Story and photos by Lindi Pierce
In Hastings County communities there are dozens of commercial, civic, religious and residential buildings that were standing on the very day of Confederation. Some are designated heritage structures, carefully preserved as museums. Others are maintained by dedicated volunteers or owners. Yet others are buried under subsequent additions, humble old workhorses who still serve their communities. Perhaps your favourite is on this list.
Wesleyan Methodists were holding religious services at Hazzard’s Corners by the early 1830s. Their white frame church with its graceful spire opened in 1858; for years it was the centre of community life.
The church became part of the newly formed United Church of Canada in 1925, and was closed in 1967. Since then a volunteer board, many of whom are descendants of the founders, has maintained the church. Visitors admire the well-maintained cemetery, the dignified old locust trees, and the ‘ecclesiastical loo.’
With support from the Parrott Foundation, volunteers have undertaken exterior and interior restoration in recent years. Simple hand-hewn wooden pews, wood-burning stoves and off the grid lighting recreate the old country church feeling. The non-denominational country church holds two services per year, a summer lawn social service in August and its well-known ‘Christmas in a Country Church.’
James Jamieson [Jamison], a staunch Methodist from Berwick on Tweed in Scotland, was born in 1803. He came to Canada as a boy and lived in Belleville for much of his life. He established the Victoria Foundry in the city.
In his fifties, around 1864, Jamieson traded the foundry for property and water privileges in Hungerford Township. Jamieson’s flour and sawmills stood at the foot of Bridge Street in Tweed. Jamieson is credited with laying out the village of Tweed, which he named in honour of his place of birth. He recorded that he was in his “new house” in 1866.
This frame two-storey house has been home to many Tweed families, and has served as the popular House of Boutiques outlet store for the past 10 years. This illustration of Jamieson’s house and mills appears in the 1878 Belden atlas.
Tweed’s ‘House of Chop Suey’ restaurant on Victoria Street has some distinguished connections. The stone structure, now clad in stucco and stone veneer, has always been a commercial building.
It was built as a general store called the Tweed Commercial House by 1865. The shop appears in the 1864/5 Hastings County Directory advertising dry goods, hardware, groceries, boots and shoes, and merchant tailoring. Reid was also offering cash for potash, furs, hides and grain.
The Tweed Commercial House was operated by James Reid, whose wife was the sister of Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Canada’s fifth Prime Minister (1894-6). Bowell represented North Hastings in the House of Commons from 1867 until 1892. Bowell’s name appears on the Commercial House deed in 1864; perhaps he was holding a mortgage for the couple. The property was in the Reid name by 1876.
Tweed’s first doctor, Dr. Timothy Ebenezer Pomeroy, came to town in 1854. The well-respected doctor served as coroner for Hastings County for many years, and was appointed surgeon of the 4th battalion of Hastings Militia in 1857.
Pomeroy Hall housed an apothecary shop and meeting hall at the front of the property. Dr. Pomeroy’s house and its 12 and a half acre property appear in a rendering in the 1878 Belden Historical Atlas.
‘Woodbine Cottage’ sat just outside the surveyed town lots, on a rural holding called the Pomeroy Reserve. The lawn and gardens which once extended to Metcalfe Street were later severed for brick residences, which still stand.
The house has been completely remodelled, but retains the proportions of the original, seen in this 1906 photograph. Even today, the mature trees and expansive lawns hint at some of the early grandeur of the estate.
In 1823, ‘Squire’ James O’Hara and his wife Mary arrived as homesteaders in Madoc Township, and raised nine children. Their son James Jr. was the first European child born in the area. In 1850, father and son entered into a partnership, establishing the O’Hara mill, which operated until 1908.
The mill and adjacent property was purchased by the Moira River Conservation Area in 1954; in 1965 the homestead was purchased from descendant Minnie O’Hara Maines. Volunteer labour and community donations have made possible the restoration of five original buildings and the addition of several others.
The white house began after 1848 as a small frame home for James and Mary. The O’Hara family resided here for 115 years. The house expanded over four generations, and now interprets farm life from 1847 to 1935.
The 1890 photo shows the family enjoying the last of the maple syrup season, with the house in the background. [L to R: James O’Hara Jr., Minnie O’Hara, Frank O’Hara, Ben Lear]
In the roaring 1850s lumber baron and temperance champion Billa Flint established the booming industrial village of Troy, later Bridgewater, now Actinolite.
An aggressive businessman, Flint was also a great philanthropist. He donated half of the funds to build the Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1864, of locally quarried white marble. The village was almost completely destroyed in the disastrous fire of May 24, 1889, while the townsfolk celebrated Victoria Day in nearby Madoc. The church was rebuilt, and today houses the Marble Arts Centre.
Bridgewater School was built in 1861. In a building practice as common now as then, the public facade was of showy white marble, while the less visible sides were of less costly fieldstone. The c.1890 photo shows students with Flint (white beard) and Principal George Meiklejohn (grandfather of Evan Morton, Tweed and District Heritage Centre.) Today the stone school with a new addition serves as Actinolite Community Hall.
Moira is a Hastings County community with a strong stone-building tradition. The oldest stone house, built by settler Daniel Wood, dates from about 1832. The Ostrom/Walmsley house is built of rubblestone with a stone side addition once housing a summer kitchen and stable used as a harness making shop around 1900.
The house is restored with historic integrity, retaining chimneys, 12over12 sash windows, deep cornice and eaves returns and a charming trellis verandah.
The property is known for its unique water source. From the hill behind the house spring-fed wells run through the house and barn. At one time, the spring also fed the cheese factory, with the stern proviso that the water not be used to produce ‘spirituous liquors.’ This prohibition was logical, given two of the home’s most famous occupants. Native son and popular American evangelist Henry Ostrom Jr. composed many hymns under the pseudonym George Walker Witcomb. Reverend Carrie Hazzard, who served throughout her life as a Wesleyan pastor and missionary, also resided here at one time. The photo shows the Moira community gathered in front of the house in 1954.
Reverend David Wishart became the minister of St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church in April, 1857, a position he was to hold for 40 years. In the Scottish stone-building tradition, Reverend Wishart built a manse, believed to be the first stone house in the village. The plain one and a half storey house with a centre gable and pointed arch window was built of stone quarried at the Malcolm McIntosh farm quarry nearby. The stone was finely-worked ashlar on the facade, rubble stone on other sides.
The manse narrowly escaped the fires which destroyed much of Madoc on May 4, 1873. The nearby frame church was razed and rebuilt of the same stone as the manse by stonemasons brought by Reverend Wishart from Petershead, Scotland.
A red brick manse replaced the stone cottage in 1900; the stone house was later sold by Reverend Wishart. In 1983 the stone manse was purchased by descendants of Malcolm McIntosh and returned to St. Peter’s. Church history was once again complete. Today the house serves as a rental property.
Paul and Rosalie Payer, hosts at Limestone Bed and Breakfast since 2008, recount that this beautifully maintained stone house was built in 1860 by Richard Campion, son of a British colonel. He married Margaret McEachern from Scotland on February 12, 1864. The couple had no children.
Campion reportedly operated an inn and stagecoach stop at the house. At some point, the stone house was used as accommodation by the Page, Rathbun or Gilmour logging companies. The building later served as a boarding house for the Cobourg, Peterborough and Marmora Railway.
Anne and Andre Philpot owned the stone house from 1973 until 1997, undertaking significant restoration. They describe “full sized timbers in the attic and basement, some of which still [had] bark on them.” The walls are two feet thick; at one time a series of French doors opened onto the verandah. The basement had an earth floor until the 1970s.
The popular Limestone Bed and Breakfast offers welcoming rooms and suites, with historic details throughout. The inn is a ‘Ride the Highlands’ member, and welcomes motorcycle touring groups. The one-acre village property features beautiful gardens and a pool.
This handsome frame building in the village of Queensborough appears on an 1854 survey as the American Hotel. A short time later, it was renamed Diamond’s Hotel, owned by Abraham and William Diamond. A large addition was built in 1860, likely the wing to the rear of the main structure, and large sheds were added a decade later. The building displays distinguished architecture, with classical influences in its proportions and detailing.
The building served as hotel and tavern until prohibition closed the tavern in 1919, and a store appears in directories from 1860 on. Mr. Clayton Hamm purchased the building around 1919, and operated it as a general store, adding a cold room and large display windows.
Many Queensborough residents recall McMurray’s General Store operating out of the building from 1931 until the late 1970s. Clayton McMurray, nephew of Clayton Hamm, and his wife Blanche were store proprietors; Blanche ran the post office there from 1947 until its close in 1969, which marked the end of an important village gathering place.