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Union Creek

April 26, 2024

Union Creek Looking West

By Guy Scott

The Somerville side of Union Creek was dominated by two families: the Youngs and the Hendersons. In the 1911 census, there were 5 families of Youngs and 10 families of Hendersons at Union Creek. If you add the Byrnes families (7) it is a 3 family community in Somerville! The Galway side was much more diverse.

William Young arrived in 1858 and settled on Lot 1, concession 7 of Somerville: right at the 6 Mile Turn. William Young was an army veteran who had 5 sons and 4 daughters; all who lived in the area. The next generation spread out along the 6, 7 and 8th concessions of Somerville, buying land previously owned by lumbermen. The youngest daughter married Bill Dunbar and they operated the local inn from the original home lot. This same lot was the last site of the Union Creek post office as well.

In the 1911 census, Mary (Young) Dunbar, widow of the famous Bill Dunbar, lived on the original Young homestead (lot 1, concession 7). In the concession road to the north (now Union Creek Road) lived Robert & Noble Young. South along the Burnt River line in the 7th concession (north side of the road) lived G.A. Young (lot 2) and John Young Sr. (lot 3). Across the road in the 6th concession resided R. Young (lot 1) and John Young Jr. (lot 2). The Henderson family were original settlers on the Galway side of the Bobcaygeon Road further north. John Henderson had a family of 14 children. As they grew to adulthood, the family bought up land along the Road that the Township of Somerville had seized for back taxes. These plots included lots 1 in both concessions 8 and 9. The 200 acre lots were split to create four 100 acre farms. Lot 1, concession 8 (south of the 9th Line) was occupied by David Jr., Garner and William Henderson. Lot 1 in 9th concession (north of the 9th Line) was the home of Robert & Thomas Henderson. The Bacon family acquired this half lot and then the Zandstras who ran a woodworking/fabric business from the lot. The north half of the lot was farmed by Samuel Schell and later the Ferren family. The Schell family moved to Kinmount. George Henderson Sr. lived on the 11th Line of Somerville. There were also 3 other Henderson homesteads across the road in Galway!

On the Galway side of the Road north of the Crystal Lake Road were the following lots: Lot 26 (concession A) was patented by Michael Grainey, but because the lot was swampy, he lived on the first lot on the Crystal Lake Road. His neighbour on lot 27 was William Casey from Smith Township. At the time of settlement William Casey was 76 years old! He had been born in Ireland and was part of the Peter Robinson Emigration of 1825! It took courage to give up an established homestead and move to the wilds of Galway Township at such an age. The hearty old soul lived to the grand old age of 104 and is buried in the Galway cemetery. William Casey’s son-in-law, Samuel Pearson, the young one of the family at 63, lived with the family and the succeeding generations of the Pearson family spread out along the Galway Road. Sam Faulkner also bought out his neighbour to the north (lot 29), Alex Ritchie, and operated a 300-acre farm for decades. The property was eventually acquired by Fred Pickford, who retired to be a horse farmer. The land along the Bobcaygeon Road in Union Creek was fairly good farm land north of the Galena Hill Ridge. By the turn of the century, it was all cleared and fenced into fields. In the winter, the wind caused mammoth snow drifts and the road was often closed along this stretch.

Besides the post office and the school house there were no businesses in Union Creek until the 1970s. The Northwood Restaurant was built by Jerry and Merle Villeneuve half way between the creek and the school. It passed through a succession of owners, later becoming Harmony Farms. On the corner of Union Creek Road and the Bobcaygeon Road, the Union Creek Fish & Chips was opened by Carl Hockley. The two restaurants made downtown Union Creek the dining-out capital of the area! This business was turned into an accounting/bookkeeping office run by Hazel McInnis, later becoming Barry Heaton’s BCH Tax Preparation.

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