The Twentieth Century - Part 2

Aultsville remained active in the political spotlight during the twenties and thirties when a number of local area residents rose to prominent positions. These included J.P. Whitney, a former Ontario premier, W. Edgar Raney, an attorney general in the early twenties and storekeeper Frank T. Shaver, who served as a Conservative MP during the 1930's.

Until 1934, when the International Bridge at Cornwall was opened, Aultsville was a busy port town, with a passenger ferry operating during the summer between Aultsville and Louisville Landing, N.Y. The ferry service was eventually expanded to include vehicles. Early boats could only manage three cars but in time the vessels grew to the point where they could transport 16 to 18 vehicles per trip. During the American prohibition years, there was a nasty rumour floating around that more than people and cars were being ferried across. In face of this seemingly plausable tale, it seemed ironic when, in 1934, the good citizens of Aultsville voted by a majority of more than two to one to go dry. In actuality liquor sales had stopped in 1903 by local option.

Frank ShaverFrank Shaver

Aultsville's grist mill was a updated incarnation of the McGillis Brothers' mill in Moulinette. After the McGillis Brothers passed on in the late 1920's, their mill was purchased by the Snetsingers, disassembled and rebuilt in Aultsville. In addition to the grinding mechanisms, the mill included storage and office space. Since it was depression time, the mill didn't operate on a regular basis. Farmers would have to bring in their grain and pay to have it custom ground. The mill was run for a time by the Snetsingers, then sold to Wilbur Crites and later to Jarvis and Shaver who used it for egg-grading. Frank Shaver's brother Charlie and his sons operated the mill until it was sold to the cheese factory where it was used for storage.

The mainstay of all Aultsville's industries during the 1930's and 40's was the Edwards Cheese Factory, owned by William (Bill) A. Edwards and located in the original Croils and McCullough cheese factory. In the early days farmers often separated their cream on site, delivering both their cream and milk directly to the factory. The cream was refrigerated in a large ice-house using ice that was cut from the St. Lawrence during the winter and buried in sawdust. Stored in this manner, the ice would last right up until the fall. In later years an ammonia refrigeration plant was added and the company purchased a fleet of trucks so they could pick up the milk directly from the farms.

Although Edwards himself, who at one point was reputed to have owned up to five factories, was regarded as a superb cheese manufacturer, he had the misfortune to become severely disabled by Parkinson's Disease in his later years. Two of his sons, Marshall and Malcolm (Mac), operated the Aultsville plant. Two other sons, Charles and Jack, operated plants located at Gallingertown and Riverside. A dozen people were employed at the Aultsville plant, which was later purchased by Borden's Dairies.

One of Aultsville's most beloved citizens was Dr. Edwin Brown, who practiced medicine in Aultsville for over 50 years. Originally from nearby Chesterville, Dr. Brown, affectionately known as 'Doc', arrived in Aultsville as a young man in 1901 and practiced until 1957 when he finally retired at the age of 77. Dr. Brown also attended to locals across the river on the American side, frequently crossing the river on ice during the winter. He was honoured by more than 1000 area residents in 1947 and lived until 1964.

Although Aultsville had once been described as the most important of all the riverside villages, its growth and real-estate values, like that of its neighbours, had been stifled by the shadow of the Seaway. By the 1950's, all that remained of Aultsville's early industries were the cheese factory, a nearby poultry farm, a sash and door factory, an automobile dealership and the eight-room Anchor Bay Lodge. Its population of about 400 residents had remained virtually unchanged for almost a century.

At the time of inundation, there were three churches, Anglican, Presbyterian and United, an elementary school and high school, four general stores, a grocery store, two service stations, a barber shop and a part-time bank, that was open two days during the week. There was also a village park overlooking the river and a volunteer fire department. The home where Nicholas N. Ault entertained so many members of the militia remained occupied by his descendants up to the time of flooding.

The last train, bound for Toronto, rumbled through Aultsville's stately old station on July 20, 1957. Lockewood Wilson Prunner closed the post office in September of that same year. Things didn't go quite so smoothly for Aultsville's 144 students. After construction on the new school in Ingleside was delayed, the students were stuffed into the old Aultsville schoolhouse that was only designed to accommodate 35. The school board was forced to rent two unheated rooms in a vacant house until the new school was completed.

Many of Aultsville's attractive brick homes were moved to the new village of Ingleside, including that of Walker Evans, which can be found at the corner of Maple and Farren. Art Dafoe's family continued to operate his business as a hardware store in Ingleside for several years. The Presbyterian churches at Woodlands, Farran's Point and Aultsville combined and relocated to Ingleside under the name of St. Matthew's.

The old Aultsville Road now ends at the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary, where visitors can find an historical marker honouring Michael Cook, the farmer who imported the first Holstein cattle to Canada. Cook's home was moved to Upper Canada Village and renamed the 'doctor's house'. Portions of Aultsville remain above the flood line and small remnants of sidewalks and foundations can be found near the shores when the water levels are low. The area is popular for divers, particularly the spot around the factory dump where the water is quite shallow.

In addition to Michael Cook's home, several more of Aultsville's buildings were renamed and moved to Upper Canada Village. These included the Loucks Farm, Cook's Tavern, and the 'Blue House', which is used by park staff. The 'Kirkwood Barn', now used as the transportation museum, came from the Kirkwood Farm just west of Aultsville. Aultsville's railway station was partially restored and now sits in Crysler Park just west of Upper Canada Village with an 1880's locomotive parked alongside it.