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Welcome to the Georgina Historical Society’s November newsletter. November, the month that we all proudly wear a poppy and pause on the 11th hour of the 11th day in remembrance to all who have proudly served our country. Our local Legions are faced with financial challenges during these times and I encourage you to support them in their fund raising efforts in order that they may continue in their support to our veterans.
Unfortunately, due to the Covid -19 restrictions there will not be the usual Festival of Lights and Old Fashioned Christmas in the Pioneer Village this year. There will be lights set up along the Roc Parkway and a static drive by parade will be held on December 5 from 4:30pm -8:30pm.
Thank you to all who have purchase the 2021 calendar, “Landmarks of Georgina”. I am pleased to inform you that we have sold out all we had and have ordered more. Driving around and viewing the landmarks on the calendar, what a great way to spend a day during these pandemic times. Better reserve yours now so you won’t miss out on this popular item.
I would like to thank Paul Brady and Wayne Phillips for all their hard work helping repair and replace the interior walls and ceiling of the caboose. To date we have spent over 70 volunteer hours on the first steps in restoring and refurbishing the caboose.
Don’t forget to renew your Georgina Historical Society membership for 2021. Thanks for your continued support of the GHS.
Take care; stay safe!
Brown Hill – By Tom Glover
One of our southern communities, Brown Hill is shared with the Town of East Gwillimbury with the Townline now called the Ravenshoe Road splitting the hamlet. Brown Hill was later developing then some of the surrounding hamlets.
The first settlers arrived in the early 1860s and Paul Chapelle built the first store on the town line around 1875. In 1878 the Lake Simcoe Junction Railway built a line through the settlement and for a while the hamlet became known as Blake Station. Later acquired by the Midland Railway and eventually the Grand Trunk, with the railway station the hamlet flourished and beside the railway station there were grain storage buildings and cattle pens. Two carloads of cattle a week were shipped from surrounding farms. A general store, a hotel, a shingle mill, a saw mill and a carpet weaver and blacksmith were some of the successful businesses.
In 1886 the post office was established and the hamlet was renamed Brown Hill, probably after two of the early families, Brown and Hillis. About this time a frame school and then a church were built. Around the turn of the century the Farmers Bank moved into town. Unfortunately the bank later went bankrupt and many residents in the area suffered significant losses.
In 1894 a cooperative of 10 area farmers and merchants purchased the grain storage building and formed the Brown Hill Cooperative Shipping and Warehouse Association. They rented out the storage for $200 per year for many years but times changed and by 1918 all they could get was $70. The building was sold and the cooperative dissolved. My grandfather was secretary for the cooperative and the old minute book sure makes interesting reading.
Just as the railway helped the hamlet prosper, the decline of the railway had the reverse effect on the community. By the 1950s, two main businesses remained in town, Mitchel’s Garage and the Sedore General Store. Mitchel’s Garage sold gas, fixed vehicles and sold farm equipment. Redford Sedore’s General Store in the old Blake Station Hotel was a typical general store of the time. Flour, salt, meat, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, canned goods, candy, ice cream, dry goods, and hardware, if you needed it they had it.
Tucked in a corner was a post office and across the road a small slaughter house, but that was not all there was. In the back of the store was what l remember most; a “shave and a haircut two bits,” barber’s chair where you could get your haircut for 25 cents. And beside the barber shop was another room where the locals played pool. My brother and I were forbidden to go anywhere near the door to that room. The Sedore General Store, now a private residence still stands.
Mitchel’s Garage is gone replaced on the opposite corner with an auto body shop and garage. Brown Hill has become a commuter community, a nice quiet place to live from which everyone travels the highways to work and shop.
For the Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
Canada mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free;
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow;
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond Canada’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
~ Laurence Binyon
National War Memorial
Where in Georgina?
Dale Taylor has correctly identified our June mystery picture as Carolyn Lodge, also known as Clarlyn Lodge, at Old Homestead Road and Lake Drive. Today we know it as the Orchard Beach Lakefront Bar and Grill. Can you identify where this month’s picture is located? So far no-one has the answer.
We will be taking a break until the January issue.
The budget for the restoration of the schoolhouse in the village is again up for review. The revised cost tendered by Heritage Restoration is now $357,550.00. this is 87,550.00 over the budgeted funds. The Town is looking at three options: the first one is to approve the increase and get on with the work required, the second is to defer the project and maintain the existing capital budget allocation of $270,000.00 for the schoolhouse, or to defer the project altogether and re-allocate the funds to other capital initiative. Your Society has recommended the first option as any deferment will further inflate costs and the project may never be completed. The town has been informed of our position on this matter.
Your Board was concerned with the decision not to put up festive lighting in the village for the holiday season and have asked that we be consulted on such matters in the future.
At the council meeting on November 18, the Georgina Heritage Advisory Committee will be requesting that the Robert Johnson Cemetery and the Pefferlaw Dam be listed on the Heritage Register. The GHS supports these requests. A letter has been sent to the owner of the Robert Johnston cemetery outlining the mandate of the GHS and why we support the designation. The GHS also supports the requested designation of Bonnie/Lorne Park as a Heritage Designated site.
Work on the interior of the Caboose is progressing. The ceiling and east wall have been replaced and the west wall of the caboose repaired. To date, about 70 hours has been invested. Due to the pandemic, there has been some difficulty in obtaining the wood material which is required for the tongue and groove pine construction due to the pandemic but Tom Glover is managing to find supplies. Staining and painting of the ceiling and walls still have to be done. However that will have to wait until after winter as the caboose is unheated. Once interior work is done, local media will be invited in to do a story and take photos. It would be excellent publicity for the Historical Society and would generate interest and hopefully funds to continue the work.
Our calendars have been a resounding success! The first press run sold out in only a few days. A second press run has been ordered and should be available early next week. Be sure to reserve your copy though any Board member of by contacting us through the website or by e-mail.
Our General Meetings will remain suspended until further notice due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Static Drive By Christmas Parade at the ROC Parkway December 5, 4:30 – 8 pm