Points of Interest, Places of Power


By William Wilson, 29 July 1998.

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE:  The interpretation points described in this guide are noted on the map by their distance from the north end of the trail in kilometres. These points are noted on the trail by 3 foot high cedar posts with the kilometre markings indicated on the top beveled surface of each post.

0.00 - ALBION HILLS CONSERVATION AREA This location is the intersection of the Humber Valley Heritage Trail and the Trans-Canada Trail (aka the Caledon Trailway and Bruce Trail). The Humber Valley Heritage Trail winds through the Albion Hills Conservation Area which is owned and operated by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority as a multi-use recreational area for people of all ages. Its large natural area also allows many forms of wildlife to live and thrive here.

0.80 - CENTREVILLE CREEK Centreville Creek is a spring-fed tributary of the Humber River. Although its flow is less than in earlier times, many basic characteristics typifying a cold water stream still exist in select areas along this Creek.

1.25 - REFORESTATION Many hectares of steep rolling landscape deforested by early settlers have been replanted with a variety of conifer species such as White Spruce, Red Pine and White Pine throughout the Conservation area.

1.44 - SUGAR BUSH Many Carolinian species such as Sugar Maple, American Beech, White Ash and Yellow Birch are associated with a typical Maple Sugar Bush such as the one seen here.

1.65 - KAMES AND KETTLES The rolling Kame and Kettle topography surrounding you is typical of the Oak Ridges Moraine landscape. These gravelly hillocks and depressions serve as important water storage areas for Woodland Frogs and Spring Peepers.

2.00 - WETLANDS Marsh and wetland habitats are the backbone of any healthy ecosystem. They are not only essential habitats for a variety of aquatic organisms but are necessary recharging sites, filtering and cleaning groundwater. Many beaver make their home all along the Humber River as well as in the wetlands of Albion Hills. As you hike by these wetlands, you may hear loud slaps on the water's surface. This slapping is the way beaver warning their friends that humans are near. Beavers build dams to increase their underwater habitat, in part for there own safety. The standing water enables beaver to construct their dens or lodges with underwater entrances. This provides safety for beaver young from fox or other predators.

3.00 - 6TH LINE The old "6th Line" (now called "Duffy's Lane" further south) as it appears here today would have served as an important link for early pioneers who travelled from Lake Ontario inland in search of their new homes.

4.00 - RAILROAD CROSSING Caution when crossing these CPR tracks as the the line is actively in service.

4.36 - ROAD SIDE TREES Lining Duffy's Lane (named after a local farm family south of here) are numerous Sugar Maple Trees planted by farmers several generations ago.

5.17 - DUFFY'S LANE ESA- NORTH SIDE You are at the north entrance to the Duffy's Lane Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA). Hikers are particularly reminded to keep on the trail, running from Duffy's Lane on the north to Castlederg Road on the south. This caution is to ensure that the high quality habitat and significant species remain undisturbed. Dogs are potentially very detrimental to species habitats here and should be kept on leash. Several interesting birds have nesting and breeding habitat in the wetland areas of this ESA, including the regionally rare white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), possibly the regionally- rare Blue-Winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus), the Veery (Catharus fuscescens, golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) and Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea).

5.40 - FERNS You are in the middle of a ostrich fern forest here, made possible by the close-to-surface groundwater slowly percolating through the soil from the woods on the north towards the River on the south. Note how rich and black this soil is , -how primeval the ferns make this area look! Ostrich ferns are perennials. Their fronds die back each winter only to reappear as "fiddleheads" each spring.

6.22 - LOOKOUT In 1997 the pine trees around you were only about 3 feet high. An excellent 360 degree view of the country side was afforded from this spot. To the north are the rising and rolling Albion Hills, to the east is the Humber Valley above which hawks and turkey vultures are often soaring, to the south are the rolling hills which gradually descend towards Bolton and the Peel Plain of Brampton. To the west are upland forests, more fields and the CPR freight line about 300 metres distance. This rail line is well hidden in the folds of the hills.

6.30 - GROUNDWATER SPRINGS Water springs from many points in the side of the nearby grassy slope to the west. This water arrived on the land as rain not far up the hill from here, thereby recharging the soil with groundwater. Here, active groundwater discharge naturally accumulates in small wetlands and stream tributaries and feeds the Humber River. Listen closely and you may hear the gurgle of water seeping out of the hillside! This natural recharge-discharge phenomena is just part of the greater water cycle which naturally produces clean water at no cost to society. Recharge-discharge occurs over every square inch of unpaved land of any watershed, but it is particularly well demonstrated here. Any alteration or disruption of the natural water cycle, such as urban development, usually ends up costing society money in perpetuity for artificial stormwater management. Altering the water cycle also inevitably degrades fish life and aquatic habitat unless that habitat can be "remediated" at considerable cost after the alteration. This is why as much as possible of the cost-free natural water cycle should be left unaltered in a natural state.

7.06 - GRASSED WATERWAY AND WALKWAY Here agricultural practice is being slightly restricted by introducing a permanent grassed walkway and waterway across this field to reduce soil erosion.

7.53 - YELLOW BIRCH, CHRISTMAS FERN AND HEMLOCK Young Yellow Birch, of which two stand on either side of the trail at this point, display a light orange or bronze coloured bark which is producing thin papery shreds. This birch bark is not easily peelable like White Birch bark. Frequently, when a Yellow Birch comes to end of its life span, it continues to stand for a long time, though decay is going on swiftly under the bark. Several grand old specimens can be seen through these woods in company with Hemlock. Low-lying Christmas Fern may be seen scattered here and there on the forest floor. Christmas Ferns retain their bright green foliage throughout the year and provide a welcome splash of colour in the early spring after the snow is gone when most everything else is still grey. Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) groves found here with Yellow Birch and Cedar provide an almost cathedral-like feel to their interior spaces- a unexpected spaciousness and dimly-lit interior created by the smooth green carpet of hemlock needles, sparse undergrowth and dense canopy. This experience has been termed the "baroque surprise".

7.70 - CORDUROY SURFACING The trail in this swampy area is being surfaced with logs, as the pioneers did, to provide more stable footing.

7.77 - DUFFY'S LANE ESA- SOUTH SIDE This bridge marks the south side of the Duffy's Lane Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA). Hikers are reminded to keep on the trail, running from Castlederg Road on the south to Duffy's Lane on the north, in order to ensure that the high quality habitat and significant species remain undisturbed. Dogs are potentially very detrimental to species habitats here and should be kept on a leash. Several interesting birds have nesting and breeding habitat in the wetland areas of this ESA, including the regionally rare white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), possibly the regionally- rare Blue-Winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus), the Veery (Catharus fuscescens, golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) and Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea).

7.93 - CASTLEDERG ROAD AND HUMBER GLEN BRIDGE Here the trail crosses the Humber River. This location is about the half-way point in the trail from Palgrave to Bolton, and is a favourate location for hiker pick-ups and drop-offs. Many parents bring their children here for in-season fishing both up stream and down stream.

8.08 - FLOODPLAIN Here just south of the intersection of the Humber River and Castlederg Road, we are standing on floodplain. The Conservation Authority permits no alteration or filling in areas such as this throughout the valley. Only those structures that are absolutely necessary such as the nearby road bridge structure are allowed. Such bridges are very expensive because they must be built high enough to not obstruct the highest anticipated storm event. In March you may usually see piled along River edges massive foot-thick ice pans which break up with the beginning of warmer temperatures.

8.41 - SNAKE AND SPLIT CEDAR RAIL FENCES Here, closely parallelling the trail on the north side, is a snake rail fence. It is so named because it is built in a zig-zag or snaky fashion not requiring nails or dug-in posts. It is made of split cedar rails. Directly north about fifty feet is another cedar rail fence built in a relatively straight line with cedar posts sunk into the ground to give it support. This "split cedar rail fence" encloses an old constructed farm pond. The fence was to prevent free access of cattle to the water edge, thereby protecting the pond banks from unnecessary break down. Snake and split rail fences are usually cedar wood split from 10 foot cedar logs from the nearby forest. Farmers usually split their cedar logs, with wedges and axe tools, into four straight "rails". More than any other tree, the Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.) was prized by pioneers and present users because of its outstanding resistance to decay. Its longevity of usefulness as a fence is testified by the remains of moss-covered snake rails lines still to be seen throughout the Valley. Since the Valley's purchase by the conservation authority over 20 years ago, no other fences, barriers and boundary markers have been necessary.

8.73 - IRONWOOD A huge specimen of Ironwood can be seen in the hedgerow north of the trail. Ironwood is about the toughest and hardest of our native woods. Pioneer farmers used Ironwood, also known as Hop- Hornbeam, in the absence of iron or steel, for sleigh runners, tool handles, wedges and other uses where a strong, tough material was needed. The Tree's scattered occurrence and small size prevented Ironwood from becoming important as a commercial species.

8.92 - DEN TREE AND WHITE PINE This old White Pine tree trunk has continued to provide shelter for animals such as squirrels and racoons, long after its own death. The decayed centres of trees like this, even before their death, begin to attract denning animals. These animals, needing a place to winter over and raise their young in safety, further hollow out the tree's insides into comfortable safe dens. To continue to encourage a wide variety of forest animals, these den trees should be allowed to stand as long as they naturally can. White Pine (Pinus stobus) produces the most valuable softwood lumber in eastern Canada. Because of its low shrinkage and uniform texture, it is used for patterns, window sashes and frames. This particular tree before you and several nearby, may be descendants of large stands of White Pine which grew up on Indian cultivated squash and corn fields in the 15th and 16th centuries after those field's nutrients where exhausted and abandoned.

9.10 - OAK RIDGES MORAINE SOUTHERN LIMIT This point marks the southern limit of the Oak Ridges Moraine, in so far as it is visible on the surface. The Oak Ridges Moraine is a prominent upland area, composed of glacier-deposited sand and gravel. The Moraine runs east to west through the centre of south central Ontario. In 1990, David Crombie's Royal Commission On The Future Of The Waterfront attached particular significance to the Moraine's role as the source of a great deal of the streamflow in the rivers feeding into the Toronto waterfront. Because the headwater springs along the edges of the Moraine originate from a vast underground reservoir of groundwater encased in the gravels of the Moraine's landforms, the streams there are cool and unpolluted. The Moraine performs several essential functions that make its protection and long term management paramount to the residents of Ontario. The Moraine supports SIGNIFICANT NATURAL HABITAT for an abundance of native plant and animal species and provides one of the few remaining refuges for many sensitive and threatened species in Southern Ontario. The Moraine includes SIGNIFICANT SURFACE WATER RESOURCES comprising the largest concentration of headwater streams (over twenty including the Humber headwaters) of any area within the Greater Toronto Area. The Moraine contains SIGNIFICANT GROUNDWATER RESOURCES which act as a huge recharge area that collects and stores precipitation in underground aquifer systems. These aquifers are essential to maintaining base flow in headwater streams. The Moraine is a SIGNIFICANT LANDFORM that provides a scenic backdrop to the urban areas within the Greater Toronto Area.

9.55 - FOREST CANOPY In their effort to reach the sun from this low valley spot, the leafy, largely sugar maple, trees here have grown tall and created a wonderful canopy over a large, open, almost cathedral-like room in the forest. Here sunlight filters through the leafy canopy to the mass of ostrich ferns on the rich, moist forest floor. This is truly one of those places of magic and beauty along the Humber.

9.94 - WILSON- STEWART RUINS Southward towards the River, are remnants of a large stone barn foundation. Almost three feet thick but now collapsed, these are the last remains of a barn and a nearby log house built by Henry Wilson in the 1830's. Wilson rented the home, barn and surrounding lands to Andrew Stewart in 1879. This farmstead was reached from the 5th Line Rd (Humber Station Rd to the west), by a ford across the Humber River. Andrew Stewart was a former stagecoach driver and hired hand since he had arrived in this area from Kilmacrenan, County Donegal, Ireland in 1865. He and his wife raised six children -George, Jim, Ernie, Bill, Rebecca and May. The children attended MacVille School on the Forth Line (The Gore Rd) from 1880 to 1911 when the buildings were abandoned. By then, Andrew had purchased the former "Bradley place" which is now the Robert J. Stewart (grandson of Ernie) farm nearby on Duffy's Lane.

10.80 - WETLAND This wetland is a tiny, perfect example of many such upland wet areas found in our forests. Perhaps some underlying layering of clay keeps the rain water from seeping in here as fast as in other areas. In any case, the retained water encourages and supports quite a different mix of more water-loving plants and animals -more silver maple than sugar maple, more leopard frogs than tree frogs- , a ecosystem different and unique as compared with the better drained surrounding forest.

10.91 - NATURAL GRASS AND GIANT PUFF BALLS Scattered throughout this pine plantation are natural grassy patches which are as thick and luxurious as any lawn and they need no maintenance. The grass started here, most likely because an older tree fell, thereby opening the forest canopy and allowing more light and warmth to the reach the forest floor. This grass, one of many natural grass species, is taking full advantage of its place in the warming sun and light, and it still has the benefit of the forest's moist soil condition which it needs to survive. Puff Balls (Calvatia gigantea) eight to twenty inches or more in diameter are commonly seen during the fall in this area and in other similar open woods, pastures and fields. Their surface is smooth, soft leathery, something like kid, white to yellowish or brownish. Early in the season the puffball interior is white, soft, fleshy. It then slowly becomes yellowish and finally becomes powdery. Owing to its size, the Giant Puff Ball is not likely to be confused with any other fungus. It is one of the safest fungi for the beginner fungi eater and is highly recommended for flavour. Any puff ball is edible if it is white and homogeneous inside. You don't need to use too much butter when slicing and frying. Enjoy!

11.30 - JEWEL-WEED Around this bridge (proudly built by Bolton's local cubs and scouts) perennially grows a stand of Spotted Jewel-Weed, Impatiens bifora. This lovely pendent flower blooms July-September in shady moist places. Its fragile, one-inch blossom, orange spotted with brown, hangs like a dainty earring from a slender stem, usually beneath a two to three inch, toothed leaf. When pressed, the succulent, two to four foot high plant yields liquid considered a healing lotion for poison ivy. It's other name, Touch-Me-Not, refers to the nearly ripe seed pod which, if even lightly touched, springs open and scatters its seeds.

11.49 - PINE PLANTATION You are surrounded here by Red Pine planted by the Conservation Authority in the early 1960's. In earlier decades this land had become barren through loss of top soil after farming had removed the original trees. Red Pine planting is a first step in a long successional process of establishing a more welcoming natural soil condition and a shadier and cooler seeding environment for other species. With top soil again forming, the attractive diversity of a more mature mixed forest will begin naturally to replace this pure red pine stand.

11.63 - ORIGINAL SURVEY BY CHEWETT Sometime in the summer of 1819, a King's survey party led by James Chewett passed this point. They would have been establishing the 6th Concession Line (now Duffy's Lane). These "Lines" ran absolutely straight and together with lot lines every 30 chains (1 chain equals 66 feet) or 1980 feet, formed a grid pattern for systematically subdividing the land for settlement. The Crown's Surveyor General named Chewett Deputy Surveyor of Albion Township on May 15, 1819 to survey all the lands in this area which had been ceded by the Mississauga Indians to the Crown on October 28, 1818. Chewett and his party of several helpers may well have been the first Europeans in this area. Chewett's survey notes record that much of these uplands were heavily forested in Birch, Basswood and Maple.

12.07 - GEORGE EVANS LANDS The surrounding lands down to the River were once owned by George Evans, one of the first pioneers to actually settle in this area. George Evans came to the Bolton area about 1835 and took up shoe-making. The George Tremaine map of Peel County of 1859 clearly shows his holdings. Evans had held a Major's rank with the Royal Irish Constabulary before he arrived. He resumed his military career for the Crown with the coming of the 1837 Rebellion. He became responsible for the local militia. Evans is said to have conducted rather harsh militia training on these lands during summers, causing some of the trainees to forage for food on neighbouring lands. Perhaps this was Evans' very intent with the training. Evans must have been regarded with extreme caution by his neighbours just down River in Bolton, such as mill owner George Bolton, who was sympathetic to the cause of the rebels. Evans later became successful in the hotel business. He was the owner of the grand Queen's Hotel which stood close to the north-west corner of King and Queen Streets in downtown Bolton until it burned in 1963. Here the valley slopes are visibly eroding. This is only partly natural. This erosion was greatly aggravated by past cattle grazing which destroyed most shrub and trees which would have held the top soil intact. Hawthorn shrubs are here. Hawthorns are a common sole survivor on cattle grazing lands because their thorns were unpalatable to the cattle.

12.50 - WHITE TAIL DEER White Tail Deer are common in this part of the Humber Valley, as their distinctive hoof marks attest. They are very reluctant to be seen but early-morning hikers may see them from a distance resting at the forest edges. One may be watching you right now. Hunting deer on these lands by any means is strictly prohibited by the Conservation Authority. Early summer is deer mating time. Bucks will occasionally fight for dominance and mates. Nearby farmer and resident R.J. Stewart, in July 1996, came across a 25 foot circle in his young bean field which was beaten down by the fury of buck fight. There, R.J. found a five-point antler which had broken off one of the fighting bucks.

12.84 - MEANDERS, OX-BOWS AND GHOSTS From this high vantage point, we can imagine the ghosts of aboriginals scanning the valley for deer in the early morning. Here we can relax and pause to enjoy the southward view, witness the winding nature of the Humber River as it flows downstream. We can contemplate how those original inhabitants lived and what their thoughts may have been while standing at this very spot. The channel of the River will, over time, slowly shift or meander from one side of the valley to the other and back, following the path of least resistance. More dramatic channel changes may come with large storms. Where the river abandons part of its channel for a new route, bow-shaped lakes or dry flat areas are left which are called "ox-bows".

13.04 - THE RIDGE Here , the trail takes advantage of a narrow, climbing ridge of land left behind between the eroding action, over hundreds of years, of the Humber River on the south and its tributary on the north. Note, on the south face of this ridge, the dominance of mature leafy (deciduous) trees - as contrasted to the dominance of the Cedar (coniferous) trees on the north facing slope. The greater availability of sun on the south slope clearly encourages heat-loving deciduous trees. The south side of this ridge is covered with wild leeks. They are especially evident in the spring.. Remember, no digging and removing! We seldom see moles themselves because they spend most of their lives burrowing underground feeding on earthworms and invertebrates. Often mole signs are evident on or near the trail. Like any excavator, a mole must do something with the earth it displaces, and it pushes it up through holes and leaves it in little piles on the surface . Fresh piles of earth, eight or ten cm high and fifteen cm or more in diameter are sure signs of moles. In hardwood forests, such as here, it is likely to be the hairy-tailed mole. Black mucky soil near water will indicate the star-nosed mole. There are several fine examples nearby of Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), largest of the genus Prunus in Canada, reaching 60 to 70 feet or higher. With age the bark breaks into squarish scales that curve outwards at their vertical edges. This beautiful smooth-grained wood was highly prized for furniture and cabinetry, second only to Black Walnut. It is now in very short supply. Less than a hundred years ago, whole fleets of city streetcars were panelled in the superb Black Cherry. American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) is identifiable by the gleam of its wonderdrously smooth silvery bark, not furrowed even by extreme old age. Its very smoothness have often invited amateur initial carvers- please try to resist this temptation! Early settlers often used dried Beech leaves as filling material for mattresses, because the leaves gave that certain springy comfort which was lacking with the universal material- straw. Sugar Maple, the most common hardwood throughout the valley is one of the most valuable commercial hardwoods in Canada. Some specimens near the trail, because of their advanced age, would perhaps be bypassed by lumber hunters because of the higher incidence of "decadence" or rot found in the interior of older trees. Nevertheless, age has definitely made these trees into a distinguished examples of their species. Sugar Maple sap is the source of commercial maple sugar and syrup. The sap of these old trees would no doubt have a flavour as equally distinguished as its grand appearance.

13.28 - EARTH DAM You are standing on the remains of an earthen dam which collected waters for farm-related purposes from an unnamed Humber tributary draining an area between Regional Road 50 on the east and a prominent ridge on the west. Had early plans for a large Humber River Dam been carried out in the 1960's just downstream from here, you would have been standing several feet under water at this point. Flood control was the main mandate of the conservation authority then, so soon after the devastating Hurricane Hazel. Large dams were thought to be one of the principle means of addressing this potential problem in the future. About three thousand acres of land were purchased in order to construct the dam and allow for the resulting lake between Bolton and Palgrave, now known as the Bolton Resource Management Tract. The forest cover was cleared upstream of what would have been the dam. Several homes in the valley were also bought and either moved or demolished by the conservation authority. However, as time passed, other means of flood control were decided upon. This magnificent tract of land remaining in public hands is therefore a direct legacy of Hurricane Hazel.

13.32 - VALLEY WALL SLUMPING From this bridge, the stream banks can be seen slumping into the water.This natural slumping is caused by a combination of the ongoing action of the river undercutting the valley bank, groundwater seepage and wind erosion on exposed surfaces. Some fields can experience as much as one foot per year cut-back on average from river erosion and slumping. This is why proposed structures anywhere near rivers must observe valley setbacks which attempt to account for this inevitable natural occurrence. Cross-sections of ages-old layering of river sediment becomes visible with slumping. Sometimes in the lower Valley, ancient cedar logs become exposed which were buried long ago after being undercut by the River.


13.68 - QUEEN ANNE'S LACE Queen Anne's Lace grows tall and profusely here on the edge of the Humber Valley. They are very tall here (up to four or five feet) and bloom continuously from June through October. The blooms here are usually white, composed of very small, numerous flowers in dense clusters each two to three inches across. Walking through this area, which also exhibits tall White Sweet Clover, in a mild breeze is like walking through a waving sea of white. Queen Anne's flowers dry after blooming into nest-like clusters.

14.15 - TOWN OF CALEDON WORKS YARD ENTRANCE Using the traffic lights at the Regional Road 50 - Columbia Way intersection, the Humber Valley Heritage Trail is accessed through the Caledon Works Yard on the west side of Hwy #50. Hiking straight west inside the Works Yard southern boundary to the "lip of the Valley", you are quickly introduced to some of Caledon's famous woodland vistas towards the north and west.




FELT MILL During the early 1900's, a dam and mill was built (opposite where the tennis courts are now) between Glasgow Road and the Humber River to produce felt for blankets. Traces of the old dam can still be seen at the River. Remaining small sections building foundation are slowly disappearing under this reforested area.

DICK'S DAM At this location in the 1870's, a structure was built to retain and divert water to power Dick's Agricultural Works downstream on the north side of Humber River , a couple of hundred feet west of the Queen St. (Hwy #50) bridge. The boards of Dick's Dam were installed each summer by the Village of Bolton until the 1970's for supervised recreational swimming. The River, at this location in Dick's Dam Park still offers a refreshing opportunity for wading on a summer's day.

DICK'S AGRICULTURAL WORKS In 1869, William Dick established the Bolton Agricultural Works (foundry) on the west side of the Hwy #50 bridge on the the north bank of the Humber River (about where the existing Caledon Tire building sits) . William Dick was born in Albion in 1840. His first blacksmith business included only plows. In the late 1870's William Dick enlarged his shop to a two story building 130 feet by 30 feet. The first floor consisted of the machine shop for turning, boring and fitting iron. The second floor was used to finish and paint the agricultural machines. Dick's product line included sawing machines, hand and power straw cutters, threshing machines, sulky horse rakes, wrought and cast iron plows, root cutters, cultivators, gang plows, machine jacks, iron road scappers, fire platforms, grain kettles, reaping and mowing machines. During the 1940's, Dick's Foundry had 22 employees producing war materials including winches for the front gates of invasion landing barges. ALBION HOTEL The Albion Hotel rested directly north of the old bridge on Queen Street (also Regional Road 50) with the River to the south and Hickman Street to the north. In today's terms, that means that the hotel sat where part of the current bridge is today. The hotel was built in the 1860's and was owned and operated by Thomas Curliss. It was patronized mostly by farmers from the north end of the township and Adjala. In the fall when grain was being hauled in to the nearby mill, both sides of the road would be lined with empty wagons. In 1875, Curliss captured a huge turtle which had come out of the River into his garden. The date 1839 had been cut into its shell. Curliss added the date 1875. Perhaps the turtle is still somewhere in the River.

THE PAXMAN-WARBRICK TANNERY On this location east of Queen Street on the north bank of the Humber River, around 1840, Richard Paxman built a house and a separate tannery. The tanning process created finished leather from slaughtered cattle. The leather was used for harnesses, saddles, and particularly shoes and boots. Paxman was also a shoemaker. In this age of reliance on cars, it is easy to forget that walking was the most common means of travel in the 1840's, and with it came the need for sturdy, well made shoes. Because of the ready source of finished leather , Bolton attracted a number of shoemakers. The tannery property and business were sold to James Warbrick in 1848. Under his direction, the tannery continued to grow, and at the height of the business, employed 8 men. The tanning process used ground hemlock bark to cure the hides. Warbrick conducted an active business buying up fresh hides from farmers, as well as procuring as much hemlock bark as could be located in the area. Leather was tanned by layering fresh hides with ground bark in vats or barrels, and filling them with water. It took several months for the tanning process to be completed and it produced a hard, rather tough leather. The tanning process would also have created rather pungent odours which must have wafted throughout the valley. The Warbrick house stood on this site until 1988 when it was demolished to make way for the townhouses you see here today.

MILL STREET Because of the traffic to and from Bolton's first mill in the 1820s and 1830s, Mill Street running along the River east from Queen St., became the main Bolton thoroughfare. Initially little more than a wagon track which followed the River to James Bolton's mill, Mill Street for at least 30 years was not only the busiest street in Bolton, it was its only street. The intersection of Mill St. and Queen St. was a particularly busy hub of commercial activity, not only because of its cross roads location but because the first Bolton survey by Chewitt restricted development by reserving the area south of King Street for the clergy and the area west of Queen Street was for the Crown.

MACDONALD'S COOPER SHOP Directly across from this point can be seen Chapel Street where it joins Mill Street. In 1861, Francis MacDonald built a large cooper shop on Chapel close to Mill Street. In addition to suplying the mill with flour barrels, he also made apple barrels and butter churns. By 1870, he had built up a substantial business supplying several mills with barrels. He generally employed 7 or 8 coopers all year around, and at the peak of the season, he employed up to 20 men. MacDonald's delivery wagon had a very high spindle rack which held 100 barrels. The load would be higher than a big load of hay, and MacDonald's son Jack would ride about 30 feet higher than the horses heads when he would set off to drive the team. When flour bags were introduced for shipping flour, the cooperage business declined. PLUMMER FOUNDRY Directly across the River from this point mid-way between Elm and Chapel Streets and the north side of Mill Street, William Plummer built an iron foundry to make plows and beams in the 1880's. Plummer's father, (J.P.) had come to Bolton in 1869 and was in charge of the moulding and casting departments of Dick's Agricultural Works just upstream from here until 1878 when he started his own business. The Plummer Foundry was run by J.P. Plummer and his two sons William and Charles. The Foundry blower was run by horse power. It was a hand made fan and could be heard roaring for miles. The Plummers later branched into furnaces and general cast iron work such as fencing and decorative garden urns. Fencing made by the Plummer foundry is still visible at the front of the old Plummer home at the corner of James and Albert Streets.

CHOICE LOT-BOLTON'S FIRST GRISTING MILL 1821-1845 The land surrounding you was one 200 acre lot of James Chewitt's 1819 original survey and was known as Lot 9, Concession 7 Albion. This lot takes in the area now bounded by Queen Street North to the top of the north hill, and King Street as far east as Sneath Road. It is apparent that Surveyor Chewitt recognized the mill potential of this particular lot situated on the Humber. As was the practice then, he retained this particular lot and several other choice lots- 21 in all throughout the Township amounting to 2635 acres- as payment for his surveying services. In June 5, 1821, he sold this lot to George Bolton, originally from Suffolk England and a miller by trade, for a sum of 50 pounds. The acquisition of this lot by Chewitt and its subsequent quick sale to Bolton, represents one of the earliest examples of land speculation in Peel. By 1821, the Township of Albion had some 110 people and 62 acres of land were cultivated for crops. The time was ripe for the creation of a mill. Directly across the River from this point, where Mill Street now curves toward King Street, George Bolton with the help of nephew James, built their mill during 1822 and 1823 and went into operation in 1824. It was a small, frame grist mill which had one run of stones. A run of stones consists of two circular flat sones which rub together thus grinding the grain. The frame mill structure was supported by wooded braces to withstand the stress caused by the weight of the building and the vibrations of the machinery and mill stone. In order to power the mill, George and James also constructed a log dam which bridged the Humber and created a mill pond. Local resident, Roy Studholme recollects standing on the wooden piles still remaining from the dam while swimming in this location as a young boy in the 1920's. The mill creation provided settlers with a much needed local service and formed the nucleus from which a village would later develop. The Reverend F.L. Osler visited Bolton in 1838 and held a service in an empty grain bin in the mill. George Bolton continued to operate this mill until 1845 when he sold it and property to his nephew James C. Bolton. James then moved the mill to a new location 300 yards east of here on the Humber.

CHRISTIAN'S SHODDY AND WOOL MILL ON JAFFRAY'S CREEK Directly across the River from this point, on the west side of Mill Street,James H. Bolton refers in his memories of Bolton to the existance in the 1850s of a wool mill on the edge of a creek. "Old Man" Christan was apparently a weaver by trade. The creek, known as Jaffray's Creek, used to flow from south-west of Bolton alongside of King Street and discharged into the Humber on the east side of Mill Street. This Creek, which was first noted by Crown Surveyor Chewitt in 1819, now flows under the Caledon Courtyards. A short open stretch of Jaffray's Creek can be still seen in downtown Bolton on the south side of Allegro resturant on the west side of Queen St. South.

THE CISTERN Part way up the north hill from this point a wooden cistern was constructed to collect spring water emerging from the ground. This cistern supplied, by gravity, fresh water by a pipe down the hill, across the River and into a lead reservoir in the attic of the large brick house visible across the River (The Guardhouse-Goodfellow House). Andrew McFall, the former owner of this house and the Bolton Mill, bought the property on the top of the hill so as to prevent the local farmer's cow from falling into the cistern and polluting their water supply.

EARLY RECREATION ON THE HUMBER In the early 1900's this area was part of an island in the River created by the mill raceway. In about 1905, Arthur Mcfall started a lawn bowling club with its court on the island. As bowling became less popular, the court became a tennis club about 1930. For some time there was a little clubhouse back of 97 King St. East which served for changing shoes. The Humber River continues to see canoes on the mill pond as well as many skaters in the winter.

THE GUARDHOUSE-GOODFELLOW HOUSE This large brick house seen directly across the River, is of historic interest for several reasons. It was built around 1876 by on of Bolton's first wealthy and politically active citizens, John Guardhouse. The property on which the house sits was once owned by George Bolton and the house is directly linked to Bolton's milling past. The house is a good example of Ontario Gothic architecture which features bay windows and decorative work. It is two stories with red bricks contrasting with biscuit coloured brick trim. Bricks from this house came from local clay at the brickworks located nearby at the end of David Street. This was the first house in Bolton with running water and electricity, a by-product of the mill. The first three owners of the house were mill owners: Guardhouse, then three generations of McFalls, and latteraly the Goodfellows. The present owners bought the home from the Goodfellow estate.

PROJECTILE POINT Nearby here Bolton resident, Mark Wilson found a well-made or "knapped" aboriginal projectile point dated to be over 9000 years old! In dating this "point", Professor Chris Ellis of the University of Western Ontario notes that it can be assigned to the Early Archaic period and the Kirk Corner- Notched Cluster. It is made of Onondaga Chert which may have been obtained from bedrock outcrops along the north shore of Lake Erie. This point was attached, by these original Bolton visitors, to darts or spears, not arrows, as the point pre-dates the introduction of the bow and arrow by 6000 or more years. This point may well have helped these early people to help themselves to fish in the Humber River. THE MCFALL HOUSE Across the dam and the River from this location is the McFall house. It is likely it was built in the 1840's by James C. Bolton in connection with moving the grist mill down river in 1845. The original dwelling was a single storey frameless plank cottage about 17 by 26 feet possibly to lodge summer help at the mill. In 1881, Andrew McFall purchased the house from Fredrick Guardhouse along with the mill. The next year McFall increased the size of his home here for his wife and six children by purchasing half a house from Mrs Guardhouse on Mill Street and had it moved to about 7 feet east of the existing dwelling and joined the two. This house has remained in the McFall family for five generations.

THE BOLTON MILL 1845-1968 For 123 years, the Bolton Mill prospered on this site which is now partly occupied by Humberlea Road. Its construction in 1845 by James C. Bolton, was a huge undertaking: a race-bank had to be constructed to carry the water from the dam upstream to the mill. At a point near the mill, a tunnel had to be dug through a clay bank. A letter written in 1846 by a neice of James Bolton states: ''Uncle James Bolton has put up a good saw-mill, a large grist-mill with three run of stones in it. They have begun to grind.'' In 1850, he built an addition to the mill as large as the first mill. In 1855, James C. Bolton sold the mill to Edward Lawson, who added a steam bakery to the saw- mill near the site of the old flour mill. In 1860 John Gardhouse, a merchant, miller and bother-in-law of Lawson, bought the mill. Guardhouse increased the mill business until by 1870, it had a daily output of 125 barrels of flour. Guardhouse died suddenly in 1876, leading to the sale of the mill in 1881 to Andrew McFall. At the time of this sale, the mill itself consisted of a 4-storey frame on stone foundation (51 x 36 feet), with a 4-storey frame storehouse (30 x 36). The machinery included 4 run of 4 ft, 4 in. French Burr stones and quite an array of machines for processing grain. The machinery was driven by two turbines, one 36 inches and the other 42 inches under a head of 11 feet, 3 inches Until the railway arrived in 1873, teamsters hauled flour to Toronto in wagons, each of which carried 10 barrels. Each barrel held 196 pounds of flour. The barrels were used until about the time of the first world war when flour bags were introduced. Around 1905, the McFalls harnassed the Humber for hydro power and supplied electricity for street lighting and lighting in some homes. In 1912, Bolton experienced one of its severe floods and the mill dam at Mill St. was seriously damaged. A new dam was built 200 yards further downstream, where its remains can still be seen. This created a larger area above the dam for water storage. In 1924 Arthur McFall died and his sister Annie McFall managed the mill until it was sold to Hayhoe Brothers in 1941. They sold to Jim Goodfellow who in turn sold it to Woodbridge Farmer's Co- operative in 1951. The piers in the middle of the dam were replaced about 1944. The mill was demolished in 1968 and Humberlea Rd was built over part of the site. Although most of the concrete dam remains intact its piers were cut off by the conservation authority in about 1984 to allow ice pans to flow over the dam in spring runoff.

RIVER CHANNELLING Here the Humber River is channelled with wire baskets of stone called gabions. This is to ensure the River stays in its channel even under high flow conditions. Rivers tend naturally to flow in curves, rather than straight lines. It is, therefore, usually very expensive to channel rivers. Channelling is usually only considered in older settlement areas on floodplains such as here in downtown Bolton where large property investments and safety are at stake during large storms and runoff events. Nowadays, no new settlement is allowed in flood plains because we have learned that it is too expensive to channel or otherwise try to control a river.

HERON NESTING SPOT Off in the distance across the River, there are tall deciduous (leafy trees) which have, over the years, attracted herons for nesting. Their large (sometimes 2 feet diameter) nests of brush and sticks become more evident in the late fall after leaves have fallen.

End - W. Wilson, July 29/98.

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