The Township of Proton

Early settlers began arriving in the Township of Proton in 1857. These early settlers originated from Scotland, Ireland, Germany and England. Supplies had to be brought in by horse power. Two trails were available from Arthur to Proton: one by the Arthur-Luther town line to Conn and the other, a trail fourteen miles longer to Mount Forest; follow the Arthur-Egremont town line to Conn. These travels to new homes were made by oxen, horse and on foot.

Early settlers worshipped in homes, schools and halls until churches were built. In the 1880's churches included Presbyterian, Methodist, United, Roman Catholic, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints and Mennonite. Cemeteries established in Proton were Ventry, Walkers, Swinton Park, Inistioge, Bethel and St. Patricks.

In 1904, the need for more schools was felt and new schools sprang up in the designated school areas. The first teacher at the new school built in Conn received a yearly salary of $325.00.

Post offices were also set up in several locations in the Township. These included Conn, Cedarville, Inistioge, Hopeville, Birdell, Swinton Park, Keldon and Ventry.

Stores and Hotels abounded in the area with as many as four stores & three hotels found in one settlement alone. The hotels were needed for the travelers who had to go many miles along blazed trails through the bush in order to get supplies. These trips were often many days thus the need for hotels along the way. Stores were also needed for provisions not readily available on the various homesteads.

Industries found in Proton Township included general stores, hotels, blacksmith shops, shoe makers, carpenters, sawmills, barrel making, wooden mills, grist mills, cheese factories, brick and lumber yards. There was also farming carried on at each homestead, as one of the conditions of sale of Crown Lands to the Pioneers was that they clear at least twelve acres of bush each year.

Organizations that could be found in Proton Township in early settlement included The Orange Lodge, which seems to have been established in most settled areas, the Ladies Aid and the Womens Institute.

The first Agricultural Fairs were held in Cedarville and Hopeville.

The First Canadian Woman elected to the House of Commons, Miss Agnes Campbell MacPhail was born and raised near Hopeville.

• The above informatin is from the book "Township of Proton a Historical Sketch" prepared by the Historical Committee for the 125th Anniversary of the Township of Proton.

  • This book is available at the Township of Southgate Municipal office. The cost is $20.00.


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