President’s Message (November 2021)

Hi everyone:

The main purpose of this message is to remind you about the Society’s regular meeting coming up soon – on Monday, Nov. 15th, 2021, at 7:30 PM. It will be a Zoom meeting, and our speaker will be one of our members, Chris Robart, who will be talking about some of the Richmond Hill veterans commemorated on our Cenotaph. Anyone wishing to attend this virtual meeting on Zoom is invited to contact us at r.hillhistsoc at gmail.com.

There are a few other items of interest that I wanted to share with you:

I have been hearing from some members about the likelihood of soon getting back to face-to-face meetings. I have also heard from others who are quite hesitant about face-to-face meetings. While there is nothing to report yet, we have been in touch with the Church to inquire about Wallace Hall, and have learned that their long-time custodian has just retired – they won’t be in any position to open the hall up for some time. We agreed to get back in touch with them in the new year. In the meantime, we will also be exploring other options, and we’ll keep you posted. I’m personally hoping that a face-to-face Strawberry Social will be possible in June.

I’m pleased to report that we’ve been making real progress in terms of our memberships for 2022. We’ve received a number of fee renewals through the e-transfer process – I’m really pleased that we seem to have fixed all the difficulties with this process (thanks, Karen!!), so I would like to encourage you to use the e-transfer process if you are considering paying your 2022 membership fees. As a reminder the fee is $25.00 for a single membership and $40.00 for a family. Our account is with the TD Bank, and you will need our Richmond Hill Historical Society email address – r.hillhistsoc at gmail.com.

We have begun planning for our Xmas meeting/party. As usual, we will hold it early – on Monday, Dec. 13th, 2021, so it’s not so close to the 25th. We had a pretty good time last year, and we’re hoping that Santa can fit us into his schedule again. We’ll have more details for you well in advance!

We have also begun planning for the Society’s Annual General Meeting, when we report out about our past year’s activities, and vote in a new Executive Committee for the coming year. Our AGM this year will be on Monday, Jan. 17th, 2022, and in addition to the formalities, we will be having our usual Bring & Brag, that gives us an opportunity to share some of our treasures with the Society’s members.

Finally, I would like to encourage you to regularly check our website. I know there will soon be a posting highlighting Richmond Hill Public Information Sessions dealing with a review of Residential Infill Development and Zoning. I know that many of you have real interest in this subject. I would also like to encourage you to visit the Library’s website. I have highlighted some of their programs in the past, and I know they have some new and interesting programs in the works.

That’s plenty for now. Thanks for your attention.

2022 Annual General Meeting

The Richmond Hill Historical Society’s Annual General Meeting will be held via Zoom on Monday, January 17, 2022 at 7:30 PM. The Zoom link and other AGM details will be provided to members prior to the meeting. Please join us in voting in the 2022 Executive Committee for the new year, and hear how your Society has been coping during 2021 – another very different year.

After the official voting is completed, our favorite Bring & Brag will begin. BRING out your precious treasures that you would like to BRAG about! Any items of interest – if you think we’d be interested, dust them off and share with the members. It might also be an opportunity to learn more about your treasure – we have a very well-informed membership.

Nomination Deadline: December 31, 2021
If you would like to nominate someone (or yourself) for a position on the Executive Committee, please send your nominations to the Society at r.hillhistsoc at gmail.com.

The AGM is an important part of the Richmond Hill Historical Society’s year. We hope to see you there to help the Society begin a new year – hopefully one that will see the return of some normalcy.

Patterson Village Holds a Special Place in Richmond Hill’s History

The Patterson Brothers established the company town known as ‘The Patch’ in 1871, writes Vera Tauchtel

by Vera Tachtaul, Richmond Hill Historical Society

Published in the Richmond Hill Liberal, Thursday, October 28, 2021

Exterior shot of Patterson Church – Ruth Redelmeier

Patterson Village once stood by a wooden sidewalk that stretched from Yonge Street, along Vaughan Side Road (known today as Major Mackenzie Drive) to the factory site, where once long ago, many men commuted by foot from Richmond Hill.

Peter Patterson and his brothers, Alfred and Robert, who had moved from New York state to Upper Canada in the late 1840s to market a fanning mill (a machine for screening grain), had done so well in Richmond Hill that they decided to purchase 100 acres of land on the north side of Vaughan Sideroad, west of Bathurst Street, to expand the business.

The Patterson brothers grew their business around a sawmill and a blacksmith shop, and by 1855, an agricultural implement factory known as Patterson and Brothers Agricultural Manufacturers was established.

To accompany this enterprise, the Patterson Brothers established their own “company town.” Patterson Village (which was sometimes referred to as the ‘The Patch’ by many local residents) was a tightly knit town that included about 25 cottages for married employees, a boarding house for single workers, and had a population of about 200 people by 1871.

There was a Methodist Church, a post office, and a school established by 1872 for the convenience of its workers. Wages were exceptional, being based on the day’s labour rather than piecework. Employees of Patterson and Brothers earned an average $39 per month, which was a considerable sum for the time.

Although technically beyond today’s city boundaries, Patterson and Bro. was very closely linked with Richmond Hill because their workers often went into town to shop, which added immensely to the local economy.

At the agricultural plants’ peak, four teams of heavy horses were kept busy hauling the implements they made to the railway station in Richmond Hill. Since they were unable to obtain a spur line from the railroad, and with competition lurking, the plant was moved to Woodstock in 1891.

Factory buildings of Patterson Brothers, manufacturers of agricultural implements, located three kilometres west of Richmond Hill, along today’s Major Mackenzie Drive. – Richmond Hill Public Library

In 2006, the company This Land Archaeology Inc., under the supervision of William D. Finlayson, PhD., FRSC, worked on the complete excavation of the village.

Over a two-year period, findings included 16 cellars, and 36 privy pits in the subsoil, with excavations producing 291,911 artifacts, as well as an estimated 1,113,097 small artifacts, which helped illustrate the social and economic status of those who once worked there.

The excavation of a stone foundation of a church uncovered the location of the Methodist Church that once stood there, as well as the complete excavation of the boarding house.

Finlayson wrote, “We knew from archival research that there was a boarding house associated with the Village. Early census data revealed that six men lived in a two-story boarding house, and that the numbers of boarders later increased to 20 to 30 men.

“Historical data also indicates,” he continued, “that the boarding house was run by an independent individual, and that (those who lived in boarding houses) were served with very good meals and accommodation,” (Finlayson 2017:104).

As part of the dig at Patterson Village, there were several Indian artifacts uncovered in the subsoil, confirming that a Huron-Wendat village may have occupied the area prior to 1500 A.D.

The most unique find the archeologists noted was that there was no visible evidence of indigenous artifacts on the surface area. It was noted that by the time Peter Patterson bought the 100 acres of land, it was recorded that the lot was covered in large pine trees typical of abandoned agricultural fields of Indigenous peoples.

William D. (Bill) Finlayson, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., is the senior archaeologist in Ontario with over 54 years of experience in the field. One of his many noteworthy accomplishments was being voted a Specially-Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada for his innovations in Ontario archaeology. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University.

The total excavation of Patterson Village by “This Land Archaeology Inc.” is documented in his book “The Archaeology of Patterson Village: A 19th Century Company Town in the Township of Vaughan, Ontario” – first in the “Our Lands Speak Series” and is available through I C Publishing. The Patterson site is the largest Euro-Canadian excavation to date.

Vera Tachtaul is a member of the Richmond Hill Historical Society