14 — PETERBOROUGH EXAMINER —Friday, October 3, 1958
Ashburnham, Scotch Village In
Bonfire Marked Ashburnham's Village Status
One hundred years ago Ashburnham was incorporated as a village.
Forty-five years later, on Dec. 18, 1903, a proclamation was issued
which formally announced the union of Peterborough and Ashburnham
into the City of Peterborough.
During that span of years many of the big news stories were concerned
about building bridges—they had a bad habit of collapsing—and
the perennial topic of annexation between Ashburnham and Peterborough.
When the people of Ashburnham heard the news they had been incorporated
as a village, previously they had formed a part of the Township
of Otonabee, "the villagers assembled in force for the purpose
of rejoicing over this era in their history."
In an Examiner editorial on Sept. 9, 1858, it said:
"A huge bonfire was lit and other demonstrations of joy which
usually go on in such occasions were entered into with a spirit
worthy of the Ashburnhamites. The excellent brass band of the village
enlivened the evening with their spirited airs, executed in a highly
The news item continuing said a congratulatory address was given
by Capt. Sutherland, who, on retiring, "proposed three cheers" for
the Hon. Sidney Smith, the postmaster general, through whose efforts
the village had been incorporated.
Ashburnham was linked to Peterborough, in those days, by the Howe
truss wooden bridge. The bridge connected Hunter St., Peterborough,
to Elizabeth St., Ashburnham.
This span, however, was destroyed by fire on July 3, 1871, apparently
after a carelessly-flung match ignited dry debris and manure on
While work on a replacement was proceeding, a foot bridge was
The new bridge was opened - on March 10, 1872, but it, too, had
a short life. Less than three years later, Jan. 12, 1875, the east
span fell into the icy waters of the Otonabee.
The west span was found to be unsafe and only link with its sister
community was boats.
The following September, an $8,000 contract was let for a new
bridge, which was speedily completed and opened on Oct. 13 in the
presence of councillors from the town, the village and the county.
The method of testing the latest bridge was unusual and not without
Nine loads of lumber and one of flour, estimated to weigh 40 tons,
were placed on one span. Happily, the span held.
A new link between the village and the town was established in
1877 with the completion of the Smith St. bridge ( Parkhill Rd.),
which cost $2,678.
Six years later, this bridge was raised three feet to meet the
new grade of the railway track.
A bridge in the south end was proposed in 1887 from Burnham Point
to McDonald's Mill, now Pt. St. Charles, but this plan was rejected.
The following February, a contract was let for the erection of
the Locks Bridge. It was opened Oct. 27 of that year.
In 1893, the Smith St. bridge was declared unsafe. It was torn
down and replaced by the present structure.
STREET NAMES CHANGED
Some of the well-known streets in Ashburnham today went by different
names 100 years ago. For example, Rogers St. was known as Stewart
St.; Armour Rd. as Concession Rd.; and Burnham St. as Lake St.
Robert D. Rogers was the Reeve of Ashburnham in 1859, 1861, 1863,
1864 and 1865.
In 1860 and 1862, Francis Armstrong was the reeve while in 1866
A. C. Dunlop held the position.
The local superintendent of school in Ashburnham from 1858 to
the close of 1864 was the Rev. J. S. Douglas, then minister of
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. The Rev. J. W. R. Beck, rector
of St. John's Anglican Church, held that office for 1865 and 1866.
Meanwhile, the first whisperings for amalgamation of Ashburnham
with Peterborough were heard in the early 1870s.
On Jan. 10, 1873, Ashburnham ratepayers voted 146 to 9 in favour
of the merger and the village drew up a bylaw to this effect.
Peterborough town council approved, and applied for a provincial
act to carry out the proposal, but the act never was passed.
A deputation from the town council on Feb. 4, 1889 met the village
council to discuss the proposition of amalgamation of the municipalities.
It was decided to refer the matter to the ratepayers of the village.
At another meeting five years later between both communities
a resolution was passed "that in the opinion of this meeting
a union is desirable."
However, the ratepayers of the village seemed to be afraid of
the $160,000 sewage system that the town was flirting with.
Further in the same year Peterborough decided by majority of 147
votes to unit with the village. The vote was 236 for union and
A joint committee of the two councils got together four year later
to have further talks on the union of the two communities.
It was decided that a vote should be taken on the question and
that the matter of union should carry with it the under standing
that a sewage system for the village would be constructed, costing
less that $10,000, as a share of the sanitary work in progress.
On Dec. 2, 1903, the property owners of Ashburnham and Peterborough
voted in favour of the union of the municipalities.
In Peterborough, 273 voted for the annexation while 163 were against
it. Ninety-nine people were in favour of the union in Ashburnham
and 79 were opposed. The sewage by law was carried by a majority
of only 17.
Sixteen days later a proclamation was issued which formally announced
the union of the two communities. Ashburnham was designated as
The Cobourg and Peterborough railway charter was obtained about
1853. The railway station was in Ashburnham, near where the McCarthy
and Johnston Fuels Limited stands today.
The railway from Cobourg, which crossed Rice Lake on a bridge,
was completed in the autumn of 1854 and was the first to enter
this area. The road provided an outlet by rail from Peterborough
to the lakeshore. But unfortunately this line failed to prove permanent.
The bridge across Rice Lake built upon piles and piers, and about
three miles in length, was terribly shaken by ice during the winters
of 1855, 56 and 57. For weeks Ashburnham and Peterborough were
without rail communication with the front. During the summer of
1857 a permanent fill was discussed and the line would cross the
lake on a causeway. This was estimated to cost £50,000. A
considerable portion of the bridge from the south shore at Harwood
was filled in, but with financial trouble, as the road was not
paying, the work stopped. The line, after being in operation at
intervals for six years, was finally closed in the autumn of 1860.
In the meantime a railway had been built from Port Hope to Lindsay
by way of Millbrook and in the fall of 1857 work was commenced
on building a spur line from Millbrook to Peterborough. On May
20, 1858 the first train passed over this line and on May 24 the
Port Hope Town council ran an excursion
(Continued on Following Page -15)
Bonfire Marked Village Status
(Continued from Opposite Page -14)
to Peterborough and seven days later a return excursion from
Peterborough to Port Hope was made.
A landmark still standing in Ashburnham is the town hall, located
at Mark and Hunter Sts. E. Probably in the old days, there were
many outstanding council debates but as the time has progressed
the hall has slowly faded into the background.
The hall, which housed a lock-up on the ground floor, was until
recently used by the Peterborough Recreation Commission. Now there
are a number of stores on the street level.
For many years the people of Ashburnham went across the river
to Peterborough to church. One of the earliest churches in Ashburnham
was the Bible Christian Church, a branch of the Methodist Church,
erected about 1853 on Mark St. south of Hunter St. E. Mark St.
United Church replaced that church about 30 years ago.
Another well - known church in Ashburnham is St. Luke's Anglican.
The first service was held on July 9, 1876, the late Bishop of
Toronto, Rt. Rev. Dr. Bethune officiating in the morning service,
and the first Incumbent, the late Rev. W, C. Bradshaw, preaching
his first sermon in the evening.
The first wardens were H. T. Strickland, people's warden, and
John Burnham, rector's warden, who held their office for 21 years.
G. C. Rogers was the first verty clerk.
The first public school was at the corner of Mark and Robinson
Sts. where the Immaculate Conception separate school is today located.
Even today Ashburnham is a scenic spot. The Peterborough liftlock,
the Trent Canal System, Nicholls Oval, and Ashburnham Memorial
Park, all situated in the former village, are all tourist attractions.
Then there are the fine old homes. Stately buildings which stand
today reflecting the glorious past of the village.
Ashburnham Memorial Park was purchased by the Women's Patriotic
League of Ashburnham after the First World War.
The large hill was originally part of the estate of the Rev. Samuel
Armour, the first Anglican clergyman and school teacher in Peterborough.
The league developed it into a park in memory of the men of Ashburnham
who fell in the First World War. Trees were planted on the bare
slopes and these have matured and add greatly to its beauty.
The Armour Hill Lookout on the summit gives a splendid panoramic
view of the city and surrounding country. The hill is visited by
students of geology as it is a moraine, deposited by a glacier
at the end of the great ice age.
Several well known names have come down through the ages from
Ashburnham. For example, the Burnhams, the Lundys, the Stricklands,
the Rogers and the Stephensons.
BUILT FIRST CANOE
It has been said that Johnathan Stephenson built the first ribbed
canoe in Peterborough.
In the early days, Ashburnham had its grist mills, saw mills,
a large foundry, an extensive brewery, a planing mill, a tannery,
a carding mill, and a furniture factory.
R. D. Rogers' flouring mill was capable of producing between 7,000
to 8,000 barrels of flour a year. It is noted that an author of
a book said the company was "capable of turning out many more" barrels.
STATELY HOMES — Social life in Ashburnham
moved gracefully for any years within fair homes such as Engleburn,
top, the residence of Rev. ark Burnham whose grants of land and
funds greatly assisted in the establishment of St. Luke's Church.
Its ---chased property extended from Dale Ave. and Riverside
Park to the shore of Little Lake.
Subsequently, C. B. McAllister, flour mill proprietor, lived there,
and afterwards, the late Judge E. C. S. Huycke. Another spacious
residence, lower, was the home of Theodore Ludgate, north of McFarlane
Ave., prominent in the lumbering industry. Eventually the late
Claude H. Rogers owned and occupied this spacious house near the
Old Canal Main
Industrial Artery For Ashburnham's First Industries
Looking up the Otonabee liver from the
east side of the Hunter St. bridge, and beyond he tennis courts
of the Quaker Oats athletic club, you can trace he slowly filling
outline of the power stream that began at the west end of Douro
Before the days of electricity that was the source of water power
that was used in direct transmission for the operation of the network
of industries that employed many of the people of Ashburnham long
A dam at the foot of Douro St. raised the head of water and diverted
it into this canal. Volume was controlled by stop- logs at the
head of the subsidiary stream.
Dust had been blowing for many years into that old water course,
rain has been eroding the high bank that falls away to the river
from the height of the street called Driscoll Terrace. Trees that
have grown tall through the years distract attention from the long
groove in the earth, especially when cloaked in the foliage of
That was the industrial artery of Ashburnham in the period before
and after its incorporation
as a village 100 years ago. Today it is a rapidly fading
memory of the spirit and utility of the place, the world forgetting,
and when the remaining elders are gone, by the world forgot.
In making an attractive park of the lower area immediately north
of the bridge, the Quaker Oats Company, levelled and filled the
sites of various mills including the stone flour mill of R. D.
Rogers, in later years bearing the name of Mulhem and Meldrum and
finally C. B. McAllister. At the Douro St. inlet, however, the
excavation of the water course is plainly visible even to a vestige
of the dam.
USED AS SPUR LINE
Another industrial facility of those years was a siding of the
Peterborough and Cobourg Railway. Tracks were laid from the station
yards on the south side of Hunter St., the present site of McCarthy
and Johnston Fuels, and are still in use as a spur line south from
The station property extends south to Robinson St. Engines of
that time fired their boilers with wood. It was bought in four-foot
lengths, and a minor activity in the yards was the work of several
men who reduced the firewood to two foot sticks.
The switch into that siding was approximately just west of the
present end of Stanley St. It followed the top of the high bank
down to Hunter St., affording loading accommodation for some of
the mills down below at the level of the river. The railway connection
and the power stream were valuable assets of Ashburnham in years
of hesitation about joining Peterborough as one municipality.
Easy and cheap transmission of electric power disarmed the village
of its old resources, and nullified industrial values that had
outlived their primitive days.
Some of the physical features of that part of Ashburnham remain
in the memory of Mrs. Alice A. Leach, 137 Stanley Ave. Her father,
Roland Tivey, was transferred by the Grand Trunk Railway from Prescott
where he was a civil engineer in its employ.
"My father planned and directed the building of the high
bridge that crossed a wide divide on the CNR to Lindsay in the
vicinity of Lily Lake," Mrs. Leach told The Examiner. "After
he was here a while he built a block of ten houses on Stanley and
Clifton Streets and also on Stewart St., the name of the north
section of Rogers St. Mark St. from Hunter St. to Douro St. was
called Brown St.
Mrs. Leach remembers clearly when the board sidewalk on Rogers
St. ended at the Clifton St. corner. With several girl friends,
they used to walk after Sunday School at St. Luke's Church, up
to the end of the sidewalk.
VILLAGE GRAVEL PIT
"There were no houses in this part of Ashburnham when I was
small. Part of the area on which my father built had been the village
gravel pit. He didn't have to dig a cellar for this home for himself
Mrs. Leach said she didn't know much about the community of Auburn
that had grown up around the Muir and later Kendry woollen mills.
Their remnants are opposite the Peterborough Golf Club.
"In my day I am sure that the Hon. Robert Hamilton was the
owner of those mills. There was quite a distance even between Douro
St. and Auburn, and if you didn't have a horse and buggy, you didn't
often walk up there.
"I remember the Hamilton family coming to St. Luke's because
their pew was in front of ours — the Hon. Mr. Hamilton and
his children Miles, Max Willie and Daisy. They had a carriage to
drive from their place up at Auburn, but other members of our congregation
living in that neighbourhood thought nothing of walking the distance
down to St. Luke's. People were accustomed to walking in those
days. Nowadays nearly everybody has a car."
Mrs. Leach also remembers when, before the railway bridge was
built across the river at Auburn, downstream from the Hydro dam
and power house, the GTR to Lakefield had to pass through Ashburnham.
SWITCHED TO OLD LINE
"Those trains went from the present CNR station down what
is the Belleville line now, and then switched at Downer's Corners
to the old Cobourg line into Ashburnham. From there the Lakefield
railway extended along the east bank of the river to the station
at Auburn , went on to Nassau where there was another stop, and
continued to Lakefield. The conductor of that passenger train was
some years Mr. Hoskill. He often waved to us going by.
"Before the present town hall building, with its ground floor
stores, was constructed at the corner of Hunter and Mark Streets,
the meat store of Peter Glover was exactly on that corner, and
attached to it was the village jail. South on Mark St. was the
drill shed of the Ashburnham company of the local militia."
Mrs. Leach mentioned as an indelible memory the picturesque reach
of the river, up and down stream, from her home. The view wasn't
obscured by the present trees atop the bank, and on the far side
was the height of the Court House hill, and its nearby homes that
looked all around the horizon. That was before the Quaker Oats
Co. located in Peterborough.
Fire Wiped Out Industries
Most of the factories bordering on the water raceway that provided
their operating power were built of wood, an easy prey to fires
that wiped out many of them. In the evening of Aug. 23, 1877, a
group went up in flames: W. Rombough's planing and sash factory,
that also housed Henry Owens' pump works; the Wand planing mill
and sash and door factory; Faint's carding mill, part of which
was occupied by A. Cope's wood turning plant.
The volunteer fire brigade was 15 minutes in getting into action,
and had to concentrate its effort on saving the Mowry foundry.
Some of the firemen and many of the people were at a circus. An
incendiary was suspected of starting that fire, partly because
a week earlier a fire was discovered in time near the Cope residence,
and apparently had been set by some one. Several of the factory
owners who didn't carry insurance applied for tax relief at the
next council meeting "because they had lost everything."
The same news report said R. D. Rogers owned all the buildings.
Canoe Factory, Sawmill, Box Factor And Other Industries
First Sidewalk Of Plank Two Board In Width
When Ashburnham became in 1854 the terminal
of the Cobourg and Peterborough Railway, with station and sidings
on Hunter St., pedestrian traffic immediately increased from neighbouring
With a new sense of local importance the villagers suddenly realized
that their main street lacked sidewalks.
Ashburnham was still part of the township of Otonabee in its civic
status, without funds to provide for essential improvements. Municipal
incorporation as a village, that became effective in 1858, was
still pending, but that prospect didn't lay present sidewalks.
In that emergency of community self-respect, Peter Glover, father
of T. H. Glover, 365 Mark St., circulated a petition up and down
Elizabeth St. (now Hunter) for the sidewalk project. Lumber was
cheap, but even so, the Scotch Village folks were not wont to encourage
So, the sidewalk consisted of boards laid lengthwise, but only
two boards wide.
STORE, POST OFFICE
Lone survivor of its companion buildings of industry and commerce
is the R. D. Rogers store and some time post office at the northwest
corner of Hunter St. and Driscoll Terrace.
Its patent of age and construction is the date 1856, carved in
a stone block set prominently in the front wall, two years before
the community across the river, disdaining the mere geographical
identity of Peterborough East, acquired the official and civic
name of Ashburnham.
Reputedly the first brick building on Elizabeth St., now Hunter,
it is now the office of Border Transit Ltd. Still appearing younger
than its 102 years, it was the centre of Ashburnham's business
and manufacture, its dreams and hopes.
Elizabeth St. curved in a long arc from the present Burnham St.
and the R. D. Rogers store down to the iron bridge that reached
from bank to bank of the river. That crescent was somewhat reduced
when the overhead concrete bridge was constructed. Even up to that
time the features of the final stretch of the long decline from
the top of Armour Hill had changed only slightly from the year
of Peter Glover's board sidewalk.
Probably influencing the independent spirit of Ashburnham a century
ago was the cluster of industries that sprang up along the waterway
that is said to have been constructed by the Hon. Zaccheus Burnham.
This channel of water power was dug parallel to the river, and
several hundred feet to the east of it. As a canal that has disappeared,
it was fed and controlled from a dam built across the river from
the foot of Douro St. A similar water course was laid out on the
west side, the town side, from the Dickson dam at the foot
of London St.
The waterway on the east side is said to have been conceived for
a gristmill, and presumably the mill operated by, R. D. Rogers.
It was a big stone structure on the north side of Hunter St., down
on the flat that is now part of the Quaker Oats park.
Mr. Rogers must have been an exceptionally progressive personality,
endowed with capacity for business. He is credited with having
operated the flour mill, a sawmill, the retail store with post
office accommodation, and also a bakery in the vicinity of his
home on the south side of Burnham St., approximately near the Lions
Club swimming pool. He contested a federal election as a Conservative
candidate, and not long afterward. The postal department decided
- that the Peterborough post office was sufficiently convenient
for the villagers.
The Rogers sawmill, just west of the flour mill, specialized in
summer in turning out ties for railway construction. The same water
power rolled them out to the roadside where 40 of them were loaded
on a wagon. John Duignan was manager.
Marcello Mowry operated a machine shop that turned out farm implements.
It was nearer - the river than the two other plants, and was generally
known as the Mowry-Forsythe shops. Up the raceway was Sam
Bickle's cheese box factory, and the big four-storey furniture
factory of Lindsay and Sheldon. One of their specialties was a
compact folding bed.
Martin McFadden also was in furniture on the top floor. He was
some time later in retail furniture on Hunter St., and was an undertaker.
Then there was the William Wand sash and door factory, subsequently
conducted by his son the late Edward, an expert in that branch
of woodworking. In fact the Wand shop could make a wide range of
wood products. Owen's pump factory, Ben Cope's factory were next
to Wand's. The latter outlived all others.
Most of these places of industry fronted on the river, with the
power coming from the raceway at their rear.
Others south of Hunter St. included the Wm. Faint industry, featuring
mattresses and some other wool products. Its machinery was driven
by a cable stretching under the old bridge across to a flume and
water wheel from the raceway on the west side. Clark's tannery
was also south of Hunter St., Rombeau's planing mill, and other
factory was owned by a man named Brooks. In the neighborhood was
Sedgwick's Hotel. James Eliss acquired the Faint business.
Harry Calcutt, owner of a fleet of steamboats, and the brewery
south of Burnham St. carried on a flax factory on the south point
of Riverside Park, where the raceway returned to the river. The
drying flax used to be spread out over several acres.
Situated on the south side of Hunter St., between the railway
yard and Rogers St., was the Col. J. Z. Rogers canoe factory, forerunner
of the Peterborough Canoe Co. that was transferred to Water St.
after a destructive fire wiped out buildings in Ashburnham.
This is not intended to be a complete list of the industries of
the village, but as enumerated they may convey the atmosphere of
community sufficiency that proposed incorporation as a village
100 years ago. Gradually, as prospects declined and factories succumbed
to fires and the advent of electricity, supplanting the direct
application of water power, some of the people became resigned
to the advantages of union, including water supply, sewers, and
other services, and sidewalks, again proposed incorporation with
R. D. Rogers was the first reeve of Ashburnham and with him as
councillor: A. B. Downer, Donald Sutherland, the station master;
and Henry Bennett. School trustees in 1889 were: Harry Calcutt,
Chairman, Absalom Ingram, J. J. Rooney. In that year the population
was 1308. Frank Adams, J. A. H. Peck, father of the late E. A.
Peck, was Treasurer, and John Wood, father of E. R. Wood, was clerk:
A. Ingram, collector of taxes, and Jonathan Stephenson assessor.
In the planning for the concrete overhead Hunter St. bridge, Riverside
Park was substantially enlarged and generally transformed by the
city's purchase of property extending along the south side of Hunter
St. and the west side of Burnham St. Soil was used for fill over
the spandrels of the bridge street and as base for the paved street
surface. Houses that disappeared in that sweep were the old Begley
house at the corner, former home of Tom and Joe Begley, the R.
D. Rogers house, the Jonathan Stevenson house, Calcutt property
and various others.
One of them was the Wm. Faint house down near the river south
of the bridge. Nothing remains of older former slope from
Burnham St. down to the raceway. A final stroke of enlargement
was Rollie Denne's persuasion of E. A. Peck to recommend the sale
of the Calcutt premises. They were demolished with the houses,
the old Rapid Tool factory on Hunter St., opposite the Rogers flour
One Of Sons Became Great Jurist
Present Armour Hill Site Of Home Of Chief Justice
One of the sons
of Ashburnham, and of the first rector of St. John's Anglican Church
was John Douglas Armour, who became Chief Justice of Ontario and
a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada.
He was the youngest son of the Rev. Samuel Armour, Anglican rector
at Cavan, who was transfered to Peterborough to take charge of
the Anglican parish and its new church of St. John Early records
indicate that Rev. Mr. Armour's home overlooked the emerging community
of Peterborough from the height that has long been known as Armour's
John Douglas Armour was born there on May 4, 1830, when that section
of what is now Peterborough was rural and unsettled, and for years
afterward part of the township of Otonabee.
His education was begun probably in what was known as the Union
School, the present grounds of Central School. In the scant educational
facilities of those primitive years of Peterborough's founding,
Rev. Mr. Armour used to assist as a teacher. His youngest son went
on to Upper Canada College, Toronto, matriculated in 1847; was
a gold medalist in classics at the University in 1850, and begun
the study of law in the office of his brother Robert Armour.
STARTED IN COBOURG
Called to the Bar in 1853, Mr. Armour opened an office at Cobourg,
and became a partner of the Hon. Sidney Smith. In 1858 he was appointed
Crown Attorney, and in the following year was elected warden, of
the united countries of Northumberland and Durham.
Eventually he became Chief Justice of Ontario, a member of the
Senate of the University of Toronto, was once proposed as a Liberal
candidate in West Northumberland, but declined. Ten years after
Edward Blake recommended Mr. Armour to the High Court of Ontario,
he was promoted to the rank of its Chief Justice by John A. Macdonald.
As a member of the Supreme Court of Canada, Judge Armour was appointed
Canadian representative on the Alaskan Boundary Commission. In
London on that responsibility he died on July 11, 1903, after a
rather extended illness. More than half a century later, Alaska
was admitted to full statehood in the American Union.
Of the five sons of Judge Armour, Douglas became a lawyer in Montreal
and Stuart in Seattle, Wash. George was a mining engineer, also
in Seattle; Donald was a doctor in London, and Eric Armour, following
the family preference for law, practiced in Toronto, and became
a Judge of the Supreme Court of Ontario. Five daughters completed
the family of the Chief Justice.
A daughter of the Rev. Samuel Armour became the wife of A. H.
Peck of Ashburnham. Their son, Edward Armour Peck practiced law
for many years in association with R. M Dennistoun, F. D. Kerr,
Arthur Stevenson, and in later years V. J. McElderry; and was Conservative
member of Parliament for Peterborough.
Nine-Mill Rate Struck In 1876
With a tax rate of only nine mills in 1876, the property owners
of Ashburnham could hardly have been distressed by their bills
payable to the village treasurer. Factors affecting that low rate
were the general scarcity of money, few municipal services, low
assessments. The levy on a house assessed at $1,000, was only nine
dollars a year.
Caution in expenditure was indicated by a minute of the council:
Moved by Mr. Rombough and Mr. Calcutt that a new side-walk be laid
on the west side of Mark St., from the corner of Elizabeth (Hunter)
St. to Robinson St., to be 6½ ft. wide and of new plank."
. . . next page . . .
Friday, October 3, 1958 — PETERBOROUGH EXAMINER — 15
Early Industry Located In Ashburnham
John J. McCabe Recalls Joseph Flavelle's Ashburnham Romance
While the late Sir Joseph W. Flavelle was gaining business experience
as a young man in Peterborough, he was also fashioning in Ashburnham
his future family and home life.
"It is only a youngster's memory now, but I have a distinct
recollection of Mr. Flavelle when he was courting that daughter
of the Ellsworth family, who lived at the southeast corner of Hunter
and Burnham Sts. John J. McCabe, 293 Burnham St., recently told
That house has been replaced by a service station, but when it
was built it was a substantial residence of clapboard construction,
wide verandahs looking on the Hunter and Burnham Sts., and on the
hedge of lilac bushes that afforded privacy and ornament to the
Ellsworth home. It was finally owned and occupied by the late David
Mr. McCabe said a boy doesn't give much thought to the future,
and his recollection is simply that the Ellsworths were a fine
family, and Joseph Flavelle was already a well known figure on
both sides of the river.
"Eventually the daughter of the Ellsworths accepted the young
man who was active in wholesale grain and produce, and their son,
Sir Ellsworth Flavelle of Toronto today bears the name of his mother."
ONCE CLERKED IN STORE
Mr. Flavelle was born in Peterborough, was a clerk in the James
Best drygoods store, and branched out into business for himself
in the former city hall block at Simcoe and Water Sts. His premises
were immediately east of the Toronto-Dominion Bank. He dealt in
such farm products as grain, pork and eggs. One young man who worked
for him candling eggs at 25 cents a day was the late James Lynch,
successful druggist on Hunter St., where his son, John, continues
The late T. H. Hooper recalled a market day when Mr. Flavelle,
well dressed in a dark suit, climbed up onto a wager load of grain
bags to examine them before buying. Some man standing near Mr.
Hooper blurted, "Look at that whipper-snapper, dressed to
kill, he'll never get anywhere. What does he know about wheat?"
When he was 29, J. W. Flavelle moved to Toronto and into business
with the Wm. Davies Packing Co. He never turned back, but went
on to affluence and knighthood, with the lifelong companionship
of that daughter of the Ellsworth of Ashburnham. In his young manhood
here he was a prominent member of George St. Methodist Church,
and an active temperance supporter.
"Another vivid memory of a lean winter when I had reached
my early teens," Mr. McCabe reminisced, "was the kindness
of the Swanston family.
"They had a bakery at the northeast corner of Hunter St.
and Driscoll Terrace, and I got a job delivering bread. Work was
very scarce. There wasn't much to do for men that winter but to
try the shanties and lumbering away back in the woods.
"Even in those days of my time, and they were probably worse
often enough in earlier years, money was scarce. You have to live
through that condition to understand the tremendous contrast with
recent years when money and credit have been plentiful. There were
no government offices distributing welfare cheques to keep families
going until work was available.
"In my rounds of delivering bread to customers, many of them
couldn't pay me, not even the five cents a loaf. That went on,
more or less of course, all through that winter, and Mr. Swanston,
grandfather of Max J. Swanston, got along somehow. There was no
pressure of collection, the bread went out every day, and finally
spring came. I often think of how the elders got along in those
years without any organized help. Perhaps here was some public
charity in cases of illness.
SEQUEL TO STORY
"There's an interesting sequel to that story. One of those
who didn't' forget the Swanston kindness was Dick Dawson. He went
to he Klondike at the time of the gold rush, made considerable
money, and on a visit to Peterborough, one of his first call was
at the Swanston home. He told Mrs. Swanston that he had never forgotten
his experience as a youth in that Ashburnham winter and he wanted
to do something for her in gratitude.
"Mr. Dawson brought a hack around to the house, drove off
over town with Mrs. Swanston, and insisted in buying her a dress
They drove around quite a while on their way back to Ashburnham,
as Mr. Dawson had planned, and when they entered the house, the
living room was completely refurnished, even to a new carpet. And
I feel certain that Dick Dawson found more pleasure than the Swanston
family in the amazed surprise of Mrs. Swanston. Eventually he went
west again, and his way of reciprocating a kindness was the talk
of the village for quite awhile."
Jack McCabe's father had been a school teacher in Ireland with
an education that obtained for him employment in the office of
the foundry established by Marcello Mowry on the north side of
Hunter St. down by the old iron bridge. In what are euphemistically
called recessions today, meaning hard times in the early years
of Ashburnham, and generally throughout the country, work was slack,
business income likewise, and there weren't bank credits to fall
back on; wages had to be reduced. Mr. McCabe mentioned his father
getting three dollars a week for a time until business picked up
There were occasions when the Dickson Lumber Company had to resort
to part payment of wages in kind — lumber and groceries.
As to those stringent periods in Ashburnham, Mr. McCabe thought
that they tended to strengthen the community spirit, neighbourliness
and the wish to help one another. Evidently it affected his own
personality for he was born across the river, and built the first
house on the Burnham property of which the colonial type house
of the Rev. Mark Burnham in the present Engleburn was the centre
of a splendid estate. It was later the home of J. B. McAllister,
subsequent owner of R. D. Rogers flour mill on the north side of
Hunter St., now part of the Quaker Oats park, and afterwards
the residence of the late Judge E. C. S. Huycke.
The Ashburnham tradition and attraction have survived in the memories
and the spirit of Mr. McCabe.
Burnham Family, Leaders In Growth Of Ashburnham
The Rev. Mark Burnham who liberally contributed to the establishment
of St. Luke's Church in Ashburnham was born at Cobourg in 1804,
the only son of the Hon. Zaccheus Burnham. His education was completed
at Queen's College, Oxford; he was ordained in 1839; and served
as rector in St. Thomas, Ont., 23 years.
Rev. Mr. Burnham was appointed rector of St. John's Church in
Peterborough in 1852, resigned in 1858, and continued active church
work at St. Mark's in Otonabee and in Warsaw. It was plainly his
wish that a separate parish he formed in Ashburnham, and with the
support of Anglican laymen of the village that project was undertaken
in 1876. The first service was conducted by Mr. Burnham in a school
house, temporary place of worship throughout that year.
He gave the parish the land for the new church, and made a liberal
donation to its building fund. The cornerstone of St. Luke's was
laid on Ascension Day in 1877, and the formal opening of the church
took place on Sept. 23 of that year. Rev. Mr. Burnham did not live
to see its completion or to be present at its dedication. He was
stricken with apoplexy, a heart attack, May 16, 1877, and died
the following day.
The first incumbent was Rev. W. C. Bradshaw who paid tribute to
the memory of Mr. Burnham at his funeral. He was succeeded by Rev.
G. Warren of Lakefield in 1886, and in 1890 Rev. J. W. McLeary
was appointed rector, followed by Rev. Herbert Symonds, M.A.
HELD IN HIGH RESPECT
Sources of memory of both Mr. Burnham and Mr. Bradshaw from persons
other than members of old St. Luke's refer to them as men who were
held in high respect by the entire community of Ashburnham for
intellectual attainments, kindly personalities, and sincere concern
for the welfare of the village. Mr. Burnham left his widow, three
sons, Zaccheus Burnham of Otonabee, whose home on No. 7 Highway
was just east of Peterborough, and whose family name is associated
with the new provincial park that occupies a large area of his
property; John Burnham, barrister; Dr. George Burnham, and one
daughter, Mrs. R. Revell of Woodstock.
The extent of the Burnham property, received largely from the
Crown in the very beginning of the settlement across the Otonabee,
perhaps couldn't be determined today.
J. J. McCabe recalls that the old Cricket Grounds, later the field
of the Peterborough Amateur Athletic Association, was owned by
Dr. George Burnham, who lived at the southwest corner of Water
and McDonnel Sts.
Before Liftlock Or Canal Built
McMahon Farm Dominated Village
The scenic road atop Armour Hill winds across the farm of the
lumbering firm of Ludgate and McDougall and through its headquarters
and spread of stables where the bush horses of winter logging and
teaming were kept during the summer.
This is a vivid memory from the boyhood of Matthews McMahon, 293
Maniece Ave., who was born in 1874 in a stone house that stood
on the ground of the offices of Western Clock Co.
"My father, David McMahon worked for Ludgate and McDougall,
and I can recall summers when he farmed the hill plowing and
seeding, and taking off good crops. The firm had a lumber mill
on Little Lake, somewhat west of the Ontario Marble Co., and another
at Harwood. Both were destroyed by fires.
ENDED AT ARMOUR RD.
"Of course there was no Lift Lock nor canal, no road running
to Downer's Corners, and Hunter St. ended at what is now Armour
Road. There was a gate and private road, and up near the top of
the hill, a pump with a long trough where the horses were watered.
It was right in the centre of the present roadway.
"Theodore Ludgate lived in the big house on the west side
of the canal, that was afterwards the home of William Irwin, and
after him Claude H. Rogers. A daughter of the Ludgate family became
the wife of the late R. R. Hall, who is remembered as a lawyer,
uncle of the late T. J. Carley. Their law practice is carried on
today by Robert H. Carley and his associates.
"The present club house of Western Clock, down Armour Road,
was the home of a magistrate named Mills. Looking from our home,
which was part of the property of the lumber company, was a wile
sweep of cedar swamp."
The site of St. Joseph's Hospital, which was built in 1890, was
previously the home of A. H. Campbell, who came from Scotland to
Canada in 1845, engaged in banking, and moving on to Peterborough
engaged in the lumbering industry at Nassau, in partnership with
a man named Hewson.
Mr. Campbell designated his residence St. Leonard's, with its
elaborate grounds, shrubbery and flower beds. It was subsequently
the home of the Rev. J. W. R, Beck, rector of St. John's Anglican
Church. Fire reduced that attractive place to ashes.
Another McMahon recollection was the Burnham family, at one time
possessing all the property from the present Dale Ave., along Burnham
St. and otherwise bounded by the river and Little Lake.
"In the centre of it, and now Engleburn was at one time the
home of the Rev. Mark Burnham, who was rector of St. John's Church
in the 1850's. I used to hear my mother say what fine people they
were. That property reached right out to Burnham's Point, long
before the CPR was laid through it."
Mr. McMahon identified what used to be known as the Black Bridge.
It was built on piers across the Goose Pond that were recently
exposed by the lowering of the water in the Otonabee River for
repairs to the Quaker Oats dam.
"Before the present CNR bridge above the lock, dam was built,
trains on what is now the Belleville line had to come up through
Ashburnham, cross the Goose Pond and then turn south somewhere
around Antrim St. to reach the station at Charlotte St."
Eventually a railway was built through Smith Township to Chemong
Lake for connection by boat with Bobcaygeon. Influencing that investment
was the prospect of hauling lumber from the north country. Incidentally,
a news item in the Examiner of that time reported a Masonic picnic,
the first to Chemong, with the comment that the Smith passage was
made in 10 minutes, a hint of rather surprising speed for those
ANNOYED BY DEMOLITION
Mr. McMahon remarked that he felt somewhat annoyed to read about
the demolition of the Turner house at the Water-McDonnel corner
of the city hall block.
"That was the home of Dr. George Burnham, a fine citizen
of Peterborough, son of the Rev. Mark Burnham. Well, it has gone
now with the people of those early generations who are gradually
becoming forgotten as with elders like myself."
"There was another house in the Engleburn area, built by
the Burnham's for their gardener, Absalom Ingram, who, I understood,
came out with them from the Old Country. It was afterward the home
of John Butcher, who married an Ingram girl. He was the sexton
of St, John's Church."
Burnham House on Engleburn St - April 2004