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So, you’re a history buff and want some adventurous exploring this summer – well there are plenty of opportunities to get your "heritage on" in Grey Highlands.
With seven newly-developed historic walking tours (well one’s a driving route) across the municipality, you could spend a day or a weekend experiencing the past and envisioning pioneer days.
Eugenia Falls photo source: EugeniaGoldRush.com
Each tour highlights a community in Grey Highlands and offers a peek into the collective past of the community. Eugenia had early power development and a gold rush. Commemorate with the community in steampunk style at the Gold Rush Day event on June 30 at the community park.
Flesherton was known for its woolen mill and Nuhn’s Nursing Home where over 1,000 babies were brought into the world. Now a hub for local food and culture, including several art galleries, the history of this little village is celebrated with the Flesherton Fling and the Saints Salon & Sinners Saloon on August 26th – with fun for the whole family.
Agnes MacPhail photo source: Bank of Canada Museum.
Kimberley, celebrate its 150th anniversary this year in a community known for its ski hills and hiking trails, through the early hunting camps of the Indigenous people. Springs for water and lumber for local manufacturing as well as a popular creamery made this a happening spot in the early days of the area. Celebrate the village’s sesquicentennial with various events starting September 15 and running all week to culminate in the annual Apples and Art show on the following weekend.
In Markdale you will learn about the many early manufacturers and department stores at this traditional commercial hub for the county. Always a focus of development, look for the many heritage homes in the community built with bricks from the early Bowler Brick yard. The fall fair August 25 – 27 offers a taste of the traditional as it celebrates 160 years of the event.
Osprey is a former township and is so widespread you need a car to see it all. The driving tour takes you through the many small communities, from Badjeros to Feversham and Maxwell to McIntyre. Be on the lookout for horse and buggies or the grand old “Mennonite Bus” along your route as many traditional farmers have come back to the land here. The Feversham Fall fair was 150 last year, so the 151st edition of this tradition runs September 14 to 16. It includes a memorabilia room bound to bring back memories.
Photo source: South Grey Museum.
The “police village” of Priceville has the unique feature of commemorative plaques on its “downtown” buildings, identifying early hotels and harness shops. It’s a lovely stop for a wander along the old streets and through the pioneer cemetery. Canada Day fireworks there are very popular. Agnes Macphail, Canada’s first female MP is buried there with her family. You may also want to trip on out to the Old Durham Road Pioneer Cemetery to take in the Black history monument there.
Rocklyn hosts a Father’s Day Classic Car show every year, which includes tractors for the farmers to discuss over a beverage at the beer tent. Brunch is served as people peruse the history on wheels. The Rocklyn Fall Fair is also 151 this year, and celebrates with a dance the weekend prior to fair weekend, which is September 22 for this one-day event with traditional competitions.
Your base camp for your experience tour could be the South Grey Museum, where more narrative stories and artifact exhibits offer tales of the early Indigenous communities, Black settlement along the Old Durham Road near Priceville, early pioneering in the bush and local railroad and economic development. Museum staff can direct you to the heritage sites of most interest.
The museum is also the place to find your local roots, look up the history of your homestead and find your guides to all the local attractions. Exhibits about the long history of the Eugenia Lake dam and hydro plant as well as the Eugenia Gold Rush are on offer.
So, take some time this summer to meander through the last century and a half of history in the Highlands. You’ll be surprised how much there is to see, learn and do in the heart of Grey.