Hosted by by ROKS Farms, 2115 Gideon Drive, Delaware, Middlesex Centre, ON
Joint sponsored by ROKS Farms and Sew Creative, Mount Brydges
Painted by the Delaware Lions Club
When the adjacent Longwoods Road was a mere blazed trail through the wilderness, the Thames was the route of choice for travelers. Long a valued route for natives, traffic on the river increased as settlement grew. From the late 1700’s vast amounts of lumber from the Delaware mills was rafted down river in the spring flow. This lumber built Detroit, Sandwich (Windsor), Amherstburg. On their return trips the rafters brought goods for the settlers. Even in winter the frozen surface was busy with sleighs as commerce continued.
The Thames and its tributaries provided power for mills sawing lumber and grinding the locally grown grains to flour. The river teemed with fish, a welcome food source. Fur bearing animals , a source of income for trappers , lived in and along its banks. Prone to flooding ,the river at times caused destruction and heartbreak as mill dams were washed out, crops and fences destroyed.
During the war, the river was used winter and summer to transport fresh military staff and supplies, being on the route from Niagara to the action in the Lake St Clair area. Sick, wounded ,and defeated armies, their native allies, prisoners of war, and terrified civilians, made the journey up river to Delaware . From there they proceeded on land via the newly made Commissioners Road to Niagara.
On a summer’s day as the river quietly flows to Lake St Clair, its tumultuous history seems so far away.
But listen and watch ….hear the songs of the native paddlers , the deafening roar of the spring beakup, the shouts of the raftsmen, the refugee’s whispered conversations, Governor Simcoe and his colorful 1793 party passing by. The river has seen it all.
Written by Frances Kilbourne, February 2012