Massey Area Museum
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History of Walford

Mr. Albert George Walford was born in England. He came to Canada on a ship, which took six weeks to cross the ocean. Mr. Walford lived in Lyn, near Brockville; that is all we know about his early life. Later in his life, he met Catherine Cleary, who was born in Montral. They moved to Spencerville, where her family lived, and later on they got married. After their marriage they moved to Manitoulin Island, where they had two sons: Herbert and George. Mr. and Mrs. Walford had a family of two boys and two girls. Their children's names are Annie, Herbert, George, and Lillie.

At this time Walford did not have a name and was just a small pioneer community. Mr. Walford went there in 1882 as a conductor for the Canadian Pacific Railway. There was land for sale in Walford, five families took up most of the land and those five families are the Gambles, McPhersons, Muncasters, Whalens and the Lees.

Mr.Walford's home was a stopping place for many people; everyone was welcomed; tramps, working men, missionaries. About this same time a C.P.R. official came along and placed a sign on the bank in front of the station house with the name "Walford" on it. He said "we are calling this place Walford, and we are going to build a water tank and station here very soon." A station had been started between Walford and Massey but was never completed.

The railway station was built in 1888. The first Station Agent was Mr. Sydney P. Way. Mr. Way was also a tank master for years. Around this time there was a log school built, corner of Crossen Farm, over a few years the school had around 75 pupils attend, three pupils per set, and there was a row along the platform.

Mr. Evans was the first teacher; the second teacher was Miss Dorcas May the Manitoulin Island. The first missionary was Rev. Mr. Frost, an Anglican, followed by Archdeacon Gilmour. The old log school then became a Community Center, Sunday school, Church Services and what ever the school needed it for. Later on a Union Church was built and then a Methodist Church, which completed head of the Union. The Catholic Church was built in 1894. A French Roman Catholic priest would pass thought often.

When ever some one would travel it would be on foot or on horses back. There as no cars or any motorized transportation. When the settlers needed supplies they would have to wait for the boat to make its trip. The Tugs name was Fanny Arnold, the tug would make trips up and down the Spanish River for the Spanish River Lumber Company when they were operating. When the whistle blew the settlers would make there way down and pick up their supplies.

Joseph McKie's some Levi McKie opened a store on the River, which in that time was much appreciated. The first store to open in Walford was owned by D.D. McKinnow. In 1890 Mr. John Muncaster left the Company Farm and built their own home in Walford, they lived on what is now Highway 17 and the road to C.P.R. Station there he opened a store. The first clerk was Mr. Frank Thornton then in the later year he also sold his business.

A family who farms, now, knows that is was not fun farming sixty or sixty five years ago. Families also know that backaches and heart breaking disappointment started even before the job was half way done. When they would have to go into the bush in those days, it would not be an easy thing. There was no machinery to make work easier.

The Walford Family on the Walford Farm

In 1968 when he was 88 years old, Mr. Herbert Walford was asked about his farm in Walford. Albert George Walford bought a quarter- section and the SW , Sec. 27 of Victoria Township from Frank Lees. From Mr. Lees, Albert George Walford bought the land for 120 dollars, he had to pay 20 cents an acre to the crown as Mr. Lees did not have title to the land. In 1914 the farm land was known as Hillcrest, because of all the Hills and Valleys. In 1881, Albert George Walford was reading the paper and noticed they were building a rail road from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie. Mr. Walford travelled by boat from Manitoulin Island to Algoma Mills.

The family's first home was near the railroad section house north and east of the old R.R. Crossing. Soon after, the family moved into a tiny cedar log house, 16'x20', which had one bedroom down stairs and one bedroom upstairs. The house was located on part of Frank Campbell's lot, thought to be owned by Frank Lees. The first barn was built shortly after. Today none of these buildings exist.

In 1886-1888 a large house was built, it is the oldest still standing building in Walford. The carpenter was from Manitoulin Island, the lumber from the house was carried on men's backs from the Spanish River. The first livestock included oxen, cows, and other basic farm animals. The first horse team was Pete and Rod who were purchased from Cashen Lumber Co. Pete was succeeded by Prince, who died in the harness in front of what was Thornton's Store, property currently owned by Irene Shiels.

Shortly after the turn of the century they built the big barn, it was a large building 36'x56' and as modern as possible, it had cement floor and mangers. Around 1907 a windmill was installed on the barn for sawing, grain grinding, threshing. Electricity was installed in the 1920s. On the farm there was not a lack of water. There were springs, creeks and wells to get their water. A gasoline engine would pump the water to the barn.


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