Millbrook & Cavan  History Notes

John Deyell assisted Samuel G. Wilmot in the first survey of this area in 1817 and is credited with naming Cavan and Monaghan Townships in honour of his Irish birthplace.  An extraordinary entrepreneur, John Deyell lived to age 103 and is credited with significant early development in the area.

The earliest European settlers were from the north of Ireland, with others from Britain and southern Ireland.  The abundance of water played a major role in the early development of the area with mills supplying flour and feed, lumber and a great variety of other materials that spurred industry and productivity throughout the township.   Pioneer farmers cleared land, harvested trees, grew crops and raised livestock that fueled those mills and the local economy.  Schools, churches, rural general stores and post offices drew communities together; the hamlets of Cavan, Ida, Mount Pleasant, Springville, Fraserville, South Monaghan (once Centreville) and Bailieboro bear witness to this.  Other place names such as Dranoel and Cairo are now just in the historical record – which we keep.

In 1856, the first train arrived in Millbrook, a vital link, running from Port Hope then to Lindsay and on to Beaverton, with a branch line to Peterborough.  Millbrook Junction became a hub of activity, with grain storage houses and later, grain elevators springing up, along with a hog yard.  At one time, Millbrook could boast of having five hotels, and business thrived.  Many fine homes and farmhouses were built in the township during this surge of prosperity, giving Millbrook today the distinction of having 45 properties designated as being of historical significance.  However, as more rail lines linked major centres, the route through Millbrook became less important.  The opening up of the Canadian west drew a full half of Millbrook’s population to Manitoba in the late 19th century.  The Depression in the 1930s also took its toll.  The last train pulled into Millbrook Junction in 1951.

An amalgamation of three jurisdictions, the current Township of Cavan Monaghan is made up of the village of Millbrook, the township of Cavan that surrounds Millbrook, and the township of North Monaghan, which borders Peterborough and itself was originally part of Monaghan.  It was split between the Counties of Peterborough and Northumberland back in 1837 and renamed North and South Monaghan in 1845.

Today, family farms continue to have a significant influence on the rural landscape.  Between farm fields, newer homes dot rural routes, as transportation corridors to major employment centres attract new people to the area.  Just two decommissioned mills remain standing, as a testament to the early years of industry, and now there are new entrepreneurs and light industry to fuel the economy.  Change is constant.  The Historical Society strives to record the changes, so that where we’ve been can be acknowledged and appreciated as we move on.

To find out more:  the Millbrook & Historical Society has a number of publications available.



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