The principal point of
interest in Norfolk County is, or ought to be, the location of the now
extinct town of Charlotteville, or Turkey Point. This was situated on
the high bank overlooking Turkey Point proper. This point projects into
Lake Erie in a south-westerly direction for a little more than five
miles. It is a low-lying peninsula of sandy loam, forming, as it were, a
backbone to the masses of marsh which surround it. This marsh, of reeds,
rushes and quill grass, fills up almost entirely what was formerly a
safe and commodious harbor on the inner side of Turkey Point. Through
the point flows a narrow stream, not more than eight feet wide, called
Indian Creek. Although so narrow and so shallow that the bottom is
easily touched, there is sufficient current to prevent its freezing up
in the winter, and it is the waterway of the sportsmen, who thereby
insert themselves into their favorite coverts.
The immense numbers of
wild turkeys found there a century ago gave the point its designation.
The wild turkeys have, for the most part, disappeared, but wild ducks of
many varieties abound, particularly mallards, black ducks, yellow legs,
red heads, butter balls, the mourning duck, pintans, and canvas-backs.
The point is owned by a private company, who have erected a commodious
club-house thereon, with boat-houses and all conveniences for the
When London district
was separated from the Western district, as has been mentioned in the
chapter on the “County of Norfolk,” and comprised the land that is now
incorporated in the counties of Bruce, Huron, Middlesex, Elgin, Norfolk
and Oxford, the courts of Quarter Sessions were first held in the house
of Lieutenant Munro, as will be detailed in the chapter on his
settlement; but not long afterwards a public-house was built in
Charlotteville by Job Loder, and the early courts were convened there
until a more suitable accommodation could be obtained.
In 1804 a building was
erected to serve the purposes of a courthouse and jail. This was of
frame, two stories high, and twenty-six feet in width by forty feet in
length. The lower story was occupied by the court when in session, with
the exception of a small portion at one
INDIAN CREEK, TURKEY POINT
On each side is the marsh of tall reeds and quill grass.
end partitioned off for
the “district jail.” The upper story was divided into two rooms for the
jurors, but it is said that in the hot days of summer they preferred to
conduct their deliberations under a spreading oak tree close by.
The jail was but seldom
used, for crime was rare in that community and the moral sentiment so
high that locks and bolts were scarcely thought of. There is, however,
in connection with this jail and court house an interesting tradition
which shows that once at least, in Norfolk, the sterner penalties of the
law were dealt out. The writer does not vouch for the correctness of the
narrative. It is said that while Sheriff Major Bostwick was in charge of
the government buildings there, a negro was in confinement awaiting
execution for theft, in those days a capital crime. The negro was
sentenced to be hanged on a certain Thursday, but the sheriff had
friends coming from York in the latter part of the week to visit him and
enjoy the shooting; so the good sheriff, not wishing to be troubled with
an execution after his friends arrived, asked the “ colored gentleman ”
if he would have any objections to be hanged on the preceding Tuesday,
to which the negro replied, “No, no, massa, you’ve been very good to me,
and if you feed me well until Tuesday I’ll be hanged then to oblige
you.” So the necessary ceremonies took place, per agreement, on the
Tuesday, and the sheriff was at liberty to entertain his friends.
In 1812 Fort Norfolk
was built at-Charlotteville, of which nothing but the trenches remain.
This was a stake fort, the walls consisting of a double row of pointed
stakes, the two rows being several feet apart, and the space between
filled in with earth. At the close of the war the fort was abandoned,
and nothing more than the irregular trench marks its location.
Just on the outskirts
of the town a rough frame building was erected in 1813 for a hospital.
This was put up during the cholera epidemic of that year.
As to the other
buildings, it is certain that a rival hotel to Job Loder’s was built on
the shore by a man named Hatch, and still another by Silas Montross. In
the kitchen of Loder’s hotel was held the first meeting of Norfolk
Masons. The branch society was organized in that old tavern. In the same
room was held the first meeting of the adherents of the English Church
to see about securing a glebe lot or reservation, so that their church
might be appropriately and sufficiently endowed. This was secured,
although the church was not built for many years afterwards, until the
Rev. Mr. Evans came to reside among them.
But the town did not
prosper, the chief reason being that it was apart from the main
thoroughfare east and west. Twenty years after its foundation it
contained but one solitary house. To-day it exists no more. A barren
stretch of sand is all that meets the eye. Yet the antiquarian, or the
curio-hunter, or the traveller with the historical mania, can find many
an interesting landmark that tells the story of long ago.
And how many
interesting memories crowd upon one who is familiar with its history !
There is the hill on which was buried the first white man who died in
that district. A hollowed log was the coffin of Frederick Maby, and in
this simple tomb the members of his sorrowing family laid him away. In
the war of 1812 an anxious watch was kept for American foes from the
bastion of old Fort Norfolk. In the courthouse for twelve years, at the
courts of quarter sessions, those old settlers, in Grand and Petit Jury
assembled, tried offenders against the peace of King George. In this
little quadrangle were confined those who from time to time thought
themselves above the law of the new land. Over to the west are the
traces of the old hospital, where works of mercy were no more omitted
than were the requirements of law overlooked.
though the blinding sand has blotted out man and his works; yet the
lives of those who raised these earliest marks of law, religion and pity
for suffering man, have not been without effect. Far from it. They live
in the best blood of Ontario, in our people’s reverence for law, in the
stern unswerving loyalty to the Crown, in the scorn of cant and empty
show, the acts of mercy and benevolence, love of God, faith with man,
courage in war, kindness in peace, purity and goodness and true religion