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London Free Press, April 13, 1933 pg 6

Fish Creek and Prospect Hill

by Dr John Dearness

At a meeting of the London Historical Society the writer referred to the pioneer stories appearing from time to time in the Free Press and advised their preservation in a scrap book to be kept by the society. For reasons other than this use, it is important that their writers should spare no pains in making their stories accurate especially in respect to dates. Informants with undoubtedly honest intentions, speaking from hearsay, and even from recollections of their own experience, are liable to confuse times and events. A little trouble taken to consult old letters or account books or to question their neighbors might prevent mistakes.

This review of parts of a recently published, very readable article on the early history of Prospect Hill and Fish Creek is offered for the double purpose of emphasizing the importance of sifting information and correcting some wrong impressions.

To say that fish Creek, which never consisted of more than the postmasters' residence, another smaller frame house and the toll- gate keeper's cottage, was once a hustling place - a village that suffered rapid decline when the postal facilities were transferred to Prospect Hill, is, to say the least, somewhat of an exaggeration. It would have been within the mark to give Fish Creek the honor of being the first post office, St Marys being excepted, in the township of Blanshard. In 1852 Mr and Mrs John Bell, grandparents of Mrs Angus Morrison, of Ridout street, began to operate the post office at the corner of the 10th concession line and the Mitchell road, now a section of highway No. 7, and gave it the name of the near-by stream. It could also have been stated, that the toll-gate across the corner from the post office was the first one to be closed and to stay closed in the more than 25 miles of gravel road owned by the London and Proof Line Company. Fish Creek bridge was next in respect of length to the one at the Hunt club, north of the city. The creek was at that time a very respectable stream even in midsummer it had its well- known trout pools and swimming holes.

According to the account under review the so-called Fish Creek Presbyterian Church was closed in 1857. On the contrary until 1866 the Rev. Robert Hall was pastor of the congregation and conducted services there regularly in conjunction with the North Nissouri charge. He was succeeded by the Rev. Allan Findlay who ministered for some time in both the Fish Creek and Granton churches. Two names eminent in Presbyterianism should be mentioned in the history of Fish Creek. In the 50s the Rev. Mr Skinner, of London township, made periodical trips in the saddle and conducted baptismal and other services in the little log school house. The Rev. William Caven, who became the second principal of Knox College in 1873, was a well-known and welcome visitor there up to the time that the Rev. Mr Hall was appointed and afterwards.

Old School House

It was also a mistake to say that the log schoolhouse gave place to the present brick building. Between the periods of their occupation, there stood for many years a good, commodious frame schoolhouse on the south side of the concession. It often housed, at the time of election, contests, excited crowds of voters of both parties - there were then only two parties - and both were always represented on the platform and cheered alternately by their respective sympathisers. The boys, of course, were there too and used their opportunities to cheer for both sides. The "both sides" oratory at election meetings and the two houses and toll cable that constituted the historian's village of Fish Creek have passed away; so have the trout pools that made the creek worthy of its name. Prospect Hill still remains at the top of the valley side to speak for itself with a milder and more temperate voice than when its name was given to the transferred post office. The view that northbound tourists receive as they turn the brow of the hill is as beautiful as it ever was. They can, if not in a hurry, rest their eyes on a valley that samples a large township not having a single acre of waste land within its boundaries.

As a concluding word for Fish Creek, it may be added that a few miles nearer the source of the stream than Mr Bell's post office, there once stood on its bank a small log building whose walls and contents, if recoverable, would unquestionably be assembled by Mr Henry Ford and set up in Greenleaf Village. It was only a hut, built in 1856 by Mr Timothy Eaton and stocked with a wagonload of salable goods in which he found room to open the second post office in Blanshard Township and start the merchandising career that led to the largest department store business in the British Empire, and that is nearly, if not wholly, saying in the world. He soon saw opportunity for expansion in St Marys and when the St Marys horizon became to narrow for his vision, he selected Toronto. The seated statue of this prince of merchants, whose business tap root was in the woods along Fish Creek, may be studied, and is well worth studying, near the from door of 190 Yonge street, Toronto.


About Perth County, Ontario

Welcome to Perth County GenWeb, your online guide to Perth County Genealogy since February 1998! I am Meg Fuller, Your Coordinator for this County site.

I hope you enjoy your visit. Please email me if you have any suggestions or contributions you would like to make.

I hope you find my efforts helpful in your research of your County roots. I am unable to do additional research on your family as I do not have direct access to records. I post everything I have for all to use.

Perth County is located in south-western Ontario in about the middle of the peninsula. There are many small towns and hamlets in this area, and the largest city is Stratford. Stratford currently has a population of about 30 000. This population swells in the summer tourist season! For the most part Perth County consists of rural agricultural land. The other major industry is tourism because of the Stratford Festival.

It is one of the few counties in South-Western Ontario that doesn't touch any of the Great Lakes. Because of its location, and distance from the Great Lakes, it was one of the last areas in Ontario to be settled. People who aren't familiar with Ontario often confuse it with Perth, a city in Lanark County. If it's Perth, Lanark County you're after, or if your reference just says Perth, here's a link to the Lanark County GenWeb. But it was nice of you to visit.

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