masthead image

Campania

History

Town site photo

The former United Church

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

Campania was a tiny village located in Amaranth Township in Dufferin County. The township was settled from 1845-65 when it was part of Wellington County. By the time Dufferin County was formed in 1980, Amaranth was already well-established as a prosperous farming area. The land was flat and extremely arable.

Campania became an official community when John Davis opened a post office in February 1894. Mail was picked up three times weekly from Crombie's Station. It is said that Campania's unusual name, Italian in origin, was chosen by Mrs. Davis, who had been duly inspired by the book The Last Days of Pompeii.

During the early days Campania boasted all the major institutions. The Campania Orange Lodge No. 433 was issued a warrant in 1902. In November of that same year a meeting took place at the Bowes schoolhouse, located on Concession 9, where the members agreed to pay rental fees of $6 per year for use of the building. Original members included George and William Bennett, Archibald and Harold Bowes, Robert McConachie and James Miller. By 1905 the schoolhouse had closed. The building was purchased by the lodge and moved one concession east on to a lot donated by John Lang Sr. at a cost of $50. Lang also served as Campania's postmaster from 1901 to 1912.

Campania's businesses were all farm-based and included a sawmill, run by William Bishop and later Thomas Morrison, a blacksmith, Joseph Rayfield and apiaries, run by James Bowes. By the early 1900s, the population was listed at around 50.

In 1901 the Reverends E.J. Adams and John Coulter held an open air meeting to determine whether there was interest in establishing a Methodist church. The turnout was such a success that it was decided to erect a church as soon as possible. The church was built on 3/4 of an acre of land donated by a Mr. Finlay and was constructed solely with materials and labour donated by the surrounding community. The church was finally completed in 1902. As a result of the enthusiastic involvement of everyone, the church not only opened debt free, it actually had a surplus balance. In 1925 it became part of the United Church under the Camilla charge.

By 1912 a Ladies Aid Society was formed at the church. However on the downside, things were definitely beginning to slide in Campania. The post office closed in 1912 following the arrival of rural mail delivery. Membership in the Orange Lodge, which stood at 83 in 1915, began to fall off largely as result of general migration to the western provinces. The lodge amalgamated with the Shelburne lodge in 1945. The old lodge building was purchased by the Women's Institute in 1947.

The Campania United Church was closed in 1960. Sometime after that the old lodge burned. With the church building now available and the Women's Institute in need of a new home, they were able to purchase the former church for $1. The old church is now privately owned and used for storage. Other than a few surrounding rural and farm homes, there is little else left of Campania.