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History of the County of Bruce, Ontario, Canada
Township of Eastnor


"This township was named in honor of John Somers Cocks, Earl of Somers, Viscount Eastnor of Eastnor Castle, county of Hereford, 'who was closely related to the wife of Sir Edward W. Head, the Governor-General in 1855, who chose the name of ' Eastnor ' for the township in compliment to his wife's relations.""Nothing but Names."

Extract from the Report of County Valuators, 1901.

"There is a great deal of good land in Eastnor, which shows decided improvement since the last valuation, and in the near future will compare favorably with any portion of the county, but a railroad is much needed, especially in regard to the shipment of stock and postal facilities. We think we are within the mark in saying that fully one-third of Eastnor will be first-class land when the present drainage contracts are completed, and the balance of what is known as the Eastnor swamp is cleared up. The balance of the township, however, is very inferior, rock everywhere and timber gone, which leaves the lots (we cannot say land) valueless. This statement applies largely to the four northern townships. Fire and lumbermen have devastated these townships and have left behind a barren waste."

Eastnor possesses physical features peculiar to itself among the municipalities of the county. In it are to be seen as fine farms, buildings included, as are to be found in the highly favored southern townships of Bruce. At the same time in it are to be found large areas of rock, as bare of soil as can be seen in any part of the Peninsula. Its bays, deeply indenting the coast line, result in the narrowest part of the county, excepting near the point of the Peninsula, being found within its boundaries (the township is less than five miles wide at the 35 side road), while in another part its extending peninsulas give to it a breadth excelled by only one other township. Although far north, yet it is less liable to summer frosts than townships further south; this is because of the large bodies of water on each side of it. Its large swamps, thought at one time to be a detriment to the township, are now in a large measure drained, and the finest land is that which was only lately a swamp.

The first purchases of land in Eastnor were made in 1862, but settlers do not seem to have taken up their lands until 1869 or 1870. The first assessment roll of the township, that for 1871, is so interesting that extracts from it are here given. The roll contains eighteen names, [As it may interest some to know who these eighteen were, their names are here given, viz., Joseph Andrew, John Cale, Allen Erwin, David Harris, Thomas and Francis Hart, Francis and Michael Hagin, Thomas Harkness, Robert McCarter, George Moore, Jacob Schermahorn, Samuel Slack, L. Sherlock, Richard Tackaberry, Wm. Tunan, Joseph Waugh and Francis Waugh. As to which of the amove mentioned was Eastnor's first settler it is not known. George Moore and Richard Tackaberry each claimed it.] three of which seem to have been non-residents. Six of these ratepayers seem to have been alone on their clearings, while nine had families. The total number of inhabitants, as given in the roll, is fifty-one. Three ratepayers are entered as having clearings of five acres each. One, that of ten acres; the rest had no clearings. Each one hundred acres was assessed at the same amount, namely $100; as there were twenty-three lots taken up, the assessment roll shows a total of $2,300. This assessment was much increased in the roll of 1872, the amount there being $10,395, showing a marked advance. The development of the township is noticeable in the next record we shall quote, that of the county valuators, who in 1879 valued the real estate in Eastnor at $133,448.

They who may be named as the first settlers in Eastnor, when selecting their lands for settlement, seem to have favored the vicinity of Lion's Head; the wave of settlement moved thence south as far as the 20 side-line and adjacent lands, and thence westward to where Spry is now. Francis Waugh, near Hope Bay, and Joseph Eveleigh and Patrick Judge, at Barrow Bay, being exceptions.

Owing to the difficulty of access into the township by land, the roads being in a deplorable condition for many years, most of the traffic in the early days to points outside the township was by water. The following are the names of some of the steamboats that in the seventies or eighties visited Lion's Head and Barrow Bay. The Okonra, Captain Dunn, was one of the earliest vessels to be engaged on the route between Owen Sound, Wiarton and the Peninsula. She was succeeded about 1879 by the Wiarton Belle, and the latter boat by the Comet, and that by the Annie Watt and the ill-fated Jane Miller. For the accommodation of these and other vessels it was necessary that a wharf should be constructed at Lion's Head. Realiz-ing this the township, in the summer of 1883, offered to pay what sum was necessary to place material on the ground sufficient to construct a dock 200 feet long, on condition that the government have the work performed. The government in that year sent a dredge to clear a channel, some 13 feet deep and 80 feet long, through a bar that extended across the entrance to the harbor. This improvement to navigation was supplemented by the construction of the pier.

On 18th June, 1869, the township of Eastnor was by by-law of the County Council united for municipal purposes to the township of Albemarle. To this union of municipalities there was a further addition made June 21st, 1872, when the County Council added thereto the townships of Lindsay and St. Edmunds. This large municipality of united townships began to dissolve when on June 8th, 1877, the three northern townships were by by-law separated from Albemarle, to become a separate municipality on the 1st January following, with Eastnor as the senior township. [The first municipal election was held at the schoolhouse for S. S. No. 1, C. W. W. Dalton being returning officer.] These three townships remained united as one municipality until Lindsay and St. Edmunds, having developed and attained to the required qualifications within their own bounds, were set apart as a separate municipality, and since that date, January 1st, 1883, Eastnor has known nothing of a municipal partnership. The first township council consisted of Francis Waters, William Freeman, Jos. Waugh and James Elder, with David Scott, jun., as reeve, [The following are the names of those who have been reeves of Eastnor from 1878 onwards: David Scott, 1878, '79, 1880; William Hale, 1881; Robert Watt, 1882, '84; Thomas Boyle, 1883; Alex. Chisholm, 1885, '86 1892, '93 and '94; F. W. Stewart, 1887; R. E. Moore, 1888, '89 1890 '91; John H. Cook, 1895, '96, '98, '99, 1900, '01 and '05; Robert Bain, 1897: Thomas J. Bridge, 1902, '03 and '04; W. B. Moshier, 1906.] C. W. W. Dalton [C. W. W. Dalton filled the office of township clerk until March, 1905, when he removed from Eastnor to the Niagara District.] as township clerk, and Richard Tackaberry as township treasurer.

The earliest attempt to establish a manufacturing industry in the township was in 1874, when a saw-mill, built and run by Patrick Judge, was put in operation at Barrow Bay. Some three years later the same man had a grist-mill of one run of stones; this mill was more used for "chopping" than for flour. In 1879 a bonus of $1,600 was given by the townships to Robert Watt [Robert Watt subsequently became reeve of Eastnor, and later, while residing at Wiarton, he was elected a county councillor, and in 1903 warden of the county of Bruce. In 1905 he retired from business, that of a saw-miller and lumberman, left Wiarton, and moved to Toronto.] to erect a grist and saw-mill at Lion's Head. This mill was completed and running in the month of July in the following year, and for years the hum of its machinery might be heard until in an unfortunate fire it was burned down in 1889. This mill has been replaced by an excellent roller-process mill built by a joint stock company. In 1883 Messrs. Judge and Inksetter built a steam saw-mill at Barrow Bay, and there, in 1892, the Barrow Bay Lumber Company built a large, roller-process grist-mill. A number of saw-mills have at various times been put in operation throughout the township, some of which have had to close down because of the growing scarcity of logs.

Before the village of Lion's Head had taken form, what was known as Tackaberry's Corners (lot 20 and 21, concessions 4 and 5, E.B.R.) was looked upon as the "hub" of the township. Lion's Head in 1875 consisted only of the post-office (opened in August of that year, with F. W. Stewart as postmaster) and one store, the only store in the township. An old settler furnished the author with a list of prices he had there paid for necessaries of life. As these backwoods prices contrast markedly with those of the present day, they are here given as received: Axes, $2.50 each; coal-oil, 50c. a gallon; salt, 5c. lb.; tobacco, $1.25 lb.; tea, lowest price, 75c. per lb.; pork, 19c. lb.; scythe stones, 37 1/2c. each.

The village of Lion's Head takes its name from the resemblance to a lion's head to be discerned on a rocky cliff lying about a mile east of the harbor. At one time the resemblance was quite marked, but the action of the elements is causing the likeness to fade away. As noted in a previous paragraph, in 1875 the village consisted only of a store and post-office. A visitor in the fall of 1879 states that there was then in course of erection a number of dwelling-houses, two hotels, a store, a grist-mill and a planing-mill, while there was in operation a saw-mill, a pump factory, two stores and a blacksmith shop, the stores being run by F. W. Stewart and George P. Webster, while the population was estimated to be about 100. Another visitor in 1882 estimates the population as 200, with two hotels, one a brick building, and five stores. The spiritual needs of the residents at Lion's Head and vicinity seemed to have been first attended to by a Rev. Mr. Leggett, a Methodist minister. The Presbyterians seemed to have been a little later in entering upon this field, but met with strong support, and erected the first church edifice in the township. The first minister of this denomination to labor in this field was the Rev. W. M. Rogers; this was in 1879. He was followed by a Mr. McKibbon, a student from one of the Presbyterian colleges, in the summer of 1880, the services being held in the summer months in the old Webster mill, and when the weather became unsuitable for services there they were held in the house of Mr. Robert Watt, where also was held the first tea-meeting in the settlement. A Mr. Marr, another student, filled this field in the summer of 1881, and in the following year the Rev. Mr. McLennan was inducted as pastor of the congregation, which already had erected a church building 22 x 40 feet. This building was dedicated May 22nd, 1881. This congregation was advanced to the status of a self-sustaining congregation when the Rev. T. A. Nelson was inducted as its pastor January 10th, 1905. The Church of England had a representative stationed at Lion's Head in the person of the Rev. Mr. Hutchison in the fall of 1882. He was successful in stirring up his flock to proceed to the erection of a church edifice, the foundation stone of which was laid May 3rd, 1883. The building is 50 x 26 feet, built of frame on a stone foundation, and exhibits good taste in its architecture. Not far from this church edifice is to be seen the Eastnor township hall, a very neat structure, erected in 1897, and admirably fitted for public gatherings. It is claimed to be the best township hall in the county.

When the County Council in 1879 made a refund to the four northern townships of part of their arrears of county rates, on account of previous over-assessment during the five years preceding, the united townships of Eastnor, Lindsay and St. Edmunds received a rebate of $438.76, which was a very welcome relief to an impoverished municipality.

Eastnor, although not a wealthy township, has from the first exhibited a broad-mindedness in the matter of public improvements that is commendable. The first step in this direction was the giving of a bonus of $1,600 towards the erecting of a grist-mill at Lion's Head. This was followed by an issue of debentures amounting to $6,000 to improve the roads. The three extensive drainage schemes within the township have also cost a large sum. In all, Eastnor has issued debentures to the amount of $34,000, all for public improvements, as shown in a footnote [1].

When the townships of Lindsay and St. Edmunds separated from Eastnor they were, with the latter township, liable for the two first issues of debentures above-mentioned, amounting to $7,600. The arrangement arrived at at the time of separation was somewhat as follows, namely: Eastnor, as the senior township, was to assume this indebtedness, and Lindsay and St. Edmunds agreed to pay three-eighths of the required annual rate to Eastnor during the seventeen years the debentures had to run.

Of the several drainage schemes of the township, that known as the Judge Creek Scheme drains the land back of Barrow Bay, the Fern Creek Scheme the lands lying west of Lion's Head, and the Swan Lake Scheme lands lying north-west of Lion's Head. The lands to be benefited are expected to become in time the garden of the township. The engineering difficulties met with in the Judge Creek drain consisted in the enlarging of the bed of the creek by blasting the rock, an undertaking of some magnitude. This was done by a contractor from Toronto. The almost dead level of the land in the Fern Creek district presented an engineering difficulty of another sort, it being difficult to obtain the necessary fall for a rapid flow of water.

Besides Lion's Head there are but three villages in Eastnor, Barrow Bay, Spry and Stokes Bay, the last-mentioned being the most flourishing of the three. John Shute has had part of lots 38 and 39, concession 3, W.B.R., surveyed and subdivided into the lots which comprise the village of Stokes Bay. Sanguine expectations are held as to the ultimate development of the village, as it has the trade of a good part of Lindsay and St. Edmunds, and also a good wharf, so that shipments can readily be made from there. The lighthouse on Lyal Island, at the entrance to Stokes Bay, has been a guide to mariners since 1885.


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