HASTINGS ROAD (ORMSBY)
This road was begun in 1854 as part of a network of “Colonization Roads” planned by the government to open the southern fringe of the Precambrian Shield to settlement. Under the supervision of Robert Bird, construction began at the northern boundary of Madoc Township and within a year 40 miles of summer road had been built northward to a point near present-day Bancroft. The road, when completed, was about 100 miles in length. The free-grant lots along its course were quickly taken up but poor soil prevented the development of a prosperous agricultural settlement. When the decline of lumbering in the region removed a market for produce and a source of employment, the settlers abandoned their farms and the road fell into disuse.
– Ontario Heritage Foundation
GPS co-ordinates: 44° 52’54.76” N 77° 45’00.74” W Highway 620 and Old Hastings Road
Location: This plaque is sited at the intersection of the Old Hastings Road (background) and Highway 620 (foreground) in Ormsby. The Old Hastings Road is open for access to hunt camps and cottages.
When you visit this plaque, stop in at The Old Hastings Mercantile and Gallery, a member of the Hastings County Historical Society. See their website for more history of Ormsby.
Official party unveiling plaque
The Hastings Road has not always received good reviews. Consider these comments.
Road inspector J. W. Bridgeland, 1966, The Colonization Papers: “…from the south line of Tudor it is a very wretched affair indeed, prevalent of fathomless mud holes and pitiless pine roots…as far as the creek Jordan the road undulates in short broken ridges, after which it becomes more swampy land…Here naked and uneven log crossings give a kind of monotonous change from the hilly roughness to the unmitigated and ceaseless jar of the rounded log surface…”
Surveyor C. F. Aylesworth, 1925: “…the Hastings Road…is one long trail of abandoned farms, adversity, blasted hopes, broken hearts and exhausted ambition. And the mute evidence of all is empty dilapidated houses and barns, orchards, wells, old broken-down stone and wooden fences, root cellars and many other similar evidence of having given up the ghost.”