A History of the Arboretum
Tremaine’s map of 1860, includes the lot numbers of the five lots that front on what is now Bayview Avenue, between Wellington Street and St John’s Sideroad. Superimposed on the map to the left is the Aurora Arboretum to show the portion of the historical lands it occupies.
Data assembled in 1997 by the Aurora and District Historical Society for the Aurora Community Arboretum Project includes information about five families that lived on and worked these farms during the 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The original copy reads:
Unfortunately, none of the original recipients of the lands in the block bound by Yonge, Wellington, Bayview and St John’s Sideroad actually settled in the area. After fulfilling the requirements regarding clearing, the erection of a dwelling, and so on, they received their patents, or “crown deeds” and sold the land.
However some later owners stayed in place for substantial periods, and contributed in one way or another to the development of the wider community.
As is frequently found in more-or-less rural areas, especially in the days before the motor car, there were many close relationships between neighbouring families. The information that follows comes from the family history files of the Aurora Museum, where specific sources are cited.
Read more about the five families below:
Location: On Lot 83, in the centre of the north half of the lot. In today’s terms: between the river and John West Way, opposite Evelyn Buck Drive.
At least two deeds – one dated 1854, the other 1857 – to land on township Lot 84 refer to what was already, by 1854, “land formerly overflowed by a mill-pond owned by one Benjamin Hawke …” Mr Hawke may have indeed “owned” the mill-pond and run the mill, but there is no evidence that he owned the land.
Benjamin Hawke came to Canada from Pennsylvania in 1811. He may well have come with his father-in-law, Gabriel Lount, and Samuel Lount, Benjamin’s brother-in-law – the man who in 1838 was hanged for treason – as they came to this part of the world in 1811. He would have known Dr. Christopher Beswick, who probably owned the land where the mill-pond was located (deeds would have to be examined to determine the exact location of Dr. Beswick’s several holdings), as Dr. Beswick was a close friend of the Lounts.
Benjamin Hawke engaged in various enterprises during his life, and we do not know what sort of mill he operated on Lot 83. The chances are that it was a sawmill; there was good timber cover in those early days, and sawmills were more likely to be set up in the bush than were grist or flour mills, which were closer to main roads and centres of settlement.
Mr. Hawke was in Tecumseh township, Simcoe County, by 1834. The fact that the mill-pond that he apparently created was still being referred to by his name in a deed drawn up at least 20 years after he left the area suggests that no one else took over the milling business when he left.
An aerial photograph taken in 1978 shows an elliptical depression, in the appropriate area, which might be the still lingering remnant of that mill-pond. Even now, despite the massive earth-moving, vegetation-scalping exercises of the 1980’s there may be some evidence of the effects of the mill-pond: there is a pond, or run off collection area, in more-or-less the right spot.
100+ acres east of Industrial Pkwy N, between St. John's Sideroad and Wellington St. E