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Ruskview

History

Town site photo

The former general store and post office

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

Ruskview began as one of those curious little misplaced postal hamlets that pop up now and again. The area was first settled back in 1848 following the arrival of Joseph Lennox. Over time a small service centre grew up around the Lennox property. Other important settlers included the Rusks and the Newells.

In 1868, with the opening of Henry Allen's post office, the small community became known as Black Bank. The origins of Black Bank's name are somewhat unique - to say the least.

As the story is told - postmaster, Henry Allen, who lived on the John Newell's farm, had a friend who was related to Henry Graham, the storekeeper in nearby Banda. Graham, who was reputed to have an odd sense of humour, completed the post office application for Allen and when he got to the section asking for the name of the community, filled in "Black Bank." Black Bank was the name of a place in Graham's native Ireland that both men detested. Allen, who did not share Graham's penchant for humour, was less than pleased with the situation but let it pass figuring he could change the name afterwards. It never happened and to this day Black Bank still appears on the Dufferin County maps.

In 1870, John Newell took over as postmaster from Allen. His teenage son Seymour trudged back and forth, either on foot or by horseback, carrying mail between Honeywood and Black Bank. Newell served his community well but after 10 years as Black Bank's postmaster, he wanted out.

In 1880, Newell sold off about an acre of his farm to Robert Reid, who opened a blacksmith shop and a store with an attached home for his family. Then Newell began hunting for a buyer for the post office. That proved to be a little more difficult because no one wanted it. Finally in 1881 he found a purchaser - Mr. Henry Heitman from Collingwood.

Heitman had recently purchased a half acre of land and opened a store in a small town known locally as "Britannia." Britannia, which was located about 1 1/2 concessions west of Black Bank, was a thriving little community for its time that boasted a church, Orange Hall and grist mill.

Heitman was eager to move the post office to his new store, but there was one snag. There was already a Britannia PO in Peel County so he couldn't use the name Brittania. He was left with two choices. He could either find a new name or take the name "Black Bank" along with him. Thus Britannia in Dufferin County was renamed Black Bank and the former community of Black Bank was left without a name and without a post office.

Residents in the now nameless community were furious at this turn of events. Understandably, they were also less than happy with the quality of their mail service. According to one story, the mail bags were simply dumped in a hollowed out tree stump. The residents petitioned the government for a new post office and finally got one in Robert Reid's store in 1883. The new post office was given the name Ruskview in honour of William Rusk, an early settler who owned the farm directly across from the post office and store.

Around 1875 a school, SS No. 7, was moved to the community from Lot 31. The location of this early school is unclear. A new brick school, SS No 22 was eventually built on an acre of land purchased from the Rusk family. The two school sections were joined and both named SS No. 7. Attendance stood at around 100.

In the early days, Ruskview had no businesses other than the store and the blacksmith. Around 1898, Larkin & McCreedy opened a lumberyard and E. Shuttleworth opened a sawmill. Residents included George Smeal, a miller, who likely worked at the grist mill in Black Bank. Village smithys included Robert Rinn and George Withill. Other postmasters included Thomas Farley, Sarah Beatty and finally, Mrs. E. Rusk.

Ruskview never had a church. In the early days church services were held in the schoolhouse. In 1889, a new Methodist church (later United) opened in nearby Terra Nova. The church lasted until the mid 1960s. An Orange Hall was located on Lot 29, Concession 3. It was replaced with a newer structure around 1908. The post office lasted until 1916, when it was replaced by rural mail delivery. The school was closed in the mid 1960s, due to centralization of the school system.

Ruskview was always a small place with an average population of around 25. All that remains today is Robert Reid's sturdy general store with the attached dwelling, now used as a private home. A small historical sign serves as a reminder of Ruskview's history. The view overlooking the valley is spectacular and worth seeing any time of the year.