Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A little bit about Sprucedale, Ontario by Nancy M Bell

I thought some of you might like to learn a bit about the location where most of my story is set. Sprucedale, Ontario is a village in the Almaguin Highlands. It is located on Highway 518 12 kilometres from the Highway 11 corridor. The village is situated on the Park to Park Trail which connects Highway 11 to Highway 69 and follows the rail bed of the abandoned Parry Sound Exploratory Railway for 61 kilometers. The village was named for the formerly abundant stands of spruce and other conifers. Sprucedale is in the Municipality of McMurrich/Montieth in the Almaguin Highlands district of Parry Sound. My grandmother lived outside of the village on a farm. My mother was born on a part of the original St. George farm in a log cabin. The country is heavily treed with hard and soft wood bush, a mix of conifer and deciduous trees. Maple, oak, elm, spruce, pine and cedar.
This is the log cabin my mother was born in, still on the same farm but moved from its original location. It now serves as a sauna spa.
My grandparents, my uncle and my mother having supper on the front porch of the cabin in its original location.
The old school house my mother would have attended
The Sprucedale Train station. My great grandfather used to take cream cans into the station to be shipped to T Eaton Company in Toronto.
Fall colours. In late September and early October the Ontario bush is afire with the orange-red and gold of the maples flaming on the hills punctuated by the deep green of the conifers.
Winter snows come often and deep. In the early days it wasn't unusual to be snowbound for months at a time.
In summer the land is much kinder. Deep clear rivers and lakes invite the hot toiler in the fields to cool off. Long summer evenings where pioneers worked until the light faded completely. Although it is beautiful, it is also always testing. In late April and May the black flies swarm making life miserable for anyone who has to work outside. My grandfather used to smear oil or bear grease on the plow horses' faces and in their ears to keep them from being eaten alive. Once the weather heats up enough to kill off the black flies the mosquitoes emerge, followed by the huge deer flies and horse flies. Sand flies also come up out of the earth as the plow turns things over.
Typical bush scene.
One last photo to share with you. In front is my younger sister and myself. In the back is my grandmother Lois St George Pritchard, her sister Rotha St George Dennison, and her other sister Charlotte (Lottie) St George Hines. This was taken in Sprucedale on Aunt Lottie's front lawn around 1962. If you ever have the chance to visit Sprucedale and the surrounding area be sure to stop and enjoy the wonderful scenery. In winter snowmobilers flock to the area, as well as ice fishers. In summer, hikers and cottage goers come to enjoy the lakes and villages. Til next month, Stay well, stay happy, stay safe.


  1. Wonderful pictures of your family, cabins and scenery. I see your ties to the province.

  2. You are so fortunate to have photographs of your family. What a beautiful area.

  3. Gorgeous pictures--I love old photos of family and their camps and homeplaces.

  4. I just read His Brothers Bride, loved the book but it was over to soon, I didn’t want it to end. Thanks for the great read. My son and his wife just bought 70 acres outside of Sprucedale.

  5. Wonder if your family knew any of the Marshall clan. Charles and Agnes. They were my husband's grandparents.