Newcastle and its Port, Ontario


In 1834 the Village of Newcastle was known as Crandell’s Corners and in 1845 the village boasted over 300 people.  There was two churches, eight stores, one druggist, two tanneries, one axe factory, two saddlers, four blacksmiths, two wagon makers, four tailors and two shoemakers.  The Grand Trunk Railway appeared in 1856 and increased the towns growth considerably.  A large patent medicine business was opened here by Henry Northrop which later moved to Toronto, his home can still be seen at 261 Mill Street South.  One of the largest woolen mills in Upper Canada once operated for a short period of time in Newcastle until it was destroyed by fire.  In 1896 two fires destroyed most of the downtown area.  Around this time a large area of land fronting Lake Ontario was known as Bond Head, also known as Port Newcastle, Newcastle Harbor and Port Bond Head.  In its early days Newcastle was a major port for both lake freight and passenger traffic but the railroads and American tariffs ended this prosperity.  In 1851 these two communities became one, named Newcastle, and were officially incorporated as a Village in 1856.


One of the worlds largest manufacturer of farm machinery, the Massey Company had its foundation in Newcastle.  Established at Bond Head by Daniel Massey and a friend Richard Vaughan, Richard was forced to close established business in 1847 and formed a partnership with Daniel Massey to use the building for the manufacturing of plows, harrows and other equipment from wood and metal castings.  Massey provided much needed capital and within six months purchased Vaughan’s interests of the machine shop and became the sole proprietor of the business.  Soon outgrowing the Bond Head facility, Massey acquired property from the Hon. George Strange Boulton in 1848 with fifty acres of land and a foundry in the nearby village of Newcastle.  By 1861 the Massey Machine Manufacturing Company employed fifty workmen.  In March 1864, a devastating fire swept the entire establishment.  Equipment destined to be delivered, filled the warehouse, and the assembly floors were stocked with machinery in the process of being constructed.  All were destroyed with a year’s worth of business being lost!  Upon the factory being rebuilt, for thirty years the Newcastle Foundry and Manufacturer under the management of three generations of the Massey family capitalizing on growing wheat markets, Hart, Daniel Massey’s son  adapted American designs for implements to suit Canadian agrarian conditions.  With European sales marked Canada’s first exports overseas.  By 1879 the operation had outgrown its Newcastle facilities.  The Massey Manufacturing Company now managed by Hart’s son Charles was so successful and the growing business needed more room and services such as labor, a public water supply and gas lighting, moved to the city of Toronto.  

In 1974, the village became part of the Town of Newcastle.  This town has always been very proud of its history.  Since 1963 there have been five Provincial History plaques erected in the village and area honoring :  Robert Baldwin Sr. who first arrived in 1798 and whose son became the Premier of Canada; Joseph Atkinson, a leading Canadian publisher and founded the Toronto Star newspaper; Bishop Charles H. Brent, an outstanding  humanitarian and churchman; the Newcastle Fish Hatchery honoring Samuel Wilmot who built one of the first fish hatcheries in North America.  (Post:  Samuel Wilmot Fish Hatchery Newcastle, Dec. 13, 2017)  Several honor plaques in the town honor the Massey Family who came from Grafton Ontario and started one of the world’s largest manufacturing factories of farm machinery.  The “Massey’s of Newcastle” plaque was dedicated June 1984 and unveiled by Mrs. Louis Breithaupt, a grand-niece of Chester Massey and Brian Long, President of Combines and Farm equipment Ltd. is located at King Avenue East and Beaver Street.


One of the most predominate buildings in the town is the Newcastle Community Hall.  This building was donated by Chester Massey in 1923 and it featured lawn bowling and tennis courts on the east side of the building.  The Hall once housed a large banquet and dance hall, a public library, the post office, Municipal Offices and meeting rooms for the Masons and Lion’s Clubs.  A local resident, Joseph Atkinson donated a flat pole that was once a ship mast and Wellington Foster donated the clock in the hall tower.  Thomas Montague laid the cornerstone of the building.  A kitchen and a bowling alley were later added.  The most historical building on the main street of the town has to be the Massey/Jasco Factory.  In 1848 Daniel Massey purchased a block of land on the east side of Beaver Street and erected a three story brick factory and foundry on the site and was known as the Massey Manufacturing Co.  The building was destroyed by fire in 1864 and rebuilt the next year.  There is a historical plaque on the east side of the building and another on the north side.  In 1916, the building was purchased by James Anderson Smith who began manufacturing ammunition cases for the Canadian Military for use in World War 1.  After the war, Jasco produced jewellery and silverware cases that were sold world wide.  The James Anderson Smith (known as Jasco) operated here for over seventy years until the business closed in 1989.  After his retirement Hart Massey Massey and family moved into a large white frame house beside the Newcastle factory, this house was demolished to make way for a new IGA store.  In 1999, the Gylatsan family purchased the property and demolished the IGA and erected a Foodland grocery store on the east side of the property.  The old Massey/Jasco building was renovated and reopened as commercial shops on the main floor and condominiums on the upper two floors.

A Clarke Township Bicentennial Plaque, erected by the Municipality of Clarington, July 13, 1996 reads:  “The first European settlers in Clarke Township were the Lovekins and the Bates arriving within weeks, possibly days of one another.  Richard Lovekin Sr. arrived from County Cork, Ireland, via the United States and Niagara-on-the Lake in early 1796 to clear some land and build a dwelling for his family whom he brought to his holding the following spring.  At much the same time Roger Bates arrived from Vermont, via Quinte, with his family.  They cleared enough land for a dwelling and planted oats.  These founding families paved the way for other pioneers who cleared the forests and built prosperous farms and thriving communities in all corners of the Township.  Throughout its history Clarke Township has produced its share of statesmen, doctors and lawyers and influential people in all walks of life – people who helped mold the nation as a whole.”  During the Bicentennial year of 1996, we not only celebrate 200 years of Clarke and the accomplishments of its people but 200 years of commitment by one of our own, the first settler families the Lovekins, who still reside on the original homestead lands at Lot 35 and continue to take pride in Clarke Township.  Note: Clarke was a Township in the South Centre of Durham County.  Villages included Newcastle, Newtonville, Orono, Kirby, Leskard and Kendal.


One of the oldest homes in Newcastle, “The Walbridge House” at 483 King Avenue East, dated back to around 1819 and is believed to be the oldest home sitting on it’s original foundation in the Durham Region.  The current owners are descendants of the original owner Asa Walbridge.  After being vacant for several years, a sales and construction office and being fire damaged in 1941, the current owners salvaged much of the homes original material, the stone foundation was restored and the original post & beam and joinery were uncovered.


“The Hollow’s” located at 210 King Avenue, just west of Foster Creek.  The main two story frame house of this single dwelling was constructed in the 1830’s with later additions added.  This lot was part of a Crown Grant to to Captain John McGill and sold to Robert Baldwin, one of Clarke Township’s earliest settlers on 1801.  It was the purchased by Major David Bennett giving it the name “The Hollows”.  This ‘early homestead’ frame building’s original section dates back to the1830′ with a later Edwardian addition constructed by Newcastle Master Carpenter John Poole in the early 1900’s.


Another early Newcastle home is located at 285 Mill Street South, built by Daniel Massey the founder of Massey Manufacturing and his wife Lucina had this home built between 1848 and 1850.  At this time Massey had purchased a small factory south of here in Bond Head.  The original facing of the house was not the brick pictured here, but cobblestones from nearby Lake Ontario and the roof at the time the house was built had a glassed in cupola.  In 1856, Daniel Massey died at the age of 56 leaving no will and eleven children with his son Hart inheriting the house in 1872.  Hart sold the house to Reverend Cannon Henry Brent from St. George’s Anglican Church across the street.  In 1896 the Anglican Church purchased the home and used it as their rectory for many years.  It is now a private residence.

Other interesting historical buildings in Newcastle include “The Snug” at 29 king Avenue East.  This building started its interesting life as Carveth’s Feed Store.  In 1954 it became “News Lunch”, in 1983 “The Green Leaf” and later was known as “Steamers”.   The building at 92-118 King Avenue West was the original location of the Northrup & Lyman Patent Medicine Company established in 1854 to manufacture “Pain Killers”, hair products and other tonics.  By 1874 they moved the company to Toronto and became one of the largest patent medicine manufacturers in Canada.  In 1857 the upper floor of the building housed the original Village Town Hall and was used as an opera house.  Around 1900, there was a drugstore on the lower level with a dentist Dr. Harnden upstairs.  In 1934 Harvey Bonathan purchased the building for his hardware store.  In 1958 the building was again sold and divided into several storefronts.

Regards,   Ranger   

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