Mohr’s Corners


Photo of foundation
Old foundation
©Jeri Danyleyko

Road travel in the mid-nineteenth century could best be described as crude. At its worst, it was horrible. In those early days, what passed for roads were often nothing more than narrow, swampy, log-strewn trails where horses’ feet would frequently become entangled in the dense foliage Winter travel was even more difficult since the roads were simply not usable unless the snow was hard and densely packed. Accidents were frequent and stagecoaches could rarely travel more than a few kilometres per day.

As stage travel became more commonplace, small outpost communities grew up around the inns and hotels. Mohr’s Corners began as a small stopover community that offered welcome respite to the many exhausted and injured travellers who dared to make a difficult stagecoach journey from one point to another.

Mohr’s Corners had its beginnings in 1853 when William Halfpenny opened a post office known as Hubbell’s Falls, in what is now present-day Galetta. Hubbell’s Falls was first settled around 1830 by E. Hubbell and later built up by his son, James. The following year James Riddell took over the post office and moved it about 2 kilometres south to his home in Mohr’s Corners, known as Castlebar. Although the post office retained the name “Hubbell’s Falls for another 20 years, the village took on the new name of “Riddell’s Corners” and alternately “Mohr’s Corners.” Although Galetta eventually grew to eclipse Mohr’s Corners, the two villages shared many services during their early years.

Charles Mohr was the son of a Prussian immigrant, previously well established in the Ottawa Valley. He was both a lumber merchant and the owner of the Fitzroy Hotel, likely opened in the early 1850s. Richard Montforte opened a second hotel in 1862 between Mohr’s Corners and Galetta. James Ritchie, a land surveyor employed by Mohr, laid out a small town plot in 1852 and Mohr’s Corners was officially born. Other early settlers included the Forbes and Riddell families.

The year 1855 was an important year in Mohr’s Corners’ history. The first Mohr’s Corners school, S.S. #6 Fitzroy, the second school established in the township, proudly opened, with Miss Clarke as the first teacher. The original schoolhouse was a log building, built by Mr. Forbes, and designed to accommodate about 50 pupils. Students from nearby Galetta shared the building.

That same year Archibald Riddell sold a plot of land to Fitzroy Township to construct a township hall. They used the small board and batten building, erected at a cost of $100, for council meetings until 1967, at a cost of less than a dollar per year. In 1856 a group of 11 pioneers met in James Riddell’s home in order to establish the Fitzroy Agricultural Society. The first president was James Hubbell from Hubbell’s Falls. This group went on to play in important role in Mohr’s Corners for many years.

By the mid-1860s Mohr’s Corners was booming. They established a Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1860. Richard Foster, who lived on Lot 17, taught school. The community boasted two stores owned by Wilson Blair and Thomas Somerville, and a cooperage owned by Alexander Shields. The Fitzroy Hotel was advertising fine liquors and cigars as part of its offerings. The village’s population had grown to around 100 and included a number of fine homes, particularly the one belonging to Charles Mohr.

By 1868 the small log schoolhouse was deemed woefully inadequate. There were now 70 to 80 students enrolled in the school and it was bursting at the seams. The township purchased another plot of land from Archibald Riddell and built a brand new brick schoolhouse at a cost of $800. That same year Charles Mohr ran for political office and won the election for Deputy Reeve of Fitzroy Township. Mohr went on to enjoy a distinguished career in local politics. He served as warden in 1895 and 1904 and, with the exception of two years, remained on council until his death in 1912.

Confusion erupted in the post office during 1873 when James Riddell stepped down after 20 years as postmaster and handed the reins over to Charles Mohr. The official name for the post office was still “Hubbell’s Falls” and Mohr sought to remedy that by applying for a name change to “Mohr’s Corners.” In the meantime the community of Hubbell’s Falls, located about 2 kilometres north, was going through some growing pains of its own. After changing their name to “Steen’s Falls” (after a local mill owner) they finally settled on “Galetta” and applied for a separate post office under that name, also in 1873. What followed was the post office mistakenly assigning the name Mohr’s Corners to Galetta. It took four years for them to straighten out the mix-up. Charles Mohr remained as postmaster until the end of 1891, when the post office closed.

The Fitzroy Agricultural Society, formed way back in 1856, had been holding annual one-day fall fairs in James Riddell’s largest field. In those early days, the fairs featured a variety of homemade offerings such as fabrics, horse blankets and baked goods. By 1874, the fairs had grown in size and popularity to the point where the society petitioned the town council for funds to purchase a permanent fairground. Andrew Forbes stepped forward with a donation of 1 1/2 acres on Lot 18. The Fitzroy Agricultural Society held the deed. By 1899 the fairs were featuring livestock and poultry competitions, dairy and farm produce, plants and flowers, handicraft and domestic exhibits, harnesses, farm implements and fine arts. The society’s board was mainly comprised of residents from Mohr’s Corners and Galetta.

Things began to fade for Mohr’s Corners in the mid-1870s. Galetta offered an excellent water power site and had easily been able to attract grist, saw and carding mills. As Galetta grew in importance, other businesses began to relocate and Mohr’s Corners declined. By the mid11880s, the population had decreased to about 60 and the Fitzroy Hotel had closed. The Forbes continued to operate a general store until about 1886 and the Mohr family maintained their lumbering interests. William Green, who owned a cooperage, took over the general store in 1888. Mohr shut down the post office in 1891.

In 1903, the township purchased a piece of property from Charles Mohr, in order to build a school garden. They added a school library in 1906. The school continued to thrive for many years. Between 1915 and 1919, attendance jumped to around 125. To accommodate the influx, they temporarily converted the town hall to a schoolroom and hired two additional teachers. They introduced hot lunches at a later date. The church was active as late as 1910 but disappeared before church union in 1925. At the time of his death in 1912, Charles Mohr was president of the Fitzroy Agricultural Society. The fairs lasted until 1946 and the buildings and fairground, later sold. The town hall lasted until 1967 when they moved the township offices to Kinburn.

Today there is very little left of Mohr’s Corners. The schoolhouse was renovated and is now a private dwelling. One other home also remains. A number of ruins still lie in the field. Galetta has also declined but for now continues to exist as a small rural community.

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