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The following article was transcribed from page 4 of the 16 Jan 1913  Simcoe Reformer

Mr. Stringer Talks About the County Town

Simcoe, the county seat of Norfolk County, is situated on the River Lynn, 153 miles east of Detroit and 83 miles southwest of Toronto, the capital of the Province. It is surrounded by a good agricultural country of rich, sandy soil, and is  a port of entry. 

Simcoe has two machine shops, Messrs. West & Peachey building the warping tug called the "alligator." They have built about 140; two of them have been sent to the United States and two to South America. There is an unlimited demand for them in South America, but it is all a man's life is worth to go down there and set them up. With the exception of those four these "alligators" have had a market in Northern Canada. It is a sort of amphibious monster, that draws itself up hill and down dale, the boiler being suspended on a revolving shaft, the water always find its level in the boiler. Both of the machine shops are over-taxed, and behind with orders.

It has grist mills, planing mills and saw mills, the River Lynn suppying power for milling purposes; has a tannery, where the hides of domestic animals are tanned by the Albert Shaver process, which makes them equal to the best French kid fur making robes and coats. The town has marble works, brick and tile yard, cooperage, and fine stores, the H. S. Falls store being one of the largest stores west of Toronto.

The town has more granolithic sidewalk than any other town of its size in Ontario, and more boarding stables. Some of these are fitted up with waiting rooms, where a lady can arrange her toilette before making her purchases.

Two greenhouses do a flourishing business. Mr. H. H. Groff, "The Gladiolus Wizard," find a market for his hydridized gladiolus throughout the civilized world. 

The plant of the Dominion Canners is the largest in the Dominion. There are also extensive pickling and jam works. These concerns owe their prosperity in no small measure to the rich surrounding country which is so well adapted to the growing of fruits and vegetables for preserving.

Some years ago there was a prize of a gold medal offered by the Legislature of Ontario for the best-kept farm. Six of eight counties west of the Niagara River went into competition. That gold medal was won by E. C. and W[il] Carpenter, their farm coming up to the corporation [heat]. Messrs. Carpenter also won the bronze medal for the best-kept farm in the township of Townsend, while the late Richard Trinder won the bronze medal for the best-kept farm in the township of Woodhouse.

Twenty-three trains arrive and depart each week-day.

The Public and High Schools have nice sites and well-kept grounds. The High School will no doubt very soon become a Collegiate Institute. The present Public School house was built in 18[5]7, if my memory serves me right.

Three chartered banks have branches in the town -- Molson's, Bank of Commerce, and Bank of Hamilton, the Molson's Bank leading all others.

Simcoe has a fine lot of churches, where large congregations worship.

The seating capacity of the Mason skating rink is 1,500; skating space, 2400 square feet. This is the largest skating rink in the Province. Mr. Mason also has a skating rink at Ingersoll and is building another at Niagara Falls, Ont.

In regard to hotels the town is well supplied, the Norfolk, Cameron, and Battersby Hotels ranking among the best. There are two weekly newspapers, the Simcoe Reformer and The British Canadian.

The Agricultural Societies of North and South Norfolk own fine Exhibition grounds and buildings where some of the finest horses in Ontario are exhibited. The County Fair, held here every Fall, has few equals, the exhibits of fruits and vegetables, poultry, farm stock, etc., being second to none.

Mr. Yeager, who is well known to horsemen throughout the Province, has extensive stables to the south of the town, where he trains horses and disposes of them to good advantage.

At one time my great-uncle, Capt. Abram Owen, owned Lot 14 on the Base Line, in the Gore of Woodhouse. It seems that he deeded to his son, Alfred, the southeast quarter of said lot, which is now being laid out into streets and avenues. Mr. Owen also owned land east of the Hamberly Line, operated a sawmill by water power prior to 1856; also had an orchard and barn on said lane. Mr. Owen built the house now occupied by Mr. Yeager late in the 30's or early in the 40's. The time for that building was burnt in Mount Pleasant, Brant County, and transported by teams.

Simcoe was first called Theresaville, later on Birdtown. At the time of the visit of Governor-General Simcoe, he named it Simcoe in honor of his own name. It is an incorrect statement that he granted, on the occasion of his visit, to one Aaron Collver all of Lot No. 1 in the 6th Concession of Woodhouse, the grant to Mr. Collver for a mill site being made after the Governor left Canada.

Shortly after the Crimean War -- 1854-'55 -- they wanted to change the name of Simcoe to Inkerman or Ralaklava, for what reasons I never knew. Since that time, and especially in the last few years, she has moved ahead with rapid strides, and many fine business houses and palatial dwellings have been erected on Norfolk street, on what was once the Duncan Campbell property. Within the last ten years part of this same property has been donated to the town by Mr. Lorne Campbell for a town park.

The County Buildings are fair to middling. The coat-of-arms over the main entrance to the Court House is a work of art by the late Mr. Gardner. The material for the Court House in Glorious Old Norfolk, the pioneer county of Ontario, shoudl have been marble imported from Egypt.

The County Home for the poor is situated a short distance out of the town, and the inmates are well looked after. -- H. B. Stringer.

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