Photo © Ian Coristine/
 You are here:  Back Issues      Archive

Two Histories, One Community

Dave Wells had no idea that his first book, published in 2011 would sell out…  “I wasn’t sure how many people would be interested in reading about events in a small village and growing up there, but judging from the phone calls, letters and emails from people who read, The History of Mallorytown, there is great interest.

After the first book was into its 4th printing, Dave, and his wife Sandra realized they had received so much new material, that a second was needed. The Last Front:  A People’s History of Mallorytown and the Front of Yonge Township – Forever Yonge,  was published this winter. The sections dealing with churches and schools, had been written a few years earlier, by Sandra, and Dave was anxious to share her material.

Tucked into the second book is a folded page, with a colour map of the village of Mallorytown..  It was given to Dave one night several years ago by a friend, and well-known community volunteer, Eugene (Gene) Joseph Martin.  In fact, Gene was instrumental in helping to restore the Mallory Coach House, now the home of the Front of Yonge’s museum, and archives.  The first book was dedicated to Gene,  who died in 2008, as he had given Dave the inspiration to complete the history project.

Several chapters are short, but much of the material has never been published before, and now these stories are preserved forever.  In addition, there are dozens of photographs and hand-draw illustrations.

The second book has several chapters written by local residents including Robert Morrison, Grant Haskin, Vera Dickey and Cherill Johnstone.

One of the most important chapters in the first book is the history of the Mallorytown Glass Works, the first Glassworks recorded in Canada.  It was Amasa Whitney Mallory who was credited with operating the business from 1839 to 1840.  This 10-page review is the most complete compilation of material to date, but it does not clear up the mystery of its location. Over the years there were several attempts to identify the foundations of the glassworks, and David Wells was able to piece these together.

There have been two official plaques erected in the Township; both not identifying the exact location and both for good reason, as current property owners would not want to be the site of un-authorized digs, by enthusiastic archaeologists.  The first plaque gave a ten year date of operations, from 1839 – 1849.  However, over the years, the inability to confirm, the dates or the location, led researchers to request a new sign, which was erected in July 1998.

Of the dozens of stories compiled in the second book, The Last Front, is the description written by Grant Haskin, “Building the Thousand Island Parkway (1937-1947):

“The road was the dream of George T. Fulford, then Liberal MP for Leeds County.  He saw the need for a scenic route along the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River from Gananoque to Brockville.  He also saw an opportunity to make an already popular tourist area accessible to more people.  He understood that the economic impact would bring some prosperity during the depression.  Access roads to the area were from Hwy. #2 to the Old River Road, broken in several places by bays and wooded hills.” 


This chapter answers the questions about why there is a concrete foot bridge going over the Parkway,

“The highway severed the Sifton property near Jones Creek and the Siftons, who had several riding horses, wanted a bridge over the roadway rather than the underpass proposed by the Department of Highways. The bridge was built with the Siftons paying six thousand dollars to cover some additional costs…”

Or why there is a private tunnel under the highway.

George Darling of Darlingside, refused to sell them land unless they built an underpass large enough to accommodate a wagon load of hay.  He kept a few animals and his barn was on the south side of the underpass and much of his farmland on the north.

You should already have Fact, Folklore and Fiction: History of Mallorytown and the second, The Last Front: A People’s History of Mallorytown & the Front of Yonge Township, will make nice new addition to your island library.  Net proceeds from this book will go to support the Mallory Coach House, Museum and Archives, in Mallorytown.

The books are available at the following locations:
  • Purcell's Freshmart, Mallorytown
  • Front of Yonge Township Hall, Mallorytown
  • Front of Yonge Public Library, Mallorytown
  • A&E Books, 1000 Islands Parkway at LaRue Mills Road
  • Grandma Had That Antiques, Lansdowne
  • Stedman's, Athens
  • Leeds County Books, Brockville
  • Heritage Clock Shop, Brockville

Or by mail see: for details

From Terry Meagher, the publisher:

 “This is truly a People’s History, and Dave Wells and Sandra Wells came up with a wonderful way of making that so.  they gathered detail on every creek and every abandoned foundation and every whisper of a ghost.  But there’s more than that, Everyone village, hamlet and small community has produced what one of their neighbours calls Rocking Chair Genealogy, a group of stories told by the people. Some of them might not be completely true.  But this book the catch what the historian in a ivory tower is apt to miss.  The stories catch the essence of humanity as it existed then and they reflect how the people saw themselves and their neighbours.

By Susan W. Smith, Editor.

  • Covers of two books that should be in your Island library.

    Covers of two books that should be in your Island library.

  • Pg. 49, The Mallorytown Station from the north.  Photo

    Pg. 49, The Mallorytown Station from the north. Photo "History of Mallorytown."

  • Pg. 59, The Doctor's House as it looks today.

    Pg. 59, The Doctor's House as it looks today."History of Mallorytown."

  • Pg. 89, Clark Quinsey in Hodge's store.

    Pg. 89, Clark Quinsey in Hodge's store."History of Mallorytown."

  • Pg. 107, IOOF Lodge No. 20=45.  1964-65.

    Pg. 107, IOOF Lodge No. 20=45. 1964-65. "History of Mallorytown."

  • Pg. 74, Building parkway near La Rue Mills.

    Pg. 74, Building parkway near La Rue Mills. "The Last Front."

  • Pg. 83, Jones Creek bridge after 1910.

    Pg. 83, Jones Creek bridge after 1910. "The Last Front."

  • Pg. 101, Rockport Post Office and General Store.

    Pg. 101, Rockport Post Office and General Store. "The Last Front."

  • Mallorytown beach area in 1975.

    Mallorytown beach area in 1975. "The Last Front."


Posted in: Book Review
Please feel free to leave comments about this article using the form below. Comments are moderated and we do not accept comments that contain links. As per our privacy policy, your email address will not be shared and is inaccessible even to us. For general comments, please email the editor.


There are currently no comments, be the first to post one.