Ballycroy, located in Simcoe County, had its beginnings in 1826, with the construction of a chopping mill. Eventually the milling operation expanded to include a sawmill, shingle factory and possibly a flour mill.
By the 1870s Ballycroy was a booming community that boasted a population of around 200. Besides the mills, it included two general stores, a law office, millinery shop, blacksmith shop, four tavern/hotels and a liquor store. It was the hotels and liquor store that led to Ballycroy’s infamous reputation for the legendary alcoholic brawls that reportedly lasted for days.
Peter Small’s hotel was definitely one of Ballycroy’s brighter spots. Renowned for its excellent food and fine liquor, the hotel thrived until the spring of 1875, when it burned to the ground. Tragically three young women lost their lives in the inferno. Following whispers of arson and insurance fraud, Small was more or less run out of town. The loss of hotel, along with Small’s other business ventures, later proved to be a grave financial setback to the entire community.
Ballycroy suffered another major blow after the railway bypassed it in favour of nearby Palgrave. Many businesses relocated to be closer to the railway. Road realignments in later years bypassed Ballycroy completely.
Ballycroy is now simply a quiet backwater. Many of the original homes still stand, along with the general store and post office. Ballycroy’s current residents have taken an active role in documenting their community’s history by excavating numerous foundations in an attempt to remap the original townsite. Learn more