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Town site photo

The Mount Hope Methodist Church

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

In the mid 1850s waves of Scottish settlers, attracted by offers of cheap or free land, arrived to build new and potentially more prosperous lives in the vast Canadian wilderness. Rugged and hardworking, they quickly established farms, constructed mills, opened small businesses and built little hamlets to service their needs.

Epping was one of many tiny crossroads hamlets but it was certainly one of more attractive spots to set up shop. Sitting on top of a hill, overlooking the Beaver Valley with its lushly fertile lands, the view from above was a patchwork of highly picturesque colours.

Epping had the distinction of being the first community in Grey County to establish a post office. The post office was set up in postmaster John Benson's home in 1858. Benson's original route ran from Meaford to Epping. Later on it was expanded to include Flesherton. The round trip journey took two days on horseback.

A school S.S. No. 7, Euphrasia was established some time before 1864. The original school was a frame building, designed to accommodate an average of 25 students and equipped with maps. Susan Johnston was the teacher in 1864. The village also included a small frame Wesleyan Methodist church.

By the late 1860s, the post office had moved to James Marshall's store. The village also included a shoemaker, S. Piper. Epping's population was listed at around 50. Farming was the principal occupation in the area where farmland was priced from $20 to $30 per acre.

By the mid 1880s Epping had gained an Anglican church. Not to feel left out, the old frame Methodist church was replaced with a handsome new brick structure in 1887. There were also a number of new tradesmen that included two carpenters, George Armstrong and James Clayson and a mason, James Trickey. Matthewson and Wyvill provided blacksmith services. Thomas Jordan, who had taken over the post office in 1876, turned the store and postal duties over to his wife, Selena. Robert Gilray was the local Justice of Peace.

With the approach of the 20th century, the era of the crossroads hamlet was drawing to a close. Epping was never large and its average population hovered at around 50. Increasingly as roads improved and transportation became easier, the larger communities were better able to accommodate the needs of the still largely rural population and small places like Epping slowly began to wither away and die. The post office shut down in 1921. Today, all that remains is the Mount Hope Methodist Church, which was shut down and boarded up many years ago. The remainder of the area is largely farmland.