Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Thursday, February 9, 2012


The village of Actinolite (formerly known as Troy, then Bridgewater) is an amazing spot - I wonder how often it escapes peoples' notice completely when their GPS hustles them past, around the curve heading for Highway 7 and points east or west. John Hopkins did a great job of slowing us down to have a look at the village in the fall issue of Country Roads magazine.

A novel I like a lot, The Imperialist by Sara Jeannette Duncan, captures the mood of the day (granted it's set a bit later in the century) -  the idealism and ambition of the early industrialists, speculators and politicians - the nation-builders.

Troy/Bridgewater (and neighbouring Flinton) owed its existence to the creativity and energy of one Billa Flint, whose life and work is the stuff of legends. The Ontario Heritage Trust plaque in front of the famous 1865 white marble church he endowed summarizes the amazing business and political career of the man. The vision, the drive, the enormity of the task - creating a bustling industrial settlement in the forested wilderness - is almost more than our modern minds can grasp. So much work in the creating, then people had to cope with the almost complete destruction of the town by fire in 1889.

I believe I read somewhere that Billa Flint laid the cornerstone for the 1861 white marble school-house in the village. It is said that he had 6 weeks of school before he quit to go to work at 11, on the way to creating his town and his legend.  

This wonderful stone house with the distinctive mortar and trellis verandah, is associated with the Roberts family, who owned stores and other enterprises in the day.  


  1. Billa Flint Jr. spent a fortune of his father's money and lost it all only to be bailed out by his father numerous times! Billa Senior built his fortune in the Elizabethtown area (now Brockville). I live in Billa Seniors 1810 'Six mile house' north of Brockville.....

  2. Fascinating! I shall try to find out more about the house (and the profligate son - how often that pattern repeats), and perhaps pay a visit sometime when we visit Brockville - another of my favourite heritage architecture towns. Thanks for adding to the story.