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Spence was another of the little towns that appear on the Nipissing Colonization Road. The name came from the Postmaster General, Robert Spence. Approximately 10 km north of Dufferin Bridge, it was a small farming community.
By the 1870's a general store was owned by Henry Clifford and a hotel operated by William Cameron. The post office opened in 1872 by William Ashdown. From 1919 Effie Doherety took over the postal service until 1952 when it closed.
The Spence Inn (later named Simpson's Hotel) was operated by Levitt Simpson. It opened in 1878 and operated until 1911.
A second store was added, blacksmith shop, two sawmills, church and school. Hamilton Brown taught at the school, which was built in 1875, and also ran the Spence Inn. In its prime. the population was between 100-150 residents.
The spence Inn was purchased in 1977 by the Rotary Club of Huntsville and moved to the Pioneer Village in Huntsville (Brunel Road).
The Orange Hall opened on Sept. 24, 1872 and remains standing to this day.
There will be a road named Orange Valley on your left (see picture 1). This is the location of an old village named North Seguin. An old mill used to be found roughly 15km down this road but it was torn down. One point of interest is that much of the left side of the road is marked with old wooden fencing (picture 5). Back out on the Nipissing Road you will cross over an old cement bridge, reinforced with metal.
Somewhere on the right hand side is the old cemetary of an abandoned Rock Hill. After walking down three of the trails, I found only cottages and a burned out home (picture 7). Your next intersection will be the Nelson Lake Road. This has caused some confusion with regards to where to find the old school house. Nelson Lake Rd. is a left hand turn. Walk roughly 30 paces past this intersection and the school is hiding on the right hand side of the road (opposite the Nelson Lake Rd.). See pictures 8-12.
The school had been broken into, and entry was possible. Inside was a rotting mattress, water cooler and old chairs and boxes. The stench of urine was everywhere. It appeared someone may have been living in it for a short time. You can see the hydro meter (removed) outside, while inside is a fuse box, ceiling fan and lighting.
Whether this place is being fixed up or was being fixed up remains unclear. As you continue down the road, you will eventually come to the Cornball general store. Stop in and have a chat with the retired couple, they are very friendly. Across from the general store is a cemetary. Down that road (Midlothian Rd.) you will find the Screaming Heads.
Location: The Nipissing Road (same road as Dufferin Bridge and Seguin Falls), off of Highway 518. Spence is at the intersection of the Nipissing and North Lake Roads.
One of my visitors, Mike, sent me this picture. The story goes like this: In the 80's, he was visited the Nipissing Trail and went into an old house. He noticed a buldge behind some wallpaper and proceeded to remove the wallpaper. Behind it was this receipt, dated 1919, for an old newspaper subscription. Note the price.