Walking Tour of Milford (PDF)
WALKING TOUR OF THE LATE NINETEENTH CENTURY TOWN
1 Park near #2223 Cty Rd 17
Start in front of the Milford Mill Pond Conservation Area sign, on the West side of the bridge. The path along the river leads to the site of the fi rst sawmill built by Joseph Clapp in 1808. It’s about 100 yds south of the present dam, a few pieces of an old foundation remain near the site. The first mill was a roof on six posts which housed a vertical saw to cut timber for export via Black River to Quebec and then to England as well as the local market. A larger mill was built to include carding and grain as well as lumber and it remained in the Clapp family until 1861 when Joseph’s grandson, Philip sold the mill and buildings plus two lots in Milford to Nelson Dodge whose family ran the mill for about 50 years. In 1929 Hiram & Robert Ellis purchased this site, including buildings and equipment as well as the McNamara Hotel where the Post Offi ce now stands. The mill was in such disrepair, they built a new cement dam (near the sight of the presentbdam) and a new mill behind what is now Hick’s store. In 1956, this mill burnt completely. Follow the river path and it will lead you out beside the library. Long ago, the town weigh scale, a covered building with doors at both ends so that farmers could drive loaded wagons through, was situated on this lane.
2 3053 Cty Rd 10, Ann Farwell Library
The story of this library begins long before this building existed. Ann Farwell, a local sheep farmer and former Toronto librarian, and her friend, Jeanne Minhinnick, a retired Toronto book seller, decided to create the first free rural library in Prince Edward County in 1951. They used their former connections and their personal collections to open with 1000 books in the Townhall on shelves built by a community workbee under the direction of Reeve Carson Scott. The new library was affiliated with the traveling libraries program of the Ontario Department of Education. Jeanne and Ann devoted countless free hours as librarians. In 1952, the Township of South Marysburgh gave permission for a one room library to be built on the site of the former weigh scales. In 1982, Athol Town Council voted to affiliate itself with this unique rural library. The support of the combined townships and local residents has allowed successive improvements to be made culminating in the dedication of a completely new building with handicapped washroom facilities in 1993. The huge amount of community involvement in the design, execution and maintenance of the Ann Farwell Library is a visual representation of the value many modern village residents place on learning. It’s akin to the value of our 1870’s predecessors who taxed themselves at a higher rate than any other Ontario township to support nine local schools. In 2006, Janice Gibbons directed a group of grade eight students in the creation of Birds, Butterflies and Books, the mural which beautifies the open space beside the library.
3 3054 Cty Rd 10, The McKibbon House
This stately Victorian home of Dexter McKibbon built in 1876 reflected the prosperity of Milford’s booming economy in the mid 19c. The 2 story vestibule and flanking verandahs reflect the then popular trend in County architecture.
4 3058 Cty Rd 10, The Emporium
This large clapboard building with a metal roof bears the sign of a business that operated in it until 2005. At that time, the front was a sandwich shop/soda fountain where locals liked to gather for coffee and a chat. The back sections displayed a collection of antiques and collectables including old hardware and other relics of its former functions. Originally it was Dexter McKibbon’s general store and then until the early 1950s Chapman’s Meat Market.
5 3061 County Rd 10, formerly the Clarke Hotel
In Milford’s late 18c heyday, Clarke Hotel was one of at least three busy establishments in the town, but it’s the only one now standing perhaps because it evolved with the changing times. It was the Ellis General Store, Bongard’s Electrical Shop and the Village Pottery in turn before it was converted to a private residence.
The small building next to the old Clarke Hotel was a blacksmith shop run by Harry Brown. Lorne Foster took over as blacksmith and then Fred VanAlstine used the shop to trade in fish and poultry. The upper front door once would have been used to fill the second floor with hay both for the horses and to help insulate the shop in winter.
6 3073 Cty Rd 10, Minaker’s Garage
During the era when automobiles were still a novelty and most transportation was still by horse and wagon, Bruce Minaker realized his 18 year old son, Quentin loved engines, but wasn’t much use on the farm. By coincidence in 1925, Horace Dulmage, who had developed and run the first garage in Milford, wanted to retire. Bruce bought Horace’s garage and sent his son, Quentin, to trade school in Toronto. Quentin proved his father’s decision was wise. Well before Reduce, Reuse, Recycle became a mantra, he developed a business recycling auto parts. During the Great Depression era when few farm families had cash and shops were closing, Quentin became philanthropist as well as businessman. He was well known for giving loans to those in need and buying unused buildings to help his neighbours in time of need. Many buildings in Milford were preserved by his efforts. The Minaker family still operates the garage and is still involved in building reclamation.
7 3087 Cty Rd 10, Tudor style house
This home replaced a cottage style building that burned down in the mid 1980s. The barn is original, but to match the new house the brown tudorish trim was added. Formerly, it was Clayton Stuffles gas station and secondhand store. Dorothy Brooks, a Milford school teacher in the early 20c fondly described the old shop as follows, “Rough hewn shelves held dusty china pieces and housewares. Relics of farm life leaned against the walls. Furniture and has-been appliances took up what little space was left and spilled out of the doorway in great stacks and piles… I spotted two Quebec heaters, a pot-bellied ornately designed coal stove. “Take it home and try it,” Clayt suggested. This was his way. He could not read or write but he could figure. In his shop and at the garage, he dealt “fair and square”. Money made from the shop went in one pocket of his coveralls and garage monies in the other.
8 3104 County Rd 10, formerly the United Church Manse
Before 1875 there were two branches of the Methodist Church with parsonages in Milford. This stately brick home then known as the New Connexion parsonage and a smaller frame house, the Wesleyan methodist parsonage was on thebsite of 3052 County Rd 10. In 1875 the two Methodist congregations were considering joining and the trustees decided to sell one of the parsonages, the frame one. Dr. Hautry Breden cast one dissenting vote. However, eight years later in 1883, he was the person authorized to make extensive repairs to this Manse. It was a one story building until a minister with 9 children was hired and a second floor was needed. Note the different style of window trim on the second story.
In 1959 a new manse was built on the pond and this manse sold. It fell into serious disrepair but fortunately for the village, a family looking for a country home, fell in love with it. They have devoted countless hours lovingly restoring both the house and gardens to their former beauty.
The Manse had a barn that was characteristic of a house of its era, but when it was no longer needed for horses, Quentin Minaker bought it and dragged it across the frozen ground to where it sits today at the rear of 3107 Cty Rd 10.
9 Milford’s Volunteer Fighters Hall, 1992
In the early 1970s, when the Picton army base (which had provided some rural fire protection) was closed, there would have been no rural fire protection, in South Marysburgh. Therefore, the Township Council asked Arthur (Babe) Ford, ex military captain, to organize a team of volunteers who would be available for emergency calls. By rigging a 500 gallon tank and an extension ladder on the outside of an out of service 1957 International dump truck, the eam of enterprising volunteers made their own first truck. Over the years, the team’s space and equipment has been continually upgraded. From the original dump truck, to an old military truck, to an out of service milk truck and finally to a new pumper, tanker and van. Now, under the direction of Chief Glendon Walker, a team of 14 respond to an average of 30 to 40 calls a year, most of them with their First Response Emergency Rescue vehicle. They also participate in regular rigorous training funded by the County.
10 3076 Cty Rd 10, Marysburgh then South Marysburgh Town Hall
Until the passing of the municipal act in 1849, Upper Canada had only centralized government. Just thirteen years after Upper Canada permitted local government Marysburgh built its Town Hall, the oldest in the County, a designated historic site. For nine years from 1862 till 1871 it was the seat of government for all Marysburgh.
When transportation became mostly over land rather than by water, people from the northern part of the township found it too hard to get to meetings in Milford and they agreed to create separate townships of North and South Marysburgh. In 1871 the first Reeve of South Marysburgh was Nelson Dodge, who at this time was also the owner of the large 3 story lower mill.
Originally the Town Hall interior had bleacher seats on either side of a centre aisle and there was a stage at the front. In addition to Township meetings, it was used for social events, the first library, the first fire station, and a venue for an early social club, the Dixon Club. In 1995, the garage on south side of the building no longer needed for the fire truck was converted into Township offices which previously had been in the home of the Clerk. When county-wide amalgamation occurred in 1998, this historic site had served as a Town Hall for 135 years. It is still a place for local groups to gather and can be rented for a nominal charge through the Prince Edward County contact .
Turn left on Philip St.
11 65 St Philips St., formerly a Milford mill that did not rely on water power
Carson Scott, son of Lee Scott who had purchased the upper Clapp mill, used parts of the old buildings to build a third mill on this site. He did custom grinding for local farmers but during the Depression he could not earn enough to pay for his equipment and it was repossessed. This mill sat empty until 1937 when Roy Hicks purchased it and tried to make it profitable. However, after seven years, he gave up milling for farming as well as running the family store. When his son, Murray Hicks, returned from the World War II, he purchased new equipment and again began milling at this location while he was building the cement block mill beside the family store. Recently the old mill was converted to a residence.
12 44 St Philips St., St. Philips Anglican Church
This land was deeded to the Anglican Church by Philip Clapp Jr in 1849 and a frame church of very similar proportions was built. In the fall of 1920, the frame church caught fire and was largely destroyed. A concerted effort of the village residents hauling buckets of water fortunately saved some of the original artifacts including the memorial tablets, the church bell, the altar and possibly some of the older stained glass thus allowing the new stone St. Philips to retain some of the look and feel of its predecessor. Because it took four years of community fund raising to discharge the loans made to rebuild it, the dedication was in 1925. According to both the several dictionaries, a church congregation and a general store distinguish a village from a hamlet. Thus, Milford can still be called a village due to St. Philip’s enduring presence.
13 42 St Philips St.
Another fine Victorian home reflecting the prosperity of the second half of the 19c. Formerly the home of Fred and Julia Dodge descendants of Milford’s second mill owning family who became prominent merchants and public servants.
14 13 St Philips St
At the corner of Cty Rd 10 Site of the Manly McKibbon dry goods store which burned down; replaced by a private home.
Turn right to continue around the mid 19c village on County Rd 10
15 3007 Cty Rd 10
[However if you want a short detour cross Cty Rd 10 and walk down the lane ahead.There you will find the old Clapp Cemetery as well as public access to the mill pond.]
16 3020 Cty Rd 10, Formerly Clifford VanCott’s garage
Originally Rand’s Garage it has had many owners. Clifford Van Cott bought the garage business. Later it became Milford Ice and then the first location of Pure County Bottled Water. Next, Bench Mark Works, a vintage and classic motorcycle shop occupied the space. 2014 sees the opening of Live, Laugh and Eat, a bakery and Variety Store.
17 3026 Cty Rd 10, formerly the town bakery owned by the Dodge family
More recently the home and antique shop called, “Past Reflections” and currently a family home.
18 3031 Cty Rd 10, site of the former Empey Hotel
This barn stands on the foundation of Empey Hotel, a busy site in the town’s heyday. The mural on the side of it is an artistic interpretation of an early 20c photo of the village. It was planned by Janice Gibbons and completed with a great deal of community support. In recent memory the barn also housed an antique shop and a video store. It’s now the workshop of a local artist.
19 3032 Cty Rd 10, site of a prominent town hotel successively named the Beaconsfield, the Queens and finally the McNamara; now the post office
Philip Clapp, Milford’s second miller, shortly before he died in 1832 became its first postmaster. Early postmasters often provided service from their homes. In Milford that tradition continued into the mid 20c. Hiram Ellis the last owner/operator of the Black Creek falls mill lived here at the corner of King and Main Streets in the old hotel running the post office as well as the town clerks office from home.
Any time someone wanted to buy a money order or to send a package if Hiram was home he’d do it. Things were different at the post office when Cecil Bongard took over. It didn’t open before 8am and was closed by dark. In 1921, when the province voted to go “dry” the McNamara was forced out of business. In 1966, when a new post office was to be built John Rorabeck bought the old building and dismantled it. Some of its stringers were 36’ long and its walls were made of 2” x 6” lumber stacked. With 6” thick walls, one barely needed insulation. In thrifty Milford style, Rorabeck took the lumber to South Bay to be used in the construction of his home.
In 2008, as part of the village’s bicentennial celebrations, Milford in Bloom, organized the commission of another work of public art, a statue of an unknown miller who sits on his bench and greets all comers as the patrons of the hotel or mill across the road may have years ago.
20 3046 Cty Rd 10, originally the Knox General store
The bold false front of this building is more often associated with frontier architecture, but was also found in Ontario’s early boom towns. The real roof line is concealed and a humble building appears to have grander facade. In 1884 this lot was purchased for $96.00 and in 1886, Knox a forment partner of McGibbon opened a second general store . The Pounders purchased Knox’ store in 1932 and ran it as a general store for 32 years. Since then a series of five coffeshops/restaurants/art galleries have used the space. Each of the owning couples has made the space their own, but they all have created welcoming places for local and visitors to gather. The current owner of The Milford Bistro, Mike Lavelle, invites you to drop in and sample their County hospitality.
21 3052 Cty Rd 10, once the Marysburgh Phone Company
Site of the first home of Dr. Hautry Breden which burned to the ground. In the 20c this building was the home of Milford’s independent phone company. Dr. Breden had been responsible for the building of Mt Tabor Church in 1865 -1867, doing much of the work himself. He was also a key person involved in dredging the Black River so that schooners could sail up to Cole’s Landing, a wharf at the junction of Charlie Creek and Black Creek where the Black River starts. It’s in the ravine just south of the village where there was also a potash factory. ( See F Extended Tour)
22 3047 Cty Rd 10, the last commercial mill in Milford [next to Hicks’ store]
A cement block building built in 1958 by Murray Hicks when he returned from World War II in 1947. He used his service credits to move and update the mill from 65 Philip St, but even new space and new equipment did not make the milling industry of Milford viable again. It was part of a bygone era. Murray closed the last commercial mill in 1972.
23 3035 Cty Rd 10, originally the lower mill owners’ homestead
A series of early mill owners: Philip Clapp, Nelson Dodge, Theodore Dodge, Hiram Ellis, Robert Ellis and Roy Hicks lived here. In 1936, Roy Hicks converted the building to the store we know today. Three generations of his descendants have maintained the business for more than 70 years. Raphael and Jane Hicks, Roy’s grandchildren, are the current owners.
Earlier Village Sites a little further a field for longer walks, cycling or driving tours. Continue on Cty Rd 17 across the bridge going north east to take the popular walk around the mill pond.
A 2179 Cty Rd 17, Mt. Tabor
The current building, constructed between 1865 to 1867 on land sold for $1 by Philip Clapp Jr., is a credit largely to the skills, persistence and sacrifices of Milford’s benefactor, Dr. Hautry Breden. In 1867 Mt. Tabor was dedicated as Wesleyan Methodist church and in 1925 through “union” it became part of the United Church of Canada. In all these forms, for more than 100 years, it was a fondly remembered as a place of worship where the community gathered for holidays as well as solemn occasions and Sunday school lessons. Due to a central administrative decision to consolidate South Marysburgh’s six congregations, the final service at Mt. Tabor was held June 25, 1967. Two years later, the building wasbsold to the Township of South Marysburgh for $1. For 18 years, it was rarely used. Its condition was seriously deteriorated when in 1984 a group of civic minded theatre enthusiasts, the Marysburgh Mummers, took on the project of cleaning, restoring and upgrading the building. They successfully made Mt. Tabor a center of community life. It remains the Mummers home base where they delight audiences from near and far with live theatre throughout the seasons. It is also available for other community groups to book for a nominal fee through the Prince Edward County Shire Hall at 613-476-2148.
The Milford Shed, heart of the Milford Fair as well as a venue for local dances and musical events, is adjacent to Mt. Tabor. Once a year, in the Fall, local farm products, flowers, arts and craft and other creative endeavors compete for a substantial prize list donated by community supporters. It was a tradition resurrected after the Lean Years to celebrate the troops coming home from WW II in 1946.
Exiting the Fairgrounds cross Cty Rd 17 onto Old Milford Road. Go a few hundred yards and bear left on Scott’s Mill Rd
B #3 Scott’s Mill Rd. at junction of Crowes Rd
The mill is a very much scaled down version of the building that was once the upper grist mill. It stands as a testament to our founding industry. The James Clapp mill on this site was a two story grist mill with a saw mill and blacksmith shop in adjacent buildings. The present building is owned by the Quinte Conservation authority, but it is maintained by The Friends of Clapps/Scott’s Mill, a group of local volunteers who have maintained it since 2002 and have plans for developing public information boards to explain the history of PEC’s early milling industry to visitors and residents alike. The large pipe to the right of the building brought the water, controlled by the berms above to the Little Giant that is below ground, quite a technological feat for frontier millers.
To continue around the pond, turn left on Crowes Rd and cross the small bridge If its Spring or early Summer you might want to first turn slightly to the right continuing up the hill to the second bridge on Crowes Rd. to enjoy the beauty of the water falls before continuing around the pond.
C 2843 Cty Rd 10, James Clapp house
The original home on this site was built by James Clapp (Joseph & Nancy Clapp’s second son) who after a ten years legal struggle with a Kingston mortgagee had clear title to this land and the upper Saw Mill Creek mill. When the Scott family bought the mill property the house was named Craggy Glen. Bob Cowan, owner of the Miller House Bed & Breakfast, currently maintains the beautiful old home and its welcoming gardens.
D 2925 Cty Rd 10, Samuel Clapp house
Samuel inherited the upper mill along with 185 acres when his father James died in 1875. Samuel continued to run the business for another 11 years before selling to the Kirkpatrick brothers in 1886. Now a private home.
E 471 Bond Rd, Milford Schoolhouse
The earliest education in Marysburgh was provided by itinerant teachers who worked for room and board and little else. During the boom years however, the Milford community built both this village school and 3 others within extended walking distance:
Royal Street, Jackson’s Falls and South Bay. Families often paid for their children’s education by exchanging services. The teacher would likely board with a local family and wages were only slightly improved. Milford schoolhouse teachers were boarded at the Ackerman farm house 506 Bond Rd across the way and went there for a hot lunch every day.
Neither the interior nor the exterior of the current building provide many cues to its historic role, nevertheless some original windows on the west remain and the stucco shows the marking of previous ones. Originally the interior was a large rectangular space divided by central blackboards with girls in the east area and boys in the west area. Although they entered into a common mudroom in front of the building, until 1940 students entered their classrooms through gendered doors, sat separately and had to take their lesson with their coats and hats on due to the draftiness. In 1943 the 6 local schools in South Marysburgh were consolidated. In 1960, South Marysburgh Central school opened and shortly after that, this old schoolhouse was sold to the Boy Scouts of Canada for a nominal fee. In 1974, it was resold to a local carpenter who converted it to a home which Al and Gerry (Geraldine) Fralick purchased. A fortunate decision for Milford as Gerry became a key member and first director of the Marysburgh Mummers, the theatre group that saved Mt. Tabor for future generations to enjoy. The schoolhouse is currently a private home.
F One last spot of historical interest is Cole’s Landing.
Return to the junction of Cty Rds 10 and 17 from Bond Rd. Turn right to go south east following the hill out of Milford. When you see a left turn into the ravine, take it.
The road is now called Chapman Crescent. Before Cty Rd 10 was straightened and regraded, as a Depression era road works project, this was the main road out of Milford toward South Bay and Long Point.
In the reedy area to your left, Cole’s Landing was a port where schooners were built and launched. There was a wharf for the village shipping and also a noteworthy potash factory here in the 1860s. Continue on Chapman Crescent to rejoin Cty Rd 10.
Prior to 1930, the old road here was called Sand Hill. Many farmers’ wagons and early automobiles could not climb it in wet weather.