History

The Municipality Of Highlands East was incorporated in 2001, upon the amalgamation of the former townships of Bicroft, Cardiff, Glamorgan and Monmouth. Interesting is the fact that Cardiff, Monmouth and Glamorgan were a single Township in 1874.

Cardiff

The area of housing now known as Cardiff was built as a result of Uranium being discovered in Cardiff Township in the early 1950's. Two operating mines were developed.

Bicroft mine was located a couple of kilometres south of the present Hwy 118 and went into production in 1956. At first workers lived in temporary housing built at the mine site. 150 houses were built across the highway to house workers and families in 1956.

Dyno mine was located a few kilometres to the west of the town site. Once again workers lived in temporary housing on site. The Dyno Mine company built an additional 50 houses in 1958 at Cardiff to accommodate their workers and families.

An 8 room school was built in 1956. The Roman Catholic Church was built in 1958, the United Church in 1960, the pool in 1958 and the Royal Canadian Legion in 1965. All these facilities are still serving Cardiff's residents.

The Dyno mine closed in 1960 and their 50 houses were sold off shortly after. Bicroft mine closed in 1963 leaving 150 houses vacant. Bowes and Cocks Realtors held a sales day on May 9, 1964. The target audience was retirees. 39 houses sold that day. The remaining 111 sold over the next 2 months.

Gooderham

Gooderham is built along Gooderham Lake, bordered on the south by the Irondale River and Pine Lake to the north, located on a now defunct railway line, the IB&O Railroad, which has been since converted into a trail network. Settled in 1873, its main industry has been logging. Today, M. W. Hunter Lumber Ltd. is the only major sawmill left operating in the County. In the 1950's Gooderham had 3 General Stores, a Barber Shop/Confectionary Store and Mountain View Lodge. It was also home to the famous Skyline Dance Pavilion, where, on a Saturday night, people came from all over to enjoy dancing to a live band.

The book, A Journey Through Glamorgan's Past by Elva Bates, available at a local library in Highlands East, will enlighten you further on the history of Gooderham and its surrounding areas.

Tory Hill

Though the common industries of rock and wood were scattered throughout the outskirts of town, the village of Tory Hill centred itself around the railway. Originally settled in the 1870s, Tory Hill expanded once the railway came through and ran three times a week from 1893 until 1960. In those peak years the community had four general stores, a school, church, cheese factory, town hall, blacksmith shop, two saw/shingle mills and a garage. The community was booming when uranium was discovered in the 1950s and three mines opened.

Tory Hill is so named because, it is written, when Alexander Niven, Liberal Candidate, came electioneering to the settlement, it did him little good as he received only one vote. In exasperation, he said to John Anderson, “Jack, you get the Post Office you have wanted for a long time and you had better name it Tory Hill!” John was appointed the first postmaster, and subsequently named the village Tory Hill.

The train whistles are no longer heard in Tory Hill but the hamlet still maintains its unique place in history.

Wilberforce

Wilberforce was established as "Pusey," a station on the Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa Railway (IB&O), and named for railway president Charles J. Pusey. This little railway had initially been built to carry iron ore from open pit mines in Irondale. With or without the railroad, Wilberforce was destined to become a settlement and is home to Ontario's first Red Cross Outpost.

In the 20s and 30s Brown's Mill operated in the area, using the IB&O to transport product via Ward's Siding. A short history of the mill and siding is available for download, written by Mark Bramham.

For more about Wilberforce (and Tory Hill), go and get the book, Monmouth Township 1881-1981, at your library. It is informative, amusing and a delight to read.

Highland Grove

Highland Grove was once a thriving community that supported three stores, a cheese factory, a blacksmith shop, two schools and two churches. Beginning in 1890 the IB&O railway served the transportation, supply and communication needs of Highland Grove's residents and businesses. The hamlet's first telephone was installed at the railway station. A Post Office first opened in 1897. Elmer Hughey, one of the earlier postmasters explained that Highland Grove was so named because it boasted the highest point of elevation in the County. On one side of a nearby hill, water flows in the direction of Haliburton and on the other toward Bancroft's York River.

Ghost Towns

Hotspur

Founded in 1871, Hotspur was located on the pioneering Monck Road which traveled from Lake Simcoe to the Hastings Boundary. The still-standing frame school house located there was built around 1900, and the settlement also had a post office and a large Hotel built by Daniel Ireland beside the Burnt River. William Less looked after the mail and would walk to Tory Hill for mail pick-up three times a week. Lumbering was a mainstay for residents, and many summer homes are named after Hotspur.

Follow Bryans Road to drive through the original settlement.

Hadlington

This settlement, now honoured with a road bearing the same name, was named after Mr. Joseph Hadley, who was the first settler to homestead there. Mr. Hadley operated a sawmill, store and was post master. The records indicate the population was approximately 30 families with 25 children who attended school/church. Hadlington was a lumbering settlement who transported their wares to the IB&O in Tory Hill.

Follow Hadlington Road for approximately 10km to drive through the old settlement.

South Wilberforce

Once a thriving community complete with a mill owned by Isaac Ritchie, a general store run by Lyman Dillman, a post office, school and church. You can still view the United Church, originally built in 1855 in Cardiff and moved beside the school house to land donated by Henry Coukell. In 1904, the United Church log building was replaced with the present structure. The post office and general store turned into a dairy in the 1920s and can still be viewed at #1306 South Wilberforce Road, now a blacksmithing studio. Remnants of the old mill's rock configuration can still be seen in the river at the concrete bridge.

Follow Saunders Road/South Wilberforce Road to view this settlement.

Kennaway

The first settlement in the Harcourt area, Kennaway is recorded as being settled prior to 1850. A post office was established in 1876 and ran until 1923. In 1868 it was recorded that 9 settlers, 50 dependents, 15 cattle, 5 sheep, 9 hogs and 2 horses lived in this settlement. As settlers moved out west to greener pastures, the school closed in the late 1930s and the children were transferred to Harcourt. The school still stands and is now being used as a hunt club.

You will find this settlement located on Fishtail Lake Road.

More Historical Information

Search the Settlers of Highlands East family tree created by local community heritage organizations. You can also explore the Cultural Map of Highlands East for more information on pioneers and settlements.