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June 14, 2024

By Guy Scott

The village of Udney was famous as a mill town in the northern section of Mara Township. Early settlers arrived in the 1840s in the midst of a settlement boom. The first resident, Dominic O’Donnell originally called the area Connaught, after his Irish home county. The first postmaster named the settlement Evansville after himself. But there was already another Evansville in Ontario, and in the 1890s the new name Udney was chosen, named after a village back in Scotland. Udney was on the Centre Line Road and received some traffic which fueled a blacksmith shop and several general stores. The Methodist Church arrived in 1970 and an Orange Lodge in 1891. CNR built a line north in 1905 and Udney had a railway station added to town. Rail access helped the local farmers ship products to the outside world. A branch railway line from Orillia was tried but soon abandoned.

In 1962 Udney was the location of a massive train wreck. An automobile car struck #35 of a 70 car train going north. The back of the train was popped off the rails, and travelled 1 mile up the track before derailing and wiping out the closed rail station. The crew didn’t realize an accident was happening until 24 cars left the track in a horrific jumble that closed the line for 3 days!

S.S. #9 Mara was located in the village from 1879 until 1967 when Mara Township consolidated all its schools at Uptergrove. Udney was a large enough centre to form its own telephone exchange in 1920. It was absorbed by Bell in 1957.

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