Welcome to Fernleigh
According to C.A. Armstrong in Away Back in Clarendon & Miller (1976), the first permanent settlers arrived in 1872 with a well- established community by 1880. Credit for the name “Fernleigh” is given to John Howell who was attending a Sunday School class in the old log schoolhouse and noted the abundance of wild ferns. Over the years, the community became self-sufficient with a school, store, post office, church and several lodges.
FERNLEIGH GENERAL STORE OWNERS
1901-1903 J. Manson and Margaret Davy
1903-1945 Ervin and Evianna Martin
1945-1957 Robert and Christena Martin
1957-1970 Keith and Marjery Lyons
1970-1977 Arnold and Shirley Miller
1977-1980 Carl and June Thompson
Although Dempster Lyon established a store for a short time in conjunction with his cheese factory in 1902 at the Factory Lake site, it was not considered a general store. In his book, he indicated that he sold dairy products such as cheese and milk, and a few grocery items. (Find more information in Chapter 11: Starting Business at Fernleigh from Dempster Lyon).
J. Manson Davy constructed the building that became known as Fernleigh General Store; the structure has remained in the same location throughout the years. Although Mrs. Margaret Davy is recorded as the postmaster from August 1, 1902 until August 31, 1918, it was not determined to be located in the store.
Evianna Davy (daughter of Manson and Margaret) married Ervin Martin on May 1, 1895. A ledger, dating as early as 1903, reported the General Store was operated by Ervin and Evianna (Eva) Martin. Martins took over the post office on April 15, 1920. Ervin was listed as the postmaster until his death on Oct.5, 1945; then his wife, Eva, was postmaster until Jan. 1946. The Cloyne-Fernleigh Mail Service contract went to Robert Martin to commence Jan.1, 1946 for delivery six times per week at $670 per annum. Future store owners also operated the post office within the store.
The store was stocked with everyday items needed by homesteaders from tiny things like needles to hundred- pound bags of staples, farm supplies, building materials and blacksmithing equipment. Tobacco cost ten cents a plug and they carried two brands- Big Ben and Club. Agricultural items such as berries, apples, vegetable, milk, eggs, cream, butter, chickens and even livestock were sold. Eva had socks, boots, rubbers, towels and another clothing company brought in overalls. Customers were allowed to keep a tab. The ledger shows monthly entries commencing in 1903. The McCaskey Account Register table and bill books have been preserved.
Between the store and the school was a big shed with open doors to stable the horses on mail delivery nights. Folks would go into the store to visit. There were benches around the entire store, spittoons in the corners (that men could hit from across the room) and a wood stove in the middle. Three nights a week, the town's people would come and wait for their mail to be delivered and get the local news.
After Ervin and Eva, their son, Bob and his wife Christena (Derue) operated the store until 1957; the next owners were Keith and Marj Lyons (1957); Arnold and Shirley Miller (1970-77); Carl and June Thompson (1977-81) when the store closed and became a private residence.
More information about Fernleigh General Store is available from the CMCA book Memories of General Stores of North Frontenac (2016).
S.S.#8 Fernleigh School
A CMCA Historic sign was installed in the front yard at the school. To view this sign go to www.cmcabook2017.wixsite.com/nfhistorictour
The half acre school property at Concession 11, part of Lot 26, was obtained in a Letters Patent November 23, 1881. Fernleigh School became known as S.S.# 8 Clarendon. The first log school was built on the site circa 1882. It is believed that the present building was constructed in the early 1920s to replace the school that burned. School continued to operate until 1962 when an amalgamated school, Clarendon Central Public School was constructed in Plevna.