'Footsteps' echoing from the past: Celebrating Springwater Township's rich history

·2 min read

Searching for Springwater Township’s rich history during Heritage Week in Ontario between Feb. 15 and 21 means not having to look too far.

A ghost may live in the Crossland General Store, located 15 minutes north of Barrie.

Greig Stewart, the former Springwater heritage advisory committee chair, bought the house on the corner of Line 7 Flos and Crosslands Road to uphold the memory of local postmaster and philanthropist Silas Locke Anderson. Anderson ran the store from April 1913 until 1974. He died a year later, but it’s not his ghost said to have been seen by Stewart’s various guests over the years.

“Anderson’s wife, Isabelle, was carrying the baby (George) down the stairs in one arm and carrying a lantern in the other. She tripped and fell down the stairs and the house caught on fire,” Stewart said from behind the antique cash register at the General Store.

Stewart said the infant died and Isabelle never recovered.

“Some people say they can hear footsteps going up to the third floor, where it’s said she lived after the accident,” he said.

Going from tragedy to tribulation was the old lock-up house in Hillsdale. Opened in 1906, the temporary holding cells contained those who broke the law while awaiting transport to prison facilities.

On Feb. 17, Springwater council designated the accoutrements that reveal the history behind the Midhurst Community Centre after having designated the building itself a heritage site in August 2020. Under the Ontario Heritage Act, the attributes of the building must be included in the designation.

Opened in 1927, the tiny council meeting hall not only has uniquely styled buttresses on the outside walls, it also holds a vault crafted from cement and steel used to hold the former Vespra Township’s important documents.

A corduroy road — a rough thoroughfare made of logs laid perpendicular to the direction of travel — helped horses and wagons along the muddy sections of the Penetanguishene Trail when it was used as a supply route during the War of 1812, said Sasha Helmkay, Springwater’s deputy clerk.

Yet it is a rock that may hold the most significance for many of the township’s older members.

“There’s a giant rock behind the old Anten Mills School. It’s said if you kiss at the rock, that’s the person you’ll marry,” Helmkay said.

Although COVID-19 has stalled most visits to local heritage sites, Helmkay is hoping the Doors Open event held each September to showcase Ontario’s heritage will continue this fall.

Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance