A settlement that eventually became Warwick Village existed along
the Egremont Road at Bear Creek somewhat previous to the initial survey in 1832. The Warwick Township Council and the Ontario Government will refer to Warwick Village as the hamlet o
f Warwick, but it is still Warwick Village to its residents and those living in the surrounding countryside, the Township of Warwick. Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Freear, [Freer] ½ Pay Officer of the Regular Army and William Burwell were deeded land her
e in 1832; Colonel Freer on Lot 11, Concession 1, North of the Egremont Road [N.E.R.] and William Burwell on Lot 10, N.E.R, each lot of 200 acres. [William Burwell's son, Elijah, was the first white child to be born within the village limits] Application
made about this same time to Peter Robinson for Lot 11, S.E.R. in the name of Joseph Little. The Donnellys, McKennas, Hamiltons and Sergent Fair followed soon after. The Branan Settlement located here temporarily in 1832.
Lord Egremont brought immigrants to the Warwick Village area, settlers with such names as Harvey, Maidman, Matthews, Liddy, Moore, Randall, Reddick and Robinson [known as the English Settlement] to provide labour in building the road from the eastern boundary of Adelaide Township to Errol, one that would provide a route between London and "The Rapids", later called Port Sarnia. Initially, a lake route was all that connected Errol with Port Sarnia until Errol Road became a last link.
A path was blazed through the dense bush and the road was built through what became the villages of Adelaide and Warwick and Camiachie to Errol. Although the Highways #22 and #7 have been named over the original road as far as Warwick Village, from th ere, still known as the Egremont Road, the old route meanders across the concessions of Plympton to Errol. Apart from its military value, the road provided the first access for settlers into the newly surveyed townships.
Col. Freer built a water-power driven combined saw and flour mill in 1832/33 at the creek on his property, Lot 11, north of the Egremont road [approximately where the track was laid out for the Stock Car Races that flourished in the 1950's] to be used by these early immigrant families. It is reported that the saw-mill was operative, the flour mill was not. It wasn't until 1843 when Thomas Hay built his mill on the south halves of Village Lots 5 and 6, S.E.R., and Lot 1, east of Digby Street that the W arwick residents had the means at hand to have their grains ground into flour. Initially, this mill was driven by water-wheel but some time later, a steam engine, removed from the E. H. Leonard Works in London replaced the less than adequate water-powered set-up.
There was a brick yard on Lot 11, north of the Egremont Road [N.E.R.] where blue clay necessary for the making of good bricks was found in ample quantities to supply the local area. The brick-makers were Auld and Janes. A tile yard that was also in op eration at the time was run by the Dolan Family.
Thomas Hay in 1834 came to the Village, bringing a kit of blacksmith tools with him and set up a shop at the front of the property known as the McKenzie Place, now owned by Lyle andPenny Bryce. [The Bryce name was amongst those of the earliest settler s in Brooke, the township to the south of Warwick, also before 1832.]
Originally, the Militia was organized at the time of the McKenzie Rebellion but as years went by, there were further threats to the security of this area. One of these threats was what came to be known as the Fenian Raids, that had very little to do w ith any political unrest in Ontario but was chiefly a spill over from the Irish efforts to oust the British from Ireland and the threats came by way of Invasions from the United States as a means of twisting the British Lion's tail.
The Fenian Raid Veterans came from tile whole area but there were a number of local citizens whose military duties during this period melted them some form of recognition. But It wasn't until about thirty four years later that medals were issued to co mmemorate the services. This part time militia had performed.
A column in the Watford Guide Advocate of June 6, 1890 gives the history of one of the main skirmishes resulting from these minor incursions that took place in 1866, the Battle of Ridgeway.
Again in the June 1st, 1900, Issue of the Watford Guide Advocate:
On June 2, 19866, Canada was invaded by a horde of Fenians who endeavoured to menace the liberties of a loyal people. The reception given by the volunteers to these foreigners demonstrated that Canadians, when the occasion arrives, are not wanting in loyalty or bravery.
The Battle of Ridgeway saw the Queen's Own and the Grenadiers called to arms under O'Neil and it was on June 2, 1866 when several of the Queen's Own fell.
To Reta Cran Freer article
To Colonel Arthur William Wellington Freear
To Freer Canada
To Freer Family Research Directory