Urbex: Abandoned 1867 Heritage Farmhouse Explore

Overview

Added to Centre Wellington heritage list map January 2021.

Located at the north corner of **th Line East and Sideroad **. Lot **, Concession ** of Pilkington Twp. There are two L4C2s, one on the east side of the Grand River and one on the west (E and W). CN Fergus Subdivision ran through the lot along the northeast end until 1987. The CN Fergus Subdivision used to be the Wellington, Grey and Bruce (WG&B) Railway built in 1870. (redacted to protect location).

Click link here to watch the YouTube video of this explore.

There are 6 houses/properties on Lot * today (including abandoned), 5 out of 6 front onto Sideroad *. One of them is built in the former rail ROW.

It appears to have been abandoned for quite some time. Unable to identify an exact date – we were able to locate a student agenda belonging to a female who attended St. Anne’s School in Kitchener from the year 2000. I find it unlikely that this was someone who resided in the house it’s difficulty to understand why someone would attend an elementary school so far away from where they live (approx. 40 kms away, when there were schools way close than that).

This research was done after we explored the property, we came upon it out of happenstance, on our way to another property.

We could tell from being there that the log house was old – the logs appeared to be handcrafted cut not milled, I could tell by what appeared to be uneven little hatchet markings on the exterior logs (inside the house where the later applied drywall had been pulled down). You can also see in the one photo above, where as the years progressed, they tried to “modernize” the house by adding siding.

The earliest information available online about the property was the 1867 survey.

1867 Survey:

In 1867 L4C2 had:

  • David Black (freeholder)
  • John Everett (freeholder)
  • John Gale (freeholder)
  • David Milne (freeholder)
  • George Milne (householder)
  • John Swan (freeholder)

The ages of the outbuildings aren’t documented that I could easily access.

There was barn – the concrete slab to one of the entries says Weber IPPE. If anyone in the #urbex or #blogging community knows who or what Weber IPPPE (see photo below) is, please comment below. I wasn’t able to find anything.

There were also 2 what I would consider storage/drive sheds.

A bit About the Milne Family:

A History of Elora from 1906-7 says that David Milne and his wife Ann Scott came from Auchinblae, Fordoun, Kincardineshire, Scotland and settled in Pilkington in 1844. Their daughter, also Ann, married David Black, who shows up in 1867 as a freeholder — they likely subdivided the original farm so that David and Ann could have their own homestead. It seems likely that the log cabin is the original home or at least an early build, and was the corner lot that is fully cleared rather than the wooded “back acres” to the east. (link) It’s possible that the Sideroad 4 fronted properties were the subdivisions, or perhaps the reverse, though the Elora history seems to establish a Milne-Holman continuity.

Land registry information from the 1870’s shows more and more land going to David Black, likely the larger part of the lot (Geo. Keith below) ended up being larger.

Alex Holman first appears in land documents in 1876? but as the grantor, not the grantee, to David Milne — perhaps something complicated was going on. Alex Holman seems to have acquired all the 1906 land by 1896.

A bit About the Holman family:

A 1906 map shows 3 sets of names:

Full Title: Nichol and Pilkington Townships, Ennotville Village, Gluaysville, Alma
Full Atlas Title: Wellington County 1906

Alex Holman living where the cabin is now.

George Keith, living along Sideroad *

Misses Mary & Susan Swan, living at the corner of 2nd Line and Sideroad * on the other side of the WG&B tracks.

Holman genealogy shows that there was an Alex HOLMAN born in Dundas circa 1831. Alex HOLMAN’s wife Julia was born in Pilkington. Alex HOLMAN died in Pilkington and is buried at Elora. At time of death, he farmed at Lot * Concession 2 Pilkington Twp — that location. There is another Alex HOLMAN (his son) whose brother was born in the 1860s, who died not long after (1920s) in Traverse City Michigan. The Holmans seem to have moved to Michigan.

Alexander HOLMAN married his wife Julia in 1876 and by this point is listed as a widower and yeoman aged 44. (link) In 1887 his son John J. HOLMAN (28, carpenter) married Mary Agnes DRISCOLL. His mother is listed as Catherine NORTON, likely Alexander HOLMAN’s first wife. (link)

House Explore

The house itself was eclectic — upon entry you have the option to go in 1 of 3 directions – left, right and straight ahead down to the cellar. 

The entries to the living room and kitchen, respectively, have a bit of a Chainsaw Massacre vibe with the cold storage freezer strip curtains.  Who would put that in a house? I’m assuming the attempt was to keep the cold air out? 

Screen Shot 2021-03-29 at 8.05.46 PM

The house shows it’s many years of inhabitation.  Much graffiti covers the walls, someone in a vain attempt to hide the crudeness of some of the black graffiti attempted to cover it with red spray paint – no success.    

Attempts to “modernize” don’t fit with the cabin – very low ceilings which I’m sure would have been nice wood back in its original days.  Vinyl flooring, which I am sure back in the day would have been nice wood as well.  

The house has 3 upper bedrooms, small.  80’s-90’s wallpaper with equal flooring choices up there – with some colourful doors and frames. 

Later Ownership:

After Alexander Holman died, it seems the property went to Robert SWAN (descendant of John Swan?) and Edward HALL in the 1920s-30s. The Bird family also appears around this time.

The Wright family first appears in the 1950s.

1983: Slater deeded to Blair

1992: CN Rail to Twp of Pilkington (likely the rail corridor being sold)

1992: Blair to Poljanski

1992: Poljanski to National Trust (mortgage?)

1994: 266312: Poljanski to Wright

1994: Wright to National Trust (mortgage?)

1997: National Trust Company to Toronto-Dominion Bank

I’m unable find anything sooner than 1997.

That’s about all I was able to locate online about this property. I don’t know the exact details of the heritage designation, what I do know is that it would be a shame to lose another local farmstead.

Let me know what you thought of this explore – be sure to check out the YouTube version of the explore -> I’ve posted it again here for your ease of reference.

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