The Ontario Government's plan to populate northeastern Ontario was to provide 100 acres of free land to settlers arriving in the area. The settlers would be responsible for clearing the land and building their homesteads upon the land. The government's plan worked and vacant lots began filling up with eager settlers.
Work on the "Old Hastings" colonization road began at Madoc Township in 1854 under the supervision of Robert Bird. The road continued to develop for approximately 40 miles to where the town of Bancroft is found today. The areas where settlers gathered to build their homes would take on names such as (from south to north) Millbridge, Glanmire, Murphy Corners, Thanet, Ormsby and Umfraville.
Settlers and farmers would meet the Central Ontario Railway (COR) trains at the nearest station with their wagons where they would pick up supplies.
The Hastings Colonization Road had a number of factors working against it's continued life. First, the land was not only rocky but poor soil hindered crop growth. Secondly, the need for produce dwindled with the shrinking white pine lumber camps in the area. Finally when the railway was extended to Bancroft in 1900, there were even less reasons to make stops along the road.
By 1925 the road had become a ghost road.
The road is begins about 12 km south of Bancroft on the west of highway 62. The historic road runs parallel to highway 62, crossing over RR 620 and continuing south to meet up with the highway just past the ghost town of Millbridge. The road becomes impassible at several points but is definitely worth the effort. There are several pioneer cemetaries along the way and old buildings which have been preserved.
Beaver Creek's Jelly's Rapids, over which a bridge has been built, is an interesting sight, as it appears to disappear into the rock on the east side of the bridge, only to reappear several feet lower out of a wall of rock on the west side.
To see the old map of all the colonization roads check the photos under Ormsby.
To learn about the 6 ghost towns on this road with more indepth photos check out the write-ups for: Millbridge, Glanmire, Murphy Corners, Thanet, Ormsby and the unfathomable Umfraville.