masthead image

Spence

History

Town site photo

The schoolhouse

©Copyright: Yvan Charbonneau

Spence was located about 10 kilometres north of Dufferin Bridge on the Old Nipissing Road. It was a long sprawling community that stretched for about one kilometre between the two crossroads of Ahmic Lake and the former Ryerson Roads.

Spence started out as a tiny farming community surrounded by relatively infertile soil. The majority of the population were immigrants from Germany and the British Iles, who had been duped by the usual hype of free land and rich agricultural resources. Nevertheless, the settlers struggled on.

By the early 1870's, Henry Clifford had opened a general store and William Cameron, a hotel. In 1872, William Ashdown opened a post office and the popular hotel was renamed Simpson's Hotel and run for many years by Sevitt Simpson. As the population grew to 150, Spence expanded to include a second store, blacksmith shop, two sawmills, a church and school. The community also included a miller, three carpenters and a few labourers.

By the time the 20th century rolled around, most of farming community had migrated westward to the Canadian prairies leaving Spence to die. Today, all that remains is the Orange Hall, the schoolhouse, a few shells and cellar holes. The hotel enjoyed a luckier fate. It was moved and remains preserved in Huntsville's Pioneer Village.