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It was curtains for Inistioge when major railway passed it by

September 10, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Written By BRIAN LOCKHART

If there was one thing that could stop development of a town in the mid to late 1800’s, it was the fact that the railway chose the next town over as a stopping point.

When the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway, later the CPR, decided to make a stop at the small nearby village of Proton Station, it pretty much put an end to future expansion of the hamlet of Inistioge.

Located near Highway 10, about six km north of Dundalk, settlers began arriving at Inistioge in the 1840’s.

As a travel route, a hotel called George Johnston’s hotel was built in Inistioge around 1843 and served as a stopping point for travellers looking for a meal, a bed, and a drink.

Around 1849, George Armstong and his family arrived in the area. Armstrong wasted no time in investing his time and money in the area.

Armgstrong’s first project was the building of a local church. It came to be known as Armstrong’s Church. There was a cemetery on the property with the first burial taking place in 1852.

The post office was opened in Armstrong’s home in 1851, and as they needed an actual town listing for the post office, Armstrong named it Inistioge after his hometown in Ireland.

As people moved to the area a log school house was built around 1865.

A tavern stand was built to dispense alcohol, and a small court office was erected.

Like just about every town in the area, an Orange Lodge, chapter 737, was built in the 1850’s.

Another small hamlet called Victoria Corners sprang up right beside Inistioge. They were so close that the two settlements became intertwined in business, family, and commerce.

One family of note, was the John Moore family, who created the “Moore settlement” which became Victoria Corners.

Apparently the Moore family were of a different breed than most of the local setters. They were well read and apparently well educated. They kept up with scientific developments in the world. They would speak to their neighbors about advances in science and predicted the use of ‘flying machines’ and ‘horseless carriages.’

They were considered oddballs, but were well liked by the townsfolk, who considered most of their ideas to be ridiculous fantasy.

A couple of stores opened up in the town. One of the stores was owned by the Ward family.

To give an example of how tough a life it was in the early pioneer days, when the store need to stock up on supplies, Ms. Ward would walk to Orangeville to catch a stagecoach to Toronto. From there she would return by boat to Collingwood with her supplies. From there, her husband would pick her up and they would return the 50 km to Inistioge by ox cart.

The Armstong family opened a dry goods store. Other businesses sprang up around it.

There was a blacksmith shop, and a hotel called the Jordan Hotel.

In 1871 a new Methodist Church was built. Although somewhat crude in construction, it boasted three stained windows of which the locals were quite proud.

During the 1880’s, the hamlet had two sawmills, a harness maker, a shoemaker, and a stone mason.

A fellow by the name of William Haines would later open a cheese factory.

In 1889, a new school house was built at at cost of $1,239.45. It boasted some modern conveniences, most notably a furnace to keep the kids warm during the winter months.

When the railway decided to make Proton Station its stop in the area, businesses started to gravitate in that direction.

By 1900, the town started to fade away as people moved to other locations.

The Orange Lodge lasted until 1940 and the cemetery was still taking burials until the same year.

The schools are still standing but are now private homes.

The only remnants of the village now, is an wrought iron arch in front of the cemetery with the name of the town and the dates 1851 – 1871.



         

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