Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Country Roads

A year or two ago, motivated by the possibility of a book project, I began touring the back roads of Frontenac County, and informing myself about the area's history.

One thing didn't happen.
One thing did.

I didn't get a chance to write about Frontenac. In fact, the more I read about its history, the less I felt qualified to do so.

Caption: The red-roofed Ontario farmhouse and the stone church are from Harrowsmith and area. Harrowsmith has many polychrome limestone buildings.

Caption: Left, Hartington school, S.S.#7 (1908) Right, St. Kilian RC Church (1892) at Ardoch. Memorial plaque to beloved local nurse Theresa Weber Weiss

Hartington  - Wesleyan Methodist 1873
The thing that did happen, was that I fell in love with the county's back roads, and visible signs of its history. I have shared a few places with you already. I have written about the fascinating hamlet of Snow Road and William Richards' 1889 stone castle. I also spent some time over the natural beauty and the settlement story along the heart-breaking Frontenac Colonization Road.
I'm waiting out today's snow storm, to get to the BPL to request County of a Thousand Lakes, the 1982 local history edited by Bryan Rollason. Upon its arrival, I will be in a better position to introduce you to some of the charming spots I visited on my road trip. In the meantime, I am browsing through one of those invaluable Tweedsmuir histories, in this case, of Inverary, now available online in PDF .
Ompah - All Saints Anglican 1885

If you don't know about Tweedsmuir books, a brief aside to bring you up to speed. As you may know, I am a passionate reader of local histories - I'm browsing one at the moment, a Christmas gift from my 80-something friend Florence in Hilton. It's called Presqu'ile by Susan Bergeron and Bonnie Browne.

Aside #2 Why is it that Brighton has so many local histories in print, and an ambitious volunteer-propelled digital archives project preserving more every day? When so many other communities with which I am associated have none?
outskirts of Parham

The Tweedsmuir histories arose as a project of the Federated Women's Institutes (another force for good) in the 1920s. By the mid 30s, they received vice-regal encouragement by Lady Tweedsmuir, wife of the Governor General of Canada. When the GG died in 1940, his widow caused them to be named The Tweedsmuir Village History Books in his memory.

(Here's a bit of the W.I. story, founder Adelaide Hoodless.)

The project had legs, as they wouldn't have said in the day, and today's community Archives are the repository of many of these priceless local histories, in scrapbook form, or fancier bound books. Better yet, since 2010, the Ontario Genealogical Society has been making many Tweedsmuir histories available in digital format.

If you wish more detail about the Tweedsmuir books, here's a link.

near Ardoch
I visited this  Parham family enclave in another life

Snow Road
My route on this sunny September day took me along county road 1 through Yarker and Colebrook, to the eastern gateway of Frontenac county. A fond visit to Harrowsmith, a favourite spot, then up highway 38 through Hartington and Parham (sidetrip to Wagarville) then northward through Tichborne and Sharbot Lake at Highway 7.


From there, county road 509 leads on through Clarendon Station, Mississippi Station and Snow Road Station, all stops on the Kingston to Renfrew route of the Kingston and Pembroke Railway (fondly named the old Kick and Push) which existed from its incorporation in 1871 to its absorption by CPR in 1903.) The Whig published a fascinating account in 2013.

Route 509 circles through Ompah and Plevna, where I picked up county road 506 down through Ardock, Fermleigh, Myers Cave, Cloyne (home of a fine local museum which welcomed us during our Bon Echo camp trip this summer) and homeward through Lennox and Addington Twp.

Wait. There's more Frontenac. So many roads beckon me back: from Sydenham to Seeley's Bay, Fermoy to Fairmount, Moon's Corners to Maxwell Front, and north to the communities of Canoto and Folger.

In time, I will learn more about these historic communities I travelled through. For now, these images will have to tell their own story.
the prettiest thing about Yarker

Tett's Mill at Bedford Mills - memories of  a delightful visit 


  1. Peggy-Holcroft-CameronOctober 6, 2017 at 6:59 AM

    Wonderful photography and your ability to tell the stories of days gone by of these historic homes, schools, other buildings and places makes one feel like they have been there too. I look forward in anticipation for each new Ancestral Roofs post. Keep up the good work.
    Peg Holcroft-Cameron

  2. Thanks as always for your kind words, Peggy.