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Glencoe & District Historical Society

Preservation of Local Heritage

Glencoe Train Station 1904 Grand Trunk Railroad Station, Glencoe 1904. Glencoe & District Historical Society Archives.
Anglican Church 1929 Methodist (Trinity United) Church (left), St. John's Anglican Church (forground), Methodist "West" Church (right, behind St. John's), Glencoe 1929. Photo collection of Harold Carruthers.

The history of Glencoe and the surrounding area is filled with rich stories that reveal the hearts and indomitable spirit of the early European settlers and aboriginal peoples. Events of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries laid the foundation for the current communities and culture of Southwest Middlesex that we enjoy today.

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Glencoe Train Station

With the construction of the Great Western Railway between Toronto and Windsor in 1853, the village of Glencoe became a regular train stop for immigrants settling in the region.

Records indicate that the first train station was a log structure on the east side of Main Street where the Foodland grocery store is currently located. The rail line between Windsor and Niagara Falls officially opened on January 17, 1854. The first official train order for the village of Glencoe was requested by station master Alexander Mackie January 24, 1854.

In 1856 the train station was replaced by a framed building on the west side of Main Street. Around 1873 a newer station was built to meet the needs of the local community and railway growth. The older station was used as a tool shed. In 1900 the Wabash Grand Trunk Railway built a new train station, however it lasted only a year when it was consumed by fire. In 1902 another larger station was built however it burned down in 1904.

Glencoe's sixth train station was built in 1904, and it remained in service for 89 years. The station was a model in every respect, designed to provide every required convenience to the travelling public and the station master. The train station was constructed with Georgian hardwood pine floors, ornate metallic ceilings and walls, comfortable seating, and electric lights. The station offered waiting rooms at each end of the building and separated ticket wickets for men and women. The station agent was located in the centre portion of the building with the baggage room being located on the west end. The exterior of the train station was decorated with corbos to support the large overhanging roof line and an impressive turret was constructed on the east side of the station over the ladies waiting room. The train station was surrounded by a board walk that extended to McRae Street.

The train station continued to operate until the last train order issued on October 31, 1993. The station was then closed and boarded up. The station was already in a deteriorated state and in the following years its condition continued to worsen. Many community members put forth an effort to have the building restored.

The village of Glencoe acquired the building from CN Railway, and with the efforts and dedication of local service organizations and members of the community a beautifully restored station is now open to the public.
Closed Train Station
Closed Train Station, Transcript & Free Press, Dec 1998.

Restored Strain Station
Restored Train Station, Corner of Main St. and McRae, Glencoe Ontario.
(The restored station was moved closer to McRae St., and rotated to face Main St.)

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Glencoe Post Office

The history of mail handling and delivery in the village of Glencoe goes back many years. Several locations in the village were designated post offices between 1869 and 1909 including the following:
In 1909 a magnificent post office was built at the corner of Main and Symes street in the village (at the location of the current post office). The post office was used as a postal station, customs house and armoury. The post office was constructed of red pressed brick, white stone trim and galvanized roof. A clock and bell tower was installed a few years later. The building interior offered ash trim with oak facing, lavatories, electric lights and hot water heating. The estimated cost of the post office was twenty-two thousand dollars.

The post office was demolished in 1965 to allow for the construction of a new building.
Post Office 1944
Post Office 1944, Main St., Glencoe Ontario

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The McAlpine House

For over fifty years the McAlpine House was a landmark hotel in Glencoe Ontario, located on the corner of Main Street and McRae. In 1923 it was one of the oldest buildings in Glencoe. Currently a gas station and the old Fox Theatre are located at the site of this hotel.

Erected by Donald McKellar (who later also built the McKellar Hotel) on Main Street Glencoe in 1870, the main portion of the building was brought from Wardsville. It was first operated by Hugh McKinnon, during which it was called the Augusta House. George Clark acquired the building and changed its name to the Commercial Hotel. On the death of George Clark, the hotel passed to George Dobie, who sold it to P.J. McAlpine in 1882. It was hereafter named the McAlpine House.

In the reminiscences of Mrs Rose Stuart (1874-1964), she remembers the McAlpine House:

“It was first owned by Mr. McKinnon and then sold to Mr. McAlpine and was always known by Glencoe people as the McAlpine House. This was also a place where you could get a good meal. At one time there was a roller skating rink directly behind it, but later it was incorporated into the hotel and made into the dining room. The McAlpine House also had a stable where horses could be had for rent or where you could leave your horse and have it cared for while you were attending to your affairs.”

Mrs. Stuart explains the significance of the hotels in the 1880's:

“Hotels were an important part of the life of a town in a day when travel was a much more difficult and uncomfortable enterprise than it is today. They offered the companionship of their cheerful, bright bars and the delights of home cooking in the dining room.”

Mr. McAlpine operated the hotel for several years until his death. His wife then operated it, and then passed the operation to her son M.J. McAlpine. Following the Ontario Temperance Act, the hotel was sold and changed hands several times, the final owner being Henry Lawrence of Mitchell Ontario.

In the early morning of Saturday February 23, 1923 the hotel and the adjacent building were completely destroyed by fire. It was believed that the fire began outside the kitchen section of the hotel at the west corner. The hotel had several tenants on the ground floor, however the rooms above were vacant. There were no reports of occupants being caught within the blaze. The fire hall was called and responded saving the surrounding buildings, however it was impossible for them to save the hotel or the adjacent shops.
McAlpine House McAlpine House, Glencoe Ontario

McAlpine House 1906 McAlpine House; First building on the left, Glencoe Main St., 1906

McAlpine House 1922 McAlpine House; First building on the left, Glencoe Main St., 1922

1) "Glencoe In The 1880's By Mrs. Rose Stuart", Reprinted in 1986 by the Glencoe & District Historical Society
2) Glencoe Transcript article from Feb 8, 1923.
3) Glencoe & District Historical Society archives and photos.

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What's In A Name?

The origins of place names often become lost or forgotten over time. The origins of place names often tells us much about the history and people of an area. The towns and villages in present day Southwest Middlesex were named in the 1800's and provides us some insights to the history of the area.


Ekfrid Township
Earlier known as C Township
Named for Northumbrian King Ekfrid (Egfrid).

Mosa Township
Earlier known as D Township & Aragon Township. Named by Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from the Spanish name of the river Meuse in Belgium.

Metcalfe Township
Originally part of Adelaide & Ekfrid Townships, Metcalfe Township was created in 1840. Believed to be named for Sir Charles Metcalfe, Governor-General in 1845.


Named by Mr. McKellar, who surveyed the land and subdivided the lots and named the streets. The name Appin was given in remembrance of his home in Scotland.

Canton (Cashmere)
Singleton Gardiner was born in the village Canton in Armagh, Ireland. In 1825 he purchased 100 acres and established an inn, gristmill, and sawmill in Mosa Township south of Longwoods Road on the Thames River. A community formed around his enterprises. In 1856 the village was surveyed and named Canton.

In 1857 a post office opened and was named Cashmere, apparently because there was another Canton post office in Ontario. It remains unknown why the name Cashmere was chosen, but the village became known by the new name.

In 1876 the village experienced a devastating flood and the lands reverted to farmland.

In 1853 the village was named Dundonald by two land owners, John Duncanson and Angus Peter McDonald.

In 1856 the name was changed to Glencoe, named after the village in the highlands of Scotland.

This area was first settled by Scottish Highlanders. Alexander McIntyre was an early settler and in 1835 land was aquired from him for the church and cemetary. The village that formed was named after his former home in Argyllshire Scotland (today Strathclyde).

Located North of the village of Appin on County Road 8, the community of Macksville was named after two residing families: McAlpine and McIntyre.

A small community formed on Longwoods Road. In 1833 a log church was made, and in 1834 a local neighbourhood school. In 1872 the Mayfair Post Office was opened, likely named after an area in London England.

In 1837 the first post office was opened in Ekfrid Township, and it was named Ekfried (different spelling than the township). In 1845 the settled area near the post office was called Ekfrid Village. In 1857 the Post Master General changed the name of the post office to Longwood.

In 1858 the village was named Melbourn. There is no record why this name was chosen, but it is assumed it is named after William Lamb, Second Viscount Melbourne (Prime Minister of Great Britain 1834-1841).

In 1881 the Post Master General changed the name of the post office to Wendigo.

In 1887 both the post office and the village were named Melbourne (note the change in spelling).

With prospects of a railway line passing through the property, George Middlemiss purchased a parcel of land on the Ekfrid peninsula in 1870. In 1872 the new railway ran adjacent to George Middlemiss's grist and saw mills. The settlement was registered as a village in 1876.

In 1851 the Grand Trunk Railway was built and Wards Station began as a community.

In 1854 a post office was established and the village was renamed Newbury, after a village in Berkshire England.

In 1829 Patten Atwood arrived in the area and in 1834 built two mills. The Coulthard family took over the business in 1839 and expanded it with additional mills. In 1852 the Strathburn Post Office opened, possibly named after the first postmaster J.B. Strathy (burn means "creek" in Gaelic), or possibly from a place of the same name in Caithness, Scotland.

Tait's Corners (Alliance)
In 1849 George Tait arrived from Scotland and settled on the west side of sideroad 20. On the southwest side of the corner another Tait family settled, William and Mary.

In 1877 a post office was opened at this corner, called Alliance Post Office. It remains unknown why this name was chosen. Today it is generally known as Tait's Corners.

At the request of the government George Ward founded a rest point on Longwoods road in 1810. George Ward established a tavern and homestead.

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