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Ghost Towns of Dalton Township: Ragged Rapids, Sadowa and Dartmoor

February 24, 2024

Sadowa From the Air

By Guy Scott

In the late 1800s, settlement was pushed north into the marginal lands along the Canadian Shield in Muskoka, Victoria and Haliburton Counties. Dalton Township is in the northwest corner of Victoria County. It was surveyed in the 1950s and was named after Sir John Dalton, a famous English scientist of the early 1800s. It was accessed via the Monck Road which crossed the township east-west near the southern part of the township. The Monck Road entered Dalton Township at Uphill on the east side and exited at Sebright on the west side as it entered Rama Township before ending at Atherley near Orillia. Most of the early settlers gained access to Dalton Township via Orillia on the west side or from Victoria Road or Norland on the east side. A number of small hamlets sprang up in the north end of the township as later settlers searched for available land when the southern townships were already filled. The lumber trade provided early markets and employment, but as the lumber industry faded, so did these communities. Today many are ghost towns.

Ragged Rapids

North of Uphill and east of the Victoria Colonization Road was the hamlet of Ragged Rapids. It was located on the Black River and was accessed via the Victoria Road or Cooper’s Falls in Morrison Township, Muskoka District. About 10 families settled in the area in the 1880s. The founding settler was Alfred Cooper, an English settler from Fawkham, England. The Coopers from Fawkham were responsible for 3 pioneer settlements in the region, including Fawkham and Cooper’s Falls. The small hamlet astride the Black River relied heavily on the lumber trade. The Black River drained a large section of Muskoka and Victoria Counties, and was the scene of large log drives every spring for several decades. Once the lumbermen were finished, so was the hamlet of Ragged Rapids. The community never contained any businesses, churches or hotels. But it did contain a school (SS#5 Dalton). Today, nothing remains of the community and it is listed as a ghost town.

Sadowa

Sadowa is a small community in the southwest corner of Dalton Township. The first settler, James Kett, sold a good farm in Mariposa Township and moved to the area in 1865 so his family could settle near him. He acquired a square mile of land to keep the family close together. The name Sadowa is from a town in Bohemia where a famous battle in the Seven Years War (1756-1763) was fought. Sadowa post office was opened in 1881 and closed in 1942. The area was serviced by SS#4 Dalton Township school. There was also a United Church in Sadowa but no business community or hotels. The Sadowa United Church, the last community building, was demolished a decade ago. The area is still used as farmland.

Dartmoor

Dartmoor was an early hamlet along the Monck Road between Sebright and Uphill. The community was at the corner of the Lake Dalrymple Road and Monck Road (old #503, now Victoria Road #45). A post office was opened in 1870 and closed in 1915. Dartmoor is a region in Devon County, England that is famous for its open, level grassland. The Dalton-Carden region certainly resembles the English Dartmoor with its level, alvar topography. The area was serviced by SS#3 Dalton Township. The school was right on the Monck Road and served a large farming community in the area. In 1909, a larger brick school was built to service a growing population. This school was open until amalgamation in the 1960s and is still standing. Dartmoor never had a business community or a church, but was a collection point for the neighbouring farms. Today many of these farms are abandoned, the old log houses still standing forlornly along the Monck Road. Several of the farms are still in operation.

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