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Peepabun

History

Town site photo

The South Luther Cemetery

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

Peepabun was a tiny little postal hamlet that came to life during the 1860s. Its extraordinary name was Ojibwa in origin and likely derived from the word "bidabun" which translates into "Dawn of Day." Much ado was made about the fact that there are no other communities in Dufferin County with native names. It's also been speculated the name may have originated from the writings of the Reverend Thomas Hurlburt, a Methodist missionary, who both wrote and spoke Ojibwa, and was active in the Owen Sound area. Whatever the case, Peepabun was actually part of Wellington County when the post office was first named.

Peepabun officially got its start in 1867 when 25-year old Robert Dickson opened a post office in his home on Lot 22, Concession 3. The post office would have been very welcome in the area. Settlers had begun arriving as early as the 1850s and there were few post offices in the vicinity. Little is known about Dickson's early mail route. Typically postmasters had a set route and travelled either on foot or by horseback if the roads permitted. Mail deliveries took place twice a week.

By 1852 an early log school was built on Thomas Crane's farm, located on Lot 18, Concession 3. Since the school was the only official building in the area, it was used for a variety of other purposes such as a church, a voting hall and for public gatherings. Charles Morris was the first teacher.

A cemetery was established in 1861. It was located on a half acre of farm land from the southwest corner of Lot 21, Concession 3, donated by William Simpson. Simpson had been one of the first two pioneers who arrived in the area in 1856, when it was still untamed bush. Sadly the first burial that took place was that of an infant - three-month old George Todd, grandson of George Todd, who later served as the first reeve of the township.

Within a few short years, the cemetery was followed by new church. The Luther Mission, which was part of the Presbyterian Church, began holding prayer meetings in a number of homes around 1865. Todd, who had been an elder in the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, was a natural leader who spearheaded the effort to establish a house of worship. An additional piece of land adjacent to the cemetery was purchased from Simpson for $10 and a medium size frame church was erected in 1869.

The Ebenezer church was built at a cost of $600 and capable of holding 250 people. Contributions at the opening service were so generous that only $76 was left owing on the church debt. The first trustees were George Todd, William Newson, John Richard and John Nairn, with Reverend D.D. McLellan serving as the first minister. The cemetery, although attached to the church, was a community cemetery and remained non-denominational.

By 1882 it was finally time to retire the old log school house. During the previous year a half acre of land had been purchased from William Newson. A new red brick school, USS No. 2, East and West Luther, was constructed on the new lot just down the road from the old school. The school later became known as the "Newson School." During the first year, enrolment stood at around 65. On the opening day, teacher Charles Morris walked at the head of the line ringing the school bell, as he led his students to the new school.

Peepabun never had much in the way of commercial services or businesses. It was primarily a rural farming area. By 1884 mail was coming in and going out daily. The population was listed as being in the range of 50 to 100. By 1888 there was twice-weekly stage service to Grand Valley. D. McDonald also operated a sawmill for a brief period. In 1892 James Newson opened a general store. There were several people in the area with justice of the peace appointments. They included Robert Dickson, John Hay, James Park and Andrew Richardson. Dickson was the only postmaster to ever serve the community of Peepabun. The post office finally closed in 1912.

The schoolhouse continued to see many improvements over the years. These included a brick porch, wire fence and woodshed. The school grounds were enlarged in 1926 following the purchase of an additional half acre of land from Henry Newson. Other improvements included a library in 1936, new ceiling in 1938, drilled well in 1943 and a new floor in 1945. The grounds were further enlarged in 1946 and hydro was installed. Upgrades in 1956 included new washrooms and a water pressure system, a new cloakroom and new porch. In early 1965 the school was closed due to centralization of the school system. The building and lands were purchased by the South Luther Community Club and remain in use to this day as a local community centre. The Ebenezer church was the focal point of the community for many years. In 1906 the building was redecorated, with a new ceiling and new pews. Later on an organ was added. Church activities included regular Sunday school, annual Christmas concerts and annual garden parties. Hydro was installed in 1950.

In 1961 the church was closed due to redistribution of the charges. The church building was not as fortunate as the school. It remained standing until 1967 when it was demolished. The cemetery was used very little after 1920 and was eventually reclassified as "abandoned." The last recorded burial took place in 1970 however the grounds continue to be well maintained. Today the area is primarily farmland.