Tuesday, February 17, 2009

peer's road?


Digging around in Dundas' history, I found a reference to an old road from the east end of Dundas to the top of the hill:

A new road to Hamilton had been authorized in 1818, and Edward Peer was its builder, hence it was named Peer's Road. From the Dundas Mills yard it followed Dundas Street to Thorpe Street, south across the creek to the foot of the hill, diagonally up the hill to the east reaching the top at the rear of St. Augustine's Cemetery, south along the rear of the cemetery to Desjardins Avenue, across Binkley's Hollow with S shaped bends on the hills at each side, and joined the present Hamilton - Brantford road near the present subway under the T.H. & B. Railway tracks.

History of the Town of Dundas, Part 1 - Woodhouse

Last Saturday I scrambled up the side of the hill, looking for signs of the old road: I thought I found the bottom of the old road at the end of Thorpe Street, as neighbourhood dogs barked encouragement at me from their yards, but partway up the hill I lost track of the path. It was only when I got to the top at the graveyard that I could see what looked like a road right-of-way (pictured above, looking back down the hill). It was later still, when I got back home, that a former Dundas Councillor who lives in this part of town told me that part of the old roadway had collapsed with the hill years ago in a landslide, thereby explaining my difficulty tracing the route.

Exploring the history of Dundas, retracing routes that have all but been swallowed up in time, is something I might do on occasion. With this road, there is still the Binkley Hollow "S" bends to try and locate, and as I push through underbrush, I try to imagine how much the landscape, the sights and sounds, even the people, have changed over the decades, even centuries.

A constant seems to be the capacity for the earth to reclaim human-works, bringing them back into nature's realm, erasing scars with green shoots and spreading roots.

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