On the serpentine ridges that bank the west branch of the River Credit, in the township of
Esquesing (an Indian word signifying “The land of the Tall Pines”), County of Halton,
twenty-nine miles due west of Toronto, on the main line of the Grand Trunk railway, at its
intersection by its Northern and North-Western divisions, thirty miles north of Hamilton,
stands the picturesque village of Georgetown; one of the most prosperous and enterprising
places of its size in the province of Ontario.
Georgetown was first settled in 1820 by the late Mr. George Kennedy and his family, who
held solitary possession until the arrival, several years later, of the Marquis Gooderrow
and Mr. Sylvester Garrison, with their respective families. When the Barber brothers came
in 1837, and started a woollen mill, the settlement bore the uneuphonious name of
“Hungry Hollow,” but it was very shortly after christened Georgetown in honour of the
pioneer George Kennedy. The first commercial enterprise was established here in 1840, by
Mr. John Hunter; two years thereafter, Mr. James Young started a second general store, in
which he conducted business for many years. The first tavern, kept by a man named Burt,
opened its doors for the entertainment of man and beast in 1842, and in that same year the first church was built by the Wesleyan Methodists; after which the Methodist Episcopal and Anglican churches were erected in the order mentioned. The village, which grew rapidly during the construction of the G.T.R., remained a part of the township up to
December, 1864, when it was incorporated as a separate municipality.
Georgetown is the geographical and commercial centre of a population
numbering something over four thousand souls. To the north, in the valley
of the Credit, lies Glen Williams,with three flourishing woollen manufactories; on the east
is Norval, with extensive roller mills; on the south Stewart Town, with flour and lumber
mills, and on the west Limehouse, with its woollen mills, paint works, and lime kilns, the
River Credit and its tributaries supplying the motive power for most of the numerous
industries located in these thriving villages.
A DESIRABLE ABIDING PLACE
The advantages offered by Georgetown as a temporary residence during the summer months, or as a permanent home, are manifold, among which are unpolluted air and pure water,and excellent natural and artificial drainage. There are seven religious denominations represented, each possessing inviting church edifices, two good schools, and a public library; in addition to which there is ample telegraphic, telephonic, and express accommodation, while the railway and postal facilities are beyond compare. G.T.R. Station Georgetown There are no less than five passenger trains each way daily on the G.T.R., and two each way on the N.& N.W. division of this railway. Yearly commutation tickets between this point and Toronto are sold at the rate of twenty-two and a half cents the round trip. The rate is exactly the same between here and Hamilton. There are twenty-four arriving and departing daily mails. The scenery hereabouts is exquisitely romantic, and artists and tourists delight to “wander o’er the semi-wooded hills and through the shady dells” bordering the pellucid waters of the sparkling streams, in which the gamy speckled trout makes its home.
Georgetown to-day, contains between sixteen and seventeen hundred inhabitants. Its assessable property is valued at $380,000; its liabilities are said to be $52,000; and its assets, including school buildings, waterworks, town hall and fire apparatus, are given at $73,000. The village officers are: Messrs. Daniel McKenzie, Reeve; George S. Goodwillie, clerk and treasurer; Joseph Barber, William Barclay, Daniel Cook, and William H. Kahrs, councillors; and Edwin Search, chief constable.
The Georgetown water works system is not only unexcelled, but is without exaggeration unequalled on this continent. The supply, which is obtained from a crystal stream, rising in a mountain gorge three miles distant from the village, and fed by innumerable springs of the purest ice cold water, is stored in a stone walled reservoir holding 400,000 gallons, the spring yielding 230,000 gallons daily, in the driest season of the year. The water is conveyed to the village through ten inch mains, from which it is distributed to consumers through four, six and eight inch pipes, there being 21,000 feet of piping exclusive of conduits. There are thirty-five hydrants, twenty-seven cut-off valves, and four relief valves. The average pressure in the centre of the village is 197 feet, or about 85 pounds dead pressure to the square inch. The work of construction was commenced on the 16th of August, 1891, and on the 16th November, following, just three months to-day, the fire department attached the hose, and with the partial pressure then on, sent a stream through a one and a half inch nozzle, 138 feet at an angle of 45 degrees. These works were built at a total cost of $35,000. It is to Mr. Joseph Barber, more than any other one individual, through whose unwearied efforts the project was carried to completion, that the people of Georgetown are indebted for this inestimable blessing.
The Georgetown fire department was organized in January, 1892, and is composed of thirty active and well disciplined men, in two equal divisions, officered by a chief and two captains. The appliances consist of two hose-reels, a hook and ladder apparatus, and 1,600 feet of two and a half inch hose. The department has the reputation of being both prompt and efficient, a spirit of friendly rivalry animating every member. The officers are Mr. H.H. Speirs, chief; Messrs. James Lister and Neil Hunter, captains of divisions; and Mr. Hugh Matthews, secretary.
Georgetown and Glen Williams are both illuminated by electricity from the same plant, situated on the River Credit at Glen Williams, and owned by Joseph Williams & Co. There are two dynamos of thirty-three arc light capacity each, which supply thirteen street and twenty-five inside arc, and fifty-two incandescent lamps. The arc lights are of fifteen hundred candle power each, while the incandescent lights are mainly of fifty candle power.
THE METHODIST CHURCH
The Methodists, who have much the largest congregation in Georgetown, worship in a large and imposing edifice erected in 1880, during the pastorate of the Rev. Wm. Pirritte, assisted by the Rev. John D. Leek, at a cost of $8,000, upon the site of the first Methodist church, which was a frame structure built in 1846. The present church is of red brick, and has a seating capacity for fully four hundred. There is a membership of about two hundred, and a Sunday school, under the superintendence of Mr. A.H. Gibbard, with ninety scholars. The Rev. Thomas Gee is pastor,and the Rev. H.S. McGee assistant. The trustees are Messrs. J.G. Wilson, H. Culp, A. Holmes, Thomas Bailey, G.H. Kennedy, H.W. Kennedy, Jas. Kennedy, D. Williams, L.L. Bennett, R.E. Harrison, James Cleare, H.A. Reed, and John Johnson.
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Knox Presbyterian Church dates its organization back to the year 1845, when the first service was held by the Rev. Robert Wallace, now of Toronto. For several years the pulpit was supplied by students from Knox College, among whom were the Rev. D.H. MacVicar, D.D., now principal of the Presbyterian College, Montreal; and the Rev. John Burton of Toronto. In 1859 the late Rev. Dr. Robert Burns began his missionary labours here, but the first regularly ordained pastor was the late Rev. Robert Ewing. The first house of worship was built in 1867, but gave place twenty year later to the present magnificent stone structure, which was erected and furnished during the pastorate of the Rev. W.G. Wallace, now of the Bloor Street Presbyterian Church, Toronto, at a cost of about $15,000. It has a seating capacity for upwards of 400. Knox Church has a membership of one hundred and fifty.
THE ANGLICAN CHURCH
St. George’s Episcopal parish was established in 1852. The first church occupied nearly the same site as the present one. The first incumbent was the Rev. Thomas W. Marsh, who died suddenly on his way to Europe. He was a man much beloved by the people, and was in charge here for four years. He was succeeded in a few months by the Rev. Charles Dade, formerly mathematical professor of Upper Canada College. Then followed in the order named: Rev. J.G.D. McKenzie, Rev. F.A. O’Meara, Rev. Johnston Vicars, Rev. C.C. Johnson, Rev. Arthur Boultbee, Rev. G.B. Cook, Rev. Robert Caswell, and Rev. Graham Adams. The present incumbent, the Rev. Rural Dean Fennell, has been in charge since 1887. It was during the incumbency of the Rev. Arthur Boultbee that the beautiful St. Anne edifice, shown in the illustration, was built. St.George’s church occupies a prominent position and commands a favourable view of the village. It is surrounded by extensive grounds, which could be made very attractive; and it is the intention of the congregation and incumbent to beautify them as soon as practicable.
THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
Congregationalism was introduced into this district by the Rev. Stephen King, still living in Toronto. The infant church, with its young minister, met for worship for the first time on the first Sabbath in 1843. Service was held in a school house, which stood near where the old saw-mill now stands. After a time services were held in the Wesleyan Methodist church, standing on the site now occupied by the Church of Christ. In 1861 a frame building was erected, known now as the “Old Church,” and which in 1877 made way for the present sanctuary, a handsome and substantial stone building which was erected at a cost of some $6,500. It is in the Gothic style of architecture, with a spire and bell. The interior is exceedingly neat and attractive. Almost the whole of the south end is taken up with a very handsome stained glass window in memory of “Maria Barber”. At the opposite end is another window, not so large, but equally beautiful. A marble tablet records the fact that the late Mr. Jas. Barber served the church in the office of deacon for the long period of 34 years. The Rev. Mr. Unsworth, now of Toronto, was pastor for nearly 30 years. The present minister is the Rev. D. McCormick, who removed here from Kingston about a year ago.
THE BAPTIST CHURCH
The Baptist church, a dainty brick building with a tall spire, is situated on Main Street west, a location both pleasing and prominent, and was erected in 1869. The interior has been beautifully decorated recently, and is now attractive as well as comfortable. Its first pastor was the Rev. Dr. Perren, now of Chicago. The present pastor is the Rev. A.E. St. Dalmas, an able preacher and faithful labourer in the Master’s vineyard. The church has a flourishing Young People’s Union and Sunday school, and is in hearty sympathy with the various departments of Christian work. Owing to its elevated site it was found impossible to secure a satisfactory view of this tall spired edifice. CHURCH OF CHRIST This society, commonly known as Disciples, worships in a substantial brick structure situated at the western terminus of Wesley Street, but so environed as to render illustration next to impossible. It has a seating capacity for nearly 300, sufficiently ample for the congregation. The society was organized on the 17th of March, 1891, under the ministrations of Mr. W.D. Campbell, and consisted of about forty members. It has been in a healthy and progressive condition from its inception. Mr.John Munro, B.A., of the Toronto university, is the present pastor.
ST. JOSEPH’S (R.C.) CHURCH
St. Josephs’s Roman Catholic church is a solid stone edifice erected in 1885, at a cost of nearly $4,000, under the supervision of the Jesuit fathers at Guelph, from whence the pulpit is supplied regularly twice a month, in addition to which there are special services on holy-days. The congregation numbers about 200 souls.
The first public school in Georgetown was opened about the years 1847 or 1848, in the house now occupied by Mr. Charles Van Allen. After a short stay there it was removed to the old Town Hall, where it remained for a number of years till the main part of the present building, consisting o four rooms, was erected in 1869. This was modelled after the old Elizabeth street school in Toronto. The new wing of two rooms was built in 1879, the architect of the entire structure being the late Mr. Walter McKay. Among those taking a lively interest in the earlier history of the school were Messrs. Joseph Barber, Henry Gane, Thomas Young, James Young, Francis Barclay, and Solomon Page, most of whom have “joined the silent majority.” The present board consists of Messrs. T.J. Wheeler (chairman), Thos. Steel, R.D. Warren, L. Grant, E. Search, and John Langan. The teaching staff comprises Mr. R.E. Harrison, who has held the position of principal for eleven years; Miss Pringle, who has taught in this school for fifteen years; Miss Thornton, Miss Harrison, and Miss Evans. The daily attendance is about three hundred. The Georgetown High school was established in January, 1887. It then had about 70 pupils and two teachers, and was carried on in two rooms in the public school building. The first teachers were M.S. Clark, B.A., and Mr. E. Longman. Some three and a half years ago it became apparent that all the accommodation the public school could spare would be entirely inadequate for the growing demands of the high school, the attendance being continually on the increase; and so it was decided to erect the present building, which was done a cost of about $12,000. Immediately a third teacher was engaged, and some time late a fourth. The number of pupils now on the roll is 150. The members of the present staff are: Mr. A.H. Gibbard, B.A., modern languages, senior English, physics and botany; Mr. A.E. Coombs, B.A., latin, reading, drawing and commercial work; Miss Hogan, mathematics and French; and Miss Wright, junior English, history, geography, and chemistry. The following named gentlemen constitute the high school board for the current year: Dr. W.J. Roe, chairman; Messrs. John R. Barber, William McLeod, Charles Ryan, Charles McKinlay, and T.J. Wheeler, secretary.