Historical Plaques of
Elgin County

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The next 14 plaques were sent in by Dorothy Dahm

PLAQUE #1


Location: Pitt St., Port Burwell

TRINITY ANGLICAN CHURCH 1836
This frame building was begun in 1836 and completed the following year. An example of simple early Gothic revival architecture this church was constructed as a result of the interest and substantial financial assistance of Lieutenant-Colonel Mahlon Burwell (1785-1846). A noted land surveyor, Burwell was the founder of this community and served as a justice of the peace and a member of the legislative assembly. The Venerable John Strachan, Archdeacon of York, preached the first sermon in Trinity Church and the first resident clergyman to serve its congregation was the Reverend Thomas B. Read.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #2


Location: Former homestead, near Otter Creek,
Highway 19, southwest of Vienna

THE EDISON HOMESTEAD
On this site stood the home of Samuel Edison, a Loyalist from New Jersey who had moved to Nova Scotia in 1763 and settled here in 1811. During the War of 1812 he served as a captain in the 1st Middlesex Militia. Tradition maintains that this community was named Vienna at his suggestion. On of his sons, Samuel Jr., supported the reform movement in Upper Canada, and after taking part in the Rebellion of 1837, fled to the United States. He settled in Milan, Ohio, where on February 11, 1847, his son, the noted inventor, Thomas Alva Edison was born. As a boy Thomas Edison visited his grandfather here in Vienna.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board

PLAQUE #3


Location: 55 Walnut St., St. Thomas

ST. THOMAS' CHURCH 1824
This church was completed in 1824 on land given by Capt. Daniel Rapelje, the founder of the city of St. Thomas. It is one of the province's finest remaining examples of Early English Gothic Revival architecture. In 1825 a tower, steeple and chancel were added with the aid of a donation from Col. Thomas Talbot. The first incumbent, the Rev. Alexander Mackintosh , a missionary deacon who served from 1824 to 1829 was also the village schoolmaster. One of the earliest churches in the Talbot Settlement St. Thomas' was consecrated in 1833 and used continuously until the completion of Trinity Church in 1877.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board

PLAQUE #4


Location: Elgin County Court House, Wellington St., St. Thomas

COL. THE HON. THOMAS TALBOT 1771-1853
Founder of the "Talbot Settlement", he was born at Castle Malahide, Ireland, a member of the Anglo-Irish nobility. In 1803, after serving in the British Army, and on Simcoe's staff, he was granted 5,000 acres in this region and settled in Dunwich Township. Through political and family influence he obtained extraordinary powers to promote colonization. Talbot built mills, supervised the construction of a 300 mile road paralleling Lake Erie, established thousands of settler in his "principality" and controlled the settlement of London. In 1817 St. Thomas was named for him. Eccentric and authoritarian he had successfully organized settlement in twenty-seven townships from Long Point to the Detroit River.

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario

PLAQUE #5


Location: On south side of Fingall Line, formerly
Talbot Road, just west of #4 highway

The HONOURABLE JOHN ROLPH, M.D., 1793-1870
This property once belonged to John Rolph, a prominent physician, lawyer and legislator. Born in England, he emigrated to Upper Canada in 1812. In 1824, with Dr. Charles Duncombe, he established at St. Thomas, the province's first medical school, the "Talbot Dispensatory". A reformer, Rolph represented Middlesex in the assembly, 1824-29 and Norfolk 1836-37. Although not an active participant in the Rebellion of 1837, he was so seriously implicated that he was compelled to flee to the United States. He returned in 1843, established a noted medical school in Toronto, and became the founder of the radical Clear Grit party 1849-50 and president of the legislative council, 1855-57.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board

PLAQUE #6


Location: west of Highway #4, on Fingall Line, formerly
Talbot Road W., just outside the town of St. Thomas

THE TALBOT ROAD
This road named after Col. Thomas Talbot, the founder of the Talbot Settlement, was one of Upper Canada's earliest pioneer highways. Surveyed in 1804 by John Bostwick, it ran from Sayle's Mills (Waterford) to Port Talbot. In 1809 portions of the road line were changed by Mahlon Burwell who ran it through the site of St. Thomas. Two years later he was ordered to extend the road to Amherstburg and to survey branch lines connecting with the settlements to the north. By means of this early colonization road much of the north shore of Lake Erie was settled.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board

PLAQUE #7


Location: Christ Church, Colborne and Matilda St., Pt. Stanley

LIEUT-COL. JOHN BOSTWICK, 1780-1849
Born in Massachusetts, Bostwick came as a child to Norfolk County. He was appointed high constable of the London District in 1800 and sheriff in 1805. A deputy-surveyor, he laid out some of the earliest roads in the Talbot Settlement and in 1804 was granted 600 acres here at the mouth of Kettle Creek. After serving as a militia officer throughout the War of 1812 he settled on the site of Port Stanley and founded this community. Bostwick represented Middlesex in the legislative assembly 1821-24. He donated the land for this church, which was completed in 1845, and is buried in its churchyard.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board

PLAQUE #8


Location: Former school, now the St. Thomas Psych. Hospital,
Highway #4 south, St. Thomas

RCAF TECHNICAL TRAINING SCHOOL
The only facility of its kind in Ontario during the Second World War, No. 1 Technical Training School, St. Thomas was established by the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1939 to produce skilled ground crews for active wartime service. It was housed here in this hospital complex and was operated in compliance with Canada's commitment to establish air training facilities in sites removed from the theatre of war. Equipped to handle more than 2000 students at a time, the school offered six month course for aircraft electricians and aero-engine, airframe and instrument mechanics in addition to specialized training for fabric and sheet metal workers. When the war ended in 1945 the school was closed and the complex was returned to the Ontario Department of Health.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Communication

PLAQUE #9


Location: Friends' Cemetery, Union Rd., Co. Road 27,
just west of Sparta

THE QUAKER SETTLEMENT AT SPARTA
Jonathan Doan (1765-1847) a member of the Society of Friends came to Upper Canada from Pennsylvania about 1789. He settles first in the Niagara peninsula, and then purchased 200 acres of wilderness here in South Yarmouth Township in 1813. A few years later Doan became a land agent for the Honourable James Baby. He acquired 3,000 acres for settlement and revisited Niagara and Pennsylvania to recruit fellow Quakers. A community known as the Quaker Settlement, or Yarmouth Corners developed around Doan's farm, grist-mill and tannery. In 1820 he donated the land for a meeting house and this burying ground. The name Sparta was adopted by the settlement in 1832.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Communication

PLAQUE #10


Location: Balmoral Park, John St. at the
foot of the walkway, Aylmer

THE FOUNDING OF AYLMER
In October 1817, John Van Patter, an emigrant from New York State obtained 200 acres of land and became the first settler on the site of Aylmer. During the 1830's a general store was opened and village lots sold. Originally called Troy, in 1835 it was renamed Aylmer after Lord Aylmer, then Governor-in-Chief of British North America. By 1851 local enterprises included sawmills and flour-mills powered by water from Catfish Creek. Aided by easy access to Lake Erie, Aylmer became by the mid 1860's the marketing centre for a rich agricultural and timber producing area. Benefitting greatly from the construction of the 145-mile Canada Air Line Railway from Glencoe to Fort Erie, Aylmer became an incorporated village in 1872.

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario

PLAQUE #11


Location: At the Municipal Office, Pitt and Erieu St., Pt. Burwell

LIEUT-COL. MAHLON BURWELL 1783-1846
Born of Loyalist parents, Burwell became a deputy-surveyor in 1809 and was instructed to lay out the Talbot Road for settlement. He was granted 600 acres of land in Southwold Township where he settled in 1815. A close associate of Col. Thomas Talbot, Burwell carried out extensive surveys in southwestern Upper Canada which prepared the way for settlement. He served in the War of 1812 as Lieutenant-colonel of the 1st Middlesex Militia, was a justice of the peace and for some 20 years represented this area in legislative assembly. This community, named in his honour was laid out by Burwell in 1830.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board

PLAQUE #12


Location: Municipal Building, Ron McNeil Line (formerly Main St.), Springfield

FOUNDING OF SPRINGFIELD
About 1850, some ten years after this area was settled a school and Methodist meeting house were erected here on the townline between the townships of South Dorchester and Malahide. Shortly afterwards a post-office named Clunas was opened with Archibald Clunas as postmaster. Although a village plot called Springfield was surveyed in 1857, its growth was slow until the Canada Southern Railway completed in 1873 selected Springfield as a station site. The community quickly became the commercial centre for the surrounding fertile agricultural area and attracted a number of industries, including a flax-mill and several grist-mills. The population numbered about 800 in 1877 when Elgin County council pass the by-law incorporating Springfield as a Village.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Recreation

PLAQUE #13


Location: Mitchell Hepburn Park, Talbot St., St. Thomas

HON. MITCHELL E. HEPBURN 1896-1953
Ontario's eleventh prime minister was born in nearby Yarmouth Township and educated at St. Thomas Collegiate. After serving in World War I, he was elected to the federal parliament in 1926 as member for Elgin West. In 1930 he was named leader of the Ontario Liberal party and resigned his federal seat in 1934 to become prime minister of Ontario. His administration established pensions for the blind and the aged, compulsory pasteurization of milk, a Department of Municipal Affairs and, on the Grand River, the first provincial water control programme. Mitchell Hepburn resigned as prime minister in 1942 and , in 1945, retired to his farm near St. Thomas.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #14


Location: City Hall, 545 Talbot St., St. Thomas

CAPTAIN DANIEL RAPELJE 1774-1828
Emigrating from New York State to the Long Point Settlement in 1802, Rapelje later received 200 acres of land on the south side of the Talbot Road at Kettle Creek. He settled here with his family in 1810. A veteran of Lundy's Lane and other battles of the War of 1812 he became a captain in the 1st Middlesex Militia. In 1814 he built a log grist-mill and subsequently divided a portion of his land into town lots. The settlement that Rapelje established formed the nucleus of the city of St. Thomas.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board

The next 10 plaques were sent in by Dorothy Dahm

PLAQUE #15


Location: Elgin County Pioneer Museum, 32 Talbot St., St. Thomas

DR. CHARLES DUNCOMBE

1791-1867

This house was built in 1848 by Dr. Elijah Duncombe, brother of Dr. Charles Duncombe. The latter, born in Connecticut, came to Upper Canada in 1819 and settled on this property shortly thereafter. In 1824, with Dr. John Rolph, he opened at St. Thomas the province's first medical school, named "The Talbot Dispensatory" in honour of Col. Thomas Talbot. Charles Duncombe later moved to Burford township and in 1830 was elected to the legislature as a Reform member for Oxford. An ardent supporter of William Lyon Mackenzie, he raised an insurgent force during the Rebellion of 1837 which was dispersed by loyal militia. Duncombe then fled to the United States where he remained until his death.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #16


Location: Woodworth Ave., at the CNR crossing, St. Thomas

JUMBO
On Sept. 15, 1885, Jumbo, the giant African elephant, star of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, met an untimely death when struck in St. Thomas by a Grand Trunk locomotive. To commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of this tragic event, the citizens of St. Thomas and Elgin County erected this monument which was designed and constructed in Sussex, New Brunswick by Winson Bronnum. The city of St. Thomas provided the site. Listed on these plaques are the names of the Jumbo Centennial Committee members and the donors who made this tribute to Jumbo possible.

PLAQUE #17


Location: In Tyrconnell, County Road 8, se of Wallacetown near
John E. Pearce Prov. Park

ST. PETER'S CHURCH 1827
A fine example of early Gothic Revival architecture, this Anglican church lies in the midst of the original "Talbot Settlement." The nave was erected by the congregation in 1827. The belfry and tower, added in 1845 to accommodate a bell donated by the Earl of Galloway, adhered to the original style. In 1849 Bishop John Strachan consecrated the church, and two years later the Reverend James Stewart became first resident priest of the parish. Charlotte Simcoe, a daughter of the province's first lieutenant-governor, gave St. Peter's a silver communion service in 1844. The nearby burying ground contains the graves of some of the area's earliest settlers, including that of Col. Thomas Talbot, founder of the "Talbot Settlement"

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario

PLAQUE #18


Location: across the road from the above a wooden plaque

(Note - inside this cemetery near the back end lie the tombstones of Col. Talbot and his niece)

ST. PETER'S ANGLICAN CHURCH CEMETERY

FIRST MARKED BURIAL 1825

In memory of all the undaunted pioneers who left home and country to settle on the north shore of Lake Erie. Decicated this June 23, 1996 by the Honourable Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Henry N. R. Jackman.

PLAQUE #19


Location: In Tyrconnell, County Road 8, se of Wallacetown near
John E. Pearce Prov. Park

ELLIS ELLWOOD SIFTON, V.C.

1891-1917

Born and educated in Wallacetown, Sifton joined the 18th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force in October 1914. During the Canadian attack on Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917, his company was held up by the fire of a German machine gun. Lance-Sergeant Sifton charged it single handled, killed the crew and held the position against enemy counter attack until his comrades arrived. In carrying out his gallant act he was killed, but his conspicuous valour undoubtedly saved many lives and contributed largely to the success of the operation. The British Empire's highest award for military valour, the Victoria Cross, was awarded posthumously to Ellis Sifton.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board

PLAQUE #20


Location: Port Talbot, 10 km s. of Wallacetown

THE TALBOT SETTLEMENT
The settlement begun in May 1803 by Thomas Talbot was despite the controversial practices of its founder one of the most successful in Upper Canada. Major roads were constructed throughout the settlement and by a system of close and personal control Talbot managed effectively to keep out land speculators and secure hardworking settlers. His extensive powers eventually brought him into conflict with the Executive Council which in 1837 transferred control of settlement in the vast territory between Norfolk county and Amherstburg to the Crown Lands Commissioner.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #21


Location: Iona Road, south of #3, a walking path back from road

SOUTHWOLD EARTHWORKS
This prehistoric site was once a fortified village occupied by the Neutral Indians between about 1500 and 1650 A.D. An earth and palisade wall later strengthened by a second wall, protected a cluster of longhouses. The Neutrals, who emerged as a distinct group within Iroquois culture about 1450 were so called because they did not participate in wars with traditional Iroquois rivals. This neutrality aroused the ire of the Iroquois confederacy, and Mohawk and Seneca raids brought about the demise of the Neutral nation by 1650.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

(Another plaque at the same site as the above maps the location
of the Neutrals and includes this explanation.)

PLAQUE #22


Location: Iona Road, south of #3, a walking path back from road

Southwold: the Remains of an Indian Village

Members of the Neutral Amerindian group built a village - surrounded by a double palisade here, in Southwold, around the year 1500. It is not known how long the site was occupied but it was probably less than 20 years. All that remains of this village is the raised earth foundation of the palisade. The Neutrals were related to the Hurons, the Tobaccos and the Five nations Iroquois confederacy. Their name was given to them by French explorers because of their neutrality in the many wars between the Hurons and the Iroquois.


PLAQUE #23


Location: west of Fingal on Fingal Line

RCAF NO. 4 BOMBING AND GUNNERY SCHOOL
No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School was a unit of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The Plan, from April 29, 1940 to March 15, 1945, graduated over 130,000 air crew, of which 73,000 were Canadians. No. 4 B&GS consisted of the main station at Fingal: bombing ranges at Dutton, Melbourne, Frome and Tempo; a Marine Section at Porst Stanley; and bombing and gunnery ranges on Lake Erie. No,. 4 B&GS operated from November 25, 1940 to February 17, 1945, during which time over 6000 non-pilot aircrew members graduated from the School. This memorial is dedicated to all who served at No. 4 B&GS, especially to those named on the back of this plaque, who lost their lives in the course of their duty at Fingal.

    Erected by:
    Kettle Creek Conservation Authority - Private Donations - Province of Ontario
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PLAQUE #24


Location: At train station by lift bridge in Port Stanley

THE LONDON AND PORT STANLEY RAILWAY
After the Great Western Railway reached London in 1853, local businessmen and politicians began promoting a competitive line south to Lake Erie. The London and Port Stanley Railway began operations in 1856. Like most early Canadian railways, it was expensive to build and difficult to pay off but it contributed enormously to the local economy. Its main business was shipping coal from Pennsylvania and carrying tourists to and from the lakeshore. The City of London gained control ot the L. & P. S. R. in 1894 and converted it to electricity in 1913. The line prospered, carrying more freight and over a million passengers in some years before the Depression. The increased use of the automobile in the 1950s brought about its decline.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation

PLAQUE #25


Location: on cairn at main corner in Port Stanley

PORT STANLEY
Kettle Creek was called by the Iroquois the "Kanagio", by the Ojibwas the "Akiksibi", by the French the "Riviere Tonti:. Among early vistors were: Louis Jolliet, September, 1669; Dollier and Galinee, April 1670; the Celoron expedition, October 1749; Sir William Johnson, 26th August, 1761; Colonel Thomas Talbot, 1801; Lord Stanley, 1824. First settler, John Bostwick, 1804. General Brock’s expedition encamped on the beach, 9th August, 1812, on its way to Detroit.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #26


Location: On the SE corner of Moore Street and McIntyre Street

ALMA COLLEGE
In response to a petition from a provisional Board of Management appointed in 1876, the Ontario Government granted a charter the following year for the erection of a ladies' college in St. Thomas. In this building, designed in the High Victorian Gothic style by James Balfour of Hamilton, Alma College was opened in October 1881. The establishment of the College resulted largely from the contributions of residents of St. Thomas and Elgin County and the efforts of Bishop Albert Carman, D.D., Bishop of the Niagara and London Diocese of the Methodist Episcopal Church. From its inception the school offered matriculation for university entrance and succeeded in providing liberal instruction to young ladies "to make their lives useful and happy and their tastes elevated and refined".

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Recreation
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PLAQUE #27


Location: In Port Burwell, at the lighthouse on County Road 19, 1 block south of County Road 42

PORT BURWELL LIGHTHOUSE 1840
The Port Burwell lighthouse was constructed in 1840. It was part of a national network of light stations equipped with beacon lights to warn or guide ships at sea. The Port Burwell light was used to aid navigation and commercial shipping of local timber on Lake Erie. The octagonal, tapered tower is 13.7 metres high but, because of its location on a hilltop, the lantern is 29.3 metres above the water. Its fixed, white light was visible for 19 kilometres. For over 100 years the Sutherland family kept the light, until it closed in 1962 when the Canadian Coast Guard began decommissioning light stations. In 1965, the Village of Port Burwell acquired the structure. It is the oldest wooden lighthouse on the Canadian shore of Lake Erie and one of the oldest surviving lights in Canada.

Ontario Heritage Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario

PLAQUE #28

Location: Inside the Elgin County Court House on the wall of the main corridor
on Wellington Street across from Queen Street, St. Thomas

GEORGE MACKINNON WRONG
1860-1948
Born in Gravesend, Upper Canada, Wrong graduated from Wycliffe College and the University of Toronto where, in 1895, he became the first Professor of Modern History. A believer in the historian's moral duty to interpret the past for society's present needs, he viewed Canadian history in terms of the country's British and French origins, and the American presence. As a teacher, administrator, writer and a moving force in the early days of the Canadian Historical Association, he helped to provide an intellectual base for a developing Canadian nationality. He died in Toronto.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #29

Location: Inside the Elgin County Court House on the wall of the main corridor
on Wellington Street across from Queen Street, St. Thomas

JAMES HENRY COYNE
1849-1942
Born in St. Thomas, Upper Canada, Coyne became Registrar of Deeds and, subsequently, Master of Titles, for Elgin County. Deeply interested in local history, he founded the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute, was President of the Pioneer and Historical Association of Ontario in 1897, President of the Ontario Historical Society (1898-1902), and member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (1919-1930). His wide-ranging historical interests and his writings were recognized by his election as F.R.S.C. in 1906, as F.R.G.S. in 1926, and as President of the Royal Society for 1926-7. He died at St. Thomas.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #30

Location: At the former railway station south of the intersection of
Talbot and Manitoba streets, St. Thomas

ST. THOMAS
CANADA SOUTHERN RAILWAY STATION
The St. Thomas Canada Southern (CASO) Station, financed by American railway promoters, was constructed between 1871 and 1873 to serve as both the passenger station for St. Thomas and CASO's corporate headquarters. During the 1920s, the station was one of the busiest in Canada. The Canada Southern rail route through southwestern Ontario ultimately linked Chicago and New York City, and was instrumental in the economic development and growth of St. Thomas. Designed in the Italianate style by Canadian architect Edgar Berryman (1839-1905), the impressive building is embellished with classical details such as pilasters, arched windows and passageways, wide eaves and a heavy cornice supported by paired brackets. The building's design, scale and quality of interior finishes make it unique within Canadian architectural history and it stands as a symbol of the importance of railway development in southern Ontario.

Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Government of Ontario

PLAQUE #31

Location: Inside the main doors at City Hall on the NE corner of Talbot and Mondamin Streets, St. Thomas

ST. THOMAS CITY HALL
City halls illustrate the emergence of urban areas in a predominately rural and agricultural 19th-century Canada and reflect the growth of municipal governments. Built in 1898-1899, this city hall is an impressively sited, well-designed example of late Victorian civic building. Incorporated as a city in 1881, St. Thomas sponsored a design competition to choose an appropriate symbol of the future. Neil Darrach's winning proposal features massive blocks of rough-faced stone, elaborate exterior carving, a commanding tower and a richly detailed interior which is largely intact.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

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