A Pioneer Community: Driftwood Crossing

A pioneer community: Driftwood Crossing, at the southern-most part of the Saugeen/Bruce Peninsula is located at the midpoint between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.


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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. 

As I was looking through my 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 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 the Indigenous people crossed the river on their way to Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. 

In April 1857 James Allen settled on Lots 9 and 10 of Concession A of Amabel Township. 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. 

By 1884 the Allenford Church was part of a circuit, that included 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 Indigenous 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 marched beside the hearse in a solemn procession, which the Indigenous 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.

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Pioneer tourists first visited the Bruce Peninsula in the 1800s and the region continues as a great recreational and tourism destination today!

Pioneer Vacations on the Bruce Peninsula got an eerie start in the Hope Bay region of the peninsula.

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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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