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Powles Corners: Once Famous for its Bricks and Cheddar Cheese

July 5, 2024

Powles Corners, circa 1970

By William W. Bundscho

Originally Published in the (Lindsay) Post Mercury, September 7, 1972

An old homestead is up for sale—a succinct statement of fact for Mrs. Myrtle Carwardine (nee Myrtle Powles) of Chicago, but oh the memories of a happy childhood spent on Lot 15, Concession 8 of Fenelon Township, or the area better known as Powles Corners. Mrs. Carwardine was the oldest child of John Powles and a granddaughter of William Powles.

Powles Corners is a little community at the junction of Highways 35 and 121, about 10 miles north of Lindsay, and 4 miles southwest of Fenelon Falls. Bruce Cooper describes the community as covering a radius of 3 miles from the intersection of the highways.

The original farm bought by William Powles in 1856, was nothing but bush. The first tree he cut down was a tall pine and can be seen in the present barnyard. For the subsequent information, the writer is indebted to Mrs. Clarence Henry and her son, John Henry.

The first house William Powles built on the little clearing was a shanty made of plaster, then inch lumber, and again plaster. At a later date, frame clapboard was added. This was used until the present brick house was erected in 1888. It is this house and property that Mrs. Carwardine wishes to sell.

In 1860 William Powles, for $200 bought another lot, the east half of Lot 16, Concession 7, about three-quarters of a mile directly north of his original clearing. A grandson, Foster Powles, and his wife, Minnie, still own the property located alongside Highway 35. William Powles cleared this property with the help of his older boys.

According to information gathered by John Henry, Mr. Powles had more than a passing interest in mixed farming and gardening. He planted a large orchard, and stumps of a few trees can still be seen. His success as a gardener was based on a thorough understanding of pruning and grafting, he also had a vineyard where grapes grew in abundance. Mrs. Carwardine still remembers eating those grapes.

Mr. Powles was a man who knew the value of education and encouraged his children to do their best in their chosen profession. Three of the sons of Mr. Powles contributed a lot to Powles Corner and Fenelon Township. John Bentley Powles, father of Mrs. Carwardine, was originally a school teacher, but after marriage he settled on the homestead farm. He was Fenelon Township Clerk for 38 years. He was a great admirer of President Abraham Lincoln, and his daughter showed me several books which Mr. Powles had, on the life of the American President.

The red insulbricked house, located in the triangle bounded by Highways 35 and 121, on the short dirt road running in front of the old Powles homestead, was at one time a post office and store operated by William Henry Powles. He carried this on successfully until the rural mail route was started in 1914.

James Powles learned the blacksmithing trade, and had a shop on the property now occupied by his son, Foster Powles. This was the second farm purchased originally by William Powles. The wife of Foster Powles said that at 83 years of age, Foster’s roots go deep in the area. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet Mr. Powles as he is presently not enjoying the best of health. Other sons of William Powles were: George, who taught high school in Chicago. He was an author, his most popular book being a novel “Oliver Langton,” based on early Victoria County history. Robert Powles was a millwright, who as killed in a wreck at Dobey’s mill in Lindsay.

Naturally, the survival of any community does not depend on one family. While the Powles family made a great contribution to the general well-being of the small community, other families contributed to the religious, education and economic basis on which a healthy community continues to survive. According to Mrs. Minnie Powles, other family names were: Parish, Moore, Gillis, Marshall, Johnson, Herron, Rutherford, Fell, Sims, McGee, Cooper, Wagar, Brokenshire, Harrison, Lean, Stroud, Cochrane and Styles to name a few of the early family names.

Powles Corner at one time boasted a brick factory and a cheese factory. For the story on these two industries, I am indebted to Mr. and Mrs. William Fell. The Fells told me that the brick factory was located on the back end of their property, near the line fence with Ivan Anderson. The present home, which has 17 rooms, was constructed from brick made at the brick factory, as was the old cheese factory.

The cheese factory was located on the dirt road running west from Powles Corner. It was a two storey building, which was torn down in 1903. The old factory served another purpose, as well as making cheese. While finishing touches were executed on the rebuilt church in 1892, services were held in the cheese factory.

History records that when William Powles came to Canada, he was a member of the Anglican Church. When he moved to Powles Corner, he went to the Bible Christian Church, as it was located about a two minute walk from home. The church was located on the opposite corner from the present church. It was built in 1865.

The church building was of a frame structure, built on a log foundation. In 1871-72 the Methodist churches united. At this time, Powles Corner formed a circuit with Fenelon Falls, Victoria and Ebenezer. The parsonage at this time was centrally located on Highway 121.

From 1865, the church and school occupied the same lot with the church being built almost directly in front of the school. For a while, the church was used as a school. It was assumed that this arrangement was not found suitable, so that by 1892 the church fathers decided to move the church onto property donated by William Powles. At this time, an extension of 10 feet was added to the west end of the church building.

In the Centennial history of the church, published in 1963, it was noted that a fowl supper was held in 1892, the charge being the magnificent sum of 25 cents each. It was at this time that the church services were held in the cheese factory. A new front entrance to the church, was built around 1960, it replaced the old entrance which always necessitated entering from an outside door, rain or shine.

A much-loved Sunday School class leader in the person of Miss Flossie Moore served both the Sunday School and the Community at large for many years, through her unselfish Christian commitment.

Bruce Cooper, who played the organ in Powles Corner United Church for many years, fondly recalls seeing organist Miss Emma Cullis, skirts rustling, hurry up the aisle to take her accustomed position at the church organ.

In reading the story of the Methodist Church history one frequently runs across a young people’s organization called the Epworth Leage. Mrs. Clarence Henry showed me an Epworth Leage secretary book dated September 2, 1919 to February 1924. The roll of active members included James Slater, J.B. Powles, Foster Powles, Lula Cooper, Flossie Moore and Gertrude Powles. James Powles, Fern Kelly, Rose Mark, Mrs. A. Milloy, Mrs. S. Anderson, A. McGee, Audrey Gillis, Clifford Kelly, Bruce Cooper and Douglas Slater.

The roll of associate members included Blanche Powles, Margaret Powles, Marie Kelly, Alma Johnston, Rexford Brown, Leonard Powles, John McAcheran, Mrs. W. Wagar and Miss M. Agar.

This list of officers for 1923 included a bank teller instead of a treasurer. Some of the topic headings presented at the weekly meetings were Lost Bibles and how to find them; the Methodist Church and industrial relations; Aunt Susan’s Missionary Poultices, and a story on How the Armenians helped the Epworth Leage.

Old S.S. #4 Powles Corners played its part in the religious life of the community for 1866, the following excerpt appeared in a school minute book: “Moved by Mr. Marshall, seconded by Mr. Powles that the trustees of the school section No. 4 Fenelon are hereby respectfully requested to allow the school house to be used for preaching in.” The old school house was a log building located on the V shape piece of land between the highway and Concession 8.

In 1878, the first room of the present school building was erected, with the second room being built in 1886. Even before the second room was added on, the high enrolment necessitated two teachers in one room.

In 1895, the school board decided that since the enrolment was down, and money was needed to buy a new furnace, they would dispense with the services of one of the teachers. In 1896, the ratepayers felt otherwise so a second teacher was engaged. This practice continued until 1902.

In 1931 a piano was purchased with the Women’s Institute paying part of the cost. Bruce Cooper was hired as music teacher, a position that he held until 1962.

It is recorded that among those who received their education at S.S. #4 were Professor William Day of Guelph, Rev. Oscar Wagar, and Miss Edith Milloy, a missionary. In 1968, the school was sold.

Imagine a station in front of which the prospective passenger placed a flag so the engineer would know to stop the train and pick up said passenger. This was the case at Halls Station, just outside Powles Corner at Glenvale Village on the dirt road to Long Beach. The station was a little wooden building eight feet by 10 feet.

There was a potbellied stove in this building in which in the winter the passenger put wood while waiting for the arrival of the train. Bruce Cooper recalled that one cold winter’s day, he and Professor Day were awaiting the arrival of the train. Finally, they were down to one piece of knotty wood which they chopped up and put in the little stove. Just at the time they got this piece of wood to burn and were wondering where the next piece was going to come from, Professor Day’s brother, Walter, appeared on the scene with a load of wood. He commented that he knew the train was late so they would be running out of wood. No sooner were these words out of his moth than the train arrived.

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