bONARLAW sTATION,  KNOWN AS  cENTRAL oNTARIO jUNCTION   1910

BONARLAW

                                                    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 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.

 A painting by Stirling's Donald Armata - Bonarlow Station,  also known as Central Ontario Junction

 

Memories:

 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.
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
 
 

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                                          Ofthe 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 Hallowe'en                     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 schoolchums                     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 I once knew                                     The saddest part of the story was                        The Death of Bellview.

William Prest 1990

 

 

Marmora Herald Feb. 1934

The new Anglican Church at Bonarlaw is fast nearingcom- pletion.  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.

1910

The famous "Diamond"  today - the junction of the CP & CN railway lines

The Bonarlaw General Store after being moved

Bonarlaw school SS5 Rawdon Twp

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.

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.

 

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."

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.
 

Barlow homestead, Bellview, Bonarlaw.jpg

SCHOOL DAYS  - Click on photo for children's names

               1952                                                      1954

Mr. Prest dedicates thefinal chapter of his book,  "The Death of Bellview",  to those grand gentle people who witnessed both the growth and the demise of their village. 

" 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 Bateman's, Brown's, McComb's, McInroy's, Spry's, Rombough's, McKeown's, Barlow's, Neal's, Wellman's, Eastwood's, Caldwell's, Heath's, Huff's, Gordonier's, Morrison's, Mumby's, Webb's, Bronson's. 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.

Most likely a Bonarlaw house - the inscription on the back of this photo reads:  "To Mr. & Mrs. Barlow from T.A. Spry"

Click on the book to read the final chapter in full

Who are these people?

 

 

 

 

Mr. Prest continues:

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.