Richmond Hill’s Bond Lake Park was Once a Major Attraction

Little evidence of park remains, but it was a happening spot in the first 20 years of the 20th century, writes Jim Vollmershausen
Originally published in the Richmond Hill Liberal, September 15, 2022

The Bond Lake Hotel and stables, circa 1920s. - Richmond Hill Public Library photo
The Bond Lake Hotel and stables, circa 1920s. – Richmond Hill Public Library photo

Today, Bond Lake, just south of Oak Ridges on Yonge Street, is a popular part of the Oak Ridges Trail, whether as an entry to the full length (260 kilometres) of the trail or the short loop around the lake itself. One has to wonder if the hundreds of people who enjoy the lake trails today realize that, 120 years ago, thousands of people were enjoying what the lake and its park had to offer.

From the earliest days of Richmond Hill, settlers and townsfolk used Bond Lake for fishing, swimming and boating in the summer, and curling in the winter. This casual use changed after 1899, though, when the Metropolitan Railway, which had just reached Richmond Hill the year before, began to extend its line north toward Newmarket. The railway needed more power to supply the line as it was extended, and Bond Lake provided a good supply of water for the generating station they built near its shore.

The Mary T. cruising Bond Lake in June 1927. - Richmond Hill Public Library photo
The Mary T. cruising Bond Lake in June 1927. – Richmond Hill Public Library photo

Knowing the lake was already a popular spot, the railway bought the farm surrounding the lake. Soon, landscaping was underway and railway siding and the Bond Lake Station were built to welcome the tourists they hoped to attract to the lake.

Inside the Bond Lake Powerhouse, circa 1900. The fly-wheel was approximately 18 feet in diameter. - Richmond Hill Public Library photo
Inside the Bond Lake Powerhouse, circa 1900. The fly-wheel was approximately 18 feet in diameter. – Richmond Hill Public Library photo

The railway did its best to try to create a real tourist attraction just a short rail ride from the growing Toronto area. Using surplus power from the generating station, Bond Lake Park became the first “electric” park in Ontario, and it quickly began to experience amazing attendance. In the 1901 season alone, 60,000 visitors passed through the park gates. This was great news for the railway — in addition to their park visit, the vast majority of these tourists also paid fares on the railway to get there. It is certain that local businesses also benefitted from this influx of visitors. A nearby tavern and a local hotel would have enjoyed a real increase in business as a result.

The railway did not skimp on park amenities. In addition to traditional picnic facilities, pleasant landscaping and access to swimming, fishing and boating, the park soon boasted a large concert pavilion, baseball grounds, a wading pool and a merry-go-round. Sunday school and company picnics were popular, and the park also attracted family groups and young couples. Rowboats were available for rent, or you could tour the lake in a larger launch.

The Radial Railway arriving at Bond Lake Park in June 1924. - Toronto Public Library photo
The Radial Railway arriving at Bond Lake Park in June 1924. – Toronto Public Library photo

The Metropolitan Railway Guidebook was eloquent in its praise for the park and its offerings. Clean air and cool breezes, clean water and few mosquitoes were all part of the pitch to attract visitors north, hopefully by rail. It touted the park, with its lake and trees and amenities, as a perfect place to relax, enjoy the outdoors, or even find romance through its pleasant promenades and dancing in the pavilion to a small orchestra.

Bond Lake Park was a going concern through the first 20 years of the 20th century, though its future came into question when the Toronto Transit Commission acquired the Metropolitan Railway Company in 1922. By 1929, the TTC was ready to close down the Radial Line north of Toronto due to poor ridership, and its primary interest in transit left little room for the park at Bond Lake. The park saw its last visitors in 1929.

Today, there is little evidence of Bond Lake Park to be found. Two crumbling brick pillars mark the old entrance on Yonge Street, and scattered along the trail beside the lake, hikers might find the remains of a few foundations or a twisted and partially buried merry-go-round. It’s difficult to imagine 60,000 visitors enjoying this beautiful spot in 1901.

—Jim Vollmershausen is the president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society

The Story of Richmond Hill’s ‘Langstaff Corners’ is One of Constant Change

The intersection of Yonge Street and Langstaff Road (Hwy. 7) has changed so much, the roads no longer intersect, writes Andrea Kulesh

Published online by the Richmond Hill Liberal on June 23, 2022

An image of Cook's Hotel, circa 1910, Langstaff Corners in Richmond Hill. - TPL Digital Archive
Cook’s Hotel, circa 1910, Langstaff Corners in Richmond Hill. – TPL Digital Archive

In the late 1700s, European settlement began in the area where these two roads would be built. The land on the northwest corner, Lot No. 35, was purchased by the Abner Miles family, some of the earliest arrivals. John Langstaff arrived from New Jersey a few years later and soon met and married Lucy Miles. Upon her father’s death, around 1808, they took ownership of the property. John was a very industrious person. He began as a teacher in the Thornhill area, joined the York militia to fight in the War of 1812 and, upon returning, supplemented farming with multiple businesses including a store, a smithy and factories for the manufacture of pails, shingles and eaves troughs. The area soon came to be known locally as Langstaff Corners.

We have all noticed that Richmond Hill’s Yonge Street corridor is rapidly changing. Future plans for major intersection highrise “hubs” are underway and many well-known “local” corners will alter so much that they will become unrecognizable. One such “corner” that has already changed multiple times is Yonge Street and Langstaff Road (Hwy. 7). Now-a-days, Hwy. 7 doesn’t even intersect — it is a raised roadway with ramps for access to Yonge Street.

Yonge quickly became the major link north from York. Businesses were taking root to serve local farms and to facilitate travel more easily on Yonge. By the 1830s, the Upper Canada Legislature had authorized tolls to be collected to fund road improvements, and Toll Gate No. 3 was erected at the intersection. By mid-century, Langstaff Corners had become a major stopping place for travellers on the road from Toronto to Richmond Hill and north. The toll house stood on the southwest corner and alongside it, Langstaff’s first post office opened in 1870. On that same corner, for some years, the Langstaff family enjoyed riding around an oval half-mile racetrack. The Yorkshire House, a hotel under the management of William and Jane Cook occupied the northwest corner. The Munshaw family farmed the southwest corner throughout much of the 19th century.

The original Langstaff farm stayed in the family until 1893 when the Boyle family purchased the property. The City of Toronto subsequently bought the land in 1911, just prior to the First World War, when it became part of the city’s Industrial Farm and came to be known as the Langstaff Jail Farm or the “Jail Farm.” This institution was active until the late 1950s when the operation was finally closed. The land stood unused for years with many of the buildings standing empty.

Photograph of the main building of the "Langstaff" Jail Farm around 1960. The front faced north and the back side was on Langstaff Road. (Toronto Industrial Farm). There were over 30 buildings on this site — all since demolished. - City of Toronto archives
This photo is the main building of the “Langstaff” Jail Farm around 1960. The front faced north and the back side was on Langstaff Road. (Toronto Industrial Farm). There were over 30 buildings on this site — all since demolished. – City of Toronto archives

In 1978, the Langstaff GO Station was opened along the Richmond Hill Railway Line, replaced by a new, larger and more modern one in 2005. Also, in 1978, proposals for a planned hydro corridor were tabled resulting in a large swath of the Miles/Munshaw/Langstaff farmland being utilized for this purpose, paralleling Hwy. 7 on the north side by 1985.

By 1982, Toronto council began selling the Langstaff Jail Farm property, (it encompassed a desirable block of real estate bounded by Yonge, Bayview Avenue, Hwy. 7 and 16th Sideroad). Developers quickly purchased this very large acreage and an incredible amount of development began quickly including housing, stores, schools, parks and roads. The new High Tech Road became the east-west gateway from Yonge to Bayview with multiple big box stores lining the south side. “Old” Langstaff Road remained, but the access was moved south of Hwy. 7 off Yonge Street.

The ever changing Langstaff Corners continues to have huge pressure on it. The Ontario government has announced its intention to increase population density through its proposed “transit oriented community” (TOC) — planned developments in the areas located on both sides of Hwy. 407 at Yonge Street — a new skyline will appear. In the Toronto Star on April 16, 2022, Ontario Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma was quoted as saying “a TOC is a place where people will wake up in the morning, take an elevator down, perhaps drop off their child at daycare, access a (transit) station, go to work, come back home on transit and pick up something for dinner at a local grocery store.” Langstaff Corners will be developed for this new purpose.

Photograph of John Langstaff - Early Days of Richmond Hill
John Langstaff – Early Days of Richmond Hill

Such is the future of the corner where Toll Gate No. 3 stood for the purpose of collecting tolls to improve a very early Yonge Street — the gateway to the north. It will take years for this plan to come to fruition, but the ongoing history of “Langstaff Corners” continues …

-Andrea Kulesh is the vice-president with the Richmond Hill Historical Society

A Rail Link Between Richmond Hill and Toronto

On Nov. 19, 1896, the first electric train of the Metropolitan Street Railway Company arrived in Richmond Hill
by Jim Vollmershausen
originally published in The Liberal, February 2022

A photograph of passengers boarding car 56 at the Metropolitan Railway Station in Richmond Hill at Yonge Street and Lorne Avenue. - Courtesy of RHPL
A photograph of passengers boarding car 56 at the Metropolitan Railway Station in Richmond Hill at Yonge Street and Lorne Avenue. – Courtesy of RHPL

In the last year or so, there has been some excitement in Richmond Hill about the extension of subway service to the City. People are looking forward to a fast and convenient connection to Toronto.

This isn’t the first time, though, that citizens of Richmond Hill have been excited about the development of a rail link with Toronto. In 1896, there had already been a number of years of speculation, planning and ultimately the construction of a rail link connecting Richmond Hill and the northern sections of Toronto’s Electric Rail System. On November 19, 1896, the first electric train of the Metropolitan Street Railway Company arrived in Richmond Hill along a track that paralleled Yonge Street. Residents now had an opportunity to travel to Toronto in 45 minutes rather than the 3 hours it took by stagecoach. The cost was 40 cents a trip or 60 cents return, and there were four round trips a day.

An early casualty of this new development was John Thompson’s Stagecoach Line, but, by all accounts, other businesses in Richmond Hill flourished, and the population grew. Richmond Hill was so easily reached from Toronto, in fact, that predictions were made that Richmond Hill could become a suburb of the much bigger city to the south. By 1899, the benefits of a Railway connection with Toronto were extended to Newmarket, as well.

Metropolitan Street Railway Company (later the Toronto and York Radial Railway Company) power house at Bond Lake. - Courtesy of RHPL
Metropolitan Street Railway Company (later the Toronto and York Radial Railway Company) power house at Bond Lake. – Courtesy of RHPL

The Metropolitan Street Railway Company contributed a further benefit to Richmond Hill when it bought some land near Bond Lake to build a generating station, and subsequently developed the first park in Ontario with electric lights. Residents and tourists were able to take advantage of baseball facilities, a pavilion and, of course, swimming, boating and fishing.

In 1904, the Metropolitan Street Railway Company was purchased by the Toronto and York Radial Railway Company, a larger company that meant more tracks in Ontario and more trains in Richmond Hill. 1904 also brought a second Railway to Richmond Hill, when the James Bay Railway Company built a station in as a stop on its freight line from Toronto to Sudbury — Richmond Hill residents and businesses were now blessed with reliable rail transportation for both freight and passengers.

Children packed onto car 42 of the Toronto and York Radial Railway, ca. 1920s. - Courtesy of RHPL
Children packed onto car 42 of the Toronto and York Radial Railway, ca. 1920s. – Courtesy of RHPL

In 1912, Richmond Hill officials were able to take further advantage of the Railways presence when they arranged a deal with the Toronto and York railway Company to buy surplus power from the Railway’s generating station at Bond Lake. The result was that, on Dec. 30, 1912, the first electric street lights were lit in Richmond Hill. Soon after, stores and shops were also able to benefit from this new development, as well as many homes.

The Radial Electric Railway continued to serve Richmond Hill, even after the Toronto Transit Commission became the owner in 1922. By 1929, though, the Commission was planning to close the service due to poor ridership, a move that the communities north of Toronto were not happy with. In 1930, Richmond Hill, along with North York, Markham, and Vaughan purchased the railway, renamed it the North Yonge Railways, and carried on serving their communities for another 18 years.

A train arriving at the Canadian Northern (later Canadian National) Railway station in Richmond Hill. - Courtesy of RHPL
A train arriving at the Canadian Northern (later Canadian National) Railway station in
Richmond Hill. – Courtesy of RHPL

The end of the Electric Railways came with the rationing of power in Ontario after the end of the war. The North Yonge Railways was a huge consumer of electricity, so a temporary fix was found in 1948 by replacing the trains with buses. Though initially unpopular, the buses caught on quite quickly, ridership ballooned and profits were realized. A vote in 1949 did away with the old railway, and the Electric Railway was no more.

Though Richmond Hill has benefited from GO Trains for some time, the notion of a regular subway connection with Toronto is as exciting now as electric train service was in 1896.

—Jim Vollmershausen is the president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society

President’s Message (February 2022)

Well, here it is February, of 2022, no less, and after a really fun Christmas meeting, the Holidays, and our January AGM, it’s time to get back into our regular series of meetings. As usual, the main purpose of this message is to remind you that our next meeting is coming up on February 21st, 2022 at 7:30 PM via Zoom. Anyone wishing to attend this virtual meeting is invited to contact us at r.hillhistsoc at

Our speaker for this meeting is Pamela Vega, Richmond Hill’s Heritage Planner – a speaker that we have been hoping to arrange for some time, and I am pleased that Kevin has made it happen. Pamela is going to talk to us about “A Day in the Life of a Heritage Planner,” and I know that she is anxious to not only bring that story to us, but to also get to know us, so I would like to encourage you to ask questions and have a conversation with her. I’ll send out another reminder about the meeting just before the 21st.

Further to my reference to the January AGM, I thought it went very well. A few more members would have been better, but the AGM is always a bit of a hard sell for attendance, and the members that did join us certainly participated. Cheryl Butler did her normal great job of leading us through the election process, which resulted in a new slate of Directors for 2022. The “Bring and Brag,” session, a regular feature of our AGMs, saw a number of interesting treasures displayed, and, as usual, generated a fair amount of discussion.

At our Executive Meeting earlier this week, we confirmed the roles of the various Directors for the coming year:

 President - Jim Vollmershausen
 Vice President - Andrea Kulesh
 Secretary - Vera Tauchtaul
 Treasurer - Laura McMullen
 Publicity - Marj Andre
 Membership - Karen Dance
 Programming - Kevin Dark
 Heritage Centre Advisory Committee - Jim Vollmershausen
 Heritage Richmond Hill - Marj Andre
 Director-at-Large - Cameron Telch

We also acknowledged:

 Auditor - Norm McMullen
 Website/Newsletter Volunteer - Peter Wilson
 Facebook Volunteer - Vera Tauchtaul

I’m sure that you noted that we do not have a Social Director on the list – Joan Lund, who has served as Social Director for quite some time since she stepped into the role on a temporary basis ten or eleven years ago simply found herself too busy, and something had to give. Joan did a great job for us, looking after our refreshments at our regular meetings, and making all of the arrangements for our annual Strawberry Socials and Christmas parties – THANK YOU JOAN!!

So……if someone out there would like to volunteer for the Social Director role, or if you have any suggestions, please let me know. Joan picked a good time to step back, as meeting refreshments, socials and parties just can’t happen right now, but hopefully, we’ll be back to them soon, and we’ll need the help. So, please give it some thought.

One item at our AGM that I was particularly pleased about, was Karen Dance’s report on Membership. We have obviously been receiving significant numbers of membership renewals, mostly through e-transfers, but also through cheques, and I want to thank you all for your attention to this important piece of our annual efforts. I know that Karen is reviewing the current state of our membership, and she may be getting in touch with some of you as we try to confirm the current roster of members.

The last thing I wanted to mention was that we just submitted our most recent article to the Liberal – “A Rail Link with Toronto”. I noticed it is already in the Liberal’s on-line edition, so keep your eye out for it. At our recent Executive Meeting, we discussed the notion of authoring three or four of these articles as part of our 150th Anniversary efforts in 2023 – perhaps looking at our first Council and Reeve, what life was like 150 years ago, the industries of the day, and perhaps the state of Churches at the time. Stay tuned.

That’s more than enough. See you on the 21st.

President’s Message (January 2022)

Well, here it is – 2022 – a year we all hoped would be much better than 2021 or 2020, and a year that might yet meet those hopeful expectations. Experts are telling us that the Omicron variant could soon be peaking and that new cases and hospitalizations could start moving down. We can only hope that they are right and that with more and more people being vaccinated and boosted, we can start to imagine getting back to some form of normal. I certainly have my fingers crossed – I have a real hope that “some form of normal” will be with us soon.

I do hope that you were all able to enjoy the holidays. I know that, in our case, we found ourselves coping with testing and hoping the results were always negative, and cheering the right result that allowed us to spend quality Christmas and New Year’s time with children and grandchildren.I think we appreciate and value that time more, now, when we can’t assume that we can get together whenever we want.

As usual, the main purpose of this message is to remind you that this coming Monday, January 17th, 2022 at 7:30 PM is our regular meeting time, and that this month, it is also our Annual General Meeting. This is an important meeting, as it provides an opportunity for the Executive of your Society to report on the past years’ activities and for our members to vote on a slate of Directors to manage the affairs of your Society for the coming year. I’m sure no one will be surprised to see that our activities over the past year have been really limited, but that makes it even more important that we ready ourselves for a year to come that will hopefully see the Society begin to transition back into its normal robust and face to face self.

After the reporting and the voting, we will again devote some time to a “Bring and Brag” session, when we will have a chance to present and describe some family treasures that we think our colleagues might enjoy. I know that the “Bring and Brag” session last year went really well. We saw some really interesting material and some of us got some new information about our treasures. This year, I thought I would share a couple of items from my Banff days.

So – please join us for our AGM. Any guests wishing to attend this virtual meeting on Zoom is invited to contact us at r.hillhistsoc at

On another subject that I tend to deal with in each of these messages, I am pleased to see that membership fees for 2022 are coming in, mostly by e-transfer. This is certainly the most convenient way for us to receive these funds (no trips to the bank, in particular), and it must be more convenient for our members, as well. So please keep it up. If you haven’t paid for your 2022 membership yet, please consider doing it through an e-transfer to our account with the TD Bank. You will need our email address – r.hillhistsoc at, and it would be really helpful to include information about the year the dues are for, as well as your address, email address and telephone number – all information that will help us stay in touch.

Thanks for your attention. I do hope to see you there.

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

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

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

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 Tachtaul

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

President’s Message (October 2021)

by Jim Vollmershausen

I’m forever amazed at how fast time slips by. It seems like I just finished a message to you, and here it is, time to write another one. It’s a good thing I enjoy doing them, though I wish I could type faster. My kids laugh at my two-finger style.

The main purpose of this message, as usual, is to remind you about our regular meeting coming up on Monday, October 18th, at 7:30 PM. Kevin Dark has arranged for Richard Fiennes-Clinton to speak to us. Richard has been involved in Toronto’s heritage community for about 30 years and will be speaking to us about Victorian mourning practices – an appropriate topic for October. Anyone wishing to attend this virtual meeting on Zoom is invited to contact us at r.hillhistsoc at

During our last Executive Meeting, we learned a bit about the planning that is going into the renewal of Mill Pond Park, and that the City had launched a consultation process to gather comments and suggestions about the future of the park. I know that this park is highly valued by Society members, and I thought that you might want to weigh in on this planning process. The current stage of this process closes on Friday, Oct. 15th, so I would encourage you to visit Richmond Hill’s Website and find the material on the Mill Pond Park Renewal Project. This material will point you to a presentation and a survey that they will ask you to fill out.

In my last message, I asked you to consider paying your 2022 dues soon, so that, early in the new year, we will be able to sit down and create a comprehensive membership roster after a confusing couple of years. I know that there was some trouble with the e-transfer process at our bank, but Karen Dance and I went there last week and we think we got it straightened out. So keep trying the e-transfer process, using the Society’s email address: r.hillhistsoc at If you prefer to pay by cheque, you can simply make it payable to the Richmond Hill Historical Society and send the cheque to Karen Dance at 52 Roseview Ave., Richmond Hill, Ont., L4C 1C7. As a reminder, the fees are $25.00 for a single membership and $40.00 for a family.

Finally, we began thinking about getting our Newsletter up and running again at our last Executive Meeting, and Peter Wilson, our volunteer editor, will be looking for items of interest. One suggestion was to renew our effort to recount our personal stories about coping with the pandemic. A few of us did this in our last Newsletter. So if you are interested in sharing any of your “coping” stories, please send something to myself or Peter (at rhhsnewsletter at, and we’ll see that it makes it into the Newsletter. If there is anything else you think Society members might be interested in, pass that along, as well.

That’s it for now. I’ll send you a reminder about the meeting a day or so in advance.

Thanks for your attention.


President’s Message (September 2021)

As promised, this is a note to remind you about our upcoming regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 29th, 2021, at 7:30 PM. This is our first meeting since June, and as much as I would have preferred an in-person meeting, our view is that it’s just not time for that yet. We’ll keep you posted about the possibility of in-person meetings, but, in the meantime, I think we’ve learned that Zoom meetings work. We’ve been able to continue to arrange for interesting speakers, and the meeting on Sept. 20th is no exception. Our Programming Director, Kevin Dark, has arranged to have Mr. Wayne Morgan, President of Community Heritage Ontario, speak to us about “Heritage Conservation in York Region – A Personal Journey.” Anyone guests wishing to attend this virtual meeting on Zoom is invited to contact us at r.hillhistsoc at

In my last message, I also referenced the Fall 2021 Richmond Hill Speakers Series. They have a series of 6 excellent speakers lined up beginning with Nina Munteanu on September 23rd, who will be speaking about “….water and what it means to us.” I’d like to encourage you to check the Speaker Series out. You can find more information at Fall 2021 Richmond Hill Speaker Series: OnRichmondHill.

I’m reluctant to raise the issue of Membership dues, but it has been a confusing issue as we’ve been trying to cope with the restrictions Covid-19 has placed on our ability to conduct normal business. As I noted above, I’m pleased that we have been able to take advantage of Zoom technology (many thanks, Marj) to keep our meetings going, even if we have to forgo the pleasures of mingling and refreshments. I also have to note, though, that most of our expenses continue: honoraria for speakers, insurance, P.O. Box rental, website costs, and more. Thankfully, the church has been very helpful by letting us off the hook for rent. We do need Membership revenues, though to keep us going.

It will be really important, then, if members could arrange to pay their 2022 dues, starting now. We’re hoping that, by Jan. 1, 2022, the bulk of our memberships will be up-to-date and we can prepare a new and current membership roster. Just to remind you, our fees have not changed. A single membership is $25.00 and a family membership is $40.00. Payment can be by cash, though we’re not expecting that to happen until we can finally meet face-to-face. Until then, of course you can pay by cheque, and the easiest way is to make the cheque payable to the Richmond Hill Historical Society (see or Membership page). Finally, you can pay by e-transfer directly to our account with TD Bank. You will need our email address to do this – r.hillhistsoc at I know that many of you successfully did this for your 2021 fees.

Finally, I mentioned in my last message that we’re beginning to think about projects that we can undertake to help Richmond Hill celebrate its 150th anniversary. Two projects that I can tell you a bit about are, first – the collection of all of our Liberal articles over the last few years into one digital archive which we would make available through our website and perhaps other digital locations. We are also looking into a series of similar articles that were published some years ago, as well as wondering how we could make a series of seniors’ interviews conducted by Bert Hunt a few years ago more readily available. Secondly, we’ve begun to explore the notion of a Heritage Summit in 2023 that would bring heritage supporters, developers, planners and other officials, homeowners and interested citizens together for a day to discuss the state of heritage resources in Richmond Hill.

We’ll keep you posted on these projects and others that may arise as more planning takes place. As I mentioned in my last message, any thoughts you might have about this celebration would be appreciated.

That’s more than enough for now. I’ll send out a reminder about the Sept. 20th meeting a day in advance.

I hope to see you there.

Many thanks