What Is A Precious Corners Ontario?

Who knew were a tiny hamlet like Precious Corners acquired its quaint name? It was actually named after an early pioneer by the name of Joseph Precious. This ‘old guy’ until a few years ago along with most of the population for miles around, assumed it came from the ‘blind corner’ located on what was until a few years ago Ontario Street north from Cobourg. The road corner was located at the bottom of a steep hill with no sight lines for traffic in either direction, a lot of drivers would toot their car horns nearing this curve to alert approaching drivers. The dictionary reads “Precious: not to be treated carelessly” suited this corner well! This dangerous corner was eliminated as well as one at the Davey farm from Ontario Street to the Dale Road when Burnham Street was constructed in the mid 1960’s from Elgin Street north from Cobourg over what became the 401 interchange through farm land to connect with Dale Road at Precious Corners. This major road realignment here eliminated a small part of the ancient Native trail from Lake Ontario to Rice Lake…but I digress. The picture below is the original Precious home.

Herithome

In the once thriving hamlet of Precious Corners, the original Precious family home is still in use today as a private residence. The current owner (Gary) informed me a few years ago, the Precious family owned all the land that you can see from the cemetery and he occasionally uncovers horse shoes from his yard which was once the location of a blacksmith as well. This home still contains the original Post Office wicket window which is still intact! The hamlet was named for Joseph Precious who settled here on Concession 3, Lot 21. in 1829. Records from the early Precious Corners Bible Christian Church show that the first home, long gone in this hamlet was built circa 1811 for his bride by Callagan McCarthy. The hamlet once had a blacksmith shop owned by Mark Manley, a general store, the church and a regular stage coach stop as well. The Precious Corners Post Office was opened on July 1, 1890 with Post Master Mark Manley serving from the opening until 1903. The post office closed in February 1914. Manley was also the hamlets original blacksmith in the 1840’s where his shop was located on the south east corner of Concession 3, Lot 21 Hamilton Township. Manley worked here at his trade which he learned in England and was a tinsmith a gunsmith as well as an early school trustee.

The most unusual landmark today is the Precious Corners Cemetery which is thought to be one of the earliest Ontario. Located on the Dale Road (County Road 74) just west of the intersection of County Road 18 (Burnham Street) from Cobourg. The cemetery lies on the north side of Dale Road east of the Dale Road Public School. Below the large ornate Precious Corners Cemetery sign at the entrance shows little of the traditional cemetery grave markers. You must park on the roadside and walk into the cemetery where you will see a large mound of earth with pieces of the remaining nine markers laid neatly upon it. In 1836, a Christian Bible Church was erected here, only the second in Upper Canada as was known to serve early worshippers from nearby Camborne and Bethel Grove as well. The Church was dedicated on July 3, 1836 with Thomas Gilbard conducting the service. The Precious Corners Cemetery was at some time later established on the Precious farm mostly for family burials. Because of a church fire, most of the records of graves and the identities of those therein are mostly unknown.

Pcgrave

The first burial at this site was that of Joseph’s son William who died February, 1844 aged two. The last known was Joseph, brother of Thomas, August 1870, aged 82. Other Precious family members located here were: Maria Precious, died May 3, 1865 aged 32 years and also her daughter Mary Anne, age 5. Their grave stone appears to read: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth her out of them all”; Warrin Culver, aged 29, 1861; Sarah Elizabeth Culver, 1863; Maria Manley, 1865 and Robert Manley, March 1858, age 62 years. In the mid 1970’s the Township of Hamilton was about to be mandated by the new Ontario Cemetery regulations to take ownership of the cemetery. The Township had most of the pieces of the stones found (but not the remains) removed from the original grave site now overgrown and soon to be forgotten north the the present site and they are now preserved where you see the stones on the memorial ground today.

Presmap

According to old newspaper clippings, courtesy of the Cobourg Public Library, it seems the first schoolhouse had been located in the field south of the Bethesda Church at the Danforth Road and Dale Road intersection west of the hamlet. In 1865 the second school, Precious Corners SS #10 was built on land donated by Henry Precious, father of Joseph. Henry owned land from the creek east to what is now Burnham Street. This one room school was just west of the present day Dale Road Public School and the creek. This school was built of bricks hauled from a brick kiln at Hull’s Corners which today is a ghost village once located north of Cobourg on Division Street at the highway 401 interchange. This one room school had a large iron stove near the back of the room and a wood supply was stored in an open shed at the back of the school with the building heated only on school days. In the early days the school had not water supply so water was carried in a pail from the Bell farm nearby, with tin cups for drinking. Some years later a water pipe was laid from a spring west of the creek on the Jack Behan property north of the school under the creek bed and the students now had only to walk down the creek embankment for a drink or a pail of water for the school day. This pure source of water was later washed out by a not so uncommon Spring flood on the creek. Later a well was dug east of the school. The first teacher at this school was a Mr. McCullough.

In the summer students at this school spent many happy hours swimming, paddling and fishing along the stream. This creek, one of two the hamlet was blessed with, the Cobourg Creek originating from the Baltimore Creek Watershed. The road hill to the west, when snow covered and packed was a great spot for sleighing unless the sunshine had melted the snow. At the time the school was built there was only a half mile long path from the Danforth Road east across the second stream, the Cobourg Creek which originates north of Cold Springs. With no bridge here to get students to school, the crossing was accomplished with two planks anchored at on end to allow the planks to rise and fall with the fluctuating stream levels. With the high water levels of Spring, the older boys would carry the younger pupils and girls across the swaying planks to and from school. There were more than thirty teachers here over the years with music teachers: Beatrice McClelland; Ina Rose; T. W. Stanley; Mrs. George Campbell; W. Ramsay; Marie Philp; Irene Harris and Mrs. Don Lang. This old one room school was demolished in 1975.

Rollinggrave

On the opening of the ‘new’ Dale Road Public School in 1965, it accommodated dated eight grades with six teachers instead of eight grades with one teacher. The students no longer walk for up to two miles in all kinds of weather but are bussed to school. At the opening ceremonies of the school, D. C. Parker, K. C., Solicitor for the Manitoba Teachers Federation commented: “The pupils do not have to remain in school after the stipulated hours, and teachers have no statutory authority to detain any members of their classes. If a parent desired to prevent their child being detained after school hours they had no recourse to habeas corpus, in which their stand would be upheld. But the teacher, he maintained, has the right to administer corporal punishment to pupils. A teacher, however cannot pull ears, or hair, nor slap on the head, but has ample authority to administer punishment on the place provided by nature, where no danger of serious injury to the child exists”.

Regards: Ranger.

8 comments

  1. sharonlynnweese · · Reply

    What a great article with lots of history! I really enjoyed reading this. I never knew the story behind precious corners…very interesting. I went to Dale Road School in 1974-75! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Sharon, thank you for your kind words. We enjoy hearing from our readers, it keeps us looking for more quaint and interesting historic stories to write. Thanks again.
      Ranger.

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  2. Gai BROWN · · Reply

    I loved the story about Precious Corners…I know this intersection very well …thank you for a very interesting article.

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    1. Gai, thanks for the comment. You are very welcome. This was an interesting article to write as there is not a lot of recorded history on the village. Ranger.

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  3. Alexandra · · Reply

    Hi i’m from Cobourg and live in Vancouver now. I an trying to get some school class photos from Burnham and Thomas Gillbard schools but the school board and the local newspaper don’t have any from the time of 1962 to 1972. Have you come across anyone who kept class photos from that time? Many thanks for an enlightening informative website.

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    1. Alexandra, thanks for the comment. It is so hard to get school pictures from that era, perhaps some of our readers might have some of the school pictures and could help you in your search.
      Ranger.

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  4. Carol Fellman (nee Macklin) · · Reply

    I attended Precious Corners School when there were 8 grades in the one room. Our teacher was Mrs. Whitney Davidson. She majored in grammar and spelling so I’ve always found both easy. Since I was the only one in my grade, she would combine my lessons with a grade above me, so I eventually went from grade 7 to high school.

    Kindergarten hadn’t been invented yet. I was over 6 (born May/46) when I started school. We walked through the fields to get to and from school. I loved school and continue to love learning. I became a teacher to pass on my love of learning.

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    1. Carol, great memories, thanks. I to attended a one room school (Camborne), with 8 grades in one room and no no kindergarten. I don’t think we missed it. Unlike yourself, I lived next door to the school. One of my many teachers you likely know well was Mrs. Doris Emond.
      I think we all must have had a favorite teacher. Spelling was never my best subject, thank goodness for ‘spell check’!

      You chose to be a teacher, your students were fortunate for that. I know your brother Paul and I hope he is well today. Thanks again for your interesting comment and information.
      Regards, Ranger.

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