The Cold Springs Ontario Story, Part 2


The Cold Springs United Church is the most predominate building you see travelling south on County Road 18 approaching Lower Cold Springs. This attractive church began its life as the St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church and Cemetery and was constructed in 1875 replacing the smaller original church on this site. The church is situated atop a high hill with a circular driveway overlooking the highway. Whenever I am driving south on the highway and see this church I am reminded of a story of it being damaged by a large gravel truck. You might ask how this could possibly happen. Merwin Grieve, a local resident employed as a Northumberland County truck driver was heading south on the road and lost his truck brakes after topping Pine Hill. What went through his mind we will never know. Fortunately, he made an easy left hand turn up the steep circular drive to the church where he came to a rather sudden stop into the northwest corner of the church building, with bricks flying every way! Merwin walked away relatively unscathed, the truck was a write-off, but only moderate damage to the church. If this action had not been taken, the truck moving even faster now could not possibly have negotiated the next left had curve at the Memorial Hall. County Road 18 is on a downgrade with many sharp curves almost all the way south to Cobourg. It was often said that a vehicle could literally coast from Pine Hill to Cobourg, (this was before the steep up-hill south of the Dale Road existed). I think if this had happened today, Merwin would be hailed as a hero for possibly saving lives and property.


The Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Northumberland and Durham, shows concessions on the map as double lines left to right, lot numbers are single lines. The names of land owners are shown on each lot. A church is shown by a small drawing or CH, a blacksmith shop a BS, a school house is SH and a house is shown as a small black square on the map for each lot. Roads shown on the map are County Road 18 (Burnham Street), running north/south. McBride Road and Minifie Road were once known as the Sixth Line and run east/west near the top of the map. Willis Road runs west of the Memorial Hall and Wallace Jibb Road is shown east near the stream in Lower Cold Springs. Note: Most of the Roads are now named after early settlers in the township.

The Pennel House, just south of the Memorial Hall is said to be one of the older homes in the village, it was built by a local carpenter on land purchased from Jane McIntosh in 1876, Robertson sold the house and lot to Mary Kelly, widow of John Kelly, an early teacher in the village. This home went through many owners and renters over the years. The Pennel’s, an English couple lived here for many years, David was a local handyman in the community and a story is told of one day while cutting wood for William Kennedy, a tree fell on him Mr. Kennedy went for help to remove the tree and called Dr. Diamond from Cold Springs. Mr. Pennel was carried to the Kennedy home and placed on the kitchen table. Dr. Diamond stitched the cuts, set his broken leg and drove him home. David recovered and worked for many more years. Later owners of the house were Hampton Minifie, Milton McIntosh and later by Walter Carr and family. Walter died in a tragic car accident near Lindsey years later. Later owners of the home added an addition and the house went through extensive renovations.

The red frame house located south of the Memorial Hall was likely built in 1839 by John Gabatis who was later a tavern keeper in Gore’s Landing. The original veranda has been removed and the white gingerbread trim is not original. It is said this house may have been one of the early taverns in Cold Springs.


The Wilgar House, John Gabatis purchased ten acres of land from Peter Sidey in 1847 on the east side of the Cobourg to Rice Lake Road (County Road 18) in Cold Springs. Gabatis was a tavern keeper so it was assumed that he carried on business here and it was said the house was a coach stop between Cobourg and Gore’s Landing. In 1857 one acre of this land was sold to Alexander Hardy and in 1865, he sold it to James Wilgar and his wife Jane. It is unknown if Hardy or Wilgar built the present home which was another of the originals in the village, a two story frame house with a small ornate porch over the front door. In later years the exterior has changed. A porch has been removed and yellow siding installed. James Wilgar was a native of Ireland and settled on a farm at lot 24, concession 6 west of the village in 1828. James Wilgar was a Hamilton Township Clerk from 1860 to 1880. Jame’s wife Jane died in 1871 and he the married Sarah Cook, a widow with two children, William and Eva. In 1877, a son William Percy was born to James and Sarah. James Wilgar died in 1887 leaving the property to his wife and sons William and James Jr. who continued to live here for many years before selling the property in 1905 to James and Catherine Thompson. The Thompson’s then sold the property to Alexander R. Eagleson and they moved to Cobourg. The Eagleson’s had farmed on the 6th Line at lot 12. Eagleson was a Township Assessor and a three time Reeve as well. On the deaths in 1920 of he and his wife, the former Elizabeth Newton, the house was willed to his unmarried daughter Margaret who rented the house to Dr. Frederick Diamond who was married to her niece, Helen Davidson. Dr. Diamond had served overseas with the Canadian Medical Corps in the First World War for five years and set up a practice in the village in 1920 and served the community for many years.


The Frost House, it is unknown when this classic one and a half story house with an attractive veranda on two sides was built, but John Eagleson purchased the six acre lot from Jane McIntosh in 1872, It was thought that there was a house on the lot. There was a small L-shaped barn to the north of the house. The original property was owned by Hiram Ash. In 1846, John Gabetis bought sixteen acres from Z. Burnham and for six years he had a tavern license. The property was then purchased by Allen McIntosh. Allen also had a tavern licence and was listed in the census as in Inkeeper. There was a mortgage on the property when he died and his widow Jane McIntosh sold six acres to discharge it. John Eagleson had farmed on lot 23, concession 6. On the death of his wife, he married Annabelle Ford and he left the farm to live in Cold Springs. Their three children were born here and attended the village school which was located south of the United Church, and is now a private residence. In 1889 John died and the property was willed to his wife Annabelle and his son William J. R. Eagleson. The Eagleson family lived here for almost forty years when it was sold in 1911 to Augustus Rosevear. On the death of Augustus, Sarah Rosevear sold the house to William “Bill” Dines in 1922. William Dines built a large hen house to the south of the house and carried on an egg business, shipping the eggs to Toronto. Bill worked for a number of years as a road superintendent for the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham on County Road 18. He and his wife Nellie raised a daughter and two sons here. As their health failed, the Dines sold the property to Leo Pinet and family in 1960. Mr. Pinet was a member of the Armed Forces and worked at the Army Depot in Cobourg. In 1980 the property was purchased by the Frost Family.


The Mock House, this beautiful designated as an Ontario Brick Cottage was built by David Ainslie in 1875, a retired farmer. This home has been meticulously restored inside and out. The home is located on the north side of the stream in Lower Cold Springs.


This large two story red brick farmhouse is located on the south side of the stream in the village. Built by John C. Rosevear circa 1900. Rosevear was the Reeve of Hamilton Township in 1896-7.

Cold Springs in the late 1970′ to the 1990’s was well known for the Cold Springs Cats baseball team. According to the Cats manager Ewart Timlin the name originated when a loyal fan was continually cheering at the games, “lets go Cats” and the name caught on. After a number of years playing in the Hamilton Township League they moved up to the Peterborough City League. Today Cold Springs is very well known for its Bethlehem Walk, an outdoor interactive re-creation of the story of Christmas at the Cold Springs Memorial Hall on Burnham Street. The annual production includes about four hundred volunteers, including a cast of wise men, soldiers, shepherds, choir angels, Mary and Joseph and of course, the star of the show Baby Jesus and live animals.


One of the last remaining business’s in Cold Springs today is the Brian McIntosh Appliance Store located across the road from his father Graydon ‘s former well known General Store on McIntosh Street. The building was once the blacksmith shop of Richard McBride. Richard’s first shop was located on the hill on the west side of the realigned Burnham Street in the village. McBride later moved east across the highway to the McIntosh Appliance store location. William Foote and Robert McMann both had operated machine shops here, as mentioned in the post, The Cold Springs Ontario Story, Part 1. In later years this property was also the site of the Lloyd Hasson Machine Shop where Lloyd serviced farm equipment and sold the Cockshutt line of farm tractors. The property is now owned by Brian McIntosh. The McIntosh Appliance Store has replaced the Hasson building which has been greatly modernized and Brian carries on the McIntosh tradition here. Brian has built a successful business that is widely known for excellent sales and prompt service. A special thanks to Brian for sharing his knowledge of the local people and the history of Cold Springs.

Regards, Ranger

Some information for this post Courtesy of the Cobourg Public Library/Catherine Milne.

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