Kirkfield in 1888This thriving village lies in the fertile township of Eldon about 24 miles distant from Lindsay. One morning last week our reporter boarded the morning train for Coboconk, and found Conductor Rundle well known in Port Hope and along the line as a most genial obliging officer, in charge of the train. Engineer Clark and his fireman A. King, hauled the train, while the stalwart muscles of W. Scott and J. Storey saw that brakes were in proper place at proper time.
Cambray, Lorneville, Argyle with its lovely flower garden, Eldon, and Portage Road stations were passed in order, and then “KIRKFIELD” was announced. The village lies in a valley to the south of the station, beyond which rise rolling hills. It is at the crossing of the road north from Hartley and Palestine to Carden, and the old “Portage Road” by which the Indians once passed from Balsam Lake and the Trent Valley waters, to the Talbot River and Lake Simcoe. It is along this road that the TRENT VALLEY CANAL will run, and a finer route or one offering better facilities for a canal would be hard to find.
As our reporter passed along the village streets, signs of prosperity were visible. A fine new sidewalk is being laid to the station, new houses are being erected, and the mills and stores seem busy. The first and important industry around which Kirkfield centres is MACKENZIE BROS. MILLS.
These brothers, so well and favourably known, are sons of a hardy Scotchman Mr. John McKenzie, who many years ago left his native “heather hills” and “gentle vales,” to settle in Canada. He made Kirkfield his home, and still lives to see grandchildren grown to manhood, and all worthy scions. His sons are the three brothers intimately connected with Kirkfield, Alexander, Ewan, and William; and two others, Duncan in Kansas, and John a resident of Manitoba. The enterprise of these brothers is practically illustrated in their SPLENDID FULL ROLLER PROCESS FLOUR MILL, capable of producing large quantities of the finest qualities of flour. This mill has the FULL ROLLER PROCESS and in that respect is the equal of any mill on the continent. The flour finds ready market among the merchants, and the lumber camps of North Victoria and Haliburton as well as in the Eastern markets.
The mill also contains stones for gristing, chopping, etc. The wheat is chiefly imported from Manitoba, although ready market is had for all the locality produces at prices as high as can be had in more populous centres. The export is also chiefly by rail.
The chief miller is MR. A. CLIFFORD, a gentleman of experience in flouring, and one well known as a successful miller. He is ably assisted by an intelligent young man, Mr. J. Aird. The office work is performed by two clever young men, John and Roderick, sons of Alex. Mackenzie; while, of course, the older heads supervise.
MACKENZIE BROS’. SAW MILL, AND SASH, DOOR AND PLANING FACTORY is situated adjoining the flourmill. It turns out a great quantity of work, and is of great service to the farmers of the district as well as to the county at large. This mill is run by Mr. Hugh Chisholm, a man of practical experience. Mr. John Watterson is engineer, for all the mills are run by steam power.
KIRKFIELD WOOLEN MILLS are situated in the same block as the flour, saw, sash, door and planning mills. These are owned by McKenzie Bros., though leased for a term of years by MR. JOHN MCKAY. Mr. McKay owns all the machinery in the mill, and it is indeed fine, the very latest inventions being introduced. The mills do a large custom as well as manufacturing trade. The power for the woollen mills is supplied by the boilers of Mackenzie’s mills.
While Alexander McKenzie devotes his time chiefly to business connected with the mills, EWAN MCKENZIE, in addition, deals largely in TELEGRAPH POLES, POSTS, TIES, BOLTS, etc., etc. In this line alone he turns over a large amount of money annually.
The business still further includes GRAIN BUYING, in all its departments. Wheat, barley, oats, etc. are purchased at highest market prices.
McKenzie Bros. also do considerable contracting for the erection of buildings. Last year they erected 56 buildings.
William McKenzie is widely known as a successful railway contractor, he and his partner, Mr. John Macdonald, having been very successful in their contracts in the Rocky Mountains. Mr.W. McKenzie has this season erected a magnificent private residence, costing away over ten thousand dollars, in Kirkfield. His brother, Ewan, has also greatly enlarged and improved his residence this summer.
Prominent among the general stores is that of A .C. MACKENZIE He has a general store of dry goods, groceries, boots and shoes, etc. on the southeast corner of the main streets, and a hardware store on the southwest. Mr. Mackenzie learned the business in Toronto.
Further south is the handsome general store of M. PERRY He has greatly enlarged and improved his premises, and has a fine business.
On the street running west is the general store of J. W. SHIELDS an enterprising young man, doing a good general business. He also sells groceries and crockery. In connection with this store is a bakery not now in use, but about to be reopened.
On the east side is the general store of M. O’NEILL. He also keeps the post office.
R. McIntosh has a good boot and show store, and does a fine business.
N. Emsuier has the tin shop of the village, a very good one.
Alex. Fraser, general blacksmith has a reputation for strength and durability in his work. His wagons are lasting. He also sells agricultural implements.
William King makes wagons and sells furniture.
The carpenters of the village are J. A. King, John King, J. E. McCorquodale, Duncan McDonald, Allan Macdonald, W. Wilson, and W.A. McCrea.
W.A. McCrea sells stoves, etc., and also puts in pumps.
Alex. McLaren is the tailor of the place, and makes good fits.
The dressmakers are Mrs. Emsuier, Miss Minnie Wheeler, and Miss Jane Cookman.
Albert Hadfield has a fine harness shop on the northern street.
R. G. Wright has a splendid harness shop on Portage-street, and does a good trade.
Alex. Munro has a wagon shop, is an auctioneer and general agent. He has recently purchased an immense moose which is attracting much attention at the various shows, fairs, etc., in the country.
There are two fine hotels in Kirkfield, one kept by Mr. A. Gusty, the other by Hector Campbell. Mr. Gusty is engaged with Mr. Mackenzie in his Short Line railway contract in Maine. Meantime Mrs. Gusty ably manages the hotel. Mr. Campbell is one of the popular men in the village.
Robert Armstrong is an insurance agent, and does a thriving business.
DR. WOOD, an old Omemee boy, is the resident surgeon. He has met with much success since settling in Kirkfield and is no looked upon as one of the leading men of the country. The doctor has recently recovered from a severe attach of inflammatory rheumatism.
Mr. E. Mosgrove is principal, and Miss Sarah Mosgrove, his sister, is first assistant of Kirkfield’s public school. This school always does well at examinations, or at baseball, football, or cricket, as neighbouring clubs can attest. Mr. Mosgrove’s motto is “work while we work, and play while we play.”
Robert Boynton is the butcher and meat merchant of the district. He keeps fresh and salted meats in stock.
Mr. D. Stalker superintends sidewalk construction and other public matters. He is an old Clarke township boy, and has all the dash and vigour of youth yet.
Charles Thorne is the Veterinary surgeon of the place, and bears a good reputation.
There is a neat Presbyterian Church in the village, under the ministry of Rev. L. Perrin. He is a very judicious clergyman and an able speaker.
Rev. Mr. Mears, late of Cambray, now of Victoria Road, holds an appointment in the Methodist church at Kirkfield. Mr. Mears is a very earnest, honest worker and an able speaker.
E. D. McEachern Esq., the popular reeve of Eldon, resides a few miles from Kirkfield on his fine property. He is closely identified with Kirkfield.
There are a number of other residents of Kirkfield who are away in Maine, on William McKenzie’s railway contracts. Mr. McKenzie’s motto seems to be to give employment to home friends and he is right. He thus builds up his own village and country.
Report for the week ending Saturday night, August 18th, 1888 from Lindsay observatory: ---
Warmest day, mean of 76.45………………………Thursday
Coldest “ “ “ 58.4………………………..Saturday
The week “ “ 65.63
PRECIPITATION, IN INCHES
Greatest fall of rain in one day. .88.
Rain fell on four days.
Total rain fall, 1.52
This article has been excerpted from:Michael Stephenson's History and Genealogy website www.ontariogenealogy.com/