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Mohr's Corners

History

Town site photo

Old foundation

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

Road travel in the mid nineteenth century could best be described as crude. At its worst, it was horrible. In those early days, what passed for roads were often nothing more than narrow, swampy, log-strewn trails where horses' feet would frequently become entangled in the dense foliage Winter travel was even more difficult since the roads were simply not usable unless the snow was hard and densely packed. Accidents were frequent and stagecoaches could rarely travel more than a few kilometres per day.

As stage travel became more commonplace, small outpost communities grew up around the inns and hotels. Mohr's Corners began as a small stopover community that offered welcome respite to the many exhausted and injured travellers who dared to make a difficult stagecoach journey from one point to another.

Mohr's Corners had its beginnings in 1853 when William Halfpenny opened a post office known as Hubbell's Falls, in what is now present-day Galetta. Hubbell's Falls was first settled around 1830 by E. Hubbell and later built up by his son, James. The following year, the post office was taken over by James Riddell and moved about two kilometres south to his home known as Castlebar in Mohr's Corners. Although the post office name "Hubbell's Falls" was retained for another 20 years, the village in fact became known as Riddell's Corners and alternately, Mohr's Corners. Although Galetta eventually grew to eclipse Mohr's Corners, the two villages shared many services during their early years.

Charles Mohr was the son of a Prussian immigrant, who had been well established in the Ottawa Valley. He was both a lumber merchant and the owner of the Fitzroy Hotel, which was probably opened in the early 1850s. Richard Montforte opened a second hotel in 1862 between Mohr's Corners and Galetta. James Ritchie, a land surveyor who was employed by Mohr, laid out a small town plot in 1852 and Mohr's Corners was officially born. Other early settlers included the Forbes and Riddell families.

The year 1855 was an important year in Mohr's Corners' history. The first Mohr's Corners school, S.S. #6 Fitzroy, the second school to be established in the township, was proudly opened, with Miss Clarke as the first teacher. The original schoolhouse was a log building, built by Mr. Forbes, and designed to accommodate about 50 pupils. It was shared with students from nearby Galetta. That same year Archibald Riddell sold a plot of land to Fitzroy Township to construct a township hall. The small board and batten building, erected at a cost of $100, was used for council meetings until 1967, at a cost of less than a dollar per year. In 1856 a group of 11 pioneers met in James Riddell's home in order to establish the Fitzroy Agricultural Society. James Hubbell from Hubbell's Falls was elected as the first president. This group would go on to play in important role in Mohr's Corners for many years.

By the mid 1860s Mohr's Corners was booming. A Wesleyan Methodist church was added in 1860. School was being taught by Richard Foster, who lived on Lot 17. The community boasted two stores owned by Wilson Blair and Thomas Somerville, and a cooperage owned by Alexander Shields. The Fitzroy Hotel was advertising fine liquors and cigars as part of its offerings. The village's population had grown to around 100 and included a number of fine homes, particularly the one belonging to Charles Mohr.

By 1868 the small log schoolhouse was deemed woefully inadequate. There were now 70 to 80 students enrolled in the school and it was bursting at the seams. The township purchased another plot of land from Archibald Riddell and built a brand new brick schoolhouse at a cost of $800. That same year Charles Mohr became involved in politics and was elected deputy-reeve of Fitzroy Township. Mohr went on to enjoy a distinguished career in local politics. He served as warden in 1895 and 1904 and, with the exception of two years, remained on council until his death in 1912.

Confusion erupted in the post office during 1873 when James Riddell stepped down after 20 years as postmaster and handed the reins over to Charles Mohr. The post office was still officially named "Hubbell's Falls" and Mohr sought to remedy that by applying for a name change to "Mohr's Corners." In the meantime the community of Hubbell's Falls, located about two kilometres north, was going through some growing pains of its own. After changing their name to "Steen's Falls" (after a local mill owner) they finally settled on "Galetta" and applied for a separate post office under that name, also in 1873. As a result the post office mistakenly assigned the Mohr's Corners name to Galetta. It took four years for the mix-up to be completely straightened out. Charles Mohr remained as postmaster until the end of 1891, when the post office was closed.

The Fitzroy Agricultural Society, formed way back in 1856, had been holding annual one-day fall fairs in James Riddell's largest field. In those early days, the fairs featured a variety of homemade offerings such as fabrics, horse blankets and baked goods. By 1874, the fairs had grown in size and popularity to the point where the society petitioned the town council for funds to purchase a permanent fairground. Andrew Forbes stepped forward with a donation of 1 1/2 acres on Lot 18, which was deeded to the Fitzroy Agricultural Society. By 1899 the fairs were featuring livestock and poultry competitions, dairy and farm produce, plants and flowers, handicraft and domestic exhibits, harnesses, farm implements and fine arts. The society's board was mainly comprised of residents from Mohr's Corners and Galetta.

Things began to fade for Mohr's Corners in the mid 1870s. Galetta offered an excellent water power site and had easily been able to attract grist, saw and carding mills. As Galetta grew in importance, other businesses began to relocate and Mohr's Corners declined. By the mid 1880s, the population had decreased to about 60 and the Fitzroy Hotel had closed. The Forbes continued to operate a general store until about 1886 and the Mohr family maintained their lumbering interests. William Green, who owned a cooperage, took over the general store in 1888. Mohr shut down the post office in 1891.

In 1903, the township purchased a piece of property from Charles Mohr, in order to build a school garden. A library was added to the school in 1906. The school continued to thrive for many years. Between 1915 and 1919, attendance jumped to around 125. To accommodate the influx, the town hall was temporarily converted to a schoolroom and two additional teachers were hired. Later on, hot lunches were introduced. The church was active as late as 1910 but disappeared before church union in 1925. At the time of his death in 1912, Charles Mohr was president of the Fitzroy Agricultural Society. The fairs were discontinued in 1946 and the buildings and fairground, later sold. The town hall lasted until 1967 when the offices were moved to Kinburn.

Today there is very little left of Mohr's Corners. The schoolhouse has been renovated and is now used as a private dwelling. One other home also remains. A few ruins can be found in the field. Galetta has also declined but for now continues to exist as a small rural community.