Visiting Beaverton, Ontario: a quiet town's gracious, civic architecture

Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
The former Town Hall, Beaverton, dating from 1910/11
The former Town Hall, Beaverton, dating from 1910/11 | Source
Beaverton's Public Library, dating from 1912
Beaverton's Public Library, dating from 1912 | Source
Map location of Brock Township in Ontario's Durham region.
Map location of Brock Township in Ontario's Durham region. | Source

Echoes of a well established community prior to World War One

Close to Lake Simcoe, the quiet town of Beaverton, in the Durham region of Ontario, is distinguished in its Downtown area by some gracious civil architecture, now a century old.

The former Town Hall

This sedate building on Simcoe Street, with its domed tower, was completed in 1911. Its architects were J. Harvey Self and W. Fletcher Shepherd of Toronto. The building served as Beaverton's Town Hall for many years. Subsequently, Beaverton was incorporated into Brock Township, of which it is the largest community. This building is now used by various local voluntary groups.

Interestingly, the foundation stone of the former Town Hall was laid by Elizabeth Turner McTaggart, who was born in 1828 in Thorah Township, noted for having been the first female child born to settlers.

The former Town Hall has been designated under the Ontario Heritage Act as being of architectural and historical interest.

Beaverton Public Library

This noted building, commenced in 1911 and completed the following year, was made possible by the Carnegie Foundation of New York. The architect was W. E. Binning, who presented plans based on earlier designs for another library; these plans were largely adopted, although the addition of an originally proposed tower was in the event not proceeded with.

A library in Beaverton was in existence by 1853, and it was thus as a local institution with firmly established roots that its board became involved in the successful funding negotiations with the Carnegie Foundation.

Restored and refurbished in recent years, the building is distinguished by its continuing use, a century on, for the purpose for which it was built.

Like the adjacent, former Town Hall, Beaverton's Public Library, also on Simcoe Street, has been designated as being of architectural and historical interest under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Also worth seeing

In Beaverton itself, the Alexander Muir Park , adjacent to the Library and former Town Hall, honours the author of The Maple Leaf Forever , commemorated by a plaque, who served as Principal of the Beaverton Public School from 1876 to 1879. The Old Stone Jail and the Beaver River Museum , sponsored by the Beaverton, Thorah and Eldon Historical Society, are worth a visit. Beaverton Harbour on Lake Simcoe has a picturesque setting.

Orillia (distance: 38.5 kilometres) has a picturesque setting on Lakes Simcoe and Couchicing. It has some interersting structures, including the Samuel de Champlain monument by Vernon March (who also designed Canada's National War Memorial in Ottawa), commemorating the 17th century explorer, who visited the area. Orillia is also noted for its Stephen Leacock Museum , a National Historic Site.

Leaskdale (distance: 29.1 kilometres) was for many years the home of writer Lucy Maud Montgomery, where many of her books were written; her former residence is now the Leaskdale Manse Museum.

Uxbridge (distance: 46.9 kilometres) has the intriguing Thomas Foster Memorial Temple , a mausoleum for a former mayor of Toronto, based on the Taj Mahal , built 1935-36.

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How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson Airport to Beaverton: approx. 120.3 kilometres). Beaverton is also served by a GO Bus route. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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