Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Rounding the Corner

As I browse my road atlas, and bash around Ontario's back roads, I often encounter communities  named (either intentionally, or just because that's what folks always called them) by the intersection around which they grew. I would guess that typically the name matched that on the deed or crown grant of the owner of the lot nearest that country crossroads. Often he (invariably he) would have been the donor of a half-acre for a church or school - or maybe a hall - somewhere close by.

Somebody's Corners.

did an important Pierce live here?

During our Rideau River based junkets, LOML suggested we take in Pierce's Corners nearby. Funny. Having a place named after one (but not really) gives a visit a special kind of resonance. Wonder if  some ancestral Pierce took up land here in the early 1800s, as the family heeded the call to 'spread out over the earth and multiply on it'?

Here's a link commemorating the visit of the Streetview car. Come along on our walk.

The cross-roads hamlet looked deserted when we wandered its streets (well, both cross-roads) but several not unimportant buildings drew us.

The rather magnificent timber-frame Carpenter Gothic St. John the Baptist Anglican Church (1892) church invites exploration. Original stained glass windows and a drive shed which once sheltered parishioners' horses during Sunday service are remarkable features of this otherwise pretty run-down church. Damage to louvres in the fine bell tower makes me wonder if there is any commitment to keeping it? It was decommissioned only in 2008 according to my sources.

log barn - might it have been a first house?

Next door to the church, a barn complex. I wonder if the smaller log building might have been a settler's first home? This area was active pretty early (nearby Burritts Rapids began in 1793) so it's unlikely the building could be standing for so long. But it's always fascinating to revisit that settlement narrative.

On the gable end of the Loyal Orange Lodge next door, with its interesting chapped buff paint is inscribed:

AD 1897 Independent LOL No. 561 Peirces (sic?) Corners.

The building is domestic in scale, and now, domestic in usage.

Astonishing. The 'corners' has two schools. There's the  red brick S.S.#3 dated 1890 - a substantial school house with segmentally arched windows and fine brick work above. Next door, and converted to residential use, is a two-storey cement block (once the newest thing) school with a 1914 date stone, S.S.#3 Marlborough. Only twenty-four years separates the two buildings. What happened here? Perhaps the community grew to be able to afford a high school on the second level? Surely there is a local history I can find - right now I am flummoxed because of Mike Harris' clever amalgamation of townships. Am I still looking at North Gower here? I'll keep you posted.

Murphys Corners
I flipped to the index of my road atlas. No shortage of communities named for the corner around which they grew (or didn't.) South of today's Nepean, Baxters Corners, Mills Corners and Moores Corners claim their spot in the sun. There's Bishops Corners near Cloyne (the spot with the great museum) and Baltic Corners northwest of Alexandria. Scotch Corners. Pethericks and Pattersons, Ledgerwoods and Lehighs, Stones, Snowdons, and Sweets Corners. Communities with or without apostophes

Murphy's Corners on the Old Hastings Road, Allans Corners just north of Huckabones Corners on highway 41 above Napanee. Armstrongs Corners and DeWitts Corners near Perth. Little cross-roads stands taken against encircling farm and bush. Each little pond with a big toad or two, as our dear little mom would observe.
1975 - the town I founded in New Brunswick

Increasingly, those place names on the map fail to materialize, and we drive past former settlements of people and their few services and many dreams, without spotting any evidence they'd ever stood.

But we've always looked. And we'll keep on looking.


  1. My partners family homesteaded out in Marlborough Twp. The place where they were was called The Klondike. They were uprooted by some sort of authority and replaced just off Dwyer Hill Road, still Marlborough Twp. not far from Burritts.

  2. Hi Karen, thanks for dropping by AR again. There's a real story here, isn't there?

  3. Did you ever get to Barry's Bay to check out the train station come gallery? There is a historical hotel across the street called the Balmoral. There is a water tower across the other street. The train station/gallery is apparently rumored to be closed down!!!

  4. Karen, I am sorry to say I have not made it to Barry's Bay, 'though it's on my road trip list. Thanks for the prompt!