A Pioneer Community: Driftwood Crossing

A Pioneer Community: Driftwood Crossing, at the southern-most part of the Saugeen/Bruce Peninsula was at the midpoint between the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron coasts.

During the past year this column has explored many parts of the Grey-Bruce region with a particular emphasis on the coastal communities and the waters of Georgian Bay. This week we are going inland to the pioneer community of Driftwood Crossing. 

Driftwood Crossing? Where is Driftwood Crossing? If you live in Owen Sound, get in your car and take the highway towards Southampton. 

A few short kilometres past Alvanley you will come to the turn-off to Tara and Chesley. Don't turn, stay on the highway because you are about to enter Driftwood Crossing. Have you caught on yet? That's right Driftwood Crossing is the original name of the village of Allenford. 

This week as I was looking through the family archives, I found a wonderful little book, the History of Allenford United Church. Church histories are valuable research tools for historians. 

Because the early settlers often made religious services an important priority in their new pioneer community, the building of a church was often one of the first priorities of a new settlement. 

With the erection of a church building came the keeping of records and from these records one can find out much information about that community. 

Allenford is named after one of the earliest settlers in the area, James Allen. Prior to Mr. Allen founding the community of Allenford the area was called Driftwood Crossing. 

It was at this point on the Sauble River that natives crossed the river on their way to Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. 

James Allen settled in Amabel Township in April 1857 on Lots 9 and 10 of Concession A of Amabel. The first religious services were held in Allen's home. In the beginning a Wesleyan Methodist Minister Reverend Dyre conducted the services. He was followed by Reverend David Williams who tended to the spiritual needs of the community from 1869 to 1872. 

By 1873 the Allenford area was large enough to justify the building of a church. Once again it was James Allen who provided the impetus to fulfill the spiritual needs of the pioneer community. 

He donated the land for the building and the present Allenford United Church is located on the land used for the original house of worship. 

A formula deed for the property was drawn in 1876. It was drawn for the sum of $2 and was between James and Elizabeth Allen and the trustees of the Allenford Methodist Church Reverend William Clowes Jolley acted as a witness to the signatures. 

A formula deed for the property was drawn in 1876. It was drawn for the sum of $2 and was between James and Elizabeth Allen and the trustees of the Allenford Methodist Church Reverend William Clowes Jolley acted as a witness to the signatures. 

By 1884 the Allenford Church was part of a circuit including congregations from Elsinore, North Derby. County Line (Salem) and Skipness. The circuit operated that year on a budget of $705.20, with the minister's salary totalling $300. 

The hard-working researchers who created the history of Allenford United Church also printed the contributions made by all the members in the Circuit. They ranged from 25 cents to $25. 

In 1885 James Allen's leadership in the community was recognized and he was named by the government of the day to the position of Indian Agent at nearby Chippewa Hill. He held that position until his death at age 69 in 1895. 

Once again, the researchers of the history of the church provide us with some interesting detail about the funeral. 

The native peoples from Chippewa Hill came to the funeral in wagons, on horseback and on foot. They tied their horses at the 25th Sideroad or Arran Township, and from there they marched beside the hearse in a solemn procession, which the native band played Home Comrades, See the Signal and Shall We Gather At The River

At the Allenford Methodist Church the service was conducted by Reverend J. H. Dyke with assistance from Mr. Allen's eldest son. Mr. Allen and his wife, along with two of their children, are buried in the little cemetery to the east of the church. 

The information used in this article came from many sources, however, the official History of Allenford United Church, 1873-1973, was an important primary source. 

I would like to thank those who researched and compiled this book as it has provided me with some insight into the community which was home to my mother's family and some valuable information about life in early Bruce County.

"A Pioneer Community Driftwood Crossing" originally appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times.

Discover More About the Bruce Peninsula

Getting to the Bruce Peninsula is a relatively easy driving trip. Here are driving directions from three regions to the peninsula.

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Bruce Peninsula Municipal Politics: No matter what the venue, or the issue, seldom is a popular decision made that suits everyone. 

Bruce Peninsula Travel Routes were often a matter of debate because in the early years, land travel was virtually unattainable for settlers and lumbermen alike.

Aboriginal History: Bruce Peninsula has a long indigenous heritage not just for the native nation living there today, but for other native groups as well.

Aboriginal History: the 1836 Treaty made promises to the native peoples of the Bruce Peninsula which did not last long before everything changed again.

Aboriginal land history continues the story of aboriginal land issues on the Bruce Peninsula. How it happened is a point for discussion by everyone.

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"Half Mile-Strip" Treaty made it possible for a relatively smooth overland connection to be built between Owen Sound and the Lake Huron shoreline.

Catherine Sutton: aka Nahneebahweequay was a hero, fighting for her Indigenous rights and those of her family.

Allenford United Church history details not only some important information about that community's church, but also about one of the founders of this Ontario community.

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Pioneer Campers: Hope Bay mostly considered the peninsula untamed wilderness and some of the locals were not about to disappoint them!

A Pioneer Community: Driftwood Crossing, at the southern-most part of the Saugeen/Bruce Peninsula was at the midpoint between the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron coasts.

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Lion's Head  Sailors often sought refuge from the stormy Georgian Bay waters in its well-protected harbour.

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Stokes Bay  Welcomed fishermen as their first non-native visitors. Today, if you are a fisherman, you will also probably want to try your luck landing a walleye, lake trout or any of the other game fish that live in the coastal waters of Lake Huron.

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Tobermory pioneers experienced a life in a community that was anything but the tourism hive of activity that it is today.

A Flowerpot Island cruise is not only entertaining, but it is also very educational as you will see things that you have never viewed before!

Wiarton Ontario  This historic community was a great place to live in the early settlement days and still is a busy tourist stop on your way up the Bruce Peninsula.

Wiarton  had ambitions to Succeed but while success brought them a railroad and other ventures did not have a sweet ending for many in the town.

Wiarton Ontario’s First Newspaper  A catalyst in supporting road construction and bringing the railway to Wiarton in hopes of making the town the economic leader of the area. But disappointment looms...

Wiarton news: 1890s, as seen in the pages of the local newspaper revealed problems typical of today's communities 

Wiarton Beet Industry was to be a great boost to the town's economy. Instead, it left most people with a bad taste in their mouths.

Travel the Bruce: Owen Sound to Wiarton  A wonderful journey from Owen Sound to Wiarton.

Travel the Bruce: Wiarton to Tobermory  Relaxing and historic journey.

Bruce Peninsula  The Bruce Peninsula is a compelling place, with a rich history, to visit. Once you have traveled there, we guarantee that you will return, again and again!

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