Local settlers chose an odd place to lay roots in nearby Ruskview

September 11, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

As far as towns go, the former village of Ruskview is in a very odd place.

Unlike almost every other town settled in Ontario, Ruskview had neither running water to power a mill, nor a crossroads that would see passersby travelling through the area.

Ruskview is located on hilly terrain on County Road 21, in Mulmur about 8 km, east of Honeywood.

The area was first settled in 1848 when a man name Joseph Lennox arrived and decided to stay.

The town began to grow, at least in terms of attracting handful of new people, when a post office was opened to serve the surrounding area.

Originally the community was known as Black Bank, for another odd reason.

When they completed the application for a post office, the man who filled in the application wrote in the name Black Bank, a town he had known in his native Ireland, as the town at the time didn’t have an official name.

In 1870, John Newell took over as postmaster. His teenage son Semour had the task of carrying the mail between Black Bank and Honeywood either by foot or by horseback.

This is where history gets a little tricky.

When a new postmaster took over the post office, he decided to move the post office to his store in a nearby town named Britannia. As there already was a post office named Britannia in the County, he decide to take the name Black Bank with him. That left the town formerly known as Black Bank without either a post office or a name.

Residents in the now nameless town, were not pleased about being known as the town with no name, and even less pleased about the new quality of mail service.

They eventually petitioned for a new post office, which they got, and renamed the town Ruskville in honour of William Rusk, an early settler who owned the farm directly across from the post office and general store.

The town never really got off the ground and only managed to have a population of around 25 people although there were many more in the surrounding rural area.

A school was built around 1875, however the exact location remains unknown. A new brick school house was built several years later.

Several other business opened including a blacksmith, a lumberyard, and a sawmill.

The town never manged to build a church. They held Sunday services in the school house.

Ruskville never really took off as a thriving enterprise.

The post office last until 1916 when it was replaced by rural mail delivery. The school house had classes until the mid 1960’s when it was closed due to centralization of the school system.

All that remains of the town today is Robert Reid’s general store which is now a private residence, and a small sign that gives a brief history of the village.

Even though Ruskview was an odd place for a village, it’s possible they chose it for the fantastic views of the Mulmur hills that surround it.

That alone is worth the drive to the area.

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