Eldorado, then and now

Eldorado, early 20th century

“Downtown” Eldorado, looking south, probably somewhere between 90 and 100 years ago. The rather basic (to put it mildly) road running through it is what is today Highway 62. (Photo courtesy of Grant Ketcheson)

Eldorado, January 2014

The same scene, more or less, photographed by me, January 2014. I love the fact that the former general store (at least, I assume that’s what it was) with the great verandah is still there.

Everybody loves then-and-now photos, right? Or is that just me? Well, anyway, since it’s my blog I’m going to say that everybody does. And I’m happy to say that, thanks – once again – to one of my wonderful readers, I have what I think is a cool set of then-and-now photos for you today, both featuring “downtown” Eldorado, a village in Madoc Township that is maybe seven miles from Queensborough (via Cedar School and Rimington Roads and Highway 62).

Eldorado’s main claim to fame is that it was the site of Ontario’s first gold rush, and that gold rush is of course what gave it its name. (El Dorado having been, as my handy online dictionary puts it, “an imaginary place of great wealth and opportunity; sought in South America by 16th-century explorers.”) Writer Isabella Shaw, who lives near Eldorado, has written a history of the area with a focus on the gold-rush years, called Quest for Gold. Eldorado was also the location of one of the two United churches in the Queensborough-Eldorado Pastoral Charge, of which my father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, was minister between 1967 and 1975; you can read about the pastoral charge here.)

Anyway, the photo at the very top of the post shows Eldorado perhaps a little less than a century ago, with several townsfolk (all of whom look to be male) out for the photo-taking occasion. Note the Bell telephone sign outside what I assume was the general store; I imagine it would have been the only phone in town at the time. (Which makes me wonder whether one of the two general stores in Queensborough in my childhood, Bobbie’s and McMurray’s, might have once housed the only phone in Queensborough. Since the post office was at McMurray’s [until it, along with many rural post offices, was closed], I would put my money on that one if I were a betting woman.)

My source for the vintage photo tells me, “The aproned guy is the blacksmith” and that “The blacksmith shop was to the right, on John Street.”

What a remarkable look back in time!

But what I find most remarkable about the old photo is the road that you can see in it, running south in the direction of Madoc. That rutted, muddy and winding route, my friends, is the precursor of what we now know as beautifully smooth and straight Highway 62 (or, as older folks sometimes call it, “62 Highway”). And that’s one reason why I wanted to take a “now” photo. Let’s just say it makes a person realize that we don’t have much to complain about when it comes to the state of our roads.

6 thoughts on “Eldorado, then and now

  1. Katherine, I don’t think our Store had the only phone but the Post Office was in it for years, Mother was the Post Mistress, and Dad delivered the rural mail. I am not exactly sure what year it went over to McMurray’s. I do remember we were one of the first people in the Village to get electricity. I do so enjoy reading your blog, it is the first thing I open when I come down in the morning.


    • Barb, I should have twigged to that, because now that you mention it I remember someone telling me about your dad delivering the mail! Do you remember those days? And thank you so much for the kind words about the blog – coming from you, they mean a very great deal!

      • I lived in Eldorado duringm the 50’s and 60’s. The store was owned by Mrs Arkell. A general store with the local post office inside. Itr was also the bus stop for buses running from Belleville to Bancroft. Irene wilson, a long time employee came from Queensborough.

      • Oh wow, Jim – thank you for that information! I don’t think I was ever in that store when I lived here (in Queensborough) in the ’60s, and I’m sorry I was not. But I imagine it was not unlike our own general stores (one of which had a post office. And I will have to see if I can find out more about Irene Wilson. I am also interested to learn that there was a bus running along Highway 62 between Belleville and Bancroft – I bet there are some Hastings County residents who wish we still had such a service today. Thanks for finding Meanwhile, at the Manse, and sharing your memories!

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