Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Birchard Parquette

Birchard Parquette -- at the top of the hill in Mount Albert -- is a tribute to the first European to settle eastern East Gwillimbury.

In 1821, the land was dense forest with only a trail running north and south used by the native Objibway. Brothers Samuel and Rufus Birchard -- Quakers from Vermont -- each purchased 100 acres for a dollar per acre from. The two men plus Rufus’ wife Electra blazed a seven-mile trail easterly through forest and swamp from Hope (now Sharon) to their new property. And, as the story goes, Electra did not see another woman of European descent for two years until Samuel brought home his new bride.

Both families raised many children and, since the Birchards were interested in education, they donated one-quarter acre of land on which to build a school and burial ground. A tiny log schoolhouse was erected here in the early 1830s, and a sister of the Birchard brothers became the teacher.
Although the school was used only for a few years, the land can never be bought or sold. The deed for this site states that the property could be used solely for public purposes “as long as grass grew green and water flowed down hill.” The grounds eventually became a patch of weeds until in 1967 the Mount Albert Horticultural Society and the Women’s Institute transformed it into a lovely parquette, a Centennial project. (Canada was 100 years old in 1967.) The parquette was named after the Birchards who originally donated the land.

The bell mounted on the cairn is a school bell, but it's from another defunct school built down the street in 1890.


Small City Scenes said...

What great pics and wonderful story. You have a very interesting blog and I enjoy visiting. MB

Tom said...

This is so interesting and I am happy to see that this land was never built on. We have such pockets of land over here which have been left for public use... some have been lost to developement which I find awful. There's such a bit of land that I have walked and shown on this blog that was left to the people of Newton to enjoy. Our local council have just sold part of it to the local golf course.. saying it will still be bringing enjoyment. The trouble with that is the land is now 'not the peoples'

Shammickite said...

What a lovely park. Is this the park where Mount Albert holds it's Sports Day? I used to visit Mount Albert a lot when I lived at Brown Hill.

EG CameraGirl said...


This is the park at the top of the hill, the corner of Mount Albert Road and Centre Street.

Sports Day (June 6,7, and 8 this year) is at the Mount Albert Community Centre park, 53 Main Street.

Anonymous said...

The tree color is really nice. I like the layout around the walks. Someone knew what he was doing.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures and nice to learn about Birchard Parquette and the tribute.

Unknown said...

I have more information about my ancestors, the Birchards of Mt. Albert and thier descendants. Please copntact me at Jeff Birchard

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East Gwillimbury is a rural town less than an hour north of Toronto, Canada's largest city. My family calls me CameraGirl because I take my camera with me wherever I go.