Petworth, located in Frontenac, was first settled as a lumber mill town around 1840. Stephenson and Lott established the first mills. They began with a sawmill, followed by woollen, carding and eventually grist mills. In 1861, the same year the post office opened, the Rathbun Company acquired their timber rights.
At its height Petworth boasted a population of about 200. It included a hotel, two grocery stores, two blacksmith shops, a Methodist Church and a school. By the 1880s, it had added a second flour mill. A steady stream of loggers kept the hotel busy during logging season.
By the early 1900s, Petworth’s days as a lumber town had come to an end. Sixty years of steady logging had decimated the surrounding lumber supply. Compounding Petworth’s misfortune was the railway, which bypassed the small community leaving its remaining industries at a serious disadvantage.
Petworth was never completely abandoned. By the late 1990s, it still contained a handful of residents and a number of interesting old structures, such as a derelict schoolhouse, an old blacksmith shop, and the ruins of the mill.
Today Petworth has seen renewal in the form of a new housing development, which is slowly taking over the area. Learn more