Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Fate of Moira

east of town 
I paid a visit Wednesday to a stone village we've often admired but never photographed (and even then, this set of images doesn't do it justice - we'll need to wait for some green.) The residential hamlet is Moira, in Huntington Township, north of Belleville. Moira Road runs west to east between Highways 62 and 37, and is a lovely roller coaster of a country drive.

Incidentally, let's not  confuse this spot with Moira Lake or the Moira River, as it doesn't sit on either. Nor with Moira village, which was one of the early names for Belleville.
fixed up

There is an outcrop of stone houses in the area - doubtless demonstrating the "make do with what you have" ethic of the early settlers - for the land is rolling eskers of gravel and stone lying ready to harvest.

 From Moira's  fascinating Facebook page I  learned that the village was settled 1827. The fine stone homes are attributed to Scottish stonemasons, who had immigrated to work on the Rideau Canal. Their legacy graces so many communities.
Do visit this homegrown FB testament to the early settlers and the enduring history of this tiny stone village.

Church (1854) now Moira Community Centre
Gerry Boyce, in  his wonderful 1967 area history Historic Hastings writes (and with authority I might add): "Moira was a typical country village in the mid nineteenth century. Samuel Ketcheson operated a butcher shop, while F.M.Brenton ran a general store and a tailor shop. Alexander Irvine and his wife wove and sold homespun, and Mr. Irvine also made coffins, which he retailed for the modest sum of five dollars. Wool carpets were made by Mr. Clapp.The McTaggarts operated a fanning mill to clean the grain. The Dean family operated a furniture factory and kept a tavern, while Ira Hoskins made carriages, sleighs, farm wagons, buggies, cutters, and other vehicles. By 1870, the Moira Cheese Factory was opened." (page 288)

Another invaluable local resource, Orland French's 2006 Heritage Atlas of Hastings County (don't leave home without it) shows Moira on the long list of  former of local post offices -  1841-1968.

Later I learned that the General Store burned in 1991 (it had been closed years before, only used for Christmas craft sales.) And so, like so many former communities,  the commercial core of the community was lost. Fortunately, new life has been breathed into the former Wesleyan Church; it lives as the Community Centre.
Henry Ketcheson house 
Now to the houses. Here is "one of Moira's oldest houses, built by Henry Ketcheson who came to Moira in 1829. It was also owned by Vanderwater and Thompson families." (from Moira's Facebook page)   A 1954 photo appears there. Seems the house was uninhabited at that time. Sure glad someone had a second look before we lost this beauty.

There's so much to appreciate about this house.

The side placement of the kitchen tail. The three bay section of that wing suggests it might have been an early stage of the home. The large chimney makes me want to look for a cooking fireplace. I love the frame insert in the woodhouse section, with double doors and sidelights with panels below.

The regularly coursed stonework, that looks pretty good even today.

Then there's the main house. Finely detailed door-case. Verandah. One of two gable end chimneys.
in town farmhouse

At the corner of Phillipston Road and Moira Road stands this graceful farmhouse and sturdy barn. Across the road is the former stone township hall (1850), later a blacksmith shop, now the home of a pair of dogs who preferred not to have their home invaded by an admiring photographer.  Next visit.

Thanks to Moira resident Darlene for getting in touch with AR and providing some additional information.


  1. Thank you for posting Henry Ketchesons home. We are thompsons related to John And Almina (thompson) Vanderwater and to Gilbert Thompson. Just wonderful to see the old homestead.

  2. I found this page looking for some history on the area. I own the home in the first photo (east of town). If you are ever back in the area (it is greened up now) don't hesitate to come in past the road, or even in for a tour.