A painting by Donald Armata - Bonarlow Station, also known as Central Ontario Junction
North of Springboork on County Road 14
Bonarlaw's first name was Central Ontario Junction. The railway was first acquired by the Canadian Northern Railway, and was known as Big Springs, for the clear waters that fed Trout Creek, and for the water supply cosidered by locomotive engineers to be a mjor factor in deciding where to stop. The Big Springs also supplied a cheese factory, which, in 1898, was running full force under the management of Charles Linn, previously by James McComb., according to the Marmora Herald of May 12, of that year. There was also a cheese factory there that ran under the name "Maple Leaf", according to the Ontario Archives. The community was also known as Bell View (named after Mr. Bell) and subsequently merged into the Canadian National system, when the name changed to Bonarlaw, named for British Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law. (Born in New Brunswick, he is the only British Prime Minister to have been born outside the British Isles.)
The site was also referred to as "The Diamond" as the station was a junction point for the Canadian Pacific Havelock subdivision and the Canadian National Maynooth division. Before automobiles, the station was very busy with a daily train to and from Toronto, as well as an afternoon and night train over the C.P.R. tracks. The Maynooth railway line has been abandoned and converted to recreational/ snowmobile trails. CP Ottawa-Toronto trains called at Bonarlaw station as late as 1964.
Morley Chard remembers his grandfather Steenburgh had a contract the pick up the mail from the train, and going with him at 2:00 am to meet the train and get the mail.
Peter Havelock: I worked at that station in 1964. I took my apprenticeship in Havelock. Beautiful station. That's when passenger trains 33 & 34 would run.
Darelene Newton: Mom and l would take the train to Ottawa for a holiday after the school year finished. We took the train after midnight.... it was flagged down for us.
But for the late William Prest, poet & author of "The Death of Bellview", who was born near the Diamond, the name will always be "Bellview"
Thanks for the Memories of Bellview And the Old Country Store by William Prest(1990)
Often times I get to dreaming
Of the scenes my boyhood knew
And I brush away the teardrops
Just to get a better view
Of the old hotel and schoolhouse
Which I picture o'er and o'er
But I cherish most the memory
Of the Old Country Store.
We gathered here in the evening
For the news we wanted to know.
We listened to the wisdom club
And the battery radio
We sat around the old woodstove
And kept our eyes on the door
To see who would be the next one in
The Old Country Store.
When the light would dim
From the old coal oil light
Someone would stand up and say
It's time to say goodnight
It was here true friendship mingled
Whether rich or poor
There was no discrimination
In the Old Country Store.
Dan Bell had blessed the building
With his presence so to speak
We used to post a letter
And get an answer in a week
When the train whistle blew
We headed out the door
Straightway to the station
From the Old Country Store.
Jack Baker was the station man
One of high esteem
When he sold you a ticket
His eyes were all agleam
Dan Bell had a vision
When first here he came
Hoping to be remembered
He gave the place his name
But little did he know
His dreams would never be
For the Bellview that he hoped for
There is nothing more to see.
These two men had their dreams
That someday there would be
A booming country village
For all of us to see
Now these men are long gone
The buildings are no more
Now there is just a memory of them
The station and the Old Country Store.
Bellview is the first place
Where I went to school
Where we celebrated Halloween
And likewise April Fool
When I took to roaming
Many times and more
My thoughts were always homing
To that Old Country Store.
In my battle with the bottle
Where I teetered on the brink
I remembered it was Bellview
I had my first hotel drink
In my dreams I see my school chums
I hear the whistle of the train
And quietly I am walking
Into the Old Store again.
If I am blessed with health and wealth
There is one thing I hope to do
Erect a simple monument there
And call it Bellview
On this plaque there would be
Familiar names we all once knew
Dan Bell, Jack Baker and Bellview
And now memory takes me back
Seventy years and more
The words that I treasure most
Are Bellview and the Old Country Store
I would give my earthly earnings
Just to live one day once more
And meet my old school chums
In that Old Country Store.
In my memoirs I have written
About a place lance knew
The saddest part of the story was
The Death of Bellview
William Prest 1990
Bonarlaw has an Anglican church, St. Marks, which is located at the intersection of highway 14 and St. Marks Road. It was built in 1933 and is the second church on the site, the first pictured below.
Annmarie Willman-Spry That station handled 14 trains per day. We drove in there a month ago & you can't find the diamond nor the turntable for the engines anymore. It's all grown over.
Arlene Aunger-Fluke: In the 1940's I caught the train at Bonarlaw Station to travel to Montreal to visit my Aunt in Montreal
Annmarie Willman-Spry: Dad, Pat Willman, and others in the Spry Settlement always sent cattle, grain and other items on the train at Bonarlaw. They also shopped there at the general store.
The famous "Diamond" today - the junction of the CP & CN railway lines
The Bonarlaw General Store after being moved, operated by Minnie Moore from 1965 - 1979
Marmora Herald Feb. 1934
The new Anglican Church at Bonarlaw is fast nearing completion. The seats and electric light fixtures will be installed this week and the church will be dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Ontario, the Right Rev. John Lyons D.B. on Friday, Feb. 9th, service commencing at 11:00a.m.
The Introduction of Mr. Prest's book, "The Death of Bellview" gives us a full description of the importance of this junction:-
"Bellview was once the busiest hamlet in Ontario, and one that never slept. As many as thirty-six trains going north, south, east or west crossed each other's tracks in twenty four hours by means of a device. With both acute and obtuse measurements, the Diamond was once called the eighth wonder of the world by the railroad officials. For many years, local people were proud to speak of Bellview with some degree of reverence when referring to the Diamond. Many were the travellers, dignitaries as well, who availed themselves of the opportunity for a first look at another first in history.
Certain business representatives interested in expediting freight shipments came from all parts of Canada and left with plans on paper, as well as in their minds. However, this Diamond was not to be forever. Although it served the country well for nearly a century, it disappeared mysteriously. It included the hub of mail service for many miles around and the services of a general store, open sixteen hours a day. A rap on the door after regular hours was all it took for an obliging storekeeper to open up, for any emergency, with credit available, if required. From the Bellview railroad station, a ticket could be bought day or night for almost anywhere in Canada. There was telegram service with sending or receiving as well.
Farmers' fresh produce loaded on the early morning train could be on the Toronto market at 9:30 a.m. With two livestock shipping yards via two railroads and a feed and seed warehouse, there was everything for the farmer or gardener. Chauffeur-driven company cars from a nearby smelter met all passenger trains and there was taxi service night and day. Teams and wagons were later replaced by trucks hauling freight and express to and from the station.
John Baker - Station Agent in Bonarlaw
The town around the Central Ontario Junction was known as "Bell View", named after John Bell, the hotel owner. When the hotel closed, the community kept the named, however, the suggested named for the station, according to historian Gerald Boyce, was CEPACO - a combination of"Central" and "Pacific" (CPR). He writes in his book 'Historic Hastings', "Fortunately, station agent J.F. Baker circulated a petition to have the community named in hour of Andrew Bonar Law, Canadian-born Conservative prime minister of Great Britain 1921-1922. Thus Bonarlaw was named.
Traffic on Station Road was constant twenty four hours a day. The welcome light was always on in the hotel window indicating food and rest for the weary traveller and his horse. The services of two travelling veterinarians was always available for the many horses around Bellview. Doctors from nearby villages made house calls when required. Bellview had a medicine man, who served a community of about twenty- five square miles, by a horse drawn vehicle, summer and winter. His Rawleigh products were known and welcomed by almost every household. His liniments and ointments were good for most any ailment known to man or beast; coughs, colds, cold sores, poison ivy, or pimples on the dicky di do, whatever that was.
When the Rawleigh man moved to new headquarters, a barber moved in and was a welcome addition to the community. He was known to have served his waiting customers with a beer; an unusual method of advertising, but a refreshing one, on a hot day, for his clientele. In the early 1920's, top guns could be found at Bellview's nearby rifle range, which was sponsored by the Canadian government, who supplied the well known high-powered Lee Enfield and the ammunition. Two blacksmith shops, a school and a community-minded teacher, the church, the rectory, and the dedicated reverend, as well as the services of a registered nurse and a seamstress, played a very important part in the lives of many people who lived, loved and enjoyed the good life that Bellview offered."
Mr. Prest continues in Chapter 15 of his book:
THE HOTEL was built with the accommodation and comfort of the weary travellers in mind and there were many of them at that time. A large dining room, a sitting room, a stand up bar, a spacious kitchen, a laundry room and woodshed at the rear, its abundant dry hardwood feeding two large wood- burning stoves in the cold months. The open stairway, with the polished hardwood railing, offered an invitation to the comfortable well maintained bedrooms upstairs. The apartments over the kitchen and utility rooms were usually occupied by railroaders. The Bellview Hotel was as modern as any of that time. The manager and good cook, as well as the dedicated staff, were responsible for the reputation that attracted many people to the Bellview Hotel.
“THE DEATH OF BELLVIEW and the Diamond “ is now out of print however, you can read the rest of book right here!
Mr. Prest dedicates the conclusion of his book, "The Death of Bellview", to those grand gentle people who witnessed both the growth and the demise of their village.
"The community, as well as the many dedicated public servants, were responsible for the progress and popularity of Bellview. As seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy, their contributions might appear to have been magnified, but the ever-persistent memories keep the picture bright and clear and easy to relive. In fantasy, I see a huge monument standing where the Bell House came to a tragic demise. On this monument I see prominently displayed commemoration. John Bell or Donald and Margaret Bell.
Wilson Hulin and Jim Fitzpatrick operated a mail and parcel delivery service in a manner that made the villages of Stirling, Sine, Harold, Springbrook, Bellview and Marmora seem like one big town.
Next I see the names of W. Sanderson, Manly Lavender, Joe Callery, Philip Sopha and Gilbert Steenburgh. They operated a very important service day and night, rain or shine, getting the mail and the people to the trains on time, as well as meeting the incoming trains and the people coming home. Prominent and dedicated railroad men, Tom Caldwell, John Forsythe, Jim Rathwell, and J. F. Baker, the station master. The most important public servants of that era were the dedicated and faithful rural mail carriers who delivered the mail from Bellview Post Office, servicing an area along a route of twenty-six miles and about one hundred and forty mail boxes. As well, they picked up the mail from the rural area and brought it to Bellview to be dispatched to many parts of Canada. This service was provided to the rural area six days a week by a horse- drawn vehicle regardless of the weather, summer or winter. Watching for the mail man coming was the most important event of the day for the country folks.
The degree of anticipation was similar to a child watching through a frosted window for the coming of Santa Claus. If a popularity poll had been taken at that time for public servants, the rural mail carriers would have topped the list. For a service to the country folks around Bellview that was faithfully delivered under adverse conditions, the final names on the monument are Vernie Heath, Arthur Brown, and Jason Baker. Their final reward was knowing they had faithfully served their many friends along that mail route.
May 17, 1917 Last Friday the home of Albert Wellman at Bell View was burned to the ground. Scarcely anything was saved. The loss is partly covered by innsurance. (Marmora Herald)
The family names that come readily to mind were Batemans, Browns, McCombs, McInroys, Sprys, Romboughs, McKeowns, Barlows, Neals, Wellmans, Eastwoods, Caldwells, Heaths, Huffs, Gordoniers, Morrisons, Mumbys, Webbs, Bronsons. Now in conclusion to the hundreds of descendents of these families since 1840, I say you can be extremely proud of your heritage. It will be your most valuable possession and, like the Diamond, could be indestructible.
SCHOOL DAYS - Click on photo for children's names
Most likely a Bonarlaw house - the inscription on the back of this photo reads: "To Mr. & Mrs. Barlow from T.A. Spry"
BABY LEFT AT BONARLAW STATION!
Marmora Herald Oct 23, 1919
On Monday afternoon an infant a few weeks old was left in the ladies' lavatory at the Bonarlaw station. A comparatively young woman, alleged to be the mother of the child, came to Bell View hotel last Friday with the baby and remained there until Monday. Apparently she wrapped up the child and placed it in the lavatory sometime just before the arrival of the noon train from Toronto and returned to the hotel. Just as the train arrived she hurried over and got on it without a hat, and without purchasing a ticket.
Some time after the train going west pulled out, the baby was discovered as a result of its crying. It was badly chilled but as soon as it was warmed and cared for it was all right. A description of the mother was wired to different points and the Children's Shelter in Belleville was notified. The agent of the shelter came out and took pos- session of the child.
Yesterday the woman was found at Kaladar and taken into custody. The conductor of the train she left Bonarlaw on thought she got off at Ivanhoe, but apparently he was mistaken. The accused was brought to Bell View yesterday and identified at the hotel as the woman who had stopped there with the baby. It is claimed her name is Grace Wood and that she taught school at Kaladar a few years ago. She gave a different name when arrested. After Being identified at Bell View, the accused was taken to Madoc for trial.
The young woman, who was arrested on the charge of abandoning her infant at Bonarlaw station, appeared before Judge Wills last week and pleaded guilty. She had been in jail over a week and was allowed to go under the care of a social worker, after a warning from the Judge. The infant was made a ward of the Children's Aid Society. Crown Attorney Carnew represented the Crown and C.A. Payne the accused.