Historic Prince Albert
GERRY BLACKBURN, Special to The Standard
SCUGOG: When our family moved to Port Perry in October 1986, there were some puzzlements!
Queen Street is the main street through the town, where is King Street? On the heritage sign on Highway 7A at the east entrance of Port Perry, the sign says ‘Port Perry est. 1871.’ There is no mention of Prince Albert, so what is the story of this community? The explanation: Prince Albert is the founding community of this entire region. It is several decades the senior of the two. But it is not on the sign? I inquired of the Scugog Heritage executive but there was no response.
1821 – Ruben Crandell with his wife and one son arrived at Reach to settle on the now Fred Christie/O’Connor farm, the property west of the Sunnybrae Golf course. He was from the United Empire Loyalists of New York via Prince Edward County, Ontario. The Crandells established a large family on a 200 acre plot, on Concession 5. There was virgin forest everywhere. The Crandells were the first white settlers north of the Ridges. The Mississaugas had been there for years.
1823 – New arrivals, Abner Hurd and the Daytons settle on Concession 5. At the present location of Prince Albert.
1825 – This location is named Daytons Corners.
1829 – Adam built on the Scugog River. Lindsay flooded the small river, with its rice and cranberry marshes, to form Lake Scugog. Hence the yukky, mucky beach in Port Perry. This lake eventually facilitated floating logs and products from the north to the sawmills in Port Perry. Paddle-wheel Steam Boats transported people and goods to and from lakes in the north.
1832 – Ruben Crandell purchased 200 acres, from Reach Street to Highway 7A and the Beer Store to Simcoe Street. This included the settlement of Borelia.
1840 – Queen Victoria marries her German first cousin and there are celebrations throughout the colonies. The local loyalists change the name of Daytons Corners to Prince Albert to honour her new consort. This is the largest community in the entire region, at that time.
1840 – A new Post Office in Prince Albert opens to serve Reach, Brock and Victoria.
1840 – There was relatively rapid development in this area, trees harvested, shelters and buildings for business built and land cleared for cropping. How did they remove the large stumps without today’s powerful machines? Who were these settlers? Apparently, they had expertise in rural community development with connections to the United Empire Loyalists (UEL). Queen Anne of England settle the New England States with Quakers, Mennonites, Palatines and Hugenots. Minority protestant religious groups and people of the land, to develop that expansive territory. These pacifist people fought for her, against their principles, in the American Revolution. When the Americans won in 1783, Queen Anne gave them property from the British Crown to compensate for their property lost to the Americans. Thousands came to the north side of the Canadian border from Ontario to Nova Scotia.
1845 – Population 200 with many businesses in Reach, which consisted of Scugog and Cartwright.
1852 – Population 300. Manchester and Scottish heritage was starting to be settled.
1851 to 1861 – Acres of wheat in Reach increased from 5,000 to 10,000. Production from 77,000 bushels to 200,000! King Street (Concession 5) is now the main street in both Prince Albert and Manchester.
1857 – Businesses now consist of: seven shoemakers, six carpenters, five carriage/wagon makers, four blacksmiths, four saddle/harness makers, four tailers, three painters, two hotel keepers, three general stores, two tanners, two millwrights, two chemists, two bakers, a grocer, a land surveyor, a tinsmith, a watchmaker, a plasterer, a butcher, a dentist, a cabinetmaker and a brass band! They were self-sufficient, no need to jog off to Whitby/Oshawa to shop!
1857 – The Ontario Observer newspaper in Prince Albert/ 1873 – becomes North Ontario Observer Port Perry.
1858 – to 1865 – the Fair started and held in Prince Albert – 1866 – 1st country fair in Port Perry.
1869 – Prince Arthur/son of Queen Victoria turns sod in Whitby for railway to Port Perry.
1871 – Railroad reaches Port Perry
– Port Perry registered as a town. All of Prince Albert businesses relocate to Port Perry, leaving only the Post Office, a Blacksmith and a General Store.
1873/74 – Wooden grain elevator built in Port Perry by George Currie – the last wooden one standing in Canada today. That ended the Prince Albert gran industry. Prince Albert becomes a residential community.
Cemetery – Abner Hurd interned his wife 1832, and his son 1858 on his 200 ac. property.
1861 – Mr. Hurd formalized 8 acs. for a community cemetery.
2021 – it is now 13 acs. – the largest in Reach with 9000 burials – open to all!
Prince Albert’s history is on record, so why does the current population of Port Perry not recognize it and celebrate it as part of their community?
2021 – History by Gerald/Jerry Blackburn dvm/rohp/ with much assistance from Paul Arculus.
Foot note: The author has no heritage with Prince Albert. He does have a family heritage of rural pioneers that built communities with their sweat, determination, vision and courage. Pioneers had a strong faith in God. This faith gave them hope and encouragement for better lives in the future.
Paul Arculus will have a new book in the near future, on the history of the local communities.
Read about the early settlers: Cartwright – Irish Protestants/ Manchester – Utica – Scottish.
Port Perry – UEL and England direct/ Greenbank – northern England-Yorkshire, Lancashire, Northumberland.
Enjoy and Celebrate and be Proud of Your History/Heritage!