January 9, 2018

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January 9, 2018

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Seneca Bridge

January 23, 2017

Leslie T. Richardson- Memories & Other Stories

 

The Grand River Navigation Company built Dam No. 4 at Seneca Village. Jacob Turner came as the contractor for the Grand River Navigation Company. He bought land for himself west of Seneca Village and cleared it. later he became Reeve of the Township of Seneca in 1851 and 1852 and was one of the first wardens of Haldimand County.

 

At about the same time John Jackson, a relative of George (Scoop) Jackson, came as the engineer for the company. He settled in Seneca Village but acquired a large tract of land near Sims Locks where his descendants still farm.

 

Dam No. 4 held back water to the depth of 5 ft. 9 inches and this allowed several industries to be built near it, including a saw mill, a grist mill, carding machine and cloth factors. On the south side John Munro and Daniel McQuarry had a saw-mill too.

 

The dam was about 100 yards west of the present bridge and a mill race emptied its water into the Creek (Stoney or Black Creek). This flow of water made the creek deep enough for scow to tie up there and so the Village of (North) Seneca was developed along it's banks. When the dam disappeared the creek became too shallow for boats and the trade dried up too.

 

The Village of Caledonia was growing and some of the enterprising businessmen had several buildings moved from Seneca Village to Caledonia. One of these was Mr. Trotter who moved his store later Corman's and now Nelles Dry Goods Store, to its present location.

 

Another business man who left Seneca Village was James Little, the Post Master there. He opened up the southside (Brooklyn) where he built several of the buildings, including my home (Haldimand House). He also brought the Post Office with him and although it was in the Village of Caledonia, the Post Office was still named 'Seneca Post Office." This was not changed until some years later when he moved it to the northside.

 

According to 'A Short History of Caledonia" (page 9) "In the forties, a bridge was built across the river at Seneca." This bridge was actually built before that date and as was the custom then, on top of the dam. It was responsible for the early settlement of Oneida, along the river bank. A cleared path along the north shore was made and traffic could go as far as Dam No. 5. Later it joined the Plank Road to Hamilton.

 

Another clearing on the southside took the traffic up over the hill to the present River Road, through the Young's property. I believe this present road was actually a lane way into their farms from the River. I am not certain whether it is still considered a laneway or a given road.

 

I have a map of this area of 1835. On it are two roads marked. One is the proposed road, later to become 6 Highway. This is dotted in. The second one shows a road through the Young property and over the bridge to Seneca Village, where it joined the tow path to Dam No. 5. This road and bridge could have been the present Hwy 6, except that, the land values jumped tremendously when the citizens heard of the projection so the government built the road between the two dams where the land was cheaper.

 

This bridge, joining Seneca Village to South Seneca was the only one, serving the area from York to Brantford, until the Caledonia bridge was built in 1842 and was therefore, an important link to our early history. It lasted until March 2, 1861 when a treacherous spring flood with its extra large ice cakes and debris, knocked three arches out of the Caledonia Bridge in the middle and took it with it.

 

The generous County Council granted $200 for its repair, but $200 in those days, as of today, did not go too far and so the bridge at Seneca disappeared at that time.

 

Thus passed another bit of history.

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