Friday, September 10, 2021

Daytrippin' - Port Stanley & Sparta ON

 September 2021 - Sparta 

Click here for day 1 in St. Thomas  and Port Stanley. We started the morning in Port Stanley with breakfast. Then headed out to the market nearby. Click here for more about that.

The market had a sunflower display.

We decided to stop in Sparta. This pretty, historic village was founded by a group of Pennsylvania Quakers who settled here in 1822, led by Josiah Doan.

The descendants of those early settlers still live in the area today. But before they arrived the Neutral Confederacy, Neutral Nation, or Neutral people (also called Attawandaron by neighbouring tribes) lived in this area.
They were related to other Iroquoian-language speakers: the Huron people, the Tabacco people (who later merged with the Huron), the Wenro to their east, and the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederation further to the east, as well to as the Erie people of the south shore of Lake Erie, and the Susquehannock of Central Pennsylvania.

Due to Covid 19 none of the museums were open.

The village was established in 1813 by Jonathan Doan, a Quaker who was seeking a safe settlement for himself and his family. He had originally fled the United States during the American Revolution and settled in the Niagara Region. When the Americans began to attack Niagara during the War of 1812, Doan feared losing his property. He found Sparta to his liking and purchased 100 acres of land encouraging more Quakers to settle in the area and opening a grist mill, a saw mill and a tannery in the community. Sparta grew and by the 1870s was a village of close to 1,500.

At one time Sparta was quite large. There were 3 churches, a stage coach, telephone service, daily mail, 2 doctors, wagon maker, painter, shoemaker, druggist, 5 shoe stores, banker, 2 fruit stores, 3 general stores, 3 blacksmiths,2 broom maker shops, basket shop, butcher, tanner, sawmill, 3 cheese manufacturers, 2 justice of the peace, 2 harness makers, 2 carpenters, chair manufacturer, cabinet maker, undertaker, carriage maker, and a stove and tin ware shop.

This is an interesting 12 minute video about the town.

Everything that came into this store was packed in wooden boxes or pails. Money was very scarce, business being done by barter or trade: 20 bushels of wheat and 15 of corn for a cow, 4 bushels of wheat for 6 or 8 yards of cotton. Inside, the main salesroom still contains the original pressed-metal ceiling, as well as the original shelving and floors. The original sales counters are still present, including a cash drawer, and an embedded brass yardstick for measuring cloth and other goods. 

The tinsmith shop - Built in 1840, this little frame shed on the main street of Sparta has housed a tinsmith shop, a tailor shop, a butcher shop, with an ice-house added on the back, storage shed, of large antique collection. In more modern history, it has been a bakery, and now an artist studio.

Ye Old Forge and Anvil Museum was built in 1827 and now houses the Sparta and District Historical Society’s museum of local artifacts. This Cob building, constructed with clay and straw, was originally a blacksmith’s shop. Learn about pioneer skills as you watch weavers, spinners and others demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

Having disposed of the ‘Elgin House’, Isaac Moore built a large tavern, known as Moores’ Hotel, in 1853. In 1872, Cyrus Thayer purchased this property and named it the ‘Dominion Hotel.’ Later, George Moore came to Sparta and rented the Dominion Hotel, and having strong temperance views, discontinued it’s license and made it his home and office for a few years. Then, Israel Doan’s son-in-law rented it to keep a private school—after several years of use and idleness it was bought by a Fred Garner, who divided it and made two houses. 

The Eakins built the front brick section as a general store. The age of the present building is recorded on a stone marker under the front fan window; “John A. Eakins, July 1846”. The Post Office had been in that building since 1851 - and John Eakins and son, Edwy served as Postmasters for 70 years. 

The Sparta House - Built by David Mills, as a hotel. It has housed the first library, Millman’s General Store, a furniture shop, a funeral parlour, a hardware, barbershop, a trophy shop and now a tearoom. In the day, “old George Grasshopper,” a very popular town barber, was held in awe by the children as he seemed to be the only black man around. He would tell stories to many a child in his soft-tone southern accent. A public library, or Mechanics Institute, as it was called in the early days, was formed in 1888. At first it was in the far west corner of what is now the Sparta Tea House. At that time it was the Moedinger Hardware Store. In 1924 the library, was moved to the OLLIE house when Mrs. Ollie was appointed the librarian. 

Israel, a brother of Joshua and a son of Jonathan Doan, was the long time constable of the village and caretaker of the Friends Meeting House and sexton of its burying ground. He weighed 230 lbs and at cradling wheat he could beat any man in the township. He frequently spoke of his brother, Joshua Doan’s execution and was always bitter towards those responsible for it. He and his family lie together in the grave-yard he used to tend. 

Originally built as an Inn, The True Teller, a Sparta newspaper was printed here for a brief period. In 1859 Louis Moedinger started his undertaking and furniture business in the Abbey prior to operating it out of the Sparta House. Mr. R. Stratton turned ‘The Old Abbey’ into a shop where he made furniture and coffins. 

Peter Robson now owns The Abbey as his personal home.

On to Port Dover for lunch. We had been here in 2014 with friends. We didn' stay long.

Port Dover’s Friday the 13th had its beginning in 1981. It began innocently enough on November 13, 1981. The story goes that Chris Simons suggested to a few motorcycle buddies that they meet for a few beers at the Commercial Hotel (today known as Angelo’s of Dover). Word spread about the get-together so that Friday evening on November 13, 1981 about 25 guys showed up. They had a great time and someone suggested “let’s meet every month when there is a Friday the 13th.” More came to party in Port Dover on the next Friday the 13th. And, as they say, the rest is history. And it still goes on.

And then home.

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful area. I was not familiar with this village, but I'm generally not too familiar with that part of the province.


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