Visiting Greystones Inn, Orangeville, Ontario: stone structure dating from circa 1850, supposedly haunted!
Tangible solidity from a somewhat nebulous human past
There is a slight shroud of mystery surrounding this building's early history. Located in Orangeville, Ontario, the seat of Dufferin County, the building is assumed to be the town's oldest. Some sources give 1852 as the year it was built. Others give 1850. (It would seem, in any case, that '1850s' or 'circa 1850' would be fairly accurate.)
And then there is the matter of persistent rumours of the building being supposedly haunted. As a disbeliever in such things, there is nevertheless such a thing as the more nebulous sense of historical presence. A First Nations woman known as Red Feather is supposed to have met her demise in the building — by her own hand, so the story goes — and this event is supposed to be linked with unexplained phenomena which are reckoned to have occurred at the Inn from time to time (1). Evidence of unseen powers? Stories that are good for business? Readers will surely hold a wide variety of views.
Interestingly, the known first residents of the building are recorded as having made the transition into a sturdy stone structure from a log cabin, when they moved in during the 1850s.
Although built into the Victorian period, the building dates from sufficiently early enough into this period for a generally Georgian appearance to be reflected.
In recent times the property has not had a business based there, so although technically it was recently not operating as an 'inn' in any shape or form, yet the name Greystones Inn seems to have stuck. It is interesting that in its early years the property was known as 'Greystones Inn'; then later in the 19th century it became known as 'Graham's Tavern'; but subsequently the old name was reverted to. (It will be interesting to see if the name changes again in the future!)
Greystones Inn is located at 63 Broadway, Orangeville.
NB: A note also about the name of the town. In the 19th century, there was a sizable number of settlers from Ulster who came to live in the Orangeville area. So: maybe Orangeville was named for the Orange Order, strong in the north of Ireland and once the largest private association in Upper Canada? Actually, no: the area's first postmaster was a man by the name of Orange Lawrence (recorded as having operated Greystones Inn for a while)(2), from Connecticut! and so local people agreed it would be appropriate to call the town by this name. This apparently did not stop Ulster people from heading to Orangeville to settle there!
Interestingly, the original keepers of Greystones Inn are known also to have come from Ireland.
August 15, 2015
(1) See also: https://dufferincountyrealestateguide.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/day-334-of-365-greystones-inn/
(2) Incidentally, Orange Lawrence, b. 1796, committed suicide in 1861. To complete the picture, so to speak, the following genealogical site supplies a rather poignant photo of Orange Lawrence in later life, with a somewhat pallid, even eerie, physiognomy: http://www.geni.com/people/Orange-Lawrence/6000000011198110820
A heritage walking tour of Orangeville may be accessed at: http://www.orangeville.ca/get-file/370
Also worth seeing
In Orangeville itself, significant sights include the town hall, dating from 1875, with a conspicuous cupola; several buildings along Broadway are of architectural note.
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 Orangeville : approx. 56 kilometres.) Please check with the airline, your travel agent, or transportation company for relevant up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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