Pioneer Ingenuity: Building lime kilns was essential for pioneers as without lime they could not build their brick homes. Consequently, there were several lime kilns built in, and around, Owen Sound in the early years of settlement.
As settlers continued to arrive in the area there was a need to build sturdy houses to protect the inhabitants from the harsh winter weather. Brick making was one of the early industries in Owen Sound. Therefore, it was essential that a supply of lime be available to the builders erecting the pioneers' homes. Given the lack of efficient transportation links with potential lime suppliers it was decided that advantage would be taken of the abundant quantities of the lime which was to be found in the hills surrounding the small community. As a result, many lime kilns were built in the area.
An attempt would be made to build a lime kiln to provide an accessible supply of lime for the building needs in the area. The kiln was to be built at the side of a ravine. A circular excavation was made about eight feet deep and six feet in diameter. A door was built at the bottom which opened out into the ravine. Because the walls were made of stiff clay there appeared to be little danger of caving in. The hole was filled with broken pieces of limestone and piled in a cylindrical fashion above the hole. A fire was started at the bottom of the hole and kept burning until the stone was thoroughly burnt, and all the lime collected. The product was then used to complete the bricking of the pioneers' homes and other buildings.
From this early experiment a commercial lime kiln industry grew and for more than a century line kilns dotted the Owen Sound landscape. Some of you may remember the kilns at the foot of escarpment on Seventh Street West and also on Ninth Street West across from West Hill Secondary School. There was also the remains of a kiln on the farm of William Hickey located on Park Street between Sixteenth and Nineteenth Street in Sarawak Township. However, from early maps we are able to suggest that the first lime kiln was built in the area to the east of 9th Ave. East behind the present Grey County Museum and Archives, the Grey County Building and the former E.C. King Construction.
A map from the 1870s shows four lime kilns in this vicinity. They are all located in an area east of the Garafraxa road, north of Superior road and south of Campbell. On average each of the four kilns is three chains (approximately 200 feet) from Garafraxa. Robert Holmes and his brother William moved here from the Guelph area and established a commercial lime kiln at this location in 1846. In the same year Robert built his home at the top of Sixth Street East near the location of his enterprise. Pictures in the Grey County Museum and Archives show one of the four kilns still in operation in 1946. Its owner was a man named Brown.
The building of these early lime kilns and the establishment of a lime burning industry in this area is only one example of the ingenuity and entrepreneurial ambitions of the hardy people who came to this area and helped create the thriving community on Georgian Bay which would become the city of Owen Sound.
The original version of this article first appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times.
An interesting note: During the week following the publication of this article the Sun Times received more than 30 telephone calls reporting of the locations of many lime kilns in the region. Thus proving the importance of lime kilns to the settlers.
12-year-old Walks to Owen Sound in 1851 from the journal of a teenage boy's experience travelling with his brother in the untamed Upper Canadian wilderness.
In the 1920s, Owen Sound got New Elevators. After losing the CPR elevators to fire, the community fought hard to get new elevators for their harbour and improve the community's economy.
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The 1944-1945 Grey North By-Election would surprise Prime Minister King and all of Canada as the Grey North electorate refused to be dictated to by Ottawas political elites.
The were 1950s a Decade of Change in the Owen Sound area. A local boy starred in the NHL; there was a significant industrial change; schools were standing to experience the baby boom.
1960s: Owen Sound's Education Expansion: 1960s Owen Sound was a period of growth and one result of this was a need for the expansion of education services for the growing population.
1960s Owen Sound marked a period of change and new growth to the commercial and industrial life that would impact the citizens of Owen Sound and change the patterns of doing business.
The Bible was the Law in the 1840s in this region because the region was unrepresented by the government peace and justice were community responsibilities.
Blazes! Fires were a problem in the early years in the Owen Sound area, buildings were often made of wood and firefighting equipment water sources were inadequate were.
Brooke: A brief history of an important, yet distinctly different, community that became a key element in Owen Sound's development as a important Georgian Bay port city.
Charles Rankin, I Presume: October 7, 1840 marked the meeting of Land Agent John Telfer and surveyor Charles Rankin on the banks of the Sydenham River and the founding of Owen Sound.
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The CPR Grain Elevator Fire of 1911 spelled the end of Owen Sound's role as the eastern terminus of the CPR Great Lakes Fleet.
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Black History: The Underground Railway is an important part not only in terms of black history, but of the history of southwestern Ontario.
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Billy Bishop: Owen Sound Hero earned national and international fame as a World War One Fighter pilot and used his high profile to aid in the World War Two effort.
John Harrison - A Tough Owen Sound Pioneer whose grit and determination created a prosperous life for himself and his family in a new community.
William Harrison, The Source of John Harrison's Grit: details the influence of John's father, William Harrison, on John and his siblings.
John Muir, the legendary naturalist, who promoted the idea of protected nature spaces, spent time in Ontario and I went to help find evidence of his stay in the Owen Sound area.
Black Clawson Kennedy: An Iconic Owen Sound Industry provided income for area residents and economic development for the community for almost 150 years.
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DC Taylor: Owen Sound Entrepreneur was not only progressive businessman, he was also an important contributor to the social and cultural fabric of his community.
Jimmy Grant was a high wire walker who was a fearless athlete who faced all challenges without a worry of the possible fatal consequences of his daredevil actions.
Newspapers hold a special place in the history of any community, and the Owen Sound Sun Times, and its predecessors, beginning with the Comet, are no exception.
Owen Sound Businesses: 1920s were owned and operated by families whose deep roots in the community and their efforts had created the backbone of the community and brought success to the port city.
Owen Sound's centennial celebrations in 1957 brought the community together for events such big name entertainers, sports competitions, street dances and much more in honour of the community's past and projecting the city's bright future.
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News of War: The 1940s was supposed to provide the world with a respite after the hardship of the 1930s depression. However World War Two brought more adversity.
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Owen Sound's First Newspaper: The Comet came into existence a mere 10 years after the first settlers braved the wilderness that would become the Grey and Bruce region.
Owen Sound's First Town Council was created to develop the necessary infrastructure for a pioneer community to grow and prosper.
Owen Sound Tavern Bylaw (1857) tried to tackle the issue of monitoring taverns in the Upper Canadian pioneer wilderness.
Owen Sound's 1857 Bylaw: Dog Control illustrated how a pioneer town controlled dogs in the community, sometimes even using harsh measures.
Owen Sound CPR Strike in 1908 immobilized harbour activities in that important Georgian Bay port, the CPR's eastern Great Lakes terminus.
Owen Sound CPR Link began with a bang, suffered a setback, and ended with a whimper.
Owen Sound Entrepreneurs: S.J. Parker & Richard Notter used their wealth and their friendships to built many community-oriented businesses in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Owen Sound 1920 Stories provide an interesting look at the community as it was about to become a city.
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Owen Sound Stories: On the Attack! Throughout the history of the community, citizens were not afraid to go on the attack to promote the needs of their town.
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O.S.C.V.I.: the History of an Owen Sound High School details from the very beginning the establishment of a high school in the community.
Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 Owen Sound details life in the last wilderness in Upper Canada in the 1840s.
Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 (Part 2) continues the memories of Elizabeth Byth as she encountered life in the Upper Canada wilderness that became Owen Sound.
Pioneer Theatre was a big hit in Owen Sound and across southern Ontario, where Vaudevillians like Perth Ontario's Marx Brothers played to full houses.
U.S. President Taft Visited Owen Sound Ontario, a Georgian Bay port in a momentous winter of events in 1920 as Owen Sound celebrated its incorporation as a city.
Ship arrivals meant full shelves in stores and larders as pioneers and shopkeepers eagerly awaited goods to fill their depleted necessities
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A pioneer home was very utilitarian. It served the pioneer family's essential needs, while the work of clearing the land and planting crops took priority.
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Owen Sound Ontario: A Unique Perspective: Book provides a unique and humorous perspective about this Georgian Bay port and hockey hotbed.
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Owen Sound, located on beautiful Georgian Bay offers a wide variety of entertainment and shopping delights for visitors of all ages. The city and its surrounding area has a rich history, parks and other natural areas for bird watchers, hikers, cross country skiers, etc.