The Georgina Historical Society, as a not-for-profit organization, collects, preserves, promotes and interprets the rich history and heritage of all communities now known as the Town of Georgina.

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President’s Message

Welcome to the May, 2021 Georgina Historical Society Newsletter;
May is the month that Ontario’s provincial flower, the Trillium makes its brief appearance.

Interesting Trillium Facts :

Three is the magic number with Trilliums, they have three broad leaves, three small green sepals, three petals and a three sectioned seedpod. Trillium seeds are primarily dispersed by ants. The White Trillium is a favorite food of the White-tailed Deer.
Trilliums have only a few short weeks to collect as much sunlight and nutrients as possible to survive for the rest of the year. If you pick a Trillium, the plant may not have enough reserves to survive the winter. Enjoy our provincial flower in the month of May.

Are you missing your historical events and connections during these Covid times? Take a stroll through the Georgina Pioneer Village and reconnect. Although the buildings are closed there are lots of interesting things to see.
Work on the caboose is progressing. The roof has been repaired and the interior ceiling and walls replaced.
Recently the windows have been replaced to protect the interior from the elements of nature. They come with screens to provide some cross ventilation, enabling a more pleasant experience when touring the rehabilitated caboose. The next task is preparing the outer surface for a fresh paint job, a fair bit of sanding and scraping will be involved in that project.

Since fund raising projects have been somewhat curtailed during the past year due to the Covid restrictions, we welcome any of your suggestions to assist in this effort to replace activities we have been unable to participate in due to the pandemic. As the Covid 19 reopening progresses the Georgina Historical Society will strive to keep its members up to date, by email, etc. on changes as related to the Historical Society and the Pioneer Village.

Take care, stay safe
Tom Glover
President GHS

MOSSINGTON BRIDGE

The Georgina Historical Society 2021 calendar pictured “Mossington Bridge”, popularly known as “The Blue Bridge” for the month of May. The Mossington Bridge is one of the significant Georgina Historical Structures designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
The history of the bridge linking the Hedge Road with Lake Drive East, over the mouth of the Black River likely begins with the aboriginal population. For centuries, the shoreline of Lake Simcoe was used as seasonal encampments by the Huron, Woodland and Ojibwa nations. Stretches of trails interconnected the overland and water routes. The Lakeshore Road, which follows the shoreline and crosses the Black River originated as one of these trails and developed from a pathway into a road. The present bridge is likely at the location of a historic crossing or foot bridge.
In 1912 the wooden bridge built by the settlers was replaced by the present steel bridge. Designed by a noted engineer, Frank Barber and constructed by the National Bridge Company and the Lewis Construction Company. In 2016 the bridge underwent extensive rehabilitation to prolong is life span and preserve its historical significance.

The Mossington Bridge linked the properties of the founding families on the east and west sides of the river, served a mill, campgrounds, dance pavilion cottagers and residents travelling to Mossington Park and surrounding communities. Its narrow width is a reminder of the evolution of roadways and bridges. The Mossington Bridge a significant and well used structure is an important part of the tradition and heritage of Georgina.

IT HAPPENED IN RAVENSHOE…A TRAGEDY. MAY 08, 1950

By Tom Glover

The old battered pail hung in our drive shed for over 25 years. All that it contained were a dozen small capsules, silver in colour. Asking my father what they were, his answer surprised me and brought forth memories of a long ago tragedy. “Oh, those are dynamic caps, when Fred Mahoney was killed dynamiting rocks everyone was afraid to touch them, and since they could not be left in the field, your Uncle Lea picked the pail up and brought them home.” They had hung undisturbed in the drive shed ever since.

Large rocks remained in many of the farm fields in the first half of the 20th century. My father had taken a 2 day course at Guelph Agricultural College to learn how to dynamite those rocks in order to remove them from the fields. When fellow farmers saw how successful my father was at removing the rocks by dynamiting them, they came to him to learn how to blast the stones away. Fred Mahoney, a WW2 veteran was one of the neighbours who learned how to dynamite rocks from my father.

The morning of the tragic event, my father had taken a load of grain to Baldwin mill to be ground into pig feed. A preschooler, I was playing with my toys on the kitchen floor when my mother and I heard an unusually loud explosion followed by an eerie silence. I remember my mother saying “Something is wrong, Something is wrong!”

Minutes later, the phone began ringing as the rural party line spread the horrible news; Fred Mahoney was blasting rocks on his farm and had blown up one large rock and set the charge to blow another. When the fuse failed to ignite the dynamite, Fred went to investigate, as he bent over the rock the explosion occurred and Fred was killed instantly. His fourteen year old son, William who was helping him witnessed the tragic event.

He ran to summon help and soon, family, neighbours and the local police chief, Joe Jardine were on the scene. Apparently, Fred had thought the fuse had gone out and went to reset it when the explosion occurred. He left behind his wife, Eleanor and 4 young children, William 14, Beverley 12, Claire 10 and Robert 8. The tragic loss was felt by the entire community. Some large rocks remain in the Ravenshoe area farmer’s fields to this day as farmer’s wives insisted their husbands no longer use dynamite to clear the fields.

Snapshots of the past.

By R. W. Holden

Here are two ‘snapshots’; the first is from the Canadian Dominion Directory of 1871 giving a brief description of Belhaven with a list of residents and their occupations, and the second is a description of North Gwillimbury from the Historical Atlas of York County, 1878.

Belhaven

A small village in the township of North Gwillimbury, county of York. Distant from Newmarket, a station of the Northern railway, 18 miles, fare 75c* ; from Toronto 50 miles. Mail daily. Population about 75.

*The fare quoted above is the cost by stage to get to the railway station in Newmarket.

Belhaven General Store

Armstrong Frederick, farmer
Dafoe Albert, •wood worker
Draper Luther, farmer
Earl William, stage proprietor
Mann Willard, farmer
Martindale M., hotelkeeper
.Morton John, J. P., farmer
Morton Friend, farmer
Prosser Daniel, postmaster, storekeeper
Prosser Elijah, J.P., farmer
Silver Myron, blacksmith
Sprague James, farmer
Sprague John, farmer
Sweet Andrew, farmer
Williams William, farmer
Winch Henry, farmer
Winch .lohn. farmer
Winch Stephen, farmer

North Gwillimbury

“North Gwillimbury is delightfully situated being partially surrounded by water, and forming with Georgina the Northern part of the County. Bounded on the south by East Gwillimbury, on the east by Georgina, and north and west by Lake Simcoe, and Cooks Bay, it enjoys advantages in scenery which no other township possesses. Thye surface of the land is gently undulating with well cultivated fields, comfortable and often superior dwellings, substantial and extensive barns, and out houses. The roads are generally excellent, and a drive with a view of the lake, is in summer one to be desired and remembered. From Sutton in Georgina there is a daily stage by way of Belhaven, Keswick, Jersey, Queensville, and Sharon to Newmarket. Belhaven, sometimes called plug mount, where the township meetings are held, is a small village containing about 100 inhabitants. Keswick is pleasantly situated on the summit of the highland overlooking Cooks Bay to the west.

The original owner of this land where the village is situated was Arad Smalley whose name is intimately associated with the history of the township. The village was originally called Medina. North of the village about three miles on the point which marks the entrance to Cooks Bay from Lake Simcoe is a village plot known now as Roach’s Point. This was formerly designated Keswick, and formed a very slightly and beautiful place of abode during the summer season. The place instead of advancing has declined, and a few years ago the Post Office which had been established here was removed to Medina but retained the same name.

Consequently the name Medina is no longer applied, but Keswick. The road from Keswick to Roach’s Point, so named after the original owner, and out along the north shore of the township ifs very agreeable. Keswick has a population of some 150. It has no tavern, even if there was no Dunkin Act* in force, and no place of public entertainment; but we can from personal knowledge affirm that the traveller will not want for necessities. South of Keswick about a mile and a half is the village of Jersey. The road north and south is not quite straight, but follows the course of the high bank along the bay. To the east is a road the course of which is angular, extending from the north eastern part of the township , and passing into East Gwillimbury at Ravenshoe.** This was the route of travel to Yonge street of the early pioneers.”

Editor’s notes: spelling, grammar and punctuation are exactly as provided in the original text.
*Dunkin Act of 1864 passed by the Province of Canada to curb liquor consumption and provided a local option.
**Today’s Catering Road.

Where In Georgina? A New Mystery Location

No-one seems to know the location of our last mystery photo…we’ll save it for another time. Where is this image located? Hint…it is approaching the water!

News and Events

It is not too late for graduating secondary school students residing in Georgina to apply for the Nena Marsden Bursary. Gail Moore who co-ordinates the award for us with the school boards and local secondary schools in northern York Region informs us she has received no applications this year. If you know of a deserving student for this award please contact her to obtain the details at gailamoore@hotmail.com or see Contact Us on the last page.

We Need Your Help!

Our picture in the GHS calendar for the month of March, the last images of this building in our newsletter showed its demolition.  We are happy to announce that the adaptive reconstruction is almost complete and that the new schoolhouse is expected to be open to the public once the Georgina Pioneer Village resumes operations again this June.  What is wanted for the opening is images of its interior back in the day (if possible) and class pictures (there’s only six in the archives and they’re either poor quality or copies).  Also, a bit more historical information on the schoolhouse would be nice.  If you can help us, please contact Melissa Matt at the Village (905-476-4301 ext. 2284), Tom Glover, or Bob Holden.