Doors Open 2019

Clarington, a largely rural municipality, offers many things to see, do and explore!  Each year Doors Open Clarington advocates for heritage sites featuring re-purposed buildings where you can discover the past while exploring the present In our 10thanniversary year, we are featuring primarily agricultural heritage and agribusinesses; both diverse and exciting here!

Just east of the town of Bowmanville, you will discover a world of history alongside the latest technology.  We think you will be surprised to see what thrives here.

Come “Unlock Your History” and more in Clarington!


All posts under this on our webpage are for previous years.


The Story of the Newtonville Cenotaph and William P.K. Milligan


This is the story of my great great grandfather William Peter Kenneth Milligan.  He was born in 1859 in Newtonville.  He was 5 feet, 9 ½ inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair.  He was the son of William SR. Milligan, and his wife Margaret McKenzie of Inverness, Scotland. William SR. was one of four brothers and one sister that immigrated from Dun Fries Scotland, in 1840. The family settled in Newtonville, Welcome, Canton, and the Port Hope area.

            William Jr had one sister, Maggie Milligan, who married George Malcolm of Shiloh.  William married Margaret Harvey Robertson of Lindsay. They had two children, Margaret Lorraine and William, (known as Willy). Margaret, (who went by Lorraine) was never married, and lived in Toronto and Lindsay, where she died in 1963.  Willy married Mamie Taylor of Minden.  They had two daughters, Audrey Bernice, (who went by Bernice) and Jean.  Jean married Royal Hall from Bowmanville.  Bernice never married.  Jean and Roy had one daughter, Charlene.  Charlene married Roland Bowman of Enfield.  They had three sons Joshua, Brent, & Graydon.

            William P.K. grew up farming on the homestead in Newtonville, and in 1884 found an interest in the military.  He was 26 at the time.  He joined a local militia, The Durham Field Battery.  He spent 10 years with that unit.  He then transferred to The 48thHighland Division and spent 2 years with that regiment.  By this point, he had attained the rank of Sergeant.  He also developed an interest in sharp shooting competitively.  He was a national champion, winning many medals and trophies.  His shooting team also won the national championship in 1894.

            After The 48th, William transferred to The 46thDurham regiment. There, in June 1896 he attained the rank of Lieutenant.  Then on the 1stof January 1898, he attained the rank of Captain.

            By this time, the war in South Africa between the Local Boer population and the British Empire had erupted.  On October 9 1899, the Boer Republics, Transvaal, and the Orange Free State gave a 48 hour ultimatum to Britain, to pull out of South Africa.  The Boers felt that the British were squeezing them out of their land and stealing the wealth of their gold and diamonds, which belonged to the Boer People.  The British ignored this threat and the Boer Republics declared war on Britain, and the Boer war had started.

            Since the Canadian contingent for service in South Africa was a volunteer service, The 46thDurham Regiment that William was with at the time, was not going to participate.  William decided to resign from The 46th, and re-enlist with the 2ndCanadian Mounted Rifles, out of Peterborough. When William resigned, he also lost his rank as Captain, and had to start over as a private.  He did possess a First Class certificate in Short Class, and a Second Class certificate in Special Infantry, from the Royal School of Artillery at Kingston.

            The 2ndCanadian Mounted Rifles was a regiment put together especially for the Boer War.  They were not cavalry, but more along  the lines of mounted infantry.  They would use their horse to get around and find the Boers.  But unlike cavalry, they would dismount before engaging the enemy.  Also since South Africa was a wide-open space and lots of distance to cover, the Mounted Rifles were much more efficient than normal infantry, in pursuing the Boers and chasing them down, in their native land.

            The 2ndMounted Rifles got all the enlisted men they needed and set sail for South Africa on the 14thof January in 1902, from Halifax.  They arrived in Cape Town, South Africa on the 13thof February.  The 2ndMounted Rifles arrived in the Transvaal region in mid-March.  They had already been involved in major action, driving 2500 Boers into the desolate far western part of Transvaal.  But the British and Canadian forces were soon on their trail again.  The column would chase the Boers, through the desert until they came to a farm called Boschbult. The battle for this farm was where William was  killed.  This is what happened, according to the military records.

            “Early on the morning of March 31 1902, the column scouts had come across a fresh trail of a small Boer force, moving up the bottom of the dried up Hart River.  Sensing an easy victory, the column took chase after the trail, and left the 2ndRifles to escort the slower supply wagon train, to the rendezvous at the Boschbult Farm.  By the time the supply train reached the farm, the column was under heavy attack, by the Boers.  It turned out that the Boers actually outnumbered the British and Canadians immensely, and had an advantage with the terrain.  During the battle at this farm, William was assisting a wounded comrade back behind the lines, for medical treatment.  Just as he was returning to the fight, he was shot and killed instantly.  He was buried next to his fallen comrades on the battle field.  This battle is an early showing of the grit and tenacity that Canadian soldiers would be known for in future wars.  As they would not surrender, kept fighting until they were out of ammunition, and didn’t give up until they were relieved.

            In 1903, the village of Newtonville erected a monument in memory of William.  This was quiet a large monument for one person.  The reason it was as big as it was, was that William was a well-known man in Newtonville and was respected by everyone.  It stood in the middle of the four corners for around 40 years.  Then in 1942 a Congoleum truck ran into the base of the monument.  It was swerving to miss a 1939 Milly’s car, but ended up hitting both and ruining the base of the monument.  The monument was then taken off this platform and moved back off the road, about 50 feet to the west, to its new location where it still stands today.  In 1979 the monument was restored and rededicated.  It was rededicated again in 1994, with the flowerbeds and shrubs it has today.

(Our thanks to Josh for sharing this account of the interesting life of his great great grandfather, William P.K. Milligan)

Site Profile: Doctor’s House

The house was built in 1886 and was home to the local Doctor in Newtonville. The house was purchased by the current owners two years ago and is currently undergoing renovations to modernize it.

The push button knob and tube electrical switches have been removed (due to insurance requirements) and replaced with modern outlets and wiring. A modern furnace was installed to replace the 25-year-old furnace that was previously in the house. New insulation was added to make the home more efficient. The laundry room was moved from the upstairs bathroom to the wardrobe closet and new plumbing installed. This was the “dressing room” in the past.

The most extensive renovations were in the back room. Everything in the back room was removed, down to the studs and floor joists. These renovations revealed boards on the walls between 18 and 20 inches thick with a notched construction. Since then, the owners have leveled the floors and replaced everything in the bathroom. Wood flooring was installed. They opened up the ceiling, revealing beams that were covered up by previous owners during another renovation.

There is original wood trim finishes with faux mahogany, original grates, doors. The barn is post and beam with pole roof support.

On display at the house, there will be a small collection of publications ranging from 1908 to 1916. The publications were found in the attic during the installation of the insulation. Two of the reports are from the Women’s Institute and chronicle the lives of women in Ontario in 1910 and 1912. There is a copy of the Farmers Magazine from January 1916 that speaks of the challenges facing farmers during that time.

Guests visiting the Doctor’s House will have the opportunity to look at these publications and tour the main floor of the house.

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Things for all at the Newtonville Hall


The Newtonville Hall is making it’s second appearance on Doors Open Clarington. For those of you that missed the opportunity to see it in 2011, Saturday will be the perfect time!

The Newtonville Hall was built in 1854 and was originally known as the Royal Templars Lodge. The Royal Templars was one of many temperance societies popular at the time. The monthly meetings of this social organization included plays, songs, readings and music. The building was restored in 1979 as the local community hall. Since then, the building has been available for rental for such events as meetings, parties, weddings and luncheons.

On Saturday, the hall will feature displays about the history of Newtonville, along with a fundraiser BBQ lunch.

The menu for the BBQ is the following:

  • Hamburger or Sausage on a Bun – $5.00
  • Hot Dog – $3.00
  • Ice Cream Bar – $2.00
  • Muffin – $1.00
  • Pop – $1.00
  • Bottled Water – $1.00
  • Coffee – $1.00
  • Tea will also be available from Tea Granny’s

The Tea Granny’s and Friends are bringing their Victorian Tea Experience to Newtonville Hall. The Tea Salon was started in 1999 and was inspired by the owner’s personal interest in collecting turn-of-the-century vintage clothing and jewelry at a young age.

Surrounded by Newtonville’s history on the walls and Victorian Tea in your cup, you will feel like you are back in the 1890’s.

For the latest updates on Doors Open Clarington, follow us on Twitter (@DOClarington) or like us on Facebook.

Doors Open Clarington Visits the Communities of Newtonville and Port Granby

By Myno Van Dyke

DOC Air Newtonville


The small village of Newtonville, east of Newcastle, Ontario is an interesting community.   It was first established in 1834 on the old Kingston Road, later called Highway 2.  At that time there were about 130 residents and a variety of businesses.  It was originally called Clarke and Newton but by 1848 it was called Newtonville.  In the 1860’s and 1870’s hundreds of residents left Clarke and many went to Western Canada.    The timber from the Ganaraska Forest was depleted and land was very cheap in the West.   In later years, the village was always busy due to the traffic on Highway Two.   When Highway 401 was built through southern Ontario, businesses catering to the travelling public, in communities like Newtonville, were affected.   Today, Newtonville is a pleasant village with several interesting businesses.  The 2016 population of Newtonville was 576 people.

The Doors Open Clarington has some very interesting places to visit in the Village of Newtonville.

The Lakeview Cemetery is located on the appropriately named, Hill Street.  The gravestones date back to the mid 1800’s and the view of Lake Ontario to the south is spectacular from here.   The Love Hotel is at 4510 Regional Highway 2. It was a Belleville to York stagecoach stop that was constructed in 1856.  It still has the original push button lighting and pine floors.

Going east you will come to the Stapleton Home at 4526 Regional Highway 2.  This was owned by George Hancock (1845-1919) who ran a harness business there.  This wonderful restored home has brick that was re-used from a fire in Newcastle.   The former Newtonville School is at the north side of the Stapleton Home and was built around 1840.  It was moved from the Township into the village and used as George Hancock’s harness and repair shop.   Across the street from the school on Mill Street is the Grist Mill Auction and the original 1900’s blacksmith shop.  Several fires damaged it and it was rebuilt in 1948 using old munitions buildings in Ajax. Later it became H.W. Stapleton’s feed store and inside is a rare vintage 1930’s Ruston & Hornby diesel engine that you won’t want to miss.

Next door to the east is the restored B/A Station and Stapleton’s Auction House.  This former British American service station dates back to the 1950’s. This is considered one of the finest examples of the Art Deco styled B/A service stations left in Ontario.   Every owner of a vintage car wants to photograph their car in front of this station.   The Newtonville Cenotaph is located at 4498 Regional Highway 2.  It was constructed in 1902 and dedicated to the memory of a local soldier, Captain P.K. Milligan.  The original monument was much closer to the roadway and was seriously damaged by a motor vehicle collision in 1943.  It was restored in 1980 and also moved farther away from the roadway.

The Newtonville Hall at 21 Church Lane was built as a Royal Templars Lodge in 1854.  This was one of the many “Temperance” Halls located in communities where alcohol was generally forbidden.  The building was restored in 1979 as the local Community Hall.


Port Granby

Port Granby is a small hamlet located on the Lakeshore Road, on the north shore of Lake Ontario, southeast of the Village of Newtonville.  This community was first settled around 1796.  The community was first referred to in 1841 as the “Village of Granby” and was named after John Manners, the “Marquis of Granby.  In 1848, the name of the community was officially “Port Granby”.

By 1857, the population is listed as 50 people and in 1869 it was 60.  The harbor was quite busy with mostly wood and grain being shipped out.  In 1863, there were three grain elevators, a gristmill, sawmill, and distillery.  But by 1890, the once vibrant village was just a shadow of its former self.

The little hamlet along the Lakeshore Road remained relatively unknown until 1954 when Eldorado Nuclear Mining and Refining from Port Hope purchased land east of the village to bury nuclear waste from their refinery. In 2012, that about 450,000 cubic tons of this waste would be excavated and moved to a new location approximately a kilometer north of the present location.

You can visit the Port Granby Legacy Waste Management Facility at Concession 1 and Elliott Rd and see how they are moving the low level radioactive waste away from Lake Ontario.   The Hilltop Farm at 4652 Lake Shore Road has been in the Elliott family since 1834 and the old barn and house are must visits.  The March Cottage is across the road at 4665 Lakeshore Road. This cottage dates back to 1850 with several more recent additions.  The old March Hotel next door is located on the site of the old Port Granby Wharf. This was converted to a private residence.

So, make sure you “Unlock Your History” on Saturday June 9thin Newtonville and Port Granby.

Myno Van Dyke is a Doors Open Clarington volunteer and a local historian. He is a member of the Newcastle Village District Historical Society and a recent winner of the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award.





Site Profile: The Love Hotel


Before Highway 401 was opened south of Newtonville in 1942, “Highway 2” was the main thoroughfare for travellers driving between Toronto and Kingston. Along Highway 2, people required places to stop and rest on what used to be a long journey (by stage coach) on roads that were not in the same shape as we see roads today. Rest stops and hotels sprung up all along Highway 2 to serve the travelling public. In Newtonville, the Love Hotel served that purpose. The property has since been converted into a private residence.

Constructed in 1856, the Love Hotel consists of two buildings; the house and barn. Both buildings were constructed using the wooden peg and post style of construction. The barn was the original stable for the horses while the house welcomed the human guests for the night. The house guests slept in the travellers’ parlour, which is now the master bedroom of the house.

Now the home boasts modern amenities but it does not forget it’s roots. The owners have kept the original pine floors in the living room; the lights are operated using the original push button lighting system. During recent renovations, the owners repurposed the original tongue and groove ceiling planks, and incorporated those elsewhere in the house. What did they do with those planks? You’ll have to come to the Love Hotel on Saturday to find out!

The owners will have a display of some of the tongue and grove wood that came out of the ceiling in the kitchen as well as odds and ends they have found in the house while doing renovations. Some of these items include a vintage boot button, thimble, medicine bottle, lantern filler, and hair pins.  They have also saved many of the square nails that came out of the house.  The table in the gazebo is made from a repurposed barn door.  Inside the barn, the owners will give you a tour where they can point out the pegs holding the structure together as well as the beams.

Make sure to come visit before 4pm, when there will be no more vacancy at the Love Hotel.

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Site Profile: Port Granby Legacy Waste Management Facility

Port Granby Water Project Aariel PG site map

When you drive along Lakeshore Road in Clarington, there is not a lot of activity on most days. It’s a fairly quiet portion of the Municipality of Clarington. The Port Granby Legacy Waste Management Facility site is certainly the most active part of the hamlet of Port Granby these days. So what is going on there? Why the flurry of activity? In order to answer those questions, one has to go back in time.

In 2001 an agreement was signed between the Government of Canada and the municipalities of Port Hope and Clarington, which launched the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI). As part of the PHAI,  the Port Granby Project began. The Port Granby Project involves the relocation of approximately 450,000 cubic metres of historic low-level radioactive waste and contaminated soil from the original dump site on the south side of Lakeshore Road, to a new site one kilometre inland. The new site is being constructed to store historic low-level radioactive waste and contaminated soil in an above ground, engineered mound that will safely contain the waste for hundred of years to come. A new waste water treatment plant has been built to treat all water generated by project activities, and an internal waste haul road has been constructed to ensure that none of the contaminated soil is transported on public roads. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is implementing the project on behalf of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, a federal Crown corporation.

What does the future hold for this land? Only 95 hectares of the 270 hectares owned by the federal government are under the control of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. The future use of the remaining 175 hectares is still to be determined. The hope is that the land will be used for agricultural purposes or be converted into parklands as part of the Port Granby Nature Reserve.

On Saturday, come to the Port Granby Legacy Waste Management Facility to learn more about this fascinating project. Your experience at the site will begin at the intersection of Nicholls Road and Lakeshore Road. Make sure that you come early, as the site will be accepting it’s last guests at 2:30pm.

More information about the history of the project is available at THIS LINK.

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The Newtonville plane crash that changed Canadian history

Hon. Norman Rogers, PC (1894-1940)


The plane, an RCAF Lockheed Hudson bomber, crashed on a foggy Monday, June 10, 1940 at 12:15 p.m.

It had spent a few minutes circling above the village of Newtonville, probably looking for a place to land. Newtonville’s Lloyd Moore, Ray Lott and Charles Ross said an engine “exploded” and the plane flipped over in the air before suddenly crashing into the swamp northeast of Elliott’s Garage.

Quickly, men and boys from the village and nearby farms and homes ran over, but it was too late. The fuel from the plane had started a number of small fires and the smashed RCAF bomber was also on fire. Near the plane, they found a body pinned between two trees. It turned out to be Norman Rogers, Canada’s minister of defence at the time. They also found the bodies of Flying Officer John J. Cotter of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Aircraftman Oscar David Brownfield of Big River, Saskatchewan and Aircraftman James Edward Nesbitt of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Prime Minister Mackenzie King soon made an emotional announcement in the House of Commons. Mr. King was a close friend of Mr. Rogers, who had been his secretary of Privy Council affairs in 1927 and in 1935 became the minister oflLabour. In 1940, Mr. Rogers was the minister of defence and that very same day, June 10, Canada had declared war on Italy.

For some reason, Mr. Rogers did not want to make the trip to Toronto to speak at the Empire and Canadian Clubs. However, Mr. King insisted that he should make the trip.

The RCAF investigation concluded “pilot error” and appears to have disregarded the fact that several local citizens saw the engine explode prior to the crash. A few months later another RCAF Lockheed Hudson crashed, this time in Newfoundland. The co-discoverer of insulin, Sir Frederick Banting, died as a result of injuries he received in the crash.

History was changed that day in Newtonville. Mr. King was grooming Mr. Rogers to be the next prime minister. Mr. King remained as prime minister until 1948 and was replaced by Louis St. Laurent.

Come to Newtonville on June 9th and take the FREE horse drawn wagon ride to learn more about this accident. For more information on Doors Open Clarington, like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter (@DOClarington).

The Lost Port of Port Granby

Written with articles from the Toronto Telegraph Saturday August 15, 1936. Photo credit and thanks to the Newcastle Village District Historical Society for providing us with a copy of the Telegraph article.

If you asked most people that live in Clarington where Port Granby is, they would not be able to tell you. That’s understandable given its present population and location.

Port Granby is located in the southeastern corner of the Municipality of Clarington along the shores of Lake Ontario. It feels cut off from the rest of the Municipality by Highway 401 and the Canadian Pacific Railroad tracks, but it is easily accessible by travelling along picturesque Lakeshore Road. In its present size, it’s the type of hamlet that you can blink and miss. However this was not always the case. This hamlet packs a lot of history into its small footprint.

Port Granby once had a population of 250, three grain elevators, a gristmill, a sawmill, a distillery, a malthouse, a schoolhouse, a Methodist church, two taverns, and thirty or forty happy families in the village.

Port Granby’s recorded story begins in 1841 when it is mentioned in some Upper Canada (now Ontario) legislative papers where it is referred to as the “Village of Granby”. In 1846, Granby makes another appearance in these papers when William Rowe along with his associates, requested the government’s permission to incorporate the Granby Harbor Company. In 1848, an act was passed to officially name the village “Port Granby”.

From 1848 until the turn of the 20th century, Port Granby was an integral part of the local economy. Providing access to Lake Ontario and the world, many goods were shipped from Port Granby.

In 1866, Port Granby shipped out 95,000 bushels of Durham County barley in one season, besides a quantity of wheat and rye, a little lumber, more shingles, thousands of cords of hardwood, and hundreds of long masts from the pine ridges of Clarke and Hope townships to the north.

It was all wood and grain going out and money coming in, in those days; the export trade was over $200,000 a year (over $3 Million in 2018 dollars). Port Granby imported little – sometimes a schooner brought in a load of apple trees or nursery stock, or settlers’ effects, but the area was self-sustaining.

So what happened? Where did everything go? By the 1920’s, most of the prominent landmarks of Port Granby had disappeared. The Canadian Hydrographic Survey chart of Lake Ontario from 1923 shows no sign of it. By 1936, there was a village that consisted of four year-round families and ten families that summered there. The Post Office was one of the only signs of what was once there.

Today, there are approximately ten dwellings that remain of Port Granby. We invite you to come check out three of those on Doors Open Clarington. The Old March Cottage, the March Hotel and Hilltop Farm will all be open for you to see. Port Granby is now most famous for what is happening just to the east of the hamlet, but we will talk about that in another post. Stay tuned!

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Remaining Doors Open Clarington Sites Revealed

DOC Air NewtonvilleWe are pleased to announce the rest of our Doors Open Clarington sites that will be open for tours on Saturday June 9th, 2018 from 10am-4pm.

The newly added sites include the following:

  • British American Station / Stapleton Auction Centre
  • Doctor’s House
  • Grist Mill Auctions
  • Lakeview Cemetery
  • The March Cottage
  • Newtonville School House SS#4
  • Newtonville Village Tour
  • Stapleton Home
  • Skelding’s Texaco Gas Station

These sites are in addition to the following previously announced sites.

Those sites are the following:

  • Hilltop Farm
  • Newtonville Hall
  • Newtonville Cenotaph
  • The Old March Hotel
  • Port Granby Legacy Waste Management Facility

We look forward to welcoming you to Newtonville and Port Granby to discover this corner of Clarington in just over four weeks!

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