CFB Borden Legacy Project


Figure 1: Camp Borden c. 1916. Photo Courtesy of Huronia’s Past and Present

2016 is the 100th anniversary of Canadian Forces Base Borden in Angus Ontario. In commemoration of this anniversary Base Borden has built the CFB Centennial Memorial Wall at the northern entrance to the Base. The impressive monument is a 28-foot length of black granite with a rising wing of white granite at one end. It sits atop a 60-by-40-foot podium next to a bronze statue of a First World War bugler.

Within the wall there is sacred soil returned from the WWI Vimy Ridge battlefield containing the DNA of some of the 3,600 Canadian soldiers killed there in April, 1917. Community donations helped fund the trip to Vimy and the construction of Borden Legacy Monument itself.

memorial-wall 1

Figure 2: Memorial Wall (Artist’s Conception)

At our April 2016 Heritage Committee meeting we received a letter from CFB Borden inviting nearby municipalities to submit information about their communities and their activities related to the military and Base Borden in particular. This information was to be sealed in a time capsule to be included in the CFB Centennial Memorial Wall. The capsule is to be opened in 2116.

In response the Tay Heritage Committee has submitted for the time capsule photographs and articles related to Tay’s heritage, including folders on Port McNicoll. Victoria Harbour, Waubaushene, Waverley and Rural Tay. In all, our deposit included some 300 heritage photographs and 25 articles, including 58 photos and 3 articles on our service people during the two World Wars, many of whom trained at Base Borden as members of the Simcoe Foresters in WWI and the Grey and Simcoe Foresters in WWII.


Figure 3: Simcoe Foresters Cap Badge                                                                                               Photo Courtesy of Huronia’s Past and Present








Figure 4: Troops Board Train from Midland, August 1914.


Figure 5: Call to Arms c.1916. Many North Simcoe Area Recruits in WWI Were Assigned to the 177th Battalion of the Simcoe Foresters

Cap Badge for Grey and Simcoe Foresters

Figure 6: Cap Badge for The Grey and Simcoe Foresters (after 1936)

In 2116 our deposit of documents will be returned to Tay Township (or its successor). Hopefully our descendants will be interested in heritage material some of which by then will be well over 200 years old!


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Tay Township Introduces “Museum Town” QR-Based Heritage Signage

“Museum Town” is an initiative by the Tay Township Heritage Committee, in partnership with the Huronia Museum, designed to help preserve the identity, history and memory of Tay Township.



Left to Right: Lynda Hook, Tay Heritage Committee, Nahanni Born,Huronia  Museum, Emily Christie, Huronia Museum, Terry Fegarty, Tay Heritage Committee

The Tay Heritage Committee has placed twenty plaques at various sites around Tay Township that can be visited and viewed at any time. They can be accessed by foot, bicycle or automobile. Each plaque contains a QR (Quick Response) code that can be scanned by a smart phone or tablet with a free QR code reader application. The scan will link to a Tay Heritage file providing more information about the site and explaining how the site is connected to Tay’s heritage and history.







          Sample QR Heritage Plaque

A traditional historic plaque provides a limited amount of space for pictures and description of a site’s past, but the new plaques with the QR codes can provide access to a virtual library with information that can be added or updated at any time.

Museum Town provides a great way to tour Tay Township and become acquainted with community history. According to Ms. Born, “the whole idea is about taking heritage ouside museum or municipal walls and making it accessible to everybody”.

The Tay project is an extension of a similar program implemented in Midland where 26 sites have been QR plaqued. Look for more such sites in Midland and in Tay in the months to come.

                    List of Tay QR Sites

Port McNicoll

  1.  McCannell House, Algoma Avenue
  2. CPR Port and Terminal
  3. CPR Staff Houses, Talbot Street
  4. Bonar Presbyterian Church 

Rural Tay

  1. Rumney House, Rumney Road
  2. Tay Port, Duffy Drive
  3. Swan House, Vasey Road
  4. Rosemount School, Vasey Road
  5. Newtonville, Reeves Road 

Victoria Harbour

  1. Company Store and Village Library, William Street
  2. Company Office and Royal Victoria hotel, Albert Street
  3. Range Light, William Street
  4. Company Lumber Mills
  5. 151 George Street 


  1. Company Lumber Mills, Coldwater Road
  2. Company Office and Store, Government Dock Road
  3. Mill-Worker Houses, Coldwater Road 


  1. Waverley School, Hwy 93
  2. Saints’ Rest, Vasey Road
  3. Waverley Cenotaph, Darby Road

For more information see   

For heritage photographs of the sites click on     

PP Presentation for Plaques                                                                                           


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new sun shades for the old Company Store in Victoria Harbour, very nice

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Waubaushene Station


                          Figure 1: Waubaushene Station, South Side of Willow Street

Tay 1878

                                                                 Figure 2: Rail Corridor c 1880

The Tay Shore Trail is an 18.5 km multi-use recreational facility stretching from Waubaushene to Ste. Marie Among the Hurons and Port McNicoll. Opened in 2007, it follows the abandoned CN rail corridor that reached Waubaushene in 1875  and Midland in 1879.



The railroad brought in settlers and their goods and serviced settlements, lumber mills and grain elevators dotted along its right-of-way.


                                         Figure 3: Rail Line and Waubaushene Mill from the West c 1920

After 1872 the Georgian Bay Lumber Company operated the largest of its lumber mills in Waubaushene.


This is the site of the former Waubaushene railway station, built in 1877 by the Midland Railway, later absorbed by the Grand Trunk Railway, then by the Canadian National Railway. Waubaushene was the original terminus of the (then) Midland Railway, and opened for traffic on August 9, 1875

Figure 4: Looking Toward the Station and the Memorial Church

Adjacent to the south side of the station there was a brick 14’ X 24’ baggage and oil house and a two section wooden outhouse. A large area to the south contained a turntable to reverse the engines, a water tank, a large freight shed, six sidings and a loading track to the docks on the bay.

Immediately behind the station, to the east there stood a two storey agent’s house built in 1887. At one time Waubaushene station supported an agent, night and day telegraph operators, and a baggage man. Mail was taken from the train to the Post Office at the general store.

Peanut in Waubaushene

Peanut in Waubaushene

Over the years the major traffic was freight such as lumber, grain and coal. During the 1930’s and 1940’s passenger service was normally twice daily to and from Midland; passenger service was discontinued in 1958 and the station demolished in 1962.

The last freight train over the line ran in 1994; rails, ties and telegraph poles were removed by 1997.



Crichton, Howard, Waubaushene

Day, Reta M.: Childhood Memories in Waubaushene, 1995

Leitch, Adelaide A.: The Visible Past, the Pictorial History of Simcoe County, The County of Simcoe, 1992

Tay Township Heritage Blog:

Tay Township Heritage Committee

Tay Township Heritage Inventory and Register






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Remembering Charles Gratrix, Reeve of Tay Township

Charles Gratrix was Reeve of Tay Township for eleven terms and lived on his farm on the 9th Concession, renamed Gratrix Road.

IMG_8680    IMG_8679

He was also warden of Simcoe County in 1929 and was active in County affairs for many years. His sound business practices were credited in helping rescue Tay’s financial position during the depression.

He died in 1941, in his 61st year, and is buried in Waubaushene Protestant Cemetery. His property is still in the family.


Cecil Gratrix

Tay Heritage Committee


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The Tanner Mill

Continue reading

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Establishing The First Canadian Transcontinental Railway




James Douglas Haig McCannell, third son of Captain James McCannell, born in March, 1916, resides in the original family home in Port McNicoll. While growing up, he heard many Canadian Pacific Railway Company (C.P.R.) stories from his father. Because of his interest and his excellent memory, he is considered to be a good historian of the C.P.R.


By the early 1880s C.P.R. track had been laid westward to the Sudbury area, heading according to plan to Sault Sainte-Marie and north of Lake Superior past Winnipeg to Vancouver. James J. Hill, an enterprising Canadian operating his railway from its head office in Saint Paul, Minnesota, invited Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, C.P.R. President George Stephens and other Company officials to meet at Algoma Mills, part way between Sudbury and Sault Sainte-Marie, to discuss further C.P.R. development. Hill was hoping that the C.P.R. would accept his offer to connect their westbound tracks at Sault Sainte-Marie to his southbound tracks which extended westward south of Lake Superior in American territory, where he would add track heading back north to Winnipeg in British territory.  His plan would eliminate difficult, time-consuming and expensive track-laying through muskeg and rock outcrops north of Lake Superior, and establish him as a part-owner of a lucrative transcontinental railway.  When the meeting ended, Cornelius Van Horne, Hill’s former employee, whom he had recommended for the position of C.P.R. Director of Construction, sided with Macdonald and Stephens, who both insisted that despite the challenges the C.P.R. system would be built completely within Canada.  Their decision did not support Hill’s ambition.

The sparsely-populated landscape north of Lake Superior was a challenge for engineers and track-layers. Van Horne enjoyed challenges. On one of his visits to track-end he directed a contractor to blast a rock-cut, move the cut rock to construct a rail-bed across a bog about 300 feet wide, then blast a second rock-cut on the bog’s other side.  The contractor complained that the job would require 3 months.  Van Horne commanded, “I want it done in three weeks.”  The contractor completed the work on schedule.  On another visit to track-end he asked a crewman to drive a locomotive across a bog on newly-laid track.  When the crewman hesitated, recalling previous miscalculations and rescues, and fearing personal injury, Van Horne exclaimed, “I’ll do it myself!”, to which the crewman countered “Well, if you’re not afraid to do it Mister Van Horne, then neither am I,” and completed the task without incident.

In late 1884 Van Horne telegraphed the Prime Minister in Ottawa, “The C.P.R. pay train is ready to leave Winnipeg but there is not a cent on it”, that the Company was out of money.  Macdonald was already discouraged by the Liberal Opposition’s lack of support for railway-building, and by the loss of support from a few of his own Conservative Government members.  Federal Liberal Party Leader Blake from Nova Scotia, for example, claimed, “A transcontinental railway would not generate sufficient revenue to pay for the axle-grease for the wheels.”  Macdonald couldn’t raise $20 million in Ottawa to save the C.P.R., so in desperation he went to the Montreal office of C.P.R. President George Stephens where he also met with Donald A. Smith and R.B. Angus who happened to be in Mr. Stephens’ office.  By the end of the day Macdonald was able to tell Van Horne that he would “wire” him $5 million the following morning.  Stephens, Smith, and Angus, three visionary Scottish immigrants, had donated the rescue money from their personal finances and had committed to lending the C.P.R. another $15 million.  Their action ensured the continuation of track-laying from Winnipeg to Vancouver, resulting in the driving of the “Last Spike” at Craigellachie B.C. on November 7th, 1885.  Joining British Columbia to Eastern Canada by rail voided American plans to annex the Prairies and British Columbia.  The United States had already purchased Alaska from Russia in March, 1867 and their acquisition of British Columbia would have given Americans control of the entire Pacific Coast from Mexico to the High Arctic.

Later, when senior C.P.R. officials went about business between Montreal and Vancouver, they sometimes travelled on the C.P.R. Great Lakes passenger service’s S.S. Assiniboia with Captain James McCannell, Commodore of the Fleet. They could dine at the Captain’s table and exchange anecdotes, sometimes in Scottish Gaelic, about Company history and operations.  Some of them repeated stories passed along by earlier Company chroniclers, about difficulties and successes in establishing Canada’s first transcontinental railway.


James McCannell Interview; Port McNicoll History Project, P.O. Box 51, Port McNicoll, ON, L0K 1R0,     Art Director at

Technical Assistance; Branch Librarian, staff; J&M Young branch, Tay Township library. (


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