London Free Press, January 25, 1941, pg.19
Gone is Glory of Trowbridge, Once Elma Hope
Village in Centre of Perth Township was Surveyed on Grand Scale
Streets Never Built Carried Royal Names
Got off to Good Start with Promise of Becoming Industrial Centre
Trowbridge, another "town that might have been," situated on the Maitland River in the northwestern portion of Elma Township, six miles southwest of Listowel, has faded until it is now only a remnant of its former self and scarcely a shadow of what its ambitious promoters once hoped that it would be.
Apparently, Trowbridge got off to a good start as it is recognized as the oldest village in Elma. This township, the largest in Perth County, was named in honor of Lady Elma, daughter of Lord Elgin who at one time was governor of Upper and Lower Canada. The municipality was surveyed by James W. Bridgeland, in 1848, but was not approved by the Government until 1852, when, on a report made by John Grant, P.L.S., it was entered for sale in 1854. The settlement of the township then became general although there were some who had located within its environs prior to this date.
One of the earliest of them was George Code who came through the township in 1848, accompanied by his brother, Richard, afterwards of Huron County. Mr Code was so favourably impressed with the present site of Trowbridge that he returned to his home in Lanark County and sent his sons, George and Samuel, to take possession of the spot of his choice. He followed them soon afterwards and built the first sawmill in Elma, on the banks of the Maitland at this location.
A writer of 1879 [probably in the Illustrated Historical Atlas] refers to Trowbridge as follows: "When Elma was first surveyed there was a 'town plot' laid out here where the Maitland crosses the side line between lots five and six, but the fact that no 'town' has yet been erected thereon is but another proof that the channel of trade cannot be regulated by the location of 'town plots,' but that it will converge towards its centre as naturally as water finds its level. However, there is considerable attractiveness about Trowbridge in a commercial sense, and at the present time there are about 150 people residing there, besides the usual number of stores, mills, mechanic shops, etc, usually found in a place of like size."
The town plot of Trowbridge, as planned by the Government surveyors, embraced a large area and an ancient map of the place has all the lots and the names of the streets listed there. The street appellations - North, South, West, Patrick, Alfred, George, Helena, Arthur, Alice, Victoria, Albert, Coburg, Louisa and Edward - were mostly bestowed, apparently, in compliment to members of the British Royal Family.
The Trowbridge post office, at first known as Elma, was opened in 1854 with George Code, who had practically founded the place, in charge. The name of Trowbridge was conferred on it in 1858.
Like Poole, in Mornington, the most of the streets of Trowbridge remain silent and unbuilt. Despite every effort of the promoters, commerce refused to bring her horn of plenty in this direction.
Nevertheless, Trowbridge seems to have maintained some status as a residential area as there were estimated to have been about 300 people living in its vicinity at the turn of the century. --S.G.
Meg Fuller Perth County Coordinator
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