The History of the Hamlet of Dale, Ontario

Where is Dale you might ask.  This is a small hamlet that has slowly grown from a family sawmill in 1888 to a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art NHL style hockey training centre in 2022.  Some other of the dozens of hamlets that the Ranger would like to explore in Northumberland County are:  Burnley, Eddystone, Codrington, Dartford, Norham and Salem.  One semi-ghost town that has refused to give up its secrets for many years is Knoxville, just north of Port Hope.

The small hamlet of Dale is a community of Port Hope, Northumberland County, Ontario.  Shortly after the founding of Port Hope in the beginning of the 18th century, only three communities had been established north of the town, Dale, Welcome and Rossmount.  Several other small hamlets from the Hope seventh concession to the eighth after 1840 were Hastingsville, Canton, Perrytown, Adam’s Corners, Choate’s Mills, Davidson’s Corners, Quay’s Crossing, Decker Hollow, Garden Hill and Campbellcroft.

Dale was located on the East Gravel Road, now Highway 28 which was built to connect Port Hope to the to the lumber rich Cavan Township to the north of town.  The gravel road was constructed forty feet in width and was also known as the Cavan or Peterborough Road.  Dale’s west to east highway was originally named Highway 106, a shortcut  for motorists traveling between Toronto and Peterborough before Highway 115 was constructed.  In 1989, the highway was downloaded by the province to the County of Northumberland as County Road 74, but most local’s still refer to it as 106.

In later years only Dale and Welcome had grown into communities of from seven to ten families each.  The earliest pioneers of Dale were James and Jonathon Stevens and Paul Bedford.  Johaida Boyce in 1818 built a sawmill on the third concession of Hope on the north side of McCallum’s bridge on Sawmill Creek, now the Ganaraska River a half mile west of the village with the Basset Cider Mill and the Boyce woolen mill added a few years later.  Some of the earliest settlers on Dale’s north side were John Runnel, Richard Runnel, F. McCallum, Jas. McCallum, Mrs S. Gifford, Mrs. Wm. Gifford and Jas. Rosevear.  On the south side of the hamlet was Nathan Choate of ‘Belmont Farm’ the largest landowner in the area, Thomas Greenaway and Jas. Robertson.  The Hope Village School #3 was constructed on property east of the village on property that was likely donated by Thomas Greenaway.  The school still stands today as an attractive private residence.

According to the Beldon & Co. Northumberland and Durham 1878 Atlas, another prominent citizen of the early Dale history was James Barnabas Bletcher and sons Stephan and William.  Bletcher operated a tavern south of Bletcher Hill (north of Dale) and operated a stage coach line between Port Hope, Bewdley and Peterborough.  In 1857 the Port Hope, Lindsay & Beaverton Railway was constructed through the village over the Ganaraska River west of the village, some remnants of the railways route can still be seen east of the bridge.

To service  the large Petroleum Tank Farm delivery tanker trucks, in the early 1950’s, Ross Held built the large orange frame building and addition on the south east side of Dale at Hwy 28 as the Dale Truck Service garage.  Today Piggie’s food truck is located in front of the large warehouse.  Little information can be found on the original Tank Farm, but former tanker truck drivers George Heenan (Lee) and William Morris’s (the late Harry) relatives indicate that the tank farm Distribution Centre was operated first by B/A (British American Petroleum) and in latter years by Gulf.   Special thanks to Lee Heenan for information.    Today MASS Industries Sandblasting, Welding & Fabrication occupies the large former Tank Farm property on the north west corner of the intersection.  Some of the many businesses in the central village today include McKenzie Heating and Air Conditioning, Pritchard Mechanical, First Response Construction and Farl’s Autobody.  Bailey’s Automotive has replaced a former lumber and building outlet.  To the south of Dale are the locations of the the former Durham Memorial Hall, now the Amish Land Canada Furniture showroom, Primitive Designs and Stapleton’s Farm Market.

A new multi-million dollar state-of-the-art NHL style  Elite Hockey Training Centre is presently under construction on the west side of County Road 28 at Hwy 74.  According to Today’s Northumberland News the thirty acre property will also feature a small bird and a honey bee sanctuary on the property as well.  The little hamlet has come a long way!

Regards,   Ranger.

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