A tradition that is as yet unverified but occasionally met with, is to the effect that the first few log houses build as the forest was hewn down and clearings made, with the first stopping place, forming the nucleus from which the village of Millbrook grew, was originally called “Village Inn”. In time as population increased, a store or two began business, and a mill was built beside the brook, the name “Millbrook” was evolved.

Others have it that there is a “Millbrook” in England and some of the early settlers coming from that place, or its neighbourhood, brought the name with them from the Old Country.



Old Boys and Girls Perpetuate Spirit of Romance and Revive

Memories of Former School Days




MILLBROOK 1923 – The Financial Post to the contrary notwithstanding, the spirit of romance is not dead in Ontario when it can stage such an Old Boys’ and Girls’ Re-Union as was held by the people of Cavan and Millbrook for the last three days.

Yesterday morning the most interesting item in the entire programme was given, when school was held in Town Hall, the school being unavailable for the purpose, on account of occupation by workmen engaged in putting in the four new rooms which are being added to the building.

At nine o’clock the bell in the Town Hall summoned the scholars to school, and in the Council Chamber, they gathered nearly two hundred of them, to renew old school-day memories, and spend one of the jolliest hours of the re-union together. Some were tardy and paid their excuses to the teacher, Ex-Principal P. Hampton, who taught school in the village schoolhouse (the traditional red in colour) for over thirty-five years. Three more older teachers were present, Mrs. L. Rae of Millbrook, formerly Miss Lottie Hampton; Miss Emma Hetherington, who taught in the village for a quarter of a century, and the “dean” of them all, Miss Sarah Dean herself, who commenced teaching at the age of fifteen years, and guided the educational destinies of Millbrook’s youth for nearly half a century of time. Miss Dean, whose enjoyment of the re-union was marred by the death last week of her brother, Armstrong Dean of Toronto, was greeted with prolonged cheers on her appearance. For Mr. Hampton also, their old principal the “boys and girls” gave three cheers and sang “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow”.

The Roll-Call

The session commenced with “Auld Lang Syne” and finished with the same old tune sung with intertwined hands. A happy suggestion of Judge Clarry of Calgary, one of the “old boys” was followed out, and proved one of the most entertaining items of the session in a roll-call, during which each pupil announced his name, the ladies given their maiden titles. Familiar names were greeted with applause. High spirits and much laughter and a buzz of talk marked the “school” during which reminiscences by the old boys were much enjoyed. Mr. Hampton spoke first, alluding in his brief address to some of the Old Boys, among them Dr. Turner of Millbrook, Judge Vance of Barrie and Judge Clarry of Calgary, George Dean, Jim Edwards of Montreal and his brother Joe of Portland, Maine, both of whom are in the employ of the Canadian National Railways. Walter Allen, a barrister resident in the United States, Will Turner, a druggist of Victoria, B. C., Walter? ins, a bank manager in Western Union, Tom Stinson, Crown Attorney of Lindsay, the Pickup family, the Walsh boys, the Clarry fiddler girls, A. Mulligan of? Dr. Fred Mulligan of Peterborough, Kelly, George Fitzgerald, Bruce White, the Burn? And Leachs, and Campbells, Duncan and Allie Payne, and Hetherington boys, the Clark family, Reg Given, and W. Leggott, superintendent of education in Saskatchewan.

The chairman, Rev. Canon Allen, followed, asking Sam Hunter, an old boy who has made a name for himself as cartoonist for the Toronto Globe, to speak, describing him as a man of three worlds, as having belonged at different times to The World, The Globe and The Moon.

Mr. Hunter spoke briefly, in the humorous vein which characterized the utterances of all the speakers. Referring to the beginnings of his own career as a cartoonist, he mentioned the invaluable aid afforded by the geography in shielding the attempts of his early school-day along that line, and alluded to the policy of “speed” and “safety first” after one of his endeavours had been published which he still found a safe one to pursue.

Oldest Members

The two oldest members at the reunion were John Duncan of Collingwood and George Hetherington of Millbrook. Mr. Duncan spoke for himself and his confrere in his remembrances of early days, and his allusion to the “force and power” with which early education was meted out to the pupils of Millbrook School.

Cotton pants and single braces to hold them up, with pink sunbonnets for the girls and cotton frocks were among Mr. Duncan’s memories, and his reference to a certain school teacher names Dinsdale brought from Canon Allen a remembrance of that gentleman’s habit of sending his unruly scholars to “China”.

Judge George Vance of Barrie, a tall gentleman who requested his old mates to call him “Shorty” again, remembered Joe Fallis as the “prince of vandals” of those early days, and Judge Clarry of Calgary, following him, referred to the occasion when “Shorty” Vance and Joe Redmond had a great fight, and the prowess of one Maggie Williamson, an adept in pin-sticking.

Judge Vance moved, seconded by Judge Clarry, a resolution of sympathy to Miss Dean on the death of her brother.

George Fitzgerald of Regina recalled the day when he and his old school-mate, now Dr. Mulligan, stole their teacher’s rawhide and hid it safely, as they thought, to find that it had been resurrected the day following, in a mysterious manner.

A telegram of regret at inability to be present was read from Arthur and Don Vance of Winnipeg, and the morning session ended with the taking of a panoramic photograph of the entire group in front of the Town Hall.

Plenty of Music

The band made an early start yesterday morning in its good work, serenading the citizens at half-past six o’clock with a variety of tunes. A favourite, oft repeated by this very melodious and hard-working organization, was the somewhat pathetically played melody “Nobody Knows How Dry I Am” and they specialized also on “Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here”.

The infection of “Home Sweet Home” was felt in vocal and instrumental music alike. Two passing mouth organ performers on Sunday morning centred on the old tune with its wistful cadences.

A re-union such as this brings with it times, and none the least of these were stories of the renowned Cavan “Blazers”. Of The occasion that gave them their name, it is said that they rode through the village one day, while feeling in gay mood, on a pile of blazing straw, and an observer said “There go the Cavan Blazers”. Talk also was of the old times, and the people who lived in them, like the old gentlemen who was exceptionally fond of fowl, who used to entice ducks from the pond by baiting a rod with meat, and whose thirst led him to the inn with a handful of rats in his pockets to let loose on the premises if his please went unsatisfied. Those were the times too, when the villagers used to walk to Port Hope, or Smith’s Creek, on a pleasant afternoon, taking the soft dirt road through the forest, and when it was said of a workman in York, (now Toronto) visiting his home over the week-end, that he would walk the eighty miles and more in the space of a twelve-hour jaunt.

Family Gathering

Yesterday, the Swain family held a separate gathering for dinner and supper on the Mansion grounds, between fifty and sixty of the connections of old John Swain, whose down-town picture was inscribed as “Born 1788, Settled in Cavan, 1820, Died when 80 years old. First Reeve of Cavan township” being present for the occasion. They came from the district and from Peterborough, Ingersoll and Toronto.

A warm and sunny day smiled on Millbrook yesterday, and a monster crowd, numbering well over two thousand, assembled in the afternoon at the Agricultural Grounds to watch a couple of ball games and a lacrosse match the last played between the Old Boys and Millbrook.

Parade of Cars

Preceding the meeting, a parade of decorated cars was held, led by the band, prizes going (1) F. C. Letts of Toronto. Mr. Letts, who with his brother, a multi-millionaire at the time of his death, came out from England and worked on a farm near Millbrook many years ago, had a gaily-decorated car which attracted much attention for the three days of the re-union. The second prize went to Miss Kathleen Thorndyke of Millbrook, and the fourth to H. Strong, of Peterborough.

On the grounds, where a string of cars numbering nearly three hundred rested in orderly rows, and a busy, jovial crowd gathered about the refreshment booths and the rope-off enclosure devoted to sports, the population of the village took advantage of a splendid opportunity to renew old acquaintances and exchange reminiscence. The east met west earlier in the re-union when Tom Campbell of Regina and Joe Edwards of Portland, Maine, shook hands, but yesterday people who were unable to come on Sunday foregathered from many miles away. On the grassy plain surrounded by its fringe of low hills and green shrubbery, the old boys played lacrosse. It was a wonderful and mighty game, with plenty of vim and vigour in its hard-won goals. A free for all scrimmage resulted on more than one occasion, and the spectators side-stepped in lively fashion as the charging old boys bore down upon them, intent on one thing and one thing only; the ball.

The lacrosse match was preceded by a baseball game between the U. F. O. team of South Monaghan and the Millbrook players. The score resulted in 7-4, in favour of Millbrook. Some of the fielding was sensational; and three casualties were suffered by onlookers during its progress. An unnamed young lady was slightly injured by the impact of a heavy unexpected ball on her head; Wilbur Barnard of South Monaghan had his eye cut in the same manner, and little Gordon blue, a small boy watcher, sustained a broken arm by getting in the way of a hard-thrown ball during the early stages of the encounter.

The line-up for the first ball game was as follows:

South Monaghan U. F. O. – W. Lord, c; R. Hutchinson, p; H. Dawson, 1b; S. Hutchinson, 1f; L. Dawson, 3b; R Deyell, 2b; F. Fisher, rf; Ray Hutchinson, ss; W. Johnson, cf.

Millbrook – C. Larmer, ss; B. Price, 2b; E. Richards, c; A. McCurry, p; W. Sayles, 1b; R. Edmund, 3b; H. Lancashire, 1f; H. Nattrass, cf; B. Richards, rf; J. Cathcart of Cavan acted as umpire.

A busy man who rendered splendid service during the re-union should not be forgotten. Ex-Principal Hampton did good work as registrator. He was unique in the performance of the duties of a travelling registrar, his arm emblazoned with a sign “Register Here”, as he made his way about the grounds on all occasions, with a book wherein visitors signed their names in their own brand of hand-writing, thus forming an invaluable record in more ways than one.




J. N. McGill, Secy.,

Old Boys’ Reunion


I received your invitation some time ago but have been very busy. However, I shall attend on Saturday, August 25. I shall motor up and remain there until Monday evening. I have friends in Millbrook, Mrs. James Fee, who I used to help farm 40 years ago, for it was on July 14, 1883, when I dropped off the train in Millbrook in company with my brother, Arthur Letts, whom God called home on May 18. I enclose an article re his life as appeared in The Toronto Evening Telegram of the year, and were he alive he would be pleased to be with you for in his life he often spoke of Millbrook. He was helping John Martin on the farm on the Fallis line in July 1883, but went from there to Toronto, etc., which the enclosed clipping will explain.

The writer’s first work in Canada was done for Edward Lawson, on the Zion Line, in July, 1883, and often since as I pass the little Methodist Church when motoring past there, I have gone into the churchyard, God’s sacred acre, and in reverence to many dead friends who long ago have passed away. I have offered a silent prayer for them and their families, for I spent many happy days around Millbrook and Cavan. Early impressions are long lasting and the Rev. Mr. Allen, a grand old man, who used to preach at the Marsh Church, who God has called from his labours long years ago, I understand, his son in now incumbent in place of his venerable father.

I sincerely trust the Ruler of the Universe will provide fine weather and that you may have a real good time and that many reunions of friends and parents will have pleasant results. Again wishing you every success.

Yours very truly,


(Ed. Arthur Letts died on May 18, 1923, in Los Angeles, leaving a fortune of about twenty-five millions.)





Weyburn, Sask.,

To the Secretary, Committee of Management, Reunion of Old Boys of Cavan and Millbrook, Millbrook, Ont.

My Dear Sir:

I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your kind invitation to attend the Old Boys’ Reunion of Cavan and Millbrook, and to express my regrets at not being able to enjoy with you the association of the many Old Boys who no doubt will be with you, as well as the residents of the good old town.

I have known your town ever since June 1872, when I went there as a child of the parsonage. Two of the last three years of my education was received there, the thought of which brings memories of such names as Goggin and Davey as teachers, and of schoolmates as Hetherington, Pendrie, Allan, Tooke, Eyres, Gardiner, Doak, Edwards, Hunter, Needler and many others. This was in the old school building on Union Street.

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