Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: The Woodrow Homestead – Sept. 25, 2021

Starting in Fall 2021, the Cory Realty team graciously partnered with members of the Coldwater Museum to publish exclusive Museum and local historical content that you can find on their site The Cottage Shack. Every few weeks, members of the museum discuss an new topic central to artifacts and displays from the museum.

My name is Richard Jolliffe. As chair of Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM) I invite you to visit us and experience life in rural Ontario during the times between 1830 and 1950.

Here is a very small sample of what you can experience as you wander about the property. The Woodrow Homestead and 6.5 acres on the Coldwater River was purchased in 1966 by a group of history buffs who then began the creation of CCHM. Subsequently the property was registered a Heritage Site.

It is hard to imagine this area being a farm when one looks out the front door of the homestead, no highway, no lumber yard, no buildings or structures of any kind. Picture a single level log structure built in the late 1830’s with a second level addition added on in 1864.

When Archibald Woodrow arrived from Scotland, his log building skills most likely would have been limited. The 15- and 20-inch squared-timber dovetail corner joints were constructed by skilled craftsmen. Unfortunately, we have no record of who actually built the homestead. It is hard to estimate the cost to build such a structure today even if you could find the materials and the skilled trades to do the work.

How difficult it must have been for Archibald, his wife Catherine and daughter Catherine to move from the island of Isley, Scotland across the ocean to a parcel of land in the wilds of Ontario Canada and to make a new life there was back in the early 1800s.

If I may add a personal note, Diane and I with two babies in tow purchased a 25-acre bush lot 37 years ago, cleared a spot and built a home to raise our family. We gleaned an appreciation of only some of the challenges Archibald and Catherine must have faced. From personal experience we are in awe of just how hard our antecedents had to work to develop this beautiful province of Ontario.

The fact that no famous person, prime minister or military man ever visited or slept at the Woodrow homestead is testimony to the people that worked so hard over the years to preserve this site as an example of the settlement program of the time in Ontario.

Oh yes, there is at least one interesting incident we know of that took place at the homestead. As the story is told, daughter Catherine eloped with George Borland. She climbed through a loft window as George waited at the Coldwater River with his canoe. And that is about all we know about that particular bit of history.

Brother Sandy Woodrow married and built a brick house which stood next to Timber Mart as you drive into Coldwater. It is long gone now. Bill Woodrow, Jim Woodrow, and Neil Woodrow, all bachelors, stayed on the homestead farm after Archibald and his wife Catherine passed. The other son and daughters all married and today many residents of the area trace their ancestry back to this homestead.

This is just a taste of this wonderful heritage museum and a smattering of our local history. Visit us soon. Bring friends and family. Admission is by donation.

See the original article at The Cottage Shack magazine