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Welcome to the Georgina Historical Society’s September 2020 newsletter! Thank you for your patience and understanding with the cancellation of so many of the Georgina Historical Society’s meetings and activities over the last few months. Life during this pandemic is certainly an entirely new and trying experience for us all.
Some good news though, the Noble and Mann houses have been reshingled and the deteriorating rear wall of the train station replaced. Those are the major projects completed, along with other much needed minor repairs. Having obtained a very reasonable quote on repairing the roof on the caboose we are pleased to inform you that job is now completed. A huge thank you goes out to Woodbine Roofing for a job well done. Step one in renovating the caboose is done. Unfortunately the quotes on rebuilding the Cedarbrae School House, once again, came in over budget and negotiations are still continuing regarding this project.
We have been fortunate to have a group of very enthusiastic summer students working at the village this year. Unable to assist with the usual summer camps, the students have been busy helping Melissa tidy and organize exhibits in the buildings, categorizing archives and designing display panels and pamphlets. Thank you summer students from all of us at the Georgina Historical Society!
Unfortunately due to the restrictions in use of facilities caused by Covid 19 we are still unable to hold General Program Meetings at this time. We are hoping that we will be able to hold the AGM in December along with a small Christmas gathering if public facilities can be reopened by then.
We really appreciate your support of the Georgina Historical Society and hopefully we will be able to resume all our usual meetings and activities in 2021.
Thanks. Take care, stay safe!
Drunken Groom – By Terry Carter
Captain Simon Lee made his fortune as a relatively young man as a captain in the service of the East India Company, a global giant of its day with trading monopolies between Britain and the East.
The former merchant sea captain probably ran a tight ship, for as we shall see, he and his wife were adamant about “the proper way” of doing things at home, including approving the grooms for their three daughters.
Upon retirement, Captain Lee settled in the new and flourishing colony of Upper Canada, where he built a large, two-storey house on Yonge St. in today’s Thornhill. When he retired from the service a wealthy man in 1835, he acquired 500 acres of land on the south shore of Lake Simcoe, where a small group of well-off British settlers were developing an enclave of country estates. His land included property just east of today’s Sibbald Point Provincial Park.
He built Lee Farm, another two-storey frame house, and settled down with his wife and three daughters. The parents felt society obliged them to ensure their daughters married in sequence of age –the eldest first.
William Sibbald, a neighbour and the first suitor to appear, felt otherwise. He wished to marry the second daughter, Mary. The family would have none of it, and insisted that if he was to marry a Lee girl, it must be Emily, the eldest.
Eligible brides were not too plentiful in the little Lake Simcoe settlement, and so William agreed, although it was said on his wedding day the groom had to be enticed to the Alter with liberal amounts of brandy. The marriage, however, turned out to be a successful one, even though the bride died at a young age –April 8, 1854 at the age of 28.
Mary, the second daughter, married John Barwick of Thornhill, and they were given the Yonge St. home. John was the builder of the Anglican Church in Holland Landing and today there is a plaque to the couple’s memory in the church. They had 18 children. The third Lee daughter, Eliza, married Captain Robert Douglas Stupart of the Royal Navy.
Communities of Georgina – Udora
Udora is a small rural community on the border between Uxbridge Township in Durham Region and the Town of Georgina in York Region. Centred on the intersection of Ravenshoe and Victoria Roads, it has a population estimated to be around 1500 and is situated in the most south-eastern part of Georgina, split between York Region and Durham Region by Ravenshoe Road. William Snodden laid out village lots in 1854 and it was originally called Snodden’s Corners and was the location of the Snoddon Hotel. It was renamed Udora in 1862 when it came time to select a name for the post office. With two rivers winding their way through Udora there are several small historical dams in and around the community three of which were used to control the water levels for the J. E. Peers Mill.
Growth in Udora was slow until the early 1950’s when the Independent Toronto Estonian Women’s Association purchased land in the north-west side of Udora. It was subsequently subdivided into 150 summer cottage lots for Estonians from Toronto and named Jõekääru, which means River Bend in English, and so named because Pefferlaw River runs through the grounds. Local street names in the grounds are also in their native Estonian. With the cottages also came the Estonian Children’s Camp, which is still active to date as an Estonian language immersion camp for part of the summer. Housing in Udora ranges from homes built in the 1800’s to cottages of the 50’s, and the latest addition, a small estate subdivision that overlooks the Pefferlaw river valley on the west side of the community.
In the centre of Udora (or downtown) on the main road (Victoria), there is a General Store doubling as a functioning post office . One of the last original General Stores in Ontario it is still in operation and distributing mail to the local residents. The 145 plus year old store has had only six family owners in all that time. Even today it is the hub of this small hamlet just a few kilometres north of Uxbridge, Ontario.
The business today is not all that different then it was all those years ago. Since it still serves as the local post office, people come and exchange all the local news and views. A portable notice board provides details of and welcomes the newest (baby) arrival to the community. As in Years of Old It still caters to the needs of the community providing a selection of staples, fresh produce from local Farmers and a deli counter. Of course there is plenty of candy; they still carry penny candy, and snack food for the youngsters. When you finish that new novel, there is even a book rack to exchange it for one you have not read.
West of Victoria lies The Udora Community Hall, opened in 1974, along with a baseball diamond, playground and basketball / tennis (badminton) court. It serves as the fair grounds to “Udora Family Fun Day”. In the winter, the court also hosts a small skate rink for kids. There is also a UPI full serve gas station and convenience store.
Udora is a place that few know exists even though it appears on the Ontario Road Maps. This village is a community where there are more private roads than public roads. Chances are if you know where Udora is you either live there, or pass through it as you journey through on Ravenshoe or Victoria roads.
Article by By Kathy Clulow, March 16 2008
Where in Georgina?
Can you identify where this month’s picture is located?
Georgina Pioneer Village
The Town of Georgina is working on an application for the Museum Assistance Program Grant with some help from the corporate sector to complete the application. The grant could provide funding up to 30 per cent of the Museum Operating Budget and they are hopeful that the Pioneer Village will qualify.
Two of the summer students are no longer at the Village and have returned to school. Their work in the Village will be missed. Two others will continue on as part-timers and continue to work on the designs for the panels and pamphlets. Their work on the new promotional literature for the Georgina Pioneer Village has been wonderful. They’ve also designed a user-friendly map to guide visitors to the various attractions in the Village. We have received permission from the Town of Georgina to add the new map of the village on the Pioneer Village page of our revamped Georgina Historical Society website. Check it out at http://www.georginahistoricalsociety.com.
We have been advised that the contractor who bid for the rebuilding and restoration of the Schoolhouse has been asked to review and possibly revise his most recent quote as it is appreciably higher than the one previously submitted. It was suggested that perhaps there were items in the quote that could be deferred for another year so that construction can finally commence. It is really important to get this work underway.
Shingling is completed on the Mann House and the work at Noble House is currently under way. Our recent wet weather has caused some delays. It was reported that the Mann house is to be painted and a new porch built. Rich, the new handyman at the Village, will continue his employment until the end of November.
We were advised that a Drainage Study for the Village and the Civic Centre grounds is scheduled to begin in November. Flooding has been a serious issue now for a number of years. Your Board hopes this is a positive first step towards resolving this problem.
Events – this year’s Harvest Festival is cancelled and the Town has plans to work on a virtual event using photo images. Your Board has advised them that we have numerous photos from last year’s Festival which could be shared for this purpose. We have requested that the Town reserve the date of Saturday, October 18, 2021 for Harvest Festival next year.
Johnson Cemetery, Pefferlaw – It has come to our attention that there is a proposal to have the Johnson Family members buried there disinterred and reburied in Cooke’s Cemetery. We cannot support this idea. The consensus of the Board Members is that this proposal is contrary to our mandate. The Johnson Cemetery contains the remains of a founding family of Georgina, and as a designated heritage site it is one of five Pioneer Cemeteries within the Town of Georgina.
General Program Meetings: Due to the restrictions in the use of facilities caused by Covid 19, the Society is unable to hold General Program Meetings at this time.
The Website – is almost complete with just a few minor things left to do; the link was sent in an email to all the Board Members to view and provide feedback to the website committee. Those that have looked at it were very impressed. The website committee has asked that Board Members pass any ideas or suggestions on so we may tweak the site and make it as good as possible. The general membership is asked to have a look at our revised website and let us know what you think about it. Check it out at: http://www.georginahistoricalsociety.com.
The Caboose – Roofing on the caboose has been completed and the interior of the caboose is now protected from further damage. However it was remarked that the Town had made no mention of further work that could be undertaken by members of the Historical Society.
Our President will send an email to the Town of Georgina and ask what arrangements have been made so that the members can start painting the exterior of the Caboose. We have access to an official colour swatch for matching the paint once approval to proceed has been received…
Annual General Meeting – Your Board is currently considering holding the AGM in December along with a small Christmas gathering if public facilities are re-opened within the Town. It was suggested that the Kin Hall would be a good location as it is large enough to facilitate social distancing. Further discussion about this will take place at the October and November Board meetings.
In connection with the AGM is the election of officers for any Board vacancies. Our treasurer wishes to step down from that role and also the Board at the end of the term this year. It was advised that there are individuals who might be interested in joining the Board and/or filling the coming vacancy for treasurer.
An Interesting Photo
Above is an image of the station at the Pioneer Village before it was removed from Sutton. Rich has done a wonderful job rebuilding the back of the station.
Below photos showing his work in progress and the finished job. Thanks Rich!!!
Finally, do you have any stories or interesting pictures or anecdotes? Your editor and the Newsletter Committee would love to have them for sharing with our membership. Contact us through the e-mails or numbers on the ‘Contact Us’ page.
Left – our August Board meeting held with social distancing in the pavilion behind the Civic Centre near the tennis courts.
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic all general meetings and events are still on hold until further notice. It was suggested at the September Board meeting that the Annual General Meeting be postponed and combined with a Christmas celebration event at Sutton’s Kin Hall in December as that venue would be large enough for social distancing. This would depend upon permission from the Town and the state of the virus in the community at that time.
October 5th, 2020 – Board Meeting at 12:30 PM, Orchard Beach Lakefront Bar and Grill
Saturday, September 18, 2021 reserved for Harvest Festival next year