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Article by Harper Newman for history project of Cindie McCarthy

This letter was given to the
Ramara Historical Society by Cindie McCarthy in 2005.

Nov 15, 1971
My Dear Little Cindie
This may not be what you want as I haven’t got the date(s) very complete but that can be a project for you to find out. A good way to get an education in History – I never was good at composition nor at spelling, but you can correct my mistakes, and have a good laugh as well.
Hope you get 100% on your composition, yes indeed and in your work for the year. You have my good will and I am glad to help any time I can.
Harper

Some information about Gamebridge and the earlier history.

I haven’t any idea when Gamebridge 1st got its name or how and why it was named Gamebridge, perhaps of its good fishing.

I am told that there was a small building near the Talbot River on the Knox’s Church Cemetery ground, perhaps a Sunday School, perhaps it (was) used for gatherings and prayer meetings. I believe that the Cemetery is the oldest named place in Gamebridge.

There are three stone or monuments that record the birth & deaths of three people buried there, 100 years and over.

The present Church was built in 1913, replacing a previous church build in 1868, around which sheds were built on one side and end where horses were tied while service or other meetings where held.

There was a blacksmith shop, east of the store, Mr. Fred Keith apprenticed with Mr. Robinson of Woodville. Fred married Miss Jamima Walls, they lived where the Tanners now live and the Blacksmith shop was close by the house.

There were no cars at that time so the main job for a blacksmith was shoeing horses’ heavy farm horses as well as drivers. They were married in the early part of the century, and worked at (?that) during the time that the Canal was build, so there was lots of work. As well as lots of men use to gather there on rainy days to get the news of the community, until Mr. Keith died in the thirties, and that ended the Blacksmith shop – as cars or automobiles took the place of the horses.

The Gamebridge store was there from the early time of the late 19th Century. 1st was run by Mr. Macpherson, later by Mr. Carson, then Wm. Hill and it has changed hands several times since. At present it is run by Mr. & Mrs. Robt. Barrett, it has grown a lot in the last few years and now is a lovely big general store.

Besides this store there use to be a store on the opposite corner to the north run by the McKay sisters. I believe a brother help to start the store there, but as the bigger store grew, the smaller on faded away. Now it is a dwelling; also there was a post office & a store in the white brick house now owned by Mr. & Mrs. Stewart.

This post office and store was run by Mr. & Mrs. Wm Stewart, later by Mr. Jack Stewart who was a tailor but the post office has been run by the store keepers for years until the mail was delivered by the rural mail since 1970.

The C.N.R. was built starting in the fall of 1905 and the rails were laid in summer of 1906, this road was built by McKenzie & Mann, later Mr. McKenzie was knighted and became Sir Wm. McKenzie because of his great works of developing the country.

The Gamebridge Hotel was in the earlier days (run) by the Markell Family and was a busy place when I came here 1st in 1905, but it was here for many years before that.

Lady McKenzie, Sir William’s wife bought the Hotel in about 1907 and use(d) it in conjunction with the Kirkfield Inn and the Hotel ceased being a Hotel and was called Gamebridge Inn until recently, now it is a licensed Hotel.

The road that run from Orillia to Whitby was called the Centre Road for many a day. It was just a gravel road until the County took it over away back in the 1800’s until the Department of Highways took it over. Still was a gravel road, until in the 1940’s it was paved. Now it is part of the Trans Continental Hy #12 of the Ont. Dept. of Hy. system.

The Eldon Creamery dating from 1905 until 1945 when it closed up because of the different systems. In the early days cream was collected by men, wagons and horses, about 1918 trucks came in use so the Gamebridge Creamery which was part of the Eldon Creamery run mostly by Harper Newman (?closed). The building was built in 1887 and was run by a syndicate of farmers, as butter factory in winter and cheese in summer. I believe the 1st butter makers name was Mr. Stonehouse. This did a growing business until systems changed and the syndicate didn’t feel like expanding and sold to the Eldon Creamery in 1905.

The Women’s Institute building was a building that Brown & Elmer, the contractors that built the Canal. They use to store cement in at the Gamebridge station C.N.R. After the canal was built it was sold to the Sons of Scotland Lodge. They had the building moved to the present site and bricked veneered. This Lodge gave up and sold the building to the W.I. in 1912. The W.I. use to meet over the creamery for some years until they moved in there. They have been a going concern in Gamebridge all these years.

The W. I. (Women’s Institute) they celebrated their 25th anniversary and again their 50th in 1967 I believe it was. The W. I. have been the shining star in our Community for good living, good health. Nothing has even come near them except the Christian Church. One could sing their praises for a long time. It is good to look at the picture of their group’s through the years, as one sort out the pictures of each one, and name them, they were a grand group and I knew them all.

I have left out the old G. T. (Grand Trunk) Railway; it ran through the area for 100 years.
Gamebridge the loveliest spot in Ontario for a country place. I don’t think there is anything to compare with it.

In the early days, Scotch predominated but mixed with Irish & English and now it is as cosmopolitan as any other. The well kept lawns & gardens and up to date houses of folk with good will as their motto.

Harper Newman

Note:

Website Exec.


Submission Committee:
Frances Laver
Lisa Burke
Fred Lamb
Mike Crosby


Content:
P.D.McNamee

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