Fall fairs are ingrained in Grey County's history. Most still celebrate the season the way it has been done for well over a century in rural Ontario, with livestock and trained animal shows; bake-offs; fruit, vegetable, flower and preserve contests; parades; quilt and art shows; farm equipment displays; BBQ dinners and live entertainment.
Circa 1850, three young stonemasons set sail from Aberdeen, Scotland to North America. They represented only a fraction of the nearly one million Scottish emigrants that crossed the ocean that century. Yet William Henderson, John Forbes and William Henry left an indelible mark on Grey County and were counted among some its earliest European settlers.
Henderson and his family settled in Niagara Falls, where he helped build the stone abutments for the monumental suspension bridge over the powerful Niagara River in 1854. Shortly after, he moved his family to Grey County to take advantage of the “free land” and reunite with Forbes and Henry.
In about 1858, Henderson was one of the principal masons hired to build the Chantry Island Lighthouse, one of the six Imperial Towers on Lake Huron. A decade later, the Toronto Grey and Bruce Railway was chartered to build a narrow gauge track, creating a four-season route to “open up the back country 'bush' north of the city to settlement and trade. Lakes and rivers had been the principal means of transportation but they were frozen and unusable for 4–5 months of the year...Railways were essential...to serve such wild unsettled country."
This section of track was completed in 1873 and by local accounts, Henderson, Forbes and Henry worked on this remarkable bridge’s construction. It was no secret that the Toronto Grey and Bruce Railway was not a well-funded enterprise; the budding railway generally constructed cheap timber trestles bridges, to be replaced when the company showed improving revenues. Despite the Railway’s modest resources, and as a direct result of the talented Scottish immigrants in Grey County, this extraordinary barrel vault bridge now serves as fascinating example of quality, civil engineering and a rare survivor of 19th century bridge construction.
By 2012, the bridge was in a crumbling state of disrepair. Grey County Council passed a resolution to demolish “Culvert 21,” and replace it with an industrial, plastic pipe. When the news reached the community, it caused an outcry among local citizens and heritage experts across Ontario. Council was challenged to revoke their resolution and rehabilitate the bridge at great expense to the County’s coffers. Against all odds, the decision was overturned. The community and the County collectively fundraised to help support the restoration project overseen in 2014 by Allen Hastings Ltd. The Chatsworth Heritage Bridge (also known as the Henderson Heritage Bridge) now serves as a unique attraction on an active trail system, and a treasured heritage resource with deep ties to the region’s early economic growth and European pioneers.
In 2014, the Grey County Historical Society awarded its annual Heritage Certificate of Recognition to Grey County for championing this important restoration project to “promote and enhance Grey County’s rich creativity and history.”
- Information provided by Aly Boltman, Grey County Historical Society
The property features a mix of conifer plantations, hardwood lands, and wetland areas. There are no formally established trails, hunting and fishing are permitted uses on the property.
This forest property falls north and south of Grey Sauble Conservation Authority property. Both sides are fully forested, and contain cedar and pine plantations, hardwoods, as well as wetland areas.
Trails pass through conifer plantations and upland hardwood forest on level to rolling land, 2.5 kilometres of trails are used for hiking, and mountain biking.