Friday, June 18, 2010

Coffin Ridge and Stories of Mountain and Drink in Grey County

On Thursday, June 17, members of the Grey County Historical Society and guests enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at Coffin Ridge Winery. It was a perfect day for socializing and hearing tales of life in Grey County. The winery is located between Silcote and Balaclava with a westerly view of Balaclava.

As people arrived, they had the opportunity to do some wine sampling at the bar or to enjoy a locally made sparkling apple cider. The views from the deck surrounding the Winery were beautiful: the vineyards, the Owen Sound bay and beyond.
Everyone, then gathered under a large tent. Janet Iles, President welcomed everyone and conducted a very brief business meeting.

Aly Boltman spoke about the next meeting and encouraged visitors to support the Society by becoming members. She introduced our speaker of the day, Andrew Armitage, a local author, former librarian and local historian.

Andrew Armitage divided his talk into two parts. The first part focused on the area where Coffin Ridge Winery is located and the second part focused on drink in Grey County. While Andrew talked, we enjoyed a sampling of breads, spreads, cheeses and fruit.
Andrew polled attendees on how Coffin Hill got its name. He shared four tales (shaped like a coffin, a coffin fell out of a wagon on the way to be buried or because of burials on a homestead or for a family named Coffin). He asked for a show of hands to indicate which one was the correct name source. According to the official place name people, there is no correct answer as there is no official naming of the area.

The area was once called Mountain. Andrew talked about this part of Sydenham Township: a short lived Orange Lodge and separate school, well known local family names, Silcote and its church, Shiloh Methodist Church later Silcote United Church and a school.

Early settlers arrived with the experience of their homeland of not trusting the quality of the water, so they were accustomed to drinking alcoholic beverages. Andrew shared stories of the early days when a man would get a bucket of whiskey at a barn raising, the distillery at Leith and the many taverns. He talked about the temperance movement and prohibition and local option. Owen Sound went dry in 1906 and it wasn't until 1973 that this status changed.

After a brief question and answer period, Janet Iles thanked Andrew for his interesting talk. The meeting adjourned.

Thank you to our hosts at Coffin Ridge Winery.

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