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Who Are The Friends?

  • The Friends of Wesleyville Village, Ontario is a non-profit charitable corporation with about 250 members and supporters who share a vision of preserving and revitalizing this formerly 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, Leslie Benson and Robert Sculthorpe.

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 Almost 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 by Ontario Hydro. By 2009 when the Friends of Wesleyville Village was formed only the Oughtred house was occupied.

  • 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 and managed by a local board..

  • 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. Responsibility for heritage conservation will now shift to the Municipality of Port Hope as property owner. 

  • Days before closing, the planned sale of 1334 acres of OPG Wesleyville property, including most of the heritage village (except the Church and cemetery) to the Municipality of Port Hope was cancelled by the Government of Ontario.  The Municipality had pledged to preserve the cultural and natural heritage of the Wesleyville property it was acquiring.

What’s Happening In 2023?

  • Community grants of $25,000 in 2022 and $10,000 in 2023 were very gratefully received from the Municipality of Port Hope.

  • A Fire Recovery Fund led by Blake and Eileen Holton has raised an incredible $125,0000 from the community for Church recovery and restorations.

  • Fundraising continues for the restoration of all Wesleyville buildings for community use, include the Y-House caretaker residence and public reception area. The work has started in the summer of 2023. Restoration plans for all four heritage buildings by architect P.H. Carter are being implemented by the FOWV as funds are raised.​

  • Structural/waterproofing repairs to the Schoolhouse have been completed and interior refurbishing is ongoing.


  • Natural heritage conservation and interpretive features are underway, including a publicly accessible nature trail.

What’s In The Future Of The Village?

  • FOWV will work with OPG, the Municipality of Port Hope and the Province of Ontario to conserve and share our cultural and natural heritage for the benefit of future generations.

  • Continued community uses and facility rentals for appropriate events.

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

  • A live-in caretaker 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.

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