Documenting the forgotten memories of Ontario before they're gone forever.




THAMESVILLE
(Botany, Dresden, Kent Bridge, Florence, McKay's Corners)

Since I was a child, I would look forward to spending a portion of my summer visiting my grandparents home on Sherman Street in Thamesville. Thamesville is a small town of approximately 1000 residents nestled in amongst other small Southern Ontario communities such as Bothwell, Dresden, Kent Bridge and Florence. I can remember as a child, running to the Thamesville train station upon hearing the sound of an oncoming train, hoping to catch a rush of adrenalin as it roared past us by only feet.

For those of you who live in such rural towns, perhaps you may not share the same enthusiasm that I do. Living in Northern Ontario, I'm accustomed to cold weather, urban sprawl, large city life and car stereos/alarms throughout the night. Thamesville has always allowed me to get away from that city life and to see Ontario as it should be seen.

Facts:

Population: 928

Author Robertson Davies born here in August of 1913

Threshing Festival held every July

Battle of the Thames took place here on Oct. 5, 1913

A post office was established at Thamesville in 1834. It was incorporated as a village in 1873.
There are straight stretches of highway that go on and on for kilometres, cornfields lining the roadside, humidity storms lighting up the night, the only sound during the evening being crickets and of course the beautiful early era homes.

It's a much simpler life in Thamesville and I've always appreciated the hard work that the farmers in the area of Kent County perform on a daily basis. The drivers are not in a hurry to get anywhere nor are they likely to cut you off. People are friendly in this part of Ontario.

As I grew into an adult the trips to Thamesville became less and less frequent. When my grandmother passed away in 2001, I realized that when the time came that my grandfather eventually passed away, that would end our reason for making the trip at all. Sadly, that day came on November 1, 2007.

While I have no doubt that I will visit Thamesville again, no longer will it be to visit my grandparents, to go for an ice cream with my cousins or to sleep in my grandparent's house. The house that they once lived in was sold almost a decade ago and now memories are all that I have.

While Thamesville is certainly not a ghost town, the beauty of this part of Ontario merits that I place it into this web page so that you may experience the beauty as well. Remember, if you visit these locations take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints.

I arrived in Thamesville at approximately 6:00 AM and proceeded to take some early morning photos. It began with a beautiful view of a farmer's field at sunrise. The camera settings were not set properly and I ended up with a dark orb photo.

Next are two rather eery photos of the stone abutments built in 1874 by stonemasons John and James Tinline. These would be used for a wooden bridge over the Thames River until an iron bridge would replace it.

Next is a marker for a barn which once stood nearby the bridge, followed by a cemetery not far from the bridge. The bridge can be found as you travel from Ridgetown into Thamesville.

The Robert Ferguson home, built in 1885, has always fascinated me for its beauty and appearance. It can be found just off of Sherman Street heading.


McKay's Corners

The day after the funeral I went out in search of abandoned places. I came across what appeared
to be an old schoolhouse. It stands at the intersection of McKay's Line (a road on which the former hamlet of McKay's Corners was situated) and Kenesserie Road. GPS Coordinates: 42.516 / 81.897 (Google Map)

Ogletree Cemetery

Along McKay's Line, I happened across the Ogletree Pioneer Cemetery (Google Map). Some of the markers date back to the 1800's while some of the markers belong to children (child mortality rates were high during the 1800's). The 59th image is of Samuel Clark's marker which reads that Clark was "killed by lightning". It is possible that the cemetery originated with the Ogletree family.

For a view of the entire Howard Township as it once looked, click here.


Botany

Botany's name may very well have been taken from a pioneer's quote that once appeared in a newspaper: "This worse than Botany Bay. Once here, work hard, get nothing for it, here till you die.", the pioneer had said in reference to the Australian penal colony. The pioneer's sentiments weren't entirely inaccurate; farmers who arrived in Botany were met with largely forested land which required clearing before it could be sown and before homes could be built.

Botany once contained a general store, cheese factory, blacksmith shop and two churches. The churches (Presbyterian and Methodist) each had their own cemeteries until the early 1960's when they were combined into the United Cemetery of Botany. The Methodist church was built in 1856 and lasted until 1903 when it was replaced with a brick church.

The community would hold dances that, one resident claimed, "would almost put life into a dead Scotchman". During the First World War, the local Women's Institute group knitted 250 pairs of socks to send to Canadian soldiers overseas.

Children would attend one of the local community schools. In Botany, a school was built in 1883 which served both Howard and Harwich children. Today the former school serves as the Botany community centre.

Botany Line Road will take you to the remains of the former hamlet. (Google Map)
GPS Coordinates: 42.479 / 82.002




Norton Line


This abandoned home can be located along the Norton Line road just outside of Thamesville. (Google Map)



Around the Town

The Oddfellow's hall

St. Paul's Church (mass Saturday evenings at 7pm)

Chatham-Kent satellite police station

unknown building

Home Hardware

Credit Union

Bull Dog Steel Wool
(You have a box of this somewhere in your home)





View video of Thamesville's main street

Thamesville CN Station


On April of 1999, two railway engineers, Don Blain and Kevin Lihou were killed when Via Rail 74 derailed in Thamesville. The historic station still stands but is no longer used for pasengers.


V.G. Graves Abandoned House

This property is located in Thamesville and I found it somewhat intriguing if not creepy. Various animal cages and kennels are scattered about the property. I found a storage shed and hand operated water-pump (not working). The burned out remains of an unknown structure sit not far behind the house. The house is locked up and while the padlock on it appeared to be relatively new, the contents of the house are quite older. The only access to the house was through a broken window with makeshift wooden ladder propped against the wall. A sheet of metal had been secured behind the window thus preventing entering the home.

Here is video footage of the area (7 megs). Right click and SAVE to your computer.







Rural Thamesville

Silo just outside of Thamesville

Historic Tecumseh monument

For more information on abandoned places nearby Thamesville, you might want to look at Cashmere, Northwood and Dawn Mills.