The general store©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko
Hawtrey was a small railway community located in southern Ontario. In the late 1800s, when access to a nearby railway could make or break a town, Hawtrey had the enviable advantage of having two railways, one at each end of community.
The boom started in 1870 when the Canada Southern Railway (later MCRR) built a station at the south end of town. A few years later, the Port Dover and Lake Huron Railway laid down tracks (later GTR and CN), and built a station on the north side. Town planning was thrown to the wayside as businesses scrambled to be next to either of the two stations. The end result was a town with commercial centres at each end.
Hawtrey was settled in 1868, when a store and post office were built on the north side of town. After the railways moved in, two hotels and a tavern were quickly established. By the early 1900s, the village had added a couple of blacksmith shops, a gospel hall and town hall. A string of houses lined the roadway between the two stations.
Hawtrey's downfall came with the loss of both railways in the 1920s and 30s. Today little remains from Hawtrey's early days. The general store, closed in 1970s, still stands but is now a private home. Hawtrey continues to support a small number of residents.