into the current museum.

Following the tour and information session, the group travelled to EcoTay. We had gone from one historical building to the next! The property was beautiful and full of old wooden barns and buildings. I walked up the pretty little pathway and got ready for the meeting. During the meeting I learned that this property was once the Ritchie farm. The Ritchie’s were one of the original settlers in the area and I’ve also come across mention of a Ritchie sawmill that was once in the area!

It was great to talk to others about the project and hear recommendations from the public. Although it was a hot and sticky night it was definitely worth bearing the heat to see these great locations. It’s amazing to learn of these historical places in Tay Valley Township. I can’t wait to let everyone else know what the area has to offer!

See you around,


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A Tour with Bud

Hello, again! I’ve decided that since we are already through the first three weeks of the project, it would be best to catch everyone up on what has been happening. So, today I’m going to tell you about my driving tour with Bud VanAlstine.

Mr. VanAlstine graciously agreed to take me and Noelle Reeve, the Planner, on a tour of the area to share his knowledge of the township and the location of old sites. On June 12th, we put on our rubber boots and rain gear and set out for our adventure. Before we had even turned onto highway seven we had to stop to hear a story.

Bud told us that there was once a train station in Glen Tay with a livestock yard. Apparently there were three competing railroads at one time that ran side by side in the area. After telling us about a train accident involving the livestock cars, we moved on to our next location. Once there, we were told about the old Don Card sawmill that existed at the upper end of the Quarter Session road extending west of Norris Road.

As we progressed, Mr. VanAlstine showed us the location of old blacksmiths and school houses. Each spot had a story to tell and we were very pleased to hear them. At one point, Bud told us about the “Nagle Snap” which to the modern eye appears as a little hill in the road. However, in the days of horse and buggy the hill was much more intimidating. It was named the Nagle Snap because people had great difficulty navigating their horses over the spot when carrying a load.

On our journey, we visited Doran where we saw beautiful rapids. We also had the chance to look at the remaining stone foundations of a hotel and mill! My favourite stop would have to be the Rokeby cemetery. When we first stepped out of the car beside the road I couldn’t see anything of interest. However, once I looked past all of the trees and tall grass, I noticed that headstones were peeking out of the valley. It’s so amazing that this place exists and I never would have seen it if someone hadn’t told me where to look!

It was so great to have Bud VanAlstine guide us and tell stories of how life once was. I hope I’ll have the chance to go on more of these driving tours and have locals tell me their stories. If you or anyone you know has information regarding heritage and culture in Tay Valley Township, please contact me.


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Cultural Mapping Blog: Starting the Project

It’s been a busy three weeks at Tay Valley Township! I first started my job on June 4th as the Project Assistant. What project am I assisting? Well, this summer, I have been hired by Tay Valley Township to create a cultural map. This map will showcase all of the heritage and cultural assets in the community on one interactive map. The map will be located on the TVT website and everyone will be able to see all of the amazing things there are right here at home.

The project was first inspired by a list of oddly named landmarks in North Burgess, which can be found in the book Pioneer Era and Memoirs: St. Bridget’s, Stanleyville and N. Burgess. Naturally, I first began my research by reading this book. The list mentions places like the Isle of White, Mary Harry’s, Monks Trail, and Ghost House. Having grown up in North Burgess, I, like those who created this project, had to ask “What are these places?”

Through reading the book a few of my questions have been answered. However, every time one question is answered it seems as though three more are created! Along with Pioneer Era and Memoirs, I was also provided with a copy of the Historical Atlas of Lanark & Renfrew Counties 1880-1881. Looking at the old Bathurst, North Burgess and South Sherbrooke maps has given me many locations of mills, churches and post offices. It’s very exciting to see where these buildings once existed!

However, like I said, every time one question is answered, more seem to pop up. Now that I know where something used to exist, I begin to wonder what the name of the property is, who used the property, when it was used, and if the building still exists. Most of my time has been spent trying to answer these questions, and so far I have found mention of around 190 heritage “things” that at some point have existed in the township. I currently know that around 60 of these sites still exist and I am trying to determine whether or not there is evidence that over 70 other properties have remnants of what once occupied the land. I can’t forget to mention the 50 cultural locations I am researching as well!

So, as you can see, my starting list is a rather large one and there are still so many things to find! Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be writing this blog to try and let everyone know about the interesting things I’m learning. If you or anyone you know has information regarding heritage and culture in Tay Valley Township, please contact me at the number provided below. We want as much public participation as possible and no one knows these stories better than the locals!

Until next time,


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Ok, so, I’m writing these blog entries at work to let the public know what I’m up to.  My summer job is different than most, and I was thinking I’ll post them on here, too, so you guys can follow along.  I’ll make a page and update it when my work’s fb page is updated.  Sound good?  Good.  Because I’ve got one to post already!

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Out On The Township

So, I started my job last week.  I’m working for the township on a cultural mapping project.  The rough timeline for the project says that it was supposed to have been started in January, however, I just started everything last Monday.  It’s been a lot of calling people and asking about how other counties did their cultural mapping and what was involved in the process.  Lots of questions, some of them answered. 

So once I got a bit of footing with the project I started searching online for possible sites in the area.  In a week I’ve gathered probably over 100 heritage sites and around 20 cultural groups/events in the area.  Which I feel is pretty okay.  My boss told me to call a local man yesterday that she said was willing to give us a tour of one of the wards in the township.  So, yesterday I called him and set up a time today that we could depart on our adventure.

This man is so cute.  He called me this morning to check that I had my rubber boots and rain coat and that I was ready for being outdoors this afternoon.  When he showed up he opened up a folder he had brought and began to show me old pictures and explain them to me.  We took off pretty soon after that.

I can’t believe how adventurous he was.  This man is probably around the same age as my grandfather and he was leading us through forests and rocky footing.  A lot of the sites were on private property, but he seemed to know all of the owners, at least.  I got to see old foundations that I never would have guessed what they used to be.  Hotels, churches and mills that have been reduced to a pile of stones in the forest. 

We went to some beautiful rapids today.  It’s too bad that they aren’t on public property because most people would never know that they existed.  They were so great. I also got to visit an old cemetery that’s hidden away from the road.  The land is starting to reclaim the spot and grasses as high as your thigh make it hard to image how the cemetery used to look when the town still existed. 

We also visited an old lime kiln tucked away in a forest.  It was basically a huge semi-circular wall made of old stone.  I took down the locations of old school houses and lots of other interesting spots.  It was nice to hear all of the stories the man had of growing up in the area, as well.

Anyways, it was a super cool day of looking at interesting old stuff.  I’m going to get to do this so much this summer.  Now I’ve got to ask my grandpa to give me a tour of our neck of the woods and see where all of the buildings used to be.  Local history is neat.