WESLEYVILLE HERITAGE VILLAGE
Wesleyville Village is located on the traditional territory of the Mississauga nation
What’s happening in 2022?
Fund-raising continues for recovery from nightmare fire in Church on Easter Saturday April 3rd 2021. Municipality of Port Hope matching community grant for $25,000 in 2022 must be met by November – about $9,000 still needed. Donations very welcome!
Progressing on purchasing Church and property from United Church of Canada to enable repair and restoration of the Church for community uses. Amazing community support for Fire Recovery Fund led by Blake & Eileen Holton has raised over $120,000. Recent $35,000 donation from Rod Stewart and Masumi Suzuki.
Fund-raising also continues for restoration of all buildings for community use & to renovate Y-House caretaker residence and public reception area.
Restoration plans for four heritage buildings by P.H. Carter, Architect, are being implemented by the FOWV as funds are raised. Lease on OPG owned property will be renewed for 5 more years.
Structural/waterproofing repairs to Schoolhouse have been completed. Interior painting and refurbishment will continue.
Natural heritage conservation and interpretative features underway including publicly accessible nature trail.
July & August – many visitors were welcomed on Step Around Wesleyville Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Successful community events have included a fund-raising BBQ, concerts, markets and Easter Eggsploration. Halloween and Yuletide event yet to come.
Who are the Friends?
The Friends of Wesleyville Village, Ontario (FOWV) is a non-profit charitable corporation with about 275 members and supporters who share a vision of preserving and revitalizing Wesleyville Village for 21st Century community 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 Anishenaabe 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. 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.
What happened to most of the Wesleyville Village community?
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 deserted as properties were acquired by Hydro 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).
Nearby Lakeshore Road residents remain dedicated community members.
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. Because of the fire, the Friends hope to purchase the Church in order to restore it to community use.
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’s agreement to sell its entire large Wesleyville property to the Municipality of Port Hope has been halted. The Province of Ontario has assumed control of any sale of OPG property.
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 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 conservation of a Provincial Heritage Site.
Reduction of our environmental footprint by adaptive reuse of abandoned structures and actively pursuing a zero garbage operations goal.
Donations gratefully received at www.wesleyvillevillage.com Donate Now button.
E-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cash or cheques at on-site events or at Holton Flowers, 62 Walton Street, Port Hope ON.