Wednesday, December 5, 2007

back roads

At one time, the community was responsible for maintaining roadways in a very hands-on way - kind of like the way we treat sidewalks in winter today. They eventually figured out an effective (albeit expensive) solution.

I also appreciate the truth in the final quoted statement that administrators are learning to their sorrow, the better the road, the heavier the traffic and the greater the speed...

[From West Flamboro Township: Centennial 1850-1950]

In the early years of Municipal activities we learn from the minutes of Councils of 1850 – onward, the authorization of a few pounds to complete certain bridges, or to complete the brushing of a concession.

Pathmasters were appointed and property assessed for statute labor purposes, which was for the improvements and maintenance of Township roads.

A list was supplied the pathmaster of the number of days each landowner must work for the improvement of the road on which he was assessed. The pathmasters were usually allowed free statute labor for their activities, but it must be remembered the work was gratis and everyone was a neighbor, sot the pathmaster would study the situation and decide that immediately in front of his property was the worst piece of road on the beat and as he had accumulated a huge pile of stone, the nicest thing would be to have the gang report with teams and wagons and clear his fields of the stone piles and draw them in front of his property, to widen the road, at least to a wagon width and fill in the sink holes; if no stone was available, then corduroy them with trees, a nuisance to the property. Of course the whole thing took on the dress of a holiday, everyone was good natured about it, and while they were supposed to report at seven o'clock, it really didn't matter, just so long as the box held the material until the team was put in motion, it would be dribbled on the road anway, and to make sure that no one really became proficient in the art of road building, pathmasters were changed often, but by the turn of the century, marketing and distribution was becoming a problem and even Municipal Councils were elected by their promises to improve the roads and see that bridges and culverts were maintained.

With the arrival of automotive conveyances the urge became imperative and in the year 1916, the friendly system of statute labor construction and maintenance of Township roads was abolished and a road superintendent appointed to take charge of the 85 miles of Township roads. This system worked very satisfactorily to the end that for many years West Flamboro boasted the finest roads in the County, but our administrators are learning to their sorrow, that the better the road, the heavier the traffic and the greater the speed...

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