The Old Farmhouse – Concord, Ontario – Dufferin Street

Spread the love

alvin baker owned farmhouse on dufferin street, concord ontario circa 1970

We had a mail box across the road with our name on – SCOTT – and I’d always check to see if the flag on the box was up or down. Up meant there was mail. Maybe from Granda Scott in Northern Ireland? Getting to the mailbox across the road was a bit of a walk though – the lane up to the house was very long and went all the way past the barns and cultivated fields before you’d reach Dufferin Street. In winter, the farmer who rented the land had to come in with his tractor and front end loader to clear the snow. No manual snow shoveling for that long driveway!

I was going through old photos that my brother Andrew had found and scanned/photographed and saw this great photo, above. I lived in that house for several years. When we first came to Canada, we lived for a short time in an apartment building on Laverock in Richmond Hill, and then to what is now a medical office – the second house on the east side of Keele Street, south of Major Mackenzie Drive (9983 Keele Street). Then we moved to “the farm.” It was an old farmhouse, and it and the land were owned by Alvin Baker. I have no clue what we paid in rent – it was likely pretty cheap. Alvin Baker had a small part of the house that he kept for himself to stay in when he was in the area, but that was not very often.

At that time, Dufferin Street was just a gravel road. Today, I probably wouldn’t recognize the place. I haven’t been in the area in probably about 30 years. Now, the area is all built up with new subdivisions that used to be farmland and maple tree “bush.”

Life On The Farm

I really enjoyed so many aspects of living on the farm. Although the land and barns were rented out to a local farmer, Ken Baker, I had free run of the entire place. No one worried much if I wandered off, and even as far as the very back border of the farm, and wandered through the “sugar bush.” Some may not really understand when I use the term “bush,” it was a term used for a small forest, and this case, mostly maple trees. Many of the trees were tapped in the spring by the neighbours who owned that part of the land, and made into maple syrup.

As a very young boy, of 5 years old, I had chores to do. We had a pony and quite a few chickens; it was my job to take the pony pails of water as well as feed the chickens every day, all year – summer, autumn, winter, and spring. We also had a goat – he helped keep the grass down but he couldn’t eat it all up so when my dad went out to mow, it took a long time. The property that we enjoyed in front of the house and behind that was not cultivated by the farmer was probably well over an acre.

Our Goat:

goat on our farm in 1968

Obviously, this goat was no use for milking – but it did have another use. Our part of the property that we maintained was pretty big, and my dad only had a push mower. So the goat would be moved to different areas – his teeth did a great job of keeping the grass “cut.”

The Reesors’ Horse

One of our neighbours who lived just north of us off Dufferin Street had a horse and I’d sometimes visit and feed it.

The reesor family's horse

Although I haven’t found photos, the Reesors would also make maple syrup and it was great in the spring to walk over to their house and help them collect sap and pour it into the big cast iron cauldron that would hang over an open fire, as the sap boiled and became syrup. The Reesor house was quite big and they had built an apartment also for their widowed mother/grandmother. Old Mrs. Reesor would babysit us at times, and she loved Scrabble. She taught my sister and I how to play and many hours were spent playing.

Heating The House In Winter

Our house was heated with firewood. We needed a lot of firewood. While we had an electric range, there was also an old wood stove in the kitchen that could be used for both heating and was sometimes used for that purpose. In the autumn, splitting firewood and stocking up the wood pile was necessary but was a family affair, and sometimes friends and others would come by to help. Lunch would be served outside:

ian scott helping with firewood

While it was hard work, it was a kind of work everyone seemed to enjoy:

john a. scott with three children near woodpile

Winter Fun On The Farm

Living in a rural area in the late 60’s could mean some days stuck with roads filled with snow – and cancelled school buses. Having said that, rural roads are often cleared of snow pretty quickly; dairy farmers depended on the milk truck being able to arrive to collect their milk. We didn’t live on a dairy farm though; the barn was used for pigs by Ken Baker. Our issue was the very long “lane” or driveway from the house to the road. We often depended on Ken Baker to clear it for us.

On the other hand, much tobogganing could be done.

dragging the tobaggan up the hill

tobagganing down the hill

Of course, coming back into the house after some hours outside in the snow meant having rosy cheeks:

ian scott and janice scott with rosy cheeks from the cold

My Dad’s Occupation

Once in awhile, my dad would be able to come home for lunch while working. Our house was in his patrol area.

vaughan township police constable john scott with son andrew scott sitting on police cruiser hood

janice and andrew scott sitting on hood of vaughan township police cruiser
Janice & Andrew Sitting On Hood Of Vaughan Township Police Cruiser

And if you’re wondering what exactly the make and model of the Vaughan Township Police cruisers were:

plymouth fury used by vaughan township police

It was a Plymouth Fury I – probably 1967 or 68 model year. This photo was likely taken on Dufferin Street, near our farmhouse, north of Langstaff Road, Concord, Ontario.

Seems An Idyllic Life?

As a kid, I really loved living on the farm. Although it could be really smelly when farmer Ken Baker cleaned out the pig area of the barn, life was full of freedom for me. I spent lots of time outside, wandering around at my pleasure. I could visit the Winger neighbours, walking across fields and then along a path through the woods, and hang out with their sons, and shoot air rifles together. We had a great dog named Sandy that would often accompany me. Sadly, Sandy did not do well when we moved to Richmond Hill – he really loved the freedom of roaming around as well.

Sometimes Sandy would bring us a dead groundhog or something he had hunted up – seemed his way to try to contribute. There’s probably a photo of that somewhere, but I don’t have it – but there’s this:

dog sand and ian scott in the winter
Our Dog Sandy And Me In The Winter

Our parents decided to move in June of 1971 to Richmond Hill for possibly a number of reasons, but the farmhouse being in a poor state of repair and with cold drafty windows in the winter was a big concern. They didn’t ever get fixed. There may have been other reasons, but that was the main one I’d overhear them talking about. We’d sometimes wake up with snow coming in under the window frames in our bedrooms.

But for me, I missed the farm when we moved. I was never bothered with feelings of isolation, or loneliness even though our neighbours were all a bit of a walk away. I loved walking through the wheat fields or exploring the woods way back behind the house.

There’s a lot more memories and even more photos, but I’d probably bore you all if I wrote them all out or posted all of the photos (some aren’t actually all that great with poor exposure).

The Area Today

I haven’t been through the area for probably 30 years, but I recall back in the 1980’s driving by the farm house, and by then it had been vacant for some years.

Today, most of the land includes new subdivisions, but I think they have kept some of the area undeveloped, and with parks and some of the buildings having the name “Baker” in memory of the original inhabitants of the area. One of our neighbours, a Mennonite named Issac Baker was well known across Canada and perhaps internationally for his quality leather saddlery.

Dufferin Street is no longer a gravel road, and I believe is a paved two lanes in each direction road that carries a lot of traffic. When we lived there, you could sit an hour by the road and see one or two vehicles go by.

Just north of the Reesors, there was a church my father would take us to once in a while – it was a church that had services only twice a year, and it was some Mennonite sect that was a bit different than other Mennonites in the area, I believe. Apparently, the church called The Cober Dunkard Church, still exists today.

18 thoughts on “The Old Farmhouse – Concord, Ontario – Dufferin Street”

  1. The church was Old Order German Baptist which yes was also known as Dunkers. That’s because they practiced immersion and they would dunk 3 times in a moving river. They would do a dunk for each name of the Trinity.
    It was an issue apparently between the Bakers as one became a Mennonite and I’m pretty sure the Mennonites that Alvin (?) Was a part of would practice pouring – but obviously not on infants.

    Whenever a month had 5 Sundays, some of the brethren from the US would come up and they would have a service on that 5th Sunday. Men on one side and women on the other side. For all the other Sundays they would go somewhere else which is likely why some would gather with mennonites.

    1. Andrew, thanks for the extra information about the church! Much appreciated. When there were services, didn’t some of the attendees come up from some parts of the USA? Do you recall that?

      1. I remember them coming up from the states. The women would put French braids in my hair.

        Great article Ian, brings back great memories (except for the time I got hit by the car running across Dufferin)!

        1. Thanks Janice, for the confirmation on my memory about visiting from the States 🙂

          Yes, I was thinking about the time the car crested the hill just north of the driveway as you were coming across the road. I watched as you got hit, went up in the air, and landed on the hood! Scary time! But, you turned out okay 😀

  2. Pingback: My Brother's Ass - Ian Scott

  3. Those are some outstanding photos you have for great memories. Enjoyed them all. The Vaughan Township police cruiser shots were superb. Great history.

    1. Thanks Jim. York Regional Police Historian has been in touch about the Vaughan Township Police photos that we have found – it’s their 50th anniversary this year, and they are interested in some of the older town/township police forces that existed before the amalgamation. So nice to be able to help them out with these photos!

  4. As a new young farmer in Arthur Ontario. River’s Edge Goat Dairy. I find it refreshing and reassuring to read these passages and to view your photos. Why? Simple, farming is not always about growing ready to eat food for people, yet to create experiences for your family, friends and those who wish to visit your farmstead.

    One day, I hope you, your family and or friends are able to visit our old school farm in Arthur……

    PS: love the goat mower!

    1. Will, thanks very much for your comment! I appreciate it, and yes, lots of great memories from the farm days – and then later in my life, working on a dairy farm for some years, and experiences in Alberta working on a ranch. Some of the best memories, although lots of hard work, having to also use the brain for constant problem solving (so both physical and mental exercise), and also a great deal of satisfaction.

      I’d love to be able to visit your farm as well – have enjoyed reading about it and seeing all the goat photos! 🙂

      Keep in touch, Will!

  5. How interesting to have stumbled upon your story. Alvin was my uncle, and the Reesors (Lorne and Ruth Baker Reesor) were my aunt, uncle, and cousins. Isaac was my grandfather, my mother’s dad. I really enjoyed your pictures.

    1. Hi Phyllis! Wow, thank you for leaving a comment on this post and letting me know about your family relationship! I often think of the people you mention. I know my brother had ran into your Uncle Alvin some years back; I don’t recall exactly where and when it was, but he mentioned they had an interesting and enjoyable chat.

      Your grandfather was well known. When I was 17 (summer of 1981), I went out to Alberta to work on a ranch – many people knew of Isaac out there. He had a very strong reputation.

      Again, thanks for taking the time to leave your comment!

  6. My family and I lived South of you on the Psychiatric Hospital property from 1948 to 1959. My Father worked for the Hospital as the farm manager there until we moved to London in 1959. I watched hurricane hazel roar through and wash out the bridge over the small creek that ran through the front of the property in 1955. We would walk down Dufferin to go to Concord Public School, Some of our neighbours, the Salmon girls, Caroline and Betty Jean, who lived across the street and Tommy Witty, who lived on the property south of the hospital grounds, used to walk to the same school. My Grandparents and mothers family were all from Thornhill and we would pass Isaac Bakers farm if we went to visit our grandparents. My father worked the farm at the hospital and each year we would go to the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. One of the cows on the farm was a champion at the fair. Other times we would walk back the lane of the farm to the bush and search for puffballs which my father would slice and fry in butter. I never could develop a taste for that or mushrooms. My fathers family were from Maple, Kirby Sideroad, and we would sometimes drive over to see them and their farm. I could go on and on but thank you for the pictures, story, and all the people leaving comments about Concord and Area.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Jim – thanks for sharing your memories of the area. I recall vaguely the Psychiatric Hospital but I think by the time we were living in the area, it had been turned into an institution for youth that had run into problems with the law. I can remember my dad teasing me about sending me to the “school for bad boys” and pointing to a building(s) and property south of where we lived.

      I don’t recall the name Salmon but I do recall others; in addition to Alvin Baker, there was Ken Baker who farmed the land our house was situated on. I went to school with his daughter at Concord but her name escapes at the moment. There was also the Winger family that lived “behind” us – their farm entrance would have been off of Bathurst St. I used to walk through the cornfields behind our house, then through the bush, to go meet the Winger boys and play.

      The name Tom Witty rings a bell. I am sure my father worked with a Tom Witty, but it may not be the same person.

      We likely have similar acquaintances – we also spent a time in Maple – we lived in the second house south of Major Mackenzie on the east side of Keele Street. It’s now a medical office and in fact, our family doctor, Dr. Granger and his associates would move from their smaller location on Major Mac in Maple to the very house we had lived in for a short time!

      I’m happy you found this post and it brought back memories for you! Thank you for sharing!!

  7. I lived at Hwy. 7 and Leslie St. We always went to the saddle shop which I was told, was owned by Isaac Baker. Great memories of going there. Got my saddle and tack there. Brings me back.

    1. Hi Linda, thanks for sharing your memories of Isaac Baker’s shop. When I was a teenager, back in about 1981, I left home and went out west to work on a ranch in Alberta – the TL Bar Ranch near Trochu, AB. I was amazed at the time that even that far, Isaac Baker’s reputation was well known, in Alberta and among the ranching family I worked for.

      When did you live in the area of Hwy 7 and Leslie St? I used to know that area pretty well, also. For a time, I went to Bayview Secondary for high school, and some of my friends lived in that area that also went to Bayview. Back in the days when it was gravel roads! Also, I would fish for speckled trout in some streams in the area.

      1. I went to Thornlea. There were 2 houses at the corner, a welder and us. We were the 2nd house. There was also a bungalow across the road where the motel is now.
        We had a barn and some animals. My horse was one.
        We moved there in 1955 or so. I was a baby so don’t remember. I left to get married in 1971. It was expropriation for the new roads to come in. It was still gravel then.
        Across and on the southeast side was Leitchcroft Farms.

        1. Thanks again for the new reply, Linda. Yeah, those were simpler times and the area sure has changed. I haven’t actually been in the area now for many years. The last time I was there was 2002 and I could hardly believe what I was seeing.

          I am a bit behind you in years; I graduated from Bayview 1982. I think it was about 1971 when we moved to Richmond Hill from the farm in Concord. I vaguely recall Leitchcroft Farms but would have to refresh my memory with some old photos and possibly a high school year book as I think there was a student in my time with the last name Leitchcroft. Possibly a relationship to the farm.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top