Ardoch was recorded as the first community where settlers made their permanent homes. It was originally developed along the Frontenac Road but expanded along the Smith Road, Struthadam Road, Mud Lake Road, and northeast close to the present Township building. Ardoch was originally known as Millburn, Milltown or Melbourne (perhaps named after one of Queen Victoria’s Prime Ministers. It became known as Ardoch after the Jacobi and Stevenson families arrived. The Jacobi family came from Ardoch, Germany and the Stevenson family from Ardoch, Scotland. When the post office was established in 1865, it was known as Ardoch. The Watkins and the Hendersons settled here in 1860. The major industry for many years was timber.
For a comprehensive description of Ardoch and early settler families read the book History of the Lakes: Malcolm and Ardoch (2019) Editor, Brenda Martin
A CMCA Historic sign was installed at the bridge. To view the sign visit www.cmcabook2017.wixsite.com
Ernest R. Jacobi opened the first store in Ardoch around 1865. He also took over as Postmaster. Up until this time there were Ardoch Postmasters, but not in the store setting. The store was a social setting, especially on Saturdays, when the men would gather and find their favourite spot on the bench to hear the gossip. Women would often go to the store and get their supplies at this time or visit nearby. In later years, the most popular time was when the mail was due in from Clarendon Station. Many hunting and fishing stories were yarned as they waited. Jacobi operated the store until 1879 when he sold to Alex Munro.
Some items that were available at the country store in the 1880s were: 6 pair cotton towels ($0.50); 6 pair linen towels ($1.45); 27 yards of print ($2.57); 12 yards of elastic ($0.70); 1 dozen lawn handkerchiefs ($0.55); 6 dozen spools of thread ($2.13); 1 keg soap ($3.40); 3 dozen soap ($.75); 2 dozen thimbles ($0.22); 25 pounds of rice ($.98); 1 lb. nutmeg ($0.80); 50 pounds yellow sugar ($4.99); 1 dozen slate pencils ($0.15); 1 dozen lead pencils ($0.20); 6 shirts and 6 drawers ($2.13).
In 1903, Munro added a franchise to sell farm machinery through his business. Robert Munro took over after his father died in 1911, but sold out to Wallace Clement in 1914. Jim Derue bought the store as well as other businesses in 1918 and had a long ownership. Derue was noted as a strong community supporter, providing work for many, accepting items for barter, and donating to numerous causes. With the use of automobiles, there became a need to sell gas as well, so pumps were added.
(From an interview with Jack Weber)
The store had a manual ledger, then later a crank cash register, and then eventually an electric cash register in later years. There was a big box stove in the store. Supplies were shipped from Kingston on the K&P to Clarendon, picked up and brought to Ardoch. The men liked to sit out on the long benches outside the store. Flour was $25.00 a bag, which was equivalent to 5 days pay.
In 1945, Don R. York purchased the store. He was actively involved in the community such as assisting with children’s activities of skating and hockey. It was noted that he purchased a pump for flooding the ice in the bay so children could skate for hours after school and weekends.
(From an interview with Audrey Black (York))
Her Dad had a hoist put in beside the store and vehicles were repaired there by Charlie Hermer.
The Post Office was part of the store and everyone would come and wait for the mail to be sorted. The store carried boots, hat pins, nylon stockings, men’s work clothes, hats, mitts, fishing lures, thread, needles, embroidery cotton, fabric, saws, hammers, nails, wrenches, gun shells, coal oil, kerosene oil, naphtha gas, feed and grain, candy and ice.
Cookies were displayed in a large box and you could scoop out as many as you wanted. A large wheel of cheese was on the counter and as much as you wanted would be cut off. Dates were sold by the box.
The store rented boats on Malcolm and Ardoch Lakes as well as the river. Her Dad bought fur from local trappers and sold them to the Hudson Bay Company. National Grocers supplied the stock and there were salesmen who came to sell the products, and if they came late in the afternoon, they would stay across the road at Mrs. McDonald’s.
Apples, oranges, hard candy and mixed nuts were brought in at Christmas as well as a supply of Christmas decorations. Inside the store, there was a counter on the left just inside the door; open shelving was behind the counter, the length of it with canned goods etc. There were coolers for pop and freezers for ice cream etc. Credit was given, but there was no bartering.
The store was open seven days a week in the summer, 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., and in the winter it closed on Sunday. Dad would open it on Sunday if you needed something. The men would congregate in the evenings through the week. Gas pumps were there when we took over, the hand pump type and electric ones were put in three years later. There was no electricity in the store, so a Delco generator provided the electricity for it. Audrey York has provided CMCA with photos showing her Dad inside of the store. Such photos are very helpful to CMCA as we attempt to reconstruct the setting in our displays.
On the death of Don York, his widow Margaret carried on alone until 1957. At that time, she remarried to John McDonald. The store continued for many years with items such as fishing and hunting gear. People travelled many miles to buy footwear from the upstairs department. In 1977, the store was passed to Margaret’s son-in-law Robert Orchard. His brother, Douglas, joined him in the business and operated as a Lucky Dollar Store only for a few years before it closed.
From an interview with Harold Perry:
When Jim Derue owned the store, he went for the mail in Clarendon three times a week. Mail days were Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He kept a team of horses in Clarendon and he would take a team down there and would bring the other team back as it was a long trip. His son, Earl, took over the mail route. He had two other sons: Bob and Jack.
There was a stand of drawers that lined the wall on the right as you went in the door of the store. Drawers held socks, mittens etc. Jim was good to the customers; he would put items on a tab for everyone who needed it. The Derues lived in the house beside the store known as the Munro house.
Jim used to sit on the porch out front of the store and watch across the bay for deer. When he saw one he’d tell the old people and they would go and get the deer and share it with Jim.
The store had grains, honey, and corn syrup in big cans. It had big cans of jam with removable lids, like paint cans. Peanut butter was just coming out but he couldn’t remember if it was in a can or a jar. Dried prunes were also a staple. Everything was shipped by train and picked up at Clarendon Station.
Reported by Mona Perry with info from her Dad, Harold Perry and his sister, Myrtle Perry
To refer to my ancestors on the point as the old people, this is not a derogatory term.
The Scullion house in Ardoch also had a store at one time in the front part of the house. Mike Scullion had a counter on the left side as you walked in the door. He had a few items – tea, beans maybe, Aunt Myrtle remembers buying tea.
Dad thought Mike might have been an undertaker too and maybe had the Post Office. Scullions got permission to build the house from the old people as it was aboriginal land. Mike had a son, Bert, who was quite stern. Dad remembers borrowing spigot for sap and accidentally bending one. Bert got quite upset.Three other sisters, Madonna, Winnie (married a Robbins), and one other who was also married and may have lived in Ottawa.
Bert had a workshop on the hill beside the house. He made small birch bark canoes (showpieces) because they were too small to use. Aunt Myrtle said there was also a dirt floor garage and a pen for a pig on the end; they also kept chickens. Bert worked for hydro and eventually moved to the Tamworth area. Dad thought Mrs. Scullion moved with him. After they moved, the house was rented to Howard and Jenny Hermer for a while. Gordon Jones, who owned a saw mill on Malcolm Lake, stayed there and Dad thinks Ken Shanks stayed there as well.
The Chandler and Jones Lumber Company of Ogdensburg New York moved a mill to the river in Ardoch in 1909. It was the largest sawmill in Ontario at that time. The mill was powered by a large steam engine fed by two large boilers. They sawed all summer and piled the lumber in great piles next to the mill. As soon as the first freeze came, teams of horses, pulling sleighs loaded down with lumber, made their way along a winter road that crossed the swamp and lake to Crotch Lake, and then onto the railroad at Robertsville. Later they sold this mill to a man named Armitage.
Bramwell Watkins had a mill at Malcolm Lake in the late 1800s that was run by a water wheel.
Gordon Jones moved a mill to Malcolm Lake in the 1940s, which was steam powered.
Jack Breen had a mill at Malcolm that was steam powered.
Amos Storey had a mill at the creek between Malcolm Lake and Green Lake in the mid 1930s that was steam powered. Jim Derue bought this mill in the 1940s and moved it to the Jeannerett property on the Smith Road across from the Ardoch school. It shut down after Jim died and later Francis Manion bought it and ran it for a couple of springs.
Davie O'Mell had a mill at Ardoch in the later 1930s across the road from the Smith Road.
Roy Schonauer operated a mill at Ardoch in the Schonauer Road in more recent years.
Schonauer Brothers Logging are presently operating a mill on the Smith Road in Ardoch.
Ardoch Cheese Factory
A building, which had been erected as an Orange Hall, was converted to a cheese factory by Alex Munro in 1895. The very first cheese-maker was a man named Haskins. Wallace Clement purchased the factory in 1914 and employed Dempster Lyon as a cheese maker in 1915, 1916 and 1917. Dempster's wife, Flossie, worked as his assistant in 1917. Wallace sold the factory to Jas. Derue in 1918 and Dempster Lyon carried on as the cheese maker until the end of 1918.
Cheese makers in the Ardoch Factory were (not necessarily in this order):
Jas. Dack (1903-05)
Dempster Lyon (1915-18)
Thomas Love (1919)
Adolph Glasser (1920)
The factory closed down in 1939.
Although doctors arrived in the area, they did not stay long. From their wages, doctors were usually required to purchase all medical supplies. This was not a great incentive to practice. Most of the medical services were provided freely by willing neighbours; one local resident, Theresa Weiss (Mrs. Alois Weber) was trained as a nurse in Germany and was called upon to deliver babies, treat ailments and injuries and to control epidemics. For more information about Mrs. Weber read Historic Tours of North Frontenac (2017).
As early as June 1, 1865 a postmaster is recorded for Ardoch. Mostly, the post office was located in the General Store where people would come to socialize and wait for the mail delivery.
Chas. J.C. Elkington 1 June, 1865
John Henderson 1 October, 1865
William Butcher 1 October, 1866
Bramwell Watkins 1 April, 1871
Ernest R. Jacobi 1 October, 1873
Alex Munro 1 July, 1880
Robert Munro 16 June, 1911
W.J. Clements 23 May, 1914
Jas Derue Junior 21 August, 1918
Donald Raymond York 12 September, 1945
Mrs. Margaret York 12 August, 1956
Mrs. Margaret McDonald (York) 26 September, 1957
Robert Orchard 1 August, 1977
Douglas Orchard 7 July, 1978 until the store closed
In 1909, on a motion by J.P.Watkins and S.S. Barton, a by-law was passed permitting the construction of telephone lines along the township roads with the proviso that lines must have a sixteen foot clearance when they crossed the roadways. Jack Myer took advantage of this by-law in 1916 when he built a line from Ardoch to Clarendon and to Fernleigh and Plevna. John Flake built lines commencing in 1919 outside the area. This provided additional services for his subscriber. Mr. Flake charged twelve dollars per year, gave clergymen free service and paid his central offices at Lavant, Vennachar, Denbigh, Matawatchan and Plevna, one hundred dollars a year. During the Depression, many subscribers could not pay; if he cut them off, he was reducing the value of the service to others. It was not a profitable business. During the 1930s Flake sold the business to the Department of Lands and Forest. They maintained the system until it was sold to Bell Telephone Company.
This original building is still located on top of the hill at the sharp corner in the middle of Ardoch, across from St. John’s Anglican Church at 5599 Ardoch Road. It has been known as a church, dance hall and the Smith River View Lodge.
Bob Watkins recalled attending many dances, when the Methodist Church was converted to a community dance hall and used as such until the 1940s. A dance was held every Friday night. In the late 1940s the building was purchased by the Smiths who converted it to a personal residence and lodge. Later a cabin was built behind the main building to accommodate a growing clientele.
Charlie (1879-1968) and Elizabeth Smith (Gilmour, 1889-1978) lived at the homestead on Smith Road with his parents Charlie Smith (1843-1943) and Elizabeth (Tyner- 1845-1922). Charlie and Elizabeth (Gilmour) had seven children: Iola (Mrs. John Young); Irene (Mrs. Robert Arbuckle); William (Florence “Babs” Tessier); Alice known as Allie (Mrs. Alen Mieske); Russell (Ruby Badour); Isabelle (Mrs. Don Norris); and Elaine (Mrs. Mac Gray). Three of the children continued to live in the area as adults: Russell, Elaine and Allie.
Most of the summer Charlie and Elizabeth spent their time at the Big House at Ardoch overlooking the Mississippi River. The large house had many bedrooms which served a great purpose- often as a bed and breakfast style lodge but also as week- long for fishing men.
The building was rustic in that it did not have running water and therefore no indoor plumbing. Outhouses were “over the hill”; grandkids recalled that there were Mens and Womens separate doors. They also thought that the “two-holers” were quite a novelty. Water was supplied to the Big House by a hand pump in the yard. One of the jobs (which Allie usually did) was to daily refill the water pitchers in the upstairs bedrooms and sleep cabin. Each bedroom had a washstand with a fancy wash bowl and pitcher and a brass bed.
The sleep cabin served for the overflow in summer. In the fall for deer season it was full. There were four bedrooms, a woodstove, and separate outhouses. They ate their meals at the Big House but usually took a packed lunch.
The business grew in the 1950s and tapered off in the 1960s. On December 1, 1952 Charlie’s daughter Allie married Alen Mieske and the couple became an integral part of the Lodge. They were part of the extended family at the farm homestead but spent most of the summer and fall helping at the Lodge. Allie worked at Fernleigh Lodge for the Ahrs. When there was an overflow at Ahrs’, they were directed to Riverview.
Allie assisted Elizabeth with much of the cooking and packing lunches for the fishermen who would head out for the day. The grandkids remember that breakfast was a big meal. For them they were served a half grapefruit, a boiled egg in an egg cup, porridge, milk and juice. They suspect that the renters had meat and potatoes as well. Evening meals were substantial.
Grandchildren recall that once the meal was over, the music came out. Russell played the banjo or the violin; Elaine played the Hawaiian guitar; Russell’s wife, Ruby played the piano; Irene played the violin and if her son, Bobby was there, he played the violin. Bobby Arbuckle (son of Irene and Robert) was self-taught on violin. He played in large venues in the Toronto, Orangeville and King City area. In 2017 Bobby passed away following an accident on his way home from a musical performance.
The family recall that Charlie was political in his views. Perhaps that is why he allowed the Big House to be used as a polling station for elections.
Christmas at River View was a big occasion with the typical meal with turkey and all the trimmings. When dinner was over, out came the music!
Grandpa Smith loved to tell stories. One of his stories was The Green Lantern. It was very spooky and going to bed afterwards was not easy. Before they would go to bed the grandkids would get out the long-handled toasters to make toasted cheese sandwiches over the stove. Warm hot chocolate was a regular bedtime treat.
Beautiful flowers decorated the yard at River View. Here are some that the grandkids remember: dahlias (yellow, red and purple), sweet peas as you came up the driveway, morning glories climbing all over the porch, Sweet Williams, nasturtiums and pansies galore.
Between the store and the cheese factory, a garage was operated for many years by Jack Fraser and others. He did the basics like change the oil or tires. Donald York purchased the old cheese factory and turned it into a garage. He hired Charlie Hermer as the mechanic; he could fix most any vehicle.
The blacksmith’s handiwork was in great demand. He shod horses and oxen, made sleighs and wagons and tools of all descriptions. Any metal items were made by the blacksmith.
Watkins’ Big House
The Big House was built in 1904 on Frontenac Road by Bramwell Watkins, who arrived in the Ardoch area in 1859. After smaller log homes were destroyed by fire, this home housed Bramwell’s growing family and boarded sawmill workers from the mill nearby. It was a ten- bedroom house that took in boarders. As many as 30 travellers were fed dinners at the Big House. Practically all food was home-grown; it was necessary to have a good stock of food in the cellar and a year supply of items like tea and coffee. Wild fruits such as berries and apples were preserved or dried in season to consume in winter months. Keeping meat in the winter was no problem, but beef, pork or venison that was butchered in the fall was preserved in brine or smoked if it could not be saved in the icehouse. (Most settlers had a root cellar and an icehouse.)
In the 1930s when Jack Breen operated the sawmill at the creek, the lumbermen boarded at Watkins; they had all three meals served daily. A hearty breakfast included potatoes, fried pork, eggs, bread, biscuits, jam, tea or coffee. Lunch was much the same with sweets added. Dinner (supper) included potatoes, vegetables, meat (usually with gravy), bread, and dessert such as pie or cake.
Bramwell held political positions within the County. He was referred to as the first warden but that may not have been an official position. He was chosen to read the address of welcome to Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise, for her visit to Kingston. On occasion, (Sir) John A. McDonald was an overnight visitor to the Big House. Bramwell Watkins was instrumental helping early settlers get established. The Watkin’s family continued to own the house for several generations. Bob Watkins and wife Ina operated Malcolm Lake Tent & Trailer Park at this site. The original house was replaced with a prefab in the early 2000s.
Malcolm Lake Tent & Trailer Park
An extension of the “boarding and lodging” associated with Bramwell lived on for other generations: son-Robert Senior, grandson-Guy, great-grandson- Robert (Bob). While Guy and Evelyn lived at the Big House, many of their American friends and those who lived other distances, continued to visit to take advantage of the fishing. In the 1960s Guy allowed four or five families to “camp” in the front yard and he charged a small fee. In 1976 Bob took over the running of the trailers of the fishermen. In 1977 he added hydro, then a bait shop with bait and tackle and souvenirs of hats and sweatshirts and candy. The candy was not a money-maker as Bob gave it away when children came.
When Bob retired from construction with Manions, he bought five seventeen-foot trailers and rented them to eager campers. This expanded to 29 trailers on site before the Trailer park closed in 2011. The site was sold in 2018 and has been renamed Whittaker’s Cove.
Camp Alnic- A Camp for All Seasons
Camp Alnic founders were Nick and Janiss Florian, educators from Toronto. The camp, located on Malcolm Lake, was open to boys and girls, ages of 4 -15. The Campers were recruited in Toronto area and transportation was provided to and from Camp Alnic. The special camp sessions were: Summer, Nursery-teen camp with tutoring, Christmas, Spring Break, weekend trips, off-season rentals, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, horseback riding.
Camp activities for Senior Campers were: sports, workshops for arts and crafts, archery, water skiing, skin diving, scuba diving, games, music, dance, social recreation. The Nursery Camp program included: natural science, hiking, projects, plant & animal life, domestic zoo, collecting, creative arts, painting and beadwork, piano, folk singing, play and skits, swings, ponies, climbing, swimming instruction, fishing, boating, tumbling, trampoline, agility and ball handling, with cookouts and overnights as special features.
Staff were trained in St. John’s Ambulance to handle small incident; two doctors were on permanent call.
Meals were described as home-cooked, tasty and nutritious with fresh products being delivered to the Camp daily. Campers slept in winterized cabins with their own sink, stove and fridge. Campers over seven years old had the option of sleeping in tents. One of the favourite activities was bicycling. Each bicycle had to be strong, road-worthy, safe with lights and the camper carried a repair kit. Bicycle trips ranged from 5 to 60 miles. Parents and visitors were welcome on weekends; reservations were required in advance to get book into Weber’s local housekeeping cottages nearby or Trout Lake Hotel in Ompah.
Weber’s Housekeeping Cottages
The cottages were on Malcolm Lake, but the advertising sign was in the front yard of Rachel and Nick Weber’s house in Ardoch. The four cottages were built by Alicide Jeannerett in the 1930s. In the 1940s a couple from Niagara Falls, Gord and Cecille Cullens, bought the cottages. They were rented for a few years by fishermen. When Cecille died, they sold the cottages to Nick and Rachel Weber who continued to rent them for many years. In 1960s the cottages were sold to two couples, Schmitt and Sene, from Toronto who rented the property to some people who opened Camp Alnic. Nick and Rachel continued to do the bookings for renters. The cottages sat empty for several years when owners of Camp Alnic closed. During that time, the contents of the cottages were stolen. In 1977 there was a fire and two of the cottages were destroyed and the other two had extensive damages. In 1981 John (Jack) and Lois Weber bought the property and passed the cottages to their sons Dan and David who refurbished them and used as private residences.
St. Kilian Roman Catholic Church
In 1866/67, when the district was sparsely settled, Reverend J.J. Chisholm from Perth made visits to Ardoch. After his death, no priests came to the area for three years. Reverend C.A. McWilliams was the next to visit; he came to both Ardoch and Ompah. Other priests made a few visits including Father D. Mcrae, J.J. McCarthy, P.A. Twohey and M. Donohue.
The Reverend V.J. Killeen began making trips to Ardoch in 1889 from his parish in Bedford. He was instrumental in having St. Kilian church built in Ardoch in 1892. In later years, the rise in summer visitors made the small church inadequate, so in 1967 a new church, also called St. Kilian, was built across the road. The new church was used in the summer months and the original church was used in the winter. In recent years, the new church was winterized to be used year-round and the original was closed.
In 1900, a change was made and the mission was attended for 10 years by the Marist Fathers then living in Railton. The Fathers' names were:
G.M.B Bridonnaeu (1900)
Chas. Grenot (1903)
Bovens and others.
In 1910, Ardoch became a mission of Flinton and has been served by pastors from Flinton since that time. Father John Powell was the pastor from 1910 to 1916. Other pastors included:
Edgar Piche (1916-30)
W.J. Kinlin (1930-42)
Joe Collins (1942)
WM. J. Buckley (1942-49)
L. Lamarche (1949-52)
John Ferguson (1952-59)
Jas. McGarvey (1959-63)
Peter Murphy (1963-70)
Patrick Carty (1970)
Pictures in the church and the outside.
Pictures in the church and the outside.
St. John’s Anglican Church
Around 1866-67 when the area was sparsely populated,Rev. Dr. J.J. Chisholm of Perth made visits to Ardoch about four times a year. He visited lumber camps and offered Mass in settlers’ homes including at the Jacobi and George Weber houses in Ardoch.
Prior to 1894 Ardoch and Ompah did not have Anglican Church buildings. With pressure from the Minister, G.W. Dawson who arrived in the Buckshot area in 1877, built two additional churches in 1894- St. John’s Church in Ardoch and All Saint’s Church in Ompah. From Alex Munro’s diary in the year 1903, it was determined that the members of Ardoch church built a fence around the grounds of St. John’s and George Hermer and Jos. Schonauer (both of Roman Catholic faith) built a shed for churchgoers.
There were key people in each of the churches who raised funds for maintenance. At St. John’s, there were annual turkey raffles at Christmas, quilt-making for raffles, and many church suppers. In order to have funds for major renovations, they established a memorial fund where each family in the congregation had the opportunity to donate $100 in memory of their family. At St. John’s, in later years, there were four ladies who led the fundraising efforts: Winnie Martin, Anne Hamilton, Ina Watkins and Allie Mieske.
In 1994 the outside of the church was painted for its 100th anniversary; in 1995 a railing was added on to the steps compliments of Bill McDonald; and in 1996 the inside of the church was painted for only the second time since it was built. In 1996 the organ was tuned for the first time. In the 2000s attendance was low and joint services were held with the Plevna church. Then St. John’s was open only for summer services. In recent years, the church has been used for special services only.
Section School (S.S.) #1
The original, a log school, was located on the east side of the Frontenac Road, where the hydro line crosses the road about a quarter of a mile south of Swamp Creek. It was in operation in 1867. In 1868, the teacher was Emily Knowlton. The log school was replaced in 1898 by a frame school about three quarters of a mile south of the original school and on the opposite side of the road. This school was built by Frank Gorr and is now a private residence. The original school was converted to a blacksmith shop by Wm Hermer and used for several years.
Section School (S.S.) #3
The original section school was a log school along the Frontenac Road about a mile south of Ardoch. It was operating in 1867, but no teacher was reported for 1868 and it was abandoned. A new frame school house was built on the Smith Road immediately west of the Frontenac Road and is now a private residence.