The Cold Spring’s Ontario Story Part 1

In Researching this post, I have had thoughts that this little village might have been named McIntosh Springs. “About half way between Cobourg and Rice Lake there is a pretty valley between two steep hills. Here there is a good deal of cleared land and a tavern; the place is Called ‘Cold Springs’. Who knows but some century or two hence this spot may become a fashionable place of resort to drink the waters. A Canadian Bath or Cheltenham may spring up where nature reveals in her wilderness of forest trees.” A quote from Catherine Parr Traill, from the first edition of her book, “The Backwoods of Canada” 1836. Once called “Derry” by the early Irish settlers, Upper Cold Springs was laid out at the top of Pine Hill and included lot 15, concessions 5 & 6. Reverend William Hayden arrived about 1840 to found a Congregational Church. The church and cemetery were established in 1849. As Reverend Hayden’s health declined, he resigned from the Cold Springs Pastoral charge and he died in September 1865 at the age of seventy five and was buried in a grave adjoining the Chapel where a cairn was dedicated “To the Memory of Reverend Hayden, the Founder and First Pastor of the Church.” A plaque placed on the beautiful stone cairn in 2014 reads In Recognition of Clarence Ash for his outstanding long service to the Cold Springs Pioneer Memorial Board.” Picture below is the original McIntosh Homestead, Shawn and Mellissa McIntosh carry on the family name, 5th generation.


The Lower Cold Springs, in the valley was located in lot 16, concession 5 and the settlers were mostly Scottish and in 1850 they established the Presbyterian Church and a cemetery. The original church was replaced by a brick building in 1875 as was the manse. The Congregational Church closed in 1930 and amalgamated with St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, now part of the Cold Springs United Church Charge. The Congregational Church was demolished in 1958 and replaced by a cairn. The Manse, and cemetery often known as the Pioneer Cemetery are still in use today. David Sydey (1784-1871) a Scotsman from Blairgowrie came to Canada around 1823 and built a log house on the west side of Pine Hill from a fur merchant by the name of Elwood Ellise, that home is still standing but is now covered by clapboard. Pine Hill is the highest hill on County Road 18 at the north end of the village and over looks Rice Lake to the north and Lake Ontario at Cobourg. Sydey was a founder of the Congregational Church and is buried there with his wife Ann Souter. The Sydey’s raised three daughters who all married Cold Springs men: Isabella to George Campbell, Jane to John Steele and Mary to Peter Sydey Jr. thought to be a relative. David Sydey obtained 200 acres in 1832 and soon sold off many parcels. He sold 78 acres of the northern section to Israel Ellsworth who had a tavern on this property. In 1832 Sydey sold the south 71 acres to Hiram Ash.


Allen McIntosh emigrated from Edinburgh in 1834 to Canada with his wife Jane Jane (Sutor) and three children. Daughters Margaret and Jane and their only son David. Allen Purchased 78 acres of land with a small house on lot 16, concession 5 in Hamilton Township from Philip Elmhurst. Here he established a tavern and raised sheep. In 1837Allen was appointed as an “overseer of Highways” and later served on the Hamilton Township Council, a Deputy Reeve and Reeve. Allen McIntosh became a dealer in real estate purchasing much property in and around the village. In 1839 he purchased the south 50 acres of lot 15, concession 5 in Hamilton Township, land situated on the Rice Lake Road (County Road 18) land likely still owned by the McIntosh family. In1852 John Gabatis a tavern keeper, sold 26 acres of land on the Rice Lake Road to Allen McIntosh. A house and lot on the west side of the road to lower Cold Springs owned by Levi Vanderburg was purchased by McIntosh in 1853, after Allen’s death the land was sold to James McClune. At the time of need for a Hamilton Township Hall in the village, Allen McIntosh had sold one acre of land on the east side of the Rice Lake Road, just east and north of his store in 1856. Allen donated land in1860 to build a school and the Presbyterian Church. In 1863 Allen purchased a half acre lot, having owned the land on three sides of this property on the west side of the road, opposite the Orange Hall. On his death the house was willed to his wife Jane for her natural life and after her death to his daughter Jane Richards and her heirs. In later years of his life, Allen McIntosh became blind and was unable to sign his name. Allen McIntosh died in 1869 on his 69th birthday. The Legacy which Allen McIntosh left, could be the foundation for the village of Cold Springs, picture is the Manse today.


Some early tavern keepers were Benjamin Green in 1827 (lot 16, concession 5) followed by Samuel Ash in 1832. In this year, an ad in the Cobourg Star advertised a tavern for sale or let, this property was purchased by Allen McIntosh. Hiram Ash (1790-1881) of lot 16 concession 5 operated a tavern in the village until 1836 when it was destroyed by fire. Allen McIntosh (1800-1869) a Scotsman from Edinburgh bought the north section, 78 acres of lot 16, concession 5 and applied for a tavern license it is likely that McIntosh’s wife and David Sydey were related. Allen kept a small frame tavern in Lower Cold Springs which he operated until 1857 and lived in a two story house located on the main road above the second town hall. Allen became very successful and bought up much of the land in and around the village and rented several houses as well. He was credited with donating land for the school, now a private residence. In 1857 John Hutchinson and Alex Lockie took over the management of the McIntosh Inn and operated a still but McIntosh retained the ownership. On the death of Allan in 1869 the Inn was closed.

The early McIntosh’s former Inn was replaced by a brick house by Allen’s son David. The family operated a store, post office, and later the local telephone exchange from the brick Ontario Classic-style house. The McIntosh Store was owned by Graydon McIntosh, a great-great grandson of Allen McIntosh. This store brings back fond memories of the Ranger when I lived west of the store for fourteen years. Whenever we needed groceries, snack’s, tools, nails, a new TV, radio or any number of hardware goods. we would just drop into the ‘shopping mall’, fill up the gas tank and pick up the mail all in one short trip. When leading hikes in the area for the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association in later years we would always make a stop here. The hikers were always amazed at the variety of goods and especially the worn floor boards from years use. With the store now closed, today Graydon’s son Brian McIntosh operates a well known appliance sales and service store across the road.


The Early Industries of Cold Springs. David McIntosh built the first General Store, south of the village and was appointed the first Postmaster in 1851. Alex Hoskin built his General Store at Pine Hill. He also carried store stock, bought and sold sheep’s wool and skins, cow hides, shingles for barns and houses, plough points, and repaired machinery. Wagon Maker – Walter Ross lived in the village and made wagons, later he moved to the Beaver Meadow Road north of the village. Weaver – Miss Janet Thompson lived in the village and wove rag carpets for sale. Blacksmiths – John McLeod had his shop in the lower village on the south west corner of the Willis lot. Richard McBride had a blacksmith shop at Derry (north Cold Springs), his first shop was on the east side of the road and later moved. Machine Shop – William Foote operated in Upper Cold Springs with a lath and a forge and woodworking equipment upstairs. Robert McMann, later operated at this same shop and he produced wagons, wheels, sleighs and did general repair work. Carpenters – James McClune was a carpenter who built brick houses from Cold Springs to Gore’s Landing. He constructed doors and window sashes in his shop during the winter months. He walked to and from his work. Ralph Robertson, another carpenter built the second Presbyterian Church as well as several houses in the village. Another carpenter was George Kerr from the upper village.


Harness & Saddle Shop – Edward Nixon was located on the north side of the Harper farm which he owned and Mr. Milliner had his shop near the present hall. Dressmaking – Miss Henderson and Miss Brown had a dressmaking and millinery shop near the the bridge. Shoe Making – John Phillips had a shop across from the store and Nathanial Davidson’s shop was on the east corner of the road in upper Cold Springs. His children delivered the shoes on Saturdays. After years of service the family moved east to a farm which was called Chesapeake. Bake Shop – John McIntosh operated from his shop north of his tavern and sold bread and buns. Cheese Factory – called North Star Cheese, first located on the Beaver Meadow Road, then moved to the Grieve farm in the village. Robert Free was the cheesemaker, assisted by Percy Grieve. According to an early Northumberland directory the factory was located near the stream west of the second town hall. This spring-fed stream and others nearby joined and supplied water for the William Hore saw mills and pail factory in Camborne and eventually fed into the Cobourg Creek and Lake Ontario. (See post: Camborne Ontario Ghost Mills, Oct. 12, 2015)

The Taverns – Hiram Ash operated the first tavern on the west side of the road, it was destroyed by fire. John Gabetis operated a tavern from 1847 to 1853 in the lower village. These taverns were used by farmers coming from Monaghan with grain to ship from Cobourg. Much liquor was used locally for the price of liquor was only 25 cents a gallon. Rules For Taverns (from the Municipal Ledgers) for the sale of beer, ale, cider and other liquors: No drunkenness or any disorderly conduct permitted; Games not allowed that were of a gambling nature as Dice, Balls, Pins, Ragatelle or Dominoes; In every tavern or any place of entertainment, three beds must be maintained; There must be a good stable for at least six horses; Innkeper must be supplied at all times with sufficient supply of good provisions and quantity of hay and oats for travelling public; Innkeeper shall not (or any servant) sell, barter, exchange, retail or otherwise dispose of spirituous liquors on the Sabbath, nor any time later than ten o’clock, and not before 5 a.m., or permit any minor unless in the presence of a guardian.


The Doctor’s House. In 1863 Allen McIntosh purchased a half acre and a frame house for $2300 from Horsburg and Ainslie, executors of Alexander Ross, a stone cutter. McIntosh owned the land on three sides of this half acre which had 162 feet of frontage on the main Road. Ross built the frame house in 1857 on the main road above the McIntosh Inn. Alexander Ross (1795-1863) was a native of Murrayshire, Scotland and was buried at the Cold Springs Presbyterian Church cemetery. In his 1869 will McIntosh left the half acre to his widow for her lifetime, when their daughter, Jane Richard, who was also a widow and residing in the house, would become the owner. In1887 Mrs. Richard sold the property for $900 to Thomas Greer, a doctor. Dr. John Pratt, a bachelor owned the house for a brief period in the turn of the century and it was later occupied by other doctors hence its name. The Doctors House was demolished when the route of the highway was changed. Another old building the Orange Lodge Hall once stood just south of the old school. The original town hall once located across the road from the second hall, just above the present day War Memorial in 1854 from plans by Thomas Gore (the founder of Gore’s Landing. The The Memorial Hall of today used many bricks from the original. The Hamilton Township Office is now located in nearby Camborne.

Regards, Ranger. Stay tuned for The Cold Spring’s Story, Part 2 June 30/021.

Special Thanks to Mellissa and Betty McIntosh and Muriel Maughan for their help and information.


  1. calliefred · · Reply

    Great stuff! Love the history. And as kids, my cousins and I called McIntosh’s “the everything store”!


    1. calliefred, thanks for the great comment, was there anything not sold in the McIntosh store?


  2. Ewart Timlin · · Reply

    A very informative piece of history.I spent the first fourteen years of existence in the old manse which was directly north of The Mcintosh Store.


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