Who Are These Friends?

  • The Friends of Wesleyville Village, Ontario is a non-profit charitable corporation with about 150 members and supporters who share a vision of preserving and revitalizing this abandoned community for 21st Century uses and heritage education.

  • The FOWV Board is chaired by Kathryn McHolm and the directors are: Petra Becker, Kathy Dennis, Sue Stickley, Scott Meldrum, Scott Bradley, Selena Mackay and John Bell.

When Was The Village Settled?

  • Long, long ago in Anishinabe territory, hunting was good and the people walked the path near the Lake of Shining Waters to gather and harvest the plentiful fish in the streams and rivers. Lakeshore Rd. was the trail used by indigenous peoples. Archaeological evidence has been found of ancient villages just north of Wesleyville.

  • By 1800 the trail became the “King’s Road” from York (Toronto) to Smith’s Creek (Port Hope). In May 1801 the crown granted 300 acres in lot 30 Hope Township to John Willcocks, who may have been one of the surveyors. The settlement of neighbouring properties followed soon afterward.

  • By the 1860’s Wesleyville was thriving with homes and farmsteads fronting on both sides of Lakeshore Road and scattered north-south along the road allowance between the cemetery and the Y-House. The Church, school, and post-office served a community stretching from Port Britain to Port Granby. There was a blacksmith’s shop, a tavern, a cobbler, a carpenter, a machine shop, and a barrel manufacturer.

Why Was Wesleyville Abandoned?

  • Both the Church and school were closed in the late 1960’s, concurrent with Ontario Hydro’s acquisition of almost 2,000 acres as a site for generation and transmission of electricity.

  • Gradually the village became abandoned as properties were acquired and houses forsaken and eventually demolished.

  • After Ontario Hydro was divided into several public corporations including Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Hydro One,  ownership of the remaining village buildings transferred to OPG.

  • The exception was the 1860 Wesley Church (still owned by the United Church of Canada) and its cemetery (managed by a local Board and still open).

What Protection Is There For The Remaining Wesleyville 7.5 Acre Village?

  • In 1990 Hope Township designated the 1860 Church under the Ontario Heritage Act. In 2009, the Friends of Wesleyville Village signed a 20 year lease with the United Church of Canada to restore the Church for appropriate community uses.

  • The cemetery is protected under the Cemeteries Act.

  • In 2016, 7.5 acres including the School, the Oughtred House, the Barrowclough House and two barns were listed by the Province of Ontario as a Provincial Heritage Property of local significance – a “cultural heritage landscape”.

  • The FOWV signed a 20-year lease with OPG for the School, barn and Oughtred House in January 2018.

  • OPG has conducted a Heritage Conservation Plan for its property and a Heritage Impact Assessment on the Barrowclough house and barn property.

What’s Happening In 2021?

  • New focus on repairing and restoring Church after fire on April 3rd. Amazing community support for Fire Recovery Fund led by Holton Flowers. See home page.

  • Fund-raising also continues for restoration of all buildings for community use & renovating the Y-House caretaker residence and public reception area (with an accessible washroom!)

  • Restoration plans by P.H. Carter, Architect, will continue to be implemented by the FOWV as funds are raised including OPG funding of $75,000 for exterior structural maintenance.

  • Structural/Waterproofing repairs to Schoolhouse have been completed. Interior painting and refurbishment will continue.

  • Advocacy for the preservation of the entire 7.5 acre Provincial Heritage Property continues.

  • Volunteers designing & constructing nature trails

  • Step Around Weekends Saturday and Sunday – mid-July & August Noon to 4 pm (Covid 19 precautions applied.)

  • Community events as restrictions permit.

What’s In The Future Of The Village?

  • Continued community uses and facility rentals for appropriate events.

  • Visitors', and especially cyclists’, needs will be accommodated.

  • A live-in caretaker/manager will maintain the property and provide much-needed security.

  • Natural and cultural heritage conservation education and volunteer activities will be the village focus. The aim is to revitalize our rural identity through the conservation of a Provincial Heritage Site.

  • Reduction of our environmental footprint by the adaptive reuse of abandoned structures and
    actively pursuing a zero garbage operations goal.