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Fallbrook Farm Heritage Site
Update 12 August 2008


Greetings, Friends!

Since our meeting at Limehouse in the spring, the steering committee has been working hard to try to protect the Fallbrook farm from demolition. Now, summer is well on its way, and many events have occurred in our quest to preserve the site of Fallbrook Farm.  After our April meeting, Credit Valley Conservation Authority (CVC) agreed to secure the house, which they did.  Tom Murison, a well known restoration consultant undertook to do an Historical Investigation Report of the site. His findings are comprehensive and run to 41 pages, including many pictures.  Tom looked at the farm house, from the perspectives of the techniques and the materials that were used in its construction, and the surrounding landscape. He also investigated the stone structures that had been variously identified. Together with the land registry records, and through the use of dendrochronology, he was able to demonstrate the story of the log cabin, from the time when William McClure purchased the property from the Canada Company, in 1855.  It was to this cabin that the Scottish emigrants, Donald McKay and his wife Jessie, and young son William came in 1877.  From then on, the property was a homestead, until it was taken over by CVC in 1973. It continued to be inhabited by tenants, until 2001. Since then, minimal work has been done, and the stone walls round the house have been raided for fire pit stones.

Tom noted that the cabin was constructed using sawn logs that were cut in the winter of 1855 (see below), and probably built the following spring/summer. The McClure family owned the property, and it is believed that they used it as a wood lot. The cabin was possibly used as the miller’s house. The fact that Tom’s examination of the logs showed them to be sawn rather than hewn, led him to investigate the area, particularly the stone structures that were in the neighbourhood. He was able to locate the remains of two mills, one a saw mill, the other a grist mill, a dam and slipway, and a beautiful stone bridge, similar in size and construction to those he had seen in Scotland. He was also able to identify a previously excavated and recorded Late Woodland Indian site, with a longhouse and accompanying out buildings.  He detailed the renovations that the McKays did to the cabin/house as the family grew. Many features are consistent with those that characterized Scottish buildings of the day. This site shows signs of human habitation for over 500 years. While the Native site has been excavated and documented, there is a need to excavate the areas where Tom has calculated the saw and grist mills were located.  He spotted soot marked bricks in the area, and other signs of human habitation.

We attended a meeting with the Heritage Halton Hills Committee (HHH) and representatives of Halton Hills Municipal Council, at which Tom presented this report. On the basis of this information, we requested that both parties review our request for Heritage designation of the Fallbrook site. The Council asked for time to review the report, and asked us to appear at the June 23rd council meeting. Later, due to a long agenda, we were put over to July 14th meeting.  We felt that the report and power point presentation was very positively received, and that our request for designation would be approved, but at the meeting it was another story.  Again the question of money, and a business plan and fundraising were the topics that were first and foremost on the table, not the historical value of the site. HHH had no representative there, nor had sent a deputy. The question raised by one of the HH councillors, as to whether or not financial responsibility had anything to do with the historical/heritage value of the property deemed necessary for designation, was never answered!  Fortunately, one councillor proposed that our case be deferred for four months, by which time we were told that we had to have a business plan and fundraising in place.  Anyone wishing to help us in preparing this business plan will be warmly received.  We appear again at the November council meeting. In the interim, we are approaching Ontario Ministry of Culture in quest of Provincial designation. We will also be undertaking incorporation as a non profit organization. These two items should give us the tools to access Foundations for funding e.g. Trillium Trust Fund. Without designation, this site and its history are in jeopardy.

On the genealogical side, we have records of many family members who lived on the farm, and/or near by. We have also traced most of the tenants, and their families. Work is continuing in collecting stories and memories of those who were there when the land was being actively farmed.

We really do need your help.  We need media contacts.  We need you to write to Mayor Bonnette, your MP, and MPP, to the Minister of Culture, to the Toronto Star, Globe & Mail and National Post. Call your local Cable TV station and ask what they are doing to bring this story to the community.

We look forward to another gathering in the Fall, when all the autumn colours are at their best,- Perhaps,

           “Fall at Fallbrook”

Please contact us at fallbrook@live.ca

Note;  Dendrochronology: the technique of dating a tree or log using the pattern formed by the annual growth rings revealed by taking a core sample, or slab with the bark attached. The sample is compared to a data base which will provide matches similar to those used by fingerprinting, or the UPC codes used in marketing. Thus the date the wood was cut can be extrapolated. Tom is experienced and a respected expert in this field. Article Toronto Star, dated June 2008.

 


We thought you might enjoy this rare picture of the splendid Fallbrook Bridge taken in 1921. If you zoom down, you see the bridge in all its original splendour. If you zoom up you see Donald McKay (beard), his son Sandy (cariole), and his grandchildren Rachel and Sandy who visited every summer from Owen Sound.

 

We will be completing our last update with specific details about political figures and how to find them quickly. Please wait and enjoy the rest of your summer. Rumeur has it that we will have a hot and sunny fall. So keep the faith.   Merci, Sandy McKay   Friends of Fallbrook.


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