Thames River

Thames River

Hosted by  by ROKS Farms, 2115 Gideon Drive, Delaware, Middlesex Centre, ON

 Joint sponsored by ROKS Farms and Sew Creative, Mount Brydges

Thames River

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

  1. History brought to life, unfailingly interesting. I can almost hear the voices of the pioneers facing the wilderness with great fortitude, courage in every situation as they sought to build shelter, find food, and raise their families in the Carolinian forests along the Thames. Ellen Fisher

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