Uffington Ghost Town

Muskoka, Ontario

Location Owner TWP
Creation Date Jan 01 2006
Status Unknown
Category Cemetery
Location Muskoka, Ontario
Site number #347

Today Uffington is similar to many of the towns in the Muskoka area; it is small, cozy, and quiet. However back in the 1880(a)s, Uffington was a busy farming and lumbering community. The town(a)s popularity was due largely in part to settlers of Irish descent, attracted to the area by promises of rich farmland. To provide for the town, two general stores were opened. One store was operated by Robert McMurray, while a mile apart, a second store was built, operated by George Spence (Brown,1999). It was between these two general stores that the town was built up. Three churches were constructed for the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist parishes. The Methodist church also served double-duty as a town hall. John Peterkin, a local farmer, built his two-storey Peterkin Hotel complete with dining room and tavern. Other businesses included a blacksmith (John Pascall), agricultural society and town hall. Andrew Thompson opened a post office in 1864, and served as postmaster until 1872 when John Doherty took over. As with much of the farm land, Uffington(a)s ground was not as fertile as initially thought. For this reason, many of the farmers moved off in search of better land. In time, the two general stores closed as did the Presbyterian and Methodist churches. St. Paul(a)s Anglican church is still used for the occasional mass. Today the farming land is overgrown and the original buildings are either collapsed or on the verge of. In addition to the older homes, there are newly constructed homes to be found as well. Uffington can be found at the intersection of Uffington Road and the Peterson Road in the Town of Bracebridge. Take highway 11 until you reach highway 118 east. Take this until you reach Hawn Road and head south. <u>Attempted Murder in Uffington Story according to Hinds and DaSilva(a)s "Ghost Towns of Muskoka" book: is it true?</u>- There were 2 hotels in the bustling village. One was run by William Briggs in the winter of 1879. One particular night three of the lumber shantymen came in for drinks and proceeded to get drunk. They became boisterous and abusive towards some of the others in the hotel. With the aid of other sober folks, William asked the three men to leave. The problem was that they did not leave. Having felt slighted, they chose to hide out in the dark and wait for everyone to leave at closing hour. When the coast was clear, one of the men, John Dougherty proceeded to throw a rock through the window which brought William outside. John then stabbed Briggs in the chest three times; he fell down into the blood-drenched snow. John then stabbed him some more in the back. Miraculously, Briggs survived the vicious attack thanks to the thick garments he was wearing at the time. *(for other murder stories check out: Germania, Barkway, Monsell, Reesor Siding, Mowat, Redwater, Dalton Mills, Shanick, Horncastle, Barkway and Lewisham.) This story has some truth to it but most of it is incorrect..The bar room blitz did occur, but it was Mat Watson who protected the women and children from a group of boisterous drunks from Gravenhurst. He took them on for a half hour. He was known as the strongest man around. At one point, his son got pinned to the side of the bar and the bartender had to lift him over to prevent any possible harm. This comes from a book by LR Fraser called "History of MUskoka". There is no mention of a murder attempt. For more info. read on below. _______________________________________________________________________ <u>More History on the Accused Murderer- is this the same John Dougherty? (courtesy C. Fraser):</u> "This is what I have on John Doherty who the article you have on line says stabbed Wm Biggs...I(a)ll check out some more as I don(a)t have anything that I can remember on anyone named Biggs... John Doherty:- Muskoka Herald, April 11, 1889, "Mr. John Doherty has sold his farm of 84 acres from $1,800.00, to Mr. Thomas Fielding. This is one of the best farms in the vicinity. Mr. D. intends taking a trip to the Northwest ( Manitoba ) with a view of settling there. He was postmaster at Uffington , Treasurer of Draper Municipality and President of the Agricultural Society. " Bracebridge Gazette April 18, 1889 "Mr. John Doherty(a)s sale of farm stock and implements was the largest auction sale ever held in the township of Draper , if not in the district of Muskoka. The attendance was good, buyers being present from all the surrounding townships as well as from Bracebridge and Gravenhurst. Although some things were no doubt sold at much below their value other things again went high and we are glad to learn that John is well satisfied with the result of the sale." Muskoka Herald May 2, 1889 "Yesterday the Uffington Post Office was moved from Mr. Doherty(a)s late residence, where it had been located about 24 years, to the residence and store of Mr. George Spence, who has been appointed postmaster. The new location is said to be more central. Mr. Doherty, post master for many years, leaves today with his family; two span of horses and general outfit, for Manitoba . Although sorry to lose one of our oldest settlers, as well as one of our prominent and most enterprising citizens, we wish him every success in his new home in the prairie province. "A Good Town Grew Here" B. Boyer "John Doherty had gone west to Selkirk Manitoba after 30 years in Mukoka as Postmaster of Uffington. He died June 1893 in Selkirk."" _______________________________________________________________________ <u>Frederick Toye died in a severe fire in Uffington (courtesy C. Fraser)</u>: "Fredric Nowell Toye b. 1847 Island of Guernsey England , Methodist, English, Farmer d. May 28 1888 #11649 s/o Joseph Toye & Elizabeth m. Christina (Annie) Daniels b. 1841 Toronto Ontario d. May 28 1888 #11650 They died together at a fire in their home along with several of their children. Children:- Francis Eliza TOYE b. April 27 1868 Uffington Draper Twp. married Adam CHAMBERS b. Feb 16 1860 farmer, Greenock, Canada, Draper Twp. Aug 25 1886 Uffington Wtn. Angus McKay & Jane McMurray (had left home 2 years before the fire) They moved to Port Carling She had William Fredrick Chambers b. Aug 13 1887, (working as a hired man 1911 for the Kaye Family Monck Twp.) Clara Ann Isabella Chambers b. Apr 13 1889, (working as a domestic 1911 for the Gostick Family Baxter Twp) Emily Ada Kathleen Chambers b. July 15 1890,, Henrietta b. Feb 24 1895, Albert Aug 5 1898,, Howard b. Oct 10 1900 See Chambers family Wm Henry Toy b. July 1869 Uffington Ont. d. Nov 21 1869 age 4 mths. Uffington Mary Bella Toye b. 1875 Draper studying to be a teacher Wm Fredric Toye b. #017990-77 (Victoria Co) TOY,William Frederick, m, b.19 Apr 1877, father- Frederick TOY, farmer, mother- Christiana DANIELS, infm-Frederick Toy, Draper Draper d. May 28, 1888 burned to death in a fire #11652 Henrietta Elizabeth b. 1881 Draper d. May 28, 1888 burned to death in a fire #11651 Henry Arthur b. 1883 Draper d. May 28 1888 burned to death in a fire # 11653 Fred and his wife and all his children save 2 were burned to death in Uffington when their home caught fire while the second oldest girl was studying for her teaching exams. He had the Draper township office records in his building and tried to save them but they all perished in the fire. (1879 atlas Draper Lot 16 Con 6) Frederick Nowell Toye was born in 1847 on the Island of Guernsey in England . He was a Methodist and was married in Toronto to Christina Daniels whom everyone called "Annie". They had several children, Francis Eliza, Mary Bella, William Frederick, Henrietta Elizabeth and the baby Henry Arthur. Fred was the township clerk for Draper and kept all the town records in his home in Uffington. He was a careful, painstaking man devoted to his duties and to his family. One of Muskoka(a)s worst tragedies happened on the evening of May 28th 1888. There had been a heavy rain and then it stopped and the mosquitoes came out of the lowlands in black clouds. The family had retired about 9:00 pm all except for Mary Bella, then a girl of l7 who was studying to be a teacher; she was working on her homework. To combat the mosquitoes a smudge was made in an old tin dish which was set just inside a little porch door. At bedtime the smudge would be moved away from the door for safety. This Mary Bella did but by mistake in her carefree judgment she put the smudge in a shed adjoining the house. An hour or so later she discovered that the house was on fire and called her parents who were sleeping downstairs, then she ran to the nearest neighbours for help. But when help arrived there was no sign of life and the house was a mass of flames. Mr. Toye it appears, had started for the well with two pails but turned back, rushed into the house in an effort to save the municipal books and perished on his hands and knees at the office door. Mrs. Toye ran upstairs to rescue the children. She succeeded in getting to the bed where Henrietta and the baby Henry, were asleep she also was overcome at the foot of the stairs and when her charred body was found she had a little child under each arm, a grim symbol of pioneer motherhood. Her other child, William who was about 13 perished in his bed. A few days later while a great concourse of people stood with heads bowed , the Rev. A. Bedford, minister of the Methodist Church at Uffington, committed to the earth a few calcined bones, all that remained of 5 of the Toye family members. No one knows exactly the spot of their grave, so it would be nice to think of them remembered and immortalized in our history. The tragedy cast a gloom over the surrounding community that took a long time to dispel. Every member of the family except for Mary and her sister Francis who had married Adam Chambers, a farmer from Greenock , August 25th two years before, were gone in a matter of minutes. Adam Chambers came to Uffington by 1882 and worked for John Hale and others engaged in the lumbering business. He was an ambitious young man and he secured permission from James Kirkpatrick to erect a blacksmith shop on a useless piece of wet, marshy land, facing south on the Peterson road, just west of the corner. Here he erected a large building of logs, 26 by 40 feet and set himself up with a non-descript and ancient outfit of tools, to ply the trade of blacksmith. While here he met and married Frances Eliza Toye, the oldest daughter of Fred Toye. For about 7 years Adam continued on in business with its ups and downs. He met with a painful and severe accident while engaged in plowing. It appears that the horses slipped and fell on a rock, and it was while trying to get them up that his right hand got entangled in the harness. It was severely crushed and several bones were broken. He was taken to Bracebridge, where the broken hand was skilfully dressed by Dr. Byers. Adam Chambers moved his store west from east Uffington. At some point Adam & Frances moved from Uffington to Port Carling Bracebridge Gazette Uffington News Column July 22 1897 says "Mrs. Chambers and family of Port Carling Village have been here visiting old acquaintances" When he left James McKay took over the business and served the people most acceptably for his short stay." _____________________________________________________________________ <u>Uffington(a)s Four Drowning Tragedies (courtesy C. Fraser)</u>: 1) Muskoka Herald 1902 "Drowning Accident: Thomas "Earl", the 8 year old son of Jacob Matthias of Matthiasville (near Uffington), was drowned in the South Branch of the Muskoka River last Friday morning. He and his little 6 year old brother Howard Charles went to swim in the river just above Fawcett(a)s bridge near a sand bar. The older boy waded out some distance from the bar and standing upon a rock shouted to his brother, "Come on." Just at that moment he slipped and overbalanced and fell backward into the deeper water. The mother having missed the boys ran to the river where she had several times taken them to bath---but where they never went alone before--and arrived just after the boy had gone down. The other little fellow pointed out to his mother the spot where his brother had disappeared, and the half frantic mother was not many minutes getting assistance. But it was to no purpose. Upwards of 100 neighbours and friends dragged the river and searched until 5 o(a)clock in the afternoon, when the body was found some 14 feet from where the boy went down. Mr. Matthias was at Beaumaris at the time and did not reach home until Saturday. The funeral took place on Sunday and was very largely attended, the family being well known and highly respected. Rev. G. Lawrence conducted the funeral service..." 2) Bracebridge Gazette June 30, 1904 "A most distressing drowning accident happened and another narrowly averted at Uffington on Sunday. Mr. John Peterkin and his son Gordon, a lad of about 14 years, were returning from a paddle up the river. They had portaged some rapids that lay in their path and had nicely reentered the river below when they collided with an unseen log. The canoe was over-turned and both precipitated into the water. The boy rapidly drifted to the center of the river and the father went to his assistance. He attempted to swim to shore but while yet within 15 feet of safety became exhausted and let go his hold on the boy who sank immediately. The father had difficulty in keeping himself afloat and carried some distance down the stream. In his precarious condition he managed to secure a hold on a branch of a tree overhanging the river by which means he kept himself above water until Mr. Kitching, attracted by his cries for help, put out in a punt and rescued him in the nick of time. Up to the present, the body of the unfortunate lad has not been recovered. Much sympathy is expressed for the bereaved parents and family." 3) Bracebridge Gazette July 23 1914" Last Tuesday evening Will Kinsett a young man of 18 years, lost his life at Uffington, in the South Branch of the Muskoka River. It appears that the unfortunate lad after working all day in the hay field decided to hitch up and take his mother for a drive. Before his mother was ready he and his younger brother aged 7 years, drove down to the river to water the horse, the little fellow getting out of the buggy to watch the horse drink. Suddenly the horse lost its footing and plunged in the river, the lad getting over the dash board while the horse was struggling in the wter and with heroic efforts manged to unhitch the animal from the buggy. He then started out with the horse to shore but in some way got tangled in the harness, boy and horse going under. The little fellow ran home to inform his mother who in turn rushed to the home of Wm Hawn, Jacob Matthias and Mr. Hardy were soon at the scene of the accident, recovering the body one hour later. Mr. Matthias had quickly put together a grappling iron made out of some telephone wire and looking with face to water from a row boat saw the horse and beneath it the body of the young man, which was got in the first attempt. The family of Kinsett(a)s have just lately moved to Uffington occupying the old Corrigan Farm, the father still working in Toronto and the work of the farm falling to the young man who lost his life, he being the oldest, and the pride he was taking in their new home was wonderful; cleaning up the neglected home and working early and late, the one big trust of his mother and father and the comfort of his little brothers and sisters, this all makes the loss so much harder, even his love for the horse in losing his life trying to save the animal. In the time he has lived at the new home he had made many friends who feel heart broken over the sudden ending of this bright boy." 4) Drowned When Car Leaves Road.....Thursday June 17 1943..."Frank Avery, aged 28 of Matthiasville (near Uffington) formerly of Bracebridge and previously of Brown(a)s Brae, drowned in the South Branch of the Muskoka River at 5:20 p.m. Tuesday when the Hudson sedan he was driving left the road and fell into the river while he was going home from Bracebridge

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Unknown User The school house was moved 25 years ago to Windemere and refurbished as a cottage. Sadly it was also vandalized in 2006 and the structure withstood a considerable amount of damage.
Aug 18 2010