masthead image

Leadbury

History

Town site photo

The schoolhouse is now a private home.

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

Leadbury was a small farming hamlet that came to life around 1860. It all began when Charles Davis, a native of England, arrived in Canada in 1851. He settled on lot 26, Concession 13, in McKillop Township, where he set up a hotel and store, and named the location "Davis Corners." In 1874, he applied for a post office under the same name. Since there was already another village named Davis Corners in Frontenac County, it's possible his original petition was refused or delayed. Whatever happened, the post office was eventually opened in 1877 under the name of Leadbury, after Davis' hometown in England.

The Leadbury post office was a welcome addition to the area and an instant success. Located on the busy mail route between Seaforth and Brussels, across from the Davis hotel and store, Leadbury boasted 73 regular postal customers by 1879, a huge number for what was essentially a farming area. Mail was picked up and delivered weekly. At the same time, farmers could pick up their provisions at Davis' store and stay in the hotel if they needed overnight respite.

During the mid 1880s, Leadbury boasted a population of about 75. By that time Samuel McGibbon had taken over the general store, postal operation and hotel. Although most of Leadbury's residents listed their occupation as farming, the village also included a carriage maker, Johnston Kinney, several labourers and a blacksmith, William Bray. Edward McNamara took over the hotel around 1886.

A school had been established as early as 1863. The original school was a simple log building with few extras. A fence and well were added in 1876. Members of the New Connexion Methodist Church also used the building to hold regular Sunday services from 1870 to 1874. In 1873 a new church was built on Lot 20, Concession 14, about halfway between Leadbury and Walton, at a cost of around $2000.

Leadbury saw a number of changes in the early part of the 20th century. The Methodist congregation had purchased a parcel of land in Grey Township in 1884. In 1904, some twenty years later, they finally moved the church to its new location. In 1907, the original log school, S.S. #7, was sold to Thomas Archibald and moved off the property. A new brick school was erected that same year, at a cost of $2,082.

Leadbury, like many similar farming hamlets, began its slow descent to oblivion during the early part of the 1900s. Following the arrival of rural mail in 1913, the store lost its usefulness. The schoolhouse still stands and is now used as a private home. The Methodist Church, which had been relocated to Grey Township, became part of the United Church in 1925. The congregations merged and the church was closed. For a time the building was used as an Orange Hall. In 1938, it was on the move again, this time to Walton, where it found new use as a community hall. It continues to serve as the Walton Community Hall to this very day.