November 12, 2023
Cheddar from the Air
By Guy Scott
Originally the hamlet was called Woods Corners after Benjamin Woods who opened a hotel/General Store in 1871 at the point where the Burleigh Colonization Road intersected the Monck Military Road in Cardiff Township. At the time there was a lot of traffic on both these roads, and the hamlet soon contained a blacksmith, a school, 2 churches, a sawmill and a second general store. When it came time for the pioneer hamlet to acquire a post office, it was christened Cheddar after a town in England (and yes, the same English town gave its name to the famous cheese).
As with most communities in the area, farming was a precarious vocation among the rocky, thin soils of the Canadian Shield, after a generation or two, most farmers moved on to greener pastures. Likewise, the once inexhaustible forests became exhausted and the lumber industry declined. In the 1940s, uranium became a hot commodity and a strike at Cheddar briefly produced the 400-foot Cheddar Mine owned by the Canada Radium Corporation. The miners soon moved to better locations. In 1931, a fire tower was built nearby. But the big blow to Cheddar was the reorganization of the highway network. The Burleigh Road was straightened and the Cheddar section abandoned. The Monck Road course was also moved north where it is now Highway #118 and the village was totally bypassed.
The roads into Cheddar were abandoned and became mere forest trails. All the homes were eventually abandoned and the forest reclaimed the farms. The 1956 topographical map showed 9 buildings still standing but this was reduced to 4 in the 1980 map. Today only the old boarding house remains and Cheddar is a ghost town.