Blackhorse, a Ghost Hamlet
Location: In the northeast part of Albion Township at the boundary with Tecumseth Township in Simcoe County (Lot 28, Concession 9, Albion Township)
The Upper Canada Land Records Index (“UCLR”) is a listing of the earliest land transactions (grant, sale, lease, assignment, etc.) between the Crown (or its agent) and individuals. These transactions date to before the Crown Patent was issued as the final requirement for acquiring legal ownership of Crown land. The UCLR captures how land was distributed after a township or town was surveyed into lots and concessions or plans of subdivision.
Lot 28, Concession 9, Albion Township, likely was included in the transfer of thousands of acres of Crown Land to the Canada Company. Founded by John Galt, the Canada Company was a private British land development company incorporated by Royal Charter on August 19, 1826. It was formed in response to criticism of how the clergy and Crown land reserves were being managed in Upper Canada. Its primary mandate was to aid in the colonization of a large part of Upper Canada. In 1827, the Company acquired these reserves for £341,000 from the Province of Upper Canada.
The UCLR lists the sale of Lot 28, Concession 9, Albion Township, to Andrew Stewart on February 26, 1835. It was the Canada Company that on October 1, 1835, received the Crown Patent for what was described as the “56 acres” of Lot 28. This is a “broken lot” resulting in less than the standard 100 acres. The deed to the property was issued by the Canada Company to Stewart on July 3, 1839. He paid £42 for the lot and sold it in March 1849 to James Kidney for £60. That sale describes it as the “W ½ 100 acres.” The 1861 agricultural census for Albion suggests it was 56 acres but Stewart may have held a total of 100 acres valued that year at $800. The 1861 personal census describes James as 58, born in Ireland, a farmer. The family lived in a log house. James Kidney sold to John Kidney, likely his son, in June 1878 for $1,600. John Kidney sold to James Potter in April 1879 and James Potter sold to Frederick Potter in August 1895 for $3,000.
The Origin of the Name Blackhorse
The origin of the community name Blackhorse is said to be in reference to a team of black horses that gave notoriety to this part of Albion Township. The team was owned by a 19th century area resident. The name is still used by local residents for the area that straddles the Albion and Tecumseth townships line, in the farthest northeast corner of the Town of Caledon.
Allegedly, Blackhorse was also infamous for having a “house of ill repute” for prostitution. In the 1870s when the Hamilton & North Western Railway was being built just south of the hamlet, railway workers are said to have spent their off time being entertained by the “occupants” of the local hotel.
Historically, the closest school was Mount Wolfe School on Lot 23, Concession 9, Albion Township. There was a Primitive Methodist church and a cemetery on the north side of Highway 9, where Mount Wolfe Road ends.
Churchill Primitive Methodist Church
A Primitive Methodist congregation in this area is recorded in the Etobicoke Primitive Preachers Plan as early as 1851. This church has been referred to by some as “Black Horse Tavern Primitive Methodist,” possibly due to the first services being held in the nearby tavern.
John McLaughlin sold a half acre at the southeast corner of Lot 4, Concession 1, Tecumseth Township (Simcoe County) for use as a church and cemetery. The Trustees were Simon Elliott, James Brown, Robert William Lowery, William Elliott, and Edward Robinson. A church building was erected and dedicated on December 30, 1860. This congregation initially was part of the Albion Primitive Methodist Circuit headed by Bolton and in 1876 was served on the Palgrave Circuit.
A cemetery is located on the church site. The cemetery recording done in the 1930s by Peel County historian William Perkins Bull notes the site was “covered with sumac and brambles . . . many stones broken which gave evidence that many are moved to Laurel Hill or Palgrave. The foundation of the building is still standing. The Lipsett plot shows evidence of care in not too distant past.”
The following history of Churchill Primitive Methodist Church is extracted from Palgrave: The United Church and the Community.
This was a Primitive Methodist Church located just inside Tecumseth Township, at the head of the 10th Line of Albion on what is now No. 9 Highway.
The first mention of the church in the Circuit Register seems to have been a resolution in the minutes of December 1859 “that there be a new chapel built on the town line of Tecumseth . . . to have the privilege of taking the inside of Coates’ Chapel.” The church was opened and dedicated on December 30, 1860, and the following news item appeared in the Christian Journal January 1861:
Last winter, a house was opened for divine worship on the town line of Tecumseth. Immediately a revival meeting was commenced, and considerable success attended our efforts. A comfortable commodious rough-cast chapel has since been erected on a site of ground given for the purpose. On Sunday, December 30, the place was dedicated with praise and prayer unto God. The congregations were immense and the collections were liberal. On Monday an excellent social party was prepared by the ladies. The company was very respectable and numerous and did perfect justice to the good things provided. After tea, addresses were delivered by Brothers Lacey, Monkman and the writer, Robert Cade. A subscription was entered into which succeeded in embracing the whole liability and making once the building free.
In the early 1890s the roughcast church was burned down and a new brick church was built. The Christian Journal of December 5, 1862, reports that a “Sabbath School was organized in the past summer. The Secretary reports 50 scholars. This school has just been supplied with the necessary instrument of Sabbath School efficiency.”
This Church had a large membership for many years with as many as 80 members in 1906, but due to a decline in members, the church was closed in 1922.
Minutes of Quarterly Board meetings indicate that it was difficult to sell the church and shed. The shed was sold to the highest bidder – Mr. Chester Fuller for $120. It was also agreed to sell the church building for $100 if that amount could be obtained. The seats were sold to the village council for $30. No record regarding the final disposal of the church appears in the minutes, but we have been told that it was torn down, and the bricks used for the building now used by Charlie McLaughlin’s Garage in Tottenham.
The Quarterly Board meeting of May 2, 1926, empowered Shiloh Church to take the organ from Churchill Church for their use free of charge.
Subscribers to Mission Funds were: John and Thomas Webb; Alec Walker; Mrs. J. Robinson; Mrs. G. Robinson; Robert Elliott; Mrs. Lipsett; Garner Brown; Wm. Steele; C. McCabe; Mrs. Wm. Ewan; Daniel Mabee; Fred Potter; Ed Wilson; Mrs. H. Palmer; Mrs. Geo. Clark.
Coates Primitive Methodist Church (Mount Wolfe Primitive Methodist)
The following history of Coates Primitive Methodist Church (Mount Wolfe Primitive Methodist) is extracted from Palgrave: The United Church and the Community.
Coates’ was one of the first four Primitive Methodist appointments in Albion Township, appearing on the Etobicoke Circuit Plan of 1842. The Appointments, located on the east half of Lot 23, Concession 8, originally included all the Primitives east of the 6th Line, above Bolton. About 1850 a chapel was built at Coates. The class was a strong one into the early 1860s, when the formation of the class at Tecumseth Township seems to have drawn members away.
Coates’ was the central point from which the other northeastern appointments later came. James Coates appears to have died before 1861. Coates’ chapel came off the Plan around 1870, and in 1876 the church was sold. There was a membership of 18 in 1851.
John Garnett, writing to The Evangelist in 1851, says:
We commenced at Coates’ chapel in Albion and I must confess that I was very agreeably disappointed both in congregation and the collection. I had expected to find a thin congregation, a scarcity of money and lack of missionary zeal. But the house was crowded, the collection the best we had through the week and the warm-hearted responses which the friends made to our appearance showed that their hearts were well affected in the cause.
A cairn was erected on the site containing the headstones of John Coates, James Lipsett, and George Duckering. There is no cemetery connected with this church. Members may have used Ceasar’s, Caledon East, or Providence cemeteries.
The following appears in Early Churches of Albion and Caledon Townships Peel County (Town of Caledon) with Resource and Record Locations compiled by Trudy Mann, 2003:
Early services were held in the home of John Coates. Here his son, James, conducted informal worship services. Coates Class appeared in the 1842 list of the Etobicoke Circuit. In 1847 John Coates gave 1200 square yards of the E½ Lot 23, Con. 8, Albion Township for a church site. The deed #20817, dated Oct. 4, 1847, was registered July 11, 1847 to the Primitive Methodist trustees: Thomas Davidson, Francis Robinson Sr., Elliot Samuel Waudby, John Browne. John Hall, James Rushton? and William Jessop. The church site was at the east end of the lot 40 yards wide in the front, adjoining the 9th line and 30 yards to the west from the east corner.
A log chapel was erected around 1850. Coates Chapel is mentioned in the 1851 Albion Primitive Methodist Circuit Minutes and is listed on the 1861 census as capable of holding 120 people. A Wesleyan Methodist Church, known as Mount Pleasant, was situated on the opposite side of the road to the south. According to local legend the two congregations were not exactly on friendly terms.
Levi Card, Edward Gibson and Benjamin Rowley, were among the early members. As the village of Palgrave grew, discussions took place regarding uniting the congregations at Coates and Rowleys to form a new church in the village. Levi Card had donated land and material on which to erect the church. The December 1859 minutes state; “that there be a new chapel built on the Town Line of Tecumseth and they have the privilege (of) taking the inside of Coates chapel if the people (are) agreeable”. Apparently, the congregation was not agreeable at that time.
The membership seemed to be divided on the move and, after years of indecision and the loss of some members to the newly formed Tecumseth church, the congregations disbanded. By 1870 the congregations no longer appear in the Primitive Methodist Year Books. Some members did join the Palgrave congregations while others joined the Tecumseth Primitive Methodist Church. The church was sold in 1876. According to the Perkins Bull Cemetery history of this congregation the log church was sold to John Stiel (Steel?) of Bolton.
The information in Caledon Heritage Foundation’s online Ghost Hamlets series is primarily extracted from research materials collected by Town of Caledon resident Fay McCrea. Over the last twenty years, Fay has searched for information on microfiche at the Orangeville Library, the Perkins Bull Collection held by Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archive (PAMA), the files of Heritage Caledon, and elsewhere.
As with many local history projects that evolve over several years as an informal exchange of research materials and information, the original sources may never have been known or are now irretrievable. For those whose text, image, or reminiscence is not credited or there are copyright concerns, please contact Caledon Heritage Foundation through its website.
The sources for Blackhorse, a Ghost Hamlet, are as follows:
- Upper Canada Land Records Index
- Abstract of Title, Lot 15, Concession 3, WHS, Caledon Township. Peel Region Land Registry Office.
- Mann, Trudy. Early Churches of Albion and Caledon Townships Peel County (Town of Caledon) with Resource and Record Locations, 2003.
- Palgrave: The United Church and the Community. Revised Edition, 2005.