Greenwood

Where exactly Greenwood starts to Perretton’s west is  unfathonable to an outsider, but readily clear to the families who live in that area.  The Beachburg Road, (County Rd. 21), somewhere west of Chaffey’s Corners begins its route through the  Greenwood area.  The Greenwood Road (County Rd. 40) was the main  road through the community and until the Pembroke Bypass was built, was also the route of Hwy. 17- Trans-Canada.  Family and church affiliation are also key to where the line lies between the two communities. Lower Greenwood is sometimes used in old writings to mean the area of Meath Hill – that granite outcropping climbed by westbound Highway 17, east of Pembroke and just before the Greenwood Road exit. This area’s church Greenwood United started as a Methodist church and the school section was served by Greenwood S.S. No.9 School.

The community of Greenwood thrived because of its location on both the overland trail & road routes and the inland waterways used by the earliest settlers. The water-route up the Muskrat River is further set out is Gould’s Line, on this website. Then in the age of steam engines both of the nation’s railways would dissect the area.

Other place-names within Greenwood that have fallen out of use are:  Finchley Station, now only noted as Finchley Road, was the site of the CNR’s  stop in the area, and  Alba was the name given to both the early post office and the later telephone service to Greenwood.  Also the Meath Bridge over the Muskrat River was preceded by Graham’s Bridge, so-named because a man named Graham tended the early swing bridge. Lower Greenwood was the name used for what is now known as the Meath Hill  area.

This writing from the Library of the Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogy Group,  by Edward Thrasher called Pioneers Along Road from Perretton to Greenwood,”  sets out in fine fashion the many homesteads of Perretton and Greenwood and takes us right into the Town of Pembroke.  This is in Edward’s own words and tells what he remembers of the farms and families amongst whom he lived his entire life.  This is a very important document because it has first-hand accounts.   Some of the descendents  still own these farms and the Thrasher name is still one of a prominent Greenwood family.  Edward Thrasher’s Pioneers Along Road from Perretton to Greenwood

Included with the documents is a set of numbered explanations for the drawing, done in 1892 by Edward Thrasher of the Greenwood settlement as it appeared to him in 1863.   To take a closer look at the drawing:   1892 Greenwood Settlement Drawing by Edward Thrasher

Edward Thresher Drawing 1892

Edward Thrasher’s Drawing- “Greenwood 1892”

Greenwood 1863, Township of Westmeath, County of Renfrew

The History of this picture is as follows:

No. 1  The Township Line between the townships of Westmeath and Pembroke.  The first survey Line of the township of Westmeath was done by McNaughton and Quinn, Military Surveyors in 1825.  The line running north and south.

No. 2  The Greenwood Line running East and West, now Highway 17.

No. 3  The farm of Philemon Thrasher. All the buildings except the George Coffee home, and Greenwood Temperance Hall are on the Thrasher land.  The land for the church and church sheds was donated by Philemon Thrasher.

In the background the Philemon Thrasher farm buildings and home.  The buildings are the original ones but the brick house that stands there today was the second house (No. 4)

The first house was destroyed by fire Feb. 25th, 1872, including five of the children, Joseph 11 years, Ann 9 years, William 5 yrs, Nancy 7 yrs, Sarah, five months. The father had left for Arnprior to get supplies, this was before the railroad and Mrs. Thrasher was out doing the chores at the barn.  One of the children had knocked over the lamp and Mrs. Thrasher was badly burned trying to rescue the children.  The first house was built around 1848.

No. 5  Indicates the tree where Philemom Thrasher was sheltering during a lightning storm. He was killed by the lightning June 9th 1876.

No. 6 Greenwood Church and sheds

No. 7  Bob Nelson’s home and Blacksmith shop. The two men in front of shop represent John O’Brien and James Ormsly.

No. 8  Represents Bob Nelson cutting wood with the old horse power drag saw.

No. 9  Representing the Coffee Family hastening to the Thrasher home where children were burned to death and Mrs, Thrasher badly burned trying to rescue her children.  Mr. and Mrs. Coffee cared for Mrs. Thrasher and the members of family and were never forgotten by the Thrasher family for their many acts of kindness.

No. 10     Greenwood Temperance Hall.

The 1937 Greenwood Scrapbook

A part of the human dilemma is whether or not one person can make a difference and leave a legacy. The 1937  Greenwood Scrapbook, developed and compiled by Greenwood children under the watchful supervision of  Greenwood schoolteacher Violet Montgomery, shows what one women can do for her community.  Violet Mongomery Obituary.

This goldmine of early local history is archived  in the Champlain Trail Museum in Pembroke, Ontario. It was digitized for this HWTProject website  in September 2014. Care has been taken to capture these old photographs before even more deterioration takes place. The captions as written by the children have been left with the pictures but the writings have been typed for easier reading on this site. Also the sequencing of items has been left as the students placed them.

The scrapbook’s many treasures of photographs and writings will be inserted in the various sections of this website with acknowledgements. School information from the scrapbook will go into the Greenwood School page; photos from local families will be in the Family Registry for that family,  church information will be added to the Church section, etc. Special thanks go to Don Carnegie for bringing this wonderful  scrapbook to light.

Presented here in this section are general interest Greenwood writings and photographs from the scrapbook. We are proud to bring the content of  this important scrapbook to a wider audience and we think that Miss Montgomery would approve.

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History of Greenwood 1937

Inside the front cover of the scrapbook Evelyn Moore Price commemorates the legacy of Miss Montgomery:

“This detailed history of the part of Greenwood known as S.S. # 9 Westmeath was compiled under the direction of Miss Violet A. Montgomery, teacher from 1928 until three weeks prior to her death on June 14, 1963.

“According to her wish, it was presented to the Ottawa Valley Historical Society to be permanently placed in the Champlain Trail Museum at Pembroke.

“She was a charter member of the OVHS and elected as second vice-president the first year. She catalogued historical data for the files in addition to supplying much early pioneer background for recording history in the area. She also donated several antiques to the Champlain Trail Museum, assisted in Work connected with its opening. She was a strong supporter of the name for the museum, maintaining that it was symbolic of Champlain’s journeys on the Upper Ottawa. He was the first white man to journey so far inland. It has been substantiated that in 1613, Samuel de Champlain landed below Pembroke on either Allumette or Morrison’s Island.” – Mrs. Carl Price, Historian.

Greenwood in its primeval years was a vast forest wilderness. The first settlers to hew their way into this unbroken forest were the Thrashers, Currys, Wilsons, Pattersons, Grahams, Carnegies, Pappins, Robinsons, McDonoughs, Scotts, McLaughlins, Devons, O’Briens, Coffeys, Brouses, Ormsbys and Hamiltons.

There were no roads and many of these early pioneers came by way of the Ottawa and Muskrat Rivers. Log shanties were built and the long hard struggle of subduing the wilderness and bringing it into subjection to man’s dominion began. Hard and rugged was their lot and only the stout hearted and the honest succeeded. All work had to be done by hand and bees were common. After the forests was practically cleared the tedious task of cultivating the soil and harvesting the grain in turn began. We today with all our modern machinery can hardly conceive the hardships these forefathers endured. The soil was broken with hoes and spades and the seeds broadcast by hand.

Tree tops were used for drags and had to be drawn by hand. Later oxen were used. The first horse to be used in this community was loaned by a lumber company and the farmers used it in turn. Often on moonlight nights grain-cutting bees would be held. The men would bring their hooks or cradles and one man would go ahead and cut while two followed him binding the grain into sheaves. Strands of straw were used to bind the grain. When the grain was harvested it had to be threshed with flails. As these pioneers became more prosperous reapers were purchased.

  -Composed by Irene Lebeau, written by Luella Vogelson.

Lack of a speedy communication with the outside world was a long and serious hindrance to this community. Canoes were used on the Ottawa and Muskrat and many of the settlers came in by these routes. The first roads were very rough and at certain periods of the year practically impassable.

Matters in respect to communication were considerably improved when Jason Gould of Smith’s Falls built a steamer called the “Muskrat” and placed it on the Muskrat River and Lake. Later a better boat called the “Star” succeeded the “Muskrat”. This brought steam navigation to within two and one-half miles of Pembroke. In high water these boats stopped at Croskery’s Landing about two and one-half miles south of Pembroke. In lower water it stopped at Coffey’s Landing about four miles south of Pembroke. When the water was low it stopped at Devon’s Wharf where Meath now stands.

The tote road over which the merchandise and passengers were conveyed from the Landings to Pembroke followed the river as closely as possible. Ox-carts were used for this purpose at first. Later horses and wagons took the place of the ox-carts.

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When in 1876 the C.P.R. extended its mainline through this district it was found to be a great boon to the settlement. A box car served as a station at Graham’s Bridge for many years. Later the C.P.R. found it necessary to build a station and one was erected just below where Gordon Davidson’s house was built. Sometime after the name “Graham Bridge” was changed to Meath. During the war the old station was built. When the first train passed through, the far shore of Allumette Island was thronged with people who had come down to the shore to see the train.

Railway-track-at-Meath-1939

1939 Railway Track at Meath, Greenwood

Mabel Short at Meath Train Station

Josephine Short on platform at Meath Train Station

Mabel Short Flannery was one of the schoolchildren who originated the Greenwood Scrapbook in 1937 and she has these thoughts on her bringing to school  this photograph of the Meath Station:

I also noticed the Meath Station, the place where I and Isabelle were raised from little children. I do know that there was no history provided when Isabelle and I took that picture to school to be put in the school book. The reason for that was my mom couldn’t read or write and my dad was too busy. I do think that there is something to be said on how important that station was to all the people in and around the area. I also do know that there is no one that is living to tell this story except myself I spoke to Ruth and we both agreed that I should say something before it was too late.”

Reading Mabel Short Flannery’s remembrances of her family’s life in the Meath Station – her father was CPR station master – is worth the time, as it is a wonderful first-person account which also describes what the trains meant to the community. She even describes watching the troop trains go through during the war years. It appears at the end of the Short Family Registry entry.

Don Carnegie who grew up in Greenwood submits these thoughts: “The station at Meath was a very busy place at one time. I remember when the stock yards were still there, also while I never loaded a box car with pulp, I did help cut the pulp that was loaded there.

“THE LOCAL” was a train that ran daily from Chalk River to Ottawa, down in the morning back at night. My aunt and many others from the area attended high school in Renfrew, it was easier to get there by train than into Pembroke. Dr. Reid’s father who operated a store in Westmeath used to come by horse and sleigh or car in summer and leave it at James Carnegie’s catching the Local at the five mile crossing go to Ottawa in the morning and back in the evening. To bad they have removed the rails!”

1876-Railway-Crew

Spring-logs-on-ice

Jacob Brouse one of the early settlers operated a blacksmith shop on the property just up from the school now owned by Robert Wilson. This shop stood close to the line fence between the Carnegie farm and Robert Wilson. Greenwood was gradually moving out of its pioneer start and developing into a prosperous little community. Ox carts were giving place to horses and carriages and log shanties to frame buildings.

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In 1887 The Lucky brothers built the present cheese factory and began making cheese. This factory still stands and is operated by Stanley Salter. Chase Doran owned and operated for a time a little portable sawmill and provender grinder at Graham’s Bridge.

Garage at Greenwood

Early grocery stores were operated at Meath by George Smith, Mrs. Chas. Costello and John Kenny. R. T. McLaughlin began a general store on the farm now occupied by Ernie Carnegie. In 1949 this farm was purchased by Gerald Moore.

In 1913 the C.N.R. extended its man line through this district and a station was established at Finchley. After the fire in Beachburg this station was taken from Finchley to Beachburg. Robert Nelson began a blacksmith shop on the property now owned by Mrs. H. Fraser. Mr. Nelson operated that shop for a number of years.

In 1930 C.C. Grail purchased this property and established a garage service station and grocery store. In 1935 Mrs. H. Fraser and her son Clarence purchased the property and for one year Clarence kept the garage.

In 1912 the telephone line was put through and Alba Central was established at R. T. McLaughlin’s.

Alba-Central

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Mrs. Fraser operated the store and service station but she made a more general store out of the store owned by C. Grail. In 1939 Allan McKinnon purchased this from Clarence Fraser and operates a Tea Room.

Grocery-store

As traffic increased it was found necessary to improve the road through Greenwood. In 1922 the road was widened out and graveled. Cement culverts were built and travelling was made more pleasant. In 19__ the provincial government decided to extend Highway 17 down this road and this shorten the route to Ottawa. In 1927 the road was paved and became a Government Highway. The course of the road below the school was changed and a new bridge built over the Muskrat. Much difficulty was encountered near the river because the land was a muskeg and had to be filled in many times with trees, stones, etc. Now No.17 joins the Trans-Canada Highway and coast to coast traffic passes through. Greenwood is now a prosperous little community with great prospects for the future.

Old-bridge

The first bridge over the Muskrat at Meath was a swinging bridge. This allowed the boats to pass up the Muskrat. The bridge was swung open at night and closed in the daytime. A man by the name of Graham attended the bridge. Later a stationary wooden bridge was built over the river.

Muskeg-at-Bridge

New-Bridge

Mrs. Fraser operated the store and service station but she made a more general store out of the store owned by C. Grail. In 1939 Allan McKinnon purchased this from Clarence Fraser and operates a Tea Room.

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The first Post Office serving Greenwood was Pembroke Post Office. The mail was brought down about once a week or as often as anyone from the community went up. When one neighbour went to town he would bring down the mail for the whole settlement distributing it as he went along.

Soon the community began to feel the need for a better mail system and in 1893 Alba Post Office was established in Charles Whitmore’s home. The old library cupboard from the church served as a box to keep the mail. Mrs. Charles Whitmore acted as Post Mistress for about seventeen years.

Alba-Post-Office

The mail bag was thrown off the train at Greenwood and a mail carrier picked it up and brought it to the Alba P.O. The first mail carrier was Mr. Chaffey. After him James Russel and Mrs. John Smith acted as mail carriers in turn. These mail carriers took mail on to Chaffey’s Post Office on the Beachburg Road.

Alba Post Office served the community from Meath to Government Road.

In 1910 Mrs. Whitmore applied for the rural mail and obtained it.

The first rural mail man was M.J. Thrasher who served for six months. In 1912 George Thrasher took over the mail route and served for twenty-five years, In 1937 Mr. Thrasher gave up the mail route and it was taken over by Wesley Miller. Mr. Miller drove the mail for a time and then hired Ira Lisk to deliver the mail for him in the winter and Albert Yandt in the summer.

The Cyclone: In 1903 a terrific cyclone passed through this district. It carried in its wake the outbuildings of Robert Wilson, William Wilson, R.T. McLaughlin and John O’Brien. William Wilson’s house was blown down and pieces of it were gathered at Moore’s School in Perretton. Mrs. Wilson’s wedding hat was found in a field below Perretton Church. Torrents of rain fell and pools of water lay on the fields and roads for long after. Pieces of buildings and other things were carried for miles.

This clipping from the Ottawa newspaper tells of the horrific 1853 “Black Year” when a ravenous forest fire laid waste the area. Read more about that fire in Gould’s Line.

Ottawa-Valley-News

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Dionne Quintuplets:

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Dionne-Quintuplets2

NOTE:  for more excerpts from the Greenwood Scrapbook click on:  S.S. No. 9 Greenwood School.