Who’s Who in Belfountain? This page is intended to list brief bios about past and present residents of Belfountain who have contributed to the Belfountain community. To add a person who has contributed to Belfountain, visit here.
We are also looking to gather the history of local residences, so drop us a line until we have a listing of the historical residences to prompt your memories! 😀
Most of the historical information below is originally obtained from Berniece Trimble’s book “Belfountain – Caves, Castles, and Quarries”.
For more on the history of Belfountain, please visit our History Page.
Rev. Andrew Bell
In 1828, it was arranged that Rev. Andrew Bell, a Presbyterian minister from Toronto Township, would come on a regular basis to Belfountain, once a month. He walked the distance, winter and summer, for 18 months, covering the 25 miles to fulfil his commitment.
Angus Blair was the owner of the strip of land now known as Belfountain Conservation Area. Angus sold his land in 1908 to Charles W. Mack.
Thomas Jefferson Bush
Arrived in 1849 and settled on the south side of the Village. He was responsible for plotting a number of roads in the area, and Bush Street is named after him.
Robert Western Brock
The house owned by Robert Western Brock is one of the pioneer family homes of McCurdy’s Village. In fact, it was the first and only house at one time on Main Street. Brock was a man of many talents, as were most of the pioneering families, of necessity.
He maintained a grocery store in the front of the house, selling bread and such to his neighbours, but his chief trade was that of a cabinet maker. So, at the back of the house he made caskets storing them across the street on the church property.
But running the store and making caskets was not enough – he also conducted the funerals, adjudicated legal arguments as justice of the peace and magistrate, and, when it was necessary, acted as the village dentist.
Brock and his wife, Jane, had two daughters and five sons in this house. One of the sons was a skilled stone mason who built the dam and decorative stonework for Charles Mack at Luck-e-nuf, now the Conservation Area.
In 1890 John Deagle, supported by his wealthy farmer father, bought a burned-out grist mill in Cataract for $1,800 – one of 45 such mills along the banks of the Credit. He took two years and rebuilt the place, which was five stories in height. But then Deagle realized there was no money in the old technology, which was using water power to grind grain, and like many other 19th Century entrepreneurs, he went high-tech.
Deagle and his brother spent the next five years building, by hand, a powerplant, from the waterwheel to the dynamo, the poles and the wires. On November 2, 1899, Cataract was set ablaze by three weak light bulbs.
In 1825 government records show that a United Empire Loyalist named William Frank was the first settler here. He successfully dammed the West Credit and built a gristmill. He later sold the mill to the man whose name is linked to the founding of the settlement, another UE Loyalist known by the name of Grize McCurdy.
Glover wanted to capitalize on progress of the town by building a tavern. He approached Grize McCurdy to buy some land for it, but McCurdy was a teetotaller, and refused him, saying he didn’t want an establishment like that in “his” village. Glover bought some other land at the corner of Main and Bush Streets – where the store now stands – and built his tavern over 150 years ago.
McCurdy was a determined man and he built a sawmill near the gristmill between the Credit River and River Road, then known as Fork Street. He dominated enterprise of the settlement and it became known as McCurdy’s Village. Many men were lured here and to surrounding Caledon hills at this time on the rumour there was gold to be found. McCurdy thought he had found silver. He mined for it east of Belfountain and west of the Forks and later began the shaft for a silver mine in a depression known as Hogg’s Hollow, now a posh Toronto neighbourhood near the 401 and Yonge Street.
The rumours proved to be false – no gold or silver. What McCurdy thought was silver were probably small bits of lead, which has a silvery look when the rock is first cut. These early pioneer victims of gold and silver fever didn’t know the metals are not found in sedimentary rock like the Escarpment.
The Iroquois were considered to be the warriors, fighting among their own related families, which included the Huron Indians, whom their dominated. They targeted the Ojibways and waged war, but the Ojibways prevailed and continued to dominate southern Ontario. They began moving into the areas surrendered by their rivals, moving further and further south, travelling along the river until they reached Lake Ontario.
These were the forefathers of the Mississauga Indians. They set up camp at the mouth of the Credit, a place known as Indian Village, and in the 1720s the French set up a trading post nearby. If an Indian did not have enough furs to trade for the good he wanted, he could take the merchandise on credit. The area became known as the Credit Trading Post, the river, the Credit, and the Indian band, the Mississaugas of the River Credit.
Charles W. Mack
Charles W. Mack was born in Nova Scotia in 1858, raised in Maine and moved to Toronto in 1876, where in 1890 he married Addie. He started his own business in 1892, and invented the cushion rubber stamp, which his company manufactured and sold to banks, businesses and post offices. He expanded the business with other inventions that included all kinds of marking devices for offices – inventions which were popular and widely accepted, leading to his wealth.
His father arrived from Scotland in 1802 and married a woman from Chatham. They came to Caledon Mountain, south of Belfountain, about 1820 and cleared the land for farming. Alexander’s mother was known to walk the 40 miles to Toronto, carrying sugar, to trade for a logging chain with which to clear the land. She then walked home again with the chain.
Alexander had greater aspirations. He studied and travelled in the United States, England and Scotland and saw the fine old castles there. He wanted one. His vocation was as a legal advisor, writing wills and helping to negotiate for the railroad. But his passion was building a castle of his own.
He hired a stonecutter from Belfountain who started quarrying the stone. He hired an architect, stone masons and painters and by 1864 the castle was finished – and it truly was a castle of Norman design, with a 51-foot-high tower, a winding staircase inside it, from the top of which you could see Lake Ontario. The castle had a horseshoe-shaped library, a servants’ dining room next to the family dining room, butler’s pantry, eighteen rooms, nine bedrooms, with all the formal rooms finished in birds eye maple.
Alexander McLaren enjoyed the castle and his success – he was successful in politics as Reeve Of Caledon Township. In 1866 he was made a justice of the peace, was instrumental in surveying the railroad, and founded the first United Farmers Group, a political movement.
The castle was sold out of the family in 1937 and had many owners who enjoyed its uniqueness. In 1961 disaster struck and the castle burned to the ground due to an unattended lighted fireplace.
Irene McLellan is the founder and director of the Belfountain Singers a community choir of approximately 40 members who provide entertainment. Music is varied including classical, semi-classical and Broadway show tunes.
More info …..
McNaughton was a cooper by trade – that is, he made barrels. He bought land near Bush and established his cooperage. He was a self-promoter, and much to the horror of the villagers, he built a barrel, a tub, that stood 12 feet wide and 12 feet high, with a pyramid roof, to advertise his business.
It wasn’t long after the tub went up that the village was saddled with the unfortunate name of Tubtown, and “McCurdy’s Village” was almost forgotten. McNaughton’s tub was eventually taken apart and moved down the road to Erin.
During the 1850s the McTaggart family lived and operated a general store on Main St. There were, in fact, up to four stores operating in the village during this time and prospering from the influx of workers coming with their families to work in the quarries, build rail lines or open up new farmland.
In 1921 the general store closed and the building was sold to 2 sisters from Toronto who transformed it into a retreat for the well-to-do, calling it The Wayside Inn. Many city folk and artists took their holidays here, enjoying fine food, afternoon tea and the ice cream parlour. The sisters made their home at the inn until 1964 when the rambling structure became an antique shop. Today it is a private residence.
But during the American revolution, in the 1780s, thousands of United Empire Loyalists arrived in this area, bringing with them European traditions. They, like the pioneer settlers of Belfountain, cut down the forest for farm land, and traditional hunting patterns were disrupted with the growth of villages. By the 1840s the Mississaugas were outnumbered 100 to 1 by the white settlers.
To preserve their culture, they banded together with others and were called the Six Nations, under Chief Joseph Brant. They eventually move to Brant Country, which they called the New Credit Reserve. Today there are about 1,400 people who are Mississaugas of the New Credit. Most of them live off reserve.
Patterson and Trimble Carriage Works
The building that currently houses the Credit Creek Store, the Spa, and Casa Lena was originally a stable, then a forge (blacksmith shop), then carriage works.The last horse was shod here in 1930 and Mr. Trimble got with the times, assuming the franchise for the Durant Automobile Agency. He changed the name of the business to “Trimble’s Garage,” and set about learning to become a mechanic. His choice of franchise turned out to be fortuitous, and although few of us remember what a Durant looked like, we should make mention of the man, William Durant.
In the 1890s it became Patterson and Trimble Carriage Works, manufacturing buggies used in the good weather (they had wheels), and cutters (on blades), used in the winter months. They also established a blacksmith shop to look after the horses that pulled their carriages. The Trimbel Garage prospered during the war years, and the transportation legacy ended when the last Trimble left the building in 1971.
In the 1700s almost all of Ontario was populated by the Ojibway Indians. In the spring and summer they sustained themselves by fishing, collecting maple syrup and harvesting wild rice. In the winter they hunted and trapped, as families, and traded furs with the French for other goods. Their rivals for land were the Iroquois, who had a different language and culture.
To add a person who has contributed to Belfountain, visit here.