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Town site photo

The Letterkenny Church

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

Letterkenny was another early pioneer settlement that came to life as a result of the government's road colonization program. Located on the sparsely populated Addington Road, near the intersection of the Peterson Road, Letterkenny was a small crossroads hamlet served the needs of the nearby farming community.

In the mid 1850s, the Minister of Agriculture began collecting data to track the progress of their colonization plan. Initially their reports looked promising. By 1856, 27 kilometres of summer road and 62 kilometres of winter road had been opened along the Addington. However by the 1860s, the situation was completely reversed. It was becoming increasingly clear that settlers were abandoning their farms at an alarming rate. Droughts, early frosts and crop failures were the biggest culprits.

Letterkenny's early settlers included the Hartwicks, Kauffeldts, Jessups, Pilgrims and Welks. In 1877, John Gallagher, who had emigrated from Ireland, opened a postal outlet. The community also included a general store run by William Haryett, who originally hailed from nearby Brudenell. During the late 1880s, J. and J. Watson opened saw and flour mills. A small Lutheran Church was built around 1881. Letterkenny was never large and during its best years the population hovered at around 50.

In the 1930s Letterkenny managed to achieve a notoriety of sorts when, according to local folklore, mobster Al Capone was rumoured to have been holed up in a log cabin situated on the Letterkenny road near Quadeville. Whether or not there is any truth to this tale is impossible to say, however the information did appear in a bicycle tour guide endorsed by no less than the Ontario government.

Although a few farms surrounding Letterkenny managed to survive, the community slowly withered away. In 1958, John Gallagher III, at age 67, closed the postal outlet that had been started by his pioneer grandfather over 80 years earlier. The church managed to stay open until 1991. All that survives today are the church, cemetery and a few farms. The lovely little church is well maintained and continues to be used for special occasions.