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Welcome to
Blue Mountain

the Blue Mountains

It was the spring of 1883 when Charles Rankin was sent to survey the “Wild Land” beyond the Simcoe district.  After establishing a log house for himself in what is now known as Lora Bay, Rankin proceeded to plant a large garden of potatoes west, near the “Blue Hills”, now named the Blue Mountains.  The area he landed and settled upon was later referred to as Rankin’s Landing.  The first potato harvest in 1834 brought in approximately 100 bushels of potatoes; which would have been excellent provisions for the long winter ahead. 

Richard McGuire was the next to settle in Rankin’s Landing and would have been a welcome sight to the solitary Charles Rankin.  Mr. McGuire, a native of Ireland, settled upon land he received as a wedding present from his wife’s father who was an ex British soldier.  One hundred acres of land in the newly surveyed district was deeded to military veterans, although; most men sold or deeded their land to others.  The first white child to be born in the area was Charles McGuire (1837), son to Richard and his wife. The third settler to Rankin’s Landing was Mr. Herman Hurlburt who arrived with his family in 1847.  During the same year, George Holdship arrived with his family, as well as, Mr. James Stephens.  As Charles Rankin had finished his surveying, a new owner to Rankin’s Landing was found in his cousin Major Charles Stewart, who served in the British Army and lived in America before the war of Emancipation.  Mr. Stewart was a passionate abolitionist and believed slavery to be unjust.  He attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention in June of 1840 and wrote numerous anti-slavery pamphlets.  Naming Lora Bay after his birthplace in Ireland, Mr. Stewart kept several hundred acres of property and was hospitable to new settlers of the area.  His large log cabin served as a resting place for early settlers when they first docked at Lora Bay.  

In 1839 a man by the name of Brazier settled west of what we now called Craigleith.  George Lunan was the next to call Craigleith home, which was given its Scottish name by Mr Andrew Fleming who arrived in 1855.  Mr. Fleming, as well as his wife and younger children were persuaded to immigrate by their eldest sons, David and Sandford, who had been living in Canada since 1845. After settling in with his family, Mr. Fleming built a spacious home at the Base of the Blue Mountains, with gables that rose above treetops and eloquent hand carved stairs.  Andrew Fleming’s son, Sir Sandford Fleming, is most notably known for proposing worldwide standard time zones, designing the first Canadian stamp – the Threepenny Beaver, surveying the first rail route across Canada, in addition to, advocating for the Trans-Pacific telegraph cable.

Ravenna’s first settlers were a man named Brock, George Walters, and Daniel Eaton; although, later Mr. Eaton moved to what is now named Heathcote.  Ravenna truly blossomed because of Mr. Walters; the first meeting of the Township Council was held at his home and he invested himself in the new habitants of the area. 

Heathcote, first called Williamstown after William Fleming, was home to the district’s first post office.  The first postmaster was William Rorke, who with his family arrived in Heathcote during 1847.  As another town in Ontario had the same name, Williamstown was later changed to Heathcote.  William’s brother, Richard Rorke and his family was another early pioneer of Williamstown.  By 1856, town residents held their first fair, showcasing an assortment of grain, vegetables, and livestock. 

Thornbury, most likely named after the town of Thornbury in England, was first inhabited by Solomon Olmstead in 1848.  After being surveyed in 1833, the 900 acres of town plots lay vacant for years until water-power was harnessed by Solomon Olmstead.  Mr. Olmstead was the first miller of Thornbury and operated the largest mill located on the Beaver River.  Other prominent residents in Thornbury’s early history include: the Pedwell family; lumber barons who were well-known for building homes of grand stature, Thomas McKenny; the town’s first druggist and chemist, Dr. George Hurlburt; brother in law to Mr. McKenny and the towns first Doctor, and Mr. Snetsinger; another lumber baron and later mayor.  1856 saw the railway coming through from Barrie to Collingwood, which eased the distance with which residents had to travel to receive provisions and goods.  Captain Oldfield, who owned the first commercial fishing operation on Georgian Bay, built the 1st brick mansion in Thornbury.  This local landmark, situated on Bridge Street, still stands and is currently operated as a tavern and restaurant. 

Placed just south of Thornbury, is the small village of Clarksburg, so named after Mr. W. A. Clark who built the first woollen mill in 1861.  This mill was one of the most important mills in the district and produced items such as blankets, tweeds, flannel, and other high end cloths.  Wholesalers in Toronto, Montreal, and Hamilton placed hefty orders to the mill, proving what a prestigious business the mill was.  In addition to Mr. Clark, other early settlers to Clarksburg include: Mr. William Marsh and his son Mr. W. J. Marsh; who moved from Thornbury to open a small shop, Mr. John Tyson: who ran and operated the flour mill, Mr. Thomas Tyson; brother to John who took over operation of the mill for many years, Mr. B. J. Marsh; who for a short while was postmaster and later moved to Peasmarsh Farm, and Dr. Hunt; The first Doctor of Clarksburg.  Two famous tight-rope walkers hailed from Clarksburg.  The first, Jack Dixon walked the rope across Niagara Falls, which was an amazing feat!  Also crossing the Falls, at a running pace of 2 minutes and 32 seconds, was Clifford M. Calverley.  He performed various stunts while rope walking across Niagara Falls, such as walking at night, eating on the rope, and hanging by one foot. 

The Town of the Blue Mountains was formed in 2001 when Thornbury and the Township of Collingwood were amalgamated.