Ontario Abandoned Places will be rebranded as Ominous Abandoned Places

Clarington's Lost Communities

Unknown Ghost Town in Clarington, Ontario, Canada

Jul 11 2009

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Location # 755

A brief history of some of the former villages in Clarington (formerly Clarke and Darlington Townships) that time has forgotten:

The area was first settled in 1794 by the Conants, the Burks and the Trulls families. The first two families settled in the Bowmanville area and the Trulls in the Courtice area. These earliest of settlers had it rough. They were United Empire Loyalists who came from England, lived in New York state, and then landed on Lake Ontario(a)s densely forested shorelines with their families. Here they had to travel through the bush to find a place to build their home, clear the land and then secure a land grant from Sir John Graves Simcoe. There were no roads except for the Baseline (perhaps Concession 1), which was run east/west from Trenton to Toronto in 1791 in attempts to settle the area; and there were no means of transportation except for by foot. Carrying their lifeline of supplies they headed northward through forests and swamps, where other dangers like possible native aggression , bears and wolves awaited them- all in the hopes of finding good property to settle on. * The Burk Pioneer Cemetery is located at the soccer fields on the west side of Darlington(a)s Generating Station. It is one of the oldest in the province. Though hard to read the inscriptions, one dated death is 1815.

By 1817, The Kingston Road was completed from Toronto (formerly York) to Kingston, which opened vital communications, transportion and settlements to the area above Lake Ontario. It followed some of the same line of a neglected road built by Asa Danforth in 1799. At this time all of Darlington Township(a)s population lived south of this road. Darlington Township was now ready for its first population boom. The 2nd occurred when the legendary Grand Trunk Railway lines were finished in 1856 with a railway from Montreal to Toronto.

Before reading on check out this map dated 1877, as it shows Darlington Township and place names in great detail (with labels): http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/countyatlas/images/maps/townshipmaps/nor-m-darlington.jpg

Shorts Corners (now Courtice)- Courtice takes its name from another one of the early families in the area. Thomas Courtice arrived in Darlington Township in 1831; followed by his brothers Christopher and James in 1833. The family emigrated from Putford Bridge, Devonshire, England. Their community was centred around the Ebenezer Church/Schoolhouse on Concession 3 which was erected in the 1850s at today's corner of Bloor St. and Courtice Rd. For a while the growing settlement was called "Ebenezer", and as it grew it would eventually encompass another hamlet called "Shorts Corners". Shorts Corners was located at Kingston Rd. (Highway 2) and Courtice Rd. George Short owned the blacksmith shop there where today Roy Nicholls Motors sits. This became downtown Courtice. Across the street on the north side of Highway 2 was where A.F. Rundles(a) Market was built in 1860. Beside it on the east was James Courtice(a)s carpenter shop, built in 1874; and on the west was the Post office and store run by John Walter in 1908, though the first post office was opened in 1882 by C.W. Lent at Rundle(a)s store. Just west of the Post office was the old Methodist Church. All of these buildings were torn down when Highway 2 was widened from 2 to 5 lanes in 1988. The present NW corner of Courtice Rd. and Highway 2, where a townhouse complex sits, is where the Courtice Cheese factory and shop was located. Across the street at the present day auto body shop there used to be a wagon maker(a)s shop. To see a map of the area dated 1948 go here: http://prod.library.utoronto.ca:8090/maplib/digital/3400s_50_1948-[30M15E]3rd.jpg

Prestonvale- Just to the west of Courtice was a neighbouring hamlet called Prestonvale (today part of Courtice). Prestonvale went through 2 prior name changes before the name came into existence. It was once called "Black(a)s Hill" and was the site of the first post office in Darlington Township (located where today(a)s Preston Pub is situated), just after the War of 1812. The postmaster was none other than Colonel James Black, the originator of the name. It serviced the immigrants in the Courtice area as well. The first mail carrier was William McMullen, who did deliveries in the area with the aid of his mule. McMullen(a)s mule lived until 1863. It was also later called "Tooley(a)s Hill" after Augustus Tooley who ran the grist mill at Kingston Road where Farewell Creek crosses underneath. Today this is the present location across the road from the Tim Horton(a)s. The children of Prestonvale went to a school (Section #8) called Mount Carswell located on the north side of Concession 3 (now Nash Rd), just west of Trulls Rd on James Reynolds(a) farmstead. Alf Wilborn ran the blacksmith shop at the corner of Kingston Rd. and Prestonvale Rd. A sawmill existed on the north side of Nash Rd. at Farewell Creek, where you can see an old bridge just to the north of the present day bridge. This property was the farmstead of William Scott. Across the street from the school was the Temperance Hall located on A.V. Scott(a)s property.

The residents of Prestonvale and Courtice mingled a lot. One Prestonvaler, Sam Trick, ran the cooper shop up near Varcoe Rd. His name matched his demeanour for as a youngster he, John Blair and Blake Courtice (of Courtice) used to play tricks on the locals. At night they would enter the local abandoned Methodist Church (north side of Highway 2 between Courtice Rd and Trulls Rd). Here they placed chains and lanterns so that when anyone walked by at night they would drag the chains and make ghastly howling sounds which terrified all the children in the area.

Darlington Station- This CNR station was set up on the new tracks south of the former Grand Trunk Railroad line in the 1890(a)s. It was on the north side of the tracks near Lake Ontario, between the foot of Solina Rd. and Holt Rd. The station (photo below) had living quarters (for the station manager and his family) and stockyards nearby. The farmsteads and villages nearby to the north (like Courtice) serviced the station. The station manager by 1900 was Robert McCalpin and then by Mr. Franklin. Darlington Station had two postmistresses: Emily Franklin (1912-1913), who ran the post office from the Franklin(a)s home just east of the station on Lot 24, and Mary Parsons (1913-1920), who ran the post office from the Parsons(a) home just west of Solina Rd. (still standing on Osborne Rd.) Mail was delivered to and from the post offices to the station as all mail back then was handled via the railways. The former station(a)s location is now part of Darlington Nuclear Station, close to their big concrete bridge, which used to be an old wooden bridge that lead to a poultry farm. To view a topo map of the area from 1948 go here: http://maps.library.utoronto.ca/datapub/digital/3400s_63-126_1904_sh58_1930_R.htm

Shaw(a)s- The area along the border of Darlington and Clarke Townships along Kingston Rd. (Highway 2) was settled by the Lovekins, Wilmots, Shaws and Galbraiths. The name Shaw(a)s became synonymous with the community as Richard Shaw (his abandoned home(a)s photo below) donated part of his land on which the school house sits. The first school house was built in 1857, replaced by a newer school in 1924, which is today someone(a)s home. The 1st church, St. George(a)s Anglican, in the area came earlier in 1837 on SS Wilmot(a)s land. It was removed to Newcastle but the cemetery still stands on the hill to the east of the settlement. Many of the families who settled the Shaw(a)s area still have ancestors living in Clarington.

Providence- Became the settlement north of Shaw(a)s that also straddled the Darlington-Clarke border. It stretched from Concession 2 (today(a)s Concession Street) to Concession 4 with its centre being between today(a)s Providence Rd and Braggs Rd. There used to be a Baptist Church at the NW corner of Conc. 3 and Bragg Rd. Today its pioneer cemetery remains in good shape. Braggs Rd. was named after Richard Bragg who farmed the NE corner across from the cemetery. There also used to be a school on the SE corner of Providence Rd and Conc. 3, while the Methodist Church stood across the street where today a tiny cemetery exists. There were quite a few forested areas in the former community and many of its residents owned wood lots. In the 1930(a)s a popular event each spring was the "Apple Blossom Tour" which was advertised as far away as Toronto.

Port Darlington- In 1837 a plan to make a major harbour for Clarington was brought forth. Soon the village grew as did the industry. 2 wharfs were built and a lighthouse. There was a booming trade at the port coming from all the surrounding areas inland and at the lake. Wagons used to line up from Rag Castle to the wharfs to unload their goods at the 2 big elevators. By 1851 the village boasted the longest pier on the north shore of Lake Ontario. One source suggests a supposed population of 1750 people, but this number was the actual population of Bowmanville to the north. In 1870 a fire destroyed the lighthouse, a storehouse, the harbour office and a telegraph office, but all were rebuilt. In the 1880(a)s the area became a summer resort. In 1919 the lighthouse keeper was struck by lightening as he went up to light the lamps. By WWII soldiers were billetted here and they partook of the dance hall. There was also a post office that only operated only in the summer months for those on vacation here from 1911-1957. In 1948 a military plane crashed into the harbour and no survivors were listed.

Bethesda- Began in the 1840(a)s with the building of its 1st church, cemetery and schoolhouse 1 mile south of Tyrone. The wooden Bible Christian Church stood until 1856 when a brick building became its replacement. The services lasted until 1932 and then it was moved to Port Perry in 1937. There used to be a cheese factory here in the 1800(a)s on Mr. W. Brent(a)s property. The old school burned down in 1958 and its replacement is now a residence.

Bradley(a)s Corners- At the NW corner of Conc. 7 and Enfield Rd. was the first schoolhouse on the SE corner of the Bradley farm in the 1840(a)s. A brick school replaced it across the street on the Mitchell farm to the south. This school is now located just north on Enfield Rd. on the west side (it has been added to the old Bradley farmhouse). Football was the sport at Bradley(a)s Corners- as back in the day their local team were the terror of Darlington Township. The boys in the hamlet were a terror off the field as well. There is a story told of the boys pushing over the school outhouse. The structure stayed on its side face first for much of the day with the teacher still inside!

Salem- Salem(a)s centre was their school, S.S. # 9, built in 1872. This forgotten hamlet existed at Conc. 4 between Scugog Rd. and Liberty St. The school was demolished in 1961. Their Bible Christian Church was built in 1868 on Joseph Clemens(a) lot and served Salem until 1970.

Stephen's Gulch- Today this area is a conservation area by Soper Creek with a great walking trail. In the 1800s it was the location of a small hamlet with a sawmill as its main industry. The Stephens(a) owned the property in the valley while the Stevens(a) owned the home up the hill which still stands. Other locals included names like: Thomas, Dawson, Parsons, Sando, Smith, Hoar, Rowe, Welch and Collicott. A little known railway line came through the hamlet called the Canadian Northern that ran from Napanee to Toronto. It was actually marked as a flag stop on the railway (other stops included Starkville and Orono to the east). To see this railroad map copy and paste this: http://www.niagararails.com/cgi-bin/img.cgi?/maps/cnorline.gif The railway footings and trail can still be seen at various points (I have added new photos of this).

Cowanville- In the centre of Clarke Township at the corner of Concession 4 and Morgan's Rd. sat Cowanville. It is marked on modern maps as "Clarke". Its Orange Hall sat at the NW corner of Concession 4 and Morgans Rd. Its church stood just east of the corners on the south side and is now a private residence. Its sawmill stood south of the church on a dammed up mill pond (now gone) on Graham Creek near the end of Cowanville Rd. Its school (circa 1897) stood at the NW side of Concession 4 and Walsh Rd on the hill. The Canadian Northern Railway came through just south of the 4 corners and the locals used the Starkville Station to the east to board the train. Founded by William Cowan and wife Polly (from Ireland) in 1832 at Lot 17, Conc. 4. Other local farmer's names included: Fisher, Alldread, Francis, Reid, Couch, Potts, Millson, Cobbledick, Lent (sawmill owner), Walsh, Davison, Grose, Graham, Ruddick, Stutt and Stapleton. To see a map of it from 1877 go here: http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/CountyAtlas/images/maps/townshipmaps/nor-m-clarke.jpg
Today just south of the 4 corners sits the only reminder of days gone by: Cowanville Auto Wreckers on Cowanville Rd.

Cowanville had an Orange Lodge (L.O.L. #265) in 1917 that was later moved to Newcastle by 1926. Known locally as the "Cowan Lodge" it was run by A. Millson in 1901 and later by Fred Graham, FB Lovekin. A. Martin and G. Martin.

Gaud Corners- This hamlet existed where Concession 3 met with Old Scugog Rd. Today the area has been taken over by County Rd 57 and new development. To see what it used to look like before 57 was extended over the river go here: http://prod.library.utoronto.ca:8090/maplib/digital/3400s_50_1948-%5b30M15W%5d3rd.jpg

Morgan(a)s Corners- This hamlet is mentioned in the Clarke Township book by Agnes Burley. It was founded at the intersection of today(a)s Highway 2 and Morgans Rd. in the township by James Morgan and wife Sarah McMahon, who came from Ireland. He was a carpenter/weaver. They had 7 children. A, Catherine McDonald also came from Morgan(a)s Corners. She married Thomas Jones (1876-1940) and they owned Lot 5 on the broken front in Clarke.

Podonk- If you look on the 1878 map of Darlington along the 10th Concession at the 25th and 26th lot, just west of the present day Burketon, there is reference to a "Podonk". This was an actual property with a temporary post office and a saw and shingle mill.

Buffalo- Buffalo was a hamlet that existed east of Haydon in the northern portion of Darlington Township. The area at Lot 10 Concession 8 was owned by James Woodley, who bought the land for $800 in 1874. Here the creek was dammed up to service a sawmill and chair factory. Later, in 1878, the property was owned by Richard Woodley. Soon a small community grew up around the mills. Local farm owners included: Clemens, Thompson, Hooper, McNeil, Soper, Trewin, Hoskin and Hocking. The area today is still in operation and original buildings still stand at Conc. 8 and Woodley Rd. However, the name "Buffalo" is from a by-gone era; much like all the previous village names.

** A special memorial to Bowmanville's first black men- Smith and Campbell:

Taken from William Humber's "A Small Town on the Edge" he writes, "So homogeneous is the earliest European settlement of Bowmanville that Fairbairn devotes a paragraph to the 1st non-white, other than native, resident. The "first barber shop," he says "was opened in a little hole dug-out under the 1st hotel, occupied by Hindes. The professor of the tonsorial art was a colored man named Smith. He was tall, straight and muscular, something of a pugilist (boxer), and up to all kinds of circus performances. He was here, off and on, till well up in the 1860(a)s. The only other colored family resident at this time was called Campbell." Smith married one of the Campbell girls and their son came back to Bowmanville many years later as an itinerant Methodist preacher."


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2 years ago

I have heard over the years my grandmother was born in 1892 in Medley, Ontario. According to the 1891 Census they were living in Darlington Township. Have you heard of Medley or could you tell me where it might be?