Tag Archives: huron east

Five stops highlight history in Seaforth and area

14 Sep

By Diva Heather Boa

SEAFORTH – Every great trip starts with a cup of coffee, some great tunes on the radio and a cool pair of sunglasses to dim a sunny day.

That’s how my day began, touring inland along Hwy. 8 past small rural communities strung together by fields of yellowing soy beans, tall corn stalks and the stubbles of cut hay on an adventure that would take me to three places I’d been previously and two places I’d never explored before. The route, from the first stop to the last, is about 10 km and the time requirements depends on how long you like to dawdle. All the sites are significant in the history of Seaforth and area.

These were my five stops of the day, keeping in mind these historical notes that were gathered by researcher Diane Smith for a project done by the Municipality of Huron East to expand the Huron County Historical Society’s Driving Tour a few years ago:

– The old Huron Road passed through this hamlet west of Seaforth, zigging off the highway on what’s now Harpurhey Road and zagging back onto the highway a few kilometres later. A commemorative cairn recounts the opening of the Huron Road by the Canada Company in 1828, along with the harvesting of the first wheat by Madame Van Egmond at a dinner party on a hot August day in 1829 following an 18-mile walk from Goderich by the “usual Canada Company lot” of Dunlop, Pryor, Strickland, Mercer-Jones and others.

harpurheycemeteryHarpurhey Presbyterian Church – (Lot 51 Con 1 HRS Tuckersmith Township) This cemetery was established in 1847 at the same time the Presbyterian Church was built. Early pioneers tried to obtain the services of a minister beginning in 1835, at a time when Harpurhey was the social and industrial centre of its section of the Huron Tract. Because it is one of the oldest cemeteries in the area, some of Tuckersmith’s earliest settlers are buried here. For example, Robert Scott, Sr. and Archibald Dickson, early settlers in Roxboro, rest here. Other prominent citizens include Dr. William Chalk, whose home was the first brick building in Harpurhey, Rev. William Cresswell, the first Anglican minister in the area, Jonathon Carter, an early Justice of the Peace, and T.T. Coleman, a businessman in Seaforth. In 1879, Harpurhey Church joined with First Presbyterian Church of Seaforth. The cemetery is still active.

vanegmondhouseVan Egmond House, 80 Kippen Road, Egmondville – Owned and operated by the Van Egmond Foundation, this is an excellent example of a Georgian country-manor house dating to the mid-19th century. It was built by Constant Louis Van Egmond, son of Anthony Van Egmond who played a key role in opening the Huron Road to Goderich in the early 1830s. Constant Van Egmond founded the village of Egmondville in 1845. The façade and side elevation show the symmetry characteristic of Georgian architecture. Note also the six-over-six windows, the large chimneys, the awning-profiled four-columned verandah, and the decorative brickwork frieze of the façade. The door transom and sidelights are covered in the above photograph. The slop brick used for the walls was made in the brickyard nearby. Constant Van Egmond was a magistrate and, as there was no other jail in the village, he had the cellar windows of his house barred and used part of the cellar as a jail. (Inside viewing by appointment only at this time of year.)

seaforthdowntownHistorical Main Street Seaforth – The towers of Cardno Music Hall and the Town Hall present a magnificent vista to frame a heritage Main Street. Inside the Town Hall is the Seaforth & Area Museum. Its collection, with many items donated by Frank Sills of Sills Hardware and Andrew Y. McLean of the Huron Expositor, give you a window into the community’s people and past. There is also an introduction to military history, but remember to stop by the Legion with a request to see the Frank Phillips’ collection of armed forces artifacts in the Branch 156 mini-museum. Call 527-0740 to arrange group tours. Take a walk around town and you will see many fine examples of historic architecture.

roundhouseThe Roundhouse, 140 Duke St., Seaforth – This unique exhibition hall is one of the few remaining two-storey octagonal halls in Ontario. Owned by the Agricultural Society, it is also called a crystal palace. An Agricultural Society was established in Harpurhey in 1845 with members from part of Tuckersmith, Hullett and McKillop Townships. The Society built the roundhouse some time between 1900, when the land was bought, and September of 1902, when the first fall fair was held here.

Events to Plan Your Trip Around

170th Seaforth Fall Fair

Where: 140 Duke St., Seaforth

When: Thursday, Sept. 17 to Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015

Ambassador competitions; swine, miniature heavy horse, scales, tails paws and claws; auctions, draws and races; food and music.

More information: http://seaforthagriculturalsociety.on.ca/


Where: Van Egmond House, 80 Kippen Rd., Egmondville

When: Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015

Vendors, exhibits, meat pies, apple fritters, musical entertainment. Heritage House open.


Firemen’s breakfast a hot ticket in Huron County

12 Jul

fireman8By Diva Danica Rush

I once creeped out Kirk Russell in a Toronto coffee shop.

Like really, seriously, totally creeped him out. As I stood second in line, ready to order my morning coffee, I noticed a gorgeous head of hair in front of me. When that wonderfully manly mane turned around my jaw dropped. I was staring right into the deep, mysterious eyes of Kirk Russell. The real Kirk Russell! I thought we were having a moment of instant soul mate connection. But this sense of I-will-leave-Goldie-forever-for-you quickly faded away as I realized the look in his eyes was actually that of terror and panic. I was clearly blocking his path to both the creamers and any probable escape routes. He ran away from me too fast before I could get out the only words on my mind – “I’ve loved you, Kirk Russell, ever since I saw the movie Backdraft as a little girl”.

Kirk, your smile lights up the big screen.

Kirk, your laugh is the center of Hollywood. Beep… Beep…

Kirk, yes of course I… beep… beep…would marry…

Beep… Beep… Beep….

The alarm was going off and pulled me out of Kirk’s awaiting arms.

My eyes popped open. It was to be my first local firemen’s breakfast! I quickly showered and got dressed. Then I got changed as I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that a push-up bra and fire engine red lipstick was a bit too much for this Sunday morning community breakfast. I mean it’s not like Kirk would be there… but could he be though?? The thought was nagging but I stuck with the tamer outfit and set off for Brussels Fire Hall.

I was not the only firefighter enthusiast to show up, though to be honest the other diehard fans had an average age of six, were accompanied by parents and mostly drank from bright blue sippy cups.

The fire trucks were beautiful and should be as much of a source of local pride as the community members who dedicate fireman10themselves to the local fire service. The firefighter who greeted everyone at the door told me they would be serving up to 2,000 people that day. Which is pretty impressive to a woman who can’t commit to making her own cup of coffee in the morning. The tradition of serving community breakfasts has been long standing; at least over 30 years the friendly firefighter told me. And what a breakfast! Warm toast, perfectly hashed potatoes, excellent eggs and two choices of meat… they sure do know their way around a breakfast plate. A perfect meal done by the firefighters joking around with each other in the cooking pit in front of the fire station. Of course these breakfast are fireman1no joking matter. In fact they bring in a good source of funds that are needed to keep up or buy new equipment for these local heroes and their station. The pay-by-donation breakfast not only fills you up, but you know your money goes to a cause that benefits the whole community.

They may not be Hollywood stars, they may not be world-class chefs, but they are a local people dedicated to keeping us safe all year long and well-fed one morning each summer.

Disclaimer: The author’s boyfriend was horrified that a Hollywood movie was mentioned in this article. I give a whole-hearted apology to the firefighters who know that the reality of their work is not like the movies. But to everyone else, well, I don’t apologize for my lasting girlhood crush that got away one morning in a downtown Toronto coffee shop. Sigh…

Firemen’s Breakfasts Across Huron County

August 2 – Goderich Firefighters
August 8 – Zurich Firefighters
Sept. 12 & 13 – North Huron – Blyth Station
(in conjunction with the Threshers Reunion in Blyth)
Sept. 12 – Brucefield Firefighters
Sept. 20 – North Huron – Wingham Station

There’s a lot of history packed into village of Auburn

21 May
Main Street of Auburn.

Main Street of Auburn.

heather boaBy Diva Heather Boa

The main street of Auburn is pretty this time of year.

The road is surprisingly wide and grand trees are just starting to come into bloom. There’s a post office shingle and a number of sheds in which business might take place, but most of the buildings, including an ivy-covered church, on main street are now homes. There are no cars parallel parked at the side of the street and my car rolls quietly.

At this time of day, people are outside waiting. Waiting for the bus that will bring their children home from schools in neighbouring communities. A woman sits in her idling car in the church’s driveway. A mother and a her two youngsters sit on the steps in a doorway. A man on a bike waves as he rides by.

It’s worth a day trip to come poke around Auburn, if you’ve never turned off Cnty. Rd. 25 or Base Line Road. Check out the Huron Bay District Co-operative for garden flowers and supplies, maybe grab a bite to eat at the Auburn Grill or pack a lunch and enjoy it in the park down by the Maitland River. Or stay overnight at the Auburn Riverside Retreat, a family-run campground, which also has timber framed cottages and pine cabins for rent.

And while you’re there, keep in mind these historical notes that were gathered by researcher Diane Smith for a project done by the Municipality of Huron East to expand the Huron County Historical Society’s Driving Tour a few years ago:

Auburn – The village is divided, east from west, by the Maitland River. The lines of four different township boundaries auburnsignintersected here, and those lines also divided Canada Company land open to settlement from the government-owned hinterland beyond. Later, streets and plans were divided along the same lines, thus creating Auburn’s distinctive layout of “dogleg roads and offset lots.” Auburn, as with many other locations, became an area of settlement because water power was readily available here. The village was called both Auburn and Manchester – early maps of parts of the village dated 1854 and 1856 called it Manchester while the post office name assigned in 1854 was Auburn. In fact, the name of the village was Manchester, for all other purposes except postal service, until 1978 when it officially became the Police Village of Auburn.

United Church – The Presbyterians had begun a congregation in Manchester in June 1860. They were the first to construct a unitedchurchchurch building, which opened in March 1863. In the early days, the service was given first in Gaelic and then in English. The old Knox Presbyterian Church became Knox United Church when the three Protestant denominations united in 1925. The church building you now see dates to 1904. The red brick manse to the west was built in 1913, but the original Presbyterian Manse on the east side dates to the 1870s.

Apple Farms – (Maitland Terrace) The once abundant orchards of Auburn and the rest of Huron County supplied maitlandterracethe local apple evaporator plant. The Caldwell General Store was converted into the plant in the late 1890s. It continued in business until it was destroyed by fire in 1925. Local apple supply dwindled and by the 1930s the rebuilt plant was closed.

Dam – Manchester Park – In the mid-1840s, most of the land of what would become the auburnparkfuture townsite of Auburn was bought by the first settler to arrive here, William Robert Garratt. Because the provincial government had reserved all the waters of the Maitland River for its own use, Garratt was stymied in his plans to build a mill, and he soon left. Eneas Elkin was next to arrive in 1850, buying land in the Hullett section. Elkins ran a ferry service across the river. In 1854, Elkin had the northern part of his farm surveyed into a town site he called Manchester Village. Sales of lots enabled him to build a dam and a four-storey grist mill on the Maitland River just south of the main village site. In the late 1860s, a spring flood destroyed Elkin’s mill dam and it was then rebuilt by James Cullis. A short distance downstream the Cullis sawmill provided another essential service to the village.

Have a look, too, at the unique entrance signs on Cnty. Rd. 25 that announce your arrival in Auburn. These blocky cement letters are listed among the Folk Art Treasures of Huron County, a book written by Ron and Bev Walker.

Seaforth welcomes return of the Centenaires

9 Oct

by Diva Melody Hodgson

Seaforth is a hockey town, as are most towns in rural Ontario and Canada for that matter.  What Seaforth has been lacking however, is a hockey team to bring you to the arena on a Saturday night, with your friends or family (or both).  Until now.  On Saturday, Seaforth welcomed with wide open arms the return of the Centenaires which had been absent since 2003 when the team folded from the Junior ‘D’ development league.  Renamed the Huron East Centenaires, the SR AA hockey team took the ice for the first time to a near capacity arena, amidst cheers, whistles, loud enthusiastic clapping and fists banging on the glass.

A little action shot (photo courtesy of Dave Scott)

A little action shot (photo courtesy of Dave Scott)

What began as the vision of a few, turned into something that the whole community could experience and enjoy.  People of all ages piled into the arena and filled the stands as well as the newly renovated Blue Line Club to watch the game.  They reminisced over their memories of the team from years ago, and looked forward to cheering for their new boys this season and beyond.

The new team may have a new logo, but it carries with it the tradition of the Centenaires past.  See you next Saturday, Seaforth.

Joyce and Marg McClure along with Ben Lobb drop the first puck with Centenaires captain Brendon Merritt and Drives captain Dan Rhames (photo courtesy of Dave Scott)

Joyce and Marg McClure along with Ben Lobb drop the first puck with Centenaires captain Brendon Merritt and Drives captain Dan Rhames (photo courtesy of Dave Scott)

Mary Paige St. Onge sang O’Canada with the two teams, alumni, officials and the packed stands.

Mary Paige St. Onge sang O’Canada with the two teams, alumni, officials and the packed stands.

The Cents Memorabilia wall in the newly renovated Blue Line Club

The Cents Memorabilia wall in the newly renovated Blue Line Club

Some of the most memorable moments in Cents history

Some of the most memorable moments in Cents history


Beechwood Pottery Christmas Show & Sale

19 Nov

IMG_4476by Diva Trista Russell

This past weekend I had the pleasure of checking out Beechwood Pottery, which is just outside St. Columban in Huron East. I have to admit it’s in an area of Huron County that I rarely visit, but I am very glad that I made the trip!

Each year Beechwood Pottery holds their Christmas Show and Sale, which is a studio open house featuring pottery by Robert Tetu and Cora De Vries. I had the pleasure of meeting both Robert and Cora, and Robert told me the story of how he got into pottery. He previously attended art school in Toronto, but later decided it wasn’t for him. After some unfulfilling jobs, he decided to attend a pottery class with a friend, where he discovered his passion for pottery. He now runs Beechwood Pottery along with his partner Cora, which is displayed in a historic general store at the corner of Beechwood Line and Bridge Road.

When I arrived, I was greeted with some hot mulled wine while I pursued the pottery collection. There was a mix of functional pottery and beautiful decorative items. There was also some gorgeous porcelain earrings made by Cora.

beautiful and functional pottery 1

beautiful and functional pottery 1

Since Christmas is quickly approaching, I starting thinking about Christmas gifts. I think the oil and vinegar dispensers would be a great gift for a “foodie” in your life! What is great about the pottery is that all of it is ovenproof, dishwasher safe, microwave safe, and lead free. I ended up purchasing some small wine mugs, which I’m going to wrap up with a bottle of wine as a unique Christmas gift!

With its one-of-kind pieces, Beechwood Pottery is definitely a hidden gem in Huron County


Beechwood Pottery
44004 Bridge Road (4 km. north of St. Columban)
Phone: 519-345-2184
Email: beechwood@cyg.net

porcelain earrings - another great Christmas gift idea

porcelain earrings – another great Christmas gift idea

wine mugs that I purchased for a Christmas gift

wine mugs that I purchased for a Christmas gift

Hot Apple Cider and Apple Fritters on a Sunday Afternoon

2 Oct
Hot apple cider and fresh apple fritters...mmmm!

Hot apple cider and fresh apple fritters…mmmm!

by Diva Trista Russell

This past Sunday was the annual Ciderfest in Egmondville. Held the last Sunday of September, Ciderfest is located on the grounds of the Van Egmond House at the corner of Kippen Road and Bayfield Road).

While there was a bit of rain during the afternoon, it didn’t stop people from coming out and touring the vendors market, rope making, rug braiding, and heritage demonstrations. I enjoyed some hot apple cider that was warmed in an old-fashioned cauldron. I also treated myself to some freshly-made warm apple fritters (3 for $1). The apple fritters at Ciderfest are thinly sliced apple rings coated in batter and deep-fried crispy brown. Yum! There was also hamburgers, hot dogs, and drinks for sale.

I toured the Van Egmond House while I was there, which is one of the oldest homes in Huron County! During Ciderfest they also allow visitors to tour the manor for free. The house was built in 1846 by the son of Colonel Van Egmond, a leader of rebel military forces in the 1837 Rebellion.

One of the bedrooms in the Van Egmond House

One of the bedrooms in the Van Egmond House

Outside the House they had a mini straw baling demonstration, which was neat to watch. There was also lots of homemade baking, apples, and cider for sale.

Miniature farm display at Ciderfest

Miniature farm display at Ciderfest

Ciderfest is held the last Sunday of September, from 10am to 4pm, at 80 Kippen Road. Admission by donation.

Some of the vendors lined along the grounds of the Van Egmond House

Some of the vendors lined along the grounds of the Van Egmond House

A Hobby Farm near Kinburn

25 May

by: Diva Jenna Ujiye

While I was in Kinburn a couple of weeks ago a friend noticed a miniature horse and what we thought was an Alpaca. We walked across the road and asked the owners if we could check out the animals. There were many more cute and fuzzy creatures than we could see from the road. When we got up close there were goats, the Aplpaca was a Llama, a bunch of miniature horses and their colts, baby ducks, kittens and more! There are many hobby farms in the area and I’m sure they would let you take a peek if you asked!