Researched and Written by J. Bruce Mundie
The village of Udney was first named Connaught by an Irish settler named Dominic O’Donnell. Later, it was changed to Evansville by Mr. David Evans who settled on the southeast corner of the 10th Concession and Side road 10, better known as Centre Road. Centre Road is the present day County Road 169. Mr. Evans opened and operated the first post office from his home. The brick house and farm buildings remain today and has been owned by the Have family since the late 1950’s. Some confusion resulted with another Evansville in the province.
The name of Udney came from a village of the same name in Scotland. It was suggested by immigrant John Mundie who came to the area around 1893. He established his trade as a blacksmith and built a residence on the northeast corner of the 10th Concession and Centre Road. The Mundie family opened the first general store and moved the post office to their residence. The business and property were sold to Mr. J.M. (Mosey) Robertson who apprenticed under Mr. Mundie. The Robertson family later opened and operated a garage and service centre until the 1990’s when highway widening caused the closure and demolition of the building. The house remains today.
Around 1900 Mr. Francis Martin built a general store and home on the southwest corner and moved the post office here when Mr. Mundie sold his business. Unfortunately, Mr. Martin met an early death in 1908. His widow, the former Jane Ann Mundie, (daughter of John) continued to operate the store and post office aided by her brother John A… He later bought the store and operated for many years as J.A. Mundie General Merchant. Mrs. Martin continued to manage the post office and help in the store until her retirement. Following John A.’s death in 1957, Mundie’s General Store was operated by Bill Carter, husband of John A.’s daughter Lois. This building still remains and is owned by the Carter family.
Around the same time, Mr. Charles Givens opened a general store on the northwest corner. This building was destroyed by fire but was rebuilt and operated for many years by his brother Philip. This building also remains and housed many businesses over the years. In the late 1950’s, Mr. Givens sold the building to the Munro family who came from the Toronto area. They continued to operate the store and later converted it to a restaurant that operated until the late 1960’s. Today it is a residence and used car lot, the only business left in the village.
In the 1870’s a Methodist congregation was formed. It was served by a travelling pastor who held services in the Evans home as well as the home of Mr. Hargrove, located 2.5 miles east on the 10th Concession. Around 1880 a frame church was built across the road from the Evans home, just west of the present building. In 1900 a larger congregation needed more room and the present brick building was erected. The Udney United Church served the community until changing times and a decrease in membership forced its closing in 2000. Today the church is a private residence.
In 1891 the Loyal Orange Lodge was formed and received their charter. A brick hall was built on land donated by Mr. Evans adjacent to his property and across the road from the church.
In 1905 the Canadian National Railway was completed bringing with it a station and agent to Udney. The station included a coal chute to provide coal for the train engines, grain storage, and stockyards providing an outlet to market for produce, livestock and the logging industry. The railway also provided daily mail service and merchandise for the stores and businesses in the area. The station operated until the 1950’s when it was decommissioned by the CNR. John Wilson and his family lived in the station house until 1962 when it was destroyed by a train wreck. The Wilson family all survived. Sometime after 1905 a spur line was built from Orillia to Udney but it was abandoned after two years due to a lack of trade.
The first brick schoolhouse, S.S. #9, Mara was built in 1879 midway between the Eighth and Ninth Concessions south of the village. It was destroyed by a wind storm in 1917. A new brick school was not constructed until 1924 at the corner of the Ninth Concession and the Centre Road. The school closed around 1967 when a centralized public school was built in Uptergrove. The school house still stands and is a private residence.
In 1920 the Udney Telephone Company was formed by a number of citizens who purchased shares to construct and own it. An area from the Fifth concession in the south, north to the Twelfth, and from Side Road 15 in the west to the Town Line in the east was serviced with switching done by the Brechin Telephone Company. The company was sold to Bell Canada around 1957 when Bell constructed all new lines.
Although commerce has moved on, the village of Udney is still home; home to the descendants of the many pioneer families who settled here all those years ago.